Losangelesblade.com, Volume 2, Issue 11, May 18, 2018

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Gubernatorial candidate Delaine Eastin promotes respect She learned about LGBT diversity early from her mother By KAREN OCAMB kocamb@losangelesblade.com Delaine Eastin is a long shot in the race to be the next governor of California. But Bernie Sanders was a long shot, too, and while the socialist independent didn’t capture the nomination of the Democratic Party, he did win enough hearts and minds to inspire radical challengers to traditional Democratic thinking. Eastin is considerably nicer—no charged up bros or Bernie bot arrows in her quiver. But she is running a grassroots Berniestyle campaign, targeting voters with special-issue interests such as pay equity, climate change and anything to do with education. And she’s doing it with such a smart and sometimes tongue-in-cheek, rousing kickass presentation that her messages come across as simple, logical, common sense. To underscore the point, on May 15 Eastin released her first campaign ad cleverly featuring debate snippets of frontrunners Gavin Newsom and Antonio Villaraigosa agreeing with her. “California is a state overwhelmingly run by Democrats. We are the leaders of the resistance to Trump. We are also the state that has the highest number and percentage of poor people and homeless individuals in the country. If Democrats can’t protect and grow the middle class in the richest state in the richest country on earth, what good are we?” Eastin said at the Democratic convention in San Diego on Feb. 28. “You need a visionary governor with a brass backbone, who isn’t afraid of bullies and will not kowtow to the rich and powerful. That is who I am, what I have always done, and what I will do as governor.” Delaine Eastin told EdSource that her favorite quote is from author, educator Neil Postman: “Children are living messages we send to a time we will never see.” Interestingly, though her mother lived to see Eastin flourish as a college teacher of women’s studies and political science, a corporate strategic planner and a member of the Union City city council, she may not

Delaine Eastin at the California Democratic Convention Los Angeles Blade Photo by Karen Ocamb

have grasped how impactful the values of respect and acceptance she inculcated in her daughter wound up helping the LGBT community. “I was privileged to be raised in a very broad-minded household,” Eastin tells the Los Angeles Blade in a recent phone interview. “My mother was a San Franciscan and I was raised to be accepting and open to every person on earth.” Eastin’s mother walked the talk. The gubernatorial candidate tells how her mother worked at a very nice dress shop and at one point her boss tested her mettle. “’Dottie, you seem like an open-minded woman.’ And my mother said, ‘I like to think I am.’ And the boss said, ‘Well ya know the state law says that men can’t try on women’s clothes.’ And my mother said, ‘Oh, I didn’t really know that.’ She said, ‘Yes, on the other hand, we have private dressing rooms here and there are men that want to buy women’s clothes and I was wondering if you would consider being the sales person to such men?’ And my mother said, ‘Well of course.’” Eastin says her mother actually had “quite a number of men who were dressing in women’s clothes who were her regular customers. And she said they were lovely and they were very gracious and it was easy work to do.”

Later, in 1983, the weekend with family before her mother passed away, Eastin was doing her nails when her four-year old nephew Cameron asked her to do his nails, too. The boy was sent to get his father’s permission and in his absence, Eastin’s dying mother told her: “You have to look after Cameron because I think he’s gay.” That’s interesting, why would you say that? Eastin replied. “She said, ‘It’s not a choice you make. It’s the way you’re born.’” “I’ve just always known some great people that happened to be gay people,” Eastin says. “I just think we ought to have an open mind about everybody’s life.” Cameron did turn out to be gay, has a wonderful life with a wonderful partner and Eastin is prepared to officiate at their wedding, should that occasion rise. And Eastin learned her mother’s life lessons. As a member of the California Assembly, she fought against Prop 64 in 1986 and became the first State Superintendent of Public Instruction to march in the San Francisco Gay Rights Parade with Cameron and her high school drama teacher, Jay Deck, who happened to be gay. “He was such an inspiration to me in high school,” she says. “I was an ingrown toenail disguised as a fourteen-year-old and he helped me find my voice.” Elected Superintendent in 1995, she

established an LGBT Task Force to enforce the California Student Safety and Violence Prevention Act of 2000 (AB 537), thenAssemblymember Sheila Kuehl’s bill (co-authored by then-Assembly Speaker Villaraigosa) that changed California’s Education Code by adding actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity to the existing nondiscrimination policy. Throughout her career as Superintendent, as well as serving on the UC Board of Regents, Eastin received death threats for supporting the “gay agenda” but never waivered. Win or lose, Eastin intends to stay engaged. But now, she’s fighting to be one of two candidates that survive the June 5 primary. To LGBTQ voters Eastin says: “I will always stand with you on behalf of tomorrows that are brilliant for everyone. And I appreciate, as my mother pointed out so many years ago, this is not a choice you make, this is how you were born and we must, in fact, respect each other’s differences, whether it’s left handed versus right handed, whether it’s LGBTQ, whether it’s people that have chosen to be vegetarians or people that are religious or atheist—everybody has to be respected and they have to respect each other. “And that’s what we must do. We must foster the kind of attitude in our society that is love your neighbor as yourself,” Eastin says.





Underdog John Chiang attacks Did gubernatorial candidate cross the line with negative ad about Villaraigosa? By KAREN OCAMB kocamb@losangelesblade.com Optics. That’s what struck the LGBT community in July 2008 when California State Controller John Chiang seemingly emerged out of nowhere to defy Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger during an ugly state budget battle. Most LGBT politicos knew Chiang as the Board of Equalization numbers nerd who defeated anti-gay Assembly member Tony Strickland for Controller the year before. And while Schwarzenegger told Log Cabin Republicans in April that he opposed a constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage, most LGBT people only remembered that the Republican governor had twice vetoed marriage equality bills. So in what looked like a fiscal showdown between David vs. Goliath, LGBT people pulled for the underdog. Schwarzenegger backed off and Chiang won on behalf of state employees whose paychecks the governor wanted to temporarily roll back to minimum wage. Chiang was known to Westside Democrats but few noticed in 1997 when he was appointed to replace Brad Sherman on the Board of Equalization after Sherman was elected to Congress. Sherman taught the LGBT community how important the BOE could be when he challenged the tax-exempt status of rabidly anti-gay Rev. Lou Sheldon’s Traditional Values Coalition. Chiang was not that confrontational on BOE or as Controller. Rather, he did important nerdy stuff like traveling throughout the state giving seminars explaining tax laws to registered domestic partners—and how to appeal discriminatory cases—and led the rewriting of joint tenancy rules to include domestic partners. But Chiang made some real dents in curtailing esoteric but significant and largely invisible discrimination as State Treasurer. In 2015, with the backing of the California LGBT Legislative Caucus and Equality California, Chiang pressured the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS)— which represents the largest

John Chiang at a Pride event Photo Courtesy of Chiang’s Campaign

public pension fund in America—to expand the definition of “diversity” on corporate boards to include sexual orientation and gender identity. “CalPERS’ Global Governance Principles provide factors that its internal and external managers are expected to take into account when investing its more than $300 billion in assets,” the Paul Hastings law firm wrote in a report to investors. Chiang also pressured the California State Teachers’ Retirement Fund (“CalSTRS”) to update its Corporate Governance Principles, as well. As with Schwarzenegger, Chiang’s pressure worked and substantive change was made, even if it didn’t make flashy headlines. As his gubernatorial ad “Underdog” illustrates, Chiang has worked to turn terror into triumph.

“I don’t remember the first time it happened. But I’ll never forget how painful it was for my family. They threw rocks at our windows. Spray painted our garage and started fights with us on the playground,” Chiang says in the voiceover. “My dad came over from Taiwan in the 1950s with little money to his name. We were the first Asian-American family on our block. We were taunted, ridiculed, but I remember my mom saying we just need to show them that we are good people. I think that’s why I’ve always rooted for the underdog.” “It was painful to be excluded” as a child, Chiang tells the Los Angeles Blade. “I really like people. I like being around people and to have people just look at you and not give you an opportunity. To have people look at you to engage in action that’s harmful to

you. To have people look at you and not view you as a person having value really impacts me to my core. “So my whole life has been about making sure that we make this world a better place,” Chiang continues. “That we’ve come together to try to understand that everybody is entitled to dignity, respect and has value. We still have extraordinary hostility. We have a president that has taken action inconsistent with those values. But there are so many people today that are passionate, whether it’s about the Muslim ban, whether it’s about standing up to President Trump. So I’m hopeful. This is a tall climb up the proverbial mountain but at the end of the day, I believe we get there for equality.” But Chiang has an optical problem with his latest campaign ad targeting Antonio Villaraigosa: many view it as a desperate Republican-style attack to get the second spot behind frontrunner Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom in the June 5 primary. “I have great respect for Antonio and I don’t view [the ad] as mean-spirited but I do believe that all elected officials—we all have to stand up for our actions. We all have to be straight-forward.” Chiang says there were “fiscal issues during [Villaraigosa’s] service” as mayor of Los Angeles. “There were issues on priorities so he has to address those priorities, as all the candidates do.” But the “Leadership” ad is misleading. “He was called ‘a failure.’ An ‘embarrassment.’ As mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa drove L.A. to the brink of bankruptcy,” the ad says, at one point citing Los Angeles Magazine. “Villaraigosa’s recklessness threatened jobs, the economy, and left no funding to test 7,000 rape kits, putting public safety at risk.” The LA Magazine citation refers to a very long “open letter” to Villaraigosa by freelance journalist Ed Leibowitz published June 1, 2009. In it, the author expresses extreme disappointment with the first-term mayor for failing to deliver on campaign promises. It is not an editorial by the magazine’s staff. In fact, Villaraigosa served a second term as mayor, where a number of mistakes were dealt with, according to the LA Times, which endorsed Villaraigosa on May 10. Optics. Chiang has been perceived as a man of integrity with a record of fiscal responsibility. But will that now be clouded with this new appearance of negativity?



