Losangelesblade.com, Volume 2, Issue 12, May 25, 2018

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Gay student critically injured during Amtrak trip Portland State junior in coma after meeting new ‘friend’ on train By BOB CONRAD Aaron Salazar was on an Amtrak train last week traveling from Denver to Portland, but mysteriously ended up in a coma at a Nevada trauma hospital instead. Salazar’s last known communication was a text message to his great-grandmother who lives in Hawaii. According to the Truckee California Police Department’s Detective-Sergeant Danny Renfrow, sometime shortly before noon on May 15, following Salazar’s text message, the 22-year-old gay Portland State University junior was found in critical condition by railroad workers lying beside the Union Pacific Railroad’s right-of-way property within the town’s corporate limits. The extent of his injuries necessitated a Medevac to the Renown Regional Medical & Trauma Centre 31 miles away in neighboring Reno, Nev., according to Truckee FireRescue officials. Salazar’s cousin Austin Sailas, the spokesperson for Salazar’s family, said that Salazar is in a deep coma in the ICU suffering from “injuries consistent from being kicked and beaten.” Sailas added that Salazar’s brain stem is damaged, he has a black eye, a broken pelvis and a series of blister-type burns from his groin area down his right leg. “His left hand had marks as if he punched somebody in self-defense,” Sailas added. Another family member, Sonja Trujillo, who saw Salazar in the ICU, said that he had severe bruising to his upper torso, as well as other contusions. His sister, Alyssa, said he had what looked like blood under his fingernails. Renfrow said that although his department initially responded to the call, the location where Salazar was discovered actually falls under the federal jurisdiction of Amtrak, with Amtrak’s in-house Police Department taking the lead on investigating any crimes occurring on an Amtrak train or a railroad right-of-way. Renfrow then referred further questions to Amtrak’s investigators. “I have a layover before getting on the next train,” Salazar texted his great-grandmother. “I made a friend on the train and we’re going

Aaron Salazar was traveling on Amtrak when he was critically injured. Photo Courtesy Salazar Family

to go get some food and explore.” Eight days after Salazar was found, the family was growing increasingly frustrated, according to both Sailas and Trujillo. “The detective keeps trying to tell us maybe he jumped,” Trujillo said. “I, his family, we don’t believe that. No, his injuries are consistent with a beating, in my opinion.” She then added, “He was happy.” Sailas agreed with Trujillo’s assessment, noting that Salazar had discussed graduation plans with him along with a family outing later on this summer. The family said they are also frustrated because the attending physicians at Renown Regional Medical Centre have told them that his injuries correspond with a beating, but they won’t put it in writing because of the ongoing police investigation. Both Trujillo and Sailas noted that Amtrak investigators said they have not accessed Salazar’s phone or computer yet, although investigators are in possession of his laptop, iPhone, wallet and the clothes

he was wearing at the time of the incident. The family would like to have access to his phone and computer saying that those items could provide insight into what happened. For instance, the great grandmother later provided the text message Salazar sent her, and the family wonders if there may be other revealing texts and photos. “We have been asking and calling and they have been withholding even the simplest (answers), like where was Aaron found and what time,” Sailas said. “Simple questions that any parent would like to know. As for his parents, they need answers for their peace of mind. They just want to know their son didn’t suffer in pain for hours and hours.” Trujillo also thinks that the fact that his wallet was on him with about $281 means that it wasn’t a robbery. “He’s gay—maybe a hate crime? That and he just isn’t the type of person to just jump from a train,” she said. Family members don’t believe he’d jump from a moving train because of his upbeat and happy nature.

“We just want answers,” his sister Alyssa Salazar said, “and for people to pray for him.” Amtrak released this statement on May 21: “The Amtrak Police Department is conducting an ongoing investigation into this incident. At this time, there is nothing to suggest criminal intent. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Amtrak Police Department at 800-331-0008.“ After learning of the story, Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve reached out to Salazar’s family. “I’m very concerned,” she said. “There are more questions than answers at this point. I want this family to know we are a community that cares.” Schieve said she’s also reaching out to officials and law enforcement in Truckee seeking more answers. The family has set up a GoFundMe page to help defray the hospital costs. (Reporting by Bob Conrad, Editor & Publisher of ThisIsReno Media LLC, with additional reporting from Los Angeles Blade staff.)



Gay asylum seeker held in California detention center since 2016 Nigerian man fled persecution, found harsh conditions in Adelanto By CHRISTOPHER KANE “Welcome To Adelanto,” reads the sign that greets visitors who reach Adelanto, California, “The City With Unlimited Possibilities.” But anyone who has had the misfortune of being held in or having visited the city’s most famous business — an immigrant detention facility — will tell you life’s possibilities are very limited: the detention center is no different from prison. Adelanto Detention Center, two hours northeast of Los Angeles, is privately owned. Detainees say they receive minimal, substandard medical care and conditions are so poor there were multiple hunger strikes staged there last year. A Honduran asylum seeker told the Los Angeles Times in August 2017 that everyone has, at some point or another, considered suicide. It is in this Adelanto facility that a 29-yearold gay Nigerian man named Udoka Nweke has been detained since December 2016. After he was attacked by an anti-gay mob, Nweke fled his native country and made an arduous, traumatic trek through South and Central America before reaching the United States via the San Ysidro port of entry, where he surrendered himself. In Adelanto, after Nweke’s plea for asylum was denied, he attempted suicide. Psychologists diagnosed him with paranoid schizophrenia and depression. And now activists, including Ola Osaze, national organizer of the Black LGBTQ Migrant Project (BLMP) have petitioned for Nweke’s release on parole so he can access lifesaving medical treatments. Otherwise, they fear Nweke’s condition will worsen. “Seeing him there in the orange jumpsuit,” Osaze told the Los Angeles Blade by phone on May 17, “was a staggering reality for me.” He explained Nweke has been detained for two years as a result of actions that he took only in order to survive. “All he’s seen of the United States is a jail cell, a detention facility.” Osaze is Nigerian, transgender, and queer and won his asylum case. Two heavily armed security officers closely monitored the first in-person meeting between Osaze and

Ola Osaze, national organizer of the Black LGBTQ Migrant Project, is working to call attention to the plight of Udoka Nweke, a gay Nigerian man detained in California since 2016. Photo Courtesy of Osaze

Nweke and Osaze was not allowed to leave his phone number on a Post-It note. “It was just such high surveillance and such a terrible atmosphere,” Osaze said. Staff at Adelanto threatened to place Nweke in solitary confinement. “Because of his condition and because of the conditions in there, the threats have included ‘we will put you in this other ward,’ or ‘we will bind you; we will put you in shackles.’” As difficult as his detention in Adelanto must be, especially in light of his deteriorating mental health, Nweke also lives

in constant fear of what will happen to him if he is deported to Nigeria. “When a man tries to hang himself after his asylum is denied,” Nweke’s attorney Monica Glicken told the Blade, “I think that shows the level of fear he has about returning to his home country.” A program of the Transgender Law Center (TLC), BLMP was launched in December and is led by a committee of 12 black trans and queer migrants. The organization provides a variety of services that include community events, legal support, and regional organizing networks — all part of

efforts to reduce isolation, build leadership, and protect black LGBTQ migrants who, Osaze said, face even tougher challenges in the current political climate. Nweke was introduced to Osaze by the Orange County LGBT Center. Through Osaze and BLMP, he was introduced Glicken, directing attorney at the Public Law Center’s Immigration Unit. It took a long time to connect Nweke with an attorney, Osaze said, because demand is so high and there are so many applicants who have strong asylum cases. Glicken did not represent Nweke in his


2017 Black LGBTQIA Migrant Gathering in Oakland. Photo courtesy BLMP Facebook

first plea for asylum, but she said the judge ruled Nweke’s testimony contained internal contradictions and inconsistencies, rendering him ineligible. Both she and another attorney who is working on his case, believe many of these can be attributed to errors in translation that made it difficult for Nweke to understand the questions asked of him. Furthermore, Glicken said, it is well documented that trauma survivors are often unable to accurately remember details from the traumatic experiences they lived through. Provided his mental health diagnoses, Glicken said Nweke’s competence to give testimony should be taken into account in the appeal of his asylum decision, which she has filed. For decades, Glicken said, asylum seekers would customarily be released from detention facilities on parole after they successfully demonstrated “credible fear” about returning to their native countries. Credible fear interviews are administered by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, who have broad discretion in nearly every step of the process--and who in the past would usually recommend detainees be released on parole, provided they didn’t have criminal backgrounds. Glicken explained that, from what she has seen, this has changed under the Trump Administration. Nweke could easily have been granted parole at this early stage, before a judge heard his initial asylum plea. Osaze explained Nweke had a bond hearing, which was held after his suicide attempt and psychological diagnoses, but this was also denied. And just a couple of weeks ago, another parole

request was denied. “Udoka is very unhappy in there,” Osaze said. “He wants to get out. He wants treatment. He needs help. He wants the world to know what’s happening to him. And he’s also like, ‘I’m not going to survive in here.’” Glicken and Osaze agree the best hope for Nweke may be the possibility that public pressure and media attention could compel ICE to grant him parole. Nweke’s asylum appeal may take a long time, Osaze said, and the outcome of that case is far from certain but could be positively affected “if we organize and make a lot of noise.” For several reasons, many immigrants and would-be asylum seekers will never reach the stage of the process in which Nweke’s case is now positioned. Glicken explained that she has talked to clients who were detained at the border and processed as though they never asked for asylum. Instead of initiating the process that would entitle eligible immigrants to interviews after they are detained in detention facilities, she said, “there’s a pattern of practice of Border Patrol Agents woefully mishandling cases of asylum seekers, who are often processed as though they had just said ‘I’m here for work.’” Many other asylum seekers are not armed with networks of activists, community organizers, and attorneys who can offer them support and help them plead their cases. “Once you are put in a detention center,” Glicken said, “it’s extremely difficult for you to find an attorney. This leaves many asylum seekers representing themselves. And I have not seen judges bending over backwards to

help them articulate their claims.” Adding to these challenges is the fact that asylum cases are very difficult to argue. “Re-telling and documenting your story is such an intense process,” said Osaze, who himself applied for and won asylum with the aid of an attorney. “You really need someone who can help you through that. Especially LGBTQ migrants seeking asylum-they really need help working through that trauma. I mean, can you imagine [living through] mob violence?” Even if LGBTQ asylum seekers are processed correctly and have legal representation, Glicken said, it’s not easy for their attorneys to furbish evidence that their clients inhabit the gender identities and sexual orientations they have claimed. In many countries, LGBTQ people must live in the closet to survive. Many will even start families with oppositesex partners. These factors make it harder for attorneys to provide the burden of proof required to win asylum cases. Meanwhile, Osaze explained he thinks officials in the Trump Administration have

