Losangelesblade.com, Volume 2, Issue 10, May 11, 2018

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A M E R I C A’ S





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No mention of LGBT issues during Calif. gubernatorial debate Is Republican Cox anti-LGBT or has he ‘evolved?’ By KAREN OCAMB kocamb@losangelesblade.com In a preview of the May 8 California gubernatorial debate, the Los Angeles Times predicted that Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom would tout his history-making stand in favor of marriage equality, the subject of his moving first TV campaign ads. He didn’t. In fact, none of the six candidates—four Democrats and two Republicans— mentioned the LGBT community once during the 90-minute debate that included praising the state’s diversity. However, in an ironic twist, a gay man was invoked as the final arbiter of a lively dispute between Trumpian populist Republican Assemblymember Travis Allen and GOP businessman John Cox. The two Republicans fought over credit for leading the effort to scuttle the gas tax, endorsed by all the Democrats as necessary for infrastructure repairs. Cox told Allen to ask gay former San Diego city council member and radio talk show host Carl DeMaio, organizer of the Gas Tax Repeal, which gubernatorial candidate helped put the initiative on the June 5 primary ballot. Much has been made of recent polls showing Newsom well ahead of the pack with Cox edging ahead of former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who most pundits expect to wind up as Newsom’s challenger after the top-two primary. State Treasurer John Chiang and former Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin both had moments during the debate, but nothing to ignite a surge. Of California’s almost 19 million registered voters, 8,471,371 (44.6%) are Democrats, 4,827,973 (25.4%) are Republican and 4,734,847 (25%) are No Party Preference as of January. The stakes are extremely high with so many Democrats in “jungle primary” down-ballot races that the 25 percent No Party Preference vote could make a critical difference—which is why Cox’s candidacy cannot be taken lightly. Neither Cox nor Allen won the nomination of the California Republican Party. Their angry spat continued on the gubernatorial debate stage with Allen playing the

A scene from Tuesday’s gubernatorial debate. Screencapture via KNBC4

bombastic populist fully embracing Trump, while Cox trying to reach out as an outside businessman who now regrets that he didn’t originally vote for Trump. Cox heralded his recent visits to the White House as proof he is now onboard—but he also claimed to be a “Jack Kemp Republican.” Problem is—which Jack Kemp? Kemp favored expanding immigration, including granting amnesty to undocumented workers, and in 1989, when he was Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Kemp said: “I want to be known as a civil rights Republican; somebody who is promoting what President Bush calls ‘’an equal opportunity society.’’’ Kemp didn’t mind homosexuals in the late 1980s but didn’t want gays teaching in schools. Many of his positions changed dramatically in the early 1990s, before he became Sen. Bob Dole’s vice presidential running mate. It is hard to fathom that Jack Kemp, a Republican Establishment gentleman who also worked across the aisle in congress, would have tolerated the crude incivility and outright racism of Donald Trump. After the Mercury-News reported last February about Cox’s anti-LGBT comments during a 2007 Values Voter Summit, Cox told the Los Angeles Times that his views have changed. “Like many Californians, my views have

evolved over the last decade. I concluded that it was inconsistent with my support for individual liberty, limited government and the right to privacy,” Cox said. “The focus of my campaign is economic growth and freedom and I’m looking forward to engaging the LGBTQ community and all Californians to revive the California Dream.” But Cox has not retracted his 2007 comments: “We also have this problem with transvestites who want to be school teachers,” Cox said then, adding: “We certainly need to stand up for the proper behavior, we absolutely need to do that, but we need to use common sense, and talk about the fact that we can’t open the floodgates to polygamy and bestiality and all kinds of other things.” While issues of character and decadesold sexual affairs were raised during the gubernatorial debate—Cox was not asked about his evolution. None of the candidates were asked nor did they volunteer their views, past or present, about LGBT issues, despite clear evidence that Trump and his administration are intent on rolling back protections for LGBT people. California has the most military bases in the country, and the most transgender service members at risk of being banned from their military jobs and serving their country, for instance—which is

why Attorney General Becerra on behalf of the state of California joined the Equality California lawsuit as a plaintiff fighting the Trump ban. LGBT DREAMers and LGBT people seeking asylum are among the immigrants about whom the candidates spoke as well, with many facing certain death if returned to the country from with they escaped or never knew. No one thought to mention them. Interesting, too, is new research showing LGBT people are embedded and leaders in the very social justice causes about which the candidates do speak. “Lesbians, gays, and bisexuals were more than twice as likely as heterosexuals to join anti-war, environmental, and anti-corporate movements,” writes Eric Swank of Arizona State University in his new study published in the journal Social Science Research. This may reflect the fact that they are “more aware, and less accepting, of social inequalities than heterosexuals. Additionally, “Approximately one out of five gays, lesbians, and bisexuals have joined the LGB rights movement,” he reports, “while less than one out of 100 heterosexuals have done the same thing.” Most likely, the gubernatorial race will come down to voters’ judgment of character—which is what the Los Angeles Blade discussed with Newsom and Villaraigosa in this issue.



Newsom on top The front-runner for governor reflects on his unique role in LGBT history By KAREN OCAMB kocamb@losangelesblade.com All the protocol and formality of speaking with California’s lieutenant governor falls quickly away the minute Gavin Newsom says hello. The former mayor of San Francisco is well ahead in his race to replace Gov. Jerry Brown, but seems eager to talk with a reporter for the LGBT community—for whom he put his career on the line in support of marriage equality. Newsom’s decision to provide marriage licenses to same-sex couples in 2004 launched him into the national political stratosphere and disrupted relationships with the Democratic Party establishment who wanted to take a slower pace on gay marriage, lest President George W. Bush and his brain trust Karl Rove score points during Bush’s reelection. And that’s what happened. But Newsom knew he was on the right side of history and his decision resulted in a lawsuit, joined with another simultaneous lawsuit out of Los Angeles, that eventually yielded a California Supreme Court ruling granting the freedom to marry for same-sex couples in May 2008. That history is the subject of Newsom’s first campaign ad for governor, featuring photos of him officiating at the wedding of lesbian icons Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon and showing the celebration of the marriage of LA-based couple Robin Tyler and Diane Olson. There are other ads featuring Lyon, including one of Newsom visiting with her in the San Francisco hilltop apartment she and Martin shared for over 50 years. But unlike his expected toughest gubernatorial opponent, former LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Newsom seemed to just arrive in 2004 and explode LGBT history. Since the governor’s race will likely turn on character, who Newsom was before his launch informs his positions on issues. “I care deeply about the community and I care deeply about the ongoing struggles,” Newsom said during a recent 45-minute phone interview with the Los Angeles Blade. “I care deeply about people that are still discriminated against—about what’s

Gavin Newsom at the California Democratic Convention

Gavin Newsom officiating at the wedding of Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon.

Los Angeles Blade Photo by Karen Ocamb

Screencapture via Newsom Campaign Advertisement

happening in the trans community. I care deeply about the homophobia that’s still prevalent in our society and I want to right that wrong and show the sense of obligation and responsibility, not just in my life, but to do that much more broadly as a member of the larger community.” But why? “When I was a kid I struggled with a learning disability,” he says. “I don’t like seeing people hurt. I don’t like seeing people struggle.” And Newsom has not forgotten that struggle. “People who are bullied don’t necessarily always think of themselves as victims. They just don’t know what to do,” he says. “I don’t want to over-dramatize but it was a struggle for decades to be in the back of the classroom. Speech therapy for years after school three days a week, getting supplemental support.” Though his father, a judge, came from a politically well-connected family in San Francisco and was close with rich San Franciscan Gordon Getty, his mother wound up working as waitress, bookkeeper and secretary after his parents divorced. Newsom was 14 when what was later identified as HIV/AIDS started devastating San Francisco. “I grew up with a number of people with HIV and AIDS,” he says. “I saw that firsthand.” San Francisco, Newsom says, “is hardly

perfect. My gosh, when I was growing up there was tremendous backlash against the LGBT community,” especially on Polk Street. “I remember listening to older folks talk about how the city had gone to hell [because] people were holding hands….before Castro became the Castro we know it.” The indelible memories helped shape him. “The old Italian neighborhoods getting upset by the gay community,” he says, and then came out Supervisor Harvey Milk and his father’s friend, Mayor George Moscone, both assassinated in 1978. One of his closest friends is Eileen Getty, Elizabeth Taylor’s daughter-in-law, whose struggles with HIV/ AIDS he’s watched. “I was removed and yet observed it,” Newsom says. “And it just grounded me in a way that I felt an obligation to do something. I will never forget.” Now seemingly the walking personification of white straight male privilege, Newsom’s character may actually be rooted in his difficulties growing up. He went to Santa Clara University on a partial baseball scholarship, graduating with a political science degree in 1989. After a starter job in a real estate office, Newsom and friend Billy Getty started a wine business, PlumpJack Wine Shop, funded through family connections. That led to a