Can Estevan Montemayor save LA Pride? Another reboot for the 48-year-old parade and celebration By TROY MASTERS tmasters@losangelesblade.com With roughly three weeks to go before the annual LA Pride parade and festival gets underway, Christopher Street West (CSW), the community organization that produces the annual event, was forced to deal with an internal board crisis that many say has been a long time coming. On May 10 Chris Classen, the volunteer president of CSW since 2016, was forced by unanimous vote of the organization’s board, to step aside in favor of board member

Estevan Montemayor, a veteran of several Los Angeles area political campaigns and current Director of Communications and External Affairs for Los Angeles City Council member David Ryu. For critical CSW watchers, the move feels long overdue. In 2016, outrage against CSW nearly engulfed the organization on numerous fronts: efforts to rebrand the traditional LA Pride Festival — a carnival replete with a ferris wheel, sock vendors, cotton candy and corn on the cob — into a decidedly more expensive upscale event enraged some local community members. The new event, called LA Pride and Music Festival, was derided as a “gay Coachella” music festival and controversy escalated when structural changes to the event were announced. Critics slammed Classen for increasing

the price of festival entry from $10 to $35, eliminating free festival admission on Friday, diminishing transgender visibility and events, downplaying the historic Dyke March, changing the focus of what had been seen as a community-based festival for everyone to a festival for a younger, richer audience, being unwelcoming to seniors, appearing to remove “LGBT” from the event’s branding, disregarding the event’s place in LGBT history, eliminating LGBT leadership awards and grants, banning local community small business vendors from the festival, limiting access for some LGBT non-profits and stifling dissenting CSW board members by strictly enforcing non-disclosure agreements, anathema to community transparency. Boycotts were threatened and at least one, #NotMyPride, went viral prompting organizers to reverse course on many


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planned changes. Ultimately, several board members quit in protest. But buried among the outrages were concerns about the engagement of an events and fundraising business called Incluence, a company owned and operated by CSW President Chris Classen and board member Craig Bowers. At the time, whether that arrangement constituted a conflict of interest was largely unexplored. Additionally, no kickbacks were identified by activists who pored over official financial reports and tax returns. However, when the WeHoville blog revealed that this year an exclusive three-year fundraising contract had been awarded to Bowers, now a former Continues on Page 10



Tammy Baldwin under vicious attack in re-election bid Movingly ‘comes out’ about her late mother’s opioid addiction By KAREN OCAMB kocamb@losangelesblade.com “I had a lovely visit to Northern California. It’s sunny and it was a welcome weekend away from the mess that is Washington, D.C. right now,” says out Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin, casually tossing off the understatement of the year. Baldwin was in San Francisco on May 12 accepting Equality California’s Equality Leadership Award as the nation’s capital was roiled in yet another controversy over the crumbling fate of decency. The White House aide Kelly Sadler refuses to publicly apologize for her comment about Republican Sen. John McCain, a Vietnam War hero who endured years of torture as a POW. McCain, who is fighting brain cancer, opposes the confirmation of Gina Haspel—who oversaw an “enhanced interrogation” program—as CIA director. Sadler said McCain’s opinion didn’t matter because “he’s dying anyway.” Baldwin didn’t want to weigh in on the controversy, but noted that she and McCain have partnered on three major bills, including one to reduce prescription drug prices and another “to confront the high rate of veteran suicides, focusing on the intersection with the opioid epidemic. “I sometimes agree and sometimes disagree with John McCain but I feel that he has been such a fierce and independent member of the United States Senate and where I have had an opportunity to partner with him on important efforts, it has been a joy to work with him,” Baldwin told the Los Angeles Blade on her way to the airport. Baldwin’s bipartisanship is not reserved for McCain. “I am a strong supporter of Buy America policies. I’ve been working on them since I came into the House of Representatives in 1998,” she said. “Frankly, it’s so important to my Wisconsin workers that I’ve called on the president to help me strengthen our Buy America provisions. So far, no action.” But Wisconsin is a 2018 battleground state and Baldwin’s record of working across the aisle is obscured by the avalanche of ugly

Sen. Tammy Baldwin at the Equality California Awards in San Francisco on May 12. Photo by Chris Schmitt Photography

negativity funded by the GOP, the billionaire Koch brothers and hard-right industrialist Richard Uihlein spending up to $5 million as two conservative Republicans vie for votes in the Aug. 14 primary. Last July, for instance, a Milwaukee radio station ran an ad saying: “Did you know one out of three babies aborted in America are black? One out of three. And Tammy Baldwin is a big reason why. That could be the next Frederick Douglass or Rosa Parks or Martin Luther King they’re aborting.” More recently, state Sen. Leah Vukmir, who overwhelmingly won the party nomination on May 14, issued a news release featuring photos of herself with Haspel as members of “Team America” and Baldwin with 9/11 mastermind as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed as “Team Terrorists.” Baldwin’s focus is on healthcare, as well as the economy, with personal stories to back her policies. At age nine, for instance, she was diagnosed with a childhood illness that put her in the hospital for three months. She recovered but now has a pre-existing condition. But it’s Wisconsin’s opioid crisis that is building bridges. Baldwin just revealed that her late mother was an addict. “I remember what it was like to come home

from school and not be able to get into the house. I’d pound on the door, but my mother wouldn’t answer. She’d be passed out inside. My mother had a drug abuse problem. She struggled with addiction to prescription drugs her whole life. I had to grow up fast. Very fast. So when I see the opioid crisis that is wrecking so many Wisconsin families, all I can tell you is—I’ve been there. I know how hard this fight is. I know the stigma that comes with drug abuse and mental illness,” Baldwin says movingly in a new video. The statistics are overwhelming. “Fifteen people a week are overdosing in Wisconsin. This is a crisis for our country and far too many Wisconsin families,” Baldwin says. Baldwin has been a public figure since 1986 when she was first elected to the Dane County Board of Supervisors at age 24. But this is the first time she’s talked about her mother’s addiction. “I lost my mother last August and I know that throughout her life she was ashamed, frankly, of the fact that she wasn’t able to raise me for most of her life. My maternal grandparents raised me,” Baldwin tells the Blade. “I live a very public life. But, like my mother, I’m a fairly private person. And it was very important for me, as best I could

while telling my true story, to protect her privacy. But I also believe, as somebody who—my mother was in and out of treatment throughout her life and was also, by the way, and employee assistance counselor at one point in her life—that she would definitely want her experience to help others.” Baldwin says she decided to tell her own story because “the power of telling stories is what I see as leading to change. And I wanted to honor the courageous people who’ve been telling their stories and fighting the stigma and the shame by being willing to tell my own.” The response has been “unbelievable,” enabling others to open up about their own experience, including at the Equality California Awards. A man sitting at the table next to her leaned over and teared up, saying “that’s my dad.” “I’ve been calling this a ‘second coming out’ because I think of it in terms of how we bring about change politically,” Baldwin says. “For the LGBT community, it’s always been ‘come out, come out wherever you are.’ Our visibility, our stories make a difference. And I think the same is absolutely true with this—that the more we fight the stigma, fight the shame and tell our stories, the more we lead to political change.”


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Another reboot for LA Pride Continued from Page 7

CSW board member who still maintained a business partnership with Classen, CSW was forced to act swiftly. The three-year contract awarded Bowers a 20 percent commission on all monies from LA Pride paid sponsorships. WeHoville reports the arrangement could net Bowers more than $500,000, and concluded that it violates California laws prohibiting directors of non-profits from having a vested interest in the organization they lead. Aside from any legal outcome, the optics for CSW were mind-bogglingly bad. It appeared Classen found a way to turn his community volunteer efforts into a lucrative pay-day, funding his own events and entertainment firm. Customarily contracts

are issued only with board approval. Did the board have knowledge of the contract? Does the contract remain intact? CSW is hoping that by pulling Montemayor to the front of the organization, the community might give the organization a chance to regain the community’s trust. LOS ANGELES BLADE: What are the most important tasks you face with CSW? ESTEVAN MONTEMAYOR: CSW’s mission is to create safe and inclusive spaces for self-expression, inspire an authentic sense of activism in the continued fight for equality, and celebrate the unique heritage and diverse cultures of Los Angeles’ LGBTQ+ community and its allies. Our most important tasks are to deliver on that mission, continue evolving our organization, create new and engaging programming, and

grow our efforts while still being inclusive, transparent, and representative of our entire community in everything we do. BLADE: Many people felt the past few years went too far into “post-gay” territory. How can LA Pride reverse that? MONTEMAYOR: My first job is to listen. I want to hear from as many voices as possible over the next few months and throughout my entire tenure as president. I want to understand why people feel the way they do. Only then can we truly engage in a dialogue that will lead us on a positive path forward. BLADE: One of the most controversial moves over the past couple of years was the perception that the Festival was being transformed into a Coachella style event. MONTEMAYOR: Pride has a very special

place in all our hearts and it means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Because of how special it is, there is always a desire to protect it and ensure that it lives on for future generations, I admire that. As an organization, we are trying to reflect a diverse community with very diverse views. CSW, as an organization, does not have an endowment and currently its only major fundraising source is the festival. The festival actually pays for the parade. I’m very excited about this year’s festival, featuring a diverse array of artists, including two popular female headliners as well as a number of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender performers across all of the LA Pride Festival’s three stages. The festival is very much part of our mission at LA Pride. Continues at losangelesblade.com

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Image Courtesy Twitter

Move over, Human Rights Campaign. Actor-turned-artist Jim Carrey thinks he knows the “real” Mike Pence, too. His portrait of the vice president posted on Twitter is captioned “Psycho Mike-O,” with an homage to the Hitchcock thriller on the painting: “I hope they are watching… they’ll see. They’ll see and they’ll know, and they’ll say, ‘why, Mike Pence wouldn’t even harm a fly…’” Pence, an anti-LGBT Christian Supremacist, is taking his “do no harm” show on the road, collecting chits for his shadow government. “Republican officials now see Mr. Pence as seeking to exercise expansive control over a political party ostensibly helmed by Mr. Trump, tending to his own allies and interests even when the president’s instincts lean in another direction. Even as he laces his public remarks with praise for the president, Mr. Pence and his influential chief of staff, Nick Ayers, are unsettling a group of Mr. Trump’s fierce loyalists who fear they are forging a separate power base,” the New York Times reported May 14. Trump former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski joined Pence’s Great America PAC the next day. – Karen Ocamb

“We already receive countless horrifying reports of abuse and mistreatment of transgender people on the inside.” - Lynly Egyes, Transgender Law Center’s Director of Litigation, May 12 on the Trump administration’s rollback of protections for trans prisoners.

