Losangelesblade.com, Volume 2, Issue 15, June 15, 2018

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Ryan Karnoski just wants to serve the military Lambda Legal social worker client fighting the trans ban By KAREN OCAMB kocamb@losangelesblade.com Edmonds, Wash. native Ryan Karnoski spent a heady couple of days in Los Angeles recently, delivering the keynote address at Lambda Legal’s West Coast Liberty Awards on June 7 and riding with his bride Ester Matskewich in the LA Pride Parade on June 10. A photo of Donald Trump with a “Sued” sticker slapped across his eyes captures only a flash of this young trans man’s fight for LGBT equality. Karnoski is one of nine transgender individuals and three organizations represented by Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN in a federal lawsuit filed Aug. 28, 2017, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington challenging the constitutionality of the Trump administration’s ban on open military service by transgender individuals. The state of Washington also joined as a plaintiff in September. Karnoski’s story targets the ban on the Pentagon’s accessions policy that prohibits trans service members from retention, promotion, and basically having a military career and also prevents earnest, wellqualified trans civilians from joining the US armed forces. In some ways, Karnoski’s story is akin to that of a young gay Arabic translator for service members in Iraq and Afghanistan fighting “the war on terrorism” in the days after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. Though his translation services are desperately needed and he is ready to go to the frontlines, the military rejects him because he is gay under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Today the war is being fought in the heads of active duty and veteran service members and their struggling families who often serve in silence. Like the gay Arabic translator, Karnoski has the skill and desire to use his talents for the greater good. In their short biography of the now 23-year old Karnoski, the Point Foundation wrote of their scholar that he utilizes “the intersections of queerness, disability, and poverty that have shaped his identity as a proponent for advocacy and

Ryan Karnoski and his wife Ester Matskewich in the LA Pride Parade on June 10. Los Angeles Blade Photo by Karen Ocamb

social justice.” Karnoski was a leader in his school’s Gay Straight Alliance and volunteered with Special Olympics Washington, among other activities. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in both Social Welfare and Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies from the University of Washington before getting his Masters in Social Work from that university’s School of Social Work’s Child Welfare Training Advancement Program. In a 2015 New York Times opinion piece, Karnoski wrote candidly about feeling defeated, lonely and alienated when his mother rejected his transition and his peers didn’t understand the difficult logistics “of changing your documents, accessing medical care, and navigating a gendered world as a trans person.” Nonetheless, he wrote, “I’m still a diehard optimist about what the future of transgender inclusion will look like for future generations, as well as my own.” Around September 2016, he contacted military recruiters about signing up to serve as a social worker. He was told to wait until the accessions ban was lifted. It was not a passing fantasy. “My cousin Michael was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2009 and he left behind a wonderful wife and a very young son,” Karnoski tells the Los Angeles Blade. “It was extremely challenging

for my family to reconcile the grief of that loss. That really opened my eyes to how that experience has affected so many families in our community, in the civilian world and the military world. There’s a huge ripple effect that happens after a huge loss like that.” Karnoski was in high school when “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was repealed for gays and lesbians but not trans service members. “That really influenced my line of decisionmaking as to whether or not I would complete an application” to West Point,” he says. He went to the University of Washington and did not participate in ROTC. “I was actively transitioning while I was in college, which would have precluded me from commissioning as an active duty officer at that time.” However, after Sec. of Defense Ash Carter announced that the trans ban would be lifted, “that was when I was able to actualize that goal of commissioning as an officer.” He aimed for a direct commission into the medical corps, which is different from seeking a military commission. “In the medical service corps, a person typically applies for a direct commission in a specialized field. For me, that would be working as a clinical social worker.” But once again, Karnoski’s plan was thwarted, this time by Trump’s trans ban. “First and foremost, I’m a social worker

and I love being a social worker because it gives me a chance to work directly with individuals and their families to really help people make positive changes in their lives,” he tells the LA Blade. “My experiences with my family members who have served in the military really opened my eyes to the unique kinds of challenges that servicemembers and their families face, with respect to deployment, and combat experiences and some of the really unique challenges families can face when somebody is serving.” Additionally, “having worked as a mental health clinician, I think it’s really important that marginalized individuals, especially members of the LGBT community, feel like the people who are providing them mental health treatment can really empathize with some of the struggles. Part of that, for me, means being out as a transgender person in the workplace so I can better serve LGBT people who want to know that their provider really understands the unique dynamics and experiences of marginalization that our community experiences.” But, he says, “at the end of the day, who I serve is about who needs that appointment, not about their identity.” The fight, Karnoski says, “is not about me. And I am so grateful to have role models in some of the trans service members who made the decision to come out and serve openly.”


















Carl DeMaio: California’s gay GOP kingmaker Gas tax repeal effort could foil Democrats in November By KAREN OCAMB kocamb@losangelesblade.com During the only debate among the top gubernatorial candidates before the June 5 primary, Republican businessman John Cox and Assembly member Travis Allen sniped at each other over who was first to call for a repeal of the gas tax. “Ask Carl DeMaio,” Cox said, ending the argument. Few knew John Cox until he hitched his political wagon to conservative talk radio host Carl DeMaio, the gay former San Diego City Council member who organized the online grassroots campaign to repeal the 12cent per gallon tax hike and recall State Sen. Josh Newman for supporting the increase. Newman was the final vote needed by the Democrats to pass Senate Bill 1 last year to raise $5.4 billion for infrastructure repairs and transit projects. DeMaio devised a three-part strategy: 1) recall Newman, depriving the Democrats of their super-majority in the state Legislature; 2) gather enough signatures to place a gas tax repeal initiative on the November ballot; and 3) increase the Republican voter rolls for the 2018 midterms. Despite being heavily outspent by Democrats, DeMaio achieved all three goals—collecting nearly 940,000 signatures for the initiative, exceeding by 356,000 the number of signatures needed to qualify for the ballot. A USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times statewide poll released in May indicates he’s on to something: 51% of registered voters favor repeal. Gov. Jerry Brown called the endeavor “devious and deceptive.” “The test of America’s strength is whether we defeat this stupid repeal measure, which is nothing more than a Republican stunt to get a few of their losers returned to Congress, and we’re not going to let that happen,” Brown told Southern California transportation leaders at Union Station in Los Angeles last May, The Times reported. Stunt or not, DeMaio has added 203,941 signatures to his electoral database from San Diego County alone. Overall, the USC/LA Times poll indicates that 64% of registered voters in Orange and San Diego counties and the Inland Empire support the gas tax repeal.

Carl DeMaio with John Cox at a Gas Tax Repeal news conference. Photo Courtesy DeMaio

And that is expected to dramatically impact GOP voter turnout in critical races statewide. DeMaio’s targeting of Newman was strategic, employing “the gazelle strategy,” DeMaio told the Los Angeles Blade in a June 9 phone interview, referring to the Animal Planet series on the lions. “We’re going to pick the weakest state senator and we’re going to recall that person from office because of their vote on the gas tax. And by doing that, we end the Democrat supermajority and if we end the supermajority, they can’t raise taxes without a public vote.” The third phase after recall and repeal, he says, is “replace,” actually fixing the roads by earmarking the existing gas tax for roads “and make a number of other reforms that have been long overdue.” DeMaio explains that he used $250,000 from his super PAC with help from Republican State Sen. Pat Bates and a

coalition that included Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and donor groups such as the New Majority and the Lincoln Club to place the gas tax repeal on the ballot. “Some of our coalition members want this because in November of 2018, they need Republicans to show up,” DeMaio says. “My goal is to fix California.” DeMaio credits California Democrats with “working their tails off,” while California Republicans “have been very afraid to speak out. They have Stockholm syndrome. A lot of the elected officials in Sacramento are worthless,” he says, giving them no credit for simply voting “no.” That failure prompted DeMaio to step up, offering alternative ideas and taking on the “fundamentals of institution and capacity building,” including developing a volunteer list. He has a list of 20,000 volunteers statewide and 25,000 individual donors that

have given an average contribution of $37, some monthly. “We have raised $2.5 million from grassroots donors, no contribution more than $1,000. And the Republican Party in the last four years has only raised $200,000 from those sorts of donors,” he says. “We’re not going to write off any community. Jack Kemp once said ‘people don’t care what you know until they know that you care.’…They don’t really pay attention to you unless you actually show up in their community” and share concerns such as the cost of living. While gubernatorial candidate John Cox touts President Donald Trump’s endorsement, DeMaio is more independent, comparing Trump’s primary function to a plumber. “Donald Trump is our first marriage equality-supporting president, elected,” he says. “But there are certain things that we can all celebrate. Things are not all black and


Congressional candidate Carl DeMaio holding hands with partner Jonathan Hale in 2014. Photo Courtesy DeMaio

white here. There is a whole lot of progress that we should acknowledge.” Trump responded to “dissatisfaction” in the country. “Yes, he’s rude, crude and unattractive. His behavior at times is abhorrent and certainly not what you’d want as a role model for your kids. However, the best analogy I can offer you is he’s like the plumber that you hire to unplug your toilet. I won’t even describe what the toilet looks like but you can imagine. The fact that the plumber comes in with no teeth, really bad body odor and plumber’s crack is irrelevant to you as long as he is honest, charges you a fair price and gets the damn toilet unplugged,” DeMaio says, skirting deeper questions about Trump’s record of lying. “Our country—the issues have been festering for so long and people are so dissatisfied that they are willing to tolerate

some bad parts of Donald Trump as long as the toilet gets unplugged. It’s unfortunate. I wish I could have a president where I would say, ‘look, this is someone who epitomizes on a personal level in their conduct the very best of our country.’ But that unicorn don’t exist,” DeMaio says. “My job isn’t to support Donald Trump or oppose him. My job is to call him out when I think he’s wrong and when I think he’s right, I’ll support him. But I don’t blindly give my allegiance to anybody. And I hope no one does….I’ve called him out for telling white lies and exaggerating. I’ve also done that with Democrats.” DeMaio, who’s been with his husband Jonathan Hale since April 2009 and married since 2015, says he’s had Vice President Mike Pence on his radio show. “I invited him on, he came on. He’s not had an issue on that front. So I know people continue to say how much of a homophobe