successful empire, through which he met mayoral candidate Willie Brown in 1995. When Brown won, he appointed Newsom to the traffic commission. Two years later, Brown appointed him to fill a vacancy on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, which Newsom won outright in 1998. Newsom found himself in the middle of the domestic partnership debate with the Salvation Army on the other side and United Airlines threatening to leave the city. One day, Brown called Newsom to come to City Hall to marry people, that is, performing domestic partnership ceremonies. At another point, Supervisor Mark Leno asked him to be the swing vote on a measure promoting gender reassignment surgery to be paid for by the city. “It was a very tough vote,” he says. “My entire Catholic base was outraged that I voted with Mark supporting that effort. We were the first big city to do that. People said ‘people will fly in from all over the world to get operations’ and the city will go bankrupt.’ I know that’s a ludicrous argument. But it was made at the time. Those are some of the events that shaped my early years that led me to that fateful week in February of 2004 Continues on page 8



Villaraigosa fighting to be California governor And he’s counting on his LGBT friends to come through for him By KAREN OCAMB kocamb@losangelesblade.com Antonio Villaraigosa saunters into The Abbey as if he lives next door. He’s relaxed, comfortable in West Hollywood’s gayborhood, as if visiting this second family is second nature. And in his very tight race to be the next governor of California, Villaraigosa is counting on his friends in the LGBT community to pull through for him in the June 5 primary so he can vie with another LGBT hero, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. But Villaraigosa concedes nothing in his embrace of marriage equality, Newsom’s signature 2004 historic moment for which he has won the hearts of many. In a recent 55-minute sit-down interview, Villaraigosa recalls the ease with which he vowed his early support for same-sex marriage. It was 1994 and Villaraigosa was running for State Assembly from the 45th District that included Echo Park, Silver Lake, East Hollywood, and Highland Park. Eric Bauman, now the out Chair of the California Democratic Party, had just been elected president of Stonewall Democratic Club and was working to make it a key gay political organization in a year when radical right House Minority Whip Newt Gingrich was promoting the conservative “Contract with America.” Villaraigosa—who was running against the closeted Brian Quintana—was brought to Stonewall seeking its endorsement by his cousin, John A. Perez, who then joined Stonewall himself. Villaraigosa was a progressive grassroots activist and organizer with a powerful personal story anxious to jump into politics. VilIaraigosa grew up in East LA during the 1950s and 1960s when sexism and homophobia pervaded the culture. “I think it’s prevalent in every community but in the Latino community, one could argue it was even more prevalent, more extreme in terms of sexism homophobia,” Villaraigosa says during a 55-minute interview. “I grew up with a mom that was very progressive and a victim of domestic violence. I grew up in a home with

Antonio Villaraigosa at The Abbey in West Hollywood Los Angeles Blade Photo by Karen Ocamb

Antonio Villaraigosa running for Assembly in 1994 with Stonewall’s Eric Bauman Photo by Karen Ocamb

alcoholism and a father who left three terrorized kids,” he says. “My mother was on her own and I watched her struggle to send us to school and get us the best she could. She emphasized education and keeping the family together. So I always had respect for strong women and I’ve been blessed to have strong women in my life.” His grades fell in Catholic school after he was briefly paralyzed from the waist down from a benign tumor at 16 and was expelled after getting into a fight. But he found a passion—community organizing. “It started with the farm workers boycott at 15 years old, Villaraigosa recalls. “I never worked in the fields. I didn’t speak Spanish but I knew the workers had their right to a job with dignity and respect.” It was the height of the Civil Rights Movement, with Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta and Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks. “And it was the challenge for the country to be all that held itself out to be. And I knew I had a responsibility, even at 15,” he says, noting that he got involved with or helped start a black union and United Mexican American students. He subsequently graduated from Roosevelt High School in Boyle Heights after taking adult education classes and getting counseling from a teacher he’s never forgotten, Herman Katz, who paid for Villaraigosa to take his SAT college exams. In 1968, Villaraigosa was a leader in the mass Chicano student walkouts in East LA demanding school reforms and an end to academic bias. Like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, Villaraigosa read Saul Alinsky to learn how to be a more effective social change leader. From community college in East LA, Villaraigosa transferred to UCLA, where he became a leader in MEChA, a Chicano empowerment movement. He graduated in 1997 with a BA in history and then tried his hand at law, but failed the bar exam. Nonetheless, his legal knowledge served him as an organizer with the United Teachers Los Angeles, and later, as president of the LA Chapter of the ACLU. In 1987, it was his idea to merge his last name Villar with that of his new wife Corina Raigosa after their marriage. “I think what being a part of that civil Continues on page 8



Newsom on marriage, politics and growing up in San Francisco Continued from page 6 with marriage licenses.” One of Newsom’s fiercest public critics at the time was Sen. Dianne Feinstein who said the marriage movement was moving too fast. Feinstein is running for reelection, with a primary challenge from former State Senate pro tem, Kevin de Leon, another stalwart LGBT ally. Newsom chuckled when asked if he and Feinstein had made up. “The irony of those comments is that I went to lunch with her that Election Day,” he says, “and so I never took them personally.” He adds that when he was mayor, the two worked closely on environmental justice issues, on housing

issues and structural issues. “[Feinstein] was extraordinary during those years and I value the leadership in this state,” Newsom says about the primary challenge to the longtime senator. “But I think it’s profoundly important at this critical moment—his is not like any other moment—that seniority is not something you can take for granted. And I think she’s too important, too influential at this moment in our nation’s history.” Newsom says he’s endorsed Feinstein but she has not endorsed him. Newsom’s voice hints of weariness when asked about the decades-old affair with his best friend’s wife—a point delightfully highlighted by one of his Republican opponents at the

May 8 gubernatorial debate. Newsom has repeatedly apologized and the woman with whom he had the affair has publicly said that what happened in this instance does not fit in with the #MeToo movement, which focuses on sexual harassment. “I acknowledged it, I apologize for it. I learned an enormous amount from it. We were very open,” he says. He also expresses concerns about “systemically and culturally” addressing the real issues underlying domestic violence, violent crime, school dropouts, suicides, opioid overdoses, which he identifies as “toxic masculinity.” Society devalues the feminized. “Too often we see young boys being told to ‘man up,’ ‘be a man,’ ‘don’t be a sissy,’

‘don’t be like your sister’—and young boys put a mask on their face,” Newsom says, “because our society expects them to behave in a ‘masculine’ way. And what happens is that they are less communicative, less engaged.” So “how we do raise our voice to be empathetic?” Newsom is aware that such stories are particularly endemic for young gay and bisexual men. And he is moved by their stories. “I can’t tell you how impactful those stories have been to me—of friends of mine that talk about being in the closet, talk about their struggles of coming out—and I don’t want to live in that society,” Newsom says. “I want them to live in a very different world and that’s why I continue to be a champion.”

Villaraigosa reflects on family, ’94 marriage equality support Continued from page 7

rights movement was all about was saying that the forefathers had it right where we’re all created equal—except they also had it wrong,” Villraigosa says. “They said it only meant white men. And we wanted to include women and blacks and Native Americans and people who didn’t come from Europe and maybe weren’t the landed class. I think the Civil Rights Movement, in many ways, was part of that effort to make—as President Obama said—to make America a more perfect union, to make it all that it has held itself out to be.” In 1994, he left the Metropolitan Transportation Board to which he had been appointed to run for the Assembly. “Back then, there weren’t a whole lot of people that had come out of community organizing.” But it was his mother who taught him to eschew sexism and homophobia. “In the 50s, we lived in a Jewish, Mexican neighborhood with Japanese-Americans. My mother had everyone over for dinner and we would go to their homes,” Villaraigosa says, naming friends and family who might have been gay. “We grew up very open,” Villaraigosa says. “So it wasn’t difficult for me when at Stonewall, as I’m walking out after they’ve

