INTERNMENT, USA OUTRAGE CONTINUES AS GOV’T INCARCERATES IMMIGRANTS, CHILDREN PAGE 08 Photo Courtesy Plastic Jesus
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04 • JUNE 29, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
10-year-old Lancaster boy’s murder not being investigated as hate crime The moment the opening of the show was interrupted to announce the bomb threat.
Authorities received 16 calls for five years before his death By STAFF REPORTS An official for the Los Angeles County police said Monday that authorities are not investigating whether homophobia played a role in the death of Anthony Avalos, a 10-year-old Lancaster boy. According to Brandon Nichols, deputy director of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, Anthony Avalos came out as gay in recent weeks. Nichols stated that Avalos “said he liked boys” but declined to provide more details, including whom the boy told and when, during Nichols’ interview with the Los Angeles Times. Avalos was found mortally wounded at his home last week with severe head injuries. Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies responded to a 911 call from his mother about 12:15 p.m. last Wednesday, June 20, and found the boy unresponsive inside his family’s apartment, the Times reported. Authorities said they were told the boy had “suffered injuries from a fall.” Avalos died at a hospital Thursday morning, June 21. Meanwhile, county officials removed seven other children from the home. A spokesperson for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department declined to comment Tuesday to the Los Angeles Blade, citing that the investigation into the boy’s death is ongoing. But on June 27, Kareem Leiva, boyfriend of Avalos’ mother, Heather Barron was arrested on suspicion of murder. Social workers had previously recorded Leiva as a gang member, according to The Times. but did acknowledge that the boy’s mother, Heather Barron, and her boyfriend, Kareem Leiva, have not been charged with any crimes related to his death. The LA Times reported Sunday, June 24, that sources told the paper that Barron and Leiva were the subject of at least 16 calls since 2013 from school administrators, a teacher, a counselor, family members and others to DCFS and police alleging child abuse. At least 13 of those calls were received by DCFS and specifically mentioned Anthony Avalos as the alleged victim, Nichols confirmed. He added that the criminal investigation into those allegations of abuse is ongoing. Avalos’ aunt, Maria Barron, said it would have taken great courage for the boy to announce he was gay in the home, under those circumstances. It “only reinforces how brave Anthony was,” she said. The aunt also said she began alerting DCFS in 2015, when she noticed bruises and other injuries that the children told her were caused by Leiva. She said the children reported Leiva locking them in small spaces where they had to urinate and defecate on the floor. Leiva was convicted in 2010 of domestic abuse. The abuse and suspicious death of Anthony Avalos is eerily similar to the tragic abuse death of Gabriel Fernadez, whose mother was given a sentence of life in prison while her boyfriend received the death penalty for the boy’s murder. The abuse was so bad, LA County Supervisors appointed a child protection czar on June 10, 2014, one year after the spate of calls about Anthony Avalos started.
Photo by Mike Pingel
Bomb threat disrupts Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles event But the show goes on By TROY MASTERS firstname.lastname@example.org Just as the star of Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles was being introduced to the crowd of more than 700 on Saturday afternoon at Glendale’s Alex Theater, the curtain began to lower and stagehands raced to push performers behind it. A visibly confused star, Leslie Jordan, fell silent as did the entire 300 member cast on stage with him. Then this. “Please find the nearest exit, ladies and gentleman. Please find the nearest exit and leave the building. This is not a test, this is an actual emergency. Please leave the building calmly.” Stunned audience members, at first unsure what to do, looked around in shock as it began to dawn on them that something had gone very wrong. But what was it? Everyone was left to wonder. As people calmly exited to Brand Avenue, one man said: “Maybe someone didn’t like Jonathan’s speech about Trump and the border crisis.” An elderly woman being pushed out in her wheelchair asked, “Why are we leaving?” There was a sense of orderly confusion. In his speech before the show began, Weedman gave a rousing speech in opposition to the detainment of people crossing the Mexican border and the separation of their families. Combined with the bomb threat, the moment seemed particularly ominous. Executive Director Jonathan Weedman told the Los Angeles Blade, “someone called in a bomb threat just before the show began, apparently, and police told us just seconds before we announced it.” Hundreds of people streamed into the streets, awaiting word on return, but the performance was cancelled. Milling about the sidewalks of Brand Avenue, audience members soon realized the afternoon show would not resume. “Yeah, we’re going to have a show tonight. Come on back, bring your tickets. We’d love for you to come,” repeated Weedman to passersby. Many people were left speculating on what may have happened, but one man offered a story that was repeated by several people. “We saw a very suspicious man in his late 20 come out of the theater, skinny, I would say 5’10 or 5’11” wearing a white T-shirt, black jeans. He stood there in front of that restaurant, staring at the whole crowd then went down the street and stared again. Then security came out and he left,” said Mark Jackson, a volunteer with the chorus. “I told the cops about this and they said, ‘No, he came from inside the theater’ but to me he looked like someone who was enjoying the chaos he created; he looked not healthy, he looked weird,” said Jackson. Glendale Police Department say they have many angles of video footage and are investigating. “We will do a forensic on this and will get to the bottom of it, I can assure you,” demanded Weedman. Leslie Jordan was undeterred. “I am going to take my Uber home and get some rest. I’ll be back to do the next show and then again tomorrow,” he said. Jeff Olde, a longtime supporter of Gay Men’s Chorus, and his husband Alan Uphold said “Being forced to leave the theater only strengthened the absolute resolve of those in attendance to return for the 8 p.m. show, and it was packed, resilient, joyful and determined. They put on a fantastic, wonderful show that made everyone in that room proud to be there. THIS is who we are.”
06 • JUNE 29, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Be counted or be invisible Williams Institute presses for more LGBT data collection in 2020 Census By CHRISTOPHER KANE Thanks in large part to gay demographer Gary Gates, former research director at The Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law, the U.S. Census Bureau started collecting data on LGBT people in 1990 when it recorded data on same-sex households by adding the term “unmarried partner” to the survey. Though there was a wide margin for error, it was a start with the questions and data collection steadily improving since then. Additionally, other federal agencies started collecting similar data to better understand inequities in policy, programs and services. However, it appears the 2020 Decennial Census will not count same-sex couples who don’t live together, nor will it identify bisexual adults in opposite-sex relationships or transgender adults because the form will not ask respondents to indicate their sexual orientation identity, gender identity, nor their assigned sex at birth. The omission of these questions would leave out an estimated 80 percent of people in the LGBT community, says Dr. Kerith Conron, Blachford-Cooper Distinguished Scholar and research director at The Williams Institute, in a recently released video. Loss of thorough, accurate, and inclusive data collection will negate the needs and vulnerabilities of LGBT Americans, says the Institute’s Adam P. Romero, Director of Legal Scholarship and Federal Policy. “As an example,” he explains to the Los Angeles Blade, “there is little federal data on the economic, employment, and unemployment characteristics and experiences of the LGBT population.” As state and federal government surveys have previously indicated, LGBT people experience serious challenges from a public health perspective—from higher rates of suicide to higher rates of tobacco use and HIV/AIDS. But before policy can be made, the scope of the issue must be addressed and that means a head-count. “There are a couple hundred data sources that feed into priority setting for Health and Human Services related to public
Dr. Kerith Conron is the Blachford-Cooper Distinguished Scholar and research director at The Williams Institute. Photo Courtesy Williams Institute
health objectives,” says Conron. “About forty of those sources include surveys. And only a handful, no more than 10, of those include questions that make LGBT people identifiable.” Thus, inclusion of questions about sexual orientation and gender identity on large surveys is critical. Bennett Singer, co-author of “LGBTQ Stats: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer People by the Numbers”—which recently received the American Library Association’s Stonewall Honor Book Award— tells the LA Blade that inclusive data collection is in the best interests of the country as a whole. He cites the RAND Corporation’s 2016 study on transgender troops. “That research resulted in the well-
considered decision to rescind the military’s ban on openly trans service members” by the Obama administration, he says. “So, the idea that President Trump wants to reinstate the ban, to me, is a decision based entirely on prejudice and bigotry and transphobia, as opposed to an analysis of the numbers and the facts and the truth.” Researchers are concerned about the fate of LGBT data collection under the Trump administration. For instance, in April, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reportedly moved to strike questions about sexual orientation from National Crime Victimization Surveys (NCVS) distributed to youth younger than 18. “It’s disheartening to think political motivations would take precedent over an
interest in pursuing justice, which is, after all, what you’d imagine the head of the Justice Department would consider a top priority,” says Singer. Additionally, Conron explains, as it’s currently administered, the NCVS—which contains sensitive questions about crime victimization—presents another problem that may compromise the collection of accurate data: demographic questions are asked aloud, at the homes of respondents. “How could adolescents really be comfortable answering questions about sexual orientation and gender identity—let alone crime victimization experiences—sitting at the kitchen table at their family home?” she asks. Best practices suggest participants should be able to answer questions independently and confidentially. For the Decennial Census, in which heads-ofhouseholds answer demographic questions about themselves as well as others with whom they share a residence, Conron says substantial research has found that accurate personal information about sexual orientation and gender identity can be collected from individuals. “I am, unfortunately, not optimistic that the Trump administration’s Census Bureau will add measures of sexual orientation or transgender identity to important federal surveys or the Decennial Census,” Romero says. “Indeed, in 2017, the Trump Administration withdrew Obama-era requests from the Department of Justice and other agencies to the Census Bureau to do just that.” Romero is confident, however, about the long-term trend toward more inclusive government collection of data on the LGBT community. “It should not be controversial,” he says, “to ask respondents to federal surveys and the Census to voluntarily and confidentially disclose their sexual orientation and gender identity along with other personal characteristics like race, age, and income.” Conron agrees, sort of. In other surveys of youth and adults in which participants selfreport demographic information, “they are much more willing to tell you their sexual orientation identity and gender identity than they are their income,” she says. “There are a lot of people doing all the right things at all different levels of government,” Conron says. “And while we certainly don’t have friendly leadership, that will change. Progress will continue.”
