Losangelesblade.com, Volume 2, Issue 18, July 6, 2018

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Angelenos protest Trump immigration policies Similar demonstrations erupt across country after child separations By AUSTIN MENDOZA “We are better than this!” roared the estimated 75,000 people who gathered in Downtown Los Angeles at the Families Belong Together – Freedom for Immigrants March last weekend. The Los Angeles march, one of hundreds that took place in cities around the world, was organized, activists say, to “highlight the voices of immigrants and refugees and represent a wide and increasing show of support from Californians who reject the Trump Administration’s racism and xenophobia, and to emphasize that families belong together, not in jail.” “We are better than this!” The words of U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris emanated from the stage in front of City Hall in downtown LA and rang true in the ears of the attentive attendees. “Right now, this is an inflection moment in the history of our country…we are better than having these detention facilities that are prisons where we house mothers who have been ripped from their children behind barbed wires. When we have over 2,000 children that right now are not with their parents because we took them from their parents, we know we are better than this,” continued Harris. “Years from now, our children will look at us and ask us a question… ’where were you at that inflection moment?’” An undocumented immigrant named Melody related her own personal journey and struggles of being separated from her mother. “I’m undocumented, unapologetic, and unafraid…I can’t imagine being in a cage being judged by the color of my skin. I am here to tell Donald Trump that we will not stop until all the children, all of their parents, all of our immigrants, and all of our families are judged by the content of their character,” said Melody. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti called for those in power to release detained immigrants and give them due judicial process. “It is time for President Trump to do his job. It is time for ICE to do their job, because they are not,” he said. Local U.S. House Rep. Maxine Waters challenged those who were “…talking about

About 75,000 people protested Trump’s immigration policies last weekend.

censuring me, kicking me out of Congress, shooting me,” saying that she would not back down on her recent criticism of the Trump Administration. Activist and model Chrissy Teigen spoke to the positive impacts immigrants have on America. “Making America great doesn’t mean building walls to keep people out, it means continuing to embrace the dreams of immigrants who add to our culture, our economy, and our humanity. Making America Great certainly doesn’t mean turning asylum seekers away, or kidnapping their kids to keep them from coming here,” Teigen said before a performance by her husband, singer/songwriter John Legend. Others, including representatives from organizations like Black Lives Matters, Korean Resource Center of Orange County, and Mi Familia Vota, as well as California State Senator Kevin de Leon, gubernatorial front-runner Gavin Newsom, and LA County Supervisor Hilda Solis, spoke on stage at the Grant Park rally and at a smaller one outside

Activist and model Chrissy Teigen spoke about the positive impacts immigrants have on America.

the downtown immigration holding facility after the physical march. However, this day was really about the people. Before the speeches had even began in Grant Park, the crowds were loud and vocal, chanting “Sí se puede,” and “Where are the kids?.” The sea of people, clad in white in solidarity with those detained, made themselves heard whenever the speakers hit on a particularly salient point. After the last speaker had finished at Grant Park, they took to the streets in classic protest style. Amid chants of “Up, up with liberation; down, down with deportation,” “Abolish ICE”, and “The people united will never be divided,” marchers made their way to the immigration holding facility on the corner of Aliso and Alameda. They held their signs up with the determination to send their messages to the Trump administration. Some signs had messages like “Build bridges, not walls,” and “Humanity has no

borders,” but others were more direct, like the one that read, “Fuck Trump, Abolish ICE, End Family Incarceration” and “Familia, sí! Trump, no, no, no!” and “Love cannot be stopped.” Flags of various Latin American countries, including Guatemala, El Salvador, México, and Honduras, were waved proudly by their owners in the crowd. Perhaps the most striking moment of the event, as witnessed by the Los Angeles Blade, happened around the corner from the small stage that had been set up for a second rally. A man, presumably an immigrant who was being detained in the holding facility, was peering down at the dispersing crowds from his tiny window high above the street. He was quickly noticed, and a group of around 100 people gathered below him, applauding and offering chants of support in both English and Spanish. More detainees soon joined him at their windows. The cries of “no están solos” by the crowd of tearful protesters was spontaneous and moving.


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Fear the federal courts — but don’t give up Kennedy’s retirement isn’t the only bad news for LGBTQ Americans By JON DAVIDSON While LGBTQ Californians rightfully feel more protected legally than our peers in many parts of the country, we by no means are immune from what is happening to the federal courts, including the momentous, impending change in the Supreme Court due to Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement. That’s because, under federalism principles, California’s laws are subject to federal judges’ interpretation of restrictions the U.S. Constitution and federal statutes place on states. That was painfully evident in numerous high court rulings this term. One decision enjoined a California law designed to ensure that pregnant women receive accurate information about their options that was challenged by antiabortion “crisis pregnancy centers” on First Amendment grounds. Another ruling prevents states—including California—from requiring government employees to pay union dues to support the benefits those unions provide them. Yet another decision held that, under the Federal Arbitration Act, employers—including in California—can not only force their workers to arbitrate their employment-related disputes (thereby relinquishing rights to a jury and a public trial), but also can prevent them from uniting with coworkers to seek class-wide relief. In addition, Californians—like all in the nation—are subject to federal courts’ interpretation of U.S. government authority, such as the Supreme Court’s decision upholding Trump’s Muslim travel ban. So, whether a nominee opposed to LGBTQ rights is selected to fill Justice Kennedy’s seat has to be of concern to us all. Vitally important sexual orientation and gender identity issues are likely to come before the Supreme Court in the years ahead. Notwithstanding the positive language in the Masterpiece Cakeshop ruling that business owners’ religious beliefs do not justify violation of anti-discrimination laws, opponents of LGBTQ equality continue to press for a constitutional right to discriminate. In addition, when the Supreme Court reconvenes this fall, it will consider several requests to

California’s progressiveness does not make its citizens immune from a conservative Supreme Court. Photo Courtesy PBS

hear appeals raising whether federal sex discrimination laws protect LGBTQ people. Anti-LGBTQ groups also have announced their intent to try to get a future case up to the Court that might permit narrowing or even reversal of the Court’s landmark marriage equality decisions. President Trump has said he will choose his nominee by July 9 from a list largely compiled by the anti-LGBTQ Heritage Foundation and the arch-conservative Federalist Society. The big question is whether confirmation hearings will conclude before the November mid-term elections determine who controls the Senate for the next two years. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has expressed his intent to have a confirmation vote in time for Justice Kennedy’s successor to be sworn in before the Supreme Court’s next term begins Oct. 1. Because the Senate eliminated the filibuster

of Supreme Court nominees when Justice Gorsuch’s nomination was being considered, it will be difficult to delay a confirmation vote. Nonetheless, some are urging tactics to slow down all Senate business between now and the November election in an effort to do so. Still angry about McConnell’s refusal to permit Senate consideration of Judge Merrick Garland to fill late Justice Scalia’s seat between President Obama’s nomination of Garland in March 2016 and the final day he could have been considered in January 2017—which made it possible for Gorsuch to take the seat instead—some are quoting back McConnell’s prior proclamation that “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice.” The filibuster’s elimination also means it will only take 50 votes to confirm whomever Trump nominates, since Vice-President Pence would break a tie. There currently are 51 Republican Senators, 47 Democratic

Senators, and two independents who caucus with the Democrats. Three Democrats (Indiana’s Joe Donnelly, North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp, and West Virginia’s Joe Manchin) voted to confirm Gorsuch. Even if all three instead voted against Trump’s choice this time and no Democrats voted the other way, it would still take at least two Republican senators to reject the nomination of their party’s leader. While Maine’s Republican Sen. Susan Collins has stated she would not support a nominee hostile to Roe v. Wade, Alaska’s Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski (who also supports reproductive choice) has been more circumspect, stating only that she intends to cast an “independent vote” when the nomination comes before the Senate. Whoever ultimately assumes Justice Kennedy’s seat may tip the balance on issues on which he was the “swing vote” for years to come. If his successor sides with the Court’s most conservative members


( Justices Thomas, Alito, and Gorsuch), Chief Justice Roberts would be the Court’s new “center” vote. The Chief Justice frequently has expressed concerns that the Court’s legitimacy not be undermined by perceptions of political partisanship or casual disregard of existing precedent. Those concerns have sometimes led him to vote with the more liberal justices, as when he voted to uphold the Affordable Care Act. But, while the public increasingly has accepted same-sex couples’ freedom to marry and seen it as a settled question, it’s hard to read Roberts’ dissenting opinion in Obergefell—in which he called the majority decision upholding marriage equality “disheartening,” “an act of will, not legal judgment,” “unprincipled,” “pretentious,” and constitutionally “indefensible”—and feel sanguine. As bad as all this is, who will replace Justice Kennedy is not the only threat to LGBTQ equality looming in the federal courts. An analysis of President Trump’s judicial nominees Lambda Legal released in December showed that nearly one-third had demonstrably anti-LGBT records. Kyle Duncan, appointed to the 5th Circuit, previously was counsel for those fighting against marriage equality in Louisiana, challenging Gavin Grimm’s ability to use the boy’s room at school, and seeking to uphold North Carolina’s infamous HB 2. Greg Katas, now on the D.C. Circuit, advised President Trump on his effort to ban transgender people from military service and Education Secretary DeVos on her rescission of guidance protecting transgender students. Stephen Grasz, who Trump appointed to the 8th Circuit, previously was the Board chair of the anti-LGBTQ Nebraska Family Alliance. Prior to Ralph Erickson also being appointed to that circuit, as a U.S. district court judge he ordered the federal government not to enforce health care nondiscrimination protections for transgender people. As one final example out of many, John K. Bush, appointed to the 6th Circuit, previously gave a speech using the slur “faggot” and authored a blog condemning as an “outrage” the State Department’s change in passports applications that allow designation of “parent 1” and “parent 2” rather than “mother” and father.” Most nominees who do not have clear antiLGBTQ records were selected—again, after the process was largely subcontracted to


Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement last week.

the Heritage Foundation and the Federalist Society—because of their commitment to “originalism.” That controversial legal philosophy claims that the Constitution’s provisions should be considered stable from the time of enactment and that subsequent social changes and scientific advances should be ignored. The doctrine frequently has been invoked in efforts to limit the Constitution’s broad guarantees of equal protection and due process in ways fundamentally at odds with LGBTQ rights. President Trump has already had 42 of his judicial nominations approved by the Senate. More than three-quarters are male and more than 88% are white. None are African-American and only one is Latino. None are openly LGBTQ. Ninety additional federal judicial nominations are pending in Congress. McConnell has cancelled the Senate’s traditional August recess to try to jam those nominations through. This cohort too is remarkably non-diverse: nearly threequarters male and more than 85% white. It

does include one open lesbian, however— current Illinois federal magistrate judge Mary Rowland, nominated to be a district court judge. One has to wonder, though, what another pending nominee for the district court, Howard Nielson, thinks she should be able to rule on. He previously argued that former Judge Vaughn Walker’s ruling holding Prop. 8 unconstitutional should be thrown out because Walker is gay. Seventy other vacancies currently exist on the federal bench. By the time Trump’s term ends, he will have refashioned most federal courts to be hostile to LGBT rights claims. While the packing of the federal courts is going to make our work much harder, we must keep resisting and fighting for progress. We have to keep demanding justice, equality, and dignity in carefullychosen federal cases. We need to make our voices heard by Congress, by state courts and government officials, and in the court of public opinion. There is no other choice. As we continue to fight and sometimes lose, we need to remember that we’ve been

there before. Previous anti-LGBT federal rulings, like Bowers v. Hardwick, ultimately did not last. As Justice Ginsburg has said, the real symbol for the United States should not be the bald eagle, but the pendulum. California Lieutenant Gov. Gavin Newsom reminded those attending LA’s recent Families Belong Together rally that it was only 24 years ago that Californians passed the antiimmigrant Prop. 187. Pete Wilson, who vetoed a bill barring sexual orientation employment discrimination, was governor. Look at California now—the pendulum swung. In Newsom’s words, California is America’s coming attraction. We must keep the faith and make it happen. Jon W. Davidson has been a leading LGBT legal rights advocate and constitutional scholar for more than 30 years. He recently was appointed Chief Counsel for Freedom for All Americans, a non-profit that seeks to secure federal statutory protections for LGBTQ Americans, working at the federal, state, and local level to advance measures and laws protecting from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.