interviewed me for an hour, someone asked me ‘Do you support gay marriage? I said, ‘Well, actually, I never thought about it’ because back then they weren’t talking about it. We talked about civil unions. I said, ‘Why not.’” And in 1994, riding in the CSW Pride Parade with your children was deemed courageous. “But I wanted to live true to my values.” Villaraigosa was elected to the Assembly, along with Sheila Kuehl, California’s first out legislator, and they instantly became allies, creating a gay caucus and working on legislation. Villaraigosa put his Speakership on the line to pass Kuehl’s Dignity for All Students bill, which failed but was later passed with help from Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg. “I think I became Speaker in no small part because I was a bridge-builder and uniter,” he says. “People forget, but back in the day, everybody was on their own side. So it was a big deal.” In trying to find common ground, Villaraigosa would sometimes refer to his children and how his love for them was more important than their sexual orientation. And when gay adoption was discussed on the legislative floor, Villaraigosa would describe how his gay cousin John played with his kids,

and how much they loved him. Villaraigosa did more than talk and promise. In 2000, he became chair of the No on Prop 22 campaign, the effort to stop the anti-gay marriage Knight Initiative. He contributed $10,000 of his own money to the failed effort. Villaraigosa ran for LA City Council in 2003 and then mayor in 2005. His second bloc of voters after Latinos for that historic election was the LGBT community, support he has never forgotten. But the elation of his shattering the electoral glass ceiling as the first Latino mayor in 130 years was deflated when he was discovered having an affair with a reporter. In 2007, his wife filed for divorce. “People did feel deflated, demoralized,” he says. “When I had my affair outside of marriage, I think it let people down. And when we got divorced, people felt hurt. I took responsibility and I said I’m sorry. I was focused mostly on trying to heal my family…. [and] I became almost maniacal in my effort to do my job over 18 hours a day, seven days a week. I was focused on the challenges ahead.” As mayor, Villaraigosa tried to reform the school system, advocating for charter schools, which prompted progressive school educators and unions to scream. “First

of all, I don’t support for-profit charters, which would be not public. I support public non-profit charters. And more importantly, I support free schools,” he says. Villaraigosa says he got involved after he turned around and saw that “everybody certainly looks just like me. And I said the role of the first is to open up the door for the rest. And I knew that a big reason why so many people were serving me was that schools were broken. One out of three schools were failing,” he says. “I took on the schools and we went from a 44 percent graduation rate to 72 percent,” from the one in three failing schools to one out of 10. “So when powerful interests voices on the other side said their number one priority was to pass a moratorium on charters,” Villraigosa replied: “I want a moratorium on failing schools. Let’s celebrate successful schools.” In the end, “I was willing to say no to powerful interests,” though other powerful interests favoring charter schools, such as former Republican Mayor Richard Riordan, now support hm. If elected governor, Villaraigosa intends to immediately call a special emergency legislative session to address the housing and homeless crisis. “I’ve always understood that to whom much is given, much is expected.”



Is former CSW board member’s contract unethical? Potential hurdles emerge as new executive director arrives By CHRISTOPHER KANE Christopher Street West (CSW) has enlisted Craig Bowers to raise money for the organization’s annual LA Pride Parade and Festival in an exclusive three-year contract that, according to a report in Wehoville. com, appears to violate state law and may also constitute a conflict of interest. Bowers—who is both a longtime business partner of CSW Chair Chris Classen and a member of the organization’s Emeritus Board— will allegedly earn a 20 percent commission on all sponsorship revenue, per the terms of his contract. From this year’s event in West Hollywood, which is slated for June 9 and 10, Bowers

Craig Bowers Photo Courtesy Facebook

stands to earn a sum in the low six-figures. At issue is Bowers’ continued business partnership with Classen in an events and

marketing firm called Incluence, which is also the sole contractor used by CSW to procure sponsors and elicit talent for the LA Pride Parade and Festival. The commissioned fundraising aspect of this arrangement may violate California state law, which prohibits “self-dealing” transactions—defined as those in which one or more of a nonprofit’s directors has a vested financial interest, an analysis by the site concludes. Questions have also been raised concerning Bowers’ membership with CSW’s Emeritus Board, a “lifetime advisory position” that, considering his financial stake in the organization’s fundraising activities, may constitute a conflict of interest. Additionally, it seems Bowers has not registered with the California Attorney General’s Registry of Charitable Trusts—a requirement for both nonprofit organizations and individuals paid to raise money on their behalf. Legal questions aside, the

ethical standards set by the Association of Fundraising Professionals and the Council of Nonprofits both explicitly bar organizations from offering commission payments for fundraising. CSW is further beset by its long history of scandals that have involved ethical breaches and strained relations with the local LGBTQ community. CSW, when asked for comment and whether CSW’s board was required to authorize the contract, effectively had no comment, telling the Los Angeles Blade that “more information will be revealed at a later date.” Following this year’s Pride events, some in the community hope the installation of CSW Executive Director Madonna Cacciatore on July 1, 2018 will lead to changes in the organization. Cacciatore becomes CSW’s first paid, full-time executive director. PUBLISHER’S NOTE: Los Angeles Blade is a 2018 sponsor of LA Pride.

Gay Men’s Chorus raises $400,000 for youth programs By KAREN OCAMB kocamb@losangelesblade.com The Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles held its impressive, fun and funny Voice Awards May 5, raising about $400,000, per board chair John Jude Duran, for the school education program “Alive Music Project” and “Arts for Incarcerated Youth,” that uses music to transform young lives, all now headed by Jonathan Weedman. There was great music—Shoshana Bean and Juan Pablo Di Pace performed with members of the chorus—though Ada Vox was a no-show—and Duran offered an eloquent description of the continuity of LGBT history from Oscar Wilde until now. There were poignant moments, such as when Bill Lipkus, president and CEO of presenting sponsor Foresters Financial talked about an 8-year-old boy’s suicide and the power of the chorus to prevent such tragedies. But the honorees stole the show. Singer/ actor Billy Porter was deeply moving accepting his Courageous Voice Award, sharing about his own #MeToo experiences,

being told not to speak during a TV appearance lest his gayness shine through, then finally finding freedom and success through authenticity. “I actually failed as somebody else,” he said, “so I chose me over my circumstances.” (The Oprah show on the importance of being of service helped). The first Rising Voice Award was presented to 16-year-old Zach Johnson by former out teen star Wilson Cruz (from “My So-Called Life to now “Star Trek Discovery”), who thanked the LA LGBT community for holding him up all these years. The whole ballroom expressed gratitude for the emerging youth leadership of today, embodied by Johnson, who not only works with The Trevor Project but was one of the leaders of the gun reform Walk Out at his high school. And CNN Republican pundit Ana Navarro brought down the house—funny and incisive, not only about Trump but the state of the union. Symbolically, Navarro was escorted to the podium by Carson Jones, the gay son of now-Sen. Doug Jones, who defeated GOP accused pedophile Judge Roy Moore in Alabama.

GMCLA honoree Zach Johnson (right) and friend Michael Lazarus Los Angeles Blade Photo by Karen Ocamb

Navarro told the LA Blade she considers herself a “John McCain Republican” and she threw a little shade at MSNBC’s Joy Reid, albeit not by name, saying she never had to “evolve”

on LGBT issues and there are no old blog posts she doesn’t remember writing for which she has to apologize—she’s always been on the right side of history for LGBTQ rights.

10 • MAY 11, 2018


Photo Courtesy Twitter

Join us on May 22 for a kickoff reception and staged reading of Dear Harvey

Move over Pope Rihanna and Angel Katy Perry! Out Lena Waithe, the first black woman to hoist an Emmy for comedy writing, seriously served it up May 7 at the Met Gala in NYC. Working this year’s theme— “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination”—the dashing Master of None star turned heads wearing her rainbow cape like a superhero, thrilling the Twitter-verse and Instagram-land. In a pre-Met interview with USA Today, Waithe talked about her Emmy-winning episode. “I started to tell the story about what it was like to grow up in a house with all black women, never even hearing the word ‘gay’ or ‘lesbian,’ but not being super Christian,” she said. “(It was) just all about appearances and how people perceive you.” USA Today entertainment writer Maeve McDermott was smitten. “Rihanna killed me and then Lena Waithe’s cape revived me and killed me again #metgala2018,” she tweeted. Catholic Twitter freaked. “I think it is totally disgusting. Poor choice of theme, costumes, etc. Disrespect. I’m glad I’m not watching it,” tweeted Esther May. - Karen Ocamb

“We take this step because we know that, in solving the many, many problems and our great challenges, faith is more powerful than government, and nothing is more powerful than God.” – President Trump signing a new faith-based initiative in the Rose Garden May 3.

“When states use preemption laws to prioritize special interests over people, our democracy is threatened.”

- Movement Advancement Project executive director Ineke Mushovic on new report on states passing laws to “preempt” LGBT progress.