LOCAL sought to downplay the realities faced by LGBTQ people who live in, especially, African countries that have and enforce homophobic laws. Even where there is strong evidence of violence against members of these communities, he said, asylum cases are rejected and applicants held in holding patterns because there is an effort to minimize the risks that would result from deportation. Osaze feels ICE is trying to encourage Nweke to give up and self-deport. “The situation is urgent, he said. “Just imagine what it would be like if he was deported back to a situation in which his life would be in danger.” In addition to BLMP, the Transgender Law Center and LGBT Center of Orange County have submitted letters asking for Nweke’s parole. They hope he will be able to access lifesaving treatments before his health further deteriorates. BLMP is holding a press conference and rally on June 1 at 10 a.m. at ICE Santa Ana office located at 34 Civic Center Plaza in Santa Ana.

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Could Democrats screw up the primaries? Welcome to the jungle, the new electoral Wild West By KAREN OCAMB kocamb@losangelesblade.com The California Democratic Party convention logo was clever—a brightly lit lighthouse about to be hit by a big wave in the darkest of night. “California: The Big Blue Beacon of Hope,” the banner said, a sentiment anticipating the predicted giant blue Democratic wave curling up in the distance, about to hit the country in a midterm electoral response to Donald Trump’s 2016 election and the chaos that has since ensued. The prediction has merit. Democrats have been winning special elections and two unabashed progressives won primaries in the South on May 22. Out lesbian former Sheriff Lupe Valdez made history winning the Democratic nomination for Texas governor and the opportunity to go up against anti-LGBT Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in November. And history was also made in Georgia where Stacey Abrams became the first woman to win the Democratic nomination and could become America’s first black female governor, if she defeats whichever white candidate the Republicans choose in a July 24 runoff. “We are writing the next chapter of Georgia’s future, where no one is unseen, no one is unheard and no one is uninspired,” LGBT ally Abrams said on election night. But while politicos are excited about the prospect of the midterms becoming another “Year of the Woman,” there’s a hitch in the California Dream in which Democrats flip seven of the 23 GOP seats needed to retake the House. The state’s non-partisan June 5 primary—with the top two winners facing off in November—too many viable enthusiastic Democratic candidates are vying to catch the wave as Republicans strategize ways into the top two slots. “It’s the Wild West at its best with the jungle primary,” Republican Bob Huff, one of 17 candidates hoping to replace retiring Rep. Ed Royce, told CalMatters. It “gives political operatives with money an opportunity to choose who they want to run against.” In fact, in some races, California Democratic Party-endorsed candidates

Equality California’s Rick Zbur Los Angeles Blade File Photo by Karen Ocamb

are competing with different candidates endorsed by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee while SuperPACs posit GOP candidates as liberal Democrats to Trump voters to scuttle their campaigns. In Orange County, for instance, rock red Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher’s seat is a toss-up—in which the Democratic Party has endorsed stem cell researcher Hans Keirstead and the DCCC is backing Keirstead’s rival, Harley Rouda, an Orange County real estate investor. In the race for retiring Ed Royce’s congressional seat, out California Democratic Party Chair Eric Bauman had to intervene in the public contretemps between Democrats Gil Cisneros and Andy Thorburn. “The opportunity to win this seat is too important for the two leading Democrats to squander it by focusing our fire on each other,” the two candidates finally said in a joint statement declaring a truce. “In order to flip the 39th District, it is essential that at least one of us make it through the June primary.” Equality California executive director Rick Zbur tells the Los Angeles Blade, “our goal really has been to replace all the sitting [antiLGBT] incumbents.” But it’s not a breeze. Trump colluder Devin Nunes in Congressional District 22 or Rep. Duncan Hunter in CD 50, who is under federal investigation, remain popular in their districts.

Zbur says progressive groups having been trying to dislodge some of the weaker Democrats to avoid the risk of two Republicans getting in the run off. “Most of us ended up going our ways and just picking our best candidate,” he says, “narrowing it down to one or two candidates that we thought were the strongest.” For instance, Equality California picked Harley Rouda in the Rohrabacher race. In the contest to fill retiring anti-LGBT Rep. Darrell Issa’s seat, Equality California believes Sara Jacobs is the strongest of the four good Democratic candidates running. Jacobs, who formerly worked for Hillary Clinton, “has both a transgender brother and a gender non- conforming sibling and so her understanding of the LGBTQ social justice and civil rights issues is unique, really stronger than what we’ve seen from any ally candidates,” Zbur says. “So this is a pretty important race for us,” adding “this is one of the races where we’re worried that two Republicans could get in.” Another race that has been generating angst among progressives is between Dave Minn and Katie Porter hoping to boot Republican Rep. Mimi Walters. Porter has TV ads featuring endorsements from progressive Sens. Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren. But Min has the endorsements of the CDP, Equality California and a number of progressive groups.

“We think he is going to be the stronger general election candidate,” says Zbur. “Katie Porter is great. Obviously, a strong progressive. They both were amazingly strong on LGBTQ issues—but ultimately we went with Min,” who has outraised Porter in money. Zbur notes that polling in the largely Asian Pacific Islander district indicates he performs well with Democrats, “but is also stronger in the Decline to State, which you need to pick up that seat.” One seat that Equality California really wants to win is the CD 25 seat held by Steve Knight, son of anti-LGBT hater Pete Knight of Prop 22 “Knight Initiative” infamy. “We’ve got three candidates in that primary, two of which are LGBTQ candidates. We have endorsed Katie Hill, who is bisexual. She’s the top fundraiser in the district,” Zbur says. “Her closest competitor is the nominee from last year, Bryan Caforio, who is also very good on our issues but an ally.” The third candidate is self-described “grassroots scientist” Jess Phoenix, who’s in third place. If Hill wins the primary, Zbur says, “that’s going to set up an interesting dynamic where we’ve got an LGBTQ candidate running against someone from the Knight family with that whole anti-LGBTQ history.” Will the June 5 jungle primary generate enough Democratic voter enthusiasm to win back the House or will Republicans win their Trumpian crapshoot?

MAY 25, 2018 • 09


Screencapture via BBC

For more than four hours on Saturday, May 19, much of the globe seemed to stop worrying about the fate of the world and revel in the wedding of British Royal Prince Harry and American biracial actress Meghan Markle. But transcending the pomp and circumstance, the fancy hats and haute couture was the spectacular integration of black culture into every facet of the ceremony. LGBT ally Bishop Michael Bruce Curry, the first African-American elected presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, preached a rousing sermon about the power of love that illuminated St. George’s Chapel. He quoted Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., referenced slavery and unsnarled some staid English stiff upper lips. “When love is the way, there’s plenty good room — plenty good room — for all of God’s children. Because when love is the way, we actually treat each other, well ... like we are actually family,” he said. Interspersed with hymns and “God Save the Queen” was the Kingdom Choir’s moving rendition of “Stand By Me” and an indelible performance by Sheku Kanneh-Mason, a 19-yearold black cellist who prompted graceful shivers among the rapt listeners. Afterwards, Sir Elton John performed at a private reception, the gay singer one of many reminders that Harry’s late mother, Princess Diana, was there in spirit. — KAREN OCAMB

“#IfIDieInASchoolShooting I’d get to see Carmen again”

— Parkland survivor Emma Gonzalez tweet on May 20 after the shooting at a Santa Fe, Texas school., killing 10

“Juan Carlos, I don’t care about you being gay. God made you that way and loves you as you are and I don’t mind. The pope loves you as you are, you have to be happy with who you are.” — Pope Francis reportedly in a private conversation at the Vatican May 19 with Juan Carlos Cruz, a Chilean victim of sexual abuse by a priest.

“If you are a male—genetically you are a male, biologically you’re a male—and you say, ‘Well, I’m not a male. I’m a female.’ I mean, what’s to keep you from saying you’re an animal?” — Tony Perkins, head of the anti-LGBT Family Research Council and appointee to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, May 14 on “Washington Watch,” via RightWing Watch.

