GENERATION NEXT MEET 5 LA YOUTHS MAKING A DIFFERENCE, PAGE 04 PLUS: COVERAGE OF LA PRIDE INSIDE
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04 • JUNE 08, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Generation Next Emerging leaders generate inspiration
By CHRISTOPHER KANE
TOP: L-R: Martin Elsworth (21, Los Angeles), Jenelle Morris (18, Glendale), Aris Ace (16, Pico Rivera), Alex Medina (18, Boyle Heights), Carmen Gonzalez, (16, Boyle Heights), Iggy Lopez (27, Los Angeles) BOTTOM: Casey Hoke (21, Pomona), Maurisha Kay (21, Los Angeles)
What is Pride? The most serviceable answer, of course, is that Pride is a commemorative event in which the LGBTQ community celebrates our triumph over adversity and the leaders who fought to make the world a more inclusive place. Historically, it was a political statement — a show of visibility and a forum for protest against homophobia. And since the beginning of President Trump’s tenure, Pride feels political once more. This year’s celebration will pull from the civic engagement of the March for Our Lives and #Resist movements, spotlighting LGBTQ leaders while reengaging in the community’s ﬁght for social, legal, and political equality. Much of that work did not begin, and it will likely not end, with the Trump administration. New research has found LGBTQ girls of color are disproportionately over-disciplined in schools, where they also face bullying and are ostracized. These challenges often push them out of the classroom and into the criminal justice system. And now that Betsy DeVos helms the U.S. Department of Education, prospects for many of our community’s most vulnerable youth are even grimmer. At the same time, this year the country has witnessed the power of young people in bringing change. The young LGBT folks from the Los Angeles area proﬁled in these pages are speakers, students, advocates and artists. They have each made meaningful contributions in areas including climate change policy, battles against homophobia and transphobia, housing equality, and immigration. As the LGBTQ community has witnessed and experienced a reversal in progress over the last two years, young leaders have offered hope for a better way forward. Another signal of the direction in which the arc of justice is headed: The decision by Boy Scouts of America to welcome girls into their ranks, and, effective next year, change the organization’s name to Scouts of BSA. Since the 1970s, women’s and LGBTQ advocates have lobbied the Scouts to adopt more inclusive policies. And in those battles, waged in and outside the courtroom, they have been ultimately victorious. May these stories, challenges and history inspire you. Happy Pride.
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06 • JUNE 08, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Generation Next Continued from Page 4
Casey Hoke, 21, college student, LGBTQ advocate, artist Casey is a ﬁne artist, graphic designer, writer, activist, and advocate who was awarded a prestigious POINT Foundation scholarship to fund his education at California State Polytechnic Institute in Pomona, where he is now a junior pursuing a B.A. in Graphic/ Communications Design with a minor in Art History. His past and present leadership appointments include a Student Media Ambassadorship for GLSEN, where he is also a member of the National Executive Board. Drawing from his experiences as a young trans man, Casey has spoken and written about subjects such as education policies that concern transgender students, the representation of transgender people in the media, and the relationship between artistic self-expression and self-acceptance. Casey attended high school in Louisville, Kentucky where, he explained, school Principal Gerald “Jerry” Mayes was a bully. In March, The Louisville Courier-Journal published a timeline of an ongoing investigation into Mayes’ conduct that was initiated because of his treatment of trans youth, including Casey, as well as racially insensitive comments he made to two AfricanAmerican students. During his junior year, Casey was the subject of an article in the school’s newspaper that chronicled his journey and highlighted his advocacy work. Mayes told members of the newspaper staff that it was “comparable to writing about someone who wanted to shoot up a school,” Casey said. The following year, Casey said Mayes called him into his office and began asking invasive questions about Casey’s body and genitalia. In college, Casey and his trans peers face a variety of administrative challenges. Changing one’s name on student ID cards is a difficult process. Freshmen, who are required to live on campus, must pay more for housing that
offers single-stall restrooms. Casey has since led petitions that demand equal and affordable housing for trans students, as well as training programs on trans identity for university staff. “My advocacy did not stop at high school, where I had this mean principal,” Casey told the Los Angeles Blade. Through the POINT Foundation, Casey was connected with a mentor who works for the Walt Disney Company, where he aims to secure a design position post-college. He is optimistic about both his future and the direction in which society is headed, despite the Trump Administration’s anti-LGBTQ policies. “I asked Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, how things are looking for young trans and non-binary folks,” Casey said. Reﬂecting on the progress that’s been made so far, Keisling responded: “You know what? We’ve gotten here.”
Priscila ‘Pea’ Alegria Nunez, 23, documentarian and cinematographer
Pea is a documentary ﬁlmmaker, an artist whose work reﬂects their lived experiences as a pansexual non-binary immigrant who, at 15, left Peru with their mother for the professional and educational opportunities available in the United States. A recent graduate of the acclaimed ﬁlm program at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), this year Pea was awarded a Rising Star Grant from GLAAD to fund their virtual reality project about the networks that immigrants have built to support and defend their communities. The ﬁlm is led by a lesbian protagonist who left Honduras for America. “Throughout the US, immigrant families they have this traumatizing event in which they are visited by [Immigrations and Customs Enforcement],” Pea explained. “Our protagonist is using her network to bring an emergency
community back to her house. We will see how that event develops because of how many people will show up to help ﬁght back.” As an immigrant who belongs to the LGBTQ community, Pea is inspired most by the stories of people who occupy both of those identities. “I found that the projects that bring me the most fulﬁllment are those that ﬁnd that intersection,” they said. At UCLA, Pea’s classes in gender studies opened their eyes to the identities that do not fall into the gender binary, which gave them the space to inhabit gender-neutrality, along with the freedom to dress and use pronouns in nontraditional ways. As a ﬁlmmaker, Pea is moved by the audience’s reaction to their work. “You can hear gasps; you can hear sniffles; you can hear laughter. I think that’s so beautiful because you wonder what’s going on in their hearts. There is hope that your project, that your work, will touch people.” On the challenges brought forth by attacks on LGBTQ and immigrant communities from the Trump administration, Pea is optimistic about the role of the artist. “It’s important that we creators continue making work, regardless of the political climate. It’s important to keep creating, because who is going to do it, if not us?” Pea’s message to LGBTQ teenagers: “Come out to your friends ﬁrst, because there is something to be said for ﬁnding your family outside the family you grew up with. Find yourself a queer family. When you do, you’ll be amazed how powerful you’ll be.”
Aris Reyes, 16, high school student, LGBTQ advocate
Aris is a 16-year-old high school student who aspires to a career in politics, business, law, or, perhaps all three. Though only a junior, Aris has emerged as a leader at USC East College Prep, a new high school of which his will be the ﬁrst graduating class. He
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The LA Dodgers wish the LGBT Community
We embrace the LGBT Community of Los Angeles as an integral part of the Dodgers Community and are proud to host the official 2018 LA PRIDE kickoff party June 8 at Dodger Stadium! Enjoy your Pride Weekend and make plans to come to a game soon! dodgers.com/tickets
08 • JUNE 08, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Generation Next Continued from Page 6
founded both the student government and the GSA club, where he now serves as president. As a young trans Latino man and LGBTQ advocate, Aris has built bridges between his school’s students and staff, as well as between his peers and organizations dedicated to LGBTQ youth education and empowerment. Aris ﬁrst opened up to his mother about his gender identity in eighth grade and the following year came out to friends, teachers, and classmates. Like many transgender youth, Aris struggled with body image issues and depression. At school, Aris is sometimes asked probing questions by other students concerning his anatomy. “My school is in Lincoln Heights in Los Angeles,” he explained, “and Hispanic culture is not always that accepting of LGBTQ people.” Aris has also encountered prejudice from parents of his friends. “Friends have told me,‘My mom doesn’t like you because you’re trans.’ It’s just sad—just because of that, like, [they don’t care] about everything else I do, what a good kid I am, my grades or my education,” he said. Teachers, by contrast, have been more welcoming—he only needs to remind them, occasionally, to not mis-gender him. Involvement in advocacy programs and social clubs like GSA and the Latino Equality Alliance (LEA) has allowed Aris to build a sense of community and work on behalf of issues that are important to him. He helped to spearhead the LGBTQ School
PRISCILA ‘PEA’ ALEGRIA NUNEZ
Photo Courtesy Twitter
Photo Courtesy Nunez
Climate Resolution, a comprehensive survey that collects information about a school’s educational atmosphere respective to LGBTQ issues. With data collected from the survey, Aris approached his teachers about ways they could help improve the school’s performance. At his school’s Unconditional Love Rally, administered by LEA, Aris spoke about transphobia and his personal journey toward selfacceptance. The program required registrants to get prior approval from their parents, but Aris worked with school administrators who agreed to count the rally toward community service hours—which helped to bolster attendance. Looking to the future, Aris is interested in ﬁghting for social and political equality through public policy. “For me, really what matters is the legislation—that’s what changes everything. If you’re a lawyer or a president or lobbyist, you’re really in a position to change things.”
Alex Medina, 18, student journalist, LGBTQ advocate
Alex Medina is a student journalist who has authored more than 20 articles for his local newspaper, the Boyle Heights Beat, which covers news and feature stories in and around the downtown Los Angeles neighborhood. He will soon graduate from high school and is eager to begin his freshman year at Hamilton
College, a selective liberal arts university in update Clinton, New York. Then, Alex hopes to work toward a career in journalism. And he also has designs to start an organization dedicated to youth and the media. Much of Alex’s work for Boyle Heights Beat is focused on LGBTQ issues, which he considers especially important because, particularly in decades past, LGBTQ people are often portrayed negatively. He said that spotlighting the work of advocates and activists helps to usher in progressive change while also offering role models for young people. Additionally, Alex has written about subjects important to immigrant communities—such as the census and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)—as well as local politics and business. At school, for the past two years Alex has served as president of his GSA club, where he has led efforts to curb the use of derogatory language and anti-LGBTQ slurs. “I used to get bullied when I was younger”, he explained. “So, it’s important to me that we have these conversations” to create a safer environment for young LGBTQ folks. Alex credits many of his accomplishments to the unwavering support he’s received at home. His parents, who immigrated to Los Angeles from Mexico, have been involved with organizations like PFLAG—where they engage with other parents, many of them Latino, to facilitate
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10 • JUNE 08, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Generation Next Continued from Page 8
Photo Courtesy Reyes
Photo Courtesy Medina
Photo Courtesy Akbarian
conversations about accepting their children’s sexual orientation and gender identity. Alex feels the tremendous progress the LGBTQ community has witnessed over the years would not be possible if advocates and activists were not optimistic about their odds. “We wouldn’t have the movement we have today without people who brought awareness about things like AIDS, DOMA, and [same-sex] marriage,” he said. Beyond the ﬁght for political equality, Alex feels adopting a positive attitude is important for building friendship and community. Another of Alex’s corollary goals: Increasing the visibility of young people who are working to effect change. “A lot of times,” he said, “youth don’t see themselves represented. It’s important to bring attention to the work young people are doing to build a better future for themselves and for future generations of youth.”
Rudy Akbarian, 28, trans Armenian veteran, aspiring barber
Rudy Akbarian is a transgender man, the son of Armenian immigrants, and a veteran who served in the U.S. Army from 2011 to 2016. He has also worked on behalf of LGBTQ youth, speciﬁcally homeless youth. He will begin studying to become a barber in July. Akbarian responded to reports that 100 members of Congress have submitted a letter
to Defense Secretary James Mattis, urging him to reconsider his and the administration’s decision to bar openly trans men and women from military service. “That’s awesome,” Akbarian said. “But I don’t know what [Trump’s] reasoning was for not allowing trans people to serve in the military, other than ‘It would cost a lot of money.” And this, Akbarian pointed out, despite the president’s request for a military parade that the New York Times reported could total $30 million. Akbarian’s position on the capabilities of trans soldiers? “After I conquered that battle to become my authentic self—and I did it alone—now, God only knows how many other battles and wars I can win with a team. Trans people are some of the strongest people and some of the most mentally capable people to protect and serve this country,” he said. Akbarian said most of the transphobia he has encountered so far has been in civilian life. The men and women who served alongside him were focused on the demands of the mission before them and close bonds were born from shared experiences and the close quarters in which they worked and lived. Restroom and shower accommodations, though—particularly while Akbarian was in the process of transitioning—proved challenging. Without an official gender marker that matched
his gender identity, he was not allowed to access the men’s facilities. However difficult it was as a trans man to navigate the administrative hurdles of military life, Akbarian had already weathered a lot of heartache. He came out ﬁrst as a lesbian and was consequently kicked out of his home. Like many young people in his position, Akbarian abused drugs and alcohol to cope. For more than six years now, Akbarian has been sober—and his family eventually reconciled with him. At ﬁrst, he explained, the subject of his sexual orientation was off the table. But things changed when Akbarian journeyed closer to accepting his gender identity. “It was undeniable when the hormones kicked in,” he explained. Akbarian said they are now “120 percent supportive.” These days, Akbarian is incredulous about the policies introduced and supported by the president, especially those concerning transgender men and women in the armed forces. At the same time, he has witnessed tremendous progress in both his family and community—especially among young people— which, he said, signals movement in the direction of justice and equality.
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14 • JUNE 08, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
America, how do you sleep at night? Young students face disproportionate obstacles based on orientation, gender, race
By CHRISTOPHER KANE It was intended as a wake up call. The Human Rights Campaign and artist Robin Bell projected LED-illuminated messages onto the U.S. Department of Education’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.: “Betsy DeVos, how do you sleep at night when 95 percent of LGBTQ youth struggle to?” Several projected messages that May 24 evening continued the refrain with statistics pulled from an HRC-University of Connecticut survey released earlier that month: “Betsy DeVos, how do you sleep at night when only 26 percent of LGBTQ youth always feel safe in class?” It was the second time in a week that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos came under ﬁre for her record regarding the department’s policies on LGBT youth. Before a House Committee on May 22, DeVos ﬁelded questions from Democrats concerning whether and how the Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights will protect LGBT students from harassment and discrimination. Under President Obama, the Justice and Education Departments issued a guidance that explained transgender students are protected under Title IX, a federal law that bans sex discrimination. The guidance included recommendations for fostering an inclusive, affirming, and supportive environment for young transgender people—including such policies as allowing students to use restrooms/ locker rooms that match their gender identity. One of the ﬁrst actions DeVos took after she assumed the office last year was rescinding that Obama-era guideline. Then, she announced the Education Department would not investigate complaints from transgender students who were barred from accessing the bathrooms of their choice. Despite recent case law that suggests otherwise, DeVos reaffirmed to the House committee her position that transgender students are not eligible for the protections afforded other groups by the Civil Rights Act.