“Of particular concern to the LGBTQ community is North’s inflammatory statements regarding the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ which he implied would lead to pedophiles being admitted to the armed forces.”

- Jason Lindsay, founder and executive director of Pride Fund to End Gun Violence, to the Washington Blade about new National Rifle Association president Oliver North.



Fighting for a ‘transformational’ victory in Texas Lesbian Sheriff Valdez welcomes her uphill fight to unseat Gov. Abbott By CHRIS JOHNSON You can count many ways in which former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez’s election as the next governor of Texas would be a milestone victory. She could become the first openly gay person elected governor in the United States. She could be the second Latina governor. Her victory as a Democrat would unseat an anti-LGBT incumbent and represent a change for the Republican stronghold state. But in an exclusive interview Monday with the Washington Blade, Valdez wasn’t focused on those milestones and said the focus of her bid for the Democratic nomination to unseat Texas Gov. Greg Abbott was on the “everyday Texan.” “The everyday Texan is finding it harder and harder to make ends meet, to get ahead and stay ahead, and our current governor has more interest in his special issue than the everyday Texan,” Valdez said. “I’m committed to making the everyday Texan and, of course, the other folks, the LGBT, the minority actually have a say in the everyday Texas.” Despite that focus, Valdez, who served four terms as Dallas County sheriff from 2005 to 2017 until she resigned to kick off her campaign, acknowledged being the first openly gay person elected governor in the United States would be significant. “It would definitely say that Texas is what we actually believe it is — an inclusive state that welcomes all the people,” Valdez said. “And so therefore, I think my election would actually come out and stand strong in saying that this is not the old Texas, this is not the Texas of the past. This is a new Texas that is welcoming and will accept everybody.” Valdez has competition for the distinction of being the first openly gay person elected governor. Other gay candidates seeking to become governor are Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) in Colorado and state Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County) in Maryland. Bisexual Gov. Kate Brown is seeking re-election in Oregon and bisexual actress Cynthia Nixon is challenging Gov. Andrew Cuomo in New York. In Vermont,

Former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez faces a runoff election this month before she would advance to a general election contest against the anti-LGBT Gov. Greg Abbott.

transgender businessperson Christine Hallquist is running for governor. A win for Valdez would be a win for the LGBT community not just because she could be the first openly gay person elected governor, but also because she’d be taking out one of the most anti-LGBT governors in the country. Among other things, Abbott has signed an anti-LGBT “religious freedom” adoption bill into law, urged the Texas Supreme Court to undermine the 2015 ruling for marriage equality nationwide, and called a special session of the state legislature for the sole purpose of passing anti-transgender bathroom legislation, which lawmakers ultimately rejected. Valdez said Abbott’s tenure has “been harmful to everything, not just the LGBT,” including Texans as a whole and other minorities, such as Muslims and immigrants. “I don’t believe that’s the Texas brand, and I want to show him,” Valdez said. “Discrimination is not acceptable in any shape, so we need to continue to fight against the bathroom bill. I’m trying to find a decent way to say this madness that is ‘show me your papers’ bills and discrimination bills. They’re unpopular with the majority of Texas. Yes, there’s a small percentage that is in favor, but the majority of Texas is not, so we need to start governing for the majority of Texas.” If elected governor, Valdez said she’d take

Texas in the opposite direction and seek to pass pro-LGBT bills, including legislation enacting a statewide prohibition on antiLGBT discrimination. “I’m going to fight for everybody, including the LGBTQ community,” Valdez said. “We have to have a comprehensive non-discrimination protections bill. We have to have a hate crimes protections bill, and we have to find some way of having health care that is culturally competent. Say that in a mouthful, but it’s true that we need to be sensitive to the HIV folks and transgender folks.” With studies showing 40 percent of homeless youth are LGBT, Valdez also said making changes to assist the LGBT homeless population is an important task. “You have the homeless youth that are kicked out, and there’s still old Texas attitudes, and they’re kicked out of the homes because they’re LGBTQ,” Valdez said. “In a homeless situation, the parents have to sign for the child to be able to go into a shelter. If he’s LGBTQ, the parent doesn’t even want to talk to them. How are they going to sign for it? We have to make arrangements for that.” The potential of Valdez to become the first openly gay governor and unseat an antiLGBT incumbent won her the endorsement of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, which declared its support for Valdez in March. The Human Rights Campaign hasn’t yet made an endorsement in the race. Annise Parker, who’s CEO of the Victory Fund and won historic elections herself to become an openly gay mayor of Houston, said having a lesbian Latina defeat an anti-LGBT governor would “have enormous consequences for Texas and the entire country.” “With a primary win this month, Lupe will set up a general election battle that puts positive solutions against the divisive politics Gov. Abbott thrives on – and in a deep red state with a legislature hostile to LGBTQ equality,” Parker said. “Electing a Democratic governor in Texas will be tough, but a victory would be transformational. With Lupe in the governor’s mansion, we know hateful legislation is dead on arrival, and legislators will be forced to focus on policies to improve people’s lives, not make them more difficult.” But Valdez has to overcome an additional step before she wins the Democratic nomination to take on Abbott. Although Valdez won a plurality of the vote in the

March 6 Democratic primary, the race now proceeds to a run-off with businessperson Andrew White, who was the runner-up. The run-off is set for May 22. White has his own faction of support, including an endorsement from the Houston GLBT Political Caucus, but Valdez said her experience makes her the clear choice to become the Democratic nominee. “I’m going to laugh here,” Valdez said. “I’m an Army veteran, I was a federal agent for over 20 years, I was the sheriff of Dallas County for the last 13 years. By the way, Dallas County is the ninth largest county in the United States, the sheriff’s department is the seventh largest department in the United States. I oversaw over 250 employees and I had a budget of over $160 million. The experience is what already talks.” Valdez faces an uphill challenge in her bid to unseat Abbott in a traditionally Republican state. A Quinnipiac poll in April found she trails him by nine points, with Abbott leading 49-40 percent. Meanwhile, White has a similar standing and trails the incumbent by seven points, with Abbott leading 48-41 percent. But Valdez said that poll is a good sign because Democrats in Texas in recent years have never had anything close to those numbers. “Excuse me? Ten points is the closest we’ve been in over 10 years,” Valdez said. “The prior people that have run against have not gotten that close, and we haven’t even started running against him. We’re not even calling him out or going to him on anything. We’re just fighting right now in the Democratic primary. If we’re within 10 points, that’s the best any candidate has done in quite a while, and we haven’t even started with him.” Valdez also said she isn’t afraid of a challenge, citing her beginnings in San Antonio as one of eight children of parents who were migrant farm workers. “My favorite phrase on that, people keep saying, ‘This is an uphill challenge,’” Valdez said. “Excuse me? What kind of other challenges do we have? As an LGBTQ Latina from very humble beginnings, I don’t know if you know my story...I grew up in the poorest zip code and the highest crime in San Antonio. What other challenge have I had except uphill? That’s all we know is an uphill battle. So, I’m getting pretty good at these.” Continues at losangelesblade.com



Am I still gay if I’ve lost my libido? First HIV, now prostate cancer? Really?

Michael Kearns is an actor, writer, performer and teacher.

I hadn’t even tested HIV positive when I wrote “intimacies,” a solo performance piece, that premiered at Highways Performance Space almost 30 years ago. The work exploded from a pen that overflowed with grief, fear, misunderstanding, rage, confusion, hurt and longing far more than it was written with any learned writerly skills. It was over a year ago when I learned that “prostate cancer” would be added to my resume of diseases, not entirely unpredictable for a gay man who fits my profile—but nonetheless disconcerting for a father and an activist-artist whose political and personal stances are amalgamated in a way that I have chosen to keep solidly engaged no matter how challenging or heartbreaking the results might be. Before “intimacies,” I was an actor with a sliver of wokeness about LGBT rights but my “life’s work” was not a consideration until a “blueprint” appeared, bloodied and soaking wet with tears. As I read between the besotted lines, I foresaw—as a gay man with a supple, burgeoning consciousness—a grand design afire that would heat my choices. Almost overnight, the sex in our sexuality became the stuff of American headlines and I felt compelled to keep the fire in my bones alive; pages of plays and books of poetry, traversing centuries aflame would provide kindling to illuminate, not extinguish, our authentic artistic zeal. Scores of operas and choreographers’ notes became a bonfire of