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



GLAAD report shows lowest score ever for LGBT inclusion in films Superhero movies being ‘pink-washed’ By JOHN PAUL KING When GLAAD released its annual Studio Responsibility Index report on May 22, the numbers did not look good. Assessing the level of LGBTQ inclusion in films released during 2017 by the seven major Hollywood studios, the report found that only 14 of the 109 titles featured queer characters. That’s only 12.8% – the lowest number since GLAAD began compiling these reports six years ago. There was better news for racial diversity among queer characters, with 57% people of color (black or Latinx) – but males outnumbered females more than two-toone, and there were no transgender or nonbinary characters at all. There was also no representation for Asian/Pacific Islanders or any other racial group. At an event to discuss these findings held at the offices WME/Endeavor talent agency in Los Angeles, GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis stressed that, although the numbers in the report are low, there is reason to hope things are getting better. “We are already seeing some movement. So far this year, major studio films like ‘Love, Simon,’ ‘Blockers,’ and ‘Deadpool 2’ have opened in thousands of theaters across the country and included central queer characters. Unfortunately, these films are still the exception,” she said. To encourage a greater effort by Hollywood to include LGBTQ characters and stories, GLAAD is calling on the seven major film studios to make sure that 20% of annual major studio releases include LGBTQ characters by 2021 and 50% by 2024. “It’s not just about doing it—it’s also about doing what’s sustainable,” Ellis said, coupling the MPAA’s recent statistic that the 18-39 demographic make up 30% of frequent moviegoers in the US and Canada with GLAAD’s Accelerating Acceptance report finding that 20% of Americans aged 18-34 identify as LGBTQ. “If Hollywood wants to remain relevant to these audiences, they must create stories that are reflective of the world that we live in today.” A panel, led by Los Angeles Times reporter

GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis Photo Courtesy GLAAD

Tre’vell Anderson, with Ellis, writer/ producer Ben Cory Jones, studio executive Nina Jacobson, actor Nico Santos, and writer/ producer/director Kay Cannon discussed the shifting dynamic caused by pressure on the studios for more LGBTQ representation. They also underscored the importance of artists being the driving force behind inclusion by making it a part of their work. A telling moment occurred when Anderson asked the panelists when they had first seen an on-screen character with whom they could identify. Most of them were hardpressed to come up with a response. Ellis talked to the Los Angeles Blade about the findings. The scores are at an all-time low, she says, but they don’t tell the whole story. The pressure toward inclusion— which has been stoked by movements like #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo, as well as by the continuous efforts of GLAAD and other advocacy groups—has only heated up within the last couple of years, and moviemaking takes time. “There’s a lag time in studio releases,” she says. “There’s a two-year pipeline and we’re only just starting to see some of that influence in the projects coming out now.” Ellis is particularly annoyed at the poor

inclusion record of movies based on comic books. Last year’s “Thor: Ragnorak,” for instance, erased the sexuality of a character originally written as LGBTQ from the film version. “The comic book industry has always been a place that has been inclusive and as it moves onto the big screen, it’s becoming ‘pink-washed.’ There’s such an enormous opportunity there to respect the work as it was originally crafted, as an artist should, and to get to audiences all over the world,” Ellis says. Ellis is skeptical about the reasoning behind such exclusion—the conventional wisdom that studios can’t risk losing foreign markets, that films with LGBTQ storylines— along with any featuring non-white, nonmale narratives—“don’t travel.” “I’ve never seen the science or the methodology behind that and I think if they ever did those studies, they probably did them decades ago,” Ellis says “There are these false narratives that live within the entertainment community that we all buy into and we’ve all taken them on as the truth. We debunked two of them this past year, with ‘Black Panther’ and ‘Wonder Woman,’ in a massive way.” Ellis believes it’s more crucial than ever for the LGBTQ community to see positive

representations. “We’re in a culture war right now and Hollywood has always been a cultural leader,” she says. “I can sense an obligation and a responsibility from the leadership in Hollywood to make sure that they’re being a cultural leader in this time when marginalized people are under attack like we’ve never seen in this country in our lifetime.” Ellis offers tips on how the LGBTQ community can contribute to the fight. “Support the films that do include us— make sure you’re out there on opening weekend. As we all know, opening weekend is the litmus test for success or failure, from a box office perspective,” she says. “There have also been movements on social media about big Hollywood films, about where people want to see LGBTQ people represented—things like ‘Make Captain America Gay,’ or ‘Give Elsa a Girlfriend.’ Email us if you’re doing one, because we’ll put it out there.” Ellis also highly recommends joining GLAAD. “We send out alerts. We keep people informed on ways that they can support these films,” she says. The complete Studio Responsibility Index report can be found at www.GLAAD.org.

Your truth if you dare

A New Kind of Musical

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Judge declines to dismiss Gavin Grimm lawsuit

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) is among a bipartisan group of lawmakers seeking to amend a defense bill against Trump’s trans military ban. Blade Photo by Michael Key

Bipartisan effort targets Trump’s trans military ban A bipartisan group of lawmakers has proposed an amendment to major defense policy legislation that would abrogate President Trump’s ban on transgender military service. The amendment — introduced by Reps. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), A. Donald McEachin (D-Va.), Susan Davis (D-Calif.) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) — was submitted before the House Rules Committee for consideration as part of the fiscal year 2018 defense authorization bill. The House Rules Committee was set to consider amendments to the defense legislation this week. If the committee agrees to the amendment — a tall order for a committee stacked with Republicans — the House will debate and vote on the measure as part of floor consideration of the bill later this week. The amendment seeks to enact transgender military policy that was in effect October 2016 — a time immediately after the Obama administration changed the policy to allow transgender service — in addition to allowing accession of transgender recruits, which was set to begin in July. After President Trump tweeted that month he’d ban transgender people from the military “in any capacity,” he issued a directive to the Pentagon prohibiting transgender service and reversing the Obama-era change. A House Republican aide said “we have no illusion” the Rules Committee will make the amendment in order, but there are other intentions behind the amendment. “We want to have positive amendments so that perhaps leadership is or will be discouraged from making anti-LGBT amendments in order,” the aide said. The House isn’t the only chamber of Congress where lawmakers are taking action on the transgender military ban. Last week, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) told the Blade she intends to introduce a similar amendment against the policy to the Senate version of the defense bill. Both Speier and Gilibrand have introduced standalone legislation against Trump’s transgender military ban and vigorously questioned in committee Defense Secretary James Mattis about his recommendation to ban transgender service, which formed the basis for the policy reaffirmed in March. It should be noted despite the transgender military ban and efforts from lawmakers to undo it, federal courts have ruled against the policy as a result of litigation filed by LGBT legal groups and transgender people are currently able to serve in the armed forces. An anti-trans amendment is also before the House Rules Committee. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), an notoriously anti-LGBT lawmaker, has submitted a measure that would prohibit the authorization of U.S. government funds on “enforcing transgender sensitivity training.” CHRIS JOHNSON

A federal judge on Tuesday declined to dismiss a lawsuit that a transgender man filed against his Virginia school district’s bathroom policy. Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Norfolk, Va., — who in 2014 ruled the state’s constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman is unconstitutional — in her decision declined a motion from the Gloucester County School Board to dismiss Gavin Grimm’s lawsuit. The Associated Press reported Allen also ordered lawyers who represent Grimm and the school board to schedule a settlement conference. Grimm in 2015 filed a federal lawsuit against the Gloucester County School District’s policy prohibiting students from using bathrooms and locker rooms that don’t correspond with their “biological gender.” Grimm and his lawyers with the American Civil Liberties Union alleged the policy violated Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. The U.S. Supreme Court was scheduled to hear oral arguments in the case in March 2017. The justices remanded it to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals after President Trump rescinded guidance to public schools that said Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 requires them to allow trans students to use restrooms based on their gender identity. Allen in her ruling upheld Grimm’s claims under Title IX and the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. Grimm — who graduated from Gloucester County High School last June — welcomed the decision in a statement the ACLU released. “I feel an incredible sense of relief,” he said. “After fighting this policy since I was 15 years old, I finally have a court decision saying that what the Gloucester County School Board did to me was wrong and it was against the law. I was determined not to give up because I didn’t want any other student to have to suffer the same experience that I had to go through.” MICHAEL K. LAVERS

CDC denies LGBT questions removed from health survey Despite a report the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention had removed LGBT questions from a federal health survey, the agency insists no decision has been made to omit the module. Bernadette Burden, a CDC spokesperson, said the agency is still working on the 2019 version of the Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System, or BRFSS, but still plans to include questions allowing respondents to identify their sexual orientation and gender identity. “The 2019 BRFSS questionnaire has not been finalized,” Burden said. “The sexual orientation and gender identity optional module is an approved optional module for the BRFSS and there are plans to make it available in 2019. States may choose to use this optional module for their 2019 BRFSS questionnaires.” The CDC provides the BRFSS to states to obtain data on risk behaviors and health conditions in the U.S. population. The LGBT module in the BRFSS — an optional module since 2014 — was used in more than 30 states and territories and provided the first representative snapshot of transgender health in the United States. The availability of that information seemed in peril last week when the Williams Institute, an LGBT think-tank at the University of California, Los Angeles, issued a statement declaring a CDC official said during a Denver conference the LGBT module would no longer be included in the BRFSS starting in 2019. The removal of LGBT questions from federal surveys has been a trend in the Trump administration. Last year, the Department of Health & Human Services disclosed plans to eliminate a question allowing elders to identity as LGBT on the National Survey of Older Americans Act Participants. Although HHS restored the sexual orientation question after a backlash, the department maintained the decision to eliminate the gender identity question. Rachel Dowd, a spokesperson the Williams Institute, insisted the think-tank heard the CDC official disclose the LGBT question would be removed from the BRFSS during the conference, but is pleased the agency will keep the module. CHRIS JOHNSON