“We do have a syphilis outbreak happening right now.” - Marcella Herrera-Carpenter of the Riverside University Health System to KMIR May 8 on reports that number of syphilis cases in Palm Springs are ten times more than the rest of Riverside County.

“We have codified many other cultural celebrations into statute; it’s time to add Pride to that list.”

– Out Assemblymember Evan Low on May 14 unanimous passage of AB 2969, a bill to establish June as LGBT Pride Month in California law. AB 2969 now heads to the Senate.

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



Family Research Council President Tony Perkins was appointed to a U.S. commission on international religious freedom.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) plans an amendment against Trump’s transgender military ban. Image Courtesy YouTube

Blade Photo by Michael Key

Anti-LGBT leader appointed to religious freedom panel A new member has been named to an international religious freedom panel whose advocacy for the issue has focused on enabling anti-LGBT discrimination in the name of “religious freedom.” Tony Perkins, president of the notoriously anti-LGBT Family Research Council, announced Tuesday in a statement that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has named him to a two-year term on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. “I am grateful to Majority Leader McConnell for appointing me to this prestigious position,” Perkins said. “From my post at USCIRF, I look forward to doing all that I can to ensure that our government is the single biggest defender of religious freedom internationally.” The congressional record for Monday confirms Perkins was appointed to the commission pursuant to McConnell’s authority under federal law. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom bills itself as an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission dedicated to defending religious freedom in the United States and abroad. Commissioners are appointed by the president and congressional leaders of both parties. Perkins has spoken out against the persecution of minority Christians overseas, but the Family Research Council — dubbed a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center — domestically promoted the idea religious freedom should allow individuals to discriminate against LGBT people. The Family Research Council has sought to derail virtually every advancement on LGBT rights, ranging from non-discrimination laws to marriage equality. In the Masterpiece Cakeshop case before the U.S. Supreme Court, the organization maintains Christian baker Jack Phillips has a First Amendment right to refuse to make custom wedding cakes for samesex marriages. LGBT groups roundly condemned the appointment of Perkins to the commission on the basis of his advocacy against LGBT rights and also cited as concern his views on Islam. Heidi Beirich, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s intelligence project, said the appointment of Perkins is “deeply disturbing.” “As head of the hate group Family Research Council, Perkins specializes in spreading false propaganda that demonizes the LGBT community and Muslims,” Beirich said. “His idea of ‘religious freedom’ is having the freedom to discriminate against entire groups of people he doesn’t like. His well-documented bigotry has no place in any government entity.” CHRIS JOHNSON

Gillibrand to propose amendment against trans military ban Coming off her aggressive questioning of top military leaders in committee on the transgender military ban, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) now plans to seek to amend major defense legislation against the policy. Asked by the Washington Blade on Tuesday at the 2018 Ideas Conference hosted by the Center for American Progress if she’d seek to amend the fiscal year 2019 defense authorization bill against the ban, Gillibrand replied, “Yes, yes, yes.” In response to a follow-up question on whether she’d propose the amendment when the bill is before the committee or the floor, Gillibrand said, “Both. I’m going to fight, fight, fight.” Gillibrand revealed her plans to amend the defense authorization bill after she questioned each of the military service chiefs in committee on whether openly transgender service — a policy allowed in the military starting in the Obama administration — has resulted in any problems with discipline or unit cohesion. Each of the service chiefs replied that it hasn’t. Although the ban on transgender military service was lifted by former Defense Secretary Ashton Carter in the Obama administration, President Trump enacted a ban on transgender military service after declaring on Twitter transgender people won’t be able to serve in the armed forces “in any capacity.” Courts have enjoined the ban from taking effect as a result of litigation filed by LGBT legal groups, but it remains the underlying policy of the Defense Department. Gillibrand also clashed in committee over the policy with Defense Secretary James Mattis, who recommended to Trump that transgender people be barred from the U.S. military with few exceptions. Holding up a report from the San Francisco-based Palm Center that found no problems with transgender service, Gillibrand said Mattis was ignoring the Defense Department’s own data in his recommendation. An opportunity for Gillibrand to amend the defense authorization bill will come next week when the Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a closed-door session to markup the defense authorization bill. Another chance will come up after the committee reports out the legislation and the legislation comes up on the floor. Either way, there would be significant challenges in amending the defense bill in favor of transgender service in the Republican-controlled Senate. The only Republican members of the committee who has expressed support for transgender service are Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), but he remains absent from the Senate due to illness, and Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), but she has expressed concerns about U.S. government payments for transition-related care. On the Senate floor, things might be different, although the hurdle could be higher in the likely event 60 votes are required to pass an amendment as opposed to a simple majority. If the amendment survives conference committee, Trump would have to agree to sign a defense bill that contains the provision overriding his policy against transgender service. CHRIS JOHNSON

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**NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A PURCHASE WILL NOT IMPROVE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING. ELIGIBILITY: Open to legal residents of California, 18 or older residing within 100 miles (determined by Google maps driving directions) of [Ashley HomeStore at 21301 Victory Boulevard, Canoga Park, CA (the “Store”)] (“Eligibility Zone”), who are not an employee, contractor, officer, or director of Stoneledge Furniture LLC, 755 Ashley Way, Colton, CA 92324 (“Sponsor”) [Stonledge LLC], its subsidiary and affiliated entities, and agencies involved in this promotion, or immediate family or household member of such persons. PROMOTION DATES; GAME CARDS; PRIZES; ODDS: Promotion begins 5/18/18 at 9 a.m. PT and ends 5/18/18 at 9 p.m. or sooner if all Game Cards are distributed (“Promotion Period”). Visit the Store during Store hours during the Promotion Period to get an official Game Card while supplies last. To reveal whether a Game Card is a prize winning card, scratch off the circle on the Game Card. If it reveals “Winner” then to claim the prize, a $5000 Ashley HomeStore shopping spree (ARV $5,000), you must [present the card to a Store Manager]. Prize claim must be made in person at Store by 5/30/18. Prize must be used at store within Eligibility Zone by 6/30/18. Determination of winner subject to verification of eligibility and compliance with Official Rules including timely providing signed Affidavit of Eligibility and Liability and Publicity Release. 500 total Game Cards available in the promotion, 1 is Winning Game Card. Odds: 1 in 500 at beginning of Promotion. If due to a printing, production or other error, more than one (1) Winning Game Card is submitted for a prize claim in the Promotion, then the intended prize in this Promotion will be awarded in a random drawing from among all verified and validated prize claims received by Sponsor. One Game Card request per eligible person. If prize is not claimed by 5/30/18 it will be awarded in Second Chance Drawing. For complete Official Rules by which all participants are bound and details of Second Chance Drawing see Store. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. *Offer applies only to single-receipt qualifying purchases. Ashley HomeStore does not require a down payment, however, sales tax and delivery charges are due at time of purchase if the purchase is made with your Ashley Advantage™ Credit Card. No interest will be charged on promo purchase and equal monthly payments are required equal to initial promo purchase amount divided equally by the number of months in promo period until promo is paid in full. The equal monthly payment will be rounded to the next highest whole dollar and may be higher than the minimum payment that would be required if the purchase was a non-promotional purchase. Regular account terms apply to non-promotional purchases. 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Existing cardholders should see their credit card agreement for their applicable terms. Promotional purchases of merchandise will be charged to account when merchandise is delivered. Subject to credit approval. §Subject to credit approval. Minimum monthly payments required. See store for details. ‡‡Previous purchases excluded. Cannot be combined with any other promotion or discount. Discount offers exclude Tempur-Pedic®, Stearns & Foster® and Sealy Posturepedic Hybrid™ mattress sets, floor models, clearance items, sales tax, furniture protection plans, warranty, delivery fee, Manager’s Special pricing, Advertised Special pricing, and 14 Piece Packages and cannot be combined with financing specials. Effective 1/1/2018, all mattress and box springs are subject to a $10.50 per unit CA recycling fee. SEE STORE FOR DETAILS. Stoneledge Furniture LLC. many times has multiple offers, promotions, discounts and financing specials occurring at the same time; these are allowed to only be used either/or and not both or combined with each other. Although every precaution is taken, errors in price and/or specification may occur in print. We reserve the right to correct any such errors. Picture may not represent item exactly as shown, advertised items may not be on display at all locations. Some restrictions may apply. Available only at participating locations. ±Leather Match upholstery features top-grain leather in the seating areas and skillfully matched vinyl everywhere else. Ashley HomeStores are independently owned and operated. ©2018 Ashley HomeStores, Ltd. Promotional Start Date: May 1, 2018. Expires: May 28, 2018.