our future outpourings. Today, no matter what comes my way— prostate cancer, anyone?—there is an immediate reaction to uncover the drama in it; excavate for a pulse. Men who have sex with men respond differently to day-to-day life than men who identify as heterosexual—whether those aspects of their daily functionality are related to things sexual or not. While prostate cancer is not a sexually transmitted disease, it can be an embarrassing one, and potentially winds up in the same bed of avoidance or even denial as HIV/AIDS. Both diseases are killers. Got that? Maybe? Maybe not so much? Talking heads: “But I’ve had to deal with AIDS all these years.” “I can’t take any more medications.” “Huh? Lose my sex drive?” “I’m taking Prep and I have a healthy sex life—you think I’m gonna let a new disease fuck it up?” The facts, man: Prostate cancer is a disease that usually occurs in men over 50 in which the prostate, a small walnut-shaped organ that contributes fluid to semen and helps expel semen during ejaculation, begins growing abnormally. In order to manage the unwanted growth (which causes a number of ailments, including frequent and/or unexpected urination), a variety of treatments are available based on (among other things) the aggressiveness of the disease. Left untreated, the cancer can insidiously move to the bones and then skies of blue turn unremittingly gray. Did I mention E.D.? Erectile dysfunction for those of you not needing little blue pills. With determination, you’ll ingest so much Viagra that a tour with the Blue Man Group will become inevitable. If you are exhibiting any symptoms (difficulty with starting to pee, yo-yo urinating in the night, blood in semen or urine), go to your doctor for the defining finger-fucking action and take it from there. I have not even played a medical doctor on TV but I understand the emotional currents of fear; the same fear that paralyzed much of our community in the nascent days of the AIDS crisis. If speaking to your doctor, your family, your partner(s), or your friends

about what occurs Down There is shrouded in half-truths or blatant denials, you are endangering yourself. This is where the similarities between being diagnosed with HIV/AIDS and prostate cancer collide. If you have not accepted who you are as a gay man, including the unique sexual mysteries that your body reveals to you, you are putting yourself in jeopardy. Silence still equals death, honey. Compared to our het bros, the challenges presented by prostate cancer are heightened for gay men, yes, but do we cave into the victimization we’ve been fighting to vanquish since Stonewall? Or do we, collectively and individually, take each moment (whether its prostate cancer or another unexpected jolt that invades our expectations) to look hard at our lives? Aside from the most obvious—loss of feeling as a receptive bottom--you may need to hire a choreographer to reconfigure the nuts-and-bolts (sorrrrrry) of your sexual gymnastics that had played like a Cirque de Soleil act. And if you’re not happy unless your virile jizz shoots and lands in a different zip code, serious adjustment is in order. I was determined to create a new piece of theater starring prostate cancer that would give gay men and our allies an opportunity to eavesdrop on fleeting moments of my experiences thus far. My mission (theatrical and political)— especially the writing—is virtually dictated by my libido and it always has been. But what identity will guide me now? Am I still gay if I’ve lost my libido? I’m sixty-eight years old and feel abandoned, not entirely myself. But something (that same something that resulted in intimacies almost thirty years ago) is leading me to write: MENoir, Has Anybody Seen My Libido? premiers on Friday, May 19 at Highways, along with Dave Trudell’s One Of These Daves, under the umbrella title of Two Pieces of Work. The performance is repeated on Saturday, also at Highways, to celebrate their 29th birthday. Further info and tickets: www. highwaysperformancespace.org. Hope you can come.

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Ana Navarro: ‘I am on the right side of history’ GOP pundit takes on Trump at Gay Men’s Chorus awards ceremony

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

EDITOR’S NOTE: CNN Republican pundit Ana Navarro was honored by the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles on May 5 with the Outspoken Voice Award. “Outspoken” is an understatement. The feisty LGBT ally said GOP stood for “Grand Old Pedophile” for backing accused young-girl stalker Judge Roy Moore in his Alabama Senate race. He lost to Democrat Doug Jones, whose gay son Carson escorted Navarro to the stage in the Dolby Ballroom in Hollywood. Here are excerpts from her speech before an appreciative crowd.

Ana Navarro is a Republican strategist and CNN contributor. Los Angeles Blade Photo by Karen Ocamb

We need to talk about the shit that is happening in this world, in this country. If you’re a Trump supporter, you’re in the wrong room. Please get the hell out. We’re in tough times for LGBTQ. It’s been so bad – even Caitlyn Jenner knows it’s bad…. President Loco, I mean, President Trump, has adopted a divide-and-conquer strategy. He pits one group of people against another. It worked for him during the campaign, and he’s showing no desire to change course. Our President— make that the president— is an undisciplined man-baby who whines, lies, tweets and picks fights with everyone…. We must respect people’s rights to make their own choice and exercise their right to vote as they see best. And I urge you not to questions people’s motives and patriotism or take away their Hispanic card or their black card…. Not all Trump supporters are deplorables.

I don’t call them that. But I have absolutely no qualms about saying that Donald Trump is deplorable. His calling Mexicans rapists and criminals is deplorable. Calling POWs losers is deplorable. Mocking John McCain while he is battling a terminal cancer is deplorable. Calling black athletes who decide to exercise their First Amendment right to protest “sons of bitches” is deplorable. Questioning a US-born judge’s ability to do his job because his parents are Mexican immigrants is deplorable. Telling African Americans they have nothing to lose is deplorable. They have their dignity to lose. Making fun of a disabled person is deplorable. Boasting about sexual assaults is deplorable. Not using your presidential bully pulpit to denounce bigotry is deplorable….

Not denouncing a domestic abuser working for you in the White House in the Oval Office is deplorable….Conducting [immigrant] raids in churches is deplorable. Ending DACA and then not doing a damn thing to fix it. Keeping hundreds of thousands of kids living in fear and anguish— kids who are American in every way but one—is deplorable. Eliminating protections for transgender students in public schools is deplorable. Banning transgender men and women willing to do what he was too much of a coward to do is deplorable….. If core American values of unity and equality and fairness and basic decency and TRUTH are under attack, we are all under attack. When Trump demonizes immigrants and African Americans and LGBTQ people – when he attacks them, he is attacking all of

us. Anyone that looks like us, and sounds like us and feels like us and has a heart like us….. We must fight back. We must fight back hard and we must fight back together. Every DREAMer who lives in fear of being kicked out of the country they love and the only country they know – they need us to fight for them. Every transgender teen feeling like they don’t belong, getting bullied, maybe contemplating suicide—they need us to fight for them….The child with two loving daddies or two loving mommies maybe in places like Kansas or Oklahoma—you saw what they did there—who are afraid of their family’s right to exist as a legal family will be rolled back. They need us to fight for them. Let me tell you—I refuse to be lectured to about family values by people who support tearing immigrant families apart and at the same time defend a president who we learn was having affairs with a porn actress and a Playboy bunny at the same time….. But you know why those religious advocates look the other way on Trump? Because Trump throws them little bones that keep them happy. And you know what those little bones tend to be? It tends to be certainly LGBTQ rights. I have no doubt that the constant restriction of LGBTQ rights by Trump has everything to do with keeping his base happy and distracted from the fact that he cheats, he lies, and he has no moral compass….. The one silver lining of the Trump election is that what has been asleep in America has awoken. The American spirit to defend our values is alive in each and every one of us…. We must win our country back because whether some like it or not, whether some deny it or not—whether the President of the United States acknowledges it or not—this is our country as much as it is his country…. We must get active. We must get loud. We must speak for those who are afraid to speak. …Donald Trump’s election has revealed the ugly underbelly of America….He didn’t invent racism but he legitimized it. He didn’t create division but he promoted it. He didn’t invent homophobia but he panders to it…. You don’t have to recognize me as your ally. It’s who I am….I am on the right side of history.

Can Ryan Murphy make America vogue again? FX strikes a ‘Pose’ By SUSAN HORNIK

Ryan Murphy says ‘it’s not an option’ to cast cis actors in trans roles. Photo Courtesy FX

If ever you doubted Ryan Murphy is a genius, look no further than his new FX dance musical series, “Pose.” The Los Angeles-based, veteran gay executive producer, responsible for “American Horror Story,” “Glee, “Feud,” Nip/ Tuck,” and “Scream Queens,” has put together the largest cast series regulars of transgender actors ever for an American television show. Murphy is genuinely excited for






viewers to watch the series, which also features the largest recurring cast of LGBTQ actors for an American television show. “It’s an interesting thing to take a generation, many of them whom died of HIV in the ‘80s and didn’t make it, to take those sort of people whose shoulders we all stand on, and then bring a new generation, and sort of mix those worlds together,” he noted.