Lesbian sheriff wins Dem nomination in Texas gubernatorial race Valdez now faces uphill battle in challenging GOP incumbent By CHRIS JOHNSON Former Dallas County Sheriff and out lesbian Lupe Valdez won the Democratic nomination Tuesday night to take on anti-LGBT Republican incumbent in the upcoming Texas gubernatorial election. According to results from The New York Times, Valdez secured 53.1 percent of the vote in the Democratic run-off compared to the 46.9 percent won by her competitor, businessperson Andrew White. After polls closed in Texas at 7 p.m., the Associated Press called the race a few hours later at 9:37 Central Time. Valdez, who was endorsed by the LGBTQ Victory Fund, is the first out lesbian to win the

nomination of a major political party and now proceeds to the general election against Gov. Greg Abbott. If successful, Valdez could become the first openly gay person elected governor in the United States, although other openly gay candidates in 2018 are seeking that distinction. Annise Parker, CEO of the Victory Fund and former Houston mayor, said in a statement Texas “made history” by nominating Valdez to take on Abbott. “While bigoted state legislators in Austin continue to divide the state and target our community, Texans are voting for LGBTQ candidates because we are authentic, values-driven leaders who deliver on promises,” Parker said. “That is why Lupe won, and we will work hard to expose Gov. Abbott’s cynical politics of divisiveness and showcase Lupe’s positive agenda for Texans over the next five months.”

Valdez is set to take on a governor of Texas who has built a substantial antiLGBT record. Abbott has signed an antiLGBT “religious freedom” adoption bill into law, urged the Texas Supreme Court to undermine the 2015 ruling for marriage equality nationwide and called a special session of the state legislature to pass antitransgender bathroom legislation, which lawmakers ultimately rejected. But Valdez faces an uphill battle in challenging a Republican incumbent in a “red” state. The new Democratic nominee must overcome a 10-point gap in the polls and Abbott’s $40 million war chest. In an interview with the Washington Blade earlier this month, Valdez said she’s prepared for the challenge. “Ten points is the closest we’ve been in over 10 years,” Valdez said. “The prior


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people that have run have not gotten that close, and we haven’t even started running against him. We’re not even calling him out or going to him on anything.” Already sexual orientation has become an issue in the race. According to a report in the Dallas Morning News, Abbott’s reelection campaign launched a new website that blasts Valdez as “wrong for Texas,” and indirectly notes she’s a lesbian. The 30-second ad shows a photo of Valdez and cites this quote from her on abortion rights in late January: “My partner is a very strong, independent chiropractor. For me to try to tell her what she should do with her body, she would tell me what to do with my mouth.” The quote is a reference to Valdez’s partner, Lindsay Brown. Continues at losangelesblade.com



The oppression of ‘tolerance’ in Guyana Anti-LGBT violence, attitudes pervasive in South American country By ASHLEY BINETTI “He was burned to death in a house . . . They burned him to death. They tied him up and then burned the house . . . [The police failed to properly investigate] . . . How bad is it going to get before good comes?” This story has haunted me since I returned from Guyana. Grace, a pseudonym, is a 44-year-old transgender woman who lost one of her best friends; he was murdered for being transgender and the police refused to investigate. While incountry, I witnessed this discrimination firsthand and bore witness to the scars and stories LGBT interviewees revealed. Another interviewee lost a friend the week we conducted interviews. Trishell, a 28-year-old transgender woman, was killed on Feb. 17, 2018, after a festival celebration in Georgetown. Her death was reported as an accident caused by a car crash — despite interviewees who reported the wounds were wholly inconsistent with this explanation. Our research team interviewed nearly 70 stakeholders — including LGBT persons, religious leaders, human rights defenders, civil society representatives, law enforcement officials and other government officials — and uncovered a cycle of violence, discrimination and abuse that permeates all aspects of life for LGBT individuals in Guyana. The discrimination and violence start at home, continue through the education system, into the employment sector and affect their ability to access quality healthcare, safety in public spaces and justice. The government boasted statistics demonstrating that Guyana is a tolerant country. I take issue with this: Tolerance is not acceptance. Human rights guarantee more than being “tolerated” by one’s gov-

ernment — human rights mean being empowered to lead a dignified life. However, at this juncture in Guyana the distinction is rather moot — stories like those above clearly indicate that Guyanese society is not even tolerant of LGBT persons. The truth is more nuanced, hidden in the same closet in Guyana where LGBT individuals seek refuge. Guyana, a small Caribbean country located in South America, is the only country on the South American continent that still criminalizes same-sex intimacy. The country also criminalizes “cross-dressing” for an “improper purpose” — whatever that means. (Guyana’s Appeals Court upheld the law recently but refused to define the term, making it impossible to know what constitutes a violation.) These laws, which form part of the fabric of Guyanese society, perpetuate and legitimize violence and discrimination against LGBT individuals. One need not look further than the title of the article where Trishell’s murder was reported to see this connection: “Crossdresser Killed in Vreed-en-Hoop Accident.” While government officials preached tolerance, deep-seated discrimination was evident in their remarks. Minister of Social Protection Keith Scott — a very friendly and jovial man — proudly shared societal attitudes toward LGBT persons: “If there were two men who were kissing, there would be inward disgust at what they are seeing, but at the same time nobody [is] going to attack them.” He didn’t recognize that this was less-than-ideal. It also did not mesh with the accounts LGBT individuals provided — including being prevented from entering police stations to report crime, waiting for hours to be seen in emergency rooms while their non-LGBT counterparts were ushered ahead of them, and being verbally and physically attacked for being who they are in public. Similarly, Crime Chief Police Officer Paul Williams affirmed that anyone “can come to my office to seek justice,” some of his other comments were less than welcoming. While

Williams acknowledged that some officers are disrespectful and let their own biases interfere in their work, he underscored, nonchalantly, that LGBT persons should recognize their place: “Don’t fool yourself, you’re a minority in a large group, you have to cooperate […] conduct yourself in an appropriate manner.” Accounts from LGBT interviewees largely comported with Williams’ assertion — they noted that they are relatively safe as long as they actively hide their true identities from most of their family, friends and government. Yet finding safety in the proverbial closet is not experiencing the full panoply of human rights — it’s oppression. Preventing persons from living a life of dignity is a violation of human rights. Rethinking their duty to uphold human rights, some Caribbean countries have recently repealed or overturned laws criminalizing same-sex intimacy — including Belize in 2016 and, very recently, Trinidad and Tobago on April 12. It is not too late for Guyana to join them and embark on the road to changing archaic laws and dangerous attitudes. Instead of preaching tolerance, it’s time to offer acceptance. To learn more about LGBT rights in Guyana related to education, employment, health, violence and safety in public spaces, and impunity for perpetrators and access to justice, keep an eye out for the Georgetown Law Human Rights Institute Fact-Finding Project report: Trapped: Cycles of Violence and Discrimination Against LGBT Persons in Guyana. It will be available online by mid-June.

Ashley Binetti is the Dash-Muse Teaching Fellow at Georgetown Law’s Human Rights Institute. She co-teaches HRI’s Fact-Finding Practicum, directs the Human Rights Associates Program, and leads all human rights programming at the Institute. These are the author’s reflections from HRI’s 2018 Fact-Finding Project research trip on LGBT rights in Guyana.

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First, Do No Harm Act New civil rights bill was introduced on Harvey Milk Day

Valerie Ploumpis is Equality California’s National Policy Director.

A lot has changed in how Californians think about religious liberties in the past 25 years. In 1993, liberals and conservatives alike were outraged when the Supreme Court ruled against two Native American workers who had been fired for testing positive for peyote, a hallucinogen commonly used in their religious ceremonies. A broad coalition – almost inconceivable today – made up of the ACLU, the Christian Legal Society, the American Jewish Congress, the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, the National Association of Evangelicals, and the Traditional Values Coalition joined forces to support the Religious Freedom Restoration Act which was then pending in Congress. The bill passed the

House and Senate readily and was quickly signed into law by President Bill Clinton. At the time, the debate in Congress focused primarily on how to protect minority religious practice from laws that would substantially interfere with such practice, such as ensuring Muslim firefighters could wear beards or Jewish children could wear yarmulkes in public school. But in the intervening years, far right religious conservatives have successfully used the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, commonly known as RFRA, in several high-profile court cases including Hobby Lobby and Harris Funeral Homes, to deny services to LGBTQ individuals, defend employment discrimination against LGBTQ people, limit employee access to FDAapproved contraception through employersponsored health insurance, and attempt to avoid court testimony about alleged child labor and abuse. The Trump Administration has gone many steps further to weaponize the ability of individuals and institutions opposed to equality to cite their religious beliefs and moral objections to providing services to people of whom they disapprove. Attorney General Jeff Sessions laid the groundwork for the right to discriminate when he issued a government-wide memorandum in response to President Trump’s April 2017 “Religious Liberty” Executive Order. The memo broadly interpreted the religious freedom protections of RFRA.