Trans asylum seekers finally get interviews Amid some progress, life is still hard and dangerous By CHRISTOPHER KANE The pleas of immigration attorneys such as Nicole Ramos and organizations such as GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) seem to have secured positive movement for transgender women seeking asylum who’ve been stuck on the Mexican border and become victims of violent attacks. “The eleven women and LGBT youth ultimately were able to process later this week,” immigration attorney Nicole Ramos told the Los Angeles Blade late on May 11. “It was a final group of 17, which included five unaccompanied minors. They are detained and the adults are awaiting the credible fear interview of the interview process. ” Ramos, who is based in Tijuana, Mexico, says she is unable to provide more information at this time. GLAD issued a strong statement condemning the violent attacks against the transgender women who are seeking entry into the United States and urged U.S. Border Patrol agents to allow them the opportunity to plead their case for asylum. The loosely organized caravan to which they belong is spread from Tijuana to San Ysidro, a district of San Diego that straddles the Mexican border. The San Diego Union Tribune reported that about two dozen transgender women—who arrived in Tijuana after a long and difficult journey through Mexico—claimed they have been targeted, often violently, “wherever they go.” On Monday, May 7, the day after the story appeared, the shelter in which they were housed was set on fire. Advocates claim the building was targeted because trans immigrants were staying there. Tammy Lin, an attorney who chairs the San Diego Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), told the Los Angeles Blade that the transgender women who have sought asylum will likely be held by Border Protection agents until they are interviewed. Then, they may or may not be eligible to be released into the community–usually after paying a bond that averages $5,000 to $10,000 but can be as high as $20,000. In an interview taped May 11 for airing on Morning Edition, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly told NPR that immigrants from Mexico and Central America “don’t integrate

Nicole Ramos posted video on Facebook featuring trans immigrants. Screencapture Courtesy Facebook

well. They don’t have skills.” Kelly’s comments are tame compared with positions expressed by President Trump and Attorney General Jeffrey Sessions – who indicated he may “invoke a rarely used power of his office” to deny asylum for victims of domestic violence. Adding to the challenges unique to this political climate, asylum seekers from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala are turned down 75 percent of the time, according to an analysis conducted by Truthdig. These countries are especially inhospitable for transgender people, a fact that asylum seekers and the attorneys who represent them hope will strengthen their cases. On April 29, Pasquale Lombardo, attorney and executive board member of the National Lawyers Guild, was joined by a couple dozen lawyers who met with Central American immigrants to assess the strength of their asylum claims. He told the L.A. Blade that the immigrants were subsequently turned away by agents who said they were “at capacity.”

Immigrant attorney Nicole Ramos, who worked closely with the transgender immigrants who have sought asylum in San Ysidro, posted a moving video on which she is flanked by transgender asylum seekers. She criticizes Border Patrol agents for failing to uphold Title 8 Section 1225 of the US Code, which entitles immigrants who fear for their lives to interview with an asylum officer. One Salvadorian transgender immigrant told the San Diego Union Tribune that 15 of her transgender friends were killed last year in her native country. Murder attempts followed many who survived the long journey to the United States, where asylum seekers must pass a “credible fear” interview at a detention facility. The treatment of transgender asylum seekers by US Border Patrol was addressed by GLAD, which called for agents to “ensure their safety and dignified treatment while their applications are processed.” Meanwhile, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand

has introduced a bill that would apply more broadly to immigrants–and perhaps also to other people of color–in their interactions with immigration agents. Her proposed Department of Homeland Security Accountability and Transparency Act would require agents to document every time in which they stop, question, search, or interrogate people. Along with co-sponsoring Sens. Elizabeth Warren (DMA), Tom Udall (D-NM) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Gillibrand hopes to bring more accountability into the process. Lin says if Gillibrand can get this passed, it would help immigration lawyers with their cases. And even if the measure doesn’t pass, it presents an opportunity to make the public more aware of potential abuses against immigrants committed by law enforcement, especially in areas close to the border. “The fact that she’s put it out there and into the media makes folks aware that this might be an issue,” Lin says.




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Every child deserves a family California takes pro-family brand away from Kansas and Oklahoma

Valerie Ploumpis is Equality California’s National Policy Director.

Of the more than 437,000 youth in foster care nationwide in 2016, nearly 55,000 lived in California. Among California’s foster youth population, nearly 20 percent were LGBTQ. LGBTQ young people often enter foster care for the same reasons as their non-LGBTQ peers — abuse, neglect and parental substance abuse. But many have experienced further trauma stemming from family rejection or mistreatment and bullying because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. LGBTQ youth in foster care also have a higher average number of placements and a higher likelihood of living in group homes than their non-LGBTQ peers. The impact is highest on those who are children of color — and more than 50 percent of children in foster care are non-white. The obvious solution is to place LGBTQ kids in affirming foster homes, which — at least in theory — are plentiful. According to the Williams Institute, nearly two million LGBTQ adults have expressed interest in becoming foster or adoptive parents. And same-sex couples are six times more likely to foster children and four times more likely to adopt than non-LGBTQ couples. Despite the

willingness of prospective LGBTQ adoptive and foster parents to provide permanent and loving homes, however, far too many of the 111,000 youth who are eligible for adoption will “age out” of foster care, putting them at much higher risk for poverty, homelessness, incarceration, and early parenthood. But why? California law prohibits discrimination in the foster and adoption system, as do 22 other states and the District of Columbia. But states in about half of the country lack explicit non-discrimination policies and are silent on how prospective LGBTQ foster and adoptive parents of youth should be evaluated. Although nationwide marriage equality has made adoption easier for married same-sex couples in some circumstances, a lack of clear guidance leaves children vulnerable to the individual biases of agencies and case workers and has resulted in being denied the many benefits of being placed with qualified, loving LGBTQ parents. So-called “conscience clause” laws in a handful of states create additional vulnerability for LGBTQ foster youth and prospective LGBTQ parents because they serve as licenses for child welfare providers — including private foster care and adoption agencies — to discriminate based on their own personal “moral” or religious objections. Kansas and Oklahoma just enacted some of the most egregious laws in the country in just the past few weeks. Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer signed a law that would prohibit the Kansas Department for Children and Families from blocking any foster or adoption agency from participating in its programs solely because it refuses to adopt or place children with LGBT individuals. And in the bordering state of Oklahoma, Gov. Mary Fallin ignored pleas from 120 faith organizations and child welfare advocates by signing a bill into law that would allow agencies to not place children in certain homes if it “would violate the agency’s

written religious or moral convictions or policies.” As pointed out by the Family Equality Council, if an agency were approached by the child’s biological aunt who happens to be a lesbian, Oklahoma’s law would shield the agency from state or local penalties if they refuse to allow the aunt to adopt simply because she is LGBTQ. Equality California’s Washington, DC office is working closely with the Family Equality Council, the Trevor Project, PFLAG and a range of LGBTQ organizations and child welfare groups to advance a bill pending in Congress called the “Every Child Deserves a Family Act” (H.R. 2640). Introduced by civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) and cosponsored by more than a dozen California Democrats, the bill would prohibit any entity that receives federal child welfare funds from discriminating against prospective adoptive or foster parents on the bases of their sexual orientation, gender identification, or marital status. It would also bar discrimination against the child’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The bill’s Senate counterpart (S. 1303) is supported by both Senators Feinstein and Harris. We’re also engaged in a parallel fight to block discriminatory legislative efforts to allow child welfare providers to cite moral objections to LGBTQ parents or youth. At the state level, Equality California also co-sponsoring AB 2119 by Assembly member Todd Gloria (D-San Diego), which would require California’s foster care system to assess the health needs of all young people in foster care and to connect transgender and gender nonconforming youth to gender-affirming care when they ask for it. Equality California is cosponsoring this bill along with the ACLU of California, the Los Angeles LGBT Center, Lambda Legal, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights. We know that every child deserves a loving, supportive family. It’s neither prochild, nor pro-family, to deny them one. So we’ll keep fighting for pro-equality, profamily legislation — until the work is done.

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A promise to ‘amplify the voices’ of justice seekers Out Inland Empire member of Congress offers encouragement

Mark Takano is a Democrat representing Riverside County in Congress.

EDITOR’S NOTE: On the eve of the week the U.S. Supreme Court started issuing rulings on, among other cases, the Masterpiece Cakeshop marriage equality vs ‘religious liberty’ case and the constitutionality of President Trump’s Muslim ban, out Rep. Mark Takano, a Democrat from Riverside County, promised to stand up and speak out for all those facing discrimination. Here’s an excerpt from his remarks accepting the Amplify Equality Award from Equality California in San Francisco Saturday, May 12.

I’m proud to accept the Amplify Equality Award tonight. Though in truth, I feel that this is an award that should be presented to all of you. Because it is organizations like Equality California that have helped make LGBTQ voices heard on issues of civil rights and equality that go beyond our own community. I am, of course, the first openly gay person to be elected to Congress from California. And, as I like to remind my friends from San Francisco, I was elected from the Inland Empire — from Riverside County. When I ran for Congress in 2012, I told the voters of my district that the person who represents Riverside in the House must be one of the strongest advocates for the environment. Because having lived in the IE [Inland Empire] during the years when dirty air posed significant health risks, we know why clean air is important.