he is. I know he’s a man of faith,” says DeMaio. “I’ve got a lot of people who I know have different religious views than I do and as long as they keep it out of the issue of public law, I’m fine. As soon as you start wanting to legislate morality, well we’ve got ourselves a problem. And this is what I’m trying to communicate to Republicans in California: if you are for freedom—as you say you are—then you need to be for all forms of freedom, not just the select few.” DeMaio says he’s a “big proponent” of religious liberty. “I had a very conservative Jewish rabbi in 2014 come to me and he was considering endorsing me (in his congressional race against Democrat Rep. Scott Peters) and he was very nervous,” DeMaio says. “I got a lot of Jewish support in 2014 but this rabbi said, ‘Carl, you’re right on these issues—economic issues, fiscal issues, government reform issues. I think what you’re doing is great. You’re supporting Israel. But I don’t subscribe to your gay marriage point of view and I think it’s a sin.’ “And I said, ‘Well, Rabbi, I disagree with you on that. However I will defend your right to be wrong.’ And he looked at me and he started laughing. And I said, ‘I’m never going to support a policy that says you can’t preach your point of view, that you cannot profess your faith, that you cannot counsel your parishioners in a certain way. But in a matter of public law, in the eyes of the law, we must embrace freedom of individuals to be who they are, to love who they want, to say what they want, to profess what they want. The First Amendment and our freedoms are a two-way street and so we have to respect that.’ So he then endorsed me, which was pretty shocking to some in the conservative Jewish community.” DeMaio is hoping the LGBT community will be similarly open. LGBT people have aligned with Democrats because Democrats have said—“and in large part, rightfully so”—that Republicans have been bad on gay issues and they’ve been good. But the world has changed. “Thank God the world has changed and we can celebrate that. With rare exception, California Republicans are committed to full equality on LGBT issues. It’s a non-issue, all right? And it’s something we all should be proud of and celebrate,” he says. But, DeMaio argues, Democrats have made it harder to afford to live and work in California.


“At some point, we’ve gotta look beyond the arguments of the past that no longer really exist and say, ‘wait a minute, hold on, nobody is being persecuted at this point,’” he says. “And for people to say, ‘Yes they are,’ it’s like, ‘Wait, so are you inventing persecution stories now so that you can continue to just keep my vote? Or have we moved past that?’ Thank goodness we’ve moved past that,” leaving Democrats nothing else to offer on other issues of concern. “I really think that the LGBT community needs to hold the California Democratic Party accountable for more than just hysterical rhetoric on LGBT issues, because when you do fact check their claims of persecution and plots, it’s just not happening anymore. It’s not and thank God it’s not,” he says. The California LGBT Legislative Caucus and Equality California might disagree with DeMaio. “Equality California’s 2018 legislative package focuses on the most vulnerable in our community and is part of our continuing effort to address the disparities in health and well-being that LGBTQ people face as a result of longstanding discrimination and lack of acceptance,” Equality California says on its website. Some of the 15 bills included in that package address the fraud of “conversion therapy,” anti-bullying training in schools, LGBT older adults, and LGBT homelessness. “Look, I can disagree with someone’s point of view but they have the freedom to express that, provided that they’re not taking government money,” DeMaio says. “So if you are for freedom, you have to be for freedom in all aspects. And sometimes freedom is messy and frustrating. But I would rather have it that way than any other way with government telling us who we can be, who we can love, how we can operate.” DeMaio says he’s trying to “reposition the Republican Party on the side of freedom, dignity and equality for all,” by focusing on economics. “If I were a Democrat, if I were an LGBT member, I’d say, ‘Well, hold on a second. So you’ve got this whole movement in California, in my backyard, where Republicans are actually doing this? Maybe I should give them a chance because if they succeed, the National Republican Party will turn around and say, ‘Well, holy shit! Maybe we’re wrong nationally and maybe these California Republicans are actually right!’ That’s what I’m hoping will happen.”



Harris criticizes judicial nominees for anti-LGBT bias Full transcript of Harris’ statement:

Trump accused of outsourcing picks to Federalist Society By KAREN OCAMB kocamb@losangelesblade.com Last November, a year and change after Donald Trump’s surprise election, respected New York Times reporter Linda Greenhouse wrote a column about the “conservative plan to weaponize the federal courts.” While progressives generally expected Trump to pay back his conservative supporters with at least one Supreme Court justice, a 37-page plan written by Northwestern University law professor Steven G. Calabresi, founder and board chair of the conservative Federalist Society, declared their intention: “undoing the judicial legacy of President Barack Obama.” “There is something bracing about the naked activism of a leader of a movement that has spent the past generation railing against judicial activism,” Greenhouse wrote of Calabresi’s plan to pack the courts. “There has never been anything like the weaponizing of the federal judiciary that is currently taking place. Seventeen of President Trump’s 18 nominees to the federal appeals courts are connected to the Federalist Society. Donald McGahn, the White House counsel, joked at the Federalist Society’s annual convention in Washington last week that it was ‘completely false’ that the Trump administration was outsourcing to the group the task of finding judicial nominees. ‘I’ve been a member of the Federalist Society since law school,’ Mr. McGahn said. ‘Still am, so frankly it seems like it’s been in-sourced.’” That was in Nov. 2017. Last Tuesday, as eight states faced key primary votes, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced he was keeping the Senate in session through much of August to deal with legislation—and a backlog of judicial nominations. In other words, while America is distracted with whatever Trump tweets next and politicos worry about the midterms, McConnell is going to implement Calabresi’s plan, undo Obama’s legal legacy—and put lower court judges in place who comport to the right wing conservative ideology. And while few are paying attention—California Sen. Kamala Harris is. On Thursday, June 7, at a Senate Judiciary Committee business executive meeting, Harris spoke up about how Trump’s judicial nominees have records of bias toward the LGBT community. “This is LGBTQ Pride Month—the month where

‘We have had a nominee who argued that a judge’s impartiality should be questioned because the judge is in a committed, same-sex relationship,’ said Sen. Kamala Harris. Photo Courtesy Harris’ Office

we recognize and lift up many contributions of LGBTQ Americans,” Harris said. “It also serves as a reminder that we must continue to fight for the rights of LGBTQ individuals, who have been marginalized and have faced discrimination for far too long simply because of who they are and who they love. But despite the tremendous progress this country has made in recognizing equal rights for all Americans—including LGBTQ Americans— this Committee has approved many nominees who have fought against that progress at every step. “For instance, we have had a nominee who argued that a judge’s impartiality should be questioned because the judge is in a committed, same-sex relationship,” Harris continued. “We have had another nominee who has repeatedly asserted that full marriage equality ‘imperils civic peace’…These are just a few of the nominees who have openly expressed hostility to the LGBTQ community and who have fought against full equality for LGBTQ Americans. And these are the same nominees who will likely preside over cases involving the rights of those Americans.” Harris previously spoke out against Howard Nielson, Jr.’s nomination to be District Judge for the District of Utah, for his role in representing proponents of Prop 8, a ballot measure that stripped away marriage equality in California—a fight with which Harris was intimately familiar as State Attorney General. Harris’ comments should serve as a wakeup call to LGBT organizations and activists who believe the courts will be defenders of LGBT civil rights as the Trump administration continues to roll back LGBT progress.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman and I’d like to associate myself with my colleague’s remarks. It is truly deeply troubling that we’re moving forward with a nominee who has neither his home state senators’ blue slips and neither of them, and who has misled the commission that was vetting him. In addition, I think it’s important to recognize that this is LGBTQ Pride Month—the month where we recognize and lift up many contributions of LGBTQ Americans. It also serves, this month, as a reminder that we must continue to fight for the rights of LGBTQ individuals who have been marginalized and have faced discrimination for far too long simply because of who they are and who they love. But despite the tremendous progress this country has made in recognizing equal rights for all Americans – including LGBTQ Americans – this Committee has approved many nominees who have fought against that progress at every step. Everyone who comes before this Committee says that they will set aside their personal views and provide a fair hearing to those who stand before them. But some of these nominees have extreme views and it is difficult to see how any LGBTQ American could reasonably believe that these nominees would give them a fair hearing. For instance, we have had a nominee who argued that a judge’s impartiality should be questioned because the judge is in a committed, same-sex relationship. We have had another nominee who has repeatedly asserted that full marriage equality “imperils civic peace.” That nominee is now a confirmed judge with a lifetime appointment. We have had yet another nominee who expressed support for the county clerk in Kentucky who defied a federal court order by refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples after the Obergefell decision. These are just a few of the nominees who have openly expressed hostility to the LGBTQ community and who have fought against full equality for LGBTQ Americans. And these are the same nominees who will likely preside over cases involving the rights of those Americans. And it is a sad truth that showing hostility toward the LGBTQ community is not something that has disqualified individuals from becoming a nominee of this administration. As this Committee knows, these lifetime appointees will make important decisions about the lives and opportunities of all Americans, including LGBTQ Americans for generations to come. As evidenced by the Masterpiece Cakeshop case that was decided just this week. And as this Committee knows in that case the Court ruled against the Colorado Civil Rights Commission because the Commission did not act as a neutral decision-maker for the plaintiff. At the same time, the decision reaffirmed that LGBTQ Americans are equal and should not be subject “to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market.” What is clear from that decision is that the LGBTQ community will have to continue to fight for equality. And that is a fight that we—as Americans who care about civil rights and equal dignity—must all join. And that includes ensuring that our federal judiciary is not stacked with individuals who have shown hostility to any group of Americans, especially those who have dedicated their careers to undermining the equality of LGBTQ Americans. This flood of extreme nominees is being rushed through and does not reflect the best principles of our system of justice. And this has to stop. I believe we can do better. Thank you.