A M E R I C A’ S




Describing “Pose” as “very moving,” Murphy believes now is the time to tell the story about this group of people who sadly are “more and more disenfranchised and cut off.” “We wanted to celebrate them. They’re a part of our family, and certainly a part of mine and my community, and I think the timing of this show was very important,” Murphy said. Murphy was adamant about showcasing





the trans community in a respectful way. “We show these women specifically in relationships with one another. So often, when we have portraits of trans people in the media, there are these side figures who play like this moralistic kind of thing for the main character, when they are the main character, when they are butting against each other, when they are butting against the world around them, whether that’s a man who works for the Trump organization, or some woman who works in a perfume store,” Murphy said. He added: “These things I think are important, in order to really see the fullness of trans people’s lives, and also just queer people’s lives.” One of the central characters, played by Ryan Jamaal Swain, is a black queer boy, who is pushed out of his home, looking for community and a sense of belonging. “I think that that’s something that anyone that would come to this show is hoping for, for themselves,” said Murphy. “And so I think that what this show provides for me is an opportunity to have these people sitting with each other. My people, my community...

having problematic politics, problematic relationships, exploring race, class, gender, and sexuality in a way that is accessible, so that we can bring our audience along with us. But then also is unique enough and personal enough that the folk from our community can have something that’s entertaining and a mirror for themselves.” Initially, Murphy wanted to do a television version of the much loved documentary, “Paris is Burning.” “I loved ‘Paris is Burning’....But the more we talked about it and the more we worked on it, I sort of felt that it was very difficult to take those people that were iconic and make sort of fictionalized versions of their lives,” he said. After getting the script for “Pose,” Murphy recognized how he wanted to create the series. “I thought that was the perfect way to do it. It was, to me, more interesting and more authentic, and that’s why we decided to sort of twist it a little bit,” he said. Viewers will still feel the essence of the documentary; the survivors of “Paris Is Burning” are involved in the show, playing judges on the dance panel and consulting on

the overall series. “Many of the scenes and incidents in the show are based on their stories that they have told us, which was very exciting for me because they were rock stars to me when I was growing up,” said Murphy. With Murphy you never know what to expect, but you know it’s going to make for quality programming. “Everything that I’ve ever done, in terms of television shows, should not work on paper, but who knew that a show about a high school show choir would become what it became? That has the same energy as this, in that it’s looking at a specific group of people who become a family,” he said. “And I’ve always written about a family in a community because growing up, I always wanted that, and I didn’t really have it. So I guess again, I return to my childhood themes in some way.” While the series begins in 1987, Murphy already has an end date. “The show will end when Madonna releases ‘Vogue’ and this wonderful world then becomes mainstream. That is the path of the drama series,” Murphy said.


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queery JAMES DUKE MASON How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell? I’ve been out since I was 14. I had it pretty easy compared to most kids, but I’d have to say that the hardest person to tell was my Dad. I told him in a handwritten letter. Who’s your LGBT hero? Cleve Jones. Cleve and I worked on the boycott of the Beverly Hills Hotel, and as a member of the West Hollywood Lesbian & Gay Advisory Board, I was able to honor him with the city’s Rainbow Key Award.

Photo by Scott Hoover


When my son came out to me when he was 14, I totally accepted him. After all, throughout my life, most of my friends had been gay or lesbian. I worried, however, about the kind of world that he would live in; I knew there were so many challenges LGBT people faced that the rest of us did not face, and that scared me. Over the last 12 years since he revealed his truth that day, Duke has dedicated himself to making a positive difference for his community. He’s never shied away from the tough fights, and for that I have so much respect and admiration for him. At the age of 17 he was elected the first openly gay president of his high school’s student council. At 20, he served as a surrogate on President Obama’s re-election campaign and was invited to the White House after the election in recognition of his efforts. Soon after that he was appointed to the Board of Directors of OUTFEST, the youngest Board member in its 35-year history. In 2015, at the age of 22, he made the brave decision to run for West Hollywood City Council. He didn’t win, but Morgan (my husband and Duke’s father) and I felt so proud of him for putting himself out there and dedicating himself to public service. Since then, Duke has continued to play a big role in local civic affairs. He served on the Board of Directors of the West Hollywood Community Housing Corporation, which builds much of the affordable housing in WeHo. Over the last three years he has been a city official on the West Hollywood Lesbian & Gay Advisory Board, where he currently serves as Co-Chair. He also, in 2017, was one of the founding organizers of the L.A. Pride Resist March. The march was organized in lieu of the annual parade as a demonstration of LGBT opposition against Donald Trump, and attracted over 100,000 participants. This is someone who is passionate about creating positive change and I am so thrilled, as his mother, but also just as a citizen, that he has made the decision to run for City Council again. We need a new generation of leadership to step up at this time of challenge for our city, our state and our country. I have no doubt that my son will make a superb City Councilman.

What’s Los Angeles’ best nightspot, past or present? Tom Doherty’s Café D’Etoile. It’s one of the last old school institutions left in LA, and one of the last “gay restaurants” in West Hollywood. Describe your dream wedding. On the beach in Maui, Hawaii with a small group of friends and family. What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about? Homelessness, rent control, the need for affordable housing, aging in place for our seniors — all tie back to housing. What historical outcome would you change? Donald Trump being “elected” president. What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime? Meeting President Obama at the White House in 2012 after working on his reelection campaign on the same day as the Sandy Hook tragedy. On what do you insist? Conviction. The philosopher Dante once said that “the darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.” What was your last Facebook post or Tweet? I posted about the news of the Russian oligarch who paid Trump lawyer Michael Cohen half a million dollars right after the 2016 election. If your life were a book, what would the title be? Sounds super corny, but “A Young

American.” If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do? I would never change. I truly feel blessed to be gay. What do you believe in beyond the physical world? I’ve always had a strong belief in a higher power — God, the law of attraction, the universe, whatever you want to call it. What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders? Remember the lesson that Harvey Milk always said that it’s not just about the gays, but “the us’s”- we’re all in this battle together against the status quo, and if we fight together we will win and create real change for the future. What would you walk across hot coals for? For Donald Trump to no longer be president. What LGBT stereotype annoys you most? That we are all the same kind of person and easily definable. Our diversity is a strength we should celebrate and cherish. What’s your favorite LGBT movie? I saw “Love, Simon” twice in the theater last month and spent almost the entire time crying throughout each screening. I couldn’t help but think what a difference it would have made for me to see a film like that when I came out at 14 just 12 years ago. The world has changed so quickly, and thank God for that. What’s the most overrated social custom? Not talking about politics at social functions. What trophy or prize do you most covet? Knowing that I’ve had a positive impact. What do you wish you’d known at 18? That so many of the things that you think matter actually don’t. Why Los Angeles? West Hollywood, the urban village at the center of the second-largest city in the country. Can’t imagine that it gets much better than that.



Out Web Fest to celebrate web content in West Hollywood An international LGBTQ digital shorts event comes of age By JOHN PAUL KING

Imagine Dragons’ Dan Reynolds stars in the HBO documentary film, “Believer,” which kicks off the largest ever international LGBTQ digital festival. Photo Courtesy HBO