Similarly, the Department of Health and Human Services recently proposed a rule that would broaden current exemptions for health providers who do not want to provide services or treat people if they have a religious or moral objection to doing so. And HHS’s Office for Civil Rights established a new “Conscience and Religious Freedom” division earlier this year that would protect medical providers that illegally discriminate against patients based moral or religious objections. Against this backdrop of governmentsanctioned discrimination and, undoubtedly with an eye toward the Supreme Court’s impending decision in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and a number of other Senate Democrats introduced the ‘Do No Harm Act’ on May 22, fittingly Harvey Milk Day, the day set aside to commemorate the slain gay San Francisco Supervisor. The Senate bill is companion legislation to the ‘Do No Harm Act’ introduced in July 2017 by in the House by Reps. Joe Kennedy (D-MA) and Bobby Scott (D-VA), that would clarify that compliance with federal laws protecting civil rights and other important legal rights cannot be undercut by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Specifically, it would prevent RFRA from being used to obtain exemptions from federal laws including: • Protections against discrimination or

the promotion of equal opportunity, such as those provided under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other law; • Labor laws covering wages, benefits, collective bargaining, and worker protections; • Protections against child abuse and exploitation; • Access to, information about, referrals for, provision of, or coverage of any healthcare item or service; • Goods or services to be provided to beneficiaries through government contracts, grants, and cooperative agreements; and • Public accommodations and the full and equal enjoyment of goods, services, benefits, facilities, privileges, and advantages provided by government. At the same time, RFRA continues to provide appropriate protections for religion. As Harris said in her statement: “The freedom to worship is a founding principle of this nation as well as the right to live free of discrimination or fear that one’s civil rights will be undermined because of race, gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity,” she wrote. “The Do No Harm Act will ensure we protect both these rights for all.” Equality California is working with lawmakers and partner organizations, notably the ACLU and Americans United in Washington, D.C. and across the country to block attempts to use imagined threats to religious liberty as an excuse to discriminate against millions of Americans.

A Personal Letter from John Pérez

A S O N E C A L I F O R N I A N T O A N O T H E R , I know we are all deeply concerned

about the direction of our country and the challenges that we face here in California. I believe Antonio is the right choice to lead our state and build on these last eight years of progress.

There are many progressive reasons to support Antonio, but I have a very personal reason for supporting him.

In that moment, he made it clear that he was something more than my cousin: he was my champion.

In 1994, Antonio was running for the State Assembly for the first time, and he appeared before Stonewall Democrats to ask for our endorsement. I was a young labor organizer, becoming more active in the community and political life. Now, the fact that Antonio even asked for our endorsement was significant. This was 1994, where public support for LGBT rights was a fraction of where it stands today. Ideas like domestic partnerships were still years away and many Democrats saw LGBT rights as a third-rail issue.

Just like he’s always been a champion for immigrants. And working people. And the poorest, sickest and most vulnerable Californians.

During the question and answer portion, he very matter-offactly answered “yes” when he was asked if he supported same-sex marriage. That was such a meaningful moment for me. I felt chills down my spine.

Photo: Karen Ocamb



Antonio Villaraigosa (and children) at CSW Pride parade in early 1990s with Stonewall CALIFORNIA Democratic Club president Eric Bauman.


The first employment protections for LGBT Californians were introduced and passed by Antonio in the State Assembly. It would be another decade before most politicians had the courage to embrace a position that came to Antonio as naturally and quickly as any other issue of justice. And that’s because justice is the through-line of Antonio’s career. He’s fought for minimum wage increases time and again because he believes in worker justice. He believes that environmental justice means clean air, clean water and clean power for every Californian. And he believes in opportunity. I often think back to that Stonewall Democrats

Antonio Villaraigosa (left) with John Pérez

meeting. He was willing to risk his entire political career because he believed in what was then an unpopular truth — that LGBT Californians were deserving of equal rights. Progress is achieved when our politics and our government are aspirational. And progress is maintained when our leaders are prudent, focused and decisive. Antonio Villaraigosa has been fighting for justice and progress his entire life. He’s dreamed big, and he’s balanced budgets. He has the talent and tenacity to run our state, and he has the compassion and conviction to create the environment where our progressive values can thrive. For these reasons, I hope you will join me in supporting Antonio Villaraigosa for Governor. Sincerely, JOHN A. PÉREZ, SPEAKER EMERITUS


Paid for by Villaraigosa for Governor 2018, 5429 Madison Avenue, Sacramento, CA 95841

Antonio Villaraigosa is a fighter for justice and progress

Billy Porter won’t shut up ‘Pose’ star talks about smashing his closet and the path ahead By JOHN PAUL KING

Billy Porter appears in the groundbreaking Ryan Murphy series ‘Pose.’ Photo Courtesy Porter






I mean people-of-color gays, not white gays,” Porter says. He chuckles a bit as he reflects. “It’s still like that, really – to this day I can’t get a guest spot on ‘Will and Grace,’” Porter adds. He’s not bashing that show, though. “Marriage equality never would have happened without ‘Will and Grace,’ and everything else in that time period. Like Ellen, Rosie, Elton John coming out. I’m in the generation of people who could be out from the start because they paved the way,” Porter says. It’s one of the reasons he thinks “Pose” is important. “This is the ‘Will and Grace’ of the new generation, because you’re seeing LGBTQ people of color– and that includes the “T” which is usually forgotten. We have five transgender actresses of color in series regular roles. You get to live with these people on a weekly basis, it lets you understand how to relate to them as human beings – not as objects, or pawns for your political power plays,” Porter says. He’s particularly proud of the authenticity in the show’s casting; the subject of straight performers “playing gay” brings out his thorny side. “I’m over it. It’s offensive. Because it doesn’t go in the other direction. It never does. All these straight actors, they think ‘Oooh, if I play gay, maybe I can win an Oscar.’ And they do. But the only time I’m ever called in for a role, even with a Tony Award and a Grammy, is if the description says ‘flamboyantly dot, dot, dot.’ Whatever else it is, ‘flamboyantly’ always comes first. So, you know what? If I can’t play straight, then y’all can’t play gay. It’s 2018. Everybody in the room should know better,” Porter says.

given him a platform from which he has become a muchlauded advocate for the LGBTQ community; earlier this month he was honored by the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles with their Courageous Voice Award, and in 2017 he received GLAAD’s Vito Rossi Award – bestowed on out members of the media for promoting acceptance. In his speech at that ceremony, he emphasized the importance of out artists using their voices to speak truth to power, saying that the days of “shut up and sing” are over. He doubles down on that sentiment today. “It’s not just ‘shut up and sing.’ Really, it’s just ‘shut up.’ It’s institutionalized silencing, and people want to act like it’s normal. No! We did that already. We’re not doing it again, not without a fight. At least, I’m not. Visibility matters. We continue to be marginalized if we stay in the shadows and act like our truth isn’t important to be told,” Porter says. Telling that truth is a central focus of Porter’s upcoming role on “Pose,” the highly-anticipated Ryan Murphy series for FX, which premieres on June 3 and looks at life in the mid-‘80s underground ballroom scene of New York City. “I play the character of Pray Tell, the M.C. of the balls – I’m the one that keeps the room spinning, and I make sure it is warm and welcoming, because I’m essentially the godfather of the entire community. I love my children, and I chastise them, and I set ‘em straight. I smack ‘em back when I need to. It’s a great responsibility because they look to me for enlightenment,” Porter says. The ballroom culture was, of course, famously explored in the iconic 1990 documentary, “Paris is Burning” – a movie which had an impact on Porter. “That film came out when I was in college, and it was the first time that we had seen anybody who looked like us – and

Once upon a time, Billy Porter was told to keep his mouth shut. In the ‘90s, as a young hopeful in a recording industry riddled with homophobia, his label had him under strict instruction to stay quiet, for fear that detection as a gay man would derail his career before it started. That career faltered, but Porter did not. He went on to have a successful future as a theater performer, culminating in his win of both a Tony and Grammy Award for his performance in the Broadway musical “Kinky Boots” in 2013. Now, even while continuing to act (as well as write and direct), he has made a return to the recording studio – his most recent album, “Billy Porter Presents the Soul of Richard Rodgers,” debuted last year, and on June 2 he brings those songs (as well as other material – “the full Billy Porter concert experience,” as he puts it) to the Soraya at Cal State Northridge (18111 Nordhoff St., Northridge, Calif.) for a live performance. “Getting back onstage and performing for people in concert, it was really amazing to remember, ‘You know, I love doing that!’ I had been so damaged by the record business that I had put that side of myself in a box – for many, many years,” Porter says. Still, he doesn’t really have any regrets. “It was the best thing that ever happened to me, because at the end of the day, I failed – and I put ‘failed’ in quotes, because nothing is really a failure if you learn something from it. When I had my record deal, I gave myself away until I had given everything – and when it imploded, I wasn’t even being myself. That’s never going to happen again,” Porter explains. He’s already proven that he means it. His stardom has



A M E R I C A’ S




Continues at losangelesblade.com





queery MICHAELA MENDELSOHN How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell? Eleven years and my three children were the hardest to tell. They had me on a pedestal as “super dad.”