West Hollywood divided over fate of The Factory One man’s monument is just a building to another By CHRISTOPHER KANE Preservationists, elected officials, LGBTQ activists, and West Hollywood residents are split over a debate—that has often turned ugly—concerning the fate of a historic building in Boystown. On June 5, the West Hollywood City Council voted 4-1 to approve plans for the partial demolition of The Factory, a 90-year-old building that formerly housed the Mitchell Camera Company’s headquarters and, from 1974 to 1993, was a pioneering gay nightclub called Studio One Disco. The vote allowed Faring Capital, a West Hollywood real estate and development company, to move forward with plans to replace part of the structure with a 114-foot, 241-room hotel and retail complex called the Robertson Lane Project. The Project also calls for portions of the building—which is currently home to a gym and a nightclub—to be dismantled, moved, and reassembled such that it would be positioned parallel to Robertson Boulevard. Preservationists who oppose the move contend that The Factory, which was deemed eligible for inclusion in registries of historic places of significance to the LGBTQ community, would no longer qualify for local, state, and national landmark status under the current proposal. West Hollywood City Council member Lauren Meister, who split with her colleagues to vote “no” on the Robertson Lane Project, told the Los Angeles Blade the potential loss of The Factory’s eligibility for the register represents one of the three main reasons for which she opposes the plan. Additionally, she said, the 114foot building will tower over neighboring structures, setting “a precedent of bigger, taller buildings for future development in the surrounding area.” And the assumptions provided by staff that were used to estimate the value of the public benefit of the project, Meister said, didn’t make sense. “I came with questions, and the Mayor [and City Council member John Duran] said, ‘You’ve been asking questions for 10 minutes.’ I said, ‘You know, this is a $250 million project. I think 10 minutes worth of questions is not a lot to ask. I had 20 pages

Highlighted in yellow, the currently proposed plan’s treatment of The Factory building is to demolish over 60 percent of the building, rotate what’s remaining and move it to run parallel with Robertson, the entrance to a five-star hotel, parking garage and upscale retail shops. Image Courtesy Save The Factory

of notes. My colleagues didn’t really engage with me to really consider compromise—or consider the points that I was bringing up.” Meister continued, “This is a huge project. [The developer was] getting a lot from the city. They were asking for a lot from the city. Changing the zoning, doubling the zoning in one place…I mean, it’s a 114-foot building.” Concerning The Factory building, Meister wishes alternative plans had been considered. “It’s become a divisive issue,” she said, “which is a shame, because ultimately the people who are taking the developer’s side to save The Factory really believe that’s what they’re doing. I think they’re well intentioned.” Kate Eggert and Krisy Gosney, co-founders of the West Hollywood Heritage Project, fear the Robertson Lane plan will compromise the structural integrity of The Factory and hamper the conservation efforts they have led since 2015. Gosney explained, in a post published on the group’s Facebook page that she and Eggert secured the inclusion of The Factory in both the California State Register of Historic Places and the National Register of Historic Places. However, the building is not listed in the latter register because the building’s owner so far has failed to formally accept the listing. “Unfortunately,”

Eggert told the Los Angeles Blade, “state and national registers don’t have any legal teeth to keep people from demolishing or changing the buildings.” The Facebook post alleges that Faring Capital initially sought to demolish The Factory entirely but changed course after the building was accepted into the National Register. Gosney wrote that while she and Eggert were working with the developer’s historic architecture consultant to push for a plan that would preserve more of The Factory, their efforts were sabotaged by the very same organizations that, initially, supported their nomination of the building for a listing in the National Register. The Los Angeles Conservancy (LAC), the West Hollywood Preservation Alliance (WHPA), and the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP) have all quietly signed off on Faring Capital’s current plan for the Robertson Lane Project. Gosney and Eggert feel betrayed, too, by members of the West Hollywood City Council, particularly Mayor Duran. “We had lunch with him,” they explained, “and the first thing out of his mouth was, ‘how do we save The Factory building?’” His decision to ultimately vote in favor of the Robertson Lane Project was “just incredibly disappointing

and heartbreaking,” the women said. They added that when they spoke before the City Council’s decisive meeting, Duran appeared not to know important details about the developer’s plans for The Factory. “The ultimate stake in the heart,” Gosney said, “is they’re making The Factory an entrance into a parking garage and coffee shop.” Eggert added, “The original camera factory was positioned in an East-West orientation to take advantage of the sunlight and wind patterns, to save money on electricity. To change it [as is the plan] to a North-South orientation would really strip away an aspect of its integrity.” Duran told the Los Angeles Blade he carefully considered the plan in its current iteration, but generally makes a habit of looking only at the final renderings because changes happen often throughout the political process. He added that he has worked with the developer to outline ways of honoring The Factory/Studio One and all that it represents to people in the community—himself included. “I enjoyed meeting and talking with Krisy and Kate,” he said, “and their intentions are good. But as a policymaker—as someone who’s responsible for a city—I have to balance between the nostalgic history concerns and the fact that our local economy has to continue to grow. And it has to reflect the reality of the day.” Another rift over the building concerns a darker element of The Factory’s history. Don Kilhefner, a self-described “gay tribal elder” told LAist last year that Studio One Disco operated with an unwritten policy in which women and non-white club-goers were effectively turned away at the door. When the Los Angeles Times ran an exposé in 1976, then-owner Scott Forbes told the paper he was trying to keep “the bad element out.” In spite of its reputation as a venue that welcomed only white men, Studio One Disco hosted entertainers like Liza Minnelli, Madonna, and Joan Rivers—who hosted one of the first fundraisers for AIDS research in the early 1980s. “All marginalized communities are at risk of their history being pushed aside by the dominant culture,” Gosney wrote. “Our buildings play a huge role in making sure our history doesn’t eventually ‘disappear.’” Continues at losangelesblade.com



Trans activists Step Up for The Midnight Stroll Offering After-Hours Café and other vital comforts of life By JAKE FINNEY On Friday nights the sidewalks around Santa Monica & Vine, the heart of Theater Row in East Hollywood, are lit up with energetic, well-dressed millennials out to enjoy an evening of live performance. The sounds of laughter and lively conversation permeate the neighborhood. However, when you peer down the side streets, the lights start to dim and sidewalks turn into campgrounds for Hollywood’s homeless. Here you will find people living in dome tents while others curl up under piles of clothes and blankets, trying to sleep propped up against building facades. This area is also part of what is known as “The Stroll,” the stretch along Santa Monica between Vermont and La Brea, where a high concentration of transgender women turn to the street economy for survival. Studies have shown that one in five transgender individuals have experienced homelessness at some point in their lives. Finding shelter and services that are transgender-friendly can be daunting, and they often end up as victims of violence. Starting Friday, June 22, Midnight Stroll brings a light of hope to transgender women in this area with new services at Step Up, an organization that provides homeless facilities on Vine, one block south of Santa Monica. Los Angeles City Council member Mitch O’Farrell was present for a ribbon cutting ceremony and recognized the individuals who spearheaded the work. More than 30 people turned out for the event, including community members, service providers, volunteers and city representatives. Midnight Stroll was launched last year when the City of Los Angeles partnered with local LGBTQ organizations to provide targeted outreach to transgender women living on Hollywood’s streets. Led by Asian Pacific AIDS Intervention Team (APAIT), dozens of volunteers spend two nights per month walking the three-mile stretch along Santa Monica Boulevard providing free HIV testing, housing vouchers, condoms, snacks and water to transgender women on the street. Under the newly expanded services,

Ribbon cutting for After Hours Cafe. Left to Right: Dena Williams, Johanna Padilla, Karina Samala, Council member Mitch O’Farrell, Leo Daube, Jazzmun Crayton, Jury Candelario. Photo by Jake Finney

Midnight Stroll offers the After-Hours Café two nights per month from 11 p.m.5 a.m. at Step Up’s facilities. Transgender women who drop in will find coffee, donuts, a hot shower, machines to launder their clothes, a comfortable sofa and movies on a widescreen TV. Staff can also help secure up to three emergency shelter beds per month at the Weingart Center in downtown. Jazzmun Crayton of APAIT, a wellrespected community activist, charges up the volunteers for each shift with a brief training on respectful ways to approach people before hitting the street to do their outreach. “I’ve been out here a long time, I know the Stroll, I’ve seen it change for many, many years. I remember when Target was a car wash, and the girls would hang out there and get tacos. I remember Yukon Mining Company, now it’s an apartment building. I know the Boulevard, I know what’s going on out here. I am grateful for all of you making the effort and taking the time to come

up here to support and be a part of this community ...” she told the crowd. L.A.P.D. Assistant Chief Bea Girmala pointed out that 12 transgender individuals have been murdered so far this year in the U.S., and that a transgender woman of color was just recently victimized nearby at Franklin and Argyle. “One of the reasons that we are here today is that we need to emphasize and underscore the need to turn that tide of violence and hate crimes and hate incidents that are still happening within the Hollywood community and throughout Los Angeles.” The Midnight Stroll expansion is funded by the offices of Mayor Garcetti and Council member Mitch O’Farell, with matching funds from the Caitlyn Jenner Foundation. Garcetti states, “The Midnight Stroll was born out a simple idea: LGBTQ Angelenos living on the streets of Hollywood deserve a safe place to receive the supportive services they need. Not years from now, but today — because for too

many members of this community, a night on the street versus a night under a roof can mean the difference between life and death. That urgency means pressing relentlessly forward in the fight to help everyone in desperate need get back on their feet.” O’Farrell noted there is more transgender visibility now, and that a recent City Council vote makes Los Angeles what appears to be the first U.S. city to require transgender sensitivity training for all city personnel. He also recognized the community-based organizations that have been helping the homeless transgender population. “This is an instance where the City is really stepping in with the funding and resources, budget allocations, and the sensitivity training.” Crayton shared with the crowd: “Just yesterday I was running around, trying to get someone in the Weingart because they were going to be on the street, but thank goodness for the Midnight Stroll because that person is housed tonight.”