Rep. Mark Takano was honored by Equality California on May 12 in San Francisco. Photo by Chris Schmitt Photography

I feel the same way about the LGBTQ community and broader civil rights issues. Ten years ago today, a same-sex couple could not marry in California, or in 48 other states. There were only two openly LGBT members of Congress. And LGBTQ patriots could not serve in our armed forces. Today, marriage is a right throughout America. Seven openly LGBTQ Americans serve in Congress. And whether President Trump likes it or not, gay, lesbian, bisexual and, yes, transgender Americans proudly wear the uniform of our country. LGBTQ people have seen just how quickly progress can come in America. But we also know that this progress can be hard, and sometimes fleeting. As people who have suffered persecution and discrimination, we understand that a true dedication to equality means fighting for the rights of other communities just as hard as we fight for our own. That is why I am just as outspoken in defense of DREAMers as I am the rights of LGBTQ Americans. That is why I will fight just as hard against the President’s Muslim

Ban as I will in favor of allowing transgender Americans to continue serving in the military. Because a nation where people who may not share our religion or nationality can lose their rights is a nation where we can lose ours. My family learned this lesson the hard way in World War II, when xenophobia and racism forced thousands of Americans of Japanese descent, including my parents and grandparents, into internment camps. Some of our veterans have learned this lesson more recently when, after risking their lives for the United States, they have been deported from this country simply because they weren’t born here. LGBTQ Americans have seen firsthand the harm that discrimination can do. Too many in our community still face deep challenges, and please know that my out Congressional colleagues and I will never stop fighting for a comprehensive LGBTQ civil rights bill. The Equality Act, sponsored by my friend David Cicilline of Rhode Island, is currently being blocked by the Republican majority in Congress. But with your help, the next House of Representatives will pass a bill that

permanently enshrines our rights into law. We can fight to pass the Equality Act and still make our voices heard when our friends and neighbors are attacked for who they are, where they are from, or how they pray. Each of us is so fortunate to be in this room tonight. I am only here because my family overcame their internment, and the loss of wealth and the loss of dignity that came from it, and still believed in this nation enough to rebuild and persevere. We are only here because so many LGBTQ leaders, who are no longer with us, took those first brave steps down the path to equality. And so I accept this award not as a recognition of anything that I have achieved, but as a challenge that I will strive to meet. A challenge to use my position to amplify the voices of those calling out for justice. A challenge to take the perseverance and bravery of the leaders who came before me and amplify it out to everyone still struggling for the rights and respect we all deserve. To find out more about Rep. Mark Takano, visit his congressional website.

Is Hollywood overlooking the ‘gay geek?’ Mild-mannered and queer, may the geeks be with you By JOHN PAUL KING

It’s no secret that Hollywood loves “geek culture.” With Disney/Marvel’s “Avengers: Infinity War” recent smashing of the record for highest opening weekend gross of all time (with an estimated global take of $640.9 million), it seems obvious that love is not likely to fade anytime soon. This is great news for the millions of selfproclaimed “geeks” – a once-pejorative term that has been reclaimed by a fan culture that wears it proudly as an emblem of their undying obsession with all things related to sci-fi and fantasy; it ensures that the entertainment industry will continue to provide them with top-quality fodder for their fan-boy and fan-girl excitement, in the form of movies, television shows, books, comics and games. Under the blanket of this much larger group, however, there is a significant subculture that intersects with the LGBTQ+ community – and their needs may not be as well-served. A search on Facebook for “Gay Geeks” reveals nearly a hundred groups dedicated to this subculture, the biggest of which boasts






approximately 55,000 members, with the number growing every day. Such forums are largely meant as safe spaces, where queer-identifying fans can come together to discuss, dissect, and argue the finer points of their various “fandoms.” In the words of Nicholas Langfield, a group member who identifies as a gay gamer (or rather, “gaymer”): “I can freely talk about Chun-Li being ‘mother’ or how Shaheen from Tekken 7 looks delicious. Understand, that type of conversation does not happen around straight geeks.” Arturo Gutiérrez Avila, also a gamer (and an anime fan), says that geekdom is a common interest that “means we get to bond on a deeper level than just our mutual attraction to men.” Being a geek also provides a common interest across borders defined by orientation. Group member Quinton Worden says, “I’ve never been a fan of stereotypical gay interests like drag or the party scene, so it gives me a way to connect with both my gay and straight friends. “ Of course, not everyone in this community thinks that sexuality matters to their identity

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as a geek. Erik Northman Martinez, who sits as a chair with several organizations promoting diversity and inclusion, is hesitant to draw a connection between the two things. “Aside from […] being more attracted to Chris Hemsworth than Scarlett Johansson (or vice versa), I don’t think our sexuality has anything to do with it. Being gay isn’t what defines your personal interests.” Still, though one identity may be exclusive of the other, for many the two are intertwined. Group member Edward Faulkner puts it eloquently: “In our geekdoms we can imagine worlds that are made for us, by us. We can be superheroes, we can save entire planets – and for those who aren’t out, they can be who they are without fear of real world consequences.” There are many, though, who would like the chance to see their geeky sexuality represented somewhere beyond the confines of their own imagination. Comic books have been including LGBT characters, albeit sparsely, for decades, and television has recently begun to follow suit; the Hollywood film factory, however, lags





Can gay geeks save the world?

conspicuously behind. Comic book expert and proud gay geek David Montanez succinctly brings home this point: “The most famous gay character in The Marvel Universe [‘X-Men’ character Northstar] has yet to make a live-action appearance. Fox Studios has strip-mined the ‘X-Men’ property to find every character they can squeeze a dollar from. Still no Northstar.” From an industry abuzz with talk of inclusion, we have undeniably seen an increase of films depicting “outsider” characters and stories – yet most of these remain outside the mainstream, and – as of yet, at least – none have been part of the “geek-centric” blockbuster franchises. Eric Diaz, who writes for The Nerdist, offers this coldly frank analysis on why: “It comes down to money. The Marvel films, the DC films, the ‘Star Wars’ films and the like, they are not considered a true success unless each of them make at least half a billion worldwide – and because of this, they need China, Russia, India, certain Muslim markets, which are way







behind us in terms of LGBT equality and visibility. The studios will not risk losing those markets to please the LGBT community and their allies. It doesn’t matter how liberal the writers and directors are on these projects, the CEOs of Disney and Warner Brothers and all the others will win in the end.” This, of course, is old news – a fact which makes it all that much more current. In a recent interview with IndieWire, Marvel Studio head Kevin Feige asserted that diversity is the future of their franchise, citing the success of “Black Panther” as proof that audiences are “embracing new ideas and new visions and new places and new ways of telling stories,” and that “we will just continue to grow and build on that.” Feige’s words don’t feel like empty promises, considering that two upcoming Marvel films, “Captain Marvel” and an unnamed “Black Widow” solo feature, will showcase female superheroes, and the rumored development of a “Black Panther” sequel seems all an all-but-sure bet. There are, however, no LGBT superhero


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movies on the horizon. For most “gay geeks,” this ongoing oversight is not a deal-breaker. They will continue to line up at the box office, either way. After all, in most fantasy blockbusters, there is scarcely time for romance even between heteronormative characters. Still, the love stories are there; Han and Leia, Ron and Hermione, even Spock and Uhura in the rebooted “Star Trek” franchise – these couples and many more are iconic to the members of their respective fandoms. While most of us in the LGBTQ+ community have grown used to identifying with such romances symbolically, one can’t help but wish for more direct representation. Gay geek Sebastian Carter, who writes LGBT urban fantasy, gives resonant expression to this wish. “I’ve always [played fantasy games] so I could put a character like myself into the story in a way that Hollywood never has. I was able to create the gay hero I always longed to see.” For now, Sebastian – and the rest of us – will still have to wait for that hero.






queery JOHN JUDE DURAN How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell? The hardest person to tell was my macho Marine dad in 1979. Turns out he is my biggest supporter. Who’s your LGBT hero? Oscar Wilde was witty, flamboyant, intelligent, beautiful and didn’t back down when he was prosecuted for “gross indecency with men.” He may have died imprisoned and impoverished, but he kept his dignity.

Photo by Karen Ocamb


I first met John in 1983 when I was a new lawyer and he was in law school. John contacted me about becoming my law clerk. My first impression was that he was very smart, articulate and had tons of energy. I soon also learned that he was caring, passionate and devoted to the people and causes that he cared about. John clerked for me for six months, passed the State Bar and became an attorney working tirelessly to defend those who needed a voice: inmates with HIV/AIDS who were being denied medication, the medicinal marijuana movement, serving as legal counsel for ACT UP in the late 1980s, trial attorney for the Los Angeles Needle Exchange Program and staunchly defending First Amendment rights for protesters. He felt it was vital that these basic human rights and truths which our Constitution so graciously grants us be afforded to all people. The oldest of four children, John was raised by two wonderful people, Ed and Gloria Duran. His mother, Gloria, was very active in her church, community and in local schools, serving as a member of the school board. Activism runs in his blood. When John came out to his parents, they were so loving toward him and so interested in learning more about his work in the LGBT community. They welcomed his friends and partners into their life: holidays, Fourth of July celebrations, birthday parties, his father, Ed, teaching John and me how to play craps in Vegas. This is what it meant to become a member of the Duran family, a family that embraced unconditional love and acceptance which is why to John, family means everything. John’s biography is replete with organizations to which he has generously contributed his expertise, time and energy: Chair of the LIFE AIDS Lobby which passed legislation to protect those with HIV/AIDS, founding member of ANGLE (Access Now for Gay and Lesbian Equality), President of the Board of Directors of Equality California, and past board member of the ACLU, Lambda Legal Defense, and the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force. His dedication and outreach also extends to many other areas of the community: animal welfare and protection, historic preservation, local transportation, public safety, economic development and the fine arts. A singing tenor of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles (GMCLA) since 1998, John currently also serves as Chairman of the Board of the GMCLA and has held this position for close to 10 years. As he has done with so many organizations, John has helped to grow GMCLA to include 275 singing members who work to change people’s hearts and minds through music, outreach and educational programs. Over the many years of John’s activism, dedication and outreach, he has accomplished much and continues to work to effect change wherever it is needed. The common thread in all he does is how much he cares. Caring for family, friends, community, the world is truly at the heart of this amazing human being.