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‘We’re lost right now, culturally… [The play] is absolutely about the epidemic we’re experiencing right now, the epidemic of disconnect,’ said actor Andrew Garfield. Photo Courtesy Twitter

Tony Awards link AIDS crisis to today LGBT community hasn’t fought this hard for decades, says Garfield By KAREN OCAMB kocamb@losangelesblade.com “Measure your life in love,” Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School graduate Kali Clougherty sang in a solo from Rent’s “Seasons of Love” at the 2018 Tony Awards in New York City on Sunday. Clougherty and fellow drama students were there to surprise their drama teacher Melody Herzfeld, who received an Excellence in Theatre Education Awards for sheltering 65 students during the Feb. 14 massacre at their school in Parkland, Fla. The students, still struggling with the aftermath of mass gun violence, sang the roles of young artists, several LGBT, some HIV positive, struggling in East Greenwich Village during the AIDS crisis. Rent premiered on Broadway in 1996, on the cusp of the medical breakthrough that would staunch the mass dying. That night, Tony also awarded Andrew Garfield and Nathan Lane for their roles in the revival of Tony Kushner’s poignant play Angels in America. Lane choked up thanking his husband Devlin Elliot, whom he wed in 2015 after being together for 18 years. Garfield thanked the LGBT community. “At a moment in time, where maybe the most important thing we remember right now is the sanctity of the human spirit, it is the profound privilege of my life to play Prior Walter in Angels in America, because he represents the purest spirit of humanity and especially that of the LGBTQ community,” Garfield, 34, said accepting his Best Actor Award. “It is a spirit that says ‘no’ to oppression, it is a spirit that says ‘no’ to bigotry, ‘no’ to shame, ‘no’ to exclusion. It is a spirit that says we are all made perfectly and we all belong. “So, I dedicate this award to the countless LGBTQ people who have fought and died to protect that spirit, to protect that message, for the right to live and love as we are created to,” he added. “We are all sacred and we all belong, so let’s just bake a cake for everyone who wants a cake to be baked,” referencing the Masterpiece Cake lawsuit. Backstage, Garfield told reporters: “We happen to be in a political time when the LGBTQ community are having to fight for their rights in a more intense way than in the past 25 years, perhaps since the AIDS crisis. “We’re lost right now, culturally…(The play) is absolutely about the epidemic we’re experiencing right now, the epidemic of disconnect,” he said. “The person in the White House right now is the antithesis of this play. So, it feels very important right now to be telling this story.” Accepting the award for Best Revival, Kushner capped the night with a smile. “What kind of homosexual would I be without saying ‘happy birthday’ to Judy Garland? Kushner said.

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An exceptional Pride June gloom lifts and a rainbow appears By CICI SUTTER We heard it over and over again, all weekend. From the Dyke March kick-off to the sold out, high-level festival staging with celebrity power, and the mega-wattage energy of Pride Day. It was like June gloom lifted. Police estimate that over the weekend well more than 100,000 people descended on the Rainbow City and they came from around the world. Los Angeles Blade was everywhere. (Photos by CiCi Stutter)

Claudette Colbert DJing the kick-off of the Dyke March on June 8th. She has been DJing since 1975, and had one of the biggest smiles we had ever seen.

Raquel and Lesley on Raquel’s bike getting ready for their first time riding in Dykes on Bikes for Los Angeles Pride. June 8th, 2018.

While there was no Trans Stage, the event for the transgender community was still a hit.

40,000 people packed West Hollywood Park on Saturday, a sell-out crowd for LA Pride Festival.

The festival ground was jammed.



Kehlani was electrifying: “I want you to feel the love I have for you,” she told the crowd, later tweeting “I beez what I beez.”

Christina Aguilera stunned festival-goers when she took the stage during a drag-contest at LA Pride festival, introducing a new dance mix over new hit “Accelerate.”

Grand Marshal Michaela Mendelsohn cuts the cake for equality to kick off the 2018 LA Pride Parade.

Perhaps the largest gathering of attendees in the history of LA Pride. The crowds were 20 deep and stretched almost the entire 1.5 mile route of the parade.

Photo Courtesy LA!PRIDE

Maxine Waters told the Los Angeles Blade, “You guys are an institution and we need you.”

Nearly 200 families marched in the “Transforming Family” contingent. “We provide critical services and support for any family with a trans child,” said Martin Krusk of San Mateo who was marching with his son, Eric.



Korean LGBTQ experts push for peace Bay Area group praises developments from U.S.-North Korea summit By CHRISTOPHER KANE A brief statement signed June 12 by President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un concluded an historic summit in Singapore. The agreement was short on details but fodder for explosive speculation. Trump committed the U.S. to vague “security guarantees” in exchange for a “firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula” with no specific language about verification or a timeline. Trump also called off “war games,” otherwise known as joint U.S. military exercises with South Korea that has heretofore provided an umbrella of protection for the region. The announcement surprised both South Korea President Moon Jae-in and the Pentagon. “Our military exercises are defensive in nature,” Frank Jannuzi, CEO of the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation and former deputy executive director of Amnesty International USA, told the Los Angeles Blade. “What’s remarkable to me here is that you’ve got Trump unilaterally suspending those exercises and getting nothing for it. It’s not like the North had made a reciprocal pledge to both suspend production of fissile material [that which is capable of sustaining a nuclear fission reaction] and to suspend their large-scale military exercises.” Trump “is way out of his depth,” “duped” by the violent dictator Kim Jong Un, former CIA Director John Brennan told MSNBC. The statement of principles was something Un had already signed more specifically with South Korea. Others, however, remain optimistic. Ju-hyun Park, a member of the Communications Committee of Hella Organized Bay Area Koreans (HOBAK), a San Francisco-area collective founded as a home for queer and trans Koreans, told the Los Angeles Blade: “The cancellation of U.S.-ROK [South Korean] military drills and the DPRK’s [North Korea’s] commitment to denuclearization are positive steps towards the realization of peace and reunification

Members of HOBAK expressed hope for peace on the Korean peninsula. Photo Courtesy HOBAK

on the peninsula. We hope talks continue and result in demilitarization and denuclearization, including of U.S. assets.” Christine Ahn, co-founder of the Korea policy Institute and founder and international coordinator of Women Cross DMZ—a coalition of women working to end the decades-long stalemated Korean War—told Democracy Now on Tuesday: “This is unprecedented. It’s a new day for the Korean peninsula. The joint statement talks about peace and prosperity and security. It remains the job of civil society, and especially of women’s groups, to be sure we’re included in this peace process.” Women and LGBTQ Koreans have long been pushing for peace in the region as the best way to secure more freedoms and protections for gender and sexual minorities on the Korean peninsula. Both North and South Korea have been beset by human rights abuses, as well as prejudice from the American-influenced Christian Right against LGBTQ people. Trump said human rights abuses were discussed “briefly” during the summit, but did not elaborate. Rather, he showed

Un a four-minute video produced by WhiteHouse.gov and California-based Destiny Productions about what his country could be. The video comes off as a movie trailer “about a special moment in time when a man is presented one chance that may never be repeated. What will he choose – to show vision and leadership – or not?” Trump, who lavished praise on Un, told reporters that the North Korean leader and his entourage were impressed. Many experts and activists, including members of HOBAK, watched the summit with both trepidation and excitement since the world leaders are known for being unpredictable. They feel the inclusion of women and LGBTQ communities in peace talks could help to usher in an era of demilitarization and reconciliation and want to offer insights into a better way forward. HOBAK, a group of 20 grassroots activists, promote gender equality, LGBTQ rights, demilitarization, Korean reunification, and other progressive policies both on the Korean Peninsula and in the U.S. The group believes that American involvement in the ongoing Korean War has only stymied hopes

for peace and demilitarization. “I think we’ve been seeing this again with Donald Trump’s administration, where they have been really fanning the flames of hostility and tension,” Hyejin Shim told the LA Blade. “U.S. occupation has really impacted the politics of South Korea because the U.S. has positioned itself as South Korea’s benefactor and savior. To our understanding, the relationship between the U.S. and the South Korean government— that was a relationship that propped up South Korean dictators for many decades after the Korean War,” started June 25, 1950. Having women and LGBTQ folks involved in the peacemaking process leads to actual and more lasting peace deals, said Ahn, who has hosted international peace summits in Seoul and Pyongyang. The ongoing state of war is “used by governments on both sides to justify a very repressive national security state. Obviously, on a scale of one to 10, it’s a 10 in North Korea. And in South Korea, it depends on whether it’s a more progressive or liberal administration, versus a neoconservative one.” While she did not minimize North Korea’s record on human rights, Ahn said the


treatment of LGBTQ visitors has been worse in South Korea, by comparison. Ahn has led delegations of KoreanAmericans to North Korea, half of whom have been queer. “It’s really extraordinary the percentage of queer Koreans who have been involved in this [peace and demilitarization] movement,” Ahn said. In one instance, a woman asked the governmentappointed tour guide “minder” what he imagined Kim Jong-un would say concerning queer people. The “minder” said something to the effect of: “It doesn’t matter what your sexual orientation is, as long as you’re for the revolution and for advancing equality.” When the woman relayed the story to elderly first-generation Korean-American immigrants in the U.S.—a community traditionally known to be heterosexist and patriarchal—she received a standing ovation.

“It just shows there isn’t a monolithic view or experience within North Korea, that there are obviously competing views,” Ahn said. “It’s important to have these honest conversations to bring about change both there and here.” “We know that nations at war are not friendly to human rights,” she said. “Not to justify it, but why don’t we try a different approach? Why don’t we try engagement? If we can get to peace, a lot of things will improve in the day-to-day existence of people [on the Korean Peninsula].” Jannuzi agreed that peace and human rights “go hand in hand.” However, he said, “The hostilities don’t account for the lack of a judicial system or trial; the inability to worship; the inability to have access to information; or the restrictions on people to express any criticism of the government. Their policies are draconian. They exercise collective



punishment of entire families—children and parents are sent to jail for crimes committed by family members. It’s an authoritarian state that’s keeping a tight grip on its people.” The United Nations Commission of Inquiry on DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea—North Korea), Jannuzi noted, found the country is among the world’s more repressive and intolerant societies. “There are maybe 120,000 political prisoners who are in gulags because of their political beliefs. That may include people who are [incarcerated for] their sexual orientation or sexual practices,” but there is a lack of good data on this front. LGBTQ communities in South Korea, too, face social and political repression. As Pride celebrations unfold in cities and towns across the United States, LGBTQ people in Seoul will risk their safety by taking to


the streets in rainbow regalia. Counterprotesters have been known to assault Pride participants, who often wear sunglasses and concealing headgear to guard against accidental or intentional outing because they fear reprisal from their families, employers, friends and communities. Shim, who is queer, told the LA Blade the South Korean military has been known to root out gay and bisexual men from its ranks by using entrapment techniques. Service members are solicited with gay apps such as Jack’d and Grindr that are often used by men who have sex with men. After they are outed and subsequently discharged from the armed forces, gay and bisexual men face prison sentences because able-bodied men in South Korea between the ages of 18 and 35 must Continues on Page 16



“F I N A L L Y , A C B D T O P I C A L T H A T D O E S W H A T I T S A Y S .”