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • JUNE 29, 2018 • 07
Human rights activist Melanie Nathan censored by government Speaking contract canceled because of critical Trump tweets By KAREN OCAMB email@example.com “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” said out philosopher George Santayana. America seems to be drowning in a tsunami of forgetfulness since Donald Trump’s election and his subsequent declaration: “I’m the only one that matters.” Trump was referring that December 2017 to the slew of unfilled government posts—but that sentiment and the loyalty oath he required from FBI Director James Comey, whom he fired when Comey refused—have rippled through the federal government faster than the spread of McCarthyism after the Second World War. Trump’s obsession with loyalty to him, not the U.S. Constitution, may be filtering down to nervous directors and staff members at even the most tangential of federal agencies. Here, behind the scenes, out of the glare of the public spotlight, a Trump brand of McCarthyism may be taking hold with public officials developing their own versions of black lists and enemies lists or quietly breaking or denying a contract to someone they fear might cause repercussions for them with a Trump enforcer, watchdog or snitch. How else to explain what happened to Melanie Nathan? Nathan, who lives in San Francisco, is an internationally renowned human rights activist, speaker, executive director of the African Human Rights Coalition and South African attorney who fought for the victims of apartheid. She had been invited by a largely civilian diversity-oriented group of researchers and scientists at the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division ( NAVAIR) to speak at two Pride events at China Lake base near Bakersfield and Point Mugu in Oxnard on June 26 and June 27, 2018, respectively. Their negotiations included Nathan agreeing not to get political but to stick to LGBT education based on the theme of San Francisco Pride this year, “Generations of Strength.” The group and the Division’s legal department accepted her theme, her proposed outline and her fee. She
Activist Melanie Nathan Photo courtesy Nathan
even sent in her Power Point presentation. In the meantime, Nathan waved off other opportunities because the Navy said in writing that they accepted her proposal. But as Nathan was filling out the security forms to get onto the two bases, she received an email informing her the contract was
cancelled. “We recently became aware of several comments you’ve made on Twitter regarding our nation’s current administration. While those comments and views are appropriate for an individual, given free speech, they are inappropriate for our agency to endorse a potential speaker
of a command-sponsored event. Given our position within the Department of Defense, the President serves as our commander-inchief. Therefore, we need to cease further discussions with you regarding our Pride Month events,” wrote a Naval EEO Manager. Nathan was shocked. She wrote back asking for re-instatement. “We actually have a binding agreement between us – and we had previously agreed the talk would be nonpolitical and purely educational,” Nathan said on a recent LGBT-Rated BlogTalk radio show. “They completely ignored me.” Nathan hired Los Angeles-based attorney Lisa Bloom, who noted that only weeks earlier a federal judge ruled that Trump violated the First Amendment by blocking citizens on Twitter who criticized him. The judge wrote that when the government “actively restricts” an individual’s right to speak and advocate freely, it impinges on the First Amendment. “We will not stand idly by as Mr. Trump tries to turn this country into an authoritarian state and government agents follow his lead by censoring speakers who have challenged him on Twitter,” Bloom wrote to NAVAIR on June 18 demanding immediate reinstatement or the possibility of legal action. And while the NAVAIR manger cited the events as being sponsored by the Navy, neither Nathan nor the citizen employees who invited her—presumably knowing her LGBT and civil rights activist background and having vetted her sufficiently, as, presumably did the legal department before signing off on the deal—is not an active duty service member subject to UCMJ codes forbidding criticism of the President. And the agreement stipulated that Nathan would only discuss LGBT history and the LGBT movement. “This is not ‘Dear Leaders’ time in North Korea, Bloom said during an appearance on MSNBC’s AM Joy on June 23. “We don’t all have to bend the knee to Donald Trump to hold onto our government contracts. That is the very essence of the First Amendment…. This is a blatantly unconstitutional action.” “In 1985, when I immigrated from an oppressive Apartheid South Africa,” Nathan told the Los Angeles Blade, “I could not have imagined that my freedoms would be oppressed in the great United States of America. The world looks up to this beacon of democracy. This is truly painful and shocking.”
08 • JUNE 29, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Is America on a slippery slope to fascism? The Republican Party ‘has become a threat to liberal democracy,’ says Steve Schmidt By Karen Ocamb firstname.lastname@example.org Out journalist Masha Gessen, an expert on Russian President Vladimir Putin and authoritarianism, pulled no rhetorical punches. “I don’t think we have fascist rule in this country, but what we have is a fascist leader,” Gessen told MSNBC’s Joy Reid on June 23, referring to President Donald Trump. “We have a nativist, nationalist leader who is devoting all his energy into portraying a group of people as a super dangerous enemy, both sort of subhuman animals, right, ‘infestation,’ and superhuman at the same time because they’re so frightening— because if we don’t protect ourselves, terrible things will happen, we don’t know what kind of catastrophe will befall us,” encapsulating Trump’s use of fear tactics and dehumanizing language about immigrants to rile his base. “That is fascism,” Gessen said. “Whether we allow fascism to take over this entire country is an open question and none of us knows what’s going to happen. But it is by no means hyperbole to call Trump a fascist.” Gessen noted how slowly fascism takes hold. “Somebody posted recently the mock cover that The Boston Globe did before Trump’s election to try to scare people that said, ‘Deportations to Begin.’ And we thought it would be so shocking just a year and a half ago—and now we’re in the middle of it,” she said. “Deportations have long since begun and worse than deportations.” “And soon internment camps,” Reid added as an almost throwaway afterthought. And then came the internment camps— for children. But first came the announcement. In March 2017, Trump called for an end to the “catch and release” policy whereby migrants crossing illegally into the US, a misdemeanor, would be freed to stay in the country while awaiting a court hearing. A Department of Homeland Security proposal called for women and children to be separated as a deterrent to mothers. Implementing the new policy proposal
President Donald Trump didn’t mention LGBT people in his National HIV/AIDS Testing Day statement. Blade File Photo by Michael Key
“could create lifelong psychological trauma,” Marielena Hincapie, executive director at the National Immigration Law Center, told Reuters for a March 3, 2017 story. “Especially for children that have just completed a perilous journey from Central America.” A year later, on April 6, 2018, Attorney General Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions announced a new “zero-tolerance” policy. Lest anyone miss the point, Sessions went to Friendship Park on the border on May 8 and gleefully spelled out the new policy.
“People are not going to caravan or otherwise stampede our border. We need legality and integrity in the system. That’s why the Department of Homeland Security is now referring 100 percent of illegal Southwest Border crossings to the Department of Justice for prosecution. And the Department of Justice will take up those cases,” he said. “If you cross this border unlawfully, then we will prosecute you. It’s that simple. If you smuggle illegal aliens across our border, then we will prosecute
you. If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child will be separated from you as required by law.” The felony criminalization of immigration forced authorities to take a child while the parent was referred for prosecution, which often resulted in deportation without the child. Sessions later declared that asylum would not be granted to anyone fleeing from domestic violence or gangs. Asked by NPR if separating a child from a mother is “cruel and heartless,” White House
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • JUNE 29, 2018 • 09
Mark Takano on the bus touring several camp facilities. Photo courtesy Takano’s Office
Chief of Staff John Kelly said on May 11: “I wouldn’t put it quite that way. The children will be taken care of — put into foster care or whatever. But the big point is they elected to come illegally into the United States and this is a technique that no one hopes will be used extensively or for very long.” During a May 15 Senate committee hearing, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said that families seeking asylum who present themselves at ports of entry stay together. However, DHS later clarified that
families may be separated if they can’t prove a custodial relationship or if DHS thinks a child may be at risk, being used by a trafficker to gain entry. In practice, asylum seekers who presented themselves at a point of entry were blocked, forced to find another way into the country, thus making their crossing illegal, with the children removed. On May 29, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a 21 percent surge in one month in unaccompanied children in government
detention centers. “Although the government has not disclosed how many children have been separated from their parents as a result of the new measures, [HHS] said Tuesday that it had 10,773 migrant children in its custody, up from 8,886 on April 29,” the Washington Post reported. More than 100 children under the age of 4 were taken from their mothers, including breast-feeding infants, The New York Times reported, using data provided by HHS’ Office of Refugee Resettlement.
The policy was the last straw for former Republican strategist Steve Schmidt who renounce his membership in the Republican Party, now “fully the party of Trump.” “This child separation policy is connected to the worst abuses of humanity in our history. It is connected by the same evil that separated families during slavery and dislocated tribes and broke up Native American families,” he said the thread. “Today the GOP has become a danger to our democracy and values.” Schmidt also came close to calling Trump a fascist. “Conservatism has become synonymous with obedience to the leader – a leader who says ‘I am the law. I am above the law. I will define what truth is.’ Truth is what the leader says it is, not what we would have recognized months ago as objective truth,” Schmidt told MSNBC. “The last time this happened, it unleashed a tragedy the likes of which the world has never seen. And I think there is a real lack of imagination in this country about how fragile these institutions are and how dangerous a president as unprepared, as authoritarian, as ignorant as he is—the damage he would be able to cause.” The government tried to control the detention narrative. But reporting by Los Angeles native Jacob Soboroff for MSNBC after touring a facility in McAllen, Texas burst through. He described essentially a prison with “babies sitting by themselves in a cage with other babies.” He said reporters on the tour were asked to smile at the kids because they “feel like animals locked up in cages.” ProPublica released smuggled audio of young children crying for their parents. Reports of “tender-age shelters” and the sight of young people escorted in the dark of night to facilities around the country caused outrage. Trump said he didn’t like the images and on June 20 signed an executive order that kept in place his “zero-tolerance” policy, but allows families to stay together while the parents are being prosecuted. However, many questions remain: what happens if the parents’ cases are not adjudicated within 20 days, when a federal court settlement requires that children be released from detention? And while a San Diego judge ordered family reunification within 30 days of separation, the government has apparently Continues on page 18
10 • JUNE 29, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Photo Courtesy CBS News
CBS News reporter David Begnaud, who received widespread praise for his extensive coverage of the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, came out June 24 by tweeting a picture of him at a dinner with his partner, Jeremy. “Reporting the truth includes my own,” he wrote, adding “#happypride” with a rainbow emoji. “It just felt right,” Begnaud told the Washington Blade. “I was inspired by what I was seeing in New York City for the Pride celebration.” Begnaud and his partner, who lives in Los Angeles, have been together for nearly seven years. “Jeremy, my partner, is the salt of the earth.” Begnaud told the Blade his sexual orientation “is something that is as old as I am.” “It’s also not a banner headline for me,” he added. “It’s who I am. It’s who I love.” Begnaud was in Puerto Rico on Sept. 20, 2017, when Maria made landfall on the island’s southeast coast with winds of 155 mph. He also covered the hurricane’s immediate aftermath; which included a lack of electricity, running water and cell phone service across the island and a shortage of food and other basic supplies. A Harvard study published May 29 estimated that as many as 4,645 Puerto Ricans died as a result of Hurricane Maria, a toll 73 times higher than the 64 officially reported deaths. – Michael K. Lavers.
“Marching in the #NYCPride Parade has special meaning this year as I am marching with my daughter Alison and her wonderful fiancée Biz! #HappyPride” – Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in a June 24 tweet.
“I’m so proud of my son Samuel Joseph Mozes (called Seph) who graduated college this month. I salute him and everyone else marking today’s #TransDayofAction.”