By TROY MASTERS tmasters@losangelesblade.com

Photo Courtesy of Mendelsohn

Michaela Mendelsohn is a leader on the go, or more correctly, a woman on the way up who famously wants to pull you up with her, especially if you are part of the transgender community. Her mission is to level the playing field so that trans people can focus on living lives that flourish and have a family of their own. “If we are not lifting up the community from the lowest denominator up, then we aren’t really doing our job for social justice,” Mendelsohn says. It’s an approach that has served Michaela well and one that has benefited the LGBT community in profound ways, both nationally and here in LA. And it hasn’t gone unnoticed. LA Pride recently announced she will serve as the 2018 LA Pride Parade Grand Marshal, making her the second transgender person in the parade’s 48 year history to do so. The author and speaker founded TranCanWork to promote trans-friendly employment policies and workplace equality. As a transwoman CEO of Pollo West Corp, one of the largest franchisees for El Pollo Loco, she understands the value and potential of transgender employees in the workplace. Recently, she was selected as 2018’s state and national recipient of the Faces of Diversity Award by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation’s (NRAEF) celebration of the “best of the best” in diversity and inclusion, community service and hospitality leadership. “I began to think of the idea for TransCanWork when I hired my first transgender employee in one of my restaurants,” she says. “Living as a woman, the employee was forced by her previous employer to use the men’s restroom where she was sexually molested. She was then allowed to use the women’s restroom but a customer complained and she was fired.” Creating an employment advocacy organization is not the only way the 65-year-old Mendelsohn champions her community. She is the first transwoman to serve on the board of the Trevor Project, a national organization focused on suicide prevention among LGBTQ youth. It’s an important step for both Mendelsohn and the organization as 43 percent of trans people have attempted suicide, including Mendelsohn. She also serves on Mayor Garcetti’s Workforce Development Board. At age 55, Mendelsohn started living life as a woman which caused tension with her family, including her three children. They did not want her around their friends and she was not allowed to go to their school events, a rejection that ultimately led to a suicide attempt. “Being a parent was the best part of my life and I was angry I wasn’t getting back the love I had given them,” Mendelsohn said. “I expected their support and when I felt rejected, it felt awful.” Mendelsohn’s therapist explained the lifetime of pain suicide causes the surviving family members and she has never thought about it again. “It’s important that we all celebrate uniqueness,” said Mendelsohn. “My struggles have made me stronger and happier – that’s the message.” She went on to become the first transgender contestant in the Ms. Senior California Pageant and worked with Jenji Kohan as a consultant on “Orange is the New Black,” in the development of Laverne Cox’s character. She didn’t want payment for her consultation for the television series but she did have a couple of requests. “Jenji in her position is going to do whatever she wants, but I asked her to get the role right because so many roles have been stereotyped and to hire a transgender actress, which she did,” Mendelsohn said. Mendelsohn fully transitioned in 2013. Today, she and her partner Carmel are raising a son. Mendelsohn describes 4-year old Isadore as the light of her life. She has also reconciled with her 3 adult children, who continue to call her Dad.

hanged. If your life were a book, what would the title be? “What’s Next?”

Who’s your LGBT hero? No contest. Abbe Land and she’s not even LGBT!

If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do? Break into the lab and burn all the papers.

What’s Los Angeles’ best nightspot, past or present? Nightlife? What?

What do you believe in beyond the physical world? That I’ll find out when I die.

Describe your dream wedding. Prince Harry and Meghan Markel. They’re out to change the world!

What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders? Check your intentions every night before going to sleep.

What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about? Supporting our youth to live happy lives excited for a bright future. What historical outcome would you change? That’s dangerous but probably the assassination of Bobby Kennedy. So much hope lost when he died. I sometimes imagine what he would have accomplished if he had lived. What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime? The Beatles taking America by storm. On what do you insist? Treating others with love and respect. What was your last Facebook post or Tweet? On Facebook I posted a link to a plea to help a woman in Khartoum who refused to be forcibly married and who was then raped. She fought back and she stabbed him but he died. She will be

What would you walk across hot coals for? My children. What LGBT stereotype annoys you most? The notion that we’re mentally ill. What’s your favorite LGBT movie? “All About My Mother” by Pedro Almodovar. What’s the most overrated social custom? Salad forks. What trophy or prize do you most covet? Seeing an LGBT child being loved and adored by their parents. What do you wish you’d known at 18? That I was transgender and what that meant. Why Los Angeles? My parents moved here from New York when I was nine .You can take the boy out of New York but you can’t take New York out of the girl!


Today Katy Perry and Taylor Swift make the job of singer/songwriter look like whimsical, a breeze. But it hasn’t always been so. Yes, there were Joni Mitchell and Carole King and every now and then Diane Warren and Carole Bayer Sager would pop out from behind the music sheets. But visibility for lesbians in the music industry was often overshadowed by their frontmen, singers with or for whom they wrote songs. During the AIDS crisis, that was just fine with Marsha Malamet as she sang and played piano on “Love Don’t Need a Reason,” the AIDS anthem she co-wrote with friend Michael Callen and Peter Allen. It was a simple love song at a time when love was an almost spiritual act of defiance in the face of abject devastation and fatality. “What can I say about a modern holocaust that killed so many of my friends and millions worldwide? What can I say about a government—and specifically a president who wouldn’t utter the word ‘AIDS’? What can I say about hatred and bigotry, homophobia and fear that thousands of writers have heretofore written about,” Malamet tells the Los Angeles Blade when asked about writing the impactful song. “I can only give of myself, the one thing I know well – music and songwriting. “It was in the mid-80s when AIDS was a ravaging monster and I was about to write a song with two very talented men, who would eventually succumb to the disease—Peter Allen and Michael Callen. Little did we all know – that song, ‘Love Don’t Need a Reason’ – would become an anthem for the AIDS movement, during one of the most difficult times in our history,” she says. “We all met in Peter’s penthouse on the upper West Side of Manhattan one afternoon and we knew what we were going to write about. Larry Kramer suggested to Michael that he write a song for his play, which was going to be made into a movie –‘The Normal Heart.’ Literally, it took us the afternoon to finish,” Malamet says. “In retrospect, it seemed effortless, even going so far as to say—predestined. However, at the time, we had no grandiose ideas of what we had created and the impact it would have on our community, and frankly, our country and the world. To date, there have been more than 40 recordings, including many gay choruses around the world. The simple truth was that we were just happy to get something down we all liked. That was the one and only time the three of us would collaborate. Just a moment in time when three gay songwriters wrote a song about love.” Malamet sang and played behind Callen on stage at Paramount’s Blue Sky lot before the APLA AIDS Walks. And while “Love Don’t Need a Reason” didn’t wind up in the “Normal Heart,” Hugh Jackson sang it in “Boy from Oz,” a Broadway play about Peter Allen, for which Malamet received a Grammy nomination. To her everlasting joy, Streisand did sing a Malamet song—“Lessons to be Learned” on her album “Higher Ground.” “Years after being a young kid from Brooklyn inspired by Barbra, she had recorded my song and I was now listening to her sing it,” Malamet told writer Todd Sussman. “I had an out of body experience, then started to cry. For her to record my song 30 years later – and a meaningful song, not just a little pop ditty – was my dream come true. If people followed what this song is about, we would live in a better world. The love has to start from you first. You cannot give something to others if you don’t have it for yourself. Love is an inside job.” Malamet has also worked closely with Streisand’s son, Jason Gould, contributing four original songs to Gold’s CD “Dangerous Man.” Malamet, Gould tells the Los Angeles Blade, is “a passionate lover of music and a brilliant collaborator.” Over her 30 year career, Malamet’s songs have been recorded by such artists as Faith Hill, Luther Vandross, Diana Ross, Chaka Khan, and Patti LaBelle, to name a few. She recently released two albums of her own in a series of three, the last due out this year. “Writing with Marsha Malamet was a thrill for me. I have always admired her work, and then to discover what fun she was, as well as how smart and professional. Who could ask for more?” Amanda McBroom, writer of the Bette Midler classic “The Rose,” among scores of other songs, tells the Los Angeles Blade. McBroom joins a slew of other singer/songwriters including Melissa Manchester and host Bruce Vilanch at a May 29 benefit for Malamet who is suffering from an unidentified illness. “This benefit is to help pay for all medical needs and some living expenses, due to the fact that what Marsha suffers from (we still don’t know exactly) is not covered by insurance. Whether it is an autoimmune disorder, or a metabolic disease, treatments are expensive. In 2015 she was diagnosed with early stage Parkinson’s, then a year later, Lyme Disease. She has spent a lot of money to see different doctors, whose treatments have not been successful,” says Malamet’s friend and PR agent Ralph Lampkin Jr. In 1985, when Malamet, Callen and Allen wrote “Love Don’t Need a Reason,” no one really knew what HIV/ AIDS was, either. Now it’s Marsha Malamet’s turn to feel the love she has given so many others. “Love Don’t Need a Reason: A Benefit for Marsha Malamet” on Tuesday, May 29, 8:30pm at Catalina’s Jazz Club. VIP Tickets are $75.00 (receive a free CD download) General Admission Tickets: ASTON MARTIN DB11 VOLANTE $50.00. Ticket link: https://www.ticketweb.com/event/love-dont-need-a-reason-catalina-bar-grilltickets/8341565?pl=cbg For more information on Marsha and to purchase her recordings, visit WWW.MARSHAMALAMET.COM


Benefit concert for singer/songwriter Marsha Malamet Co-writer of ‘Love Don’t Need a Reason’ is very ill By KAREN OCAMB kocamb@losangelesblade.com

Marsha Malamet Photo Courtesy Ralph Lampkin Jr.