Hoping for peace after Trump-Kim summit Continued from Page 15 complete two years of compulsory military service. If they don’t complete the full twoyear term, they are required to make up the difference in a correctional facility. Additionally, while consensual same-sex activity is legal among civilians in South Korea, it is punishable by up to two years imprisonment—or institutionalization—if participants are in the military. Despite the pervasiveness of homophobia in South Korea, HOBAK is hopefully advocating for a comprehensive antidiscrimination law. Pew research found public opinion has shifted toward LGBT acceptance more in South Korea than in any of the other 39 countries surveyed. Homophobia persists, however, fueled by a Christian conservatism originated in the

late 1880s. For instance, South Korean Prime Minister Moon Jae-in has a distinguished record of supporting progressive policies, but answered a campaign question about gay rights by saying he is against homosexuality. But HOBAK persists, as well. During her most recent trip to Jeju Island, part of South Korea’s Jeju Province, Shim attended Pride celebrations and witnessed the viciousness of counter-protesters wielding signs akin to those brandished by members of the Westboro Baptist Church. “So much of South Korean politics is very interrelated and interconnected,” Shim said. “So there are LGBT folks doing labor stuff—queer people are everywhere, so of course they’re involved in everything.” Ahn is pleased with the summit. Nuclear weapons would instantly kill 300,000 people on the Korean Peninsula and now Trump no

longer has the option to launch a first strike. Ahn believes Women Cross DMZ “planted a seed” in Trump’s mind through a letter they sent him saying he had unique opportunity to do what no American president has successfully done before: bring an end to the longest U.S. conflict. Jannuzi said that peace would open the door to further negotiations, including those focused on human rights. “I don’t think there’s anything about the North Korean human rights situation that would be improved through coercion,” he said. “Pressure in the form of military pressure or economic sanctions is not the way to convince them to improve their human rights record.” Jannuzi would like to see a human rights working group that would address human rights and human security issues, including in freedom of expression and religion, as well as


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protections for LGBTQ people. “Making peace with North Korea,” he said, “is the best way to gain access and leverage to begin to improve human rights in North Korea.” Jannuzi however, cautioned that this most recent pledge by North Korea to denuclearize is “more vague, weaker, and less specific than almost all of the previous commitments that have been made,” while also extolling the importance of the Summit. “We’ve accomplished very little so far, but we’ve started a process,” he said. Ahn is focused on peace: “This could be so good for peace in Korea, peace in northeast Asia, for the abolishment of nuclear weapons and for world peace. And we should not be trying to derail it because of our disdain for Trump but see it in the broader picture of what this means for the possibility of a future of world peace.”



Women politicos to take center stage at DNC LGBT gala Parker, Jones, Healey, Roem among speakers at high-dollar event By CHRIS JOHNSON At a time when female candidates are taking center stage in the 2018 congressional mid-term elections, a quartet of women politicos are set to speak at an upcoming LGBT gala hosted by the Democratic National Committee in New York City, the Blade has learned. Three of the women — Annise Parker, Gina Ortiz Jones, Maura Healey — are lesbians, and the other, Danica Roem, is a transgender woman. Each of them is running or has run political campaigns of special significance for LGBT people. All of them will speak before high-dollar donors to the Democratic Party at the DNC’s 19th annual LGBT gala in New York City, which is set to take place June 25 at Ziegfeld Ballroom. The tickets range from $1,200 to $5,000 per seat, according to an online invitation. Annise Parker, a former three-term mayor of Houston, holds the distinction of being one of the first openly gay mayors of a major U.S. city. She now serves as executive director of the LGBTQ Victory Fund and Institute. Gina Ortiz Jones, a former Air Force intelligence officer who served in the Iraq war, is running to represent the 23rd congressional district in Texas against incumbent Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas). Democrats have made her race in the Hispanic-majority district a priority. Hurd narrowly won re-election in 2016 and political observers have rated it as a toss-up. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, who will be the keynote speaker at the DNC gala, won election in 2014 and became the first openly gay state attorney general in the United States. She’s seeking re-election in the 2018 election. The other speaker, Virginia State Del. Danica Roem (D-Prince William County), is the first openly transgender person elected and seated to a state legislature in the United States. The DNC had already announced last month her plan to attend the gala.

Women politicos that include Victory Fund President and CEO Annise Parker, Texas congressional candidate Gina Ortiz Jones and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey are set to speak at the annual DNC LGBT gala. Blade Photo of Parker by Michael Key; Photo of Jones by Ana Isabel Photography Courtesy Jones Campaign; Photo of Healey by Edahlpr Courtesy Wikimedia

Another speaker already announced for the event is Gus Kensworthy, a gay freestyle skier who refused to attend the ceremony at the White House with fellow members of the 2018 U.S. Winter Olympic team out of objections to the Trump administration’s anti-LGBT policies. Another guest is Taylor Trensch, who’s gay and the star of the stage musical “Dear Evan Hansen.” According to the DNC, the annual gala began in 1999 as a small dinner held by Andrew Tobias, who’s gay and a former DNC treasurer, but has grown to one of the biggest events for Democrats. Last year,

former Vice President Joseph Biden was the keynote speaker. DNC Chair Tom Perez hailed the newly announced women speakers as leaders in the LGBT movement and the women’s rights movement. “In the face of sustained Republican efforts to roll back the progress we’ve made, leaders within the LGBTQ community, LGBTQ women in particular are stepping up, running for office and fighting back,” Perez said. “Attorney General Maura Healey, Mayor Annise Parker and Gina Ortiz Jones are trailblazers in their communities and I’m proud that they know

that building Democratic infrastructure helps LGBTQ candidates at every level, from school board to Senate.” Also praising the speakers was DNC Finance Chair Henry Munoz, who said the party is “thrilled to welcome such inspiring LGBTQ women to speak at this year’s gala.” “Americans across the country want to see more women elected, and Democrats are making this happen in 2018,” Munoz said. “With trailblazers like Attorney General Maura Healey, Mayor Annise Parker and Gina Ortiz Jones leading the way, we are going to win big this November.”



Tension as Pentagon hosts Pride while pushing to ban trans members Speakers address struggles under Trump policy By CHRIS JOHNSON Pride is supposed to be a time for celebration, but there was palpable tension Monday at the annual Defense Department Pride event as LGBT civilians and members of the armed forces recognized the occasion. The event — hosted by DOD Pride, an affinity group for LGBT Pentagon employees — has been held each year within the Defense Department since 2011 when “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal was certified. But the elephant in the room was President Trump’s transgender military ban. It was the first such celebration since Trump announced in July 2017 on Twitter he’d ban transgender service members “in any capacity.” That didn’t stop transgender service members — who are free to continue service thanks to court orders against Trump’s military ban — from speaking at the event in the Pentagon auditorium and sharing inspirational thoughts about Pride. Maj. Jamie Lee Henry, staff internist and a transgender active duty physician at Walter Reed Medical Center, said Pride is a time for “celebration of our humanity, our resilience and our bravery,” but alluded to difficulties under the transgender military ban. “I am not a stranger to the dark,” Henry said. “Recent events had me think a lot about experiences that I’ve gone through over the last five years.” Henry said she is sometimes asked about the experience of being a transgender doctor, and her best response is a quote from French philosopher Simone de Beauvoir, who called affliction “physical pain, distress of soul and social degradation all at the same time.” “It was in 2013 when my only New Year’s resolutions were to not end my life or end up in jail,” Henry said. “I was an active duty captain. At the time, those goals seemed like the lowest hanging fruit I could reach.” Henry, who said she had to find Jesus Christ after learning “we have to find people of character who give us the reins” to be better people, became emotional as she talked about the challenges and had to pause briefly before she could continue. The Pentagon held the event without

Lt. Cmdr. Blake Dremann attended the DOD Pride event as a recipient of DOD Pride’s Military Leadership Award. Blade File Photo by Michael Key

issuing any kind of formal memorandum recognizing Pride — another first since “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal certification in 2011. A Pentagon spokesperson, nonetheless, told the Blade the celebration in the auditorium was “an official event.” No senior Pentagon official was on the stage for the event, although Sergeant Major of the Army Daniel Dailey and Vee Penrod, acting secretary for manpower and reserve affairs, were seated in the audience, as well as Maj. Gen. Tammy Smith, the first openly gay general officer. Although under the Obama administration Chuck Hagel and Ashton Carter attended the event and delivered remarks, Defense Secretary James Mattis — who recently penned his name to a 45page recommendation against transgender service — wasn’t in attendance. Matthew Thorn, executive director of the LGBT military group OutServe-SLDN, was present at the event and afterward told the Blade attendees were able to embrace the Pride spirit. “I think it’s evident from the energy of the people, from the attendance of certain people, including Sgt. Maj. Dailey, that there are individuals in this building, the command and the military structure — both civilian and uniformed — that still support LGBT individuals in service,” Thorn said. Another transgender speaker at the event was Lt. Cmdr. Blake Dremann, a staff officer for the Nuclear Enterprise Support Office at the Defense Logistics Agency headquarters,

who attended the event as a recipient of DOD Pride’s Military Leadership Award. Although he’s serving under Trump’s transgender military ban, Dremann said he enjoys “a lot of privilege” in the military compared to other transgender troops “as an officer who has broken barriers in many ways, with a good reputation and as a male.” “My struggles are wholly different than many of the service members that I have the privilege of leading,” Dremann said. Dremann recalled the story of a transgender soldier who faced significant pushback and admonition during her transition, but “that drove her to be the best that she could be,” and another story of a sailor who came out as transgender after she was promoted to chief, but was able to keep the position and begin mentoring others. “Transgender service members are some of the most resilient service members that you will ever meet,” Dremann said. “It is a reminder to leaders that we should be doing our best to remove barriers to service.” Rep. Anthony Brown (D-Md.), who serves on the House Armed Services Committee, delivered the keynote speech and said Pride is a time for celebration of LGBT people, but also to reflect on “the road that we’ve taken, the challenges that we face and the obstacles we’ve overcome.” “I firmly believe that the right, the privilege and the responsibility to defend our nation should not be denied to any American,” Brown said. “But throughout our history, it’s been a struggle for the military

to accept the service of courageous women, African Americans, gays and lesbians and now of transgender Americans.” Praising the contributions of transgender people to the U.S. military, Brown called for action to support “thousands of transgender Americans who have fought and died and are currently serving in uniform.” “It’s important that President Trump gives transgender service men and women, transgender Americans, the same right to serve their country, and if not, the courts and Congress must repudiate any ban on such service,” Brown said. Members of the audience broke their silence and responded with applause to Brown’s remarks on potential action from Congress and the court against the transgender military ban. But the event didn’t ignore the progress made on LGBT inclusion in the military, such as repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Douglas Wilson, who served as head of public affairs for the Defense Department during the early Obama years and was the first openly gay person ever confirmed to a senior Pentagon position, was the recipient of DOD Pride’s Civilian Leadership Award at the event and spoke to that progress. “This is amazing for me because when I was at the Pentagon, there was no such thing as this,” Wilson said. Wilson recalled the time when “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was debated in Congress and having an exchange with troops in the close confines of a tank about having to serve with gay people. Each service member said he had no problem with it. “That is when I knew ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ was going to be repealed because I knew then that the military was not separate from the society in which we lived and reflects the society in which we live,” Wilson said. Brown left the audience with thoughts signaling that just as the military became a welcoming place for lesbian, gay and bisexual people, it will one day be the same for transgender people. “As we continue this journey, we’ll do so as a society that understands — more so than ever before - that the LGBT community’s story is one part of our larger American story, a story of struggle and hope, or reversal and redemption of a nation that sometimes falls short of our ideals, but that’s always determined to overcome,” Brown said.