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Marriage rights in jeopardy? Kennedy’s retirement raises questions about how secure our rights really are By CHRIS JOHNSON After announcing his retirement following 30 years on the U.S. Supreme Court, Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy leaves a profound legacy in favor of gay rights — but questions linger over whether his legacy is in jeopardy and same-sex marriage rights are in danger now that he’s stepping down. That legacy includes decisions guaranteeing the constitutional right of same-sex couples to marry. In 2013, Kennedy wrote the opinion in Windsor v. United States striking down the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act, which barred federal recognition of same-sex marriages. Two years later in 2015, Kennedy wrote the decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which struck down state laws against same-sex marriage and spread marriage equality nationwide. But Kennedy’s legacy on gay rights extends beyond marriage and goes back decades. In 1996, Kennedy wrote the opinion in Romer v. Evans, striking down Colorado’s Amendment 2 on the basis that bare animus cannot justify anti-gay laws. In 2003, Kennedy was the author of the ruling in Lawrence v. Texas, which found state laws criminalizing samesex relations are unconstitutional. More recently, Kennedy wrote the decision in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case in favor of Colorado baker Jack Phillips, who refused to serve a custom-made wedding cake to a same-sex couple. But that opinion was a narrow ruling based on the facts of the case, only applied to Phillips and invoked strong language in favor of laws barring discrimination against LGBT people. Now that Kennedy has announced he’ll step down, will the precedent those decisions established for gay rights and same-sex marriage in particular remain in place, or will Trump’s pick to replace him be enough for the Supreme Court to reverse course and roll back constitutional protections for gay people? James Esseks, director of the LGBT & HIV project at the American Civil Liberties Union, once said in 2016 before Trump was elected the “chances are virtually nil” the marriage-equality decision would be reversed. With Trump in the White House

Is same-sex marriage in jeopardy now that Justice Anthony Kennedy has announced plans to step down from the Supreme Court?

and a second opportunity for him to name a Supreme Court justice, Esseks now has increased those odds ever so slightly, but still minimized them. “I wouldn’t say they are virtually nil right now, but I also don’t think the chances are super great that Obergefell itself would be overruled,” Esseks said. “My sense at the moment is that, look, it’s absolutely part of our opponents’ objective to overturn Obergefell. They’re going to try, and depending on what it looks like, maybe they’ll have some chances there.” Such a reversal would likely be the result of a state passing a law against same-sex marriage in defiance of Obergefell, or simply refusing to give marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Both of these possibilities would be increasingly politically difficult with strong support for same-sex marriage throughout the country. A recent poll from the Public Religion Research Institute found a majority of voters in 44 states support same-sex marriage. If nonetheless a state moved to ban same-sex marriage, it would be challenged in court, giving the Supreme Court an opportunity to review the precedent. Jocelyn Samuels, executive director of

the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, said “it is, of course, a concern” Kennedy’s successor might bring a new perspective to the court on marriage, but remained optimistic. “I am hopeful that in conjunction with stare decisis, which, of course, counsels against overruling precedent absent really compelling reasons to do so, the new court will maintain what has become an established right that is part of the fundamental constellations of protection that LGBT people need in order live full and equal lives,” Samuels said. Trump considers his pick to replace Kennedy — a choice he said would come from a list of 25 predetermined options of conservative possibilities and would be announced Monday — about a year after he said during an interview on CBS News’ “60 Minutes” he’s “fine” with the ruling for same-sex marriage and considers the matter “settled.” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has said Trump is “not going to talk to judges about specific cases” in deciding his pick, and another White House spokesperson dodged last week when asked if Kennedy’s successor would uphold the justice’s legacy on LGBT rights. The White House didn’t respond to the Washington Blade’s request for comment on whether Trump still thinks same-sex marriage is “settled” and if that view will inform his Supreme Court pick. Samuels said “given this administration’s hostility to LGBT rights” any nominee Trump puts forward to replace Kennedy should come under intense scrutiny. “There is, of course, a concern that any person nominated by this administration will pursue policy and legal analysis that advances and anti-LGBT agenda, and that’s why it’s so critical to evaluate the record of any nominee that the president puts forward to evaluate whether their history of either judicial decision-making or policy determinations, or arguments before courts, reflect a willingness or a desire to roll back existing protections or reject new ones,” Samuels said. Legal experts who spoke to the Blade said that while the marriage ruling itself will likely remain intact after Kennedy leaves the Supreme Court, opponents of LGBT rights may try to chip away at same-sex couples marriage rights, such as spousal

benefits or birth certificates, even though the Obergefell ruling assured them the “constellation of benefits.” That has already taken place: Texas Gov. James Abbott pressured the Texas Supreme Court to consider whether Houston needs to provide spousal health benefits to city employees in same-sex marriages. Despite the Obergefell decision, the Texas Supreme Court last year determined the guarantee of those benefits remained an open question. The court remanded the case to a district judge, where it remains pending. In 2016, the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled the state has no obligation to place the names of both lesbian parents on their children’s birth certificates. Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed that ruling on appeal in a per curiam decision, which stated Obergefell “applies with equal force” to birth certificates. As opposed to a decision overturning Obergefell outright, Esseks said opponents of same-sex marriage will likely pursue a case similar to those lawsuits to undermine the marriage equality decision. “What we will need to be on guard for is efforts to chip away at what it means to be married,” Esseks said. “What they may say is the government will give you the marriage license, but they may allow businesses to treat our marriages differently than straight people’s marriages, they may allow the government to treat our marriages differently than straight people’s marriages, and that could create intense inequality in many different contexts all across the country.” With Kennedy gone, supporters of LGBT rights may begin to look to U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts to uphold same-sex marriage when challenges come to the Supreme Court, even though he was among dissenters to the marriage equality decision. There are signs Roberts may have changed his tune, or believes the issue of same-sex marriage has been settled and he’ll adhere to precedent on the issue. When the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled the state could refuse to place both names of lesbian parents on the birth certificate of their child despite the Obergefell ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed that decision in a per curiam decision. Joining the dissent written by U.S. Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch was U.S. Associate Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, but Roberts wasn’t among them.


In the Masterpiece Cakeshop decision, Roberts was among the seven justices who joined the majority opinion narrowly in favor of the Colorado baker. The chief justice didn’t sign any of the concurring opinions, including one written by Thomas arguing for a more expansive decision finding that Colorado’s LGBT non-discrimination law infringed upon First Amendment rights. Amid discussion in the media Roberts will become the new centrist on the court, Samuels said she hopes he’ll “pursue the institutional integrity of the court” when he feels justices are called upon to make political, rather than legal, decisions. “My hope would be in the same way that he committed during his confirmation hearings to just call balls and strikes, that he will carry that forward to recognize the need to respect settled precedent and to really take into account the fundamental rights that are at

stake when the LGBT community is subject to discrimination or ostracism,” Samuels said. Aside from marriage, a host of other LGBT issues could come before the Supreme Court in cases where the outcome may be in question with Kennedy gone from the court. Much like the Masterpiece Cakeshop decision, cases seeking religious exemptions to discriminate against LGBT people will likely reach the court because that decision didn’t explicitly spell out precedent on the issue. The U.S. Supreme Court recently sent back to the Washington Supreme Court a petition filed by Arlene’s Flowers in Washington State, a florist seeking to refuse service to same-sex weddings, with instructions to reconsider the case in light of the Masterpiece decision. Esseks predicted “there will be more cases” raising questions on religious exemptions that reach the Supreme Court,

but was optimistic about their outcome for LGBT people based on the Masterpiece Cakeshop decision. “In Masterpiece, there’s a lot of very good language in the majority opinion that talks about the importance of civil rights laws, how harmful discrimination is and the stigma that it causes and talks about how unthinkable it would be for businesses to be able to put up a sign saying, ‘No Gay People Here,’ or ‘Cakes for Heterosexuals Only,’” Esseks said. “That’s not the holding of the case, but it’s strong language that six justices signed on to.” Another potential issue for the Supreme Court is whether federal civil rights laws against sex discrimination, which include Title VII of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 for the workplace and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, apply to anti-LGBT discrimination. Two petitions are already pending before


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the Supreme Court seeking an answer on whether anti-gay discrimination amounts to illegal sex discrimination under federal law. Alliance Defending Freedom, an antiLGBT legal group, is expected in August to file a petition seeking review of a U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decision affirming Title VII applies to transgender people and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act doesn’t enable employers to engage in antitrans discrimination. One more issue that could soon come before the Supreme Court is Trump’s transgender military ban. Although four district courts and two appellate courts have enjoined the administration from enforcing the policy as result of litigation filed by LGBT groups, those cases continue to percolate through the judiciary. Continues at losangelesblade.com



Attorneys reflect on Kennedy legacy Romer, Lawrence, Windsor and Obergefell lawyers look back

Smith: I would anticipate that the new Court will be supportive of claims like that made in Masterpiece Cakeshop for individual private exemptions from state or federal laws banning anti-gay discrimination. I would be surprised, however, if the Court were to overrule Obergefell and authorize states to refuse to marry more same-sex couples. Marriage equality is too ingrained in our national understanding of fairness and justice. But we should be watchful nonetheless.