The HRC protest and the House hearing arrive on the heels of several reports, including the survey published by HRC, that indicate LGBT youth face higher rates of mental health disorders, bullying and suicide, as well as over-discipline and incarceration in juvenilejustice facilities. However, the Trump-Pence administration has curtailed (or sought to curtail) federally administered research concerning the treatment, health, and wellbeing of LGBT students, as well as the policies and procedures designed to protect them. The evidence of a range of anti-LGBT bias and bullying is great. A study by Joel Mittleman, a Ph.D. candidate in sociology at Princeton University (posted Feb. 20 on the Princeton website), for instance, reported that, “teen girls who are attracted to other girls are far more likely than other students to be suspended or expelled from school.” Using data from the Fragile Families and Childhood Wellbeing Study, the only longitudinal study of this kind in which participants were asked about their sexual orientation, Mittleman found that girls with same-sex attraction are 95 percent likelier than their heterosexual peers to face discipline in schools. And because LGBTQ girls, especially LGBTQ girls of color, are punished more often and more severely, they account for a disproportionate share of youth who are funneled into the criminal justice system. “The results suggest that sexual orientation itself may shape teens’ experiences in very different ways for girls versus boys,” Mittleman said. “My results are consistent, for example, with recent research showing that sexual minority girls are dramatically overrepresented in the juvenile justice system in a way that sexual minority boys are not.” In his research, Mittleman considered a myriad of factors, including what many consider the greatest predictor of over-discipline: race. Black youth account for 15 percent of all
students enrolled in the 2015-2016 school year, but 31 percent of arrests, according to an April 2018 analysis by The Washington Post. Mittleman’s ﬁndings—along with data from a series of other studies that date back over many years—raise several red ﬂags. From suspensions and expulsions to arrests and incarceration in juvenile-justice facilities, the disproportionality across lines of race, gender identity, and sexual orientation is staggering. A study commissioned in 2015 by the University of Arizona offers a glimpse into how LGBTQ girls of color experience, disproportionately, discipline that is motivated by bias against their sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, and race. Perceived gender nonconformity—such as wearing clothes that are stereotypically masculine, or outspokenness in the classroom—results in “extreme scrutiny in schools,” the study found. “They looked at me like I was the bad Chola,” said a youth respondent, “the Mexican lesbian bitch. So no one messed with me any more at school, but the administration, they were always watching me.” Another middle school student explained she and her friends were suspected of selling marijuana because they dressed like boys. An August 2016 study by the Center for American Progress and Movement Advancement Project (“Unjust: How the Broken Juvenile and Criminal Justice Systems Fail LGBTQ Youth”) reported that 91 percent of LGBTQ students who participated in a longitudinal study of 4,200 youth in Alabama, Texas, and California—a study that followed them from the ﬁfth to the tenth grade—experienced bullying. Unsurprisingly, since they are likelier to face punishment from teachers and administrators based on their gender identity and sexual orientation, many feel they have no recourse or support from school officials. And compared to students who are not bullied, they face higher
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • JUNE 08, 2018 • 15
A Human Rights Campaign protest against the Department of Education. Photo Courtesy HRC
rates of school discipline, in addition to a variety of other challenges that--separately and collectively--increase the likelihood they will interact with the criminal justice system. The CAP and MAP report found that while seven to nine percent of all minors nationwide are LGBTQ, they account for 14 percent of all boys and 40 percent of all girls in the criminal justice system. Of those youth, 85 percent are boys and girls of color. Overwhelmingly, they will encounter bias in pretrial release, court proceedings, and sentencing. The nonproﬁt Campaign for Youth Justice claims 75 percent of the estimated 54,000 juvenile offenders currently held in residential placement (e.g. detention facilities, corrections facilities) were found guilty (adjudicated “delinquent”) for nonviolent offenses. The number of young LGBTQ people detained for nonviolent offenses is possibly even higher. A 2008 survey in California revealed that 40 percent of LGBTQ youth in detention facilities were placed there for running away from home (compared to 13 percent of straight youth). Additionally, the CAP/MAP study reports LGBQ (non-trans) youth are likelier to be prosecuted for breaking laws that concern sex between minors, such as statutory rape, because teachers, parents, and educators are likelier to disapprove of behaviors they would tolerate between oppositesex youth. In some cases, as in Texas, exceptions to statutory rape laws are made as long as the
act is consensual and both parties are older than 14, no more than three years apart in age, and of the opposite sex. Furthermore, LGBTQ youth may be likelier to face criminal charges and detention in juvenile-justice facilities because they use drugs and alcohol more often than their straight and cisgender peers—often as a coping mechanism to deal with bullying, harassment, and family rejection. About one of every ten youth held in staterun and privately owned detention facilities reports they were sexually victimized, by facility staff or another detainee, one or more times within the last year. That ﬁgure is twice as high for young LGBTQ people held in those facilities. Usually for nonviolent crimes, youth--and especially young LGBTQ people of color--are removed from their families, schools, jobs, and communities to be placed in detention centers where they are much likelier to encounter sexual and physical violence. Afterwards, they will encounter barriers to education, housing, healthcare, and employment--all of which raise the likelihood of recidivism. Additional research is necessary to effectively combat the many challenges faced by LGBTQ youth, and especially by LGBTQ youth of color. Policies at the local, state, and federal level could help to mitigate existing problems in areas, say youth experts, including education, mental healthcare, policing, and both juvenile and adult justice/correctional systems.
So far, the Trump Administration has rolled back those efforts. Data collection on crimes committed against LGBTQ youth may be severely curtailed, if the U. S. Department of Justice has its way. the Los Angeles Blade reported May 11. The department, whose Bureau of Justice Statistics administers the National Crime Victimization Survey, ﬁled a request to restrict questions regarding gender identity and sexual orientation to only survey respondents who are 18 or older. California Attorney General Xavier Beccara subsequently announced he would submit a letter, signed by 10 other attorneys general, opposing the DOJ’s request. Findings released last month by the Education Department’s Civil Rights Data Collection unit showed widening racial disparities between the frequency and severity of discipline administered at American public schools. At the same time, DeVos is considering “curbing the department’s role in investigating racial disparities in discipline,” according to The Washington Post. By intentionally widening the gap of future opportunities based on race, gender, sexual orientation and gender expression — and considering what’s at stake for LGBT students, especially LGBT students of color — the Trump administration’s efforts to stymie research into existing inequalities while abrogating policies and programs designed to mitigate them does lead many to wonder: how do American adults sleep at night?
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(bik-TAR-vee) MOST IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT BIKTARVY
POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS OF BIKTARVY
BIKTARVY may cause serious side effects, including: • Worsening of hepatitis B (HBV) infection. If you have both HIV-1 and HBV, your HBV may suddenly get worse if you stop taking BIKTARVY. Do not stop taking BIKTARVY without first talking to your healthcare provider, as they will need to check your health regularly for several months.
BIKTARVY can cause serious side effects, including: • Those in the “Most Important Information About BIKTARVY” section. • Changes in your immune system. • New or worse kidney problems, including kidney failure. • Too much lactic acid in your blood (lactic acidosis), which is a serious but rare medical emergency that can lead to death. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you get these symptoms: weakness or being more tired than usual, unusual muscle pain, being short of breath or fast breathing, stomach pain with nausea and vomiting, cold or blue hands and feet, feel dizzy or lightheaded, or a fast or abnormal heartbeat. • Severe liver problems, which in rare cases can lead to death. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you get these symptoms: skin or the white part of your eyes turns yellow, dark “tea-colored” urine, light-colored stools, loss of appetite for several days or longer, nausea, or stomach-area pain. • The most common side effects of BIKTARVY in clinical studies were diarrhea (6%), nausea (5%), and headache (5%). These are not all the possible side effects of BIKTARVY. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have any new symptoms while taking BIKTARVY. Your healthcare provider will need to do tests to monitor your health before and during treatment with BIKTARVY.
ABOUT BIKTARVY BIKTARVY is a complete, 1-pill, once-a-day prescription medicine used to treat HIV-1 in adults. It can either be used in people who have never taken HIV-1 medicines before, or people who are replacing their current HIV-1 medicines and whose healthcare provider determines they meet certain requirements. BIKTARVY does not cure HIV-1 or AIDS. HIV-1 is the virus that causes AIDS. Do NOT take BIKTARVY if you also take a medicine that contains: • dofetilide • rifampin • any other medicines to treat HIV-1
BEFORE TAKING BIKTARVY Tell your healthcare provider all your medical conditions, including if you: • Have or have had any kidney or liver problems, including hepatitis infection. • Are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. • Are breastfeeding (nursing) or plan to breastfeed. Do not breastfeed if you have HIV-1 because of the risk of passing HIV-1 to your baby. Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take: • Keep a list that includes all prescription and over-the-counter medicines, antacids, laxatives, vitamins, and herbal supplements, and show it to your healthcare provider and pharmacist. • Ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist about medicines that interact with BIKTARVY.
HOW TO TAKE BIKTARVY Take BIKTARVY 1 time each day with or without food.
GET MORE INFORMATION • This is only a brief summary of important information about BIKTARVY. Talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist to learn more. • Go to BIKTARVY.com or call 1-800-GILEAD-5. • If you need help paying for your medicine, visit BIKTARVY.com for program information.
BIKTARVY, the BIKTARVY Logo, DAILY CHARGE, the DAILY CHARGE Logo, LOVE WHAT’S INSIDE, GILEAD, and the GILEAD Logo are trademarks of Gilead Sciences, Inc., or its related companies. Version date: February 2018 © 2018 Gilead Sciences, Inc. All rights reserved. BVYC0024 05/18
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • JUNE 08, 2018 • 19
Scouts victory! Gay pressure on Boy Scouts wins rights for women and trans scouts, too
By CHRISTOPHER KANE & KAREN OCAMB
Tim Curran sued the Boy Scouts for discrimination 38 years ago. Screencapture Courtesy CNN
Thirty-eight years ago when Tim Curran ﬁrst sued the Boy Scouts of America for anti-gay discrimination, no one could foresee the day when the Boy Scouts would transform into the simply named “Scouts of BSA” with next year’s admission of girls into the 2.3 million-member organization. Founded in 1910 to promote leadership in boys, the earth virtually moved on Jan. 30, 2017 when the organization decided to admit transgender members. In a statement announcing the historic change, Chief Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh said in a statement that the policy using information on a person’s birth certiﬁcate to determine eligibility for programs was “no longer sufficient as communities and state laws are interpreting gender identity differently, and these laws vary widely from state to state.” It was a shock that BSA acknowledged the community after a very long stubborn history of only listening to their religious sponsors and traditional views of masculinity. In 1973, Catherine Pollard volunteered to lead Connecticut Boy Scout Troop 13 when no one else would. When she officially applied to join, she was rejected, which the State Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities said was sex discrimination. BSA appealed. What, BSA counsel asked in 1985, could female scoutmasters understand of the biological changes experienced by young men? BSA eventually relented in 1988 with a policy change that welcomed women into leadership roles. As of 2017, nearly one third of all volunteers are women. But homophobia trumped sexism. “Boy Scouts of America,” the group consistently said, “believes that homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the obligations in the Scout Oath and Scout Law to be morally straight and clean in thought, word and deed.” Then came Tim Curran. In 1980, the popular 18-year-old assistant scoutmaster in Berkeley, Calif., was outed by a local
newspaper. The National Council found out and kicked him out. “I was quietly outraged,” Curran wrote on July 21, 2015 on CNN.com, where he is an editor. Following a Boy Scout Handbook principle—if a Scout thinks “Rules and laws are unfair, he seeks to have them changed in an orderly manner” — Curran sued the Mount Diablo Boy Scout Council. Jon Davidson, then with the ACLU of Southern California, ﬁled suit in April 1981, the ﬁrst against the BSA alleging anti-gay discrimination. The case lasted 17 years and in 1998, California’s Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Boy Scouts, which they deemed to be a private club that could determine its own membership rules, as opposed to a business with establishments open to the public. The U.S. Supreme Court issued a similar 5-4 ruling in 2000 when James Dale sued. Then the high court decided that a private organization could exclude someone when “the presence of that person affects in a signiﬁcant way the group’s ability to advocate public or private viewpoints.” And, the Court determined, opposing homosexuality is part of BSA’s “expressive message.” Admitting homosexuals would disrupt that message. A ﬁrestorm ensued, at least in Los Angeles where the LAPD used the BSA for its youth programs. That irked out LA Council member Jackie Goldberg who noted that the city’s nondiscrimination law did not allow such an association. A series of out police commissioners, starting with Dean Hansell, then Shelley Freeman, then Rob Staltzman, dug deep, held hearings— producing evidence that the BSA front group, Learning for Life, still linked back to BSA—and forced the city to cut ties. LA County Sheriff Lee Baca, good on other LGBT issues, was smitten by the BSA and argued he would use pressure from within to change the BSA. That never happened. Nationally, a grassroots groundswell bubbled up in April 2012 when Ohio mom Jennifer Tyrrell was removed as den
leader of her son’s Cub Scout pack because she’s gay. GLAAD jumped on the case, generating publicity, creating petitions and forcing corporations and companies to look at their policies and associations with BSA. BSA board members, such as David J. Sims of the Ohio River Valley Council, resigned as a show of support for Tyrrell and her son. On Oct. 4, 2012, KGO-TV reported that teenager Ryan Andresen of Moraga, Calif., was denied the Eagle Scout rank after coming out as gay. Another ﬁrestorm erupted, and BSA was caught lying, hardly in keeping with moral values. Andresen, meanwhile, went on The Ellen DeGeneres Show where he shared his story and was gifted $20,000 for his education. By Feb. 2013, even religious sponsor United Methodist Church called for the BSA to drop its ban on gay scouts and leaders. Two months later, David Meshulam, president of the Los Angeles Area Council for the BSA, announced that he and other South California BSA Councils wanted the ban dropped. And in May 2013, it is, ﬁrst for gay youth then, in July, for gay adults. It was all too much for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, one of the most important funders of the organization. The LDS Church sponsored roughly 437,160 youth members. On May 10, the Mormon Church announced it was ending its BSA sponsorship for boys between 14 and 18 years old Jan. 1, 2018. Meanwhile, in 2019, newly admitted Scouts of BSA girls will trek into the woods with 11- to 17-year-old boys to learn to tie square knots and ﬁnd the best ﬁrewood for outdoor cooking (burning chestnut produces a lot of sparks and heavy smoke; birch and cherry are better options.) And, as if girls, gays and trans aren’t enough to spin the heads of old conservative traditionalists—Scouts of BSA will apparently be providing condoms at the 2019 World Scout Jamboree in West Virginia. No one could have foreseen that.
20 • JUNE 08, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
A sissy mans up What’s gender got to do with it?
By BRAD BESSEY
Brad Bessey is an Emmy Award-winning television producer, husband and father. Photo by Karen Ocamb
“Sissy” was a term with which I was teased, tormented and shamed before I was in kindergarten. Brenda Lynn, Sheryl Fultz, Diana Alfaro and I would play house, Barbies, and jacks. I was happy. When I’d play Batman with my brothers, Randy was Batman, Lance was Robin and I was always Batgirl. But in the perfectly ordered, roast on Sunday, Better Homes & Garden home of Nancy Bessey in Central California, boys did not play with dolls and they certainly did not run around the house with dish towels on their heads pretending to be Yvonne Craig’s Batgirl from TV. The look of disgust on my mother’s face when she walked in on me in all my hands-on-my-
hips, Gotham City-glory is seared in my mind to this day. LITTLE BOYS DO NOT ACT LIKE LITTLE GIRLS. I wrote, “I am not a girl” on a piece of paper and hid it. I also tried to hide who I was. And if some bully at school called me “sissy,” I would never tell my parents. I would rather keep my shame a secret than to have them ashamed of me. Fast forward 50 years. At a recent Boy Scout campout with my son, I referred to my husband as “my husband.” One of the other parents blurted out, “If he’s the husband, are you the wife? I mean, who’s the woman in your marriage?” Yes, this is 2018. The cis societal roles don’t apply to our union.
Neither of us is a woman. Neither of us is the “wife.” Our roles within our family are always in ﬂux. At times I’m the primary breadwinner, at times my husband is. We share household responsibilities and those of caregiver to our son. However, when our son is looking for activity, roughhousing or teasing, he makes a beeline to my husband. And when he falls down, wants to be comforted or nurtured or put to bed, he comes to me. Perhaps playing with dolls and being called a “sissy” for all my girly traits helped me develop the emotional and psychological androgyny to call forth the best of all of me, allowing me to be the proud man I am today.