Actress and New York gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon on Twitter announcing her 21-year old son is transgender.
“In 30 states, LGBTQ people are still at risk of being fired, denied housing, or turned away from a business simply because of who they are.”
- JoDee Winterhof, senior vice president for policy and political affairs at the Human Rights Campaign on June 26, the third anniversary of marriage equality.
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12 • JUNE 29, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
HIV/AIDS: The other US-Mexican border crisis VICE’s Paola Ramos looks at HIV epidemic in Brownsville, Texas By KAREN OCAMB email@example.com The Trump administration’s unplanned “zero tolerance” family-separation immigration policy has created a humanitarian crisis on the US-Mexican border. But while the focus is rightly on reuniting mothers with their children stripped away by government agents, there is a whole population of people desperately in need of help, many seeking asylum, who are largely being ignored: immigrants with HIV/AIDS. Roxanna Hernandez, for instance, was a 33-year old transgender immigrant with AIDS fleeing violence in her home country. After she turned herself in to ICE in San Diego last May seeking help, she was shuffled from detention in Texas to a correctional facility in New Mexico until she died alone on May 25. “Because (Roxanna) was trying to get a better life, and because she was running away from the violence she experienced in Honduras, she came to the U.S. to find death. The system is the one that killed her,” Bamby Salcedo, President and CEO of the TransLatin@ Coalition, told a gathering in Los Angeles. “ICE separates us when we disclose that we are HIV+ and trans. That is what they did to Roxanna—they isolated her to let her die.” But, as out journalist/activist Paola Ramos explains in a new digital series on VICE.com, border towns such as Brownsville, Texas in the Rio Grande Valley have a crisis of their own—a surging HIV epidemic in the Latino community. Brownsville is 90% Latino,” Ramos says. “Immigrants know what they’re stepping into. One thing they do not know is that in Brownsville, in this entire region, there is a huge HIV epidemic, particularly among the Latino community.” Citing CDC statistics, Ramos notes that while HIV infections declined 5% in the US from 2011 to 2015, rates for Latino MSM (men-who-have-sex-with-men) ages 13 and older increased 13.4%. And HIV is a crisis in the Rio Grande Valley: 85% of people who contract HIV are Latino; 75% of new cases are male, according to the Valley AIDS Council. Why? Ramos asks in the first episode of her
Paola Ramos talking with Joe Colon-Uvalles, aka “dragtivist”Beatrix LeStrange Photo Courtesy VICE
VICE series exploring the Latin-X movement. She turns to Joe Colon-Uvalles, aka Beatrix LeStrange, a local LGBT organizer, HIV/AIDS educator and “dragtivist” who started “Drag Out HIV!” in 2017 to fight the oppressive stigma surrounding HIV in the Catholic-heavy region. Texas is an “abstinence-only” state that fails to teach HIV/AIDS and sex education. Colon-Uvalles and his organization are also helping immigrants during the border crisis. These activists “are so brave. They’ve gone through so much and they’ve seen so much pain but now is when they’re shining the most in these moments of crisis, when people need them. This is when they’re stepping up and Joe is helping these immigrant communities,” Ramos tells the Los Angeles Blade in a recent phone interview. “I was so proud to have met him. That’s the hope that I have now—that there are people like Joe down there right now helping other people.” In May 2017, Ramos, the former Deputy Director of Hispanic Media for Hillary for America, was honored in Hollywood by the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice. Her Fueling the Frontlines Award was presented by her father, Jorge Ramos, the acclaimed
Univision News anchor and journalist who famously stood up to presidential candidate Donald Trump and was forcefully removed from Trump’s news conference. The younger Ramos has a similarly keen sensibility for fighting discrimination, sharing how Latinos are responding to the current humanitarian crisis. “That’s when the Latino community comes together,” Ramos says. “Regardless of your status, regardless of the color of your skin, regardless of what group you’re working with and for and whether you’re gay or not, people are coming together and that’s something you’re seeing in the protests, you’re seeing in the way these incredible groups have organized. And that speaks to the Latin-X movement. It’s just these young Latinos that are trying to make change. And that’s exactly what you’re seeing right now in a moment of crisis,” she says. Refreshingly humble for a millennial familiar with fame, Ramos says she’s had the privilege of meeting many incredible people, including Bamby Salcedo when she visited The Trans Wellness Center. “If you want to talk about courageous Latinas and incredible stories, it’s them. On
a personal level, to me they are one of the bravest human beings I’ve met,” she says. “Within our community, there are still stigmas and discrimination against our own people.” Ramos hopes the digital VICE series will galvanize activism. “How do I get young Latinas to care and to be educated and to understand what’s at stake for our community?” she asks. “Right now, it’s through content. It’s through opening people’s eyes through these stories—to have content on their screens, on TV, on their cells that looks like them and telling stories about them. To me, as a millennial, that is the first step that has been missing in this space. Content that looks like you, that’s uplifting voices like yours.” But content is not enough. “You have to do something about it,” Ramos says. “You have to take action. My hope is, with everything happening with this administration, people understand that you need to vote in the midterms, you need to show up at that rally. It’s all tied to action. You’re not only seeing that there’s an HIV crisis, you’re also seeing what people are doing about it. Tying content to action is key to me.”
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14 • JUNE 29, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Supreme Court sends back ‘religious freedom’ case from anti-gay florist Arlene’s Flowers seeks right to refuse same-sex weddings By CHRIS JOHNSON The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday announced that it has sent back for review to Washington State a lawsuit filed by an antigay florist seeking a First Amendment right to refuse service to same-sex weddings. The court announced the decision in an orders list on Monday, which reflected decisions made on many petitions for certiorari considered at its conference last Thursday. Although the Supreme Court granted certiorari and vacated the decision against her by the Washington Supreme Court, justices also remanded the case back to that body for reconsideration in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s narrow decision for Colorado baker Jack Phillips in the Masterpiece Cakeshop lawsuit. That means the U.S. Supreme Court won’t consider the judgment Barronelle Stutzman, the owner of Arlene’s Flowers, was seeking: A sweeping right under the First Amendment based on freedom of religion and freedom of speech to refuse to provide floral services for same-sex weddings. Alliance Defending Freedom, the antiLGBT legal group representing Arlene’s Flowers, nonetheless praised the action from the U.S. Supreme Court as a win. Kristen Waggoner, the senior vice president of ADF’s U.S. legal division, said in a statement the U.S. Supreme Court “rightfully asked the Washington Supreme Court to reconsider Barronelle’s case in light of the Masterpiece Cakeshop decision.” “In that ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court denounced government hostility toward the religious beliefs about marriage held by creative professionals like Jack and Barronelle,” Waggoner said. “The state of Washington, acting through its attorney general, has shown similar hostility here.” The Washington Supreme Court ruled against Stutzman last year as a result of legal action brought against her by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who contended she violated the Washington Law Against Discrimination by declining to provide floral services for the samesex wedding of Curt Freed and Robert Ingersoll. The decision upheld the ruling of
Barronelle Stutzman of Arlene’s Flowers is seeking an OK to refuse service to gay couples. Blade File Photo by Michael Key
the Benton County Superior Court, which found Stutzman violated the law and fined her $1,000. Waggoner, who argued on Stutzman’s behalf before the Washington Supreme Court in 2016, insisted Stutzman “serves all customers,” but won’t create “custom art that expresses messages or celebrates events in conflict with her deeply held religious beliefs.” “The Washington attorney general’s efforts to punish her because he dislikes her beliefs about marriage are as impermissible as Colorado’s attempt to punish Jack,” Waggoner said. Waggoner said Ferguson didn’t prosecute a business that berated and discriminated against Christian customers with antiabortion, anti-LGBT views, but in contrast pursued measures to punish Stutzman for refusing to provide floral services for a same-sex wedding. Ferguson said in a statement “we expected this procedural step” from the U.S. Supreme Court in the aftermath of the Masterpiece Cakeshop decision. “The Washington State Supreme Court now has the job of determining whether the U.S. Supreme Court ruling affects this case,” Ferguson said. “I am confident they will come to the same conclusion they did in their previous, unanimous ruling upholding the civil rights of same-sex couples in our state.” Much like the Masterpiece Cakeshop decision, LGBT groups are split on the
action from the U.S. Supreme Court in the Arlene’s Flowers case. Praising the decision was Masen Davis, CEO of Freedom for All Americans, who pointed out the Supreme Court has now on two separate occasions declined to issue a sweeping ruling allowing anti-LGBT discrimination in the name of “religious freedom.” “Opponents of LGBTQ equality have asked the Supreme Court for a constitutional right to discriminate against LGBTQ people, and the Court has refused to do so on two separate occasions - first in Masterpiece, and now in Arlene’s Flowers,” Davis said. “Earlier this month, the Supreme Court reaffirmed our nation’s longstanding promise of equal opportunity for all, making clear that all business owners and all customers should be treated with respect.” Jennifer Pizer, senior counsel and law and policy director at Lambda Legal, had a different take and called the Supreme Court’s decision “immensely frustrating and disappointing.” “Just as in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case decided three weeks ago, the Supreme Court should simply have reaffirmed longstanding constitutional principles that freedom of religion is not a license to discriminate,” Pizer said. “Laws requiring businesses to be open to all do not conflict with the Constitution. It is past time to put to rest these proliferating attempts to undermine the civil rights of LGBT people in the name of religion.” Technically, the Washington Supreme
Court could rule in Stutzman’s favor upon reconsideration, but the Supreme Court directed reconsideration in light of the Masterpiece Cakeshop decision, which was a narrow ruling for Phillips on the grounds the Colorado Civil Rights Commission didn’t respect his religious views when considering his case. Based on that, it’s hard to see how the Washington Supreme Court could issue a sweeping decision enabling anti-LGBT discrimination in the name of “religious freedom” under those instructions. In fact, an Arizona state court in the aftermath of the Masterpiece Cakeshop recently drew on the decision to uphold an LGBT nondiscrimination law in Phoenix, rather than undercut it. Representing the same-sex couple in the case was the American Civil Liberties Union, which asserted there’s no expectation the Washington Supreme Court would issue any sweeping decision for Arlene’s Flowers. James Esseks, director of ACLU’s LGBT and HIV Project, said in a statement he doesn’t expect any new outcome from the Washington Supreme Court undermining LGBT rights. “To be clear, the court made no indication the lower courts ruled incorrectly and made no decision on the case’s merits,” Esseks said. “We are confident that the Washington State Supreme Court will rule once again in favor of the same-sex couple, and reaffirm its decision that no business has a right to discriminate.”
In adults with HIV on ART who have diarrhea not caused by an infection IMPORTANT PATIENT INFORMATION This is only a summary. See complete Prescribing Information at Mytesi.com or by calling 1-844-722-8256. This does not take the place of talking with your doctor about your medical condition or treatment.