Hollywood may be the film and television capitol of the world, but anyone with any 21st century savvy knows that those twin pillars of pop culture are not the only game in town. Ask any millennial– or, better yet, any millennial’s kids – and they will tell you that these days, the coolest entertainment happens on the internet. That’s why Revry, the premiere queer global streaming network, will present the third annual Out Web Fest (OWF) on May 18 – 20, right in the heart of West Hollywood. The first queer web festival celebrating the best in independent LGBTQ digital storytelling, Out Web Fest is a three-day festival that celebrates the cultural significance of this revolutionary intersection of medium and storytelling, offering opportunities for international and local digital content creators, producers and fans to connect with each other and introducing them to new and inclusive programming. The festival kicks off on Friday, May 18 with an opening night at YouTube Space LA (12422 Bluff Creek Dr.), featuring the West Coast premiere of the acclaimed HBO documentary film, “Believer” – directed by Don Argott, produced by Live Nation Productions and starring Imagine Dragons’ frontman Dan Reynolds. The film offers an intimate portrait of Reynolds – who was raised in the Mormon Church and remains a devout member – as he confronts his own faith to take a public stand for LGBTQ rights. As a straight man, Reynolds was never directly touched by anti-LBGT bias until his marriage to non-Mormon singer Aja Volkman; when her close friends, a lesbian couple, expressed dismay over the Mormons’ 2008 campaign against the legalization of gay marriage, his mind was opened. The film follows him through the process of self-education, culminating with his joining of gay Mormon singer Tyler Glenn of the band Neon Trees to stage the LoveLoud music festival, a music and spoken-word festival designed to spark dialogue between the church and members of the LGBTQ+ community Drawing praise from critics and LGBT advocates after its debut at the Sundance Film Festival in January, “Believer” was promptly acquired by HBO; it will air on that network beginning June 25 . Before the screening, Out Web Fest will celebrate its annual Revry Visibility Awards, honoring those persons and/or organizations that participate in evolving society’s perspectives on LGBTQ issues. LoveLoud, the non-profit organization born of Reynolds and Glenn’s music festival as shown in the film, will be one of this year’s recipients, for bringing unconditional love and support to out LGBTQ+ friends and families. Having publicly expressed his concern for the rising suicide rate in LGBTQ+ youth, Reynolds founded the LoveLoud Foundation in 2017 to bring awareness to the growing crisis. Its mission is to bring communities and families together to help ignite the vital conversation of what it means to unconditionally love LGBTQ+ youth Also honored will be YouTube icon Ingrid Nilsen, for her profound impact in LGBTQ advocacy. A lifestyle expert and online video personality, she has amassed over seven million followers across all her social channels. Since coming out on her YouTube channel, Ingrid has become a voice for strong, independent young women. She was named a Change Ambassador to the UN focusing on the global fight for gender equality and regularly speaks out on advancing the awareness of the tampon tax. She was also featured in the 2016 OUT 100 list. The main festival, which takes place at the London West Hollywood Hotel (1020 N San Vicente Blvd.), takes place over the following two days; with screenings of exciting new online content, as well as panel discussions with several powerhouse figures in the online production world. Saturday’s screenings will include short films from directors such as Maxime Potherat and Jules Thénier, Erin Good, Roberto Nascimento, Anthonia Onyejekwe, Gopal Shivakoti , and Shwenn Shunya Chang. There will also be a summer preview of some of Revry’s best web series, including “Barbelle,” “Septo,” and world premieres of “Queens of Kings” (Season 3), “3030” (Season 2), “RosaBaby,” “Putting On” and “Room To Grow – The Series.” On Sunday, the screenings include music videos from the likes of Chris Jacobx, Alsace Carcione, Ysa Yaneza, Cazwell (ft. Peppermint), Big Dipper, INA, Dark Pink Stars, Davis Mallory, Matt Palmer and Megan Vice. Also featured will be comedy content from Tim Manley, Madeleine Dyer, Joel Ashton McCarthy, Elsie Bollinger and Sally Bollinger, CJ Arellano, Charmaine Bingwa and Reece Jones, Ness, Jean-Pierre Chapoteau, Kate Jessop and Aiden Peters. Panels will take place on both days, featuring Shira Lazar, Lorenzo Thione, Max Epperson, On Mekahel, Jade Hillard and Jon Brence. Saturdays panels are “Buffer Festival LA” (4-4:45pm) and “StartOut” (5:15-6 p.m.). On Sunday the topics will be “How to Create a Successful Podcast” (4-4:45p.m.) and “Creating Content for Music” (5:15-6 p.m.). OWF’s most exciting event for aspiring content creators, however, will probably be the Powerhouse Industry Pitchfest. This will offer the rare opportunity to pitch stories to a variety of industry executives from the most influential digital production companies today. The prestigious list for Saturday includes luminaries such as Emily Best (Seed&Spark), Angela Nikas (Entertainment One), Matt Sims (The Sims Group), Madison Kern (Blue Fever), Dennis Dortch (Black & Sexy), Brian Graden and Ben Jehoshua (Brian Graden Media) and Chris Michael (Funny Or Die). On Sunday, creators will have the chance to share their ideas with Laura Fischer (Powderkeg Media), David Person (IFC), Aimee Helfand (FamiLeague), Brent Trotter and Paris McCoy (Anti-Villan Media), John Halbach (Queerty) and Kate Grady (Adaptive Studios), among others. If you are – or want to be – a producer or a creator of queer-inclusive online content, or even if you’re simply a fan, Out Web Fest is the place to be next weekend. For tickets and full program information, go to outwebfest.com. Note that tickets for the Pitchfest are limited and separate from the festival passes.



Back to the future Newly out chanteuse Janelle Monae returns with album, short film By THOM MURPHY

Janelle Monae’s new album doesn’t try to hide its Prince and Michael Jackson influences. Photo Courtesy Atlantic

Ever since her 2007 EP “Metropolis: Suite I (The Chase),” Janelle Monáe has brought a new and futuristic sound to the pop music scene. Her subsequent recordings have topped charts and she has starred in the films “Hidden Figures” (2016) and “Moonlight” (2016). Last month in Rolling Stone, Monáe came out as queer, addressing her previous relationships with both men and women, and used the term “pansexuality” to describe her sexual orientation. Monáe’s third album “Dirty Computer” tackles her queer sexuality, in addition to other traditionally off-limits issues. Her lyrics explore blackness, the female body and the complex relationship of sex and power. And she deals with all these issues in remarkably creative ways. It’s a fresh, original album that is as political as it is hip. Accompanying the album is a nearly 50-minute short film, or “emotion picture” as Monáe calls it. Set in a fictional dystopian future (think “Blade Runner” meets “Black Mirror”), Monáe imagines a universe where “dirty computers” — individuals who are different because of their race, gender or political beliefs — are forcibly “cleaned” by a repressive government. Various tracks from the album appear in the “emotion picture” as memories that must be erased. Only after reconnecting with her male and female love interests is Jane 57821 (Monáe’s alter ego) able to escape from the “cleansing,” demonstrating love’s power to overcome oppression. The short film makes clear that Monáe is not afraid to take a stand in the current political climate. Musically, its inclusion represents a return to the concept album and Monáe comes back to the same fictional universe of her previous albums. With its spacey, futuristic story line, “Dirty Computer” is not just a collection of songs but is a single, coherent narrative. It’s an ambitious move for a pop singer in a musical landscape where radio-edited singles dominate. That is not to say that “Dirty Computer” is not radio-ready (several singles have been released) but rather that Monáe has set higher aims for the project as a whole. The lead single “Make Me Feel” seems at least a titular nod to Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel.” Many have also noted the influence of Prince, who was Monáe’s musical mentor until his untimely death, on both this track and the album as a whole. But if anything, the song is a testament to Monáe’s voracious musical borrowings, which go far beyond any one decade, genre or style. Of the singles released from the album, “Pynk” has perhaps garnered the most media attention for its explicit depictions of the female anatomy. The song is Monáe’s answer to the Women’s March, an Eve Ensler-esque affirmation of the female body accompanied by an upbeat, futuristic groove. The track, which features Grimes, shows off Monáe’s vocal range, contrasting the delicate sounding soprano in the verse and pre-chorus with the impressive force of the chorus. But the album cannot be fully appreciated from just its singles. Many of the most fun and musically innovative tracks are spread throughout the album. Among these is “Crazy, Classic, Life,” a song about the promise of equality for all. Beginning with a quote from the Declaration of Independence from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “The American Dream” speech, Monáe affirms her identity as black queer person, singing “I’m not America’s nightmare, I’m the American dream.” “Screwed,” featuring Zoë Kravitz, is another superb track, and it encapsulates much of the discussion surrounding the #MeToo movement: “Everything is sex/Except sex, which is power/You know power is just sex/Now ask yourself who’s screwing you.” Through both futuristic sci-fi and borrowings from her musical heritage, Monáe has produced a cogent, sophisticated product. “Dirty Computer” is a great album and it’s Monáe’s best so far. One can’t help but look forward to seeing what else her future (real or imagined) has in store.

A license to discriminate could put the lives of millions of LGBT elders at stake. SAGE’s latest national advocacy campaign “Care Can’t Wait” targets the Trump Administration’s efforts to allow religious based discrimination not only in our a bakeries and restaurants, but as importantly, in our ambulances, hospitals, and nursing homes—affecting the lives of all older LGBT people. “Care Can’t Wait” for our LGBT elders when they seek care. Join us and sign the pledge at sageusa.org/carecantwait.




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.

Revry, the queer streaming service, presents OUT Web Fest 2018, an international digital film festival, on Friday, May 18 from 2-11:30 p.m. at London West Hollywood Hotel. Image Courtesy OWF


Pawsapalooza is today from 10:30 a.m. - 3 p.m. at West Hollywood Park (647 North San Vicente Blvd.). PAWS/LA is an organization that grew out of the need to help find homes for pets whose parent died of AIDS. Today, they provide services to assist low-income seniors and people disabled by any life-threatening illness keep and care for their pets. Bring your furry kid and spend a day in the park with a bunch of your favorite neighbors and watch the kids romp. PAWS/LA will be hosting a myriad of booths featuring pet-friendly products and services. You can also eat from your favorite food trucks. Admission is free. For more information, visit pawsla.org.