By CHRIS JOHNSON U.S. Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy is stepping down from the U.S. Supreme Court after writing four milestone cases in favor of gay rights over the course of his 30 years on the bench. The Washington Blade contacted the attorneys who argued each of those cases — Romer v. Evans in 1996, Lawrence v. Texas in 2003, U.S. v. Windsor in 2013 and Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015 — for their reflections on those decisions and LGBT rights in the aftermath of Kennedy’s retirement. Here are their responses: Romer v. Evans — Colorado’s Amendment 2 is unconstitutional because bare animus cannot justify anti-gay measures Kennedy: “Even if, as the State contends, homosexuals can find protection in laws and policies of general application, Amendment 2 goes well beyond merely depriving them of special rights. It imposes a broad disability upon those persons alone, forbidding them, but no others, to seek specific legal protection from injuries caused by discrimination in a wide range of public and private transactions.” Attorney: Jean Dubofsky, first female justice in 1979 appointed to the Colorado Supreme Court and the youngest person ever appointed to the court at 37. She later returned to private practice and led the legal team against Amendment 2. What was the significance of Kennedy’s opinion in Romer to the advancement of LGBT rights? Dubofsky: When Justice Kennedy asked the first question in the Romer v Evans argument: Has there ever been a law (he was referring to Amendment 2 to the Colorado Constitution, which prohibited any remedies for discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation) as bad as this? I knew that we had a chance of winning. Until then there was no precedent that supported gay rights. It’s not surprising, given no precedent, that Justice Kennedy’s opinion did not follow customary equal protection

From left, Jean Dubofsky, Paul Smith, Roberta Kaplan and Mary Bonauto. Photo of Dubofsky courtesy of Dubofsky; Blade photos of Smith, Kaplan and Bonauto by Michael Key

analysis. Romer became the starting point for the gay rights cases that followed. Now that Kennedy has announced his retirement, to what extent is his legacy on LGBT rights in danger? Dubofsky: I’d be surprised if Romer and its progeny are overturned. (Chief Justice Roberts, then an attorney in private practice, helped me prepare for the argument). Protection for religious expression, however, may allow those who provide services for gay weddings to discriminate. Lawrence v. Texas — state laws criminalizing intimate relations for samesex couples are unconstitutional Kennedy: “Liberty protects the person from unwarranted government intrusions into a dwelling or other private places. In our tradition the State is not omnipresent in the home. And there are other spheres of our lives and existence, outside the home, where the State should not be a dominant presence. Freedom extends beyond spatial bounds. Liberty presumes an autonomy of self that includes freedom of thought, belief, expression, and certain intimate conduct. The instant case involves liberty of the person both in its spatial and more transcendent dimensions.” Attorney: Paul Smith, who argued the case for Lambda Legal on behalf of John Geddes Lawrence Jr. and Tyron Garner, now a faculty member at Georgetown University Law Center What was the significance of Kennedy’s opinion in Lawrence to the advancement of

LGBT rights? Smith: Lawrence was central to the achievement of further advances for LGBT rights. First, it eliminated the sodomy laws, which were excellent instruments of oppression because they made it difficult for people to live as gay men or lesbians out in the open in some states. Second, it eliminated the odious decision in Bowers v. Hardwick, which upheld sodomy laws in 1986 and which undercut almost any constitutional argument that could be made in favor of LGBT civil rights under the Constitution. Finally, the way Justice Kennedy wrote the Lawrence opinion made it a springboard toward legal recognition of same-sex relationships. He made clear that our relationships have the same value and play the same role as different-sex relationships. He also established firmly that the government has no right to make moral judgments condemning individual choices about what kind of relationship or family to form. In our free society, those are choices individuals get to make. As Justice Scalia noted in his dissent in Lawrence, those two moves made it difficult to oppose claims to marriage equality. Our opponents struggled for the next 12 years to explain why same-sex couples could be excluded from marriage, once they could no longer offer up the kind of moral arguments that Lawrence forbade. Now that Kennedy has announced his retirement, to what extent is his legacy on LGBT rights in danger?

United States v. Windsor, Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, which barred federal recognition of same-sex marriage, is unconstitutional Kennedy: “DOMA instructs all federal officials, and indeed all persons with whom same-sex couples interact, including their own children, that their marriage is less worthy than the marriages of others. The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity.” Attorney: Roberta Kaplan, who argued the case on behalf of New York widow Edith Windsor, now founding partner at Kaplan & Company LLP. (Editor’s Note: The Blade submitted questions to Kaplan on the significance of the Windsor decision in the aftermath of Kennedy’s retirement, but she declined to provide responses before deadline.) Obergefell v. Hodges, state laws barring same-sex couples from obtaining marriage licenses and prohibiting recognition of those marriages are unconstitutional Kennedy: “No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves.” Continues at losangelesblade.com



Trump keeps omitting LGBT people from HIV/AIDS statements

Rep. Anthony G. Brown is seeking answers from DOD on ignoring Pride month. Blade photo by Michael Key

House Dems seek answers from DOD on ignoring Pride month A group of eight House Democrats led by Rep. Anthony Brown (D-Md.) is seeking answers from the Pentagon on the absence of any recognition of June as Pride month for the first time since “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal certification in 2011. In a letter dated June 28 to Defense Secretary James Mattis, House Democrats expressed concern about lack of formal recognition of Pride this year, saying the Pentagon is “backing away from supporting and celebrating” LGBT service members and Defense Department employees. “The absence of demonstrative support from DOD leadership at events like these can have the effect of isolating our LGBT service members and employees,” the letter says. “The Department of Defense cannot and must not retreat when it comes to ensuring Americans’ ability to share in our country’s promise, nor when it comes to truly living up to our founding ideals.” Joining Brown in signing the letters were Reps. Robert Brady (Pa.), Susan Davis (Calif.), Jackie Speier (Calif.), Beto O’Rourke (Texas), Donald Norcross (N.J.), Ruben Gallego (Ariz.) and Salud Carbajal (Calif.). Each of these Democrats serves on the House Armed Services Committee. The Pentagon issued no formal recognition of Pride for the first time since 2011, when “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was certified and gay people could serve openly in the U.S. military for the first time. Last year, Acting Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel & Readiness Anthony Kurta, a holdover from the Obama administration, issued a memo recognizing Pride month. That position is now held by Robert Wilkie, whom President Trump has nominated as secretary of Veterans Affairs. His nomination remains pending before the U.S. Senate. Although the Pentagon issued no memo recognizing Pride, it did hold an official event earlier this month recognizing the occasion for LGBT service members and Pentagon employees. Brown was the keynote speaker. The tension was palpable at the event as participants celebrated Pride, which came amid continuing efforts from Trump and the Defense Department to ban transgender people from the military. Meanwhile, although at least two senior Pentagon leaders — Sergeant Major of the Army Daniel Dailey and Vee Penrod — were in attendance, none were recognized on stage, nor did any senior leader address the crowd. The House Democrats pose three questions to Mattis on the absence of recognition of Pride and senior Pentagon leaders from the stage at the Pride event: 1. Please explain the decision made by the Pentagon’s Personnel and Readiness Office to not issue a memo celebrating the contributions of LGBT Americans, as it has done in years past. Please also identify the office, agency or person responsible for determining when DOD will issue memos celebrating or highlighting cultural groups or achievements. 2. What role, if any, did Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Robert L. Wilkie play in making the decision not to issue a memo celebrating Pride Month? 3. We were disappointed to learn that none of DOD’s leadership would be participating in DOD’s annual Pride event. Please explain why Department of Defense leadership declined, during DOD’s annual Pride event on Monday, June 11, 2018, to speak to their fellow service members and employees? The Washington Blade has placed a request in with the Pentagon seeking comment on the letter.

For the second year in a row, Donald Trump has issued a statement recognizing National HIV Testing that omits any mention of the vulnerability of LGBT people to the disease. The lack of LGBT inclusion in statements on HIV/AIDS has been a consistent theme from Trump, who last year issued a statement on World AIDS Day that also failed to mention LGBT people being disproportionately impacted by the disease. To be fair, President Obama never mentioned LGBT people in his statements on National HIV Testing Day either, but did mention LGBT vulnerability to the disease in other statements, including his final proclamation on World AIDS Day. The White House didn’t respond to a request for comment on LGBT omission from the National HIV Testing Day statement. Trump in his statement lauded “the great progress we have made” against HIV/AIDS, including national efforts “to spread awareness about the importance of getting tested.” “Early detection of HIV — using a simple and routine test — is instrumental in helping contain the advancement of the virus to Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS),” Trump said. Trump also promoted HIV testing by pointing out new medications are helping people with HIV/AIDS “live longer and healthier lives.” Alluding to PrEP, Trump noted the Food & Drug Administration approved medication dramatically reducing the risk of HIV infection in the first place. Although Trump doesn’t mention LGBT people in his statement, Trump does mention the high number of youths who are contracting the disease. “Despite this progress, in 2016, nearly 40,000 people were diagnosed with HIV in the United States,” Trump said. “People between the ages of 20 and 29 received more than a third of those diagnoses. Even more troubling, 44 percent of people living with HIV between the ages of 13 and 24 were unaware that they were carrying the virus.” Trump concludes that National HIV Testing Day is “an important reminder” those who are unaware they are carrying the disease are the “most at risk for inadvertently infecting others and missing out on potentially life-saving treatments.” “As we observe National HIV Testing Day, we celebrate the advancements we have made in medical science, and I encourage all Americans to invest in their health and be aware of their HIV status,” Trump said. “Through greater awareness and education, we can all do our part to lead healthier and longer lives.” Carl Schmid, deputy executive director of the AIDS Institute, said he was “happy” with the statement despite the LGBT omission. “It doesn’t mention any of the groups,” Schmid said. “And I was thinking, gee, we did a statement, and I didn’t mention LGBT in ours either. We just focused on the number of people not being tested and the importance of testing.” “I think we should give him credit for issuing a statement,” Schmid said. “I didn’t know they were going to do it, so I’m pleased. It shows that they are providing attention to HIV.” Although Trump doesn’t mention LGBT people in his National HIV Strategy, a recently released report from the Department of Health & Human Services’ Office of HIV/AIDS & Infectious Disease Policy, which adopted Obama-era goals in confronting the disease, did include statistics on the vulnerability of gay and bisexual men, as well as transgender women, to the disease. Schmid acknowledged the lack of LGBT mention on HIV/AIDS — as well as other populations — has been a theme from Trump, and said identification of youth as a vulnerable population is important because most of them are LGBT. “I hope that he will address LGBT — particularly youth — and black and Latino gay youth as well, but I give him credit for issuing this, and I think we should,” Schmid said.



It’s deja vu all over again with meth A deadly public health crisis for a new generation echoes AIDS

Donna Trujillo is a licensed marriage and family therapist.