The City of West Hollywood's Arts Division presents the

2018 One City One Pride LGBTQ Arts Festival Cel Celebrating pride in 2018 with the festival theme “I Remember” which honors our shared history, and the people and events which paved the way for the rights we hold dear today. Some highlights are: June 19: Celebration Theatre presents the Chuck Rowland Award to Billy Porter June 20: Screening of ‘When Bette Met Mae’ June 22-23: New Stages present Heroic Lives, an original musical based on the life stories of, and performed by, LGBTQ seniors June 24: Summer Sounds concert with Mariachi Arcoiris, the world's only LGBTQ mariachi June 29: Screening of Nelly Queen, the Life and Times of Jose Sarria Adelaide Drive: Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy exhibition at the West Hollywood Library Heroes and History of The LGBTQ Civil Rights Movement display at Santa Monica Blvd and Crescent Heights

More info at weho.org/pride or @WeHoArts and @WeHoCity



Leading U.S. diplomats attend Pride celebrations

British Ambassador to the U.S. Kim Darroch speaks at a Pride reception at the British Embassy in D.C. on June 8. Photo Courtesy British Embassy

UK ambassador urges countries to decriminalize homosexuality British Ambassador to the U.S. Kim Darroch on Friday urged Commonwealth countries that have yet to decriminalize consensual same-sex sexual relations to do so. “We just urge all of our friends and partners in other countries around the world to move on as we have done to make their societies more open, more liberal, to embrace anti-discrimination in relation to the LGBT community as we have,” Darroch told the Washington Blade during an interview at the British Embassy in D.C. “It just makes your society a better place.” “These are individuals after all who contribute massively wherever they are,” he added. The Blade spoke with Darroch before the embassy’s annual Pride reception, which took place less than two months after Prime Minister Theresa May said she “deeply” regrets colonial-era laws criminalizing consensual same-sex relations the U.K. introduced in Commonwealth countries. “Discriminatory laws made many years ago continue to affect the lives of many people, criminalizing same-sex relations and failing to protect women and girls,” said May in a speech she gave at the Commonwealth summit in London on April 17. “I am all too aware that these laws were often put in place by my own country. They were wrong then, and they are wrong now. As the U.K.’s prime minister, I deeply regret both the fact that such laws were introduced and the legacy of discrimination, violence and even death that persists today.” A judge on Trinidad and Tobago’s High Court on April 22 struck down the country’s sodomy law. Three LGBT people in Barbados on June 6 filed a lawsuit with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights that challenges their country’s sodomy law. Activists in India, Kenya and other Commonwealth countries continue to challenge colonial-era statutes that criminalize consensual same-sex sexual acts. “She was absolutely right to do it,” Darroch told the Blade, referring to May’s speech. “It was a courageous statement, but it was very clear and very firm and I agree with it completely.” Laws that pardoned gay and bisexual men who were convicted under homophobic statutes in England, Wales and Northern Ireland took effect in 2017. The Scottish Parliament on June 6 unanimously approved these pardons for gay and bisexual men in Scotland who were prosecuted under anti-gay laws. Queen Elizabeth II in 2013 posthumously pardoned Alan Turing, a pioneering mathematician who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952 for having a relationship with another man. Darroch told the Blade the U.K. now has “some of the strongest anti-discrimination laws on the planet.” There are currently 45 MPs in the U.K. Darroch also pointed out same-sex couples have been able to legally marry in England, Scotland and Wales since 2014. “In that context, I think it’s exactly right for the prime minister to have said what she said,” he said, referring to May’s speech. “I’m proud to represent a government that does that kind of thing.” MICHAEL K. LAVERS

High-ranking diplomats who implement U.S. foreign policy this week attended Pride month celebrations. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan and U.S. Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.) on Tuesday delivered remarks at GLIFAA’s annual Pride month reception at the State Department. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo did not attend the event, but he issued a Pride month statement on June 1. “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,” said Pompeo. U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Mark Green and former Arizona Congressman Jim Kolbe on Wednesday spoke at USAID’s annual Pride month reception. “I want to say thank you to all of my LGBTI colleagues who are here today,” said Green, who in his remarks specifically acknowledged Xulhaz Mannan, a prominent LGBTI activist and former USAID employee in Bangladesh who was murdered in 2016. “Your voice is important individually, but also together. Your advocacy and your voice individually and all together makes us a stronger agency and it makes us a better agency, and I think makes us a more responsive agency.” U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley on Wednesday acknowledged Pride month in a statement. “This June, we join our friends in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community around the world who are celebrating Pride month,” said Haley. “At the U.N. we see the importance of defending freedoms of LGBTI persons from governments that violate their own people’s human rights.” “The United States embraces personal freedom, rejects discrimination and supports the global LGBTI community in standing up for their human rights,” she added. U.S. embassies and consulates in Paraguay, Cuba and other countries have publicly acknowledged Pride month and the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia by raising the rainbow flag and holding receptions with LGBTI rights advocates. “It was an honor to preside over the first public ceremony of the raising of the rainbow flag during LGBTI Pride month today at the embassy,” said U.S. Ambassador to Paraguay Lee McClenny on his Twitter page on Wednesday. “The fight to protect the rights, dignity and equity of all people is a task that we must undertake together.” The Trump administration continues to promote LGBTI rights abroad. This year’s Pride month is nevertheless taking place against the backdrop of growing criticism over the White House’s domestic LGBT rights record and its overall foreign policy. MICHAEL K. LAVERS



From immigrants to opioids, U.S. is failing its children Working to solve our nation’s foster care crisis

Rich Valenza is the founder and CEO of RaiseAChild, which is holding an Honors Summer Party on June 23. For more information visit raiseachild.org/event/honors-2018/.

On a recent visit back to my very small hometown in Central Pennsylvania, I spent some time with my nephew. As the first attorney in our family, my young nephew Joe carries a considerable amount of our family’s pride and promise on his shoulders. He started law school with a bright future ahead and a degree in Environmental Law. This was shortly after the discovery that much of Pennsylvania was sitting over a vast hidden treasure of Marcellus Shale to which hydraulic fracking could release a natural gas supply to fuel the U.S. for decades. After graduating with honors, my nephew signed on with one of the small reputable law firms housed in a stately Victorian style building right along the river in the heart of our hometown. I asked Joe how things were going and if the tremendous natural gas deposit was fueling his career. “Well actually, you and I are kind of in the same business,” my nephew stated. “Wait, what do you mean,” I asked. “About every week, I get called to the County Court House for a judge to assign a new case of children being removed from their birth parents to enter the foster system,” Joe said. “Drilling for natural gas never really happened back here to meet the early expectation. Instead, the opioid epidemic has moved in and has taken hold

all across this whole region.” A recent “60 Minutes” broadcast reported that an estimated 1 million sets of grandparents are now parenting their grandchildren as the nation’s opioid epidemic expands. The story went on to explain how many of these grandparents have depleted their retirement savings because of the unplanned, yet everyday costs involved in feeding, clothing and raising their grandchildren. Every hour, while our nation’s attention is confounded by chaotic headlines, children are being pulled from their birth parents because of the neglect and abuse that results from their parent’s opioid addiction. Every day, while our nation focuses on digesting the latest sensational tweet, more children are being stripped from their immigrant families that arrive at our southern border seeking asylum and a safer, more promising future for their families in the U.S. Since October 2016, Reuters News estimates that more than 2,400 children have been pulled from their immigrant parents. Every month, emboldened elected officials float religious liberties legislation designed to allow faith-based foster and adoption agencies to continue receiving public tax revenues while freely discriminating against certain sectors of those taxpayers who are willing and capable foster and adoptive parents. The potential families facing these discriminatory practices often include single, divorced or unmarried parents; parents of certain religions and colors; and/ or members of the LGBTQ+ community. According to the National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect, the numbers of children in our nation’s foster system have increased every year between 2012 and 2016. Average these statistics and over 8,000 children have been added to foster system in each of these years. While the 2017 total is expected in the months ahead, 437,465 foster children were counted in 2016. How is it possible to “make America great” if we are failing children by such significant numbers? RaiseAChild is one organization stepping up

to the plate to face and find solutions to this growing crisis. Today, RaiseAChild is serving a growing database of over 8,200 current and prospective foster and adoptive U.S. households in our mission of building loving families for foster children. RaiseAChild was founded seven years ago with the goal of making the process of fostering and adopting a bit easier for the LGBT community. We grew out of the original Pop Luck Club in West Hollywood, co-founded by Daniel Brandhorst and Ronald Gamboa who died with their son David Reed Gamboa, when United Flight 175 flew into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. Soon we learned that the successful model we created for the LGBT community also worked well for single straight women and men, for married heterosexual couples, and for communities of color. Following the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision in favor of same-sex marriage, we were the first national LGBT organization to exemplify equality by expanding our vision to truly welcome all people. RaiseAChild has always believed in the power of collaboration. Therefore, we partner with the Human Rights Campaign and the North American Council on Adoptable Children in advocating for policies and practices that are in the best interest of children in foster care and the families that care for them. Together, we have built a network of culturally competent and inclusive foster and adoption agencies in nearly every state of the union. Studies from the Williams Institute at UCLA and other national think-tanks show that the LGBTQ community holds great promise as one of the most viable answers to our nation’s foster care crisis. It is my dream for RaiseAChild to help lead the charge of solving this crisis by encouraging and mentoring the LGBTQ community, and all people equally, through the foster and adoption process and well beyond with continuing support for our families. If you have ever considered building a family of your own through fostering or adoption, please contact us now at RaiseAChild.org or 323-417-1440.