‘ Whitney ’ doc, ‘ Mamma Mia ’ among summer film gems The season of big-budget spectacles has arrived By BRIAN T. CARNEY

A scene from the documentary ‘Whitney.’ Photo Courtesy Roadside Attractions


This weekend, the 2018 summer movie season blasts off with the release of “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” an excellent addition to the franchise. Hollywood veteran Ron Howard directs with great visual and narrative clarity and the fastpaced script by “Star Wars” veteran Lawrence Kasdan and his son Jon effortlessly combines action, humor, drama and suspense. The LGBT summer movie season kicks off on June 1 with queer auteur John Cameron Mitchell’s delightful new movie “How to Talk to Girls at Parties.” Destined to be a cult classic, the movie stars Nicole Kidman as Queen Boadicea, a punk priestess who finds herself caught in a battle between humans and aliens. The fun film also stars Elle Fanning and newcomer Alex Sharp as the literally star-crossed lovers. The June LGBT movie calendar is crammed with other exciting new queer films. Premiering on Netflix on June 8, “Alex Strangelove” is about a high school teen’s journey of sexual exploration. “A Kid Like Jake” stars Jim Parsons and Claire Danes as the parents of a 4-year old gender-nonconforming child. Opening on June 22, “Hearts Beat Loud” stars Nick Offerman as a divorced father who forms a songwriting team with his lesbian daughter. “Nancy” (June 29) is the story of an unbalanced young woman who assumes different personalities as she surfs the Internet. The movie is written and directed by Christina Choe (winner of the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at Sundance) and stars Andrea Riseborough (“The Battle of the Sexes” and “The Death of Stalin”). The rest of the stellar cast includes Ann Dowd, Steve Buscemi, J. Smith-Cameron and John Leguizamo. Pride month releases also include “The Misandrists” (June 15). Directed by legendary gay provocateur Bruce La Bruce, the film begins when a young man fleeing the police unintentionally seeks refuge at a lesbian separatist stronghold. Among LGBT fan favorites, the long-awaited sequel to Pixar’s “The Incredibles” (2004) arrives on June 15. “Incredibles 2” brings back the original cast of superheroes trying to blend in. Director Brad Bird once again threatens to steal the movie with his cameo as Edna Mode (“No capes!”), a sly tribute to iconic Hollywood costume designer and barely closeted lesbian Edith Head. Another old gang is reunited on July 20 in “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again,” the effervescent sequel to the original ABBA fest. Flashbacks reveal how Donna Sheridan (Meryl Streep in the present; Lily James in the past) met her three suitors. Cher joins the cast as Donna’s mother. There’s no word yet on whether or not Pierce Brosnan will try to sing again or if Colin Firth’s Greek boyfriend will return. On the mainstream front, some of the other big releases include the all-female “Ocean’s 8” (June 8); “Hereditary,” a horror story starring Toni Collette (June 8); “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” (June 22), starring Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard and her impressive heels; “Ant-Man and the Wasp” (July 6); “Sorry to Bother You,” a satirical critique of capitalism and racism starring Lakeith Stanfield and Tessa Thompson (July 6); Timothée Chalamet’s “Hot Summer Nights” (July 27); and “Crazy Rich Asians” (Aug. 17). On the lighter side, there’s Mila Kunis and out actor Kate McKinnon in “The Spy Who Dumped Me” (Aug. 3) and “The Happytime Murders” starring Melissa McCarthy and a bunch of puppets (Aug. 17). Award season gets an early start on Aug. 10 with Spike Lee’s latest film “BlacKkKlansman,” a favorite at Cannes. Based on a true story, Lee’s latest opus is about an African-American police officer who infiltrates the KKK in the 1970s. Some of the documentaries premiering this summer include “Whitney” (July 6); “Love, Cecil,” a look back at the dazzling career of Hollywood costume designer Cecil Beaton; “Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood” about the infamous pimp Scotty Bowers (July 27) and “The Gospel According to André,” (June 1) an insightful look at André Leon Talley, the trailblazing black gay fashion editor who grew up in the Jim Crow South. On June 18, there is an important documentary that every family should enjoy together. Directed by Morgan Neville (“20 Feet from Stardom” and “Best of Enemies”), “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” is a moving and charming tribute to the legendary Fred Rogers and his enduring and endearing legacy.


When gay celebrity chef Susan Feniger isn’t creating new restaurant concepts with her business partner Mary Sue Milliken, the much loved veteran entrepreneur is thinking about ways to be of service to her community. “I feel that it’s very important to give back as much as I can,” she told the Los Angeles Blade at LA Food Bowl’s “Plant Power, the No Beast Feast,” a garden party Susan and Mary Sue hosted, on the upper plaza of their downtown LA restaurant, Border Grill. Serving dishes like Border Grill’s Roasted Beet Ceviche Campechana, Grilled Corn Esquite, Impossible Meat Meatballs with tomatoes and salsa, the foodie soirée focused on Los Angeles’ abundant fruits and vegetables. All proceeds from the event were donated to Girls Inc. and the James Beard Foundation women’s leadership programs, to support the advancement of young girls and the empowerment of women in the hospitality industry. “What I found really interesting was the positive energy around having all women chefs and support of young girls (Girls Inc.),” acknowledged Feniger. The event featured numerous chefs including cookbook author, Nadine Redzepi (Noma), Monique Fiso of New Zealand (Hiakai), Akasha Richmond (Akasha), Antonia Lofaso (Scopa Italian Roots), April Bloomfield (Hearth & Hound), Brooke Williamson (Playa Provisions), Dahlia Narvaez (Mozza), Roxana Jullapat (Friends & Family), Shirley Chung (Ms. Chi), Dakota Weiss (Sweetfin/Estrella), Jazz Singsanong (Jitlada), Niki Nakayama (n/naka), Nyesha Arrington (Native Santa Monica), Sara Kramer and Sarah Hymanson (Kismet), Sherry Yard (iPic Theaters), Tanya Holland (Brown Sugar Kitchen) and Valerie Gordon (Valerie Confections). “Also, I loved being at an all vegetarian event with the bulk of donated produce from Frieda Kaplan, the 94 year old founder of Frieda’s Specialty Produce. She stood up to the male dominated produce world 50 years ago,” she enthused. “The combination of it all was very powerful!” The five-star chefs highlighted their tasty vegan and vegetarian cuisine, paired with an elegant array of luxury wines, beers and handcrafted cocktails from female winemakers, brewers and distillers. Feniger wants to teach young people who work within her culinary empire to “understand and be inspired” to volunteer/get involved in the community as they grow older. Serving on the board of the Los Angeles LGBT Center, Feniger is involved with many causes, including their recent culinary fundraiser event, “Simply diVine” at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. During the red carpet for LA Food Bowl’s “Jose Andres: Changing The World With Food,” Feniger addressed how “SimplydiVine” helps Lgbtq youth and seniors. “It was an amazing event, and we raised several hundred thousand dollars,” she said. “We are in the middle of finishing up a huge new community development that is happening, where there will be 130 beds for youth and for seniors. We are putting in a commercial kitchen that will be able to help them learn culinary skills so they can go out and get a job.” Feniger expects the culinary program to be started in a year. “Without a doubt, the LGBTQ movement and issues are near and dear to my heart. I am so lucky in my life and the little bit I can help to give back helps me to have a more meaningful existence.” Now with several restaurants, food trucks and cookbooks, Feniger has ambitious plans for the future. “We will be opening BBQ Mexicana, in Las Vegas, right across from our Border Grill restaurant at Mandalay Bay. We are excited about that, it will probably happen in about a month. We also have a smaller Mexican restaurant in Santa Monica, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a great bar, opening end of August, beginning of September. Feniger has learned so much in her 30 years as a restaurant entrepreneur. “I always follow my passion. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. We have always followed our hearts and did what we felt was right. This has been our driving force and we are still around...ups and downs. Whatever happens, the key is to move forward and keep going.” Feniger is a familiar face on television, having made hundreds of appearances on foodthemed shows—foodies may remember the charismatic Food Network show, “Too Hot Tamales.” “I love judging way better than competing. Like I had a lot of fun on ‘Top Chef Junior.’ And I love being on the (daytime talk) series, ‘The Talk.’ It’s one of my favorite shows to watch.” ASTON MARTIN DB11 VOLANTE Then there’s that hysterical classic “Saturday Night Live” skit, “Delicious Dish,” in which NPR Radio hosts have a “serious” interview about schweddy balls. (written by comedian, Ana Gasteyer, the parody skit also starred Molly Shannon and Alec Baldwin.) Gasteyer used Feniger and Milliken’s KCRW “Good Food” radio show as inspiration.


Susan Feniger, lesbian celeb chef, tops LA’s food festival scene Her five stars are simply divine By SUSAN HORNIK

Susan Feniger Photo Courtesy Feniger



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.

LGBT Night at Universal Studios offers VIP, after-hours experience for Pride. Photo Courtesy LA Pride


One City One Pride presents “Adelaide Drive: Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy,” today though June 30 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily at WeHo Arts Gallery at the West Hollywood Library (625 N San Vicente Blvd). The City of West Hollywood’s Arts Division presents a new exhibition featuring photography by Wayne Shimabukuro and original artworks by Don Bachardy. Shimabukuro has been photographing the artists of LA for more than 30 years. His work is included in numerous collections, including the Fullerton Museum of Art, California State University, the Getty Research Institute, the Huntington Library and LACMA. Don Bachardy is an American portrait artist whose works reside in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York; the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum of Art in San Francisco, the University of Texas; Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery, San Marino, California; the University of California, Los Angeles; the Fogg Art Museum of Harvard University; Princeton University; the Smithsonian Institution; and the National Portrait Gallery, London. Bachardy and Christopher Isherwood, the acclaimed novelist, were a couple for over 30 years, living on Adelaide Drive in Santa Monica until Isherwood’s death in 1986. This exhibit is an important part of the city’s One City One Pride LGBTQ Arts Festival’s celebration of LGBTQ pride through the arts with the theme “I Remember” from May 22 – June 30. More information is available at weho.org/pride.