What’s Los Angeles’ best nightspot, past or present? Studio One! In the 1970s and early ‘80s. Sexy, shirtless Marlboro men dancing under the spinning mirror ball like a great warrior tribe to Donna Summer, ABBA and Gloria Gaynor. I miss all my friends from those days who were lost in the epidemic. Describe your dream wedding. Ryan Reynolds and me. I converted him. What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about? Immigration. The xenophobes hated the Irish, the Italians, the Poles, the Catholics, the Armenians, the Asians, the Jews before they hated the Latinos and the Muslims. Want to “Make America Great Again?” Welcome refugees seeking a better life. What historical outcome would you change? We lost 500,000 gay men in the AIDS epidemic. I lost one hundred friends. The pain will never heal. I want my friends and lovers back. What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime? Dancing at Studio One with 1,000 gay brothers with Sylvester singing in drag! On what do you insist? I insist that we never give up on birds with broken wings; every human being has value.

What was your last Facebook post or Tweet? A photograph of Divine looking with disgust at Donald and Ivana Trump. If your life were a book, what would the title be? “Don’t Invite me to Your Revolution if We Can’t Dance.” If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do? Ignore it. Being gay has become the most meaningful thing in my life. What do you believe in beyond the physical world? There is life beyond this world and dimension. I’ve had many “coincidences” and “contacts” from other spiritual realm. What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders? Always do what is right even if it’s not popular. What would you walk across hot coals for? For my family – both my biological family and my chosen family. What LGBT stereotype annoys you most? That gay men all have a sense of style and design – I do not. I can’t even match socks! What’s your favorite LGBT movie? “Auntie Mame” with Rosalind Russell, not Lucille Ball! What’s the most overrated social custom? Gift giving at weddings. What trophy or prize do you most covet? To love and be loved in return. What do you wish you’d known at 18? That what others think of me is none of my business. Why Los Angeles? I was born and raised in LA. I have seen the world. But I don’t want to live anywhere else. I love the urban grit, the night life, the cultures and music, the hundreds of languages and customs. It is a city of Angels.



The Beales of Grey Gardens return in ‘That Summer’ Peter Beard captures the eccentric Edies through another lens By JOHN PAUL KING

Little Edie Beale and Lee Radziwell in ‘That Summer.’ Photo by Peter Beard; Courtesy Thunderbolt Productions.

By now, the story of Edith Bouvier Beale and her daughter, “Little” Edie, is well-known lore within the popular culture. Aunt and cousin to Jackie Kennedy/Onassis and Lee, this pair of eccentric society women fell on hard times and lived in isolation together for decades at their decaying Hamptons mansion. When local authorities threatened to evict them for health and sanitation violations, Jackie and Ari Onassis donated money to finance the necessary repairs – staving off unsavory publicity and ensuring that the reclusive Beales could maintain their strange, co-dependent existence for years to come. That existence was revealed to the wider world in the 1975 documentary, “Grey Gardens,” filmed by two brothers, Albert and David Maysles, who had initially been enlisted by Lee Radziwell to make a film about her and Jackie’s own childhood in the Hamptons. When they accompanied her to visit the Beales during the summer when their home was being brought up to code, they became entranced, and subsequently suggested to Radziwell that they shift the focus of their film to her reclusive relatives instead. Radziwell abandoned the project, but the Maysles were undeterred. They secured permission to return and spend a few weeks filming with Big and Little Edie; the result was a film that turned the women into unlikely cultural icons and has gone on to inspire a 2006 sequel, an HBO biopic, a Broadway musical and a legendary segment on “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” It has also come to enjoy tremendous popularity among gay men, perhaps because the personas of the two women – particularly the “staunch” Little Edie, with her bold “sweater-as-a-head-wrap” fashion sense – resonate deeply with many of their own sensibilities. Gay or straight, fans of “Grey Gardens” have new reason to rejoice, thanks to Swedish director Göran Hugo Olsson, who brings us a “prequel” of sorts in the form of his new documentary, “That Summer” Constructed from long-buried private footage taken mostly by artist/photographer Peter Beard, the film documents the lives of then-beautiful and stylish Radziwell and her circle of famous friends – who include Beard, Andy Warhol, and Truman Capote, among others – during the summer of 1973. This cadre of sophisticates is ostensibly Olsson’s focus – but part of their summer activities was that fateful visit to Grey Gardens, and the main attraction here is the inclusion of the legendary Beales. The early scenes of Radziwell and her entourage are lovely and nostalgic; these beautiful people exude effortless grace and elegance, seeming completely at ease in a lifestyle of which most of us can only dream. Fascinating as this material may be, though, it’s not particularly revealing; its most significant value, perhaps, is that it reminds us of a bygone era when America’s super-wealthy population was not represented predominantly by classless buffoons. The four reels of film that Olsson uses as his centerpiece are a different matter; these segments heavily feature Big and Little Edie, and they offer a much rawer look at the Beales than we get in “Grey Gardens.” Making that film, they knew that the eyes of the world would soon be upon them, and they were putting their best foot forward. They do it here, too, but with less self-awareness. The roughness creeps in at the edges; their cheer is a little more desperate, their patience a little thinner. They’re the same Edies that we know and love, but unplugged. The mansion itself is also rougher. As dilapidated as it is in the Maysles’ movie, it’s heartbreakingly worse here. The camera lingers on its piles of clutter, its rotting walls and ceilings, its disintegrating furniture. The atmosphere, instead of being rustic, is gloomy; the omnipresent cats and raccoons seem less adorable, somehow – and so do the Beales. This doesn’t make them any less likable – in fact, this subtle difference in perspective brings out their humanity, and opens us up to feel even more compassion for them. These women endured years of pain and hardship – the broken dreams and shattered relationships of their lives have been well-documented since “Grey Gardens” first brought them into the public eye – and in this film, we can see the scars. Olsson wisely follows the Maysles’ example by employing the same “direct cinema” style; the footage is presented without narration or commentary (aside from a few transitional moments when we hear reminiscences by the modern-day Beard or comments by Radziwell excerpted from a 2013 interview), allowing the audience to make what they will of the Beales and their jet-set visitors. That everyone comes off in a sympathetic light is hardly surprising, given that the material itself was created by its participants, but this politeness doesn’t take anything away from the film; the civility of its tone is appropriate to its genteel subjects, and savvy audiences can still easily read between the lines to draw their own conclusions. “That Summer” is a movie with a tough act to follow; its predecessor into the world of the Beales was the proverbial lightning in a bottle, one of those shimmering masterpieces of cinema that captured a moment in time that can never be recreated. Through a combination of art and happy accident, “Grey Gardens” became somehow magical, and no follow-up could hope to match its remarkable quality. It’s to Olsson’s credit that his movie doesn’t even try. Instead, it contents itself with offering another peek at Big and Little Edie, and by giving us a little more context through which to see their world. It’s not a classic on its own, but it’s a valuable supplement to one – and that’s enough to make fans of the Beales welcome it with an open heart. “That Summer” opens at select theaters in Los Angeles on May 25.



MORE INFO/BUY TICKETS www.lambdalegal.org/wcla MEDIA PARTNER



Acclaimed playwright fights the culture war with ‘Soft Power’ David Henry Hwang’s latest work explores the age of Trump By JOHN PAUL KING

Conrad Ricamora and Alyse Alan Louis in David Henry Hwang’s ‘Soft Power.’ Photo by Craig Schwartz