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Equality in property taxation AB 2663 will correct past unfair increases

For those who had their property reassessed, it may mean the difference between keeping or losing their homes.

Jeffrey Prang is the LA County assessor.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Often LGBT voters ignore non-partisan offices such as LA County Assessor. But as this op-ed underscores, having an astute, out officeholder can correct past injustices and advance equality. Shockingly, despite his years of experience and modernizing the Assessor’s office, Prang did not automatically win 50+1% because a rival candidate brazenly changed his name to John “Lower Taxes” Loew for the ballot to seduce GOP voters. Since the first domestic partnership legislation was adopted in 1999 and until marriage equality was finally legalized in 2015, same-sex couples were compelled to rely upon a confusing variety of alternatives to add legal status to their relationships. Some cities, such as West Hollywood, adopted a local domestic partnership registry. Later, Los Angeles County and then the State of California created legal domestic partnership registration. Many same-sex couples were often registered with a variety of agencies; for example, my husband Ray and I were registered in West Hollywood,

the County of Los Angeles, and the State of California at one point, simultaneously. Following the legalization of marriage equality, same-sex couples in California were then required to be married, as opposed to just domestic partners, to enjoy many of the benefits and responsibilities afforded married couples. One important benefit of marriage is the right to transfer properties between spouses without a reassessment, which would otherwise result in an increase in property taxes. However, since 2015, some domestic partner couples that enjoyed a lower tax base for many years suddenly discovered that their property taxes increase dramatically when they made changes in the ownership of their joint property. Married couples are exempt from reassessment and property tax increases resulting from a change in ownership. Regrettably, not all same-sex couples got the news of the “marriage only” requirement as it relates to property assessment. Couples that made a good faith effort to register their relationships with the state or local jurisdictions, but didn’t get married, never got the message and many were hit with

huge tax increases when they transferred or changed ownership to their property. Assembly Bill 2663 (Friedman) is proposed legislation that will address this inequity and treat domestic partners, who registered during this transitionary period, as though they were married couples as it relates to a change in ownership for property tax purposes. This bill came about as the result the case of Kim Dingle and Aude Charles, longtime domestic partners, who brought this issue to my attention. I then solicited the support of Assembly member Laura Friedman, who drafted the legislation, co-sponsored by me and San Francisco County Assessor Carmen Chu. AB 2663 is an effort to recognize the chaotic legal relationship structure that existed from the time of the first domestic partnership legislation in the 1990s and marriage equality, and to provide what is in essence a form of amnesty to those who overlooked the new requirement of marriage in order to take advantage of the inter-spousal property tax exemption. The need for this legislation was made clear from the example of Kim and Aude’s case. They have been in a long-term

relationship and were registered with the State as domestic partners. The home they shared was originally purchased by one of the partners and owned in her name for many years. When they decided to put the home into a trust for estate planning purposes, the names of both partners were included in the trust. This triggered a “change in ownership” reassessment and resulted in a dramatic property tax increase. However, it is my belief that same-sex couples who made a good-faith effort to legalize their relationships through domestic partnerships should not be penalized for not being up to date on the array of local and state laws that changed frequently between 1999 and 2015. This bill extends the period of time for couples, who were registered as domestic partners through the state or local agency between 2000 and 2015, to take advantage of the exemption from property tax re-assessments. While there likely will not be a huge number of couples benefitting from this legislation, for those who had their property reassessed resulting from the confusion it may mean the difference between keeping or losing their homes.

Alejandra Lara and Silvia Varón in ‘Eva & Candela’. Photo Courtesy Outfest

Outfest, the LGBT film festival, is coming to a screen near you 2018 lineup and featured films announced By JOHN PAUL KING

Queer film fans, get ready! Outfest – the Los Angeles-based non-profit organization promoting equality by creating, sharing and protecting LGBTQ stories on the screen – has announced the complete lineup for its annual Los Angeles Film Festival. Outfest 2018, presented by HBO, will be the 36th annual edition of the nation’s leading LGBTQ festival and takes place July 12-22. Founded by UCLA students in 1982, the festival builds community by connecting diverse populations to discover, discuss and celebrate stories of LGBT lives. Over the past three decades, Outfest has showcased thousands of films from around the world, educated and mentored hundreds of emerging filmmakers, and protected more than 35,000 LGBT films and videos. The festival – featuring eleven days of world-class films, panels and parties – opens with a gala at the Orpheum Theatre (842 S Broadway, Los Angeles) featuring Kino Lorber’s “Studio 54,” Matt Tyrnauer’s vibrantly nostalgic documentary about the iconic and infamous Manhattan nightclub; its closing night gala, taking place at The Theatre at






Ace Hotel (929 S Broadway, Los Angeles) will highlight “The Miseducation of Cameron Post,” Desiree Akhavan’s Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner starring Chloë Grace Moretz. Two-thirds of this year’s content is directed by women, people of color and trans filmmakers. Christopher Racster, Outfest executive director, is proud of the way Outfest Los Angeles continues to “step onto a larger stage.” He says, “This year, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences named Outfest as an Academy-Award qualifying film festival for their Short Film Awards. This recognition acknowledges our long history of discovering extraordinary short films, and the talented filmmakers who have used Outfest as a platform to launch their careers.” The festival features five world premieres: the deeply-felt “Bao Bao”, from Taiwan; “Bright Colors and Bold Patterns,” directed by Michael Urie with a hilarious performance from Drew Droege; Laura Madalinski’s polyamorous romance, “Two in the Bush: A Love Story”; Jamie Patterson’s “Tucked,” about two drag performers connecting across generations;

A M E R I C A’ S




and “Room to Grow” a documentary looking at the lives of queer teenagers today. There are also the American and U.S. Premieres of “Eva & Candela,” “Sodom,” “Canary,” “Cola De Mono” and “Daddy Issues.” Outfest Los Angeles’ documentary section shines a light on unsung communities, including Alina Skrzesewska’s “Game Girls” (following a couple as they struggle to navigate life in Los Angeles’ Skid Row), and SXSW Audience Award winner “Transmilitary” (spotlighting those fighting for an equal chance to service their country. Platinum, the proactive experimental film section, continues to highlight boundarypushing work, such as “No Leash” (a short film by Myyki Blanco and SSION, and “Narcissister, Organ Player” (a feature documentary by performance artist Narcissister). In addition to these, this year’s Outfest is also launching its first ever dedicated episodic section. Lucy Mukerjee, Outfest director of programming, says, “Outfest Los Angeles is marking the shift in the way that society tells and consumes stories, by launching our first dedicated episodic section. With 221 films and





Harris Dickinson in ‘Postcards From London’. Photo Courtesy Outfest

13 TV series, this festival’s lineup is bursting at the seams with the most anticipated queer and trans stories of the year.” Besides the opening and closing galas, Outfest will also offer several other special events. These will include the 2nd Annual Trans Summit, with director and producer Yance Ford as the keynote speaker; the Focus On Taiwan event showcasing films such as “Bao Bao” and “Alifu, The Prince/ss”; free screenings of “Believer” (a documentary from Imagine Dragons frontman, Dan Reynolds), “They” (a family drama from director Anahita Ghazvinizadeh), and Showtime’s “Beyond The Opposite Sex” (a sequel to the groundbreaking film, “The Opposite Sex”). The infamous Alchemy Party returns, this year at Navel (1611 S Hope St., Los Angeles), with 13 performers including Dorian Electra, Saturn Rising and Slather Factory’s Bebe Huxley, and The Uhuruverse who will stretch your musical imagination. Finally, there is OutSet: The Young Filmmakers Project from Los Angeles LGBT Center and Outfest, which will premiere five new shorts on Sunday, July 22. Now in its sixth







year, the OutSet program empowers youth ages 16-24 to share their stories though film. Outfest will also be adding new venues for its programming this year, including Plaza de la Raza (3540 N Mission Rd., Los Angeles), the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater (8949 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills), the California African American Museum (600 State Dr., Los Angeles) and Regal Cinemas at LA Live (1000 W Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles). According to Racster, “Providing access to content remains at the heart of what we do as an organization. This year we have worked to ensure that all of our community -- and our allies -- can access our programming. With that in mind, this year’s festival will be in more of Los Angeles neighborhoods than ever before. Outfest will also be returning to the newlyrenovated Ford Theatres (2580 Cahuenga Blvd. E, Los Angeles). These screenings will kick off on July 18 with a screening of “Bad Reputation,” a documentary about Joan Jett; then documentary centerpiece, “When the Beat Drops,” followed by “Postcards from London” and concluding with “Wild Nights with Emily” featuring Molly Shannon.


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As always, Outfest will feature far too many films for anyone to see them all – many screenings are concurrent with each other and the programming is nearly continuous for the entire 11 days of the festival – so film enthusiasts will have to pick and choose the titles and events they most wish to see. A complete listing of all the festival’s offerings is available at outfest. org/fest2018/sections, so you can plan your cinematic itinerary in advance. It’s worth mentioning that Outfest members receive benefits such as free tickets, priority entrance to screenings, and all-access passes. In addition, tickets go on sale to members beginning Thursday, June 14 – four days before they are available to the general public – and the money goes to support the festival’s ongoing mission, so becoming a member won’t just benefit yourself. General admission tickets to individual films go on sale beginning Monday, June 18. Special ticket packages are also available. Contact the box office for membership, tickets and event information by calling 213480-7065 or by visiting outfest.org.






queery KIT WINTER How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell? I’ve been out since 1983, when I was 17. My parents were the hardest. Who’s your LGBT hero? Larry Kramer. What’s Los Angeles’ best nightspot, past or present? The Spike.

