Losangelesblade.com, Volume 2, Issue 19, July 13, 2018

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San Bernardino official punished for racist attack on Rep. Waters Deputy district attorney placed on leave By CHRISTOPHER KANE San Bernardino Deputy District Attorney Michael Selyem has been placed on administrative leave pending the conclusion of an internal investigation into racist and offensive posts he published on social media last month. The County’s District Attorney, Michael Ramos, announced the decision in a press conference on July 9, explaining Selyem could face disciplinary action up to and including termination. Selyem’s derogatory comments concern Mexican immigrants, a police shooting victim, Michelle Obama, and Rep. Maxine Waters. Of “Auntie Maxine,” Selyem wrote on Facebook: “Being a loud-mouthed c*nt in the ghetto you would think someone would have shot this b*tch by now.” “The San Bernardino District Attorney’s Office does not condone hate, discrimination, or incitement of violence,” Ramos said. “We must insist on an unbiased prosecutor.” Waters’ Democratic fans sprang to her defense. Out California Democratic Party Chair Eric Bauman on June 29 tweeted: “If people are going to threaten @MaxineWaters life for daring to #SpeakTruthToPower, they

Rep. Maxine Waters was the target of a vulgar attack on Facebook. Los Angeles Blade Photo by Karen Ocamb

are going to have to come through a @CA_ Dem Party gauntlet. We stand with her, in

front of her, beside her and behind her. And I’m quite serious. #DontTreadOnMax.”

Out Los Angeles County Democratic Party Chair Mark Gonzales challenged Selyem’s ability to be fair and judicious in his position as the county’s lead prosecutor of gang activity, arguing that, “having a racist tilt can put innocent lives in jeopardy.” Journalist Roland Martin tweeted, “This California gang prosecutor MUST be fired. The vile, violent and sexist attack by #MichaelSelyem on @RepMaxineWaters cannot be tolerated.” Waters has received death threats since an event in June in Los Angeles where she encouraged the crowd to make Trump administration officials uncomfortable if they are spotted in public. That apparently prompted Selyem’s comment, as well as a tweet by President Trump in which he told Waters: “Be careful what you wish for.” Waters says the deluge of death threats that followed forced her to cancel two planned events in Alabama and Texas. On July 3, Trump ramped up his attacks, tweeting, “Crazy Maxine Waters” is “said by some to be one of the most corrupt people in politics.” The president has repeatedly labeled the congresswoman a “low-IQ individual.” Addressing those and other attacks, Waters told Joy Reid on MSNBC’s “AM Joy,” “Let Trump call me whatever he wants to call me. Let him say whatever he wants to say. He will not stop me. He cannot cause me to shut down.”

California hate crimes rise for third straight year Biggest jump against African Americans, followed by gays By STAFF REPORTS A new report detailing the statistics for hate crimes in 2017 released Monday by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, shows that there were 1,093 reported hate crimes in California in 2017, a 17.4% increase over the previous year. According to the report, hate crimes have increased annually since 2014, jumping roughly 44% over the three-year span. Hate crimes targeting victims based on race, sexual orientation and religion all

increased sharply. Greater than half of the hate crimes reported in 2017 involved racial bias, and about 27% involved hostility toward African-American people. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at Cal State San Bernardino, said changing demographics in California and the increased presence of organized hate groups in the state have combined to drive up hate crimes in the state in recent years. “I think people, particularly with bigots, they are now more emboldened and we are seeing this across a spectrum of data points,” Levin said. “If you look at bigoted social media posts, if you look at the number of white nationalist rallies across the nation

and in California.” The Center had earlier published a report in May of this year that studied hate crimes across the U.S. in 38 jurisdictions, including the three largest urban areas in the Golden State of San Jose, Los Angeles, and San Diego. According to the Times, hate crimes had been trending downward in California for years, records show. Reported hate crimes in the state decreased every year from 2007 to 2014, reaching a low of 758 alleged incidents in California, according to the attorney general’s report. The report did not indicate a large increase in any particular part of the state. Hate crimes in Los Angeles jumped slightly, from 227 reported incidents in 2016 to

263 last year. San Jose saw the number of reported hate crimes in the city more than double, from 19 in 2016 to 45 last year. Levin told the Times that increased attention to the issue of hate crimes may have also played a role in the increase, as both victims and police departments are more cognizant of bias attacks than they may have been in past years. However, the Times also noted that the report, which relies on reporting from local police departments, may not even capture the entire increase. Earlier this year, a state audit found several large law enforcement agencies in California — including the Los Angeles Police and Orange County Sheriff’s departments were not properly tracking hate crimes.

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Religious conscience, Catholicism, and Kavanaugh Expect faith to play large role in how he interprets the law By GABRIEL HUDSON President Trump’s pick of Judge Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court is not surprising. Though he is less extreme than some others on the short list, Kavanaugh appears intent on rolling back abortion rights. We know this from past opinions and law review articles he has written. But we know less how he might rule in regards to LGBTQ rights or immigration - two issues that will inevitably soon be addressed by the Court. Masterpiece Cakeshop did not clarify the appropriate balance between the free exercise of religion and equal protection. It was written so narrowly to address the specifics of the case that a broader legal principle cannot be found. Likewise, immigration issues are winding their way through the federal court system. On July 9, a Los Angeles Federal Judge, Dolly Gee, issued a strongly worded opinion condemning the Trump Administration’s zero tolerance family separation policy. Two months prior, another Justice for the Northern District of California rebuked the Federal Government’s violation of federalism in its attacks on sanctuary cities. Each of these cases will be seeking certiorari before the Supreme Court in the near future. And, just as he has done with past abortion cases, we can expect Kavanaugh’s faith to play a large role in how he interprets the law. During his acceptance speech in the White House, Kavanaugh spoke passionately about his work with Catholic Charities and how his conservative Catholicism has informed his career. It was moving. And Kavanaugh is correct in pointing out the role Catholic Charities has played in nurturing the oppressed throughout American history. But one Catholic charity he might have had in mind is Priests For Life, a group that sued for a contraceptive exemption from the Affordable Care Act. Kavanaugh wrote the appeals court decision in Priests for Life v. Burwell in support of exemptions for nonprofits and businesses based on personal conscience saying: “When the Government forces someone to take an action contrary to his or her sincere religious belief . . . the Government

Judge Brett Kavanaugh has spoken passionately about his work with Catholic Charities and how his conservative Catholicism has informed his career.

has substantially burdened the individual’s exercise of religion.” Though Kavanaugh was speaking specifically about contraception, it is easy to see how similar reasoning could be used in a case involving denial of goods and services based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The framing is key. Here, Kavanaugh provides insight into his thinking by casting the denier of service as a victim of government overreach. Based on his deeply held religious convictions, Kavanaugh views those who want to discriminate more sympathetically than those who are discriminated against. However, as some older Catholics might remember, John F. Kennedy and Bobby Kennedy supported civil rights for African Americans because of the discrimination they faced as Irish Catholics, especially in the political arena. If Kavanaugh is confirmed, six of the

nine justices will be Catholic. But not all Catholics apply their faith in the same way. Any shrewd litigator will need to consider Catholic theology and tradition in pleadings before the Court. When it comes to LGBTQ rights and immigration, applying Catholicism may seem like a cumbersome abstraction, but both liberty of conscience and the care of immigrants have strong roots in Catholicism. If a