As a Chinese-American, David Henry Hwang has spent a lifetime negotiating a balance between two cultural perspectives. The Los Angeles-born playwright responsible for “M. Butterfly” (among many other important works) devoted much of his early career to exploring the dynamic between his Asian and American identities, and it’s a theme which he has continually revisited between the more commercially-viable diversions that have come since. With “Soft Power” – his newest work, now making its premiere run at the Ahmanson Theatre (135 N Grand Ave.) through June 10 – he returns to it again, using his unique insight to bring the exploration into the age of Trump and beyond. Billed as “a play with a musical,” the show’s plot hangs on a complex set of conceits which make it something of a challenge to explain. Suffice to say that Hwang underscores the personal nature of his observations by placing himself – or at least, a dramatized version of himself (played by Francis Jue) – right in the center of the action; serving the dual functions of participant and narrator, he unfolds a tale involving his collaboration with a Chinese television executive named Xue Xing (Conrad Ricamora), the 2016 presidential election, a surprise knife attack, and an imagined future musical depicting the exploits of Xue as he struggles to save the world from American political ideology. It may sound a bit convoluted, but don’t worry; it makes sense – sort of – in performance, and in any case the details hardly matter. They merely exist as a premise to set up Hwang’s centerpiece, an extended fantasia which is part pastiche, part satire, and part commentary on musical theater itself. Skillfully skewering politics – and cultural perceptions – on both sides of the Chinese-American gap, Hwang presents a sly inversion of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The King and I,” replacing that show’s “white savior” character with a “yellow” one, and swapping the King of Siam for Hillary Clinton (Alyse Alan Louis) – who falls inevitably in love with the foreigner who enlightens her with his upright Asian wisdom. He sets the action in a wild-and-wooly America seen through Chinese imagination, complete with blond-wigged Asian performers playing broad American stereotypes; and he presents it as the product of a future world, dominated by China, viewing history through the lens of its own idealized, “face-saving” bias. Binding it all together is a catchy and clever song score, through which composer Jeanine Tesori (“Fun Home”) at once pokes fun at and pays homage to the musicals of old while still expressing her own distinctive voice and style. To give away any more would be unfair; the delights of this unusual theatrical hybrid are worth discovering firsthand. It’s enough to say there are plenty of laughs along the way, and even if – at times – it all feels a little “Saturday Night Live,” it contains a through-line of deep reflection going which ultimately blossoms into a profoundly moving conclusion and gives a retroactive weight to everything that has come before. The talented cast adeptly handles the multiple levels of the material, with the three Broadway veterans at its center each giving top-notch performances. Jue, a longtime collaborator of Hwang’s, is delicious as the playwright’s onstage avatar; he gives a lovably nebbish, self-deprecating turn, playing into the plentiful humor of his dialogue and letting the deeper facets of his personality come through on their own. Louis is stunningly good in her dual role (in the “real world” scenes, she also plays an American actress with whom Xue is enamored), eschewing mimicry in her portrayal of Mrs. Clinton and focusing instead on presenting a humanized version of this very public figure; considering that she does this in the context of parody, and that she also delivers several show-stopping musical performances along the way, it’s an even more amazing accomplishment. Perhaps most surprising – at least for most audiences, who will know him only for his work as Oliver, an LGBT fan-favorite character on television’s “How to Get Away with Murder” – is Ricamora; he is both endearing and compelling as Xue, revealing both the sensitivity that has resonated with TV audiences and the theatrical chops he has earned from his impressive stage career. The real star of “Soft Power,” though, is Hwang (the real one), whose script infuses what might otherwise be a piece of enjoyable-but-forgettable fluff with the kind of thoughtful and well-balanced meditation that makes for truly great theatre. His examination of the divide between East and West is astute, acerbic, and compassionate, conveying the love he has for both cultures despite all their many flaws. At the same time, he plays their predominant traits against each other in a way that underscores the very Asian concept that they are two parts of an ongoing process, two energies in flux which both shape and are shaped by each other – yin and yang, as it were. To top it all off, he uses the entire piece as a demonstration of one of its own primary themes – the idea of theater as a “delivery system” by which messages are conveyed through the heart, instead of through the brain. The fact that he makes us aware that he is doing it all along makes it no less effective, and the result is an almost breathtakingly “meta” theatrical experience which leaves the viewer dissecting its many layers for a long time afterwards. For audiences who are looking more for entertainment value than intellectual stimulation, though, the show is still a winning ticket. Director Leigh Silverman has staged a clever, colorful, old-fashioned musical theatre spectacle (the dancing is particularly stellar, thanks to choreographer Sam Pinkleton and a gifted ensemble of dancers) that delivers plenty of fun for theater-goers from the casual to the hardcore. Better yet, it offers just the kind of wideview on our troubled times that helps to take the edge off without asking us to turn a blind eye to the challenges we face. That alone is enough to make “Soft Power” a must-see. For more details and ticket pricing, visit centertheatregroup.org.

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.




British mojo New models from Aston Martin, Bentley wow at Embassy open house By JOE PHILLIPS

Just in time for the royal wedding, the British Embassy in Washington held its annual open house last weekend. Anglophiles toured the gardens, noshed on “banger dogs” and sipped Scotch whiskey. Everyone who’s wild about Harry and Meghan could send cards to the happy couple via a red cylindrical mailbox (called a U.K. pillar box, BTW). But it was the iconic vehicles — from Aston Martin, Bentley, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lotus and Rolls-Royce — that turned heads. Sure, these cars are now built by automakers from other countries, but their British mojo is as strong as ever. Below are some rides to help you feel like royalty — or at least queen for a day. LAND ROVER DISCOVERY HSE Td6 $67,000 Mpg: 21 city/26 highway 0-60 mph: 8.1 seconds


Few vehicles offer the chance to sit on a throne. At least it feels that way in the Land Rover Discovery HSE Td6, with ground clearance up to 11.4 inches high. But instead of a servant to help you in and out of your seat, an air suspension system can lower the ground clearance to a more manageable 8.1 inches. The Td6 is the diesel model, though it’s a bit slower than the traditional-gas version and costs $2,000 more. But it’s also quieter, with almost 30 percent more fuel efficiency. Despite the size and 4,916-pound curb weight, the Disco (yes, that’s the Discovery nickname) feels light and nimble. Features include tri-zone climate control, panoramic sunroof, power liftgate and 10-speaker audio that can be upgraded to 14 speakers. There’s seating for seven, and the second and third rows fold flat for 83 cubic feet of cargo space — more than enough room for anyone needing a nap (or a “kip,” as they say across the pond). JAGUAR XF S SPORTBRAKE $71,000 Mpg: 19 city/27 highway 0-60 mph: 5.3 seconds


It’s been almost a decade since Jaguar sold a station wagon on these shores. Now there’s the Sportbrake, which alludes to a “shooting brake” (what Brits call a high-end station wagon). Based on the midsized XF sedan — with its sleek front end and lightweight aluminum body — the Sportbrake is actually sexier. That’s because it borrows heavily from the F-Pace crossover, which has a sloping tush and snazzy spoiler atop the liftgate. It’s hard to believe any wagon could accelerate, corner and brake so well. Power comes from a supercharged 380-hp V6, which is configured with a smooth eight-speed transmission and all-wheel drive. The cabin is whisper quiet, with a ginormous glass roof, 10-inch infotainment screen and well-bolstered seats. Other features include front/rear parking sensors, blind-spot monitor, collision warning, wi-fi hotspot and upgraded Meridian audio. As with the Land Rover Discovery, an activity key allows drivers to lock and unlock the vehicle with a Fitbit-like wristband. As if the Sportbrake weren’t impressive enough, Jaguar says there’s enough cargo room (almost 70 cubic feet) to hold 27,800 golf balls. (We’ll take Jag’s word for it.) For us Yanks, the Sportbrake is a gobsmacking alternative to all those cookie-cutter crossovers out there. ASTON MARTIN DB11 VOLANTE $220,000 Mpg: 15 city/21 highway 0-60 mph: 4.0 seconds


Just like James Bond, the new Aston Martin DB11 Volante convertible is classy and sassy with a shark-like grille, sculpted profile and stunning 503-hp twin-turbo V8. Rev it up, and the thrilling exhaust rumble is loud and guttural, peppered with firecrackerlike pops to wake up knackered neighbors. That drama carries over into the cabin, which is chockablock with luxury: eight-layer insulated fabric top, hand-stitched seats in exotic colors and a quirky push-button shifter. The rear spoiler automatically rises at certain speeds for better traction, and large discs and six-piston calipers mean Zen-like braking. While the backseats look great, they’re impractical for anything larger than an English bulldog. And there’s virtually no cargo room in the boot, er, trunk. But then Aston Martins are all about indulging the senses, not loading up at Costco.



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.

Jussie Smollett headlines Long Beach Pride Festival on Saturday, May 19. Photo courtesy of Schure Media Group. Photo Courtesy Long Beach Pride

SATURDAY, MAY 19 Long Beach Pride Festival is at Marina Green Park (386 E Shoreline Dr., Long Beach, Calif.) today and Sunday from 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Performances will occur on five stages. “Empire” star Jussie Smollett headlines today. DJ Lezlee will also perform today. Amara La Negra, DJ Lezlee and DaniLeigh will perform today and Sunday. Sheila E headlines Sunday with Brandon Stansell, DJ Irene and Ana Barbara also performing. There will be a senior fun zone on both days for adults over the age of 50 to enjoy coffee, snacks, bingo, Wii games and more. DJ Bob and Margie will host karaoke all weekend. The family fun zone will have activities such as playdough, bubbles and slime. Advance tickets are $20 and $25 at the gate. For more details, visit longbeachpride.com. The Life Group LA hosts a free weekend seminar in West Hollywood today from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. for HIV+ seniors over 50 and those that love them. Discussion topics will include depression, finances, finding purpose, sex and dating and more. Keynote speakers will be Eric S. Daar M.D., Dr. Neva Chauppette, John Sovec and more. Snacks, beverages and lunch will be provided. The event continues on Sunday from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Free admission but registration is required.The location of the seminar will be revealed upon registration. For more information, visit thelifegroupla.org. Michael Kearns and Dave Trudell present “Two Pieces of Work,” one-man shows about the queer male psyche, at Highways Performance Space (165118th St. Santa Monica, Calif.) tonight at 8:30 p.m. Kearns will premiere his work “MENoir, Has Anyone Seen My Libido?” which chronicles his emotional, physical and sexual journey in the aftermath of radiation treatment for prostate cancer. Trudell will perform “One of These Daves (Is Someone Like You),” an examination of the current political climate and his own personal journey. General admission tickets are $20. Student and senior tickets are $15. For more details, visit highwaysperformance.org. The Real Lesbians of West Hollywood host a fundraiser for Soula’s Way Animal Rescue, a lesbian run


dog rescue, at Gym Sportsbar (8737 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, Calif.) tonight from 8-11 p.m. There will be drinks, games and raffles. Admission is a $5 donation to Soula’s Way Animal Rescue. For more information, visit meetup.com/the-real-lesbians-of-west-hollywood. “Pyscho” screens in 35mm at the Vista Theatre (4473 Sunset Dr., Los Angeles, Calif.) tonight at 11:59 p.m. Adult tickets are $20. Student, military and senior tickets are $15. For more details, visit facebook.com/movieclub35mm.