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • JUNE 08, 2018 • 21
Don’t call me ‘queer’ I will not disappear as a woman
By ROBIN TYLER
Robin Tyler produced the main stages for three marches on Washington and 25 women’s music and comedy festivals. She and her wife, Diane Olson, were the ﬁrst lesbian plaintiffs in the lawsuit that brought marriage equality to California. Photo Courtesy Tyler
In the early 1990s, I produced the “1st International Gay & Lesbian Comedy Festival” in Australia for Sydney Gay Mardi Gras. However, when I walked up to the theater, the marquee read: “The 1st Annual Queer Comedy Festival.” My totally inexperienced Australian coproducer casually remarked, “You don’t mind, do you?” Yes, I did. I could not believe she had changed the title without asking me! It was my production but she thought it would be hip to change the name of the festival, even though all the performers identiﬁed as lesbian or gay. She totally eradicated the cultural visibility in the ﬁrst international festival of its kind. After decades of ﬁghting, we ﬁnally had the
word “lesbian” added to “gay” so we women could be acknowledged, too. “Queer,” the new umbrella word for the movement, once again renders lesbians invisible. Lots of gay men don’t like the word “queer,” either. It homogenizes our community—and when you homogenize something, it becomes a pop chic banner in which individual struggles get lost. We are a Civil Rights Movement ﬁghting inequality—this banner does not describe our movement. Anyone who feels or presents differently can identify as queer. We are supposed to “reclaim” the word queer—take the sting out of the insult. Never. Many of us spent our lives ﬁghting for lesbian and gay rights and trans rights and bi rights and
non-binary rights. We may not remember the pain of the rape or the bang of the baseball bat but we still remember the pain of being called “queer” as the macho-pretenders and the gay bashers beat the crap out of us. I will not disappear as a woman. For those of you who call me gender queer, I call me butch, instead. It isn’t queer to be gender ﬂuid and have various expressions of male and female or both. It is natural. Society made it “queer.” Our movement isn’t from the waist down. It is not about crotch politics. I am a lesbian because I have always loved and been attracted to women, whether we have sex or not. So I will not disappear behind anyone else’s banner. Call me old. That’s just another name.
22 • JUNE 08, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Pride in pictures
LA Mayor Eric Garcetti launches Pride month The Los Angeles LGBT community has long had a good working relationship with LA mayors, going back to Tom Bradley. But Eric Garcetti, 47, is often viewed more as a brother than an ally by such longtime close friends as Freedom to Marry hero Marc Solomon, who met Garcetti in 1999 when they were named by the Rockefeller Foundation as two of 24 Next Generation of Leaders. At his Mayor’s Pride reception on June 3, Garcetti noted that while other cities get more attention, LGBT history actually started here—pointing to the founding of the Mattachine Society in Silver Lake and the Black Cat protests that pre-dated Stonewall. “Los Angeles is a place where everyone belongs,” Garcetti said. “It’s not just about tolerance but belonging.” It’s a message he intends to push when the Olympics come to LA. Interestingly, LGBT history and community commitment could become a friendly LA-San Francisco rivalry if former out Supervisor and state legislator Mark Leno wins his race for mayor and becomes the first openly gay mayor of San Francisco, as he appears poised to do. Imagine Garcetti and Leno competing over who can solve their city’s homeless problem first! (Mayor Garcetti is pictured with West Hollywood Mayor John Duran, LA City Controller Ron Galprin, and LA City Councilmember Paul Koretz. Los Angeles Blade Photo by Karen Ocamb
Phill Wilson meets Eliza Byrd Phill Wilson, retiring founder/ CEO of The Black AIDS Institute, meets GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byrd for the first time at LA Mayor Eric Garcetti’s LA Pride Garden Party at Wattles Mansion on June 3. Wilson says 30 candidates have applied to succeed him and run the Institute and their three clinics. Los Angeles Blade Photo by Karen Ocamb
Continues on Page 24
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24 • JUNE 08, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Pride in pictures Continued from Page 22
AIDS LifeCycle kicks off
The view from AIDS LifeCycle
AIDS LifeCycle leaves Cow Palace headed for LA. This is the 25th year the Los Angeles LGBT Center has produced the ride, which benefits HIV/AIDS-related services at the Center and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. This year participants raised a record $16.6 million.
The purpose of the AIDS LifeCycle is to raise money for HIV/AIDS services and AIDS awareness on the 7-day ( June 3-9), 545-mile ride from the Cow Palace in San Francisco to Downtown Los Angeles. But on Day 1, taking in the view of the coastline in Santa Cruz was an added bonus.
Photo courtesy LA LGBT Center
Photo courtesy LA LGBT Center
Rainbow Key Awards
ACT UP/LA members reunited June 2 to remember the late activist Connie Norman at a work-in-progress preview of “AIDS DIVA: The Legend of Connie Norman,” the latest documentary directed by Dante Alencastre and produced by John Johnson. The screening and panel discussion that followed at West Hollywood City Chambers is part of the city’s monthlong One City One Pride celebration. (Pictured: Rodney Scott, Jesse Nowlin, Dan Levy, Paul Langlotz, Mary Lucey, David Reid, Peter Cashman.
The City of West Hollywood’s Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board honored six activists with the Rainbow Key Awards on June 5 for their contributions to the LGBTQ community. The honorees were: comedian Kathy Griffin; openly-transgender military servicemember Rudy Akbarian; organizer-philanthropist Brian Pendleton; TransLatin@ activist Bamby Salcedo; longtime activist Elizabeth Savage; and the late co-founder of Equal Roots, Matt Palazzolo. (Pictured: Brian Pendleton, Elizabeth Savage, father of Matt Palazzolo Pat Palazzolo, and Matt’s brother, Mike Palazzolo, and Rudy Akbarian. Los Angeles Blade Photo by Troy Masters
26 • JUNE 08, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
It’s Newsom vs. Cox in November Who will turn out more voters in vulnerable congressional districts? By KAREN OCAMB email@example.com California’s jungle primary captured the wild imaginations of politicos nationwide. With so many Democrats running for Republican congressional seats in districts Hillary Clinton won in 2016, would they cancel themselves out and enable two Republicans to emerge as the top-two vote getters to run in November’s midterm elections. It mattered: the road to retaking the House of Representatives runs through the Golden State. That didn’t happen. Democrats will face Democrats or Democrats will face Republicans, just like the old days of partisan primaries. “It looks like voters are going to have a real choice this November — between a governor who is going to stand up to Donald Trump and a foot soldier in Trump’s war on California,” Newsom said on Election Night. And while there was a breathtaking glitch in voting—out Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters Dean Logan announced that the names of more than 118,000 voters were accidentally left off the rolls at a number of polling places—Democrats appear ready to rally around their candidates. Former LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, whose campaign was probably most impacted by the glitch, asked elections officials to extend voting for three days but when they declined, he immediately endorsed rival Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. “I’m asking you to get behind Gavin Newsom,” said Villaraigosa after conceding. “I’m asking you to stand up and pressure every one of us — Democrat and Republican alike — pressure every one of us to stand up for you, to fight for you, not just for ourselves, but for all of us for an America and a California where every one of us are growing together.” Newsom, who’s been running for governor since February 2015, made a strategic calculation to announce his preference for running against a Republican to save money and resources for down-ticket races and to
Gavin Newsom with fans and supporters at the California Democratic Party Convention in February 2018 in San Diego. Los Angeles Blade Photo by Karen Ocamb
energize a base that might be too apathetic to vote knowing a Democrat would be elected governor. Newsom angered some Democrats by “attacking” Republican John Cox in ads, touting the businessman’s closeness to Donald Trump, which served to raise Cox’s visibility and inspire GOP voters to turn out in the vulnerable districts Democrats hoped to flip. “We put a businessman in the White House, let’s put a businessman in the governor’s mansion!” Cox said upon winning. Trump’s tweeted endorsement of Cox helped also, as did Cox hitching his wagon to the Gas Tax Repeal initiative organized by conservative gay radio talk show host Carl DeMaio. It’s oddly ironic that the top two candidates for governor of California owe their initial visibility to gay people—Newsom for giving marriage licenses to same sex
couples in 2004 and Cox for advocating for the gas tax repeal and the recall of Fullerton Democrat State Senator Josh Newman for being the deciding vote in passing the gas tax, intended for infrastructure repair. The recall was also initiated by DeMaio, “I think Democrats are shaking in their boots in California,” DeMaio said on MSNBC Wednesday. “Democrats lost their super majority in the state legislature because of that recall. There is a taxpayer revolt happening in California that we haven’t seen since Prop 13, claiming that support for the measure boosted Cox and Republican Diane Harkey in the 49th Congressional District to replace retiring Rep. Darrell Issa. It appears she will face Democrat Mike Levin who scored 17.1% in a field of 16 candidates, four of whom were Democrats. “This issue will trump Trump,” said
DeMaio. “When the Democrats pull the Trump card out, the Republicans, if they’re smart, will talk about issues that actually matter to working families such as repealing the gas tax and, of course, dealing with issues such as the sanctuary state issue, dealing with our failing public schools. Issues that really hit home with the toss-up voters in each of these districts.” Samuel Garrett-Pate, communications director for Equality California, is happy to have that debate. “We now have at the top of our ticket a clear choice between someone who’s leading the resistance and someone who is a proTrump Republican and I think California voters across the state – members of the Continues on Page 28
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28 • JUNE 08, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Road to a Democratic House runs through California
Businessman John Cox is the Republican candidate for California governor; he faces Gavin Newsom in November. Photo by Tommy Lee Kreger; Courtesy Wikimedia
Continued from Page 26 Democratic Party and frankly, moderate Republicans – are pretty clear on where they stand on the divisive hateful politics of the Trump-Pence administration. So I think [having Cox in] could be a motivating factor to pro-equality voters,” Garrett-Pate told the Los Angeles Blade. “This is now a referendum on where we stand on the Trump-Pence administration.” He has a different take on the recall of the state senator. “It is extremely unfortunate that we lost a pro-equality champion in Josh Newman,” Garrett-Pate noted. “That being said, I don’t think you can extrapolate one Senate district to the entire state. We saw across the state pro-equality candidates and candidates who support investment in
infrastructure, among many other things, do well in their primaries. I think my friend from San Diego (DeMaio) is getting a little ahead of himself.” But asserting that the gas tax hurts working families has been considered a non-partisan issue. “What also hurts working families is not being able to drive on California roads and bridges because they’re falling apart,” he said. “Look, the Republican Party is now in third party status in the state of California so I’m really not buying this whole argument that that there is going to be a Red Wave (created by the gas tax). And if that is the assumption that forces who votes against LGBTQ equality everyday want to make—then that’s a mistake on their part but one that I’ll be happy to watch them make as we continue to fight to make sure that our candidates end up in office in November.”
Garrett-Pate also noted the intense Equality California get-out-the-vote effort for Harley Rouda, who has a 73-vote lead over another viable Democrat, Hans Keirstead, in the race for the second spot in the 48th CD. The victor will face a very weakened antiLGBT Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher who only managed to bring in 30.3% of the votes in a district he’s represented since 1989. The June 5 primaries saw a number of LGBT candidates and allies advance. State Sen. Ricardo Lara is in the top two for California Insurance Commissioner. If elected, Lara will become California’s first LGBTQ statewide elected official and the only LGBTQ person of color elected to statewide office in the nation. Other LGBT candidates in races for the California state legislature include: Joy Silver (SD-28), Sonia Aery (AD-3), Jackie
Smith (AD-6), and Sunday Gover (AD-77). There is particular excitement around out married bisexual Katie Hill who squeaked into the second spot in CD 25 to challenge anti-LGBT Republican incumbent Steve Knight, son of notoriously anti-gay Pete Knight, author of Prop 22, known as the Knight Initiative. If elected, she would become California’s first openly LGBT female member of Congress, joining Rep. Mark Takano. Clinton carried the district by six percentage points in 2016, making it a top target for both national parties this year. “Time’s up on Congressman Knight’s years of fighting against equality and working to protect those who would discriminate against LGBTQ Californians,” said Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur. “Yesterday, voters embraced Katie Hill’s values of inclusion and equality because they know she’ll bring Democrats and Republicans together and fight for a government that’s accountable to real people.” Ari Gutierrez, co-founder of Latino Equality Alliance, is not as sanguine as others about the matchup between Newsom and Cox. “I don’t look forward to a Republican challenge in the governor’s race. I think the 2016 election taught us not to be overconfident in the votes or the outcome. We have to work for every win,” Gutierrez told the LA Blade. “We are very excited that Sen. Ricardo Lara finished in the top two for Insurance Commissioner! However, like in the governor’s race, I don’t look forward to the Republican challenge. We will have to work hard for a win in that race.” Gutierrez is also concerned about the election process. She was one of the 118,000 voters whose names were missing from the rolls. “I have voted in every election in Los Angeles County for the last 30 years—yet my name was not listed on the voter rolls! It required a special ‘provisional’ ballot for me to vote that had to be worked out with the poll place supervisors,” she said. “There were several individuals in the same situation at my polling place while I was there and I’ve heard similar scenarios from my family and friends. One Facebook post indicated Spanish speaking voters whose names were not on the voter rolls left without voting because the process could not be explained to them. So that is a big problem especially if it is determined that Latino voters were disproportionally affected by this snafu.”
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30 • JUNE 08, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Trump, Evangelicals and porn explained ‘Morality is not personal, it is political’ By GABRIEL HUDSON Throughout the height of his crusades to save souls in the 1950s, America’s pastor—the late Rev. Billy Graham—used to tell a favorite anecdote to encapsulate the degree of moral rot in the nation. In the story, Graham’s wife, Ruth, upon completing a passage from one of his books about decadence and decline in the United States, laments that God would either need to punish the United States soon or have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah. The story was always effective because it contained reams of condemnation in one familiar admonition. Sodom and Gomorrah are two cities depicted in the book of Genesis that God destroys for wickedness. According to the biblical account, God sends two angels to visit his servant, Lot. Upon hearing of the visitors, the townspeople show up at Lot’s home as an angry mob demanding sexual access to his guests. Lot, in an attempt to quell the swarm, offers his daughters instead. But the angry mob cannot be assuaged, forcing Lot and his family to flee the two cities before they are destroyed by a rain of fire. Sodom and Gomorrah’s most infamous sin—from which we get the word “sodomy”—is made worse by pride, inhospitality toward guests, and unchecked, violent lust. God’s destructive warning is referenced elsewhere in the Bible and throughout Christian history: police immorality among your populace or face the righteous anger of the Lord. Graham used the story in a similar way, to warn of societal consequences for the tolerance of depravity. Like many leaders of the Christian Right today, Graham spoke of his mission as involving more than saving individual souls. Conservative Evangelicals believe God judges and punishes whole nations based on the degree of sin permitted within society. Christian right activists believe that the United States is in a covenant relationship with the God of the Bible much like the ancient nation of Israel. God’s providence in world history led to the founding of the United States and that special favor comes with expectations for his new chosen people.
Donald Trump poses with Evangelical leader Rev. Franklin Graham in front of a Playboy cover photo in Trump Tower. Photo Courtesy Twitter
The story of ancient Israel in the Old Testament is one of a people continually gaining and losing the favor of their God through the curtailing of iniquity. God’s judgment can be staved off for a time through periods of national repentance, but God reserves the harshest punishments for the moral failings of a nation’s leaders. In 2 Samuel, David, the King of Israel, lusts after Bathsheba while watching her bathe on a rooftop. David’s desire for another man’s wife inspires him to order her husband moved to the front lines of a decisive battle, essentially murdering him. As punishment for the King’s lust, pride and dishonesty, God temporarily removes his protection from the nation of Israel, prompting several successive military defeats.