What Is Mytesi? Mytesi is a prescription medicine used to improve symptoms of noninfectious diarrhea (diarrhea not caused by a bacterial, viral, or parasitic infection) in adults living with HIV/AIDS on ART. Do Not Take Mytesi if you have diarrhea caused by an infection. Before you start Mytesi, your doctor and you should make sure your diarrhea is not caused by an infection (such as bacteria, virus, or parasite).
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Mytesi (crofelemer): • Is the only medicine FDA-approved to relieve diarrhea in people with HIV • Treats diarrhea differently by normalizing the flow of water in the GI tract • Has the same or fewer side effects as placebo in clinical studies • Comes from a tree sustainably harvested in the Amazon Rainforest What is Mytesi? Mytesi is a prescription medicine that helps relieve symptoms of diarrhea not caused by an infection (noninfectious) in adults living with HIV/AIDS on antiretroviral therapy (ART). Important Safety Information Mytesi is not approved to treat infectious diarrhea (diarrhea caused by bacteria, a virus, or a parasite). Before starting you on Mytesi, your healthcare provider will first be sure that you do not have infectious diarrhea. Otherwise, there is a risk you would not receive the right medicine and your infection could get worse. In clinical studies, the most common side effects that occurred more often than with placebo were upper respiratory tract (sinus, nose, and throat) infection (5.7%), bronchitis (3.9%), cough (3.5%), flatulence (3.1%), and increased bilirubin (3.1%).
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Should I Take Mytesi If I Am: Pregnant or Planning to Become Pregnant? • Studies in animals show that Mytesi could harm an unborn baby or affect the ability to become pregnant • There are no studies in pregnant women taking Mytesi • This drug should only be used during pregnancy if clearly needed A Nursing Mother? • It is not known whether Mytesi is passed through human breast milk • If you are nursing, you should tell your doctor before starting Mytesi • Your doctor will help you to decide whether to stop nursing or to stop taking Mytesi Under 18 or Over 65 Years of Age? • Mytesi has not been studied in children under 18 years of age • Mytesi studies did not include many people over the age of 65. So it is not clear if this age group will respond differently. Talk to your doctor to find out if Mytesi is right for you
What Should I Know About Taking Mytesi With Other Medicines? If you are taking any prescription or over-the-counter medicine, herbal supplements, or vitamins, tell your doctor before starting Mytesi.
What If I Have More Questions About Mytesi? For more information, please see the full Prescribing Information at Mytesi.com or speak to your doctor or pharmacist. To report side effects or make a product complaint or for additional information, call 1-844-722-8256.
Rx Only Manufactured by Patheon, Inc. for Napo Pharmaceuticals, Inc. San Francisco, CA 94105 Copyright © Napo Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Please see complete Prescribing Information at Mytesi.com. NP-390-26
• Upper respiratory tract infection (sinus, nose, and throat infection) • Bronchitis (swelling in the tubes that carry air to and from your lungs) • Cough • Flatulence (gas) • Increased bilirubin (a waste product when red blood cells break down) For a full list of side effects, please talk to your doctor. Tell your doctor if you have any side effect that bothers you or does not go away. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
RELIEF, PURE AND SIMPLE
Mytesi comes from the Croton lechleri tree harvested in South America.
16 • JUNE 29, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
VOLUME 02 ISSUE 17
Rejecting the Scarlet ‘T’ Appeals Court upholds trans students’ rights
Jon W. Davidson has been a leading LGBT legal rights advocate and constitutional scholar for more than 30 years. He recently stepped down as the national legal director of Lambda Legal.
EDITOR’S NOTE: California has built a history of protecting transgender students through nondiscrimination and specific laws and policies. And while Education Sec. Betsy DeVos has diligently worked at rolling back such protections, the courts have ruled in favor of the students. Jon Davidson explains the most recent ruling.
Notwithstanding repeated attempts by the Trump administration to backpedal on civil rights progress for transgender Americans, the federal courts once again have ridden to the rescue. On June 18, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals issued its decision in Doe v. Boyertown Area School District, becoming the second federal appellate court to expressly hold that transgender students are entitled to use public school restrooms that are consistent with their gender identity. The decision is notable for its powerful rejection of right-wing attempts to sow misunderstanding and fear about those who are transgender. The case was brought by the well-funded, anti-LGBTQ organization Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). ADF is representing several students and their parents who claim that these students’ right to privacy is being violated by a Pennsylvania school district policy allowing transgender students to use singlesex facilities that match the gender with which they identify. ADF sought to have the policy enjoined while the lawsuit proceeds. After the
ACLU intervened on behalf of a student and an LGBTQ youth organization, a federal district court rejected ADF’s request and it appealed. The Third Circuit unanimously ruled that the lower court correctly rebuffed ADF. Relying on expert testimony on gender-identity issues, the appellate court explained that policies that exclude transgender people from facilities that are consistent with their deep-rooted sense of gender adversely affect “the physical and mental health, safety, and well-being of transgender individuals.” Such exclusionary policies exacerbate the risk of, “anxiety and depression, low self-esteem, engaging in self-injurious behaviors, suicide, substance use, homelessness and eating disorders,” among other harms. Indeed, as the court noted, the rate of suicide attempts by transgender individuals is nine times the general population. But, as the expert testified, when transgender students are respected and allowed to use facilities that conform to their gender identity, those students “reflect the same healthy psychological profile as their peers.” The appellate court questioned whether merely allowing transgender students to share restrooms and locker rooms with students who are not transgender violates anyone’s rights to privacy. After all, it is common for individuals to be partially undressed in such facilities and a transgender student’s presence there “provides no more of a risk to students’ privacy rights than the presence of an overly curious student [who is not transgender] who decides to sneak glances at his or her classmates performing their bodily functions.” But even if there were an intrusion on privacy rights, the Third Circuit held that it was amply justified by the government’s compelling interest in protecting transgender students from the harms of exclusion. The risk to them, the appellate court explained, “cannot be overstated— indeed, it can be life-threatening.” Inclusive policies not only protect transgender young people, the Court added; they benefit all students by fostering “an environment of inclusivity, acceptance, and tolerance” that creates a better learning environment,
“reduce[s] prejudices and promote[s] diverse relationships which later benefits students in the workplace and in their communities.” The Boyertown school district properly protected all students who desired additional privacy by replacing “gang showers” with single-user showers with privacy curtains behind which students can undress and dress. In addition, the school district maintained eight single-user restrooms available to all students desiring greater privacy. The appellate court condemned ADF’s assertion that only transgender students should be required to use those restrooms, as some schools have done, as a position that would “very publicly brand all transgender students with a scarlet ‘T.’” Trans students should “not have to endure that as a price of attending their public school,” the court held. In reaching its decision, the Third Circuit relied on the Seventh Circuit’s ruling last year in Whitaker v. Kenosha Unified School District No. 1 Board of Education, which reached similar conclusions and was later resolved when that school district agreed to pay $800,000 in settlement. The court also noted that the First, Sixth, Ninth, and Eleventh Circuits have held that discrimination against transgender individuals is a form of sex discrimination. Numerous federal district courts have agreed that transgender students, employees, and tenants cannot be shunned in the ways the ADFs of the world seek. Unfortunately, the Trump administration continues to align itself with such anti-trans efforts. The Department of Education has withdrawn Obama administration guidance that urged schools to follow the sorts of policies the Boyertown district adopted. Likewise, the federal Bureau of Prisons in May rolled back Obama era rules designed to protect the safety of transgender inmates that had allowed them to be housed and use restrooms that match their gender identity. The Department of Justice also continues its efforts (thus far, in vain) to justify the President’s Executive Order barring transgender individuals from military service. With Congress refusing to intercede, we have only the courts to protect us. Thank goodness they continue to prove up to the task.
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LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • JUNE 29, 2018 • 17
The Christian right and the failure to communicate Getting out the gospel vote
Gabriel S. Hudson, Ph.D., teaches at George Mason University’s Graduate School of Education and The Schar School of Policy and Government. He is the author of ‘Christodemocracy and the Alternative Democratic Theory of America’s Christian Right.’
The world is changing. Norms of the international order established after World War II are regularly violated. The Commander-in-Chief, Donald Trump, tosses Starbursts at our allies and insults them personally on Twitter. Dictators who run concentration camps are honored while we withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Council. Family separations at the border summarily negate the moral source of our soft power. America’s role of hero, of moral authority, of human rights advocate has evaporated empirically. Some relish the retreat, but most recognize it is the wrong direction. Other actions are just confoundingly confusing—such as the North Korea Summit. There is a possibility that it is tantamount to Nixon’s opening of China. More likely, though, the United States has been misled into invidious concessions, again. Trump’s praise of Kim Jung Un and the inadvertent salute of the dictator’s general are such departures from norms that they defy explanation.