As was true during the initial, critical moments of the AIDS crisis, we again find ourselves at the crossroads of a conversation that pits civil rights and sex-positivity against a public health crisis that is killing our men. A generation ago, a new, as yet untreated sexually transmitted disease was killing gay men at an alarming rate. Some gay activists, in league with public health officials, worked to close bathhouses in major cities throughout the United States. Why? Because it made sense that a sexually transmitted disease was likely spreading in places where people generally went to have sex. In San Francisco, Director of Public Health Mervyn Silverman closed 14 San Francisco bathhouses on Oct. 9, 1984. This was seen as a necessary life-saving step, something intended to support the gay community and not demean it. Within 24 hours of those closures, all but two of the bathhouses reopened. Why? Because if you wanted to discriminate against a sexual minority, it made sense to close down a place where members of that sexual minority generally went to have sex. And therein lay the problem. For every activist who advocated for bathhouse closures as a way of protecting lives, there was another one who advocated that they stay open as a way of protecting civil rights. It’s deja-vu all over again. Once again, a plague is killing off a generation. Now as before, we are facing the literal deaths of men who are our brothers, our sons, our friends, our lovers, our husbands, our present and future leaders. Like our last holocaust, this one is also killing off the life force of our community, making our neighborhoods

landscapes of the walking dead. We need only take a stroll down the streets of New York or San Francisco or Los Angeles and gaze into the glazed eyes of (mostly) men who have been up for days, exhausted from endless parties that even they don’t think are fun anymore. Where we once saw the lesions of Kaposi’s Sarcoma, now we see open meth sores. Where we once encountered dying men with dementia, we now encounter psychosis. Now as before, our men are wasting away before our very eyes. The plague of this generation is the deadly cooccurring addiction of meth and sex. Before we get into the politics of it all, let’s get clear – crystal clear – about the nature of the meth/sex epidemic that is killing our men. This co-occurring addiction is not one thing or the other. It’s its own thing. It’s one, twopronged thing. People who have been working on the front lines of the meth/sex epidemic are clear that, once the substance of meth and the behavior of sex link up, the two become mutually supportive. The PNP culture (party and play, a slang term used to describe combining drug use with intercourse) is alive and well and destroying lives at an accelerating pace. Crystal addicts use the drug to act out sexually. Sex addicts spend days at a club or in a hotel room or in some guy’s house having lots of sex and they use meth to keep the party going. So whether the chicken-or-the-egg story begins with sex or ends with sex, sex as an addiction has to be addressed with the same care and consideration we use in dealing with the substance addiction. Because sex/meth addiction isn’t two things. It’s one thing. It’s one two-pronged thing. When it comes to dealing with the meth part of the equation, most of us agree that you have to start with total abstinence. And even if you support harm-reduction, it’s likely that you, too, will agree that the best way to stop using meth is to stop using meth. It’s when we get into a discussion about sex/no sex that people — especially those men whose sex lives are directly impacted by the discussion — start to bristle at the idea of total abstinence. People on the front lines of the addiction will tell you that best practice is for people with this addiction to abstain from sex for a year. And not only sex, but the sexually compulsive behaviors that feed the substance addiction. Maybe it’s compulsive

masturbation, or perhaps it’s porn or fantasy or even compulsive use of dating and sex apps. Or maybe it’s all of it. Whatever the behaviors that fuel the addiction, total abstinence from those behaviors is essential if you want to find recovery from the meth addiction. Why? Because what fires together, wires together. If you’re hooked on meth, if you’re a member of the PNP generation, then meth will fire up the sex wire and sex will fire up the meth wire. This addictive alchemy can only fire for so long before it burns the house down. If you want to find recovery from this addiction, or if you’re trying to help someone else recover from this addiction, you cannot take an either/or approach. You need to deal with both addictions at the same time. That means getting real about whether or not this conversation about sex is about sexual liberation or about public health. I lean toward the side of public health. And best practice says that total abstinence from meth and a year’s abstinence from sex is essential if you or someone you care about wants to beat the tall odds stacked against people with this disease. Best practice says this, but it’s also I’ve seen over and over and over again. The men who abstain from sex and from sexually triggering behavior stay clean. The ones who don’t, don’t. But the conversation about sexual liberation matters. So often, sexual liberation has been equated with a kind of capitalistic pursuit for more, better, newer, kinkier, boundarytesting sex. Is “more” better? Is “more” liberating? Has “more” ever freed us from the heteronormative shaming that is imposed on gay sex? Or is it just “more?” If it’s just “more,” then what is the “more” covering? Talk to just about anybody who’s hooked on meth-sex and they will tell you that the meth pushes the shame aside so that sex can be a fantasy of feeling and emotion and yes, more. But the shame doesn’t go away. It goes underground and lies in wait, ready to emerge when the high is over and suicidal depression follows. Abstinence can provide an opportunity to take a look at the shame that has been there all along, to identify new ways of creating intimacy, to become truly relational and to celebrate and not merely accept the gift of gay sex. Nobody wants to take gay sex away. We just want to save lives.

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Stop our downhill slide and vote in November Roe, Obergefell at risk in corrupt Trump era

Peter Rosenstein is a LGBT rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.

We now know without a doubt that a vote for Hillary Clinton on Nov. 8, 2016, would have made a positive difference in so many people’s lives. We would not be staring at the demise of our democracy and a return to the 1950s on social issues with a new Supreme Court Justice. Time to stop blaming Hillary for how she campaigned and place the blame where it belongs, on the disgusting pig in the White House and those who put him there either by staying home, voting for a third party, or casting a vote for Trump. Shame on those who listened to the likes of elitist white

privileged Susan Sarandon who said Clinton was the same as Trump or even worse. But here we are and now we need to face the future together no matter how dim it may look. Every person with an ounce of decency must do everything they can to stop Trump and his right-wing Republican Congress. Never thought I would agree with George Will but I urge you to listen when even he says, “Don’t vote for the GOP in November.” We must put a stop to the downhill slide of our nation and stop a president who is having us turn our backs on our friends while he cozies up to our enemies. We need to take back the House of Representatives and the Senate if we are to stop the insane person occupying the White House before he does any more damage. I am more convinced than ever that Vladimir Putin is blackmailing him. If he isn’t then Trump is even more disgusting than I thought, which is hard to fathom. With the retirement of Justice Kennedy, we will face a more hostile majority on the Supreme Court. It can only be hoped there are two or three Republicans with enough decency to reject a nominee committed to turning back the clock and overturning Roe v. Wade allowing states to once again make abortion illegal; and Obergefell v. Hodges once again making same-sex marriage illegal.

In order to move forward we must elect every Democrat on the general election ballot on Nov. 6. Every one of them, from those running for school board and county council, to those running for state legislature, governor and Congress. If we do that we can put a halt to the downward spiral this president and this Congress have us on. With our vote we can say, “We won’t take it anymore.” We can say to this president we see through your lies and deceit when you say your tax cut helped the middle class when it was just a big giveaway to the rich. We can say to him your tariffs are hurting us and because of them union workers in Wisconsin are losing their jobs and farmers in Iowa are hurting because they can’t sell their crops. We can tell the president that cozying up to Putin and Kim Jong-un while chastising Justin Trudeau, Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron is total insanity and a threat to world peace. We have the chance with our votes this November to say our country is going to defend the rights of immigrants and redeem ourselves and live up to the words on the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” With a united voice we must say we will not let women go back to the

times when getting an abortion meant doing it in a dirty back room with a coat hanger. We will not go back to the time when those in the LGBTQ community stayed in the closet to protect themselves and their families. We will not go back to a time in our country when it was legal to discriminate based on the color of one’s skin. And we will say with our votes we will not accept a president who thinks it’s OK to support candidates who accept the support of white supremacists and Nazis such as Corey Stuart in Virginia. The majority of the people in our country are decent. Nearly three million more of them voted for Hillary than for Trump. In the last six out of seven presidential elections the Democratic candidate for president got more votes than the Republican. The majority of the people understood the difference it would make even if our Electoral College system didn’t allow the majority to win. This November we must vote in overwhelming numbers to show the world not only are the majority of the American people decent and caring, but we will not stand by while the despot currently occupying the White House and his lackeys in the Congress endanger not only our nation but the world.

ChemSex crisis takes center stage in LA Fentanyl laced meth kills several local gay men, a new twist on an old enemy By JOHN PAUL KING

Unless you are from the UK, you might not be familiar with the term “ChemSex” – but if you are a sexually active gay or bisexual man who has had any experience with Grindr or other social media “hook-up” apps, odds are good that you already know what it means. In this country, we’ve been calling it “Party and Play” for nearly two decades. There are other expressions for it, too, but they all refer to the same thing – getting high and having extreme sex for extended periods of time. The main ingredient is usually crystal methamphetamine, used alone or in combination with other euphoria-producing street drugs, such as GHB, ketamine, or “molly.” Viagra or Cialis is often used as well. The British term for this combination of sex and drugs has gained popularity here since the 2015 release of “Chemsex: The Movie,” a documentary about the underground world of drug-fueled sex parties among gay men in London – but the allure of these chemically enhanced sexual adventures was already familiar to those who participate in the “PNP” lifestyle on this side of the Atlantic. One practitioner, “Philip” (not his real name), says, “It’s like being a sex god – you’re just so turned on. Touching feels amazing, and you can just go forever – hot, kick-ass, porn-star sex, for hours.” Considering that description, it’s easy to understand why the connection between meth and sex is a major contributor to the high rate of the drug’s use among men who have sex with men (MSM) – close to 20% in some segments of that population, according to a 2016 study conducted by New York University. Meth and other such substances have the same physiological effects regardless of sexual or gender orientation, of course; why, then, are gay and bisexual men so disproportionately drawn to them in combination with sex? One former user – we’ll call him “Alex” – hints at one reason when he says that drugs helped him bridge his anxiety about having sex with






other men after years of being closeted. “I had been in denial about my sexuality even though I had known from an early age that I was attracted to other guys,” he says. “My parents had always been really vocal that homosexuality was ‘an abomination,’ and that had an effect, you know? So, I just dated women. I even got married, but at a certain point the drive towards my real sexual desires just took over. I started going to bathhouses when I was on business trips, but I felt so out of place and uncomfortable being there that I could never connect – until one night a guy asked me if I ‘partied.’ I had no idea what that meant, but he was totally hot, so I said ‘sure, man.’ Five minutes later I was having the most amazing sex I ever had in my life.” His voice is tinged with excitement as he continues, “The rush I felt from it, the way it helped me forget about all my insecurities, my guilt, my shyness – it was like somebody gave me the password to a secret club I wanted to get into all my life.” “After that,” he says, “I had to score crystal as soon as I hit the bathhouse, then pretty soon I was taking some home with me, and that was it. Game over.” Within little more than a year he was divorced, unemployed, homeless, and in jail. He’s now out, proud, and completely drugfree – but he willingly acknowledges that ChemSex played an important part in freeing him from the closet. Even so, he is rueful as he reflects, “I trashed my life, which in a way was good because it wasn’t really the one I wanted and I didn’t know how to get out of it. But the collateral damage – it caused so much pain for the people around me, and I lost everything. I can’t help but wish I could have found a way to change things without burning everything to the ground like that.” Another man, “Javier,” has a different story – but the common themes are telling. He says, “I came out when I was 14. I found myself in hyper-sexual queer spaces early on, but I never