Jasmine Masters, international go go dancer Ginger Eddie and Season 10 contestants Yuhua Hamasaki and Kalorie Karbdashian-Williams. CockyBoys model Boomer Banks will also make an appearance. Tickets are $40. For details, search “DragCon After Party with Mariah Balenciaga” on Eventbrite. Jackie Hoffman’s “Memoircita! Feud, Fame, Failure” is tonight from 7-10 p.m. at Renberg Theatre (1125 North McCadden Pl.) Best known for her performance as Mamacita on “Feud: Bette and Joan” (and for making a public spectacle of herself at last year’s Emmy Awards), this self-loathing scene stealer gives the inside dish on Broadway, filming “Feud”, and all things Emmys. Tickets are $30. For details, search “Jackie Hoffman” on Eventbrite.



RuPaul’s DragCon Los Angeles 2018 is today from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. at Los Angeles Convention Center (1201 South Figueroa St.). It’s Mother’s Day, so why not spend it with the mother of all things drag. RuPaul, the Hollywood Star owner and Emmy winner pulls out all the stops, bringing the world of makeup, high-end fashion and everything wiggery together for the three-day, bicoastal event. Meet and interact with world-renowned celebrities and icons in this friendly and accessible World of Wonder. Tickets range from $40-$250. Kids under 10 are free.For details, visit RuPaulsDragCon.com. DragCon After Party with Mariah Balenciaga is tonight from 9 p.m.- 2 a.m. at Micky’s (8857 Santa Monica Blvd). Get set for the wildest after party on the whole DragCon circuit. If you shontay your way there, you’ll enjoy a special VIP bottle service and entertainment from the likes of Jiggly Caliente, Mayhem Miller, Kimora Blac,

Center In Focus: An Evening with Lorri L. Jean is tonight from 7-9 p.m. at the home of Karim Abay and Todd Harvey (1249 S. Stanley Ave.). For more than 45 years, the center has been strengthening the LGBT community through leadership, advocacy and direct services including homeless youth housing, primary and HIV/AIDS healthcare, services for seniors and assistance for victims of abuse and discrimination. Now, it’s expanding to do even more. Enjoy a hosted bar and passed hors d’oeuvres and meet CEO Lorri L. Jean, Chief Development Officer Bill McDermott and Program Manager of the new South LA Campus, David Flores. Admission is free. For more information, visit lalgbtcenter.org.


The Celebration Theatre and HRC Los Angeles present “Die, Mommie, Die!” by Charles Busch tonight from 6:30-

9:30 p.m. at the Kirk Douglas Theater (9820 Washington Boulevard, Culver City). Starring the hilarious Drew Droege (“Bright Colors and Bold Patterns,” “Chloe,” Logo’s “Cocktails & Classics”) as aging Hollywood star Angela Arden. Trapped in a hateful marriage with sleazy film producer Sol and desperate to find happiness with her gorgeous young lover Tony, Angela murders her husband and the party gets started. Pre-show mixer is at 6:30 p.m. Free parking. Tickets are $40. For more details, visit facebook.com/hrclosnageles.


OUT Web Fest 2018 is today from 2-11:30 p.m. at London West Hollywood Hotel (1020 North San Vicente Blvd.). The world’s only digital festival dedicated to celebrating web series, short films and music videos by and for the global queer community is an exceptional opportunity for an international crowd of queer content creators to connect and celebrate the progressive evolution of LGBTQ+ entertainment. Honest and unfiltered digital short-form storytelling that does not rely on access to resources, lofty budgets, or elite “movers and shakers” in the industry. Tickets range from $30-$50. For more information, visit outwebfest.com. Queer Ball 2018 is tonight from 7-10 p.m. at Queens Banquet Hall (18112 Parthenia St). Get ready to live out your queerest fantasy and join the California State University, Northridge’s Queer Collective and LGBTQIA+ Club for Queer Ball. It’s a night full of dancing, spoken word, open mics and food. The theme is Floral Fantasy so come in garden-inspired attire. Open to all. Tickets are $10. For details, search “The Queer Ball at Queens Banquet Hall” on Eventbrite.


“You obviously have your mother’s incredible compassion...and your father’s steely ambition – whoever that may be.” - Bill Maher to Ronan Farrow. Sounds like a case for 23AndMe.com. Marriage is kinda like eating at Chipotle. It seems like a good idea at the time, but shortly thereafter you may find yourself rushing for the bathroom. I’m not opposed to marriage in general - or even gay marriage specifically. I think that this generation sees it as the natural progression of a relationship. But many gay people “of a certain age” never had the reality of marriage on the horizon. Once it became legal, loads of people took the plunge to be part of the movement. Alas, some movements race toward one’s bowels. Colton Haynes has one foot in that older group, and one in the younger generation. I guess you could say Colton straddles the age brackets - among other things. So I was not particularly surprised that he got engaged less than a year after coming out. That was as predictable as news that his “happily ever after” lasted roughly six months, which, to be fair, is longer than Kim Kardashian’s first attempt. No official statement has been made, but Colton has unfollowed his hubby on Instagram and deleted all photos of them together from his social media - so that sounds official to me! As the coup de grace, Colton has recorded a song, because apparently now he’s a chanteuse. This little ditty is called “Man It Sucks.” If the man sucks well, I don’t see a problem. Then there’s the marriage of Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent. I give this one odds of lasting till at least 2020, come hell or high water. But that doesn’t matter to a member of the Duggar family. Well, a Duggar-in-law. Derick Dillard, who is married to Jill Duggar (of the “we don’t believe in contraception” Duggars) and was previously on TLC’s “Counting On.” Curiously enough, he disappeared from the show under murky circumstances. Some say he was fired; others say he left of his own accord. Either way, he’s unemployed and bitter. So why not lash out at a gay couple that has a show on the same network? Derick said, “What a travesty of family. It’s sad how blatant the liberal agenda is, such that it both highlights and celebrates a lifestyle so degrading to children on public television as if it should be normal.” First off, is TLC “public television?” Is “Nate & Jeremiah By Design” on between “Masterpiece Theatre” and “My 600 Pound Life”? Nate and Jeremiah are not perfect (although they do have pretty fabulous hair). I’m sure there’s lots to criticize. But it’s not like the oh-so-Christian Duggars are beyond reproach, either. Nate responded. “My hope with having a show like #NandJByDesign on @TLC, where we go into people’s homes and welcome viewers into ours, is that we can start to break down barriers & normalize the way our family looks & the way our family loves.” When it comes to gay couples that might make it, my money’s on Lance Bass and Michael Turchin. Just a hunch. Lance was in the news when *NSYNC got their star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It gave the famed quintet a chance to reunite, and Lance talked about why he didn’t come out of the closet earlier. “I thought if I had come out, *NSYNC would be over. So I kept my secret, and our wildest dreams were coming true, and we were so incredibly thankful. And I still am. But so many nights on stage, I’d see so many young, gay fans, singing their hearts out, and I wanted so badly to let you know - I was you. I just didn’t have the strength then. But I do today, and so let me say loud and proud to all my LGBT brothers and sisters who embrace me and show me the way to be who I am, thank you so much.” Bravo! After the star ceremony, there was a dinner at WeHo hotspot Delilah. All five boys were confirmed to attend, along with their loved ones and numerous friends. Alas, Justin Timberlake was a no-show. He did, however, join the others on a taped episode of “Ellen” where they played a spirited game of “Never Have I Ever.” This game featured the group telling the truth about their previous sexual exploits (not surprisingly, Lance had the least to contribute). There were questions like have you ever hooked up with a fan, on the tour bus, with someone twice your age, etc. When asked if any of them had ever hooked up with a Spice Girl, Timberlake sheepishly said, “I Have.” Of course, anyone reading this column already knows that he had a one-nighter with Baby Spice, Emma Bunton. Continues at losangelesblade.com


Which gay couples will last and which will split? Predictions for Hollywood’s same-sex marriages By BILLY MASTERS

Colton Haynes and his husband split after barely six months together. Screenshot Courtesy YouTube




is a talented actor and here gives





John Carroll Lynch Matt Bomer Maura Tierney




Laemmle’s Monica Film Center (310) 478-3836 laemmle.com Tickets @ laemmle.com


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