But aside from Trump’s penchant for dictators and his oddly magniloquent explanation of foreign policy, the North Korean overture is actually a longtime objective of his Evangelical supporters. A recent email blast from the conservative Christian Family Research Council frames the summit somewhere between the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy and a victory in an ongoing war with Satan. FRC characterizes the US as now holding the sacred place of ancient Israel in a covenant relationship with the God of the Bible. In this contract, it’s America’s turn to use culture and politics to honor God in exchange for special favor and protection. Allowing sin— defined as abortion, gay rights, and other usual suspects—angers a patient God and endangers the arrangement. Believers must enact “thy will on Earth as it is in Heaven.” That characterization has been demonstrably effective in forwarding unfair policy and convincing believers to vote against their self-interest. Regarding the North Korea Summit, the FRC says negotiating with the despotic regime is a blessing because it opens up the possibility of sharing Christianity with North Koreans and provides a needed political victory for the President they love. The Christian Right’s covenant relationship with President Trump enables his will on Earth and he boisterously protects their privilege. Vice President Pence made similar points to the Southern Baptist Convention, using a campaign-style speech to meticulously conflated adoration of Trump with obedience to God. Here’s the catch that Trump-Pence critics miss. Neither Pence, other convention speakers nor FRC advocates encouraged supporters to call their representative in
Congress or vote the right way in November. They do not have to. They instead encourage daily intercession—prayer—on behalf of the nation. Believers are instructed to pray for God to forgive the country as a whole for inadequately reflecting God’s assumed policy preferences, especially regarding LGBT people and healthcare. The admonition serves a critical but indirect purpose. It conflates spiritual warfare with political competition and attaches a daily faith practice to political participation. Getting out the vote becomes spiritually reflexive. Advocacy, as determined by the politicized Christian Right, is so effectively intertwined with identity, worldview, and daily spiritual habits that political mobilization and rhetorical rapid response become perfunctory. That is why the FRC and likeminded groups are inexplicably powerful and the reason we will continue to see their worldview frame foreign and domestic policy as long as Trump and Pence run the show. But there is another side we’re missing, if we ever want to heal this country. Because their activism reeks of animus, the Christian Right rank and file are often overlooked as often kind, well-intentioned people who are sincere in their faith. We may need to endure the stench to figure out why the bullshit is so appealing. We have to “love the sinner and hate the sin”—see adherents through the commonality of benevolent countrymen so we can dismantle their bigotry. Rhetorically, progressives such as Samantha Bee and John Oliver excel at rebuttal and ridicule. But we are all less successful at understanding and reaching out. In light of our society’s advanced-stage bifurcation, we need physicians that are culturally bilingual. With admitted cynicism,
it is politically necessary to reach Trump supporters on their own terms, or at least fathom their universe. North Korea may be a start. To paraphrase the First Commandment, in that isolated country, there are no other gods before Kim. Christians are imprisoned in labor camps. We understand that. Our American commitment to individualism is anathema to North Korean oppression and the persecution of our own minorities domestically. Our commitment to individualism protects both the free exercise of religion and the rights of those that disobey religion. Surely some conservative Christians feel that knot in their stomach that blindly supporting Trump undermines core Christian values, making traditional Evangelism seem hypocritical and cruel. The FRC email and Pence’s political pseudocampaign speech serve as a cultural Rosetta Stone so we can begin talking to each other. But we have to be honest about the effectiveness of our own communication if we want to reach them and dismantle bigotry. The recent Supreme Court Masterpiece Cakeshop decision condemned the mistreatment of religion while endorsing the underlying Constitutional assertion of individual rights. We are correct about equality but we are communicating it inefficiently. The struggle for LGBT rights does not exist in a vacuum. If anything, it is carried on stronger currents of cultural shifts and divisions. We must broaden our political outlook to connect the erosion of LGBT rights with the very unChristian keeping of migrant children in cages. For a peaceful future, we must broaden our comprehension to encompass a worldview that got us to this critical breaking point so we can better communicate with those that promote religious liberty while admiring an oppressor.
18 • JUNE 29, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
America shocked Continues from page 9
not been keeping track of the children, including infants and toddlers who do not know their names. More than 2,300 children are in government custody since the separation policy started in April. “I miss my mother and when I see those children on the border it rips my heart out,” says Maria (a pseudonym to protect her identity). “She died trying to get me here. She carried me from Honduras, first on a bicycle, then a van, a train, on foot, on bus...We traveled for such a long way, it took months. I remember it. She died in a small town on the side of the road in Mexico trying to get to my brother in California. She was not a criminal. She only wanted to give us both a better life but she didn’t make it. I was only 6 years old. Maria remembers the good part of the journey. “People don’t understand. For 99 percent of the people, the journey is a highlight of their life, sometimes the only family they have in the world are people they meet along the way. They take care of each other, feed each other, share everything and they look out for the children, even the older boys who travel alone,” she says. “When my mother died people took care of me, they knew what my mother wanted for me and they made it happen. “It’s not what Trump wants you to think,” she continues. “There were some bad people who took advantage of the good people, but they were not us. Most of the bad people were making money, stealing from the people the journey, making promises they did not keep.” “I am not a bad hombre and neither was my mother,” she adds. “I was captured but not separated from the woman who told immigration people she was my mother. She took care of me for 2 years and worked everyday to help me find my brother. I still call her mom and she is still in danger of deportation all these years later.” Maria made that journey in 2003. She was reunited with her brother, who had been
adopted by a gay couple in the Palm Springs area and she eventually came out as a lesbian. She is working on getting her citizenship. “I love this country. My brother and I are lucky,” she tells the Los Angeles Blade. Not everyone is as lucky. Last May, among the caravan of 225 asylum seekers fleeing Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador to the Mexican border were more than 20 transgender women. Not all arrived in Tijuana. “Some of us have been kidnapped, assaulted, and disappeared,” Ivan Mondragon, 30, who organized the transgender group, told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “Some have been forced into sex work. Here in Tijuana, one of our girls was assaulted, someone broke her rib and we haven’t seen her since she posted a video on Facebook after she was beaten.” “I have friends who don’t have the opportunity to ask for asylum because they are already dead,” Shannel Smith, 28 of Honduras, told the Union-Tribune. She is fleeing gang members who killed her friend. Roxanna Hernandez, 33, turned herself to ICE in San Diego seeking help—she had AIDS and was also fleeing violence as a trans woman. ICE took her into custody, shuffled her from facility to facility until she died alone on May 25 in New Mexico. But asylum for LGBT people is not easy to get. Udoka Nweke, a 29-year-old gay Nigerian, has been in Adelanto Detention Center since Dec. 2016. Fleeing his country after being attacked by an anti-gay mob, Nweke’s asylum plea was denied and he attempted suicide. The Black LGBTQ Migrant Project has petitioned for his release on parole so he can access lifesaving medical treatments. Concern is growing about the psychological and emotional well being of the children now in government detention camps. Out Rep. Mark Takano is among the congressional representatives who travelled to border towns and detention and prisons to see what’s happening. To him, the incarceration and the tent cities dramatically remind him of the Japanese-American internment camps during World War Two.
“I am just taken by how much the history of Japanese-American internment has been made current,” Takano tells the LA Blade. The fact that the family separation policy has been suspended “only proves that the administration was lying when it said it was law and they were forced to do this.” In fact, ‘the law did not require any of the cruel policies that they were implementing.” Takano says that when he visited the McAllen, Brownsville and Port Isabel detention centers, he met with about 15 women from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. “None of these women posed a danger to our country. None of these women even came close to images of MS 13, which this president likes to broad brush all immigrants with to justify his policies.” At Port Isabel, “you see 15 foot high walls and fences topped off with coiled razor wire,” Takano said. “And, of course, that image reminded me of my mother and my father who were two and three years old they went to Heart Mountain in Wyoming and Tule Lake in California. And certainly two and three year olds did not pose a danger to our country. And the executive order that lead to the interment of JapaneseAmericans and Japanese immigrants” and Trump’s cruelty policy “were motivated by an extreme political agenda that was also further propagated by a media and a press that repeated the exaggerated claims of politicians….Rounding up and interring all Japanese-Americans was discriminatory.” The disproportionate response then and now is based on “some vague notion of national security, some vague notion we’re protecting the public. That is simply a fiction and untrue. And it’s causing great suffering,” he says. “This is an immoral policy,” the scapegoating, stigmatization, “the marginalization of a vulnerable minority whose due process rights were not respected.” “How does this connect to LGBT people?” Takano recalls how during the AIDS crisis in the 1980s, members of Congress called for the tattooing, quarantining, “the interment of LGBT people,” he said. “Medical science certainly negated those outrageous claims.
We know that the calls to segregate and round up gays and to confine them was motivated by an anti-gay and homophobic animus.” “[History] is repeating itself but it has gone to a new low with Donald Trump. When we were incarcerated [in JapaneseAmerican internment camps], our families were intact. My parents were with me,” out actor George Takai told CNN. “But in this case, it’s come to a chilling low where babies are torn away from their mothers and placed in separate internment camps.” Takai says Trump’s lies and inflammatory rhetoric are similar to what happened to Japanese-Americans in the 1940s. “We were characterized by the government, classified as ‘enemy aliens.’ We were neither,” he said, noting that many young Japanese Americans “rushed to their recruitments centers to volunteer to serve in the US military” right after Pearl Harbor but were denied. But repeat a lie often enough “and it becomes a reality.” That’s what happened with “enemy aliens,” Takai said, recalling comments from the politically ambitious California Attorney General Earl Warren: “We have no reports of sabotage or spying or fifth column activities by Japanese Americans. And that is ominous because the Japanese are inscrutable. We can’t tell what they’re thinking so it would be prudent to lock them up before they do anything.” “Taking that stereotype and grotesquely turning it against us—the big lie is happening with Donald Trump now, as well,” said Takai. “They are not murderers, rapists and drug dealers. They are literally fleeing for their lives and to call them infestations is absolutely grotesque.” LGBT people should be concerned about Trump’s call to do away with immigration judges. “What are we going to do for LGBT people who are fleeing regimes that actually torture and kill them for being gay?,” asks Takano. “They don’t even get a hearing?” This anti-immigrant attitude harms us morally, to have this be done in our names as American citizens.”