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seemed to be able to tap into that energy. As an insecure teenager that struggled with my weight, I was never seen as a sexual being amongst my peers. My identity was only linked to being a person of color, or to my shyness or creativity. Crystal allowed me to tap into my sexuality and dissociate from my body.” He continues, “I had my first sexual experience on crystal, and I feel like it damaged how I engage in sex forever – sex became transactional and void of emotion. It can be confusing. Sometimes just being aroused can still trigger a desire for the ritual of using.” Michael Caruso, a certified drug and alcohol counselor with Friends Getting Off at Friends Community Center, explains how a lifetime of cultural messaging towards gay and bi men can lead them to substances and sex. “We live in a world that is predominantly heterosexual,” he says, “and while people have become more accepting of homosexuality, there is still plenty of stigma that gay men have internalized. If your family of origin doesn’t accept you and the world sees you as being something to fear, you’re eventually going to want to numb out from that. Even within the LGBT community, people are met with body shaming and pressure to look a certain way – they want to escape that too.” For many in the MSM community, combining sex and meth seems to offer that escape by shutting down unwanted feelings of self-doubt – but as Caruso explains, it’s a double-edged sword. “Most of our participants, when asked what they really want from sex, have replied with emotional needs – like connection, trust, vulnerability, feeling safe – in addition to orgasm. In fact, orgasm is usually the only physical response mentioned.” Meth cuts off those feelings too, he says. “So, actual emotional needs have been pushed to the wayside in favor of escapism.” It’s not just short-term, either. How meth works on a biochemical level is key to the way addiction becomes intertwined





Harm reduction programs are offering Meth testing strips and Naloxone to hard to reach communities. Photo courtesy The Dope Project

with sex. Essentially, the drug acts on receptors in the brain and triggers it to release all its stored dopamine – a naturally-produced chemical that serves as the body’s “feel good” neurotransmitter. This floods the user’s brain with heightened euphoria, feelings of pleasure and reward. The problem is that dopamine takes time to be re-synthesized by the body, which means that once it’s depleted by drugs, the sensory payoff stops happening until a new supply can be generated – leading to the inevitable let-down that occurs when the pleasure stops and the negative feelings start creeping back. In addition, close proximity between the brain’s dopamine receptors and its memory

center helps creates a neural pathway associating meth with sexual gratification, which leads to a connection of the two in a dependent pattern of behavior. Worse yet, repeated use causes damage to those receptors, making the brain “forget” how to produce the dopamine without the drug. This is why users require ever-higher dosages to achieve an ever-more-elusive effect, and why they often switch their delivery method; many start with “snorting” or smoking and eventually move to “shooting up,” escalating the damage to their system and increasing the chance of overdose. The risk of becoming an addict is the most obvious risk of the drug/sex combination. For

many, though, it’s a risk worth taking for the sense of sexual freedom they get in exchange. A recurring theme in their stories has to do with a willingness to explore fantasies they would never try while sober. “Justin,” an active ChemSex participant, says, “My fantasies go wild when I’m high.” He gives examples from his most recent weekend session. “I got to explore my fantasy of getting fisted. It fueled the intensity to make it happen when I was high – quite honestly it was almost spiritual for me. There was also this one guy who was older – he wanted to be my dom daddy, with some intense ass play and WS. We partied and fucked bareback for hours.” This brings up another risk of the drug/sex Continues on Page 29








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queery BRAD LAMM How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell? When we moved to Eugene, Oregon as a boy, I ran to the fence and kissed my boy neighbor Barry Smith. I always knew.

Photo Courtesy Lamm

By TROY MASTERS tmasters@losangelesblade.com

“Who is that?” That’s the first thing I thought when I first encountered Brad Lamm during a highly-contentious ACT-UP meeting in 1990 at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center in New York. The gay community at the time was ravaged psychologically and physically, torn by debate over the mounting frustrations of many community members who some perceived to be arguing for the right to unsafe-sex, brother be damned. “If someone chooses to have unsafe sex, it’s their choice,” said one. “I will not be judged by any of you,” said another. Some in the room were aghast and it was electric. “We come into this room every to figure out how we can save lives, not destroy them,” said a senior member of the group. It was the height of acrimony at a time when it seemed the AIDS crisis would kill all of us. And on top of it, a crisis had broken out that would only serve as gasoline; methamphetamine, in particular and other general addictions like GHB and alcohol consumption were destroying even more lives and adding to the numbers of HIVpositive people. “Are we really debating your right to do Tina,” yelled an angry young lesbian. “Is that liberty or death?” Then, piercing the outrage and silencing the room, Brad Lamm, then a doorman for some of NYC’s hottest nightclubs, went to the heart of all the madness: “Why can’t we love one another? Why can’t we recognize what love is and what self-love is? What is wrong with us?” It was a brave and overly simple assertion to most. But silence did not equal death in this case, because the room calmed down and people came together with mindfulness of why we were gathered in the first place, saving our own lives. Brad went on to face the demons of his own addiction, soon finding himself unable to continue a fledgling yet successful TV journalism career he had wanted all his life. He worked hard to become sober after a friend asked him if he thought he needed help, and from that simple encounter he realized his mission was to help people save themselves and regain the strength of their own dignity. Brad’s getting help to begin his recovery journey began 16 years ago this week. Since then he has helped thousands and thousands, first through appearances on the “Today Show”, the early years of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and his Oprah produced docu-series, “Addicted to Food.” Brad gently helps people identify obstacles to change in their lives and what is holding them back from addressing their eating disorders, drug or alcohol addictions and the role they may play in their loved ones hurt or healing. “There’s never just one addiction,” he says. “You can help get people on the road to recovery without an angry confrontation or surprise. Change most often comes with getting a handle on emotions, quelling fears and anxieties, building a support network, and most importantly how the word NO can be a conversation starter rather than a dead end,” he told the Los Angeles Blade. In 2014 Brad started Breathe Life Healing Center, a Laurel Canyon, traumaawareness based addiction treatment center that has helped save more lives. “Without the help Brad directed me to I am pretty sure I would have died,” said one client who spent three month healing in the Hollywood Hills. “Change is a powerful word and for Brad, it’s a life’s mission.”

Who’s your LGBT hero? In 1984, I read FAGGOTS in a Modern Fiction class at UCLA. I wrote an author critique to Larry, and when I landed in NYC in 1989, his arms gave me a hug and his voice delivered a call to action to ACT UP. What’s Los Angeles’ best nightspot, past or present? Hollywood Bowl, no doubt. The angels smiled with that sweet spot. Describe your dream wedding. I had it. Ten years ago during the PROP 8 window, I married my sweetheart Scott. My pop and mother in law where there, as well as my two brothers Scott + Gregg. Was heaven in a day. What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about? I feel the tug, and pull of the universe to to help survivors of complex trauma recover useful lives they love. What historical outcome would you change? I would reduce suffering and make the human male able only to make two offspring. Both seem most useful, and tied for first in this moment. What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime? Watching THE COLOR PURPLE piece of art, move from Pulitzer Prize winning book to powerful film, and on to the musical my husband dreamt up and made come to life over the past 20 years. I worked at Warner Bros while I was at UCLA and worked on the film. It has been a beautiful story of joy, suffering, resilience and forgiveness in my life over all these years. On what do you insist? A hoodie. I am frequently chilly. What was your last Facebook post or Tweet? “Keep hope for just one more reason.

Time’s been my teacher so please give me one more try.” - from the song ONE MORE TIME, by Kristine W If your life were a book, what would the title be? Since I’ve written six of them, I’ll chose one: HOW TO HELP SOMEONE YOU LOVE. Each one of us has tremendous power to help those surrounding us. If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do? Though I would never choose to be anything other than a gay human. What do you believe in beyond the physical world? Unclear again. It is a great mystery. I believe in the power of connectedness and love. I embrace the notion of spirit and how everything is connected. What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders? Let the kids in the room where it happens. What would you walk across hot coals for? Ice cream and pizza. What LGBT stereotype annoys you most? That we are all something or other. We represent the fabric of creation. I dig that. What’s your favorite LGBT movie? “Paris is Burning” remains my fave. Real. Raw. Human. Heartbreaking. A celebration of life! What’s the most overrated social custom? Ties. What trophy or prize do you most covet? My mom’s approval. Will never have it. She hates gays. What do you wish you’d known at 18? That what my folks or church thought do not matter. That trauma could be treated. And that we were NOT all going to die. Why Los Angeles? It’s where the universe landed my feet for this moment.






Urie’s return Sorta bi-leaning Panic! frontman back with tight pop effort By THOM MURPHY

Photo Courtesy DCD2

For those of us who were teenagers in the late 2000s, pop punk music was defined not only by its sound, but also its look — skinny jeans, band T-shirts and Vans shoes. Skater-inspired teenagers adamantly defended their favorite bands and devoutly followed major acts such as My Chemical Romance and Fall Out Boy. Lesser-known bands performed in small venues where fans would push against each other (light “mosh”ing) while the bands played overloud guitars, singing snappy choruses in a nasal tenor. Frontmen and band members alike attracted devoted followings, drawing attention to their sometimes ambiguous sexuality in performative ways. After signing to Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz’ label Decaydance Records (later renamed DCD2), Panic! At The Disco became a major force in the scene with albums “A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out” (2005) and “Pretty. Odd.” (2008). Frontman Brendon Urie, the only original member who still remains in the group, has continued to release hugely successful music under the original band name. He recently made his Broadway debut in “Kinky Boots.” Urie, who has discussed his attraction to both men and women on several occasions, joined the Human Rights Campaign’s Equality Rocks project last year and has recently pledged $1 million in support of LGBT youth through his newly founded Highest Hopes Foundation. The new album “Pray For The Wicked,” which debuted at the No. 1 Billboard spot, showcases the band’s signature theatrics and Urie’s outstanding vocals. Like most pop punk revival albums in recent years, “Pray For The Wicked” tilts strongly pop, with the rock influence largely lost in the mix. But Urie manages to remain innovative, experimenting with irregular instrumentation, fusing electronic and pop rock. Lead single “Say Amen (Saturday Night),” a rebellious anthem dealing with religious themes, features a boisterous brass section in the chorus. Thematically, the song speaks of internal religious struggle: “And every morning when I wake up/I wanna be who I couldn’t say I’d ever been.” It’s heavy handed in terms of both music and lyrics, but works well overall. The bridge gives a welcome contrast to the preachy brass with Urie moving to whispery lower register above a salsa-inspired piano accompaniment before he soars to an astoundingly high note in the final chorus. “Hey Look Ma, I Made It” is an up-tempo, heavily electronic track. Its clever, at times smart alecky lyrics are a refreshing departure from the filler words of most electronic-influenced pop tracks. As Urie quips in the first verse, “I’m a hooker sellin’ songs/and my pimp’s a record label.” Musically, this track is the furthest from Panic! At The Disco pop punk origins. The song rolls into “High Hopes,” a slightly underwhelming upbeat track that has been released as a single. “Dancing’s Not A Crime” is one of the best tracks on the album. The superbly engineered, upbeat song has a lively horn accompaniment, which mixes perfectly into the balance. It’s the sort of funky brass instrumentation we have come to expect of someone like Bruno Mars. And melodically, the chorus is vaguely reminiscent of Lady Gaga’s “Yoü and I.” It’s a delightfully fun song. The single “King Of The Clouds” has an operatic vocal quality that appears at least loosely inspired by Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” But it’s neither the best nor the most interesting song on the short yet robust album and seems a peculiar choice for a single, though it’s certainly enjoyable. The ballad “Dying In LA” has beautiful melody that Urie delivers in his sharp, clear tenor above an alternating piano and string accompaniment. It makes his recent stint on Broadway seem an obvious corollary. With few exceptions, the current iteration of the pop punk revival is living on borrowed time. Its existence depends on name recognition and nostalgia. And the remaining acts have largely been assimilated into more traditional pop. But if there is anything left of the innovative, angsty spunk of pop punk, Brendon Urie may well be its last prophet.