These stories have been part of conservative Protestant activism since the birth of the United States. Much of the contemporary agenda of the Christian Right centers around the need for political and legal impediments to sin. Part of the role of the state is to assure public lasciviousness is minimized to sustain God’s covenant and perpetuate his protection. Like the prophets of ancient Israel, today’s most vocal messengers for the Christian God warn that we cannot continue to court God’s benevolence if we allow unexamined sin in our hearts, heads and homes. To the Christian Right, personal moral fidelity— especially among believers—is inextricably linked to national prosperity. Pastors are called to lead their flocks and
to intercede to an angry God on behalf of their countrymen. Failure to temper lust in the culture endangers more than merely the penitents immortal soul—it dooms the entire covenant. These arguments have been used effectively by Christian Right activists in familiar opposition to gay rights and abortions. It is the thinking behind national observances like the annual Day of Prayer. But now, conservative Evangelicals fight a new, less conspicuous terror of the soul: pornography. Christian minister and prolific author, Josh McDowell, is a venerable scholar among Evangelicals. His magnum opus “Evidence That Demands a Verdict” is arguably the most widely read work of Christian apologetics of the 20th century. Now McDowell has turned his academic prowess to the study of pornography’s use among Christians. In a video published on Watchmen on the Wall’s website, McDowell explains with extensive technical details how ubiquitous porn use is within the church. Pastors, their wives, youths and youth ministers are all implicated by his thorough dataset and careful analysis. Like the larger secular culture, Christians find themselves besieged by a tsunami of porn. McDowell calls it the “greatest cancer in the history of the church,” and claims pornography is “destroying more churches, pastors and families” than any prior evil. He’s not wrong about porn’s pervasiveness or deleterious nature. Secular sources like the CDC recognize porn’s prevalence as a public health crisis and the American Psychological Association warns that porn addiction ruins lives more quickly than hardcore substances. McDowell and likeminded ministers have seized on a real issue of private, personal failing with sociopolitical implications. Unlike the anti-LGBT activism most commonly associated with the Christian Right, the focus on pornography seems more personal than political, more discarnate than bigoted. Addressing the problems associated with pornography—its addictive nature, its tendency to be exploitative and violent, its negative impact on the potential for real, satisfying adult relationships—is an appropriate role for public advocates of Continues on Page 33
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Understanding Evangelical support for Trump Continued from Page 30 morality. More sincere than politically calculated, it regains a measure of relevance for the religious right. There is one major impediment to their new moral commission, however. The champion they have sent into the political arena embodies the cancer attacking their congregations. President Trump breaks many precedents but none so egregiously as the expectation that the nation’s leaders be paradigms of virtue. We have had libidinous presidents in the past, but none so out and proudly sinful as Trump. Even Clinton’s cigar shenanigans with a White House intern were revealed with contrition and shame. Trump, conversely, is the first president to appear on the cover of Playboy magazine. That framed cover appears on the wall behind Trump and Franklin Graham in a publicity photo. His five children by three wives, not to mention his long list of sexual conquests and accusers, suggests a long term undermining of conservative principles and family values. Surely, these huge contradictions cause introspection among the Christian Right. Surely they see the glaring inconsistency between their role as public prognosticators of moral rectitude and their embrace of the “pussy grabber-in-chief.” The unwavering support for Trump by Evangelicals appears to deflate their entire agenda, but only if one misunderstands their entire agenda. Christian Right activism has never really been about holding leaders to the standards spelled out in the Bible. The agenda has always primarily concerned control. Moral condemnations are a means to securing privilege and influence. Conservative Christians use their providential version of American history to justify special status within the body politic. The covenant relationship narrative casts conservative Christians as the only legitimate Americans while other citizens are fortunate interlopers. Castigating gay rights and abortion serve to “otherize” and control bodies more than foster sexual purity. Viewed in this light, support for Trump is not a contradiction. He perfectly fits their template for power—not in spite of his moral failings, but because of them. Much scholarship since World War II has been devoted to diagnosing the symptoms of creeping authoritarianism. Hannah Arendt’s
Donald Trump’s support among Evangelicals makes sense if you know the biblical underpinings of their movement. Blade File Photo by Michael Key
“Origins of Totalitarianism” details how Christian theology and history were applied selectively for political benefit in the Weimar Republic. Religious identity was used as a tool to establish patterns of in-group/outgroup thinking and exclusionary laws. Umberto Eco’s 1995 essay “Ur Fascism” details an anthropological consensus on the common characteristics of fascist regimes. He warns that all proto fascist cultures lionize a hero strongman that embodies machismo and misogyny. This universal fascist “transfers his will to power to sexual matters. This is the origin of machismo (which implies both disdain for women and intolerance and condemnation of nonstandard sexual habits.)” At the time of its publication, Eco’s work was meant to critique burgeoning democracies in Latin America by pointing out tell-tale signs of fascist tendencies. It serves today as a prescient appraisal of America. Like Lot’s option in Sodom, the sexual
commodification of women is a tertiary concern. As Franklin Graham criss-crosses California winning souls for the GOP, the overt embrace of Trump seemingly undermines his spiritual message while bolstering his political agenda. But the contradiction is illusory. Trump’s lust for the flesh comports with a hungrier lust for power. The centerpiece of Christian Right activism has always been a ceding of the body and soul to the control of the state. Some individualized liberty of conscience in which citizens arrive at differing moral conclusions has never been a tenet of their democratic theory. God judges nations. Morality is not personal, it is political. Its enforcement requires an absolutist in terms of authority, not virtue. McDowell and likeminded ministers are sincere and well-intentioned when they warn about the widespread use of pornography. One would expect society’s moral guides to caution against instant
gratification and a perpetual poisoning of the mind with unrealistic images and exploitative depictions of sexuality. But the political agenda of the Christian Right has little to do with purity and everything to do with securing power and privilege. Trump’s machismo pride and libidinous bravado do not undermine the political aspiration of Evangelicals; they empower it. Viewed in terms of theology, Trump seems like an exercise in logic contortion and overcoming cognitive dissonance for Evangelicals. Viewed correctly within the broader context of authoritarianism, Trump’s lust is a job requirement. Gabriel S. Hudson, Ph.D., a democratic theorist, teaches at George Mason University’s Graduate School of Education and The Schar School of Policy and Government. He is the author of ‘Christodemocracy and the Alternative Democratic Theory of America’s Christian Right.’
36 • JUNE 08, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Rashad Robinson targets Trump’s enablers Color of Change leader calls out the “see no evil” crowd By KAREN OCAMB firstname.lastname@example.org Rashad Robinson sees past shiny objects. But after four years as GLAAD’s senior director of media programs, he also knows how impactful those attention-getting flashes can be. That’s why, six years ago, shortly after becoming executive director of the online social justice organization Color of Change, Robinson tried to launch a campaign to get NBC to scrap Donald Trump’s “The Celebrity Apprentice.” “We couldn’t get much traction because people kept telling me Trump’s a joke and Color of Change should be concentrating on serious issues,” Robinson tells the Los Angeles Blade in a recent phone interview. “We were going after ‘The Celebrity Apprentice’ because NBC gave Donald Trump a platform once a week to be seen as a smart, capable, reasoned businessman that could make smart decisions. And the other six days of the week, he was going around the country claiming President Obama wasn’t a citizen, asking for his birth certificate, saying he should be playing basketball. He was making all of these racist remarks and he was being enabled.” Subsequent campaigns proved what a profound missed opportunity that was. Robinson pressured MSNBC into firing infamous anti-LGBT conservative Pat Buchanan over white supremacy statements. And in 2013, he forced Fox to cancel its popular 20-year-running police show, “Cops,” over its “unfortunate look at the war on drugs and its effects on poor and black folks around the country,” he explained later. “He is quite simply the most strategic thought leader in the civil rights and justice state,” Demos president Heather McGhee told the Huffington Post in 2015. “He has turned Color of Change into a 21st century online organization that is able to push so far above its weight.” Robinson is focused on not just the unabashed racist comments being slung around these days but the actions, policies and politics behind them. And that’s led him to the enablers who see Trump’s antics as theater. ”At the end of the day, if Trump was just
Rashad Robinson Photo by Heather Weston, courtesy of Color Of Change
by himself, if he was just doing his thing without any support around him, it wouldn’t make a difference,” Robinson says. “In so many ways, the enablers, the folks who make money off of Trump want to have a relationship to power and so they see no evil, speak no evil, and hear no evil and do nothing. We want to make sure that history tells the story of them. Tells the story of good people or people that should have been good people who did nothing in the face of evil.” It reminds Robinson of the famous poem about the Holocaust written by German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller: “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out/Because I was not a Socialist…. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.” “Trump’s effort to pack the courts with deeply conservative and hostile judges to a range of communities, his work to weaken the range of debate and the rules and norms of the law, his work to fundamentally change how stories are covered and what’s not covered, his attacks on the media—that will have deep impact for generations,” says Robinson. “Barack Obama was a change candidate. Donald Trump was a change-the-rules candidate,” Robinson says. “He is the
archetype of changing the rules—which is much more dangerous.” While Color of Change may have disagreed with the Obama administration over housing and education policies, at least staff knew something about their departments. “What Trump’s done is to basically weaken all the systems and structures where, for instance, judicial rulings might not get implemented—like a subpoena from a court might be ignored. “That type of change is deeply scary,” he continues. “Trump is aided and supported by a Republican Party of enablers who hold their nose. Many of them don’t like Trump but they see him as the best vehicle for them to be able to take away our freedoms—whether it’s freedom for LGBT people, freedom for women, freedom for people of color, the freedoms that have been won hard and fought for. The folks on the right recognize that Donald Trump is putting people in power who are basically gutting the federal government and can do the work that they always wanted to be done for years.” The remedy is to direct protests at the institutions and corporations that are benefiting, which may include holding Democrats accountable, as well. In the
wake of the white nationalist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, for example, Color Of Change launched the #NoBloodMoney campaign to target hate groups at their funding sources, including credit card companies, to stop processing donations for white supremacists. He also successfully pressured corporate leaders on Trump’s BusinessAdvisory Council to resign when Trump failed to condemn the white nationalist violence. Color Of Change also partnered with the ACLU’s Campaign for Smart Justice to detail how insurance companies have taken over and profited off of the bail bond industry. Robinson says he also works with out LAbased Patrisse Khan-Cullors, co-founder of Black Lives Matters and Reform LA Jails PAC, on this issue and others. “We can’t just say we stand up for the little guy or the underdog. We actually have to do it,” Robinson says. “And it might mean giving back some checks to polluters and folks who support policies and positions that put us in harms way. If there’s a corporation that is supporting those politicians that were on the side of the Masterpiece baker—then we need to ask the corporations that are waving flags during our Pride parade why they would support anti-LGBT politicians.”
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38 • JUNE 08, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
California adds Oklahoma to travel ban Move follows passage of antiLGBT ‘religious freedom’ law By KAREN OCAMB email@example.com Red states like Oklahoma and Kansas might not care that California is calling them out for their explicit LGBT discrimination, but the state’s taxpayers do, Attorney General Xavier Becerra said at a news conference last week. As of June 22, state-funded and statesponsored travel will be prohibited to Oklahoma in response to Gov. Mary Fallin signing a “religious freedom” law on May 11 allowing taxpayer-funded adoption agencies to deny child placement services to same-sex parents and to refuse to place LGBT foster children in homes based on religious or moral grounds related to sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer also signed an anti-LGBT bill the next day, on May 12, but that state is already on the California travel ban list. Kansas’ previous governor, Sam Brownback, had a long history of anti-LGBT attitudes and actions, including signing an anti-LGBT student bill in 2016. Oklahoma’s law, Senate Bill 1140, is scheduled to go into effect on Nov. 1. At the news conference, Becerra said he wanted to give fair warning to Californians and others who might be planning conferences in Oklahoma with significant California participation. “California law requires that my office identify and maintain a list of states which are off limits for state-funded or state-sponsored travel,” Becerra said. “California will not use state resources to support states that pass discriminatory laws. The law enacted in Oklahoma allows discrimination against LGBTQ children and aspiring LGBTQ parents who must navigate the adoption process. California taxpayers are taking a stand against bigotry and in support of those who would be harmed by this prejudiced policy. “It’s so important that we understand what it means to celebrate Pride month,” added Becerra, “having pride in being part of a forward leaning state that believes in diversity, in inclusion, in welcoming people. We are proud of that because it has made us a very successful place. You don’t become
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Assembly member Evan Low, Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur, and Cathy Sakimura, deputy director, National Center for Lesbian Rights on June 1 in San Francisco. Photo courtesy NCLR
the fifth largest economy in the world unless you’re doing something right. So we take great pride in conveying to everyone in our state that we respect you, we welcome you and we wish you to thrive here in California. Not just here – but anywhere in America you go, that we’ve got your back. “ Assembly member Evan Low (D-Silicon Valley), chair of the California Legislative LGBT Caucus and author of the travel ban bill, echoed Becerra. “AB 1887 was enacted to ensure our taxpayer dollars do not fund bigotry – no exceptions,” Low said. “California is a state of inclusion and has long stood up against discrimination in any form, within our borders and beyond. I stand with Attorney General Becerra as he holds our values high and ensures we do not put any state money behind other states’ discriminatory policies.” “Every child deserves a loving, supportive
family, and it’s neither pro-child, nor pro-family, for Oklahoma to deny them one,” said Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur, who choked up talking about his own three children and the harms done by such laws against children. “California taxpayers won’t subsidize Oklahoma’s — or any state’s — discriminatory policies, and we’re grateful to Attorney General Becerra for taking this decisive action today in support of equality for all.” “We applaud the Attorney General for ensuring that California taxpayer dollars are used to support our state’s values of inclusion and equality,” said Cathy Sakimura, National Center for Lesbian Rights Family Law Director. “Oklahoma’s law allows adoption agencies to deny children safe and stable homes merely because their adoptive parents are LGBT, denying our families equal dignity and harming children.” Becerra says his office has heard from
companies and organizations in different states wanting to know if California would exempt them from the ban. While he may sympathize, “we don’t do that,” – grant individual exemptions. Low noted that it’s still a relatively new law so there is no real tracking of the consequences yet, though the reach is long, from tourism companies to Fortune 500 companies. The following states are currently subject to California’s ban on state-funded and state-sponsored travel: Alabama Kansas Kentucky Mississippi North Carolina South Dakota Tennessee Texas And as of June 22—Oklahoma.
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • JUNE 08, 2018 • 39
Supporters rally for gay Nigerian asylum seeker Udoka Nweke, held since 2016, in need of medical attention By CHRISTOPHER KANE President Donald Trump issued a plethora of proclamations this month from National Ocean Month to AfricanAmerican Music Appreciation Month. But for the second year, he has failed to issue a Pride Proclamation, though June is universally recognized as Pride month. During the 2016 Republican National Convention, Trump promised to “do everything in [his] power to protect LGBTQ citizens,” with delegates applauding and nodding along. But once in office, and spurred on by his irrational animus for Barack Obama, as well as his radical religious right base, Trump is reversing all things Obama. Despite a nod to LGBT people with the appointment of gay Republican Fox News commentator Richard Grenell as ambassador to Germany, the next major initiative to go is the Obama administration’s “gay rights diplomacy” that warned other countries against harming their LGBT populations. But the U.S. State Department may not have gotten the memo. Despite the personal anti-LGBT sentiments expressed by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during his confirmation hearing, Pompeo did issue a Pride statement. The United States “joins people around the world in celebrating Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex (LGBTI) Pride Month, and reaffirms its commitment to protecting and defending the human rights of all, including LGBTI persons,” the statement reads. “In many parts of the world, LGBTI individuals and their supporters continue to face violence, arrest, harassment and intimidation for standing up for their human rights, participating in peaceful marches and rallies, expressing their views, and simply being who they are,” Pompeo says. “LGBTI persons – like all persons – must be free to enjoy their human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and association, without fear of reprisal. As Americans, we place a high value on these rights and freedoms, which all
A scene from Facebook Live coverage of the ‘Free Udoka’ rally in Orange County on June 1. Screencapture Courtesy Facebook
persons deserve to enjoy fully and equally.” The problem is those words are falling on deaf ears. Federal agencies such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and anti-LGBT foreign countries are more emboldened by Trump’s animus than inspired by the State Department’s words. A stark example is what is happening to gay Nigerian asylum-seeker Udoka Nweke who is deteriorating in an ICE detention facility. A group of representatives from human, civil, immigration, and LGBTQ rights organizations gathered June 1 at the steps of Santa Ana’s ICE office for a press conference and rally to support Nweke, who has been held in the Adelanto immigrant detention facility since 2016. Nweke fled his native country because he
was a victim of anti-gay mob violence. He survived a harrowing journey through South and Central America and was apprehended for crossing the U.S. border at the San Ysidro port of entry. After his asylum request was denied, Nweke attempted to hang himself and he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and depression. The event was organized by Ola Osaze, who leads the Black LGBTQ Migrant Project of the Transgender Law Center; Luis Gomez, immigration resources specialist at the Orange County LGBT Center; and Jorge-Mario Cabrera, director of communications at the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights. Their goal: to pressure ICE into releasing Nweke on parole. The advocates fear his continued detention in Adelanto–without access to
mental healthcare–could be life threatening. Gomez read a letter written by Nweke and addressed to attendees. “I have not been able to get help from psychiatrists here in detention,” he wrote. “I want you to know that I truly appreciate your help and the emotional support you’ve given me, and I must say it goes a long way toward making me feel better.” Osaze is a queer trans Nigerian asylee. Nweke’s plight, he said, reflects experiences that have become routine for black LGBTQ asylum seekers. “In detention centers like Adelanto,” Osaze said, “we are re-traumatized, as Udoka was. Our health is jeopardized, as Udoka’s has been, and we are detained indefinitely and in many cases deported back to the unsafe and life threatening situations that we escaped in the first place.” Josie Roberto, an immigration attorney with the Public Law Center who has worked on Nweke’s case, filed an appellate brief with the Board of Immigration Appeals. He said the case will be heard in early August. But if ICE decides not to release him, Nweke will be detained until his court date. If he is deported, Nweke could face imprisonment or the death penalty in Nigeria, where homosexuality is illegal. Osaze explained the punitive codes aimed at LGBTQ Nigerians are part of the reason the Black LGBTQ Migrant Project was founded. Nweke lives in constant fear of deportation and yearns for freedom from Adelanto, where he says staff members have threatened him with solitary confinement, shackles, and other forms of punishment. Meanwhile, as Nweke’s attorneys appeal denial of his asylum case, his bond and parole requests were also turned down. Osaze hopes media attention will yield a favorable outcome that, so far, has not been reached through traditional channels. The rally concluded with a chant that was borrowed from Assata Shakur, a major figure in the black liberation movement who was widely regarded as a political prisoner prior to her escape from a New Jersey correctional facility. (She now lives in Cuba, where she was given asylum.) “Make Adelanto hear you,” the group was instructed. “It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love and protect each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.” The Washington Blade contributed to this story.