LGBTQ FILM FESTIVAL JULY 12â&#x20AC;&#x201C;22, 2018 OUTFEST.ORG
Trans icon and ‘Pose’ writer Our Lady J brings her music to the Wallis Celebrating the gospel of Dolly Parton By JOHN PAUL KING
Our Lady J has been getting a lot of attention lately. As a writer and producer for “Transparent” and Ryan Murphy’s “Pose,” she has brought a higher level of transgender representation into popular culture. But while those contributions have brought her new recognition, she’s no stranger to the spotlight. Trained as a classical pianist, she spent a decade in New York as an accompanist with such companies as the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre and the American Ballet Theatre, and became the first out transgender person to perform at Carnegie Hall. She’s also collaborated with artists like Sia, Cyndi Lauper, Debbie Harry and Scissor Sisters. Her 2013 debut album, “Picture of a Man,” garnered critical acclaim and brought her legions of fans for whom she has performed at sold out concerts around the world. Why, then, did she sideline her musical career to work in television? “I still love music, but I felt like I had to break
up with the music industry because the glass ceiling was not ready to be broken – it feels like it’s stuck in time. I’ve always been a storyteller, even in my music, so for me the transition to television seemed pretty natural. And what I found was that there was a lot more of an opportunity to have a voice,” Our Lady J says. She responded to an “audition” call for trans writers by sending a short story, which earned her a place in a workshop with Jill Soloway on writing for television. At the end of it, she was asked to join the writer’s room on “Transparent.” The show had already finished its first season, and Lady J brought a new perspective into the mix. “It already had a tone to it,” she says. “It’s about how family holds people together, but there are still a lot of problems to be worked out in that family. We wanted to keep the characters real, and in doing so I felt it necessary that we show trans characters’ flaws just as much as we show the flaws of the cis-gender ones.” She chuckles, “It’s
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really about some very selfish people, but they’re kind of lovably selfish – it’s ultimately a positive message.” When Our Lady J was asked to join “Pose,” which deals with life within the New York ballroom culture of the late 1980s, it was an opportunity she couldn’t pass up. During her own time in the city she had been to the balls, and she had been close to people who were part of legendary houses. It was a chance to celebrate their experience – “It’s been great to amplify those voices out into the world,” she says – but there was a deeper motivation for her as well. “I knew I had to be a part of it,” she says. “It was a really small writer’s room – and they had Janet Mock as well, and just the idea that two out of five writers were going to be trans was really exciting. And we would be writing about diversity and communities of color – obviously, with the national discourse about racism and everything that Trump’s America has brought forward, it was something I really wanted to explore.” Having been raised in the blue-collar
Our Lady J will perform at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts. Photo courtesy Our Lady J
Pennsylvania town of Chambersburg, she says the current regressive turn taken by America is not a shock. “I’m not surprised,” she says. “A lot of LGBT people seek asylum in metropolitan areas, and it’s very easy to live in a bubble when you’re there. But I’ve maintained a close relationship with my family, and I visit quite often – and there is still a lot of hatred and bigotry in rural America.” She hopes that representation for LGBT people on television can help bring change. “I think right now – in this age of outrage, with its culture of ‘call out and cancel’ – it’s important to remember the power of entertainment,” Our Lady J says. “It’s the very reason why I do the work. It can be really hard, and it can be quite lonely at times – but what makes it worthwhile is knowing I have the opportunity to make that change.” “We’re just at the dawn of telling trans stories,” she continues, “so there’s a lot of responsibility with being the first trans
person in a writer’s room for television – I feel the need to tell everyone’s story, which is impossible. But it’s really an honor, and it feels great that we’re finally coming into a new age of representation.” Despite the success of her new career, though, she hasn’t abandoned music. She recently performed at San Francisco Pride, and will be appearing Saturday, June 30 at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, as part of their summer “Sorting Room” series, where she will be performing her acclaimed show, “Our Lady J: The Gospel of Dolly,” in which she covers tunes by Dolly Parton. “When people hear that a trans woman is performing Dolly Parton they think it’s going to be an impersonation,” she laughs, “but in no universe would I ever try to impersonate the Queen of Country. She is her own entity!” She goes on, “When I started singing her songs she caught wind of it and asked to meet me. I really thought that she was going to personally hand me a ‘cease and desist’ order,
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but instead she just wanted to thank me – she’s such a legend that way, such a gracious person. And so, in Los Angeles, there will actually be a request by Dolly Parton herself.” Does that mean that Dolly herself will be in the audience at the Wallis? “I would probably not survive that event,” Our Lady J quips, “but it wouldn’t be a bad way to go.” She’ll also be singing some selections from her own album – much of which reflects her love of gospel (she laughs, “I call it ‘gospel for the godless’”) – and says audiences can expect a “celebration of sound.” “My music has always had a message about my experience as a trans person,” she adds, “and projecting that sound out into the world. I’m calling upon the sirens for healing and love.” “Our Lady J’s Gospel of Dolly” is on Saturday, June 30 at 7 p.m in the Lovelace Studio Theatre at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts (9390 North Santa Monica Blvd. Beverly Hills). Ticket information is available by calling (310) 246-3800 or visiting sortingroom.thewallis.org/our-lady-j
22 • JUNE 29, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
QUEERY 20 GAY QUESTIONS FOR KATIE HULTQUIST
Photo Courtesy Hultquist Winter
By TROY MASTERS email@example.com
Katie Hultquist is a woman on a mission who is particularly well suited for a moment in history when women’s issues, LGBT issues and immigration have intersected with religion to take center stage. Currently, she’s the West Coast Director for OutRight Action International, a U.S-based non-profit that fights for the human rights and wellbeing of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, intersex people, and transgender people around the world. With more than 20 years of experience in nonprofit management, fundraising, and social justice activism for local, national, and international organizations, Katie is insightful, driven and passionate about her work. Previously, Katie served as the Northwest Regional Director at Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos USA, where she raised more than $11 million to support vulnerable children in Latin America and the Caribbean, and helped launch a training institute for young leaders from Central America, making her particularly well informed about the key issues of the moment. “Too many LGBTQI people still face tragic and dangerous conditions worldwide. Same-sex relations are criminalized in 72 countries — with more than 3 billion people living in nations where being gay can
result in arrest, incarceration and even the death penalty. 2017 was the worst year in memory for queer people globally. Hundreds of people were shamed, detained, tortured and killed in Chechnya, Egypt, Azerbaijan, Indonesia, Tanzania and beyond. It is clear that demanding human rights is not a priority for the Trump administration,” she said. As Donald Trump takes aim at the rights of women and LGBT people, putting religious extremism and ideologies ahead of human rights and individual liberties, her career makes her uniquely poised to lead. Even prior to her time with OutRight Katie was busy raising people up. She was Executive Director of Passages Northwest, a nonprofit dedicated to building courage and leadership in girls and women through the outdoors and the arts. Her work at the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, Ashoka/ Youth Venture, Harvey Gantt’s 1996 U.S. Senate Campaign in North Carolina, Northwest Girls Coalition, the Women’s Funding Alliance, Seattle University, and her work in the the Washington state marriage equality campaign in 2012, and fundraising efforts are great examples of her leadership. Katie holds a Masters degree in Nonprofit Leadership from Seattle University and a B.A. in International Studies from the University of North Carolina. Katie is originally from San Francisco, and now lives in Seattle with her wife and three children.
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queery KATIE HULTQUIST How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell? I came out in 1995, and since then I’ve pretty much always been out. It was hard to tell my parents, because they were worried and disappointed at first. Now, they are 100% supportive of me and my family. Who’s your LGBT hero? My current LGBT heroes are Emma González and Sarah Chadwick, the Parkland students who are openly queer and turning their personal tragedy into a movement to end gun violence. I love their passion, vision and courage. What’s Los Angeles’ best nightspot, past or present? Like any good sporty lesbian, a night out at a WNBA basketball game. Describe your dream wedding. I married my wife Laura three times (two legal marriage ceremonies, and one commitment ceremony/wedding). They were all perfect in their own way, but the first stands out as particularly special was in February of 2004, when we drove to San Francisco, my hometown, to get married. Even though it was later annulled, I will never forget driving all night to get there, waiting in line with hundreds of other couples, exchanging vows in City Hall, and the love and support of our family who attended. What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about? It’s impossible to pick one. My top three are women’s rights, immigrant rights, and environmental protection. I’ve always been a feminist, and I believe we must stand up for our neighbors and our planet which are both under attack. What historical outcome would you change? The 2016 Presidential Election. We will stand up, resist, and survive this - together. What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime? I was 22 in 1997 when Ellen DeGeneres came out on network TV, and I will never forget how revolutionary that felt in terms of LGBTQ visibility and acceptance. On what do you insist? Honesty, integrity and humility. What was your last Facebook post or Tweet? It has been uplifting to celebrate Pride with this FB message: “I am keenly aware that 3 billion people around the world live in places where being gay is illegal, and that many literally risk their lives when they march or even stand near a rainbow flag. This year I march in honor of my fierce friends and activists around
the world and I march to demand human rights for all people, everywhere. Happy Pride, everyone!” If your life were a book, what would the title be? Buffy the Vampire Slayer (aka Katie the LGBT Rights Crusader) If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do? Nothing. I love who I am. I love my wife and I love the lesbian (and wider LGBTQI) community! What do you believe in beyond the physical world? I believe nature connects us to each other and to our own spirit in a deep and meaningful way. What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders? 1) include and uplift the voices of the most marginalized in our community, 2) think intersectional and work in solidarity with other movement leaders, 3) stay committed, focused, and hopeful. We are experiencing a backlash in part because we are making progress and moving forward. What would you walk across hot coals for? My three children. What LGBT stereotype annoys you most? We find that sometimes conservative and anti-gay leaders around the world will assert that they do not have a LGBT population and that “gay rights” is a Western agenda. But OutRight Action International has introduced me to LGBTQI activists all over the world and they are bravely speaking out and organizing in every region of the world. What’s your favorite LGBT movie? “Go Fish” because it was released just as I was coming out. My favorite is probably “Ma Vie En Rose.” What’s the most overrated social custom? (Straight) women taking their husband’s last name. What trophy or prize do you most covet? In another life, I was starring in a musical on Broadway. So if I could get any award it would probably be a Tony! What do you wish you’d known at 18? That being gay would open up possibilities in my life. Why Los Angeles? Angelenos understand there is more to life than work and they know how to work, relax and play, which I very much appreciate!
24 • JUNE 29, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Superhuman ensemble animates ‘The Humans’ Angst, anguish and amity of the American middle class By CHRISTOPHER CAPPIELLO
Director Joe Mantello, Reed Birney and Jayne Houdyshell will reprise their Tony Award-winning performances in ‘The Humans’ for the last stop of the national tour at the Ahmanson. Photo Courtesy Center Theatre Group
“Don’t ya think it should cost less to be alive?” asks Blake family patriarch Erik (Reed Birney) early on in Stephen Karam’s 2016 Tony-winning play “The Humans,” capturing in one line the heart of this captivating contemporary dramedy receiving a stunning staging at the Ahmanson Theatre (135 N. Grand Ave. Los Angeles) with most of the glorious Broadway cast. Within the familiar dramatic construct of a family holiday gathering, Haram skillfully – almost invisibly – sews together themes of faith and fidelity, marriage and mortality, raising provocative existential questions while keeping us laughing in the company of endearing characters. The 90-minute piece is set on a single Thanksgiving afternoon, as young Brigid Blake (Sarah Steele) and her boyfriend Richard (Nick Mills) host older sister Aimee (Cassie Beck), dad Erik, mom Deirdre (Jayne Houdyshell), and Erik’s mother “Momo” (Lauren Klein), who is in the late stages of dementia. Brigid and Richard have just moved into a duplex apartment in Manhattan’s Chinatown, with square footage compensating for the lack of natural light and the building’s quirky circuitry. Haram uses familiar conventions, juxtaposing parents’ concern for their children’s safety and choices with grown children’s resentment of their parents’ meddling, but somehow establishes from the beginning that there is darkness lurking underneath the amusing banality. Erik and Deirdre are plain, middle-class, Irish-Catholics from Scranton, Penn., each holding down the same job for decades. Brigid is a frustrated composer tending bar at nights, while boyfriend Richard is a little too old to be only just finishing his MSW. Aimee is perhaps the most obviously damaged at the start, as we quickly learn she has lost her longtime girlfriend and partner-track attorney job in the same year she developed ulcerative colitis. After establishing these circumstances, Haram gradually reveals more about each of these flawed but loving family members. Secrets come to light, and even supernatural elements bubble up in a script that manages to expose so many fault lines of contemporary middle-class American life. The gifted Joe Mantello reprises his Broadway staging, brilliantly orchestrating the movement of the action around David Zinn’s extraordinarily detailed subterranean dwelling. The cavernous Ahmanson can be brutally inhospitable to small-scale plays, but Mantello focuses our attention exactly where he wants it, moving our eye from upstairs to down and creating an intimacy I’ve never experienced in that theater. Justin Townshend’s lighting and Fitz Patton’s sound design surprise and startle exactly when they should. Most of the sterling cast has been working together on and off for nearly three years, and it shows. With Mantello’s caring direction, they conjure the familiarity and chemistry of a genuine family as they tease, provoke, support and deceive each other. Beck and Steele have such a sisterly bond that they are sure to remind you of friends or family in their unspoken communication and ability to comfort and confound each other. Klein’s Momo is silent for much of the play, but her presence is almost always felt, and when her fits come on, it is deeply disturbing to watch. Mills understudied Richard in New York, and he has the easy deference and generosity of a young man born a rung or two higher on the ladder than the Blakes. Which brings us to Birney and Houdyshell, who both won well-deserved Tony Awards for their astonishingly detailed and real performances. The girls call their dad “big guy,” and Birney easily conveys the qualities of that moniker while having so much simmering beneath that we can’t wait to learn what’s really going on. And Houdyshell is a wonder. She is so skilled and at ease that she appears to be doing nothing more than living onstage as a mother who can be big and loud but whose deeply rooted faith and love for her family will see her through. When the lights came up for the curtain call, I realized I hadn’t thought of a single thing throughout the play’s riveting 90 minutes except the challenges and desires of this American family. They transported me the way only the best live theater can. Don’t miss them. The play runs through July 29. For more information, visit centertheatregroup.org.