EDITOR’S NOTE: During For Your Consideration Emmy season, television and streaming networks do presentations for the Television Academy, in the hopes that they get recognized for a nomination. We at The Los Angeles Blade wanted to shine attention on PBS’ “American Masters” documentary, “Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart.”

While most people in the theater world know that Lorraine Hansberry wrote the riveting, Tony Awards-nominated play, “A Raisin in the Sun” (turned into a movie in 1961) very few people in mainstream culture know the playwright’s name and how much she fought for lesbian and African American rights. In an exclusive interview, Los Angeles Blade talked with Michael Kantor, executive producer of “American Masters” and producer, director and writer, Tracy Heather Strain, about the first African American woman to produce a play on Broadway. “Hansberry was an outspoken activist for civil rights and an artist who believed her words could change society,” said Kantor. “This film was a part of our Inspiring Woman campaign because Hansberry was a truly inspiring figure, and she still is today. ‘American Masters’ is proud to be a part of telling her story.” Strain wanted to make an in-depth film about this incredibly inspiring woman because she felt that Hansberry was “unknown and misunderstood.” “This seemed strange given that she died in 1965 at just age 34, having written what has become one of the most performed American plays,” said Strain. “Using a vast array of visual and archival imagery, I introduce Hansberry’s deep and bold commitment to social justice for a broad array of peoples, and her desire to use her words to change the world.” Hansberry’s writing introduced black women characters who were intellectuals and militant fighters for civil rights, said Strain. “She contributed a fiercely uncompromising radical perspective on social justice and racial and women’s equality in public debates, television, print and radio,” Strain said. Though she was not able to publicly share her personal identity as a married lesbian in the 1950s and 1960s, Hansberry’s sophisticated thinking about the interconnections between racial, class and gender discrimination, and her private commitment to the rights and concerns of what is now referred to as the LGBTQIA community remains to many, a surprising revelation. Strain did a lot of research to explore Hansberry’s challenges in being a lesbian at that time. “I read about lesbian history, and then I talked to our scholars and advisors,” she said during a panel at The TV Critics Press Tour. “I read her diaries, and letters that she wrote to people and some of the letters that came back from other people that she sent to them, and it seems like it was a challenging thing.” She continued: “It was a part of her life that she seemed to compartmentalize. The other people in her life were not aware, for the most part. Burt D’Lugoff, who was a friend of hers for a long time was aware, and a few other people. But as one of the people say in the documentary, she wasn’t very public about most of her life, but this part of her life, being a lesbian, was kept private.” In her diaries, Hansberry talked about wanting love and finding a partner. “She was lonely a lot. She wrote about feeling lonely, and she wanted to be in love. She wrote about that a lot in her diaries,” acknowledged Strain. While Hansberry led a very public life, at heart, she was a very private person, which contributed to her loneliness. “Margaret Wilkerson, who is writing a forthcoming biography about Hansberry, thinks it contributes to the brilliant work that we see from her, that she’s dealing with all of these different identities: African American, female, lesbian and so radical. I think it was a real struggle for her,” said Strain.


Lorraine Hansberry, an inspiring woman who wrote America’s next chapter A most private lesbian life By SUSAN HORNIK

Lorraine Hansberry leans over her typewriter in her Greenwich Village apartment on Bleecker Street during her April 1959 photoshoot for Vogue. Photo by David Attie; Courtesy of THIRTEEN

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Baja is Mexico like you never imagined The quality and detail compares to South of France but with sombreros By REBEKAH SAGER

Hotel Coral & Marina Photo by Roger Fountain

Shhh….I recently returned to Los Angeles after a five-day trip to Baja, California. I stayed in Ensenada and in the Valle de Guadalupe, or wine valley, and explored as much of the region as I could squeeze in. I already want to go back. I’d like to tell the readers of the Los Angeles Blade that my trip was dangerous and that crossing the border was impossible, but it wasn’t. I’d like to tell you that the food was mediocre and that I got sick from the ice or something undercooked, but in fact everything I ate and drank was better than what you’d find in most of the best restaurants in LA – and it was beyond reasonably priced. I’d like to tell you it was difficult to get around, and I needed a guide to hold my hand and chauffeur me to all the hotspots, but in fact it was so easy, I drove my own car, easily got car insurance online, and felt like a local immediately. I’d like to tell you all these things, because I don’t really want people from the U.S. to know how incredible Baja is. I’d like to keep it all to myself. My own version of the South of France meets Napa, with Michelin-star-food and service, all in my own backyard. But, it’s my job as a reporter to tell you where in Baja I recommend that you stay and eat. But please, I beg you, keep it to yourself. First off, the drive from San Diego to Ensenada takes about 90 minutes – add the drive time from LA to San Diego, and it’s another two hours. We stayed at the Hotel Coral & Marina, located just outside of downtown Ensenada. The Wi-Fi was great, the rooms spacious, the pool expansive, and the view of the marina and Pacific outstanding. The staff was warm and helpful, and parking is included. Rooms are approximately $200 dollars per night, depending on the season. I did not bring my incredible rescue dog, Mocha on this trip. Although Mexico is dog friendly, many of the hotels are not. So, while you won’t need to quarantine your dog going into or out of Mexico, you should bring paperwork from the vet proving your animal is healthy and up to date on all of their shots. I would use BajaBound.com to answer all of your questions about bringing Fido, including best hotels. Most, if not all of the restaurants we went to are outdoors, so bringing your put isn’t an issue. Now, there are a lot of crappy, touristy restaurants in Ensenada. Places that cater to tourists who don’t know Mexican food from a hole in the wall or as my father used to say, “their ass’ from their elbows.” Boules, is NOT one of those restaurants. It’s one of Ensenada’s best-kept secrets. Named after the French game, Boules offers a menu that is at once Italian, and also Mexican. The risotto with duck, and the grilled octopus salad were delightful. And the fish tacos were anything but traditional. The owner, Javier, is the life of the party, and the restaurant is most lively on nights like a Tuesday, when many of the more high-end spots are closed and the chefs from the Valle are off. This is where they come to hang out, play boules, drink wine and eat great food. After we left Boules, we stopped at Cervecería Doble C, an incredible microbrew, owned by twins Alan and Omar Celis, 25. These brothers know how to make beer. Like many of the places we visited in Baja, it’s the hip kids who have made the trendy food, wine, and beer center that it is. Alan and Omar were trained in the beer craft in San Diego, and have won multiple awards for their brews. To explore the Valle de Guadalupe, it’s best to spend the night there, so we spent one night in Ensenada, then drove the 20 minutes up into the Valle, spent a night and returned back to the Hotel Coral & Marina for another two nights. One of the newest properties in the Valle is the Maglén Resort, located in the heart of the wine valley. Off the beaten path, but not too far, Maglén, offers the kind of tranquility not easily found in L.A., but abundant in Baja. From villas, with full working kitchens, and several bedrooms, with views overlooking the vineyards, to more romantic one bedroom and studio casitas, to traditional resort rooms, Maglén is a quiet and sublime getaway. Continues at losangelesblade.com

Continued from Page 23 combination. As Caruso says, “Disclosing one’s HIV status in these situations is practically non-existent, and neither is safer sex. To compound matters, most HIV-positive men who use meth report that they do not adhere to taking meds regularly, which can cause serious health problems and their infection to become unmanageable. Many intravenous users also still share needles—which can transmit HIV and/or Hep C.” Even men who take their meds face risks. Protease inhibitors, which are designed to keep other HIV meds from metabolizing, do the same for meth – causing it to remain in the blood longer and increasing the possibility of reaching overdose levels. For those who are HIV negative, preexposure prophylaxis drugs can provide protection from becoming infected. While “harm reduction” is an uncomfortable subject for many within the addiction recovery community, who prefer to stress treatment as the best option, most professionals admit that using PrEP is preferable to going into risky situations with no protection at all. Medications, whether for positive or negative individuals, are still no guarantee of safety, though. As Caruso points out, “Being undetectable or being on PrEP can prevent the transmission of HIV – but they do not protect from other STIs. Condoms do that.” Disease transmission is not the only concern for ChemSexers. Opioids are sometimes mixed into meth by dealers – either accidentally or with the intent of boosting their product’s effectiveness. Just recently, fentanyl – a painkiller 50 times more powerful than heroin and that can be deadly even in small doses – is suspected to have caused the deaths of at least three Los Angeles meth users, and there have been numerous fatalities in San Francisco attributed to the same cause. The most profound danger posed by the “PNP” phenomenon, however, remains meth addiction – a prospect worsened by the low percentage of successful long-term recovery. Though it’s hard to nail down a number, most reports estimate only about 5-6% of MSM users maintain sobriety without “relapse” over time.







Kathleen Murphy, Executive Clinical Director of Breathe Life Healing Centers in West Hollywood (and co-author with Brad Lamm of a new book, “Crystal Clear + Sexually Recovered”), sheds light on what may cause this low figure. “These men want to be clean and sober, but lingering meth-induced psychosis makes it difficult to be able to trust anyone, or to make distinctions between true and false. One man told me that he felt safety in unsafe places and danger in safe ones. This speaks to the wounding to the autonomic nervous system – the sense of safety is confused with being numb, or with experiencing high levels of adrenaline,” she told the Los Angeles Blade. The continued disconnection that results from this skewed perspective likely also contributes to the high rate of suicide among struggling attitude, who Murphy says are acting “from within the deepest of despair of ever again getting to feel connected or of belonging.” While there are many approaches to recovery, and different methods work for different people, most agree on one important point – in addition to getting clean, addicts must also focus on underlying factors that lead to drug use in the first place. As Murphy puts it, “Underlying childhood wounds from families and cultural institutions, from internalized homophobia- these are the roots that have to be healed. We can only get to them when the person becomes safe and stable in the here and the now. Then the person can access the profound power of heartfulness – I like this rather than mindfulness – to process the actual carried sensation of traumatic injury and heartbreak, and generate new possibilities of connection.” Those who can partake in ChemSex without fear of addiction may well be thankful that the long and painful process of recovery she describes is of little concern to them. For the rest of us, it’s nice to know there is hope. If think you or someone you care about has a problem with meth or other drugs, Los Angeles has a number of available resources. We’ve included a list of organizations that predominantly cater to LGBT – but if none of them suit your needs, there are many others to which you can reach out.