The City of West Hollywood’s One City One Pride Festival and WeHo Reads presents a staged reading of “Dear Harvey” by Patricia Loughrey at West Hollywood City Council Chambers (625 N. San Vicente Blvd., Los Angeles, Calif.) tonight from 7-9 p.m. The organized reading is produced by Celebration Theatre. Admission is free. For details, visit weho.org/pride.



Long Beach Pride kicks off its parade at 10:30 a.m. on Ocean Boulevard at Lindero Avenue in Long Beach, Calif. The grand marshals will be Alexandra Billings, Long Beach Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez, Reverend John P. Huffmans, Porter Gilberg, Jesse Haase, Debbie Lambert and Kobe James. The parade will be emceed by drag performers Jewels, Mia Farrow and Missy Vee along with Deb Kahookele and Ronn Ruiz. The Front Runners of Long Beach will host their Rainbow Run Awards at 9:30 a.m. followed by the iHeartRadio pre-parade show hosted by Jewels at 9:45 a.m. For more details, visit longbeachpride.com. “Who’s Da Boss? Live” gives its final performance at Cavern Club Theater at Casita Del Campo (1920 Hyperion Ave., Los Angeles, Calif.) with shows at 3 p.m., 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. The parody of the classic ‘80s sitcom stars Jackie Beat as Judith Light, Mario Diaz as Tony Danza, Sherry Vine as Katherine Helmond and more. Tickets are $35. For more information, search “Who’s Da Boss? Live” on brownpapertickets.com.


Micky’s (8857 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, Calif.) hosts its weekly drag show “Showgirls” tonight at 10 p.m. Performing queens include Raven, Morgan McMichaels, Rhea Litre, Sonique, Dahlia Sin and Linesha Sparx. Paulo Ramirez will spin tracks. Reservations are recommended. For more information, visit mickys.com.

Thrive Tribe Foundation, a non-profit aimed at fighting HIV, hosts bowling night at Pinwick Bowl (921 W Riverside Dr., Burbank, Calif.) tonight from 8:45-11:45 p.m. All skill levels welcome. Tickets are $13 and includes shoe rental, unlimited bowling and discounted food and beverages. For more information, visit thethrivetribe.org.


Gameboi LA hosts a Memorial Day weekend kickoff party at Rage (8911 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, Calif.) tonight from 9 p.m.-2 a.m. DJ LaRock will play music on the main floor. There will also be a free condom giveaway.Entry is free before 9:30 p.m. Advance tickets are $12. General admission tickets are $15. For more details, visit gameboila.eventbrite.com. Dynasty Typewriter at the Hayworth (2511 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, Calif.) presents the Divas of Dynasty, a drag show, tonight at 10:30 p.m. Performers will include “RuPaul’s Drag Race” alums Pandora Boxx and Jasmine Masters, illusionist Vancie Vega and local drag queens Dolly Levi and Borgia Bloom. Tye Blue hosts the show. Advance tickets are $20. Tickets at the door are $25. For more information, visit dynastytypewriter.com. Faultline Bar (4216 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, Calif.) hosts Sweet and Tender Hooligan, a Morrissey and the Smiths tribute night, tonight from 9 p.m..-2 a.m. Saint Peter D’Vil will host the party. Cover is $5. For more details, visit facebook.com/faultlinebar.


Things are really ramping up for the royal wedding. The big news last week was that while William will be Harry’s best man, Kate will not be the maid (or, I suppose, matron) of honor. A royal snub? Hardly. Apparently it is considered unseemly for a future queen to be an attendant to anyone - even on their wedding day! It’s also been whispered that Meghan doesn’t want anyone to upstage her - like Pippa did at Kate’s wedding. So, who will attend to Meghan? Nobody, that’s who. The official word is that she has too many friends to choose from, but our sources inside the palace tell us that Meghan actually wants her friends to have a good time and not have to work and fuss with her dress. Have no fear - she won’t be all by her lonesome. The bridal party will have all those little kids as attendants and pages, including Will’s children, George and Charlotte. The big scuttlebutt in London has to do with another royal couple - Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson. Even though they divorced in 1996, Andy and Fergie get along better than ever and continue to live together. However, it’s not like they’re sharing a one-room flat - since their divorce, they’ve been cohabitating in a 12-bedroom estate. But the birth of Prince Louis has apparently had a domino effect on the royal family. The law states that the sovereign must approve the marriage of the first six people in line for the throne - so it’s the heir, the spare, and four others in case of something like bubonic plague. Up until Louis’ birth, the line of succession was Charles, William, George, Charlotte, Harry and Andrew. Now with Louis ensconced between Charlotte and Harry, Andrew is number seven and technically doesn’t require mummy’s approval to wed. Royal watchers speculate that Andrew and Sarah would like to remarry, but the queen would likely not allow it; one does not quickly forget the toesucking incident. Still, I find it unlikely that he’d go against his mum’s wishes - he ain’t no Princess Margaret! Plus, that old woman can’t live forever. Here’s the catch - if he waits till Lizzie dies, Charles becomes king, Andy moves back into sixth position, and the whole problem starts all over again - until Harry and Meghan have a kid. A queer marriage in the States is officially kaput. As I told you last week, Colton Haynes and hubby Jeff Leatham appeared to be estranged since they stopped following each other on Instagram. Days later, Colton released a song called “Man It Sucks”, which led to rumors that Jeff had cheated on him. Haynes said, “Jeff would never cheat. He’s an amazing man. Please stop being mean to him.” Days later, Colton filed for divorce. He cites that old chestnut “irreconcilable differences.” This got me thinking - if not Jeff, then maybe someone else cheated. Hmm. Since I had a few days to kill before the “event”, I decided to go to Russia. And why wouldn’t I, a gay American, fly to Russia from England at this particular time in history? What could possibly go wrong? So far, I must say that Saint Petersburg is a gorgeous city with lots to see and do. I randomly picked a hotel in the center of town. When I went to arrange for an Uber to head out, it specified that I meet the driver at a nearby address. The place, which was only a few doors away, turned out to be one of the gay clubs in town! And, even though it was 10 a.m., some people were still inside partying. I later discovered that the same block also has another gay bar and a drag bar. So, I dunno about all this antigay sentiment - it seems to be alive and well on the block where I’m staying. Tom Daley was also back in the USSR. He competed in the FINA Diving World Series in Kazan, Russia. In the Mixed Three-Meter Synchronized Dive, he came in second alongside his partner, Grace Reid. He posted a photo to Instagram showing that he accepted his silver medal while wearing a rainbow pin. “From Russia with love... Thank you so much!” No, thank you! You know, I completely forgot about “The Pass.” It was made a couple of years ago, but then I never heard anything more. Turns out it opened at the BFI Flare London LGBT Film Festival in March of 2016. Then it played a bunch of film festivals before winding up with a UK DVD release in April 2017. Last week, it turned up on Amazon Prime in the U.S., so you can see it for yourself. Here’s what I’ll tell you - Russell’s really hot. Like REALLY hot. Like, he’s never looked hotter. And his “teammate,” Arinze Kene, is even hotter! Together they are like gay porn hot. I didn’t know anything about the movie, but it comes across as a play - most scenes include only two or three people in a single locale. Turns out, it started life as a play - starring Tovey! It’s interesting and sexy with a dark and somber turn toward the end. Despite the claustrophobic atmosphere, there are some striking visuals - in particular, one I’d calling “sleeping double in a single bed.” Because I’m such a giver, you can see the entire film on BillyMasters.com. Continues at losangelesblade.com


‘The Pass’ finally comes to U.S. Wedding madness grips U.K. and Billy heads to Russia By BILLY MASTERS

Arinze Kene and Russell Tovey star in ‘The Pass.’ Screenshot Courtesy YouTube

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DragCon LA. The mother of a million runways, RuPaul, brought the campy and not so campy magic of drag to the Los Angeles Convention Center. More than 10,000 participants joined hundreds of cosmetic and fashion vendors and dozens of drag celeb personalities to elevate the art of drag. It was truly a glittering, three-day snarky world of wonder, as captured by the one and only RuPaul and her minions in these photos.

LA Mayor Eric Garcetti is said to have commented on this sign, ‘We should make that permanent.’ Photo by DVSROSS Photography

Overheard at DragCon: ‘Everyone is a star on this runway, but that don’t mean we know your name, gurrrl’

Monet Xchange poses with an adorable mom and daughter duo on their Mother’s Day on the town at DragCon LA.

Life is all about just the right entrance: the Daenerys of drag arrives looking for her throne.

Photo by DVSROSS Photography

Overheard at DragCon: ‘They may be straight but they are talented because they know how to handle my equipment, honey.’

‘I wore this lovely creation at Wigstock in Tompkin’s Square Park back in 1990,’ says Anita Tormentin.

World of Wonder meets Wakanda at DragCon as Bebe Zahara Benet werks it.

Photo by DVSROSS Photography

Photo by DVSROSS Photography

Photo Courtesy Twitter


MAY 19 & 20 TH



of our remarkable festival and parade!







For tickets & info visit longbeachpride.com




10:30 AM


Ocean Blvd.

Between Lindero and Alamitos



Where life leads you home.



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