Lost & Found: Safer Sex Activism is at ONE Gallery (626 North Roberston Blvd.) today from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Lost & Found: Safer Sex Activism examines thirty years of inspiring and defiant safer sex and harm-reduction activism. The exhibition presents safer sex posters, comics, brochures, videos, PSAs, and safer sex and clean needle kits, among other archival items, all from the collections at ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives at USC Libraries. Lost & Found reveals how activists sought to educate and empower people during a pervasive epidemic. Rather than stigmatize sexuality, these educational projects sought to

make sex fun again. For details, visit one.usc.edu. Filmmakers’ Gallery: Happiness Adjacent is tonight from 6-9 p.m. at Camelot Theatres of Palm Springs’ Cultural Center (2300 East Baristo Road, Palm Springs, Calif.). What began as a multimedia screening venue in Long Beach, California is now bringing the magic of the movies along with special guests to new audiences in Palm Springs. Tonight, writer/director, Rob Williams and producer Rod Johnson present “Happiness Adjacent,” an exploration of the romance between Hank, a nice Jewish boy who definitely isn’t looking for love, and Kurt, a Midwestern guy who desperately needs someone to break up the monotony of his stale marriage. Rachel Alig, Adam Fried, Ian Dick and Jorgie Goico star. Call (562) 3541490 for more information.


Drag Queen Bingo is tonight from 8-11 p.m. at Hamburger Mary’s (8288 Santa Monica Blvd). Get sloshed with the drag queens at Hamburger Mary’s while they twist and turn, poke, prod and work your every last gay bingo nerve. It’s one of the best Sunday night out things to do and a must do evening out with your out of town guests, especially the straight ones from the mid-West. Sashay, don’t shontay your way there. And don’t forget your bingo wig. For details, visit hamburgermarys.com/weho.


HRC Connect with Congressman Adam Schiff and LA County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl is tonight from 6:308:30 p.m. at the Abbey Food & Bar (629 North Robertson Blvd). Get the latest intelligence from famed Rep. Adam Schiff and Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. Find out what’s going down both nationally and locally in the fight for equality and the resistance. HRC will also provide a state of the states update so you will feel all up to speed on LGBT politics. Meet and mingle with other HRC members and allies, and invite your friends. For more details, visit facebook.com/hrclosangeles. Lillian Faderman presents her new book “Harvey

Milk: His Lives and Death,” tonight from 7-8:30 p.m. at West Hollywood City Council Chambers (625 North San Vicente Dr.). Join West Hollywood’s One City One Pride festival, WeHo Reads program and Lesbian Speaker Series as Lillian Faderman (“Gay L.A.,” “Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers: A History of Lesbian Life in Twentieth-Century America,” “The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle”) discusses and signs her new book “Harvey Milk: His Lives and Death.” Books will be available for sale by Book Soup. This event is free, but RSVPs are requested. Search eventbrite.com.


I’m Coming Out...to Shop! Macy’s Celebrates PRIDE Month in Los Angeles is today from 2-5 p.m. at Macy’s Men’s Store (8500 Beverly Blvd.). This disco-themed event to kick off Pride Month is a staple of Pride Month in WeHo. Meandering about the six-story super Macy’s you will find “Can Ya Dig It?” a fashion extravaganza hosted by Bravo TV star of “The People’s Couch,” Scott Nevins; Bell-Bottom’s Up Bar hosted by Tito’s Handmade Vodka; the Funkadelic Fashion Zone; and “Disco Donna,” a VIP lounge for heavy spenders in the Men’s Store. A portion of sale proceeds go to the Los Angeles LGBT Center, so shop away for a good cause. For more information, visit macyspride2018. eventbrite.com. LGBT Night at Universal Studios is tonight from 9 p.m1 a.m. at Universal Studios Hollywood (100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City, Calif). Have you ever wanted to run around the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park at night without the crowds and long lines, with awesome DJs spinning in the background? This VIP experience includes full access to the entire theme park, shorter lines at all of Universal Studios’ top attractions, live sets featuring DJs Ryan Kenny and Aaron Elvis, dance clubs, cash bars, character meet-n-greets and many more fun surprises. Open to all ages, but ID is required for guests 21 and above for cash bar access. This event doubles as a fundraiser for Christopher Street West (CSW), the nonprofit organization that produces all of the LA Pride Week events. For more visit LAPride.org.


“All men, if they are normal, go with women, women like that accost them on the street and then they go together. In Paris they have big houses for that. Papa has been there. Uncle Walter is not normal.” —Anne Frank seems to out her maternal uncle Walter as gay, in previously suppressed pages from her diary. Interestingly enough, he’s one of the few family members who survived and made it to America. The wedding went off without a hitch — at least as far as the bride and groom, who actually got hitched. Since I know you’re interested, we hear that Prince Harry lost about 10 pounds leading up to wedding. Apparently, Meghan eschews many of Harry’s primary indulgences, including pizza, beer and BBQ. She wanted her hubby to look fit and trim on the day, which David Muir certainly noted. This begs the question, is it possible that Mrs. Muir has never heard of Givenchy? And would it kill Victoria Beckham to crack a smile? Becks was posing with people walking into Windsor Palace, and Posh looked like she’d rather be getting an enema. Well, who wouldn’t? Most people appeared to be having a good time, even that crazy old woman in the green coat carrying her everyday black purse. And I like Meghan. She appears to be lovely and charming. But let’s not get carried away. People are talking about how she’s giving up this big, successful acting career. Get a grip. She’s not Grace Kelly walking away from Hollywood with an Oscar; she’s Meghan Markle, walking away from “Suits” on basic cable! By the by, we hear that Her Majesty offered to babysit Meghan’s rescue beagle, Guy, during all the hoopla in Windsor. Yes, QEII - Dog Sitter! Not only that, but Lizzie actually let the dog ride with her in the back of her chauffeur-driven car. It’s been noted that Meghan hasn’t even gotten to do that. During my travels, gossip continued outside of the UK. I heard lots about Pauley Perrette’s tearful farewell to “NCIS.” Days later came word that her departure had been precipitated by “multiple physical assaults.” “I refuse to go low, that’s why I’ve never told publicly what happened.” She added, “Maybe I’m wrong for not ‘spilling the beans’. Telling the story, THE TRUTH. I feel I have to protect my crew, jobs and so many people. But at what cost. I don’t know. Just know, I’m trying to do the right thing, but maybe silence isn’t the right thing about crime.” Via Tweet she added, “There is a ‘machine’ keeping me silent, and feeding FALSE stories about me. A very rich, very powerful publicity ‘machine’. No morals, no obligations to truth, and I’m just left here, reading the lies, trying to protect my crew.” We did a bit of digging and our sources say that the physical abuse happened at the hands of Mark Harmon’s DOG! Allegedly, Harmon brought the dog to the set, a crew member was playing with him, got bit and required 15 stitches. After that, many people were unhappy that Harmon continued to bring the dog to the set, but since he’s also a producer on the show, they didn’t feel comfortable criticizing him. We hear that Pauley had no such trepidation, which led to a schism between the two. Ever since then, Harmon and Perrette have refused to work together, and any scenes including them both were the result of editing magic. Here’s my two cents. I do know Pauley Perrette. Each of the seven years I hosted LA Pride, Pauley was a member of our team. She showed up, she did what she could, she was great. I know firsthand she’s a terrific, genuine, real person with a heart of gold, and I’m inclined to believe everything she says - and doesn’t say. Bombshell allegations are coming out from the new documentary about Whitney Houston. Kevin Macdonald’s flick premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and includes allegations from Gary Houston that both he and Nippy were sexually molested by Dee Dee Warwick — sister of Dionne Warwick! In case you don’t know, Dee Dee and Dionne are Cissy Houston’s nieces, so that makes them Whitney and Gary’s first cousins. According to Gary, the sexual assault took place when he was between the ages of 7 and 9. Since he was six years older than Whitney, that would mean the assault on Whitney took place when she was a toddler up until she was about 3 years old. The allegations were corroborated by Whitney’s longtime assistant Mary Jones. “Mary, I was molested at a young age too. But it wasn’t by a man - it was by a woman,” Whitney reportedly told her, according to the film. “Whitney” will be released in the U.S. on July 6. Rumors about another deceased star have surfaced. Gay porn actor Rafael Alencar has quite a tale to tell — even if it is being told in broken English. In an interview with director Marc MacNamara, Rafael says that he had sex with lots of celebrities. “I can tell dead ones. They cannot sue me. I did ‘Mommy Hilfinger’. I did ‘Malvin Klein’. I did a lot of celebrities. Dead ones like ‘Matrick Swayze’. ‘Matrick’ was very nice. All the famous people that you know they are gay they have called me because they cannot be seen in public, they cannot go to clubs, bars, restaurants, they cannot have hookup apps. So they call 1-800-Me. Help me. Stop there.” Gladly. When the Queen has a new granddaughter-in-law (and her little dog, too), it’s time for me to end yet another column. Now that I’m heading home, I’ll be ready to answer all of your questions. So if you have something on your mind, send it along to Billy@BillyMasters.com, and I promise to get back to you before I pet anything belonging to Mark Harmon! Until next time, remember, one man’s filth is another man’s bible.


Meghan Markle walks away from basic cable And other tales from across the pond By BILLY MASTERS

Let’s face it, Meghan Markle is no Grace Kelly. She’s not leaving behind an Oscar-caliber acting career. Photo by Northern Ireland Office; Courtesy Wikimedia
















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