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Harm Reduction Groups (free): APLA Party-Wise Contact: Roger Sediles 323.329.9908 rsediles@apla.org aplahealth.org/services/party-wise/ Methology LA LGBT Center 323.993.7400 lalgbtcenter.org/health-services/addictionrecovery-services Youth Drop-In Group (under 25) LA LGBT Center 323.993.7400 lalgbtcenter.org/health-services/addictionrecovery-services No-Cost Outpatient: Friends Getting Off Friends Community Center Contact: Mike Caruso 323.463.7001 friendscommunitycenter.org/friend-getting-off/ Bienestar (Latin(x)) Contact: Jorge Diaz 866.590.6411 ext. 301 jdiaz@bienestar.org bienestar.org/substance-use/ Low-Cost Outpatient: Evening Outpatient LA LGBT Center 323.993.7400 lalgbtcenter.org/health-services/addictionrecovery-services Insurance Accepted: Breathe Life Healing Centers 888.704.3686 breathelifehealingcenters.com Twin Town Treatment Centers (mixed gay/ straight) 866.594.8844 twintowntreatmentcenters.com/ Klean Treatment Centers Call: 844.878.8086 Text: 310.401.0808 kleantreatmentcenters.com/ Pride Recovery 323.919.9130 facebook.com/PrideRecoverylaegi/






Tiffany Trump does Pride, the Go-Go’s return and everyone’s in P-Town It must be summer By BILLY MASTERS

Where does Los Angeles go for the 4th of July? Those in the know wind up in Provincetown. Among them (front row, left to right) Tony Corey, Rob Williams, Louis Manna, Alexis Hadjopulos, Seth Chertoff and Trey Alligood. Photo courtesy Rob Williams

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“Hands down, Justin Timberlake. ‘Cause if we wanna talk about big...” - Patricia Clarkson when asked, “Who had your biggest chance of being your friend with benefits on the set of ‘Friends with Benefits’?” Needless to say, Andy Cohen’s follow-up question was, “He’s gifted below the waist?” Clarkson said, “Oh, yes!” As we gather things to report on, almost 600 women were arrested at a sit-in at the Senate building protesting the government’s immigration policy. Among those charged with “unlawfully demonstrating” was actress Susan Sarandon - something I find quite ironic. Not that I think she swung the election, but she was vocally against Hillary Clinton. I agree that we shouldn’t have to vote for “the lesser of two evils,” but here’s what happens when you don’t. The first daughters marked Pride month in very different ways. Tiffany Trump shared videos of herself attending the NYC Pride Parade with her best friend, fashion designer Andrew Warren. She even donned a Pride-themed ensemble, complete with glitter. On the flip side, Ivanka donated $50,000 to an anti-gay megachurch. The Prestonwood Baptist Church in Texas is headed by Pastor Jack Graham, who is a member of Trump’s Religious Advisory Council. He also has a history of anti-LGBT activism. His arguments come down to a single statement he has made repeatedly: “The biblical design of marriage is clear: a man and a woman living and loving together in a monogamous relationship in the image of God.” Yet somehow he supports Trump, that paragon of monogamy! It’s been two years since The Go-Go’s said farewell to touring at LA’s Greek Theatre. But they never said they wouldn’t get together for something special. So they played Oakland and San Diego to warm up for three nights at the legendary Hollywood Bowl. As a purist, I wasn’t interested in seeing The Go-Go’s augmented by the Los Angeles Philharmonic - as fabulous as they are. I wanted a real show, so I trekked to Oakland’s glamorous Fox Theatre, which was filled to capacity - prompting Belinda Carlisle to quip, “Wow, there sure are a lot of you out there!” What made these shows noteworthy was the return of bassist Kathy Valentine, who unwillingly left the group in 2012. I was excited at the prospect of seeing the classic Go-Go’s lineup reunited. Alas, my plans were thwarted. Drummer Gina Schock had surgery on her arm, so she had to sit these shows out. But she still showed up to introduce the band, joined by temporary replacement drummer, Chris Arredondo. The Go-Go’s shook things up by doing several songs they haven’t done for years - if ever. “Here You Are” is a highlight of the Broadway musical based on The Go-Go’s catalogue, “Head Over Heels.” Charlotte mentioned they’ve never performed it live and hoped for the best, while Jane cautioned the band, “Don’t fuck it up.” Check it out on BillyMasters.com. Speaking of the Hollywood Bowl, the season opened with a concert by the Supreme Lady, Miss Ross. Due to the presence of an orchestra, Diana eschewed her typical live show repertoire and, instead, dug deep into her extensive back catalogue. Although she tinkered with the set, the medley of the “Theme from Mahogany” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” was still intact - complete with ever-present “Do you know, do you know, DO YOU KNOOOOOW!” So, here’s something you may not know - the Bowl seats more than 17,000 people, so most of the audience is watching the giant monitors. Curiously, Ross specifically instructed the Bowl personnel to not get any close-ups on her face. Thank heavens one of our fans filmed the whole show, which you can see on our website. While all that merriment is happening on the West Coast, your beloved Billy has touched down in Boston and is heading to Provincetown for July 4th. People always ask me what shows they should see each summer in Ptown, so here are my picks. My favorite venues are The Ptown Art House and The Crown & Anchor. I would definitely suggest starting there and working your way down. Eventually, you’ll bump into me! “The Cher Show” just opened at the Oriental Theatre in Chicago and essays the career of Cher through use of her songs. Because Cher invented reinvention, three actresses play the diva. However, special kudos must go to Emily Skinner, who plays Cher’s mom. Her performance was the one thing Cher liked most when she slipped in to see the musical. What did she think of the rest of the show? “Some parts of it are really fabulous. We’re going to work on the other parts. In many parts, it was much, much better than I thought it would be. And there were no parts where I wanted to gouge my eyes out. It needs work. Hoping everything is ironed out by the Broadway opening on Dec. 3. Continues at losangelesblade.com



OutFest, the world’s most influential and largest LGBT film festival kicks off on Thursday, July 12 at the Orpheum Theater (825 South Broadway) with a screening of ‘Studio 54’ by director Matt Tyrnauer and followed by festivities inside an actual Hollywood recreation of the actual Studio 54. Photo Courtesy Facebook


Live with Trevor Noah is tonight at 7 p.m. at The Orpheum Theater (842 South Broadway). Trevor Noah is someone we all know and most of us probably love as the host of the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central. Catch him live at the Orpheum Theater and get out of your bubble and enjoy the Fakest News of all. You’ll howl to today’s headlines and be challenged to think a little farther. For more information, visit ticketmaster.com


Palm Springs’ TGMondays is tonight from 6-8 p.m. at the Transgender Health and Wellness Center (35325 Date Palm Drive, Suite 107, Cathedral City). Get to get together, mix and mingle, network and strategize or just have fun and socialize with your transgender brothers and sisters. This is the first event and will take place at the same time and location every Monday. Inaugural hosts Geoff Kors and James Williamson are celebrating the first Transgender Health and Wellness Center operated for the transgender, intersex, gender non-conforming and non-binary community in the Inland Empire. Tasty treats and beverages provided. The event is free of charge. For details, visit facebook.com/transhealthandwellnesscenter.


Seymour Stein, with Henry Rollins is tonight at 7 p.m. at West Hollywood City Council Chambers (625 N. San Vicente). Book Soup and the City of West Hollywood’s WeHo Reads present Seymour Stein, in conversation with

Henry Rollins, discussing and signing “Siren Song: My Life in Music.” Stein signed and nurtured more important artists than anyone alive, now sixty years in the music business game and still leading the hippest label, traveling the globe in search of the next big thing. Since the late ‘50s, he’s been wherever it’s happening: Billboard, Tin Pan Alley, The British Invasion, CBGB, Studio 54, Danceteria, the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame, the CD crash. Along that winding path, he discovered and broke out a skyline full of stars: Madonna, The Ramones, Talking Heads, Depeche Mode, Madonna, The Smiths, The Cure, Ice-T, Lou Reed, Seal and many others. Certainly an influencer of LGBT culture. The event is free. For more information, search eventbrite.com. BINGO fundraiser with Jazzmun & Inspire is tonight at 9 p.m. at Hamburger Marys (8288 Santa Monica Blvd). Join Jazzmun Crayton and friends from Inspire Spiritual Community for a night of B.I.N.G.O., laughs, food, amazing prizes and fun. Legendary Bingo is the most fun you can have on a Wednesday night in WeHo and who better to spend it with than Inspire and the girls at Hamburger Mary? Inspire is a spiritual organization that supports & uplifts LGBTQ+ people allies. Come support a great cause and win some great prizes. $20 tickets available at the door entitles you to play, and of course you can purchase all the food and drinks you want. For more information, visit facebook.com/inspirespiritualcommunity.


Prieto: Growing Up Queer and Undocumented in the Hood is tonight from 8-10 p.m. at Company of Angels (COA) (1350 San Pablo Street). Define American presents

the workshop run of Prieto, an autobiographical one-man show written and performed by nationally acclaimed poet, Yosimar Reyes. Known for his frequent exploration into themes of migration and sexuality, Reyes takes his audience on a journey into his experience growing up queer in the ‘hood of East San Jose. Define American is a nonprofit media and culture organization that uses the power of story to transcend politics and shift the conversation about immigrants, identity and citizenship in a changing America. For ticket information, search eventbrite.com. Opening Night Gala Outfest is tonight at 6:30 p.m. (VIP Pre-Party), 8 p.m. (Award Presentation and Film) and 10 p.m. to the wee-hours (Gala After-Party) at The Orpheum Theater (842 South Broadway). OutFest offers up the legendary LGBTQ party of the summer, the see-and-beseen event of the season. Shannon Swindle, James Beard semi-finalist pastry chef at Tom Collichio’s Craft, has asked some of his friends from the top restaurants in the city to join him to give you a taste of the best LA has to offer. Inside the theater it begins with the presentation of the Achievement Award followed by the Opening Night movie. Then come outside to Outfest’s reimagining of Studio 54. Grab a bite from one of the dozen restaurants and a glass of beer from Angel City Brewery, a glass from Barefoot wines or a Finlandia vodka cocktail. It’s all on us! And don’t worry, you will be able to dance the night away. For details, visit outfest.org. E-mail calendar items to tmasters@losangelesblade.com two weeks prior to your event. Space is limited so priority is given to LGBT-specific events or those with LGBT participants. Recurring events must be re-submitted each time.