SEGERSTROM CENTER FOR THE ARTS
LIZA MINNELLI and
MICHAEL FEINSTEIN IN CONVERSATION AND PERFORMANCE
7:30pm Segerstrom Hall 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa
(714) 556-2787 Group Services (714) 755-0236
26 • JUNE 29, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Neon Trees frontman Tyler Glenn on his role in new doc ‘Believer’ Cradle Mormon shares story of coming out, participating in new HBO film By ABBY WARGO
Tyler Glenn, frontman of rock band Neon Trees, is on a mission to help change people’s minds and hearts. He is featured in the new documentary “Believer,” which follows Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds on his journey to fight for love and acceptance of LGBT people in the Mormon community. Reynolds, along with Glenn, organized a festival called LoveLoud to foster love and acceptance. “Believer” premiered on June 25 on HBO. Glenn spoke with the Blade by phone from New York, where he is currently starring in “Kinky Boots” on Broadway. BLADE: In the documentary, you mentioned that you first came out to your producer. What made you decide to come out? TYLER GLENN: My band, we were at a pretty great peak in our career, and I was still very, very unhappy. I was living my dream, but the things that should have been making me happy weren’t making me happy. I had a bit of a mental situation and I decided to go into therapy and cancel a tour. It was around the time that we were writing for our third record, and I started writing songs for that album. Eventually while I was in therapy, I came out to my therapist. … I realized that this identity crisis I was having really wasn’t anything at all, it really was that I just needed to be a whole person and be out there. So I tested the waters with him because we were so intimately creative and he had known me so long. … We had a long talk and I was received with such excitement. … I’d never really associated being gay with good things, to me it was always something I needed to suppress or keep hidden or be ashamed of. That started the process of me coming out slowly to my family and friends and eventually to my band and then publicly in [Rolling Stone] magazine. BLADE: Do you still believe in the Mormon church? GLENN: I don’t believe in the church, but I’ve neither been excommunicated nor have I removed my name from the records. I stopped believing in church and in organized religion altogether in 2016. I’m slowly rebuilding my views on faith, to be honest. I don’t know where I’m at, but I’m really happy not having religion in my life.
A rock trifecta — from left are Tyler Glenn (Neon Trees), Dan Reynolds (Imagine Dragons) and James Valentine (guitarist for Maroon 5) at the ‘Believer’ premiere Monday night in New York. Photo by Kristina Namelss courtesy StarPix for HBO
BLADE: In 2016, you released your solo album “Excommunication.” How do you think that album affects LGBT youth and especially LGBT Mormons? GLENN: It’s interesting, I made that record in real time. As I was experiencing my faith crisis and abandoning Mormonism, I was writing songs and eventually made that album. I put it out on the label my band is tied to, but I never viewed it as a commercial thing, I viewed it as something I wanted to get out of me. So I kind of put it on the shelf for a while and needed to move on because it was a very painful and emotionally fraught experience creating that album. But to be able to have it out there for almost two years, the messages that I get and the people that discover that I have an album under my own name — it’s gone beyond Mormonism. It’s really made an impact on all LGBT people that had been affected or felt oppressed by religion. To me, it’s so beautiful to see it take a life of its own, you know. I didn’t think that was going to happen. It was always sort of a record that I wanted to make but I never anticipated that it would find its way into peoples’ lives in such an intimate way. I continually get messages from people discovering the songs and to me that has been a real treat and added a lot of value to an experience that was really painful for me. I’m really proud of the album but it’s an album that I rarely listen to, I rarely play from at shows, because — not to sound cliché — it’s an album that’s very personal to me, and kind of triggers stuff when I think
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about it. For me, it’s a really emotional thing, but it’s been cool to watch it be special for other people. BLADE: In “Believer,” Dan apologizes to you for being a bad ally. What did that apology mean to you and what did you originally think of the idea that would become the LoveLoud festival? GLENN: Dan and I have known each other for 15 years but never really known each other. We’ve always known of each other, we’ve run in similar circles, we know each other’s siblings and things like that, but I think when both of our bands started to become successful, there was like an air of competition. I was deeply moved that he took the time to call me, and since then he’s been so inclusive in including me in the process of his faith crisis. I’ve gotten to be really personal friends with him, which is nice because he’s always been a person in my life, but not someone I knew in a deep way. He was also a fan of “Excommunication,” and to know that he was affected by it, and that he saw my struggles and validated that, was just a beautiful gesture. And then to include me on creating LoveLoud — the whole LoveLoud foundation is just its own animal now — it’s just a really pure thing. I know that there’s often, and even in myself, questions like, “OK, but you’re this straight white guy, do we really need you to save the gay people?” But to me, I’ve gotten to know him in a way that I see his pure intentions. It’s not perfect, but he’s got pure intentions to hopefully stay loud and make people feel faith. That’s the whole message of LoveLoud, and hopefully the message people take from “Believer.” I can validate and stand by Dan as someone who is truly an ally and it’s really cool to see him grow in that way. BLADE: How did LoveLoud affect or move people? Do you think “Believer” will do the same? GLENN: In the credits, there are videos that people have sent to LoveLoud and kind of tell about their experiences; those are really touching to watch. A lot of personal family members and friends in that community were really moved by the event. We tried to keep it an event where everyone felt included; we didn’t want to exclude (people who are) believing Mormons, religious or didn’t understand LGBT culture; we wanted it to be a space where we were all sharing stories and music, and that’s really what it became. To see it grow and become an even bigger platform this year is really exciting. The first year, it had no big sponsors, it was very grassroots, put together through the energy and focus of everyone involved. This year, there’s gonna be bigger acts and bigger sponsors. In a way, that just shows approval from people who want it to continue to grow. The whole point of LoveLoud is to make people feel like they have a place and to change people’s lives and hearts. It’s doing that so far and it’s really cool to see. BLADE: What message do you want LGBT teens struggling with acceptance to hear most? GLENN: Personally, if I were to have heard or even just seen examples of healthy, open LGBT people, that would have changed my life. … For me, I want young LGBT people to know that you are absolutely perfect the way you are, that we all are struggling to find a place in this world regardless of sexuality, and I want them to know that we are divine and being queer is a superpower. I shouldn’t feel like I’m a challenge. It took me way too long to accept that. I hope and wish that young people that have that chance would take it and live their lives to the fullest and not feel like they are made to be less than.
Tyler Glenn (left) with Dan Reynolds at the ‘Believer’ premiere party. Photo by Kristina Namelss courtesy StarPix for HBO
28 • JUNE 29, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
FTM trans bodybuilders spotlighted in ‘Man Made’ documentary The powerful beauty of trans bodies on full display By JOHN PAUL KING
A scene from ‘Man Made’ Photo courtesy Roadside Entertainment
At a time when trans awareness has come front and center into the spotlight of cultural consciousness, the male-to-female trans experience is being explored in media far more than ever before. Not so prominent – at least not yet – is the depiction of individuals who transition in the opposite direction. A welcome addition to the public discourse on trans issues comes now in the form of “Man Made,” a new documentary which profiles several female-to-male trans men as they prepare for TransFitCon – the only all-trans bodybuilding competition in the world, held annually in Atlanta. The film devotes most of its focus to four competitors. Dominic is a 26-year-old aspiring rapper who is undergoing the process of top surgery and seeking a reunion with his birth family. Mason is 40, eight years into his transition, married to the love of his life, and deeply devoted to the sport of bodybuilding – which he says saved his life when depression and struggles with bipolar disorder threatened to destroy him. Rese, 23, is a black man who struggles with homelessness after being kicked out of his house by his disapproving mother, but still strives to build a life for himself and his 5-year-old son. Kennie, 34, is a fitness instructor who is taking the first steps towards transition, beginning testosterone therapy with the support of his lesbian partner – despite her fear that she will no longer be attracted to him as his presentation becomes more masculine. The stories of these four men are interwoven throughout the movie, culminating in Atlanta as they join the other competitors at TransFit. While ostensibly about the shared goal of its subjects to compete, “Man Made” uses that premise as a means to examine the various issues faced by each of them – as well as some of the other aspiring competitors and those around them – in dealing with the world as FTM trans individuals. They are diverse in age, ethnicity and social background; each is at a different stage in their transition process, and each faces different specific obstacles; they have differing relationships with family members and significant others; and they live in different communities with different social/cultural environments, with different levels of acceptance and support – or lack thereof. This allows filmmaker T Cooper – who is himself a trans man, as well as an acclaimed and bestselling novelist, television writer, filmmaker, journalist and LGBT activist – to deal with a multiplicity of subjects related to the trans experience along the way. Two of the film’s subjects have struggled with the idea of suicide; relationships become complicated because the shift in the identity of one partner affects the identity of the other; there are expressions of regret over the decision to transition; there is bullying, bashing, and bigotry at some level for all; thinly-veiled prejudice is institutionalized by official organizations, public resources are closed off to members of the trans community, gender identity is ignored in legal documentation, and a close-to-home tragedy serves as a reminder of the disproportionate rates of violence and murder against trans people – especially of color – in a society that still seems to see such incidents as somehow justified. It’s not all bleak, of course. There are also the moments of transcendent joy that come for each of these men. Milestones in their transitions which bring them closer to being their authentic selves inspire flushes of unexpected emotion; the unconditional love of children and parents stand as testament to the power of strong family bonds; and the supportive camaraderie and good will among the various contestants – bound by their common struggle towards self-actualization -- is a moving contrast against the hyper-masculine posturing one might expect from athletic competitors in the socalled “gender-normative” world of sports. What makes Cooper’s movie most gratifying, perhaps, is the way that it embraces authenticity. There is no sentimental narrative forced upon us to provide a satisfying feel-good fairy tale; the people on the screen are works-in-progress, who triumph over some obstacles but are defeated by others – and though they ultimately prevail, each in their own way, it’s also clear that their journeys are the kind that take a lifetime. In this way, they connect to us on a universal level, reminding us that even if the struggles they face are specific to the trans experience, they reflect those faced by any member of our species, regardless of how we identify. That’s not to say that “Man Made” downplays its “trans-ness” to cater to a cis- or heteronormative audience. On the contrary, it is as proudly trans as the men on whom it devotes itself, and it makes no effort to mask its underlying social agenda. Director Cooper says, “Protections for transgender people (and so many others) are being attacked and rolled back at alarming rates. Violence against trans people (and all people of difference’) is surging, while a vociferous segment of the population—not to mention an entire new administration— is challenging our very right to exist as humans (i.e. use a toilet, have access to safe health care, or possess legal ID). For these reasons, I believe that this project and ones like it are more vital than ever.” While his movie, sadly, will likely not be seen by the segment of the population that most needs to be confronted by the humanity of the trans people, the fact that we still live in a world in which it can be made is cause for hope. “Man Made” will screen as part of the Outfest LGBT Film Festival, which runs from July 12-22. For more information and tickets, visit outfest.org.