By TROY MASTERS tmasters@losangelesblade.com

Photo Courtesy Winter

For me, Kit Winter is a transformational person. I was working on Park Avenue in New York City, managing advertising accounts for what was, in 1988, the world’s largest circulation publication, PC Magazine. I was miserable, unable to share with my homophobic coworkers that I spent nights after work everyday caring for friends who were covered in KS and worse. Even most days at work were interrupted with that reality. That’s when I met Kit. He had placed an ad in the Village Voice seeking advertising sales representatives for OutWeek Magazine, an upstart weekly “gay magazine.” It was called “radical,” “a militant mouthpiece for ACT UP,” and New York Magazine called it “the hippest next wave.” My friend Bill Chafin, who had seen the ad, urged me from his hospital bed to meet Kit. He called, pretended to be me and literally forced me to go to the meeting. Kit, when I arrived, was wearing ACT UP issue combat boots and go-go boy shorts yet was somehow very butch. To the other workers in the office, I was a novelty in my suit and tie and formal manner. “Sit here,” he said, sloughing magazines off a chair and into the floor. He picked one up, “This week’s magazine,” he asserted. “Mayor Dinkins’ Health Department choice quarantined people with AIDS,” screamed one headline. “100,000 dead and counting” read another. I was engrossed and Kit said, “Now tell me about you.” The rest is history, literally. Last week Kit wrote a daily diary for Los Angeles Blade about his AIDS/LifeCycle journey and so much of what he wrote as he trudged 545 miles down the California coastline brought me back to that moment we met. I reflected on the person he has become, so powerfully on display in his diary and all the intersecting things that transpired in my life because I met him, too many to go into here. One ALC diary passage explores a topic many of us in our 50s are now struggling to comprehend: “In the hours and hours on the road over the past six days, I have had moments of unbearable grief, missing my friends so much. Something about seeing groups of gay men in their twenties, laughing with their friends, hits me like a gut punch. When I was that age, half or more of the men in such groups died, leaving us survivors reeling with trauma and grief. How to describe this to those who weren’t there? Contemplating the scale of our AIDS armageddon by mapping my friends onto the beautiful riders around me reminds me that what I lived through is unimaginable, unspeakable, grotesque. The thought of half of the members of one of these happy teams dying over the course of a few years - then half of the members of all of these happy teams, dying - how could the rest of us go on? Yet that is exactly what happened, and here we are, going on. I don’t need to light a candle this year, this year I am the goddamn candle. Eric, Phil, Bill, Anthony, Frank, Mark - I love you and I miss you.” He is husband to Patrick and loves their Silver Lake home . He became sober along the way and engaged his significant brain power in UCLA School of Law. He is a go-to lawyer for many newly sober people in LA, famous for taking his role as a 12-step sponsor very seriously. He is a social justice warrior who devotes both money and time to the causes he believes in, including numerous local LGBT nonprofit and political initiatives. If he believes in you, you know it. Kit was one of the first of my New York family to pull up stakes and head west for a reboot. He showed me how it was done and when I told him I was thinking about leaving New York for Los Angeles to startup a new LGBT newspaper, he was an instant champion.

Describe your dream wedding. The wedding I had. What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about? Racial justice (not exactly a “non-LGBT issue”). What historical outcome would you change? The destruction of the library at Alexandria in 48 B.C. What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime? Seeing Queen in concert in 1978. On what do you insist? Perspective. What was your last Facebook post or Tweet? “ If only President Trump were as concerned about the Russian agents embedded in his campaign as he is about the FBI agent embedded in his campaign to keep an eye on the Russian agents embedded in his campaign.”

Start a GoFundMe to provide access to sexual orientation change for straight people. What do you believe in beyond the physical world? I don’t think there’s anything that’s not in the physical world. What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders? Have values that you’re not willing to sacrifice for the sake of fundraising or political expediency. What would you walk across hot coals for? My husband, my dogs, my friends and my family. And good cheese. What LGBT stereotype annoys you most? That gay men are all fabulous interior decorators. I mean, most of us are, of course. But some aren’t and there’s no shame in that. What’s your favorite LGBT movie? “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.” What’s the most overrated social custom? Men’s neckties. What trophy or prize do you most covet? I’m not the covetous type.

If your life were a book, what would the title be? Probably the same as my epitaph, “It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time”

What do you wish you’d known at 18? Life is not a puzzle to be solved. Being comfortable with ambiguity and rolling with the punches will serve you better than trying to figure everything out in advance.

If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?

Why Los Angeles? The weather, the parks, the culture and the people.


Cecil Beaton had one goal in life – to be more than “just an ordinary, anonymous person.” In pursuit of it, he became not only one of the 20th century’s most influential photographers, but also a Tony and Oscar-winning visual designer, a writer and a celebrated taste-maker whose influence continues to be felt in fashion and visual art today. As chronicled in “Love, Cecil,” a new documentary by Lisa Immordino Vreeland (granddaughter-in-law of Beaton’s own close friend, Diana Vreeland), he was born into a prosperous but decidedly middle-class family in Hampstead, a suburb of London, and wanted nothing more than to mingle with the rich and beautiful. His storied career took him there. His decade-long stint taking iconic photos for Vogue yielded images that defined and dictated the “look” of the 1930s, and celebrities and socialites clamored to be photographed by him, even England’s royal family; in mid-life, he turned his attention to the stagecraft that had inspired him in his youth, designing sets and costumes for Broadway shows and Hollywood blockbusters that introduced his audacious sense of style to a new generation; and in his later years, he continued to explore horizons, documenting the changing tastes of the times and championing younger artists whose ideas he found exciting. Through it all, he kept diaries. Volumes of personal thoughts and memories, not just about himself, but about all the famous figures who passed through his life. He published those in his lifetime (though he left out some of the more poisonous parts – he was known for the sharpness of his tongue towards those whom he found objectionable, and there were many), allowing readers an insight into a classic world of fame and glamour that he himself had helped to immortalize. Key passages from these diaries (as read by Rupert Everett) provide the narration for Vreeland’s film, which is less concerned with conveying the factual specifics of biography – though it does so – than it is with finding the cohesive thread that ties it together. Like her previous documentaries, “The Eye Has to Travel” (about her own grandmother-in-law, Diana Vreeland, who was also one of Beaton’s closest friends) and “Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict,” her exploration of Beaton’s life focuses on his artistic vision, his desire to create around himself the world he wants to live in. It’s something she clearly comprehends; she succeeds at finding depth in the artist’s obsessions with style and beauty – things which many might have dismissed as shallow concerns – and helping her audience find the same importance in them as he clearly did. With archival footage (some of it never seen before), stills, and interviews, she gives us a long and loving look at Beaton himself, both in his own words and in those of many of his contemporaries and colleagues. These segments capture the man’s eloquence, wit and the enigmatic blend of vanity and self-criticism that drove him throughout his life to keep striving for more. They also present a glorious look at a long-gone era that has shaped the aesthetic sensibilities of our culture for generations. There are, of course, the expected revelations. There is discussion of Beaton’s sexuality – he was, by his own admission, mostly interested in “homosexualism” – and his love affairs, such as they were, with art collector Peter Watson and Olympic fencer Kinmont Hoitsma. There is also some exploration of his supposed romance with Greta Garbo, along with hints of his more private sex life from his former butler. More salacious, perhaps, are the deliciously catty remarks that emerge from the unpublished portions of his diaries, about celebrities such as Elizabeth Taylor and Katharine Hepburn, which are sure to satisfy those with a taste for dishing dirt. Most of all, though, Vreeland’s movie lets Beaton’s own work do the talking. Her loving presentation of so many of the glorious images he captured conveys his gifts more eloquently than spoken words could ever accomplish. Brimming with detail, composed against visually arresting backgrounds, with a flair for the dramatic and hints of eroticism and sly humor, these unparalleled photographs not only reveal Beaton’s flawless understanding of style and beauty but his knack for capturing something essential about his subjects – no matter how fantastical their setting may be. Continues at losangelesblade.com


Photographer and fashion icon gets loving tribute in ‘Love, Cecil’ documentary Nuart presents the story of a revolutionary By JOHN PAUL KING

Cecil Beaton in the late 1910s. Photo Courtesy Adrian Curry and Zeitgeist Films



‘Long Day’s Journey’ at the Wallis proves timeless value of classics A tale of several elephants in the room By JOHN PAUL KING

Jeremy Irons and Lesley Manville in ‘Long Day’s Journey Into Night’ Photo by Lawrence K. Ho. Courtesy Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts

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Outside of literary and dramatic circles, the name Eugene O’Neill is not often heard in conversation these days. The pioneering American playwright and Nobel laureate, who died in 1953, is still renowned as one of the great influencing voices of modern theater, of course. His plays continue to be rightfully hailed as classics, and his socialist leanings helped to establish a liberal undercurrent in American theater which continues to flow today. Even so, his plays were written well over half a century ago, and many modern theater-goers might well question whether they bear any real relevance to the culture of today. Onstage now at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts (9390 N Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills), the imported Bristol Old Vic production of his posthumously-published, Pulitzer-winning masterpiece “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” answers that question with a resounding “yes.” Rife with barely-fictionalized autobiography, the play is set over the course of a single day in the seaside summer home of James Tyrone and his family. Tyrone is a famous actor whose fear of poverty makes him a miser despite his financial success; his wife, Mary, abandoned her aspirations as a pianist to marry a “matinee idol”; their eldest son, Jamie, is a ne’er-do-well who has failed at becoming an actor in his own right; and their youngest son, Edmund, is a sickly intellectual with dreams of becoming a poet. When the play opens, all seems well and cheerful between this obviously loving quartet, despite some occasional grousing. As the action proceeds, however, it becomes clear that each of them harbors deep regrets about their own lives and deep resentments against each other – resulting in painful and conflicted interactions, full of mixed messages and crossed signals, fueled by shame and guilt, and exacerbated by the addictions that each embrace to dull their own despair. At first glance it may appear that this bleak snapshot of one family’s daily descent into a shared hell has little to do with the world today. After all, what can a play set in 1912 have to say about family dynamics and the psychology of addiction that our modern understanding has not made irrelevant? In the hands of director Sir Richard Eyre and his cast of world-class performers, plenty. This imported British production puts its finger right on the pulse of O’Neill’s complex language, mining it to reveal its underlying, oft-repeated themes in scenes that could easily be taking place in countless households throughout America today. It’s a chilling reminder of how little difference a hundred years can make. First, there is the “elephant in the room” which is Mary’s addiction to morphine; in a country currently in the grip of a record epidemic in opioid dependence, it’s hard not to hear the reverberations when she and the others refer to the eagerness of doctors to prescribe drugs as an easy fix – or to think of the millions of men and women who wander like ghosts behind the closed doors of their modern-day homes as she does. Likewise, it’s hard to escape the irony of the three Tyrone men drowning their feelings in an endless flow of alcohol even as they bemoan the matriarch’s lack of “will power” against her own self-destruction. Then there are the political parallels – Tyrone’s old-fashioned self-made-man rhetoric about the values of the past play against his sons’ anti-capitalist criticisms and introspective artistic inclinations like scenes between a Trump-supporting elder and his liberal progressive offspring at any dinner table in America today. In his fear-driven conservatism, the old man skimps on essential care for his own family in favor of financial speculation; what better allegory could be conceived for the political gap which divides our society in 2018? There are other things. In Mary’s haunted memories we can read the frustration of a woman denied agency by a society which treats her sex as mere decorative possessions; in the alcoholic cynicism of Jamie and the impotent rebellion of Edmund we can see the response of a younger generation capable of seeing the failures of a system rooted in the past yet incapable of effecting change; and in the passive-aggressive wrangling of this fractured family unit, it’s possible to see the reflection of an entire culture caught in a codependent loop of recrimination and self-loathing. Continues at losangelesblade.com