40 • JUNE 08, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Supreme Court sidesteps major ruling in Masterpiece Cakeshop case Justices cite hostility to religion by Colorado commission By CHRIS JOHNSON The U.S. Supreme Court sidestepped a major decision Monday in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, issuing a narrow decision based on the facts of the lawsuit in favor of a Colorado baker sued for refusing to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. In the 7-2 decision written by U.S. Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, the Supreme Court vacated the decision by the Colorado Court of Appeals against baker Jack Phillips on the basis the state commission handling his case displayed a religious bias against him. “When the Colorado Civil Rights
Commission considered this case, it did not do so with the religious neutrality that the Constitution requires,” Kennedy writes. Kennedy concluded his ruling by making clear it provides no precedent for cases in which individuals and businesses assert a First Amendment right to refuse service to same-sex couples, insisting that determination must come at a later time. “The outcome of cases like this in other circumstances must await further elaboration in the courts, all in the context of recognizing that these disputes must be resolved with tolerance, without undue disrespect to sincere religious beliefs, and without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market,” Kennedy wrote. As evidence of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission’s hostility toward Phillips’ religious views, Kennedy cites language the commissioners used as they heard the
case in 2014, including one commissioner’s words that religious views are “one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use.” During oral arguments in the case before the Supreme Court, Kennedy has expressed concern over these words from the commission, prompting observers to speculate the court might issue a decision punting the case and remanding it for reconsideration without hostility toward religion. In the decision, Kennedy writes those words from the commissioner demonstrates hostility toward Phillips’ religion both by describing as despicable and by characterizing it as merely rhetorical. “This sentiment is inappropriate for a commission charged with the solemn responsibility of fair and neutral enforcement of Colorado’s anti-discrimination law — a law that protects against discrimination
on the basis of religion as well as sexual orientation,” Kennedy wrote. But the decision keeps in place Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act. Kennedy writes the ability to refuse wedding-related services to same-sex couples under the First Amendment should be restricted to clergy and laws against anti-LGBT discrimination are valid. “If that exception were not confined, then a long list of persons who provide goods and services for marriages and weddings might refuse to do so for gay persons, thus resulting in a community-wide stigma inconsistent with the history and dynamics of civil rights laws that ensure equal access to goods, services, and public accommodations,” Kennedy writes. Kennedy cites the 1968 decision in Newman v. Piggy Park Enterprises in which a business cited a First Amendment right to refuse to serve black customers with white customers despite then-recent passage of
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the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In that case, the Supreme Court found that laws of general applicability are valid businesses are subject to penalty under them despite any objections based on freedom of religion. The timing of the ruling on Monday was a surprise to legal observers, many of whom predicted the Supreme Court wouldn’t be hand it down until the final day of its 20172018 term at the end of June. The decision will means the Colorado Civil Rights Commission is vacated, but there’s no reason to think Phillips wouldn’t face additional penalties if he refuses service to same-sex couples down the road. James Esseks, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBT and HIV project, said Monday in a conference call with reporters Phillips doesn’t get a free pass to discriminate in the aftermath of the ruling. “If a new same-sex couple walks into that business, I see no reason in this opinion that Masterpiece Cakeshop is free to turn them away because they asked for that right, and they didn’t get that right,” Esseks said. “The only reason that they might win is if Colorado’s civil rights commission once again engaged in the kinds of comments the court viewed as anti-religion. Since I think that’s very unlikely to happen, I don’t think Masterpiece Cakeshop can think it is free to discriminate in the state of Colorado because I believe it is not.” The ruling also means the long-running case against Masterpiece Cakeshop, filed by Charlie Craig and Dave Mullins back in 2012 when Phillips refused to make them a custommade wedding cake, has reached its finish line. In a joint statement, Craig and Mullins expressed disappointment with the ruling, but said they’d continue the fight. “Today’s decision means our fight against discrimination and unfair treatment will continue,” Craig and Mullins said. “We have always believed that in America, you should not be turned away from a business open to the public because of who you are. We brought this case because no one should have to face the shame, embarrassment and humiliation of being told ‘we don’t serve your kind here’ that we faced, and we will continue fighting until no one does.” After the couple sued six years ago, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission ruled in their favor in 2014 and the Colorado Court of Appeals upheld that decision a year
later. Phillips filed a petition before the U.S. Supreme Court to review those rulings, which the Supreme Court accepted last year shortly after the confirmation of U.S. Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch. Attorneys representing both sides in the case declared victory to some extent. The ACLU, which represented the couple, insisted non-discrimination principles were upheld and Alliance Defending Freedom, which represented Phillips, called the decision a victory for “religious freedom.” Louise Melling, deputy legal director of the ACLU, said in a statement the Supreme Court essentially punted without making a sweeping decision. “The court reversed the Masterpiece Cakeshop decision based on concerns unique to the case but reaffirmed its longstanding rule that states can prevent the harms of discrimination in the marketplace, including against LGBT people,” Melling said. Kristen Waggoner, who argued the case for Phillips before the Supreme Court as senior counsel to Alliance Defending Freedom, said in a statement the ruling was a win for her client. “Government hostility toward people of faith has no place in our society, yet the state of Colorado was openly antagonistic toward Jack’s religious beliefs about marriage,” Waggoner said. “The court was right to condemn that. Tolerance and respect for good-faith differences of opinion are essential in a society like ours. This decision makes clear that the government must respect Jack’s beliefs about marriage.” U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco had argued before the Supreme Court in favor of Phillips on behalf of the Trump administration, asserting baking a custommade wedding cake amounts to artistic expression, and therefore is free speech protected under the First Amendment. Neither the White House, nor the U.S. Justice Department, responded Monday to the Washington Blade’s request for comment on the court’s decision in the case. Joining Kennedy in the decision was U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts as well as U.S. Associate Justices Stephen Breyer, Samuel Alito, Elena Kagan, Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas. Dissenting from the ruling was U.S. Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was joined by U.S. Associate Justice Sonia Sotamayor.
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • JUNE 08, 2018 • 43
Orlando to mark two years since Pulse massacre Survivors, victims’ families remain vocal gun control advocates By MICHAEL K. LAVERS June 12 marks two years since a gunman killed 49 people inside the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla. Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs are expected to attend a ceremony at an interim memorial that opened last month at the nightclub. Equality Florida, a statewide LGBT advocacy group, and the Florida Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence on June 11 will hold a rally at Orlando City Hall in support of gun control. Organizers of the annual Pride parade in the Puerto Rican capital of San Juan on June 3 held a moment of silence for the victims
at the U.S. commonwealth’s first LGBTspecific monument that Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz formally unveiled two weeks after the massacre. Nearly half of those who were killed inside Pulse were LGBT Puerto Ricans. The June 3 ceremony took place less than nine months after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico. Christine Leinonen, whose son, Christopher “Drew” Leinonen, was killed inside Pulse alongside his partner, Juan Guerrero, does not plan to participate in any of the commemoration events. Christine Leinonen described her son as “definitely one of the good guys” when she spoke with the Blade on Tuesday. “He made life easy,” she said. “He made life easy for everyone around him.” Axel Rodríguez, an Orlando resident who was born in Puerto Rico, was friends with Xavier Serrano Rosado, who was killed inside Pulse.
“I have not forgotten any of the 49 souls that died,” Rodríguez told the Blade on Tuesday. “I will never, ever forget my friend Xavier.” Rodríguez said he has visited Serrano’s grave in the Puerto Rican city of Ponce. Rodríguez told the Blade he is “still not able to visit” Pulse. The Associated Press reported the onePULSE Foundation, of which Pulse owner Barbara Poma is executive director, will begin its search for architects who will design a permanent memorial next month. This year’s commemorations are also taking place against the backdrop of renewed calls for gun control. A gunman on Valentine’s Day killed 17 students and faculty at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. The Pulse nightclub massacre had been the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history until a gunman killed 58 people
and injured more than 500 others when he opened fire during a country music festival in Las Vegas on Oct. 1, 2017. Florida Gov. Rick Scott — who, along with state Attorney General Pam Bondi, faced widespread criticism in the days after the Pulse nightclub massacre when they did not specifically mention the LGBT community — after the Marjory Douglas shooting signed into a law a $400 million bill that, among other things, banned the sale of bump stocks and raised the minimum age to buy a gun in Florida from 18 to 21. Equality Florida CEO Nadine Smith — who is a vocal critic of Scott and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) over gun control and other issues — on Tuesday told the Blade the fact that Scott signed the bill the National Rifle Association opposed “tells you there’s a loosening of” the organization’s “grip.” Continues at losangelesblade.com
44 • JUNE 08, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
No proclamation (again) from Trump for Pride month U.S. departments may follow suit in ignoring annual celebration By CHRIS JOHNSON The first day of June arrived and President Trump again declined to issue a proclamation recognizing Pride month, breaking a tradition when Democrats occupied the White House. Meanwhile, Trump has issued proclamations in recent days recognizing National CaribbeanAmerican Heritage Month, National Ocean Month, Great Outdoors Month, National Homeownership Month and African-American Music Appreciation Month. The White House hasn’t responded to repeated requests from the Washington Blade in the past month seeking comment on whether a Pride proclamation would be issued.
The lack of a Pride proclamation is similar to Trump’s decision last year not to recognize the occasion during his first Pride in the White House. (Instead, Ivanka Trump took to Twitter to wish LGBT people a “joyful” Pride — and was resoundingly panned for issuing that message at the same time she worked for her father and stayed silent on his anti-LGBT policies.) The situation has changed since last year as the Trump administration has rolled out additional anti-LGBT policies, which would make any Pride proclamation this year less likely, and, even if it were issued, somewhat awkward. Since last June, Trump issued a ban on transgender people in the U.S. military after announcing via Twitter they would not be able to serve “in any capacity” in the armed forces. Other policies include executive actions in the name of “religious freedom” that would enable anti-LGBT discrimination and the Justice Department’s decision to exclude LGBT people from enforcement of federal civil rights law.
Before the Trump administration, Democrats who occupied the White House had issued proclamations recognizing June as Pride month. Former President Bill Clinton started the tradition, although that practice was suspending during the George W. Bush years. Former President Obama issued a proclamation on the last weekday in May for each year during his two terms and held annual receptions at the White House celebrating Pride with LGBT leaders. Meanwhile, the departments in the Trump administration — many of which with LGBT employees holding events recognizing Pride, but without the officials leading those departments — seem to be taking different approaches to recognizing Pride. At the Pentagon, an informed source said for the first time since “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal certification the department won’t issue a formal recognition of Pride month, although the LGBT affinity group for DOD employees will
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hold an event for the occasion in the Pentagon Courtyard on June 11. That’s a contrast from the first year of the Trump administration when Acting Secretary of Personnel & Readiness Anthony Kurta, a holdover from the Obama years, issued a memo declaring the Pentagon “recognizes lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender service members and civilians for their dedicated service to the DOD and the nation.” Since that time, Trump has issued his transgender ban — a policy that was reaffirmed by Defense Secretary James Mattis in a 44page recommendation against transgender service with few exceptions. Kurta has also left his role in the aftermath of the confirmation of the Trump-appointed Defense Secretary for Personnel & Readiness Robert Wilkie, whom Trump has nominated for secretary of veterans affairs. Continues at losangelesblade.com
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46 • JUNE 08, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
VOLUME 02 ISSUE 14
From Pulse to Parkland, continuing the fight against gun violence This year at Pride, we march for safety, inclusion and equality
Rep. Adam Schiff represents California’s 28th District, including West Hollywood.
Marching in the Los Angeles Pride Parade is an experience unlike any other. The first few years I marched, the atmosphere was jubilant and attendees reveled in each other’s company during a weekend full of concerts, vibrant nightlife and culture. But two years ago, the mood was dramatically altered, for tragedy had intervened. The night before the 2016 parade in West Hollywood, a gunman opened fire at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., killing 49 people and injuring 53 more. It was an act of terrorism, and it was the deadliest mass shooting incident to ever target LGBT individuals in the United States. At the time, it was also the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, tragically overtaken by the shooting in Las Vegas a year later. The Pulse nightclub shooting was shocking and horrific, and it profoundly affected the spirit of Pride across the country. There was also a great deal of uncertainty — we weren’t sure if the Los Angeles Pride Parade was a target. At the beginning of our parade, we united for a moment of silence, resolved that we would work together to demand congressional action on commonsense gun safety measures. Last year’s Pride festival also differed from past celebrations. In that first year of Donald Trump’s presidency, we came together to speak out against the president’s hateful
rhetoric and actions, especially those targeting LGBT Americans. Instead of a Pride Parade, we led a Resist March and rallied together to try to change the direction of our country. Since last year, much has changed and much has, tragically, stayed the same. We still have a president who thrives on chaos and division, and puts the tenets of our democratic system to the test on a daily basis. Perhaps the only positive development: Millions of Americans who have never been politically active are engaging like never before. Many of these new, passionate activists are from a younger generation. Some of the most powerful new leaders were borne of yet another gun tragedy. In February, 17 students and faculty were killed in another horrific school shooting – this one at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. In the aftermath, young survivors of the shooting and young people across the nation have stepped up to say: ENOUGH. They are rightly fed up with the lack of meaningful action from elected officials—across the country, at every level – in response to the gun violence plaguing our schools and our entire society. Parents are now forced to have difficult conversations with their kids about whether they will be safe at school. How horrifying to see the footage of a young survivor at the recent shooting in Santa Fe, Texas explain that yes, she fully expected such a nightmare to take place at her school. Something must change. And something is. Young people are changing the conversation about gun violence. They have launched a movement to change minds, to change laws, and to force adults to reckon with the effect that weak gun laws have had on our country. And they are just getting started – this month, Parkland students are launching a nationwide bus tour to register young voters. I hope these brave students, and those they mobilize, will make a real difference. So much depends on it. And while no one law can prevent all mass shootings, we still must try. Here is where we can start: First, Congress must pass universal
background checks, a policy supported by nearly 90 percent of the American people, including the vast majority of gun owners. Second, we must reinstate the Assault Weapons Ban. This law was one of the most effective means of taking these weapons of war off the streets, and Congress shamefully allowed it to expire in 2004 to the delight of the National Rifle Association. Third, we must stop ascribing mass shootings only to mental illness. The NRA and its congressional allies use this tactic to avoid talking about the role guns play in these tragedies. Addressing mental health is important, but it’s only one piece of the puzzle. We must do everything we can to increase access to mental health services and reduce the stigma of mental illness, but slavishly blaming mental illness for gun violence only stigmatizes it further, and makes it harder for those that need help to seek it. Finally, we must end the gun industry’s special immunity from lawsuits. I’ve introduced legislation that would pierce the gun industry’s liability shield by putting an end to the special protections that gun manufacturers, sellers and interest groups receive when they shirk their fundamental responsibility to act with reasonable care for the public safety. Victims of gun violence deserve their day in court. No single step is a cure-all, but together they can create real change. We need your help. Call your representatives and senators at 202224-3121 and demand they take action. Vote in local, state and federal elections for officials that will fight the scourge of gun violence by passing gun safety reform measures. Fight against the NRA and its allies, which try to stifle this agenda. Every year I look forward to celebrating Pride in Los Angeles. This year, we once again march for safety, inclusion and equality. We continue to celebrate our LGBT community and its allies, and actively support the thousands of young people dedicated to creating real and lasting change. There is a lot of work to be done. I hope you’ll join me.
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LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • JUNE 08, 2018 • 47
Don’t ignore the icing on the cake This was not the win our opponents were praying for
Jon W. Davidson has been a leading LGBT legal rights advocate and constitutional scholar for more than 30 years. He recently stepped down as the national legal director of Lambda Legal.
Many LGBTQ individuals’ immediate reactions on social media to the Supreme Court’s much-anticipated decision in the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case expressed alarm and fear. While there are reasons to be concerned about ongoing efforts to pit religious freedom against equal rights, the decision is far better than many people thought it might be and contains much that the LGBTQ community should cheer. The court ruled 7-2 in favor of the baker who appealed a ruling that he had violated Colorado’s anti-discrimination law by refusing to sell a wedding cake to a samesex couple. Nevertheless, the baker’s victory is extremely narrow.
The Supreme Court refused to endorse the broad constitutional right to discriminate being sought by anti-LGBTQ forces, even in the charged context of weddings. Rather, it ruled for the baker on grounds unique to his case. The court concluded that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission’s decision needed to be reversed only because, in the majority’s view, the commission denied the baker neutral and respectful consideration of his claims. The court pointed to one commissioner who called the baker’s position “despicable” rhetoric and to what the majority saw as inconsistent reasoning between the commission’s rejection of the baker’s claims and the commission’s acceptance of what the court saw as analogous arguments in other cases. While one can disagree with that criticism of the commission, it’s hard to disagree that government decision-makers should treat all who come before them fairly, evenhandedly, and without hostility. But the Supreme Court did not stop there. Instead, Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion powerfully reaffirms the conclusion underlying his landmark rulings in Lawrence v. Texas (striking down state sodomy laws), United States v. Windsor (requiring federal recognition of samesex couples’ marriages), and Obergefell v. Hodges (concluding that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry) that “gay persons and gay couples cannot be treated as social outcasts or as inferior in
dignity and worth.” Indeed, the opinion goes on to conclude that: “For that reason the laws and the Constitution can, and in some instances must, protect them in the exercise of their civil rights. The exercise of their freedom on terms equal to others must be given great weight and respect by the courts.” Most importantly, the decision unequivocally reaffirms the Supreme Court’s 50-year-old precedent that religious or philosophical objections to treating others equally “do not allow business owners and other actors in the economy and in society to deny protected persons equal access to goods and services under a neutral and generally applicable public accommodations law.” The opinion explains that claims to religious freedom must have narrow limits: “When it comes to weddings, it can be assumed that a member of the clergy who objects to gay marriage on moral and religious grounds could not be compelled to perform the ceremony without denial of his or her right to the free exercise of religion…. Yet if that exception were not confined, then a long list of persons who provide goods and services for marriages and weddings might refuse to do so for gay persons, thus resulting in a community-wide stigma inconsistent with the history and dynamics of civil rights laws that ensure equal access to goods, services, and public accommodations.” Such constraints on religious exemption
claims are necessary, the majority agreed, “lest all purveyors of goods and services who object to gay marriages for moral and religious reasons in effect be allowed to put up signs saying ‘no goods or services will be sold if they will be used for gay marriages,’ something that would impose a serious stigma on gay persons.” Those are all heady words for a decision over which some, in my view, prematurely hit the panic button. While the decision leaves much to be resolved for another day, this was not the win our opponents were praying for. No doubt they will double down in their efforts to win exemptions from anti-discrimination laws. We need to do everything we can to fight back against those efforts. At the same time, we have to pass both the federal Equality Act and state laws that provide LGBTQ people protections against discrimination in the 32 states that still lack such express, comprehensive, statutory shields against denials, in the words of the opinion, of our equal “dignity and worth.” I believe those efforts will be helped, not hindered, by the court’s decision. The opinion affirms that government entities have the authority “to protect the rights and dignity of gay persons who are, or wish to be, married but who face discrimination when they seek goods or services.” Now, we just need to get them all to clearly do so. Equality demands nothing less, and, this decision reestablishes that the Constitution’s protection of religious freedom does not stand in the way.
48 • JUNE 08, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
La Migra, education and ‘Project Runway’ Finally a U.S. citizen, I am at-risk no more
Raymundo Baltazar works at UCLA Arts and is a former contestant on ‘Project Runway.’
Ten cuidado con la Migra! (Be careful with immigration). A mother’s plea that functioned as a subtle warning to not sabotage my American dream-in-the-making. However, for me, her words were the fuel that propelled me to do better, to overcome, and to always remain vigilant. And though the trauma of fearing la migra will forever be engrained in my psyche, I thank my Mother for ensuring my safety was her top priority. In our family, education has always reigned supreme and a measure of one’s character. So keeping me safe was her way of ensuring I could reach for an education. Imagine a nine-year-old, unable to speak English, undocumented, queer and afraid; my educational forecast seemed cloudy. I was aware that on any given day, I could be
deported. But the fear never derailed me or my three sisters from seeking an education. Unfortunately, by the end of my first week in class, the experts at my local elementary school had declared that I was an at-risk youth. I assumed they meant at-risk of la migra but I was wrong. Years later, I can attest that shedding the stigma of being called atrisk has proven harder to do than overcoming my fear of la migra. Now, as a first generation Angeleño, and the first to attend and graduate from a university—UCLA Summa Cum Laude and Chancellor’s Marshall—I have realized that the power of testimonio (testimony) helped me tremendously. By reading the testimonies of individuals that have dealt with similar challenges, I found hope. And in that same spirit, my hope is that by sharing a few personal anecdotes, they can add to the discourse of immigrants and their positive contributions to this nation and beyond. I hope that my story can serve as a testament to the power of testimonio and a reminder that immigrant children have the right to succeed. From an early age, my love for the arts has profoundly influenced and impacted my life. Though I was frequently discouraged because, as an undocumented immigrant, an education in the arts was simply unheard of—my desire and quest never abated. At 13 years old, I found a newspaper column that inspired an early academic pursuit— “Take my Picture Gary Leonard” in the Los Angeles Reader. Its visual narratives challenged me to discover my
artistic agency. Shortly thereafter, I embarked on what my mother called Raymundo’s cultural adventures. With my RTD bus pass in my pocket and my camera in hand, I set out to document my new home: Los Angeles. Through my cultural adventures, I learned that I wanted to be not just a participant but a contributor. The arts became my reason for living and from that day forward, ensuring that the arts became accessible, valued, and celebrated by all people became my passion. In 1998, as my high school classmates prepared for college, I decided to take a risk. I auditioned for the Bob Fosse Dance Scholarship. Though I was technically raw and had far fewer years of formal dance training, I knew that the odds were against me; a condition I was all too familiar with. A week later, the phone rang in Mr. Long’s class. He answered and then summoned me to his desk. Assuming the worst, I fearfully walked over to him, only to find out the call was to congratulate me on winning. The award was the first real acknowledgement of my performing abilities and receiving the Bob Fosse Scholarship changed my life. The scholarship was an accomplishment that encouraged me to never give up on my talents, to believe in my personal attributes and most especially, it defined the type of person I could become. Years later, I took a bigger risk: auditioning for “Project Runway.” I had so much fun as a contestant on “Project Runway!” However, my role and
purpose felt a bit predetermined. It was on the first episode that I came out to my father living in Mexico. In retrospect, I feel like the experience negatively affected my family. I felt like I exposed too much. My father died last December and we never talked about “Project Runway.” I regret not asking him about how he felt. The experience was everything you can imagine: parties, access, money, travel and shenanigans. Post Auf Wiedersehen, I decided to go back to my original quest: an education. I immediately sought to shed yet another title and believe me, shedding the title of Fashion Designer was easy, all it took was to be eliminated from “Project Runway.” I went from the runways to the hallways of UCLA and thus, my chapter as a student began. June is always double the fun for me: my birthday and Pride! I will be turning 38 and this will be my 12th Pride celebration with Jonathan, my beloved husband. I now work at UCLA Arts. And finally, after more than 20 years of filling out forms and enduring all manner of ridicule, five years ago, I was delivered from the nightmare existence undocumented status confers. I am now a U.S. citizen. At last, I returned to Morelos, Mexico, my birthplace. And while I remain perpetually afraid of la migra, growing up an undocumented immigrant in a strange way helped me to develop perseverance and resourcefulness. These strengths have served me well, for I am at-risk no more. Happy Feliz Pride!
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What does LA Pride’s #JustBe theme mean to you? Claim your authentic self and spread the love By SUSAN HORNIK
The freedom to be yourself is everything in this life, which is why this year’s Pride is calling on you to #JustBe. We sometimes forget, in our anxiety about the fight for LGBT rights that at the heart of what we are fighting for is the uniqueness of our own self. So, we rounded up a few Los Angeles Blade readers on the streets of WeHo, Hollywood and LA and asked what #JustBe means to them. Hundreds of thousands of stories — millions, in fact — in the big city, and they’ll all come together this Pride to #JustBe. Happy Pride!
Photo Courtesy Jackson
Photo Courtesy Cole
Photo Courtesy Cora
Dominique Jackson, stars as “Elektra Abundance” in “POSE,” which airs on the FX Network Sundays at 9 p.m. and is the author of “The Transsexual from Tobago.” It means visibility! That me and my brothers and sisters’ lives are celebrated. It gives me and others like me, the courage to live in our truths. “Just be”relates to me and in so many ways, speaks to my existence, to my ability to be myself. It’s time that people understood that is is so important to be themselves. We live in a society where people are constantly trying to be someone else; trying to live a life, which is a facade, to impress others or to make others think that they’re more than they are. We also have to understand that it’s OK to be ourselves. “Just be” means you can give yourself that freedom and liberty to find the best in you and understand your strengths and your faults and not be ashamed of all you are. We’re all not perfect, but we still have the right to be
ourselves. “Just be’ is really really important and amazing to me. Moby’s singer, Mindy Jones (catch her as she sings at GIRL BAR / ALTER GIRL at the Chapel (next to the Abbey) during Pride. Although it’s important to feel proud of who you are all year round, PRIDE month and festivities are an important part of bringing people together, raising awareness and celebrating community. As a person who has been fortunate enough to feel comfortable and confident in my own skin, for the most part, this is a time to remember and appreciate that it isn’t and hasn’t always been that way for everyone in the queer community. This is a time for celebration, but also gratitude for those who came before. Jasper Cole, featured actor on “Westworld” Pride for me today at 54 is all about being
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a survivor and being grateful for the amazing strides our community has made in my lifetime. A journey that has taken me from living in constant fear in my 20s and early 30s to a powerful place of strength and peace in my 50s, married for four years to a man I’ve been with for 21 years. I am grateful for a successful acting career, and above all, to be still be alive thanks to all those who went before me and who sacrificed so much for all that is today. I’m PROUD to live my TRUTH and hope to inspire others to do the same. “Just be” relates to my life because I’m able to live a life no longer feeling like a second class citizen. I live a life being proud of who I am regardless of what the current government may be trying to do. My pride and past struggles enable me to know that whatever challenges present themselves today, I can overcome those as well. Being out and open and proud influences every part of
my life, marriage, work, family and spirituality. Dominic Friesen, publicist Although Pride has many different meanings for the LGBTQ community, this month is a time for us to celebrate each other, as well as our shared histories and futures. While we collectively weather our current political storm, it is critical that we are visible, our voices are heard, and our stories are told. For me, growing up was a definitely a challenge with dark times due to being targeted by hate crimes and bullying, so the support, love and respect shared throughout the LGBTQ community — especially during Pride — is truly life-changing. David Jay Lasky, producer Pride is truly extraordinary. I look forward to it each and every year. I came out when I was 20, in 2001; the world is more accepting now thankfully. However, it’s still good to celebrate progress. I like to celebrate the sense of camaraderie and that everyone can express themselves to the utmost and fullest extent. They can be open and honest and passionate. Greg Sage, General Manager and Operating Partner for Ocean Prime Beverly Hills Pride is being comfortable with who I am, who I have been and who I will be continue to become. I am inspired daily by the diverse cultures here in Los Angeles and bringing Ocean Prime’s company culture of yes is the answer to all. Being able to make our associates and guests feel special and them knowing that it is truly coming from my heart, drives me to continue to touch people’s lives with exceptional service, kindness and generosity, creating memorable experiences for each and every guest who dines at Ocean Prime. Cat Cora, Celebrity Chef and Food Channel star For me, Pride is about being unconditionally comfortable with who you are, not just for the gay community, but for anyone who has been told they don’t belong. I have faced adversity as both a gay woman and a female chef, and I am PROUD to say I never let the naysayers hold me back from succeeding in work and love.
Matt Aversa, Publicist Pride means to me that I can be who I want to be, in my own skin, on my own terms. It’s a hard thing for a lot of people to come to the point of being proud and for me, I found pride in not being ashamed or uncomfortable being me. It’s not just a month. It’s something in your heart telling you to be yourself and express yourself how ever you choose to do so. Rick Proctor, Designer at Island Cannabis Pride means most importantly to be yourself. There are so many outside influences on the way we dress, how we speak, what we buy, and (unfortunately) who we love — Pride is being able to wade through those outside barriers and create your own influence. Be true to who you are and show the world what you want to represent and what you stand for. Whether it’s LGBTQ+ rights, racial equality, cannabis freedom, there’s a lot of things I stand for and I try to show my pride in every day. Coming from the rural South, there were influences that kept me from being me my entire life. Whether it was my racist father who didn’t want me and my brother playing with black kids, or the school kids who teased me for being gay long before I knew what gay was — there were a lot of things that told me not to end up in the relationship I’m in, but after four years with my partner I know they were wrong and this is what was meant to be. I also know that me being able to show my pride is a layer of privilege. I need to acknowledge that there are a lot of kids in the rural South in 2018 and all over the world that are still not able to to be who they were meant to be and we need to support them in every community — here and around the globe. Andy Rollyson, Music Agent Pride to me is a time to come out and be the superlative of your gayness, when you do the opposite of hide in a closet. In more recent years, I’ve been going as an exercise and celebration of my rights because in other parts of the world many people are still persecuted for their sexuality. “Just be” is something that makes the community and
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world at large a better place. Nikki Levy, Writer/Performer, “Don’t Tell My Mother!” Pride means telling people — old people, young people, West Hollywood people, Midwestern people — that I am engaged to my GIRLFRIEND. She popped the question in Las Vegas last weekend, and I wanted to show that ring around. Vegas is a melting pot of folks from all over the world and all different backgrounds and political/religious views, but I was so excited, I wanted to tell them all. The middle aged couple next to us at dinner, the old lady at the slot machine, waiters, hostesses, the cab driver. And each time I did, I had a feeling in the pit of my stomach, like “is this person safe to tell?” And shockingly, everyone was excited for us. I didn’t think I would ever meet someone and have a “good” relationship, one with mutual love and respect. My therapist (so LA, I know) told me to go on 100 dates. “If you go on 100 dates, Nikki, you will meet someone. I promise!” She was my 34th. Not bad odds. Pride, this year, means settling down with the woman of my dreams. I turned 40 this year and I finally feel like an adult. Dave Young, Caterer and Event Planner Pride means being happy and proud how far we have come in this world being gay. It’s so amazing especially living in LA, how people are so accepting. Most of my friends are straight and I love them so much for accepting me as a gay man. Of course, there are terrible people out there in the world and gay haters, but I take pride knowing that there are also good people out there. I make sure I surround myself with those people in my life. Jorge Perez, Agent for Celebrity Artists To me Pride means the ability to be “ME.” Our society and culture has come a long way to be where we are today. I think it’s important to celebrate where we are in the conversation of LGBT, but it’s also to keep an eye on changes that are still yet to come. We have come a long way but we are definitely not done.
52 • JUNE 08, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
QUEERY 20 GAY QUESTIONS FOR LESLIE JORDAN
queery LESLIE JORDAN How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell? I fell out of the womb and landed in my mother’s high-heels! I didn’t know what to call it, but the hardest person to tell was my mother, when I was 12. My dad had been killed in a plane crash the year before. Who’s your LGBT hero? Lily Tomlin. The ﬁrst day California got gay marriage was such a celebration but when I turned on the TV there was Lily at the Zoo trying to save Billy the elephant. She just has her priorities.
Photo Courtesy of Jordan
By MARY JO DE SILVA and TROY MASTERS
When Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles presented the idea of “Pink Carpet” for their summer concert event, Leslie Jordan instantly said “Yayus”-- that’s Chattanooga for “Yes.” Hailing from Tennessee, where he got his degree in “thee-eighter,” Leslie Jordan is an Emmy Award-winning actor, LGBTQ activist, past hippie and lover of grand weddings. These are just some of the many hats Leslie Jordan wears. With a big year ahead, Jordan will be hosting “The Pink Carpet” on Saturday, June 23rd at 2 and 8 p.m. and Sunday, June 24th at 2 p.m. Along with landing on the GMCLA stage, Jordan is very excited about his upcoming show “The Cool Kids” or as Jordan refers to it, “Golden Girls on crack.” Having played popular characters such as Beverley Leslie on “Will and Grace,” Jordan is no stranger to the spotlight in the comedy world. He brings his own bright light and unabashed humor to everything he does. Jordan is thrilled about the release of “The Cool Kids” on Fox, produced by Charlie Day of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” Of his character he plays on the show, Jordan laughingly said, “We have no moral compass,” and of himself he exclaimed, “I’m gonna be rich!” All the way from Spain, Jordan shared about other projects he is currently working on there. In addition to starring in “The Cool Kids,” Jordan also will return to Sky TV’s “Living the Dream” for its second season. In “Living the Dream,” Jordan plays someone who sells a European family a trailer park, or the American Dream. After explaining how they had to ship trailers all the way from Florida for the shoot in Spain, Jordan continued in his naturally hilarious manner to answer a more personal question. When asked what he wished he had know at eighteen, Jordan replied, “That there’s no shame in being eﬀeminate.” In talking about how that was one of the most diﬃcult things to accept for a certain generation, Jordan went on to joke about how you can tell this by answering machines. “Well, you know because you call somebody our age and their answering machine...would go like this, ‘Hey, it’s Robert (said in extremely deep voice)...I’m like, “gurl, who do you think you’re foolin’?” Leslie is alive and vibrant and living the dream at 63. “I always say, I’m 60 plus tax and deposit. I’m 60 with a little shipping and handlin’. A lot of handlin’.” Leslie called us from Spain.
What’s Los Angeles’ best nightspot, past or present? I have not been out in 20 years because of my sobriety and since my unfortunate incarceration. I’m 20 years sober. My nudge from the judge. My favorite place was The Rose Tattoo. Describe your dream wedding. I oﬃciated a wedding in Puerto Vallarta that was in the most beautiful villa. We were greeted by boys in bikinis with lions and monkeys on leashes, an orchestra struck up a James Bond tune and the grooms arrived by jet ski. A million dollar wedding, I kid you not. It started raining during their 18 page vows — lord, never let a queen write her own vows — and at the end a rainbow came out. What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about? Registration to vote for kids. I got sober at 42 and had never voted! What historical outcome would you change? The Presidential election of last year or was it this…how long has it been? What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime? Throwing the pitch out for the Washington Nationals and Chicago Cubs on the weekend of the Pulse Nightclub tragedy. I’m pretty athletic to be such a sissy. The pitcher came out and said “Dude!” I hurled that ball! On what do you insist? Manners, just “please” and “thank
you.” What was your last Facebook post or Tweet? Announcing my new television series on Fox,“The Cool Kids,” starring myself, Vicki Lawrence, David Alan Grier and Martin Mull. I am a millionaire; I’m gonna be rich! It’s the “Golden Girls” on crack, no moral compass, really cute! If your life were a book, what would the title be? Hustlers, Thieves and Other Lovers. I really tried to write that one. If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do? I wouldn’t change one thing, not one thing. What do you believe in beyond the physical world? I am a very enthusiastic agnostic who would love to be proven wrong. What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders? Just a pat on the back. What would you walk across hot coals for? Peace, just world peace. No more bombs. What LGBT stereotype annoys you most? That we’re all eﬀeminate. When I got to Hollywood I had a mustache! What’s your favorite LGBT movie? “Brokeback Mountain.” “I can’t quit you.” I love that. What’s the most overrated social custom? Mother always made me stand when a woman approaches the table. Up down, up down, up down! What trophy or prize do you most covet? Another Emmy. What do you wish you’d known at 18? That there’s no shame in being eﬀeminate. #JustBe. Why Los Angeles? I graduated “thee-eighter”at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga and decided if I was going to starve I would do it with a tan.
54 • JUNE 08, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
#ResistMarch remembered A pivotal moment in LGBT history matched by a pivotal event By REBEKAH SAGER and TROY MASTERS
Throngs assembled at the end of 2017 LA Pride March and #ResistMarch. Photo Courtesy #ResistMarch
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“In 2017,” Brian Pendleton, founder of #ResistMarch, tells the Los Angeles Blade, “I thought the first LA Pride in the Donald Trump era should be a protest, not a parade.” So he took to Facebook and posted that message “before my first cup of coffee” and by the end of the day over 30,000 people had shared it. “ I’m normally lucky if I get 50 likes!” So Brian dived in and found himself on the Board of Christopher Street West and set about making plans for what would become #ResistMarch, a show of LGBT defiance in the face of a daily onslaught of homophobia and dysfunction from Trump and the right-wing forces behind him. Pendleton, like many of us, was inspired by the tens of millions of people who peacefully took to the streets of cities around the world in response to Donald Trump’s election, a show of force by the hundreds of Women’s resistance Marches the day after his inauguration. Over the next few months, with the blessing of Christopher Street West, LA Pride gave Brian the reigns to the Parade and his home quickly became a malstrom of organizing and activity as hundreds of activists broke into dozens of committees, securing permits, lining up support and public relations, raising much needed funds and engaging allied communities and politicians in support of the effort. #ResistMarch gained irresistible as posters and flyers went up, social media soared and debates about the merit of turning a celebration into a protest ensued. “There was never a moment where I felt I had overcommitted. We said we were going to come together as a community and deliver a joyful display of resistance in support of a rainbow of communities, not just LGBT, and we did,” Pendleton says. After several months, the big day arrived and more than 100,000 people assembled on Hollywood Boulevard, waving flags and standing up to the misogyny, bigotry and hatred coming out of the White House. The LGBTQ community was joined by other groups who were being attacked, African Americans, immigrants, women, Muslims, for a march resisting racism, homophobia, islamophobia and xenophobia on the very spot where the LGBT community first gathered in LA to celebrate its visibility to the world. #ResistMarch was a star-studded gathering of dozens of Hollywood celebs, politicians, and the LGBTQ community, those gathered carried “Resist Insist Persist” signs, waved rainbow and California state flags, and thousands of people filled up the gathering point at Hollywood Boulevard by 8 a.m. Chants of “LGBTQ people are under attack! What do we do! Act up! Fight back,” could be heard for hours before the march even began. “There were over 100,000 of us marching through the streets and making not only national news but international news and showing that we were united. If you come for one of us, you’re coming for all of us,” Pendleton told the Los Angeles Blade. “Everything went well. It was a safe event it was as powerful as I hoped it would be. The speakers that the committee lined up and curated were all powerful impactful individuals. And I think it’s something that the community will remember for a very long time,” Pendleton says about the three-mile long march last year. Craig E. Thompson, chief executive officer of Aids Project Los Angeles (APLA Health) told the Blade that he believes #ResistMarch was the first time many people had ever marched. “It was so important to give people an opportunity to engage on issues that matter to them,” Thompson said. “APLA Health marched against the Trump administration’s disastrous proposals to cut Medicaid and slowly dismantle America’s safety net programs. We marched to say our future should include healthcare for everyone and ending HIV/AIDS. It was déjà vu for many of us who lived through the 1980s. It was great to see that the power of resistance as pioneered by ACT Up lives on.” Continues at losangelesblade.com
56 • JUNE 08, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Mendes magic? Hunky teen’s third album is charming but uneven By THOM MURPHY
Shawn Mendes has done a remarkable job blending social media, fashion and music. This is the cover of his new eponymous album, his third. Photo courtesy Island Records
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Scrolling through Shawn Mendes’ Instagram proﬁle, one can’t help but notice work of an extremely careful curator — an almost scientiﬁc balance of hair mussing, perfectly captured black and white candids and bare (but never too much) skin. Social media has changed the way we interact with popular culture so thoroughly, we hardly think about it anymore. If Justin Bieber was the ﬁrst artist to take full advantage of social media, Mendes is the well-oiled machine, slick and speedy. In less than ﬁve years, the 19-year-old Canadian has traveled the well-trodden path from YouTube to mainstream stardom, with albums “Handwritten” (2015) and “Illuminate” (2016) both making it to the Billboard No. 1 spot. His new self-titled album “Shawn Mendes” (also a Billboard chart-topper) treads little new territory, sticking instead with a winning formula: youth, good looks and catchy choruses. Even so, several songs on the new record stand out. Mendes (who’s straight) grew up in the social media spotlight and was signed to a label at age 15. Bieber is still perhaps the most relevant comparison, and not just because both artists hail from Canada. Bieber, whose ﬁrst several albums targeted a young demographic, did not come into his own until his fourth and most recent album “Purpose” (2015). And while Mendes has certainly matured since his debut album, the music seems to be in an awkward growth phase, similar to Bieber’s “Believe” (2012). Consider Mendes’ single “Lost in Japan,” easily one of the best tracks on the album. Opening with spacey jazz piano chords, the song smoothly transitions into an up-tempo bass groove, the piano intro somewhat reminiscent of fellow Canadian Drake’s song “Sooner than Later.” Addressing a long-distance lover, Mendes sings the chorus in sensuous falsetto: “Do you got plans tonight?/I’m a couple hundred miles from Japan, and I/I was thinking I could ﬂy to your hotel tonight.” The use of the non-gendered second-person “you” draws listeners into the fantasy. Yet the album is split between these moments of relative sophistication and the inoﬀensive pop/rock style of “Stitches,” Treat You Better” and “There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back.” The lead single “In My Blood” falls into the latter camp. Unlike the album’s more inventive songs, it follows in the example of the previous albums, where catchy and palatable triumph over interesting. If anything, it’s symptomatic of Mendes’ growing pains. The single “Youth,” featuring singer Khalid, trends in the opposite direction. The two young singers harmonize over what appears to be an anthem for the ceaseless tragedies witnessed over social media: “Waking up to headlines, ﬁlled with devastation again/My heart is broken, but I keep going.” The chorus strikes a deﬁant tone: “As long as I wake up today/You can’t take my youth away.” Without a doubt, this is Mendes’ better side. The album is also an interesting example of the way we discover, interact with and understand music in the digital age. Music marketing has become as savvy and ubiquitous as fashion advertising, and the two are often indistinguishable. (See Mendes’ 2016 shoot for L’Uomo Vogue.) Social media platforms allow us to curate our online image in a careful, deliberate way that is impossible under normal circumstances. They have allowed Mendes to cement his identity as the ever dreamy, always fashionable charmer. But as the self-titled album naming suggests, Shawn Mendes is not just the artist — he is the product. It is perhaps worth remembering the single greatest truism of marketing: Sex sells. This holds true for music as well as for fashion. While Mendes has made progress in developing his sound, the music remains inseparable from his carefully crafted image — big smiles and Yves Saint Laurent boots. In part, this illusory product is what makes him so addictive to fans. And Mendes makes it hard not to indulge.
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • JUNE 08, 2018 • 57
Coming on the heels of “Love, Simon,” Netflix’s release of “Alex Strangelove” feels like less of a breakthrough than it should – and that’s a shame. Dropping June 8 as a direct nod to Pride month, the streaming giant’s gay teen rom-com may be cut from the same John Hughes-inspired cloth as its big-screen counterpart from earlier this spring, but it’s spiced with a flavor all its own – edgier, more irreverent, perhaps closer to the confused heart of many real-life teen coming-out stories – and deserves full attention on its own merits. Written and directed by Craig Johnson, it’s the story of Alex (Daniel Doheny), a high school senior who seems almost too perfect to be true: cute, smart, and funny, he’s popular with cool kids and nerds alike. He’s also completely devoted to his longtime girlfriend, Claire (Madeline Weinstein) – despite the fact they still haven’t had sex. They make a special date to consummate their relationship, but still-virgin Alex is nervous about it – a situation that’s compounded when he meets Elliott (Antonio Marziale), an openly gay older boy from across town with whom he feels an immediate connection. Anybody familiar with the standard formula of teen romances – gay or straight – will likely have a pretty good guess about where things go from there. It’s not surprising plot twists that give “Alex Strangelove” its freshness; rather, it’s the way it handles the coming-out experience without kid gloves. Alex is not presented as a “troubled” boy, just a more-or-less typical teen who happens to have a blind spot about his own sexual identity – complicated by the changing attitudes and values surrounding such matters in our modern world. It’s an approach that keeps the movie from becoming too “precious” and allows us the fun of watching him figure out something we already know. This doesn’t mean Johnson’s script doesn’t honor its hero’s journey, or that it presents Alex as the butt of a joke. When the time comes for hard truths to be told and breakthroughs to be made, the movie’s somewhat silly tone shifts to address those moments with appropriate reverence; perhaps even more importantly, the emotional consequences they create are real – both for Alex and for the loyal Claire. It’s to the movie’s credit that it gives equal weight to the struggles of each. It’s also to the credit of the actors. The adorable Doheny is lovable and authentic, skillfully conveying self-assured confidence while showing us the nagging uncertainties that build as he grows closer to confronting his inner truth. Weinstein is just as adept, equal parts strong and vulnerable, making her a perfect match – and foil – for her leading man. The unconventionally handsome Marziale makes for a charismatic object of desire, but he also brings enough depth to the role to make him much more. Deserving special mention is Daniel Zolghadri, as Alex’s goofy sidekick Dell, who manages to steal scenes while turning this would-be stock character into a full-fledged player in the story. Kudos must also go, of course, to Johnson, whose screenplay and direction deftly walk the fine line between feel-good comedy and hearttugging drama – though, thankfully, the bulk of the film maintains a bright, light-hearted feel. Indeed, there are times – particularly in a running subplot that involves a rare psychotropic fog – when it veers into a decidedly zany territory that is less reminiscent of vintage John Hughes than of fellow ‘80s teen-comedy auteur “Savage” Steve Holland, whose “Better Off Dead” and “One Crazy Summer” were wacky counterpoints to the heavier sentiment of “Sixteen Candles” and “Pretty In Pink.” True to its ‘80s roots, “Alex Strangelove” is not just silly, it’s also raunchy. These are no squeaky-clean teens; their conversations are peppered with the kind of four-letter language that would likely turn 1986 Molly Ringwald’s ears as red as her hair, and their level of sexual sophistication is likely to be a shock to anyone still foolish enough to believe that teenagers are naïve about such matters. There are times, in fact, when the movie’s R-rated sensibilities threaten to overwhelm its feel-good sweetness – especially for adults who come in with preconceived ideas about appropriate discourse in youth-oriented films. Continues at losangelesblade.com
Netflix delivers charming ‘Alex Strangelove,’ just in time for Pride A teen’s coming out story gets an edgy, John Hughes-esque twist By JOHN PAUL KING
Daniel Doheny and Antonio Marziale in the Netflix rom-com ‘Alex Strangelove.’ Photo courtesy of Netflix
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58 • JUNE 08, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Las Vegas headliners are a pantheon of queens and divas A whole summer of Pride awaits By JOHN PAUL KING
Living in Los Angeles comes with a lot of perks. There’s so much to do and see that sometimes it feels like we are the luckiest city in the world. But everybody occasionally needs a change of scene, and when we Los Angeleans are feeling the need for escape, we also have the good fortune to be just a short drive away from the world-class entertainment and nightlife of Las Vegas. For the LGBTQ crowd, this summer is an especially good time to plan a road trip. Over the next few months, there’s a line-up of iconic performers that have always been beloved by our community, and who have never hesitated to show us some love in return.
June 27, 29-30, multiple dates in July and beyond This summer, pop’s most famous glamour girl takes over Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood (3667 S Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas, Nev.), bringing her musical catalogue – along with her unique fashion sense and platinum blond locks – to a stage formerly dominated by fellow ‘90s pop princess, Britney Spears. First rising to fame as the lead singer of No Doubt, Stefani has amassed a long string of hits during her two-decade career. She’s won a host of awards and honors – and she’s designed her own outfits since the beginning, which almost gives her more “gay-appeal” than her music. Gwen’s songs have always seemed to resonate with the LGBTQ community – to which she has been a vocal friend on many occasions. She is known for disregarding traditional gender roles in raising her children, encouraging her sons to explore their feminine sides through clothing and nail polish. When asked how she would feel about having a gay child, she said, “I would be blessed with a gay son. You know that I would feel blessed about that.” What better way to show appreciation for her friendship than by supporting her during her first Las Vegas residency.
July 5, 7,-8, 10, 14-15, with additional dates in August and September The Colosseum at Caesars Palace (3570 S Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas, Nev.) will be the setting when the diva’s diva herself returns there to kick off her own Vegas residency, bringing her legendary five-octave range to her legion of fans for what will surely be one of the hottest shows in the desert. Establishing herself as a powerhouse pop vocalist with her early ‘90s hits like “Vision of Love” and “Emotions,” the singer affectionately known as “Mimi” has had her share of ups and downs – both in her personal and professional lives – but has always managed to bounce back, proving her resilience with a new musical breakthrough and another hit album, time and time again. It’s true that her career has been affected by public displays of erratic behavior, which have sometimes eclipsed her musical talent, and in an interview earlier this year, Carey finally shed some light on these issues by admitting she has long struggled with bipolar disorder. She confessed to keeping her condition secret because of the stigma surrounding mental health problems, and that she had decided to come forward partly for the sake of others who suffer from such challenges. This kind of selflessness is not surprising from the singer. She has a long history of generosity and philanthropy, particularly in the interest of disadvantaged or health-challenged youth. She has also been a fierce and public supporter of the LGBTQ community, frequently speaking out on issues like marriage equality and anti-gay bullying. In 2016, she was given the GLAAD Ally Award, and said in her acceptance speech that it felt “more real” to her than any of the prizes she has won for her music. If Mariah’s amazing voice isn’t enough reason to make a pilgrimage to
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • JUNE 08, 2018 • 59
Vegas, her status as a bona fide LGBTQ hero should certainly seal the deal.
Queen with Adam Lambert Sept. 1-2, 5, 7-8, 14-15, 19, 21
The far end of the summer will still be hot when one of the most legendary rock bands of all time – fronted by one of the most successful former contestants in the history of “American Idol” – comes to the Park Theater at Monte Carlo (3770 S Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas, Nev.) for an extended run of shows. Queen, of course, exploded into the spotlight in the ‘70s, turning its oneof-a-kind lead singer Freddie Mercury into a pop culture icon and giving the world some of its most enduring classic hits. Mercury, of course, was lost to AIDS in 1991, but the band lived on and has re-emerged to dazzle a whole new generation of fans, thanks to the addition of Lambert – a performer cut from just the right theatrical cloth to fill Mercury’s shoes as front man for the band. His flamboyant presence and vocal virtuosity are a perfect fit with Queen’s over-the-top, operatic style. Adam has enjoyed a dazzling career on his own, too, with three hit albums under his belt, and has used his platform as a star to become a powerful advocate for LGBTQ acceptance and equality. When outed by a leaked photograph of a kiss with another man during his season on “Idol,” he shrugged it off by saying he had “nothing to hide” – and soon afterward confirmed himself as gay in an interview with Rolling Stone. He has continued to push the boundaries of acceptance, and he has also worked with organizations like GLAAD and the Trevor Project to promote and empower LGBTQ people through philanthropy and activism. His status as an out and proud queer man, coupled with his prodigious talent, makes him a diva of the highest order – and his partnership with Queen is a celebration that is not to be missed.
Oct. 31, Nov. 2-3, 7, 9, 10, 14, 16-17 It’s true that summer will technically be over for this one, but we couldn’t do a roundup of Vegas divas without including the oneand-only Cher, who will also take over the Park Theater to serve epic realness as only she can. There is no need to recite her history here – this queen of all divas has been a beloved goddess since the beginning of her six-decade-long career, not just as a singer, but as a TV star, an icon of style and fashion, an Oscar-winning actress, and an all-around cultural phenomenon. She has used her powerful voice to speak up, call out and deliver truth bombs for most of her public life, and continues to fearlessly do so today as a supporter of the #Resist movement. She’s long been aware of the special place she holds in the hearts of the LGBTQ community and has always been vocal of her appreciation for their love – and in her advocacy of their issues. She has been involved with PFLAG in support of her trans son, Chaz Bono, and has received the GLAAD vanguard award for having “made a significant difference in promoting equal rights for lesbians and gay men.” Despite her fierce support, though, Cher’s greatest gift to LGBTQ people is… well, just being Cher. Cher goes with the gays just like Cher goes with Vegas – and that’s why her return there this fall will, as always, be a must-see experience for most of us. A performance by any member of this “Pantheon of Divas” is worth a visit to the desert oasis, but there are also a lot of other shows scheduled that will whet your appetite – Jennifer Lopez, Donny and Marie Osmond, Bruno Mars, Shania Twain, Kesha and Macklemore, Janelle Monáe, Alanis Morissette, Adam Ant and many more. So pack your most fabulous outfits into the car and get ready to roll.
Gwen Stefani, Mariah Carey, Adam Lambert and Cher gear up for Las Vegas residencies. Photos Courtesy of the Performers
60 • JUNE 08, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Acclaimed composer Craig Johnson brings Matthew Shepard oratorio to LA for Pride Tragedy translates into musical inspiration at the Ford Theatre By JOHN PAUL KING
Craig Hella Johnson will lead Conspirare from piano in his acclaimed oratorio ‘Considering Matthew Shepard.’ Photo by James Goulden; Courtesy of Conspirare
Pride is a time for gathering together to celebrate who we are as a community, and how far we have come – but it’s also a time to commemorate the struggles and hardships of the past, so we can be reminded of why the fight for acceptance and equality must still go on. One of the most resonant reminders is the 1998 tragedy of Matthew Shepard. It was a hate crime that quickly became a cultural touchstone, and inspired profound works of art in all media. One such work is “Considering Matthew Shepard,” an oratorio composed by renowned composer/conductor Craig Hella Johnson – who will lead his Grammy-winning choir, Conspirare (along with a small instrumental ensemble and projected imagery), in a performance of this acclaimed piece at the Ford Theatre on June 15 and 16. Johnson wrote the piece in 2012 as his very first full concert-length composition. Why, so long after it happened, did he choose the Shepard incident as his subject matter? “It’s really the other way around. I have this feeling that it chose me. Obviously, what happened to Matt pierced a lot of our hearts – but the unique aspect for me was the way it continued to knock on my door, like there was something there that wanted to be expressed. After many years, I had to finally respond to it,” Johnson says. After fifteen years of percolation, he had strong ideas about how to approach it. “One area of music that’s really close to me is the ‘Passion’ setting – so, I set out to create a modern version of that. It’s a framework which focuses on the last suffering days of an iconic life. It was my hope that this would be a way to help us remember Matt – and so many other lives that have been lost to hate crimes. Matt was certainly the most well-known, but there was also James Byrd, that same year, and a whole generation of men and women that have gone unnoticed and unacknowledged,” he says. It’s not just about remembering, though. “I love the idea of a musical container, a big piece that can bring people together in a communal way where we can face ourselves together – not in a punishing way, but to the point where we break down some of our defenses. We can reflect on ourselves, and ask those larger questions – ‘Why does this happen? What do I have to do with this?’ Even those of us who might think we are on the outside of this, on the innocent side of this – we can ask ourselves how we might participate in the creation of a culture where such events could happen,” Johnson continues. Johnson says his intention to bring people together is reflected in his musical choices. “There’s a broad spectrum of musical styles. There’s certainly some classical, some operatic aria. But it was important to me that this piece would encompass musical styles that speak to all the people in this ‘tent’ – this family of humanity that is all included in the experience. So, there’s Gregorian chant, there’s choral polyphony, there’s folk and country, there’s some blues – it’s a real melding of styles for sure,” he explains. There are parts of the piece that he’s particularly fond of – such as a section with drums where the singers hurl their hurt and their rage into what he calls “a musical bonfire” for a group catharsis – but there is one moment which has special meaning for him. “It’s when ‘Matt’ becomes ‘Matthew.’ That differentiation came to me from Judy Shepard, when I asked her how she and Dennis carry this deep loss out into the world, this grief that’s always refreshed for them year after year. She said, ‘Matthew Shepard is the iconic name that travels the world. We remember Matt, he was our son – that’s our private grief,’” Johnson says. Continues at losangelesblade.com
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62 • JUNE 08, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
E-mail calendar items to email@example.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.
20 years after the murder of Matthew Shepard, we remember. Presented as part of IGNITE @ the FORD!, a series presented by the Ford Theatre Foundation, “Considering Matthew Shepard” is a choral masterwork by Craig Hella Johnson featuring Conspirare, The Gay Men’s Chorus of LA and the Trans Chorus of LA. Fri, June 15, 8:30 PM to Sat, June 16, 8:30 PM. Tickets: $55, $35, $25. Photo Courtesy Ford Theatre
FRI JUN 8
Dyke March Kick-Off for Weekend of Pride Events, Fri. Jun 8 @ 6:00 PM at Guarriello Veterans Memorial (8447 Santa Monica Boulevard). A Live DJ set with Claudette Sexy DJ and a protest sign and pin-making workshop led by artist Julianna Parr, with all materials provided gets Pride weekend rollicking. Rally begins at 7 p.m. with Gloria Bigelow (host/emcee), members of the West Hollywood City Council, Lesbian & Gay Advisory Board, Angela Brinskele (June Mazer Lesbian Archives), Montebello’s out LGBTQ Mayor Vivian Romero, Alana Roshay, Chris JacksonBaldwin (L Project LA), LA Pride Grand Marshal Michaela Mendelsohn of TransCanWork. The Etheridge Award will be conferred to artist and activist Patrisse Cullors by members of the City’s Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board and accepted on her behalf by a representative. Then the fun part! March down Santa Monica Boulevard to San Vicente Boulevard and back at 7:45 p.m. and then the magic happens! Free.
SUN JUNE 10
Rise: Afterhours at the Factory, Sun. Jun 10 @ 4:00 AM to 11:OO AM at Exchange LA (618 South Spring Street). That’s right, after spending the day and night at LA Pride, dancing and partying outside, move the party inside and keep going and going all the way till it’s time to hit the parade. Return to West Hollywood with your besties or your new man and cheer on the march. Los Angeles Pride Sunset Tea Closing Party, Sun. Jun 10 @ 7:00 PM to 2:00 AM at 1 OAK (9039 W Sunset Blvd). Justin David, Paul Nicholls and Jake Resnicow in Association with ACTION! Present Dan Slater and special guest DJ at one of the best Pride closing parties in the country. You’ll love the sprawling, dark corners of 1 Oak and the beats of a thousand hot, celebrating bodies. SpLAash & PoolWatch Pride Pool Party Benefitting GMCLA, Sat. Jun 10 @ 12:00 PM to 6:00 PM at Indigo Hotel
Rooftop (899 San Francisco Street). DJ Manny Lehman invites you to get naked and join LA’s biggest pool party. There will be boys, toys, floats, BBQ’s and beats by the legendary DJ. Your big ticket entry supports the Gay Men’s Chorus of LA and many of them will be on hand. Tickets are very tight, $50 and available at showclix.com. LA PRIDE PARADE, Sun. Jun 10 @ 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM from Santa Monica Blvd. and Crescent Heights Blvd. to La Peer (West Hollywood). It’s time to celebrate CommUNITY at the 2018 LA Pride Parade! Join tens of thousands of people on the 1.5 mile march led by Grand Marshall Michaela Mendohlson, the founder of TransCanWorkt and CEO of El Pollo Loco. This year’s theme, #JUSTBE celebrates the LGBTQ+ community and straight allies as we come together in the spirit love. David Hockney: 82 Portraits and 1 Still-life, Sun. Jun 10 @ 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (5905 Wilshire Blvd). David Hockney private masterworks of family, members of his staff, and close friends sat for him, as did curators, art dealers, and renown collectors. John Baldessari, Douglas Baxter, Edith Devaney, Larry Gagosian, Frank Gehry, Peter Goulds, Barry Humphries, David Juda, Rita Pynoos, Joan Quinn, Norman Rosenthal, Jacob Rothschild, and Benedikt Taschen are among those portrayed, as well as LACMA’s Stephanie Barron and Dagny Corcoran. An extraordinary exhibit that originated at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, and has traveled to Melbourne, Venice, and Bilbao. LACMA will host the only United States presentation.
MON JUNE 11
Pride 2018 Closing Afterhours Serving Ovahness & Sean McMahon, Mon. Jun 11 @ 2:00 AM to 8:00 AM at Reload Afterhours (1640 North Cahuenga). Lord almighty, you are so over the rainbow and ready to let your true colors shine through. Now is the time for all good party people to come to pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Witness the debut of a special new artist in Sean McMahon
followed by DJ Serving Ovahness, closing out a hugely proud celebration. Summer Bowling League, Mon. Jun 11 @ 8:00 PM to 10:30 PM at Shatto 39 Lanes (3255 W 4th Street). Let the bowling begin. Varsity Gay League is knocking down a few pins at a few of LA’s finest venues. The three nights starts at Shatto on June 11 but continues in DTLA on Tue. Jun 12 at X-Lanes (333 S. Alameda) from 7:30 PM to 10:00 PM and in West LA at BowlMor Lanes (234 Pico Blvd) on Wed. June 20 from 8:30 PM to 10:30. Large Cash prizes! For more info visit varsitygayleague.leagueapps.com/leagues.
WED JUN 13
One City One Pride: Our Journey with Matthew Shepard, Craig Hella Johnson was so deeply moved and affected by the death of a young gay Wyoming man in 1998, Matthew Shepard that he wrote was has become a Grammy-nominated Masterwork. Join Johnson and members of the Conspirare choir for a sneak peak. The events surrounding his death 20 years ago created an enormous worldwide outpouring of grief and sense of injustice that continues to reverberate today. Presented in partnership with the Ford Theatres, where the work is being presented in its entirety on June 15 and 16 at 8:30 PM, and Chris Isaacson Presents. Visit Weho.org/pride for more information. No Ashes in the Fire: Coming of Age Black and Free in America, Fri. Jun 15 @ 7:30 PM to 9:00 PM at The Last Bookstore (453 South Spring Street). Darnell L. Moore will read from his debut memoir, No Ashes in the Fire: Coming of Age Black and Free in America. He will be joined by Janet Mock and Patrisse Cullors for a discussion of issues of race, sexuality, identity, class, and more. Growing up gay, Moore was taunted and kids once poured gasoline on him. He escaped, but it wasn’t the last time he would face death. He is a leader in the Movement for Black Lives, and a tireless advocate for justice and liberation. A powerful evening. $26 dollars at the door includes book.
Losangelesblade.com, Volume 2, Issue 14, June 8, 2018