30 • JUNE 29, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
“I’m someone you can’t put a label on. I’m much like a sponge. You can squeeze me and get everything out of me. But you’ll never know unless you try.” - More pearls of wisdom from self-proclaimed male model Jordan Kimball on “The Bachelorette.” Don’t try to figure it out - you’ll hurt yourself. The summer is supposed to be my slow season. That’s when all the films are shooting on location, all the TV shows are on hiatus, and all the producers are doing perp walks. And yet here we are, with oodles of news. First and least surprising - ABC has picked up the “Roseanne” spinoff, tentatively titled “The Conners.” Hmm, where on Earth did I first read about that? I am confounded. I’m also double-jointed, which may not be relevant...yet. Then there’s the “Dynasty” reboot. As the first season limped to a close, two things were clear: 1) this version was deviating from the original’s storyline, and B) None of you were watching. Now comes word that Cristal is dead! Yes, one of the main characters has been written off. Remember the fire? Well, of course you don’t - you weren’t watching. But there was a fire that threatened to kill Alexis and Cristal. Actress Nathalie Kelley has announced that she will not be returning to the show next season. So, Cristal is dead? Perhaps - perhaps not. Maybe she’ll come back as a twin (Raquel instead of Rita). Maybe she’ll have plastic surgery and look completely different. Maybe she’ll be played by Linda Evans! Who knows? Who cares? Eh, I’ll still probably watch. Broadway Bares has been raising funds (and other things) for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS since 1992. And how better to do that than feature some of the hottest bodies on Broadway in as little clothing as possible? Last week, the annual event brought in over $1.9 million, but enough about that... let’s get to the real story. Featured in the show was the cast of “The Boys in the Band.” Well, most of the cast. Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto and Brian Hutchison were no-shows. That left Matt Bomer, Charlie Carver, Robin de Jesús, Andrew Rannells, Michael Benjamin Washington and Tuc Watkins to fill the necessary gaps - although the youthful Mr. Carver was saddled with most of the heavy lifting. Since the theme for this installment of Bares was “Game Night,” the “Boys” played a version of Trivial Pursuit where each wrong answer meant Carver took off another article of clothing. When he lost the final round, his G-string was pulled off and he was left holding his cowboy hat in front of his nether regions (his character in the play is a hustler named Cowboy). However, for the midnight show - oh, yes, there are two Broadway Bares shows - Zachary Quinto surprised the audience with a special appearance and pulled off the G-string. And Charlie cheekily showed off his cheeks, as you can see on BillyMasters.com. I was surprised that Carver was the only member of his cast to show any skin. After all, Matt Bomer has played a male stripper...twice. Not only that, but “The Boys in the Band” opens with him taking a shower and walking around in a towel for the first scene. Customers thought at the very least he’d join in for “Rotation,” the finale of Broadway Bares, where all of the participants hit the stage for the audience to gang tip their favorites. Someone in the know said that Bomer could have easily made five figures...or was it that he could have easily taken five fingers? I have to start paying better attention. Either way, Bomer demurred. One of my favorite issues of “ESPN The Magazine” is their annual Body Issue. Who am I kidding - it’s the only issue I’ve even seen, and that’s because they celebrate the human form by capturing athletic icons out of their gear - something that typically makes readers pull out their gear. Last year, Gus Kenworthy was featured skiing in the nude, which is only against Olympic rules because they didn’t have snow in ancient Greece. This year, the magazine got Adam Rippon to slip off the Spandex. The photos were taken shortly after he came back from the Olympics. “I couldn’t have done this while I was in the closet. I think that, with my experience of coming out, I felt so liberated in so many ways.” Adam also had an ulterior motive. “I don’t want to say I’ll never be in this shape again, but I’ll never be in this shape. I’ll be in another shape.” With his delicious derriere, I’m guessing he may be inching toward pear-shaped. For a peek at his peak, check out BillyMasters.com. If you have a question, send it along to Billy@BillyMasters.com and I promise to get back to you before Cristal is recast as a little Latina! Until next time, remember, one man’s filth is another man’s bible.
ESPN brings us more naked athletes Did Dynasty kill off Cristal? And more pressing summer questions By BILLY MASTERS
After featuring a nude Gus Kenworthy skiing on the cover of 2017’s ESPN The Magazine Body Issue, women’s sports stars Sue Bird (basketball) and Megan Rapinoe (soccer) are featured on the cover for 2018...nude, of course. Photo Courtesy ESPN
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • JUNE 29, 2018 • 31
E-mail calendar items to firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
‘I Almost Ran Over Liza Minnelli Today: Colin Campbell and Lisa Steele in L.A. 1976-77’ will be screened on July 8 at West Hollywood City Council Chambers at 3 p.m. Photo Courtesy ONE Archives
FRIDAY, JUNE 29
Nelly Queen: The Life and Times of José Sarria is tonight from 7-9 p.m. at West Hollywood City Council Chambers (625 North San Vicente Blvd.). José Julio Sarria was the first openly gay person to run for political office in the U.S. in 1961, and many credit him with helping pave the way for 1970s out politicians who succeeded in running for office, including Harvey Milk. At the unexpected intersections of politics and high camp, this preview of “Nelly Queen” will reveal an intimate portrait of the Latino civil rights pioneer whose heroic drag has been overlooked as a cornerstone of the LGBTQ rights movement. Free. For details, visit weho.org/pride.
SATURDAY, JUNE 30
Families Belong Together Nationwide March is today from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at Los Angeles City Hall (200 North Spring St.). While LGBT civil rights are front and center in your life, we now face a crisis at our border that could upend every gain we have made. Fight for your life and theirs. Join organizers of the famous Women’s March and let your voice be heard. Donald Trump and his administration are cruelly separating children from their families, targeting Muslim nations with travel bans and so much more. But we won’t allow it to continue. Join with people around the world and take to to the streets to tell Trump and his administration to stop. For details, visit front.moveon.org. First Annual Trans Popup Film Festival is today from 2-7 p.m. at West Hollywood City Council Chamber (625 North San Vicente Blvd.). West Hollywood and LA’s
first annual one-day film festival features films created by and about transgender and gender non-conforming people. Mix and mingle with filmmakers, artists, actors, and celebrate and view their work; filmmaking/ acting workshops; and an opening reception. For more information, search “Pop Up Film Festival” on Eventbrite. Gender Fluid Consciousness Raising is tonight from 7-10 p.m. at West Hollywood Library Community Room (625 North San Vicente Blvd.). Elevate your awareness and expand your thinking about gender-fluid and non-binary identities. The Lavender Effect will offer a safe space for diverse gender identities and expression for open minded individuals of all ages, races, genders and sexualities. Join Addie Rose Vincent (they/them/theirs), Chandler Wilson (they/them/theirs), Rabbi Rachel Bat-Or (Per/Pers), Jaxon Cat Williams (he/him/his), Aydin Olson-Kennedy (he/him/ his), Maximiliana (they/them/theirs), Ann Thomas (she/ her/hers) and Casey Weitzman (she/her/hers) as they share their wisdom. The event is presented with the support of the City of West Hollywood’s WeHo Arts Program and IBM’s Community Grant Program. Although this event is free of charge, tax-deductible donations are appreciated. For more information, visit thelavendereffect.org/donate.
SUNDAY, JULY 1
FREE AF LGBTQIA Artist Celebration is today and Monday, July 2 from 7 p.m. to close at One One Six Two (1162 Glendale Blvd). This community-focused event, featuring LGBTQIA artists and vendors who cultivate positive, creative outlets with works of self expression from 20 southern California artists. “FREE AF” is an art celebration of our differences, and honoring our shared humanity
through acceptance, empowerment, support, community and love. The event supports the LA LGBT Youth Center. Tickets range from $5-$15 and can be purchased online by searching “Free AF” on eventbrite.com.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 4
Hollywood Bowl July 4th Fireworks Spectacular with The Go-Go’s is tonight from 7:30-11 p.m. at Hollywood Bowl (2301 North Highland). It will be a gay Fourth to remember with a patriotic program of star-spangled music and the groundbreaking all-girl hit-makers The GoGo’s. The 1980s megastars will fill the Bowl with a raucous set of power-pop like “We Got the Beat” and “Our Lips Are Sealed” before our famous fireworks close out the night. Thomas Wilkins will conduct the Los Angeles Philharmonic as The Go-Go’s are joined by the U.S. Air Force Band of the Golden West. Tickets range from $30-$282. For details, visit my.hollywoodbowl.com.
SUNDAY, JULY 8
“I Almost Ran Over Liza Minnelli Today: Colin Campbell and Lisa Steele in L.A. 1976-77,” is today from 3-6 p.m. at West Hollywood Council Chamber (625 North San Vicente Blvd.). Join ONE Archives for a screening and opening reception for the exhibition “I Almost Ran Over Liza Minnelli Today: Colin Campbell and Lisa Steele in L.A., 1976–77.” The screening will include a Q&A with artist Lisa Steele and guest curator Jon Davies and is presented with support from the City of West Hollywood’s WeHo Arts program. For more information, please visit weho.org/ arts or follow @WeHoArts.
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