“I’m gonna say one thing – ‘Fuck Trump!’ It’s no longer ‘Down with Trump,’ it’s ‘Fuck Trump!’” - Robert De Niro takes the Tonys (and CBS) by surprise and gets a standing ovation at Radio City Music Hall. Last week, I attended the 40th anniversary screening of the restored version of “Grease” on the Paramount lot. In circumstances far too convoluted to explain, I was part of a small handful of elite VIPs - primarily cast members who were guests of director Randal Kleiser. After the screening, scores of fans descended onto our group to get autographs and photos. Twice, people asked if I was in the film. OK, let’s do the math - the film is celebrating 40 years. Exactly how old do I look? Eventually, I told people I was the stand-in for Cha Cha - the best dancer at Saint Bernadette’s! Aside from that, Miss DiGregorio, how did you like the film? I loved it. The restoration work is amazing. The video has never looked so pristine or vivid, and the audio remastering let me hear bits of background dialogue for the first time. I wholeheartedly recommend getting the Blu-ray. One doesn’t often get to meet a childhood crush, but while I was hangin’ with the T-Birds, pal Barry Pearl, who played Doody, introduced me to Kelly Ward, who played the blond Putzie. The fact that Kelly didn’t run for the hills when I confessed he was my secret love only endeared him to me more (truth be told, I spent much of the evening dancing with his wife than I did mooning over him). While watching “Grease,” I was struck by how much Kelly looked like Tab Hunter. And that leads to our next story. In the 2005 book “Tab Hunter Confidential” (and the subsequent documentary in 2015), the actor discusses his clandestine love affair with fellow queer actor, Anthony Perkins. That story will be the genesis of a film currently in development. “Tab & Tony” is being produced by Zachary Quinto and J.J. Abrams. I am thrilled to report that Lisa Kudrow is returning to must see TV. Kudrow is poised to reprise one of her most popular roles, which originally aired on Thursday nights on NBC. Yes, obviously I am talking about Ursula on “Mad About You.” While talks of rebooting the Paul Reiser/Helen Hunt sitcom persist, we hear that both Carol Burnett and Kudrow have expressed interest in returning to the fold. Throw in the sensational Cynthia Harris as Paul’s mother and I’m in. OK, I also want Richard Kind. Thank you. You know what Shawn Mendes wants to get his hands on? Justin Bieber’s underwear. Well, who could blame him? It all happened during an episode of James Corden’s show. Shawn was doing “Carpool Karaoke,” and he mentioned that even though he lives on his own, his mum still does his housework and laundry. This gave Corden the perfect opportunity to say, “You know, Justin Bieber wears a new pair of underpants every day. I think he then sells them online.” Without batting a perfectly mascaraed lash, Mendes said, “I’d buy them.” In case he didn’t hear right, Corden asked, “How much would you pay for Justin Bieber’s underpants?” “I’d probably cap it at like $500.” James then asked Mendes how much he’d pay for a pair of his (Corden’s) undies. “I would pay to not have a pair of your underpants. I would pay for them to be as far away from me as possible.” Charming. Meanwhile, West Hollywood continues to be a beacon to the rest of the world. And I know this for a fact because that’s what they told me at the Rainbow Key Awards. At least twice during the course of the evening, people were described as shining like the Olympic torch - those are pretty big shoes to fill, especially from a buncha people most of you don’t know. The most famous honoree was our very own Kathy Griffin, who was ushered in through the back door (but not before waving and saying “Hi, Billy” to me). Griffin used the opportunity to once again reiterate her support for the gay community, her resistance to the Trump presidency and her commitment to speaking out at all costs. You can see her entire acceptance speech on BillyMasters.com. Picture it, June 1, 2004. Way back then, I married gay porn superstar Kurt Young in a ceremony that was far from legal. In fact, most of the things we did on our honeymoon are still illegal in six states, but I digress. The point is, we’re married, and I defy anyone to question that - even Kurt’s partner, West Hollywood mayor John Duran, who actually officiated over our ceremony. Anything goes in WeHo - the same city that gives out awards to Stormy Daniels and Kathy Griffin. Continues at losangelesblade.com


Aguilera parties, De Niro gets profane and Griffin wins award Another busy Pride month in the world of gossip By BILLY MASTERS

Christina Aguilera made a surprise appearance during a drag competition at Los Angeles Pride on Sunday. Photo Courtesy Twitter

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E-mail calendar items to tmasters@losangelesblade.com two weeks prior to your event. Space is limited so priority is given to LGBTspecific events or those with LGBT participants. Recurring events must be re-submitted each time.

Mariachi Arcoiris De Los Angeles is the first Mariachi in the world to represent the LGBT community, featuring the world’s first transgender Mariach. The group will perform on Sunday, Jun 24 from 5-6:30 p.m. at Plummer Park (7377 Santa Monica Blvd.). Photo courtesy Mariachi Arcoiris De Los Angeles


Got U Babe: A Benefit Tribute Concert is tonight at 8 p.m. at The Show at the Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa (32250 Bob Hope Dr., Rancho Mirage). In partnership with the Human Rights Campaign, the producers of Legends in Concert present “Got U Babe,” a special tribute production to Tina Turner, Cher and Lady Gaga. For more information visit hotwatercasino.com/got-u-babe.


His House: Prepare to Dance is today from 3-7 p.m. at AHF Wellness Center (2146 W. Adams). Prepare to dance your ass off with In The Meantime Men’s Group, presenting some of the finest house and hip-hop you will ever hear in Los Angeles. Join in the party and shoot some pool, play dominos and air-hockey. Free. For more information visit inthemeantimemen.org or call Jeffrey King at 323-733-4868.


Palm Springs International ShortFest 2018 occurs daily through Jun 25 at various times at The Palm Springs Cultural Center /Camelot Theatre (2300 E Baristo Rd., Palm Springs). The largest and best attended short film event in North America, ShortFest presents more than 325 short films from over 100 countries packaged into 90-100 minute themed programs. For full schedule and ticketing information visit psfilmfest.org/2018-shortfest.


Celebration Theatre Chuck Rowland Award: Billy Porter is tonight from 7-8:30 p.m. at West Hollywood City Council Chambers (625 N. San Vicente Blvd). Celebration Theatre presents Billy Porter with the annual Chuck Rowland Award along with a reading from his semi-autobiographical play “While I Yet Live.” “Stop praying at me,” reads one scene. “Praying doesn’t work. I’ve tried it. I been praying for God to fix me since I could form the syllables. Nothing. This

is who I am, now and forever. Like ‘Cats.’ ” Free admission. RSVP requested. Search “Real Boy” at eventbrite.com.

Pickle. Free Admission. RSVP not required. Visit weho.org/ pride for more details.



West Hollywood Artists and Icons: “When Bette Met Mae,” is tonight from 7-8:30 p.m. at West Hollywood City Council Chambers (625 N. San Vicente Blvd.). Bette Davis, perhaps the most iconic WeHo resident in the city’s history, met screen icon Mae West in 1972 at a dinner party on Orlando Avenue. Bette and Mae discussed their careers, loves, families, thoughts on film, successes, men, and each other, revealing a rare and personal glimpse of these strong women. The evening’s conversation was captured on cassette tape and 40 years later that tape is reenacted. Stick around for a Q&A with writer/director Wes Wheadon. Free Admission. RSVP required. Visit weho.org/pride.


New Stages: “Heroic Lives,” is tonight and tomorrow night from 7-9 p.m. at West Hollywood City Council Chambers (625 N. San Vicente Blvd.). “Heroic Lives” is about the people who changed our world, told by the people who were there. Presented with the LA LGBT Center’s Senior Services Department through a grant from the City of West Hollywood’s Arts Division, New Stages takes LGBTQ seniors through a series of workshops culminating in an evening of songs, stories and original writing about the individuals who fought for LGBTQ liberation and whose lives were acts of heroism. Free Admission. RSVP requested at (323) 860-5830 or seniors@lalgbtcenter.org.


Drag Queen Story Hour is today from 11-11:45 a.m. at WeHo Library Community Meeting Room (625 N. San Vicente Blvd.). Bring the kids and join the City of West Hollywood’s Arts Division and the West Hollywood Library for Drag Queen Story Hour featuring drag impresario

Summer Sounds: Mariachi Acroiris de Los Angeles is today from 5-6:30 p.m. at Plummer Park (7377 Santa Monica Blvd.). Join the City of West Hollywood’s Arts Division for a free outdoor Summer Sounds concert with the first and only LGBTQ mariachi group in the world. Led by director Carlos Samaniego, Mariachi Arcoiris de Los Angeles also features Natalia Melendez, the first transgender female in the history of mariachi. Free Admission, Seating is first come, first served. RSVP requested. Visit weho.org/ summersounds for more information. Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles presents “The Pink Carpet,” today at 2 p.m. at Alex Theater (216 North Brand Blvd.). Leslie Jordan told the Los Angeles Blade he fell out of his mother’s womb into her high-heels. One can only wonder if those high-heels were pink! The Hollywood go to gay joins GMCLA for an evening that celebrates Hollywood’s take on LGBT people. Filmmakers have perpetuated gay and lesbian stereotypes, pushed the boundaries of social norms, blurred the lines of gender roles and created groundbreaking queer films. In GMCLA’s summer concert event, The Pink Carpet walks us through the evolution, in high-heels of course. For tickets call 1-800-MEN-SING or visit gmcla.org.


Women in Film: Jewel’s Catch One is tonight from 7-9 p.m. the West Hollywood City Council Chambers (625 N. San Vicente Blvd). Join Women in Film for a screening of the documentary “Jewel’s Catch One,” which chronicles four decades of the oldest black-owned disco in America and establishes the legacy of businesswoman, activist and healer, Jewel Thais-Williams. A panel discussion follows. Free for WIF members and $10 non-members. RSVP required. Visit womeninfilm.org/speaker-series for details.

Lighting a path to a life well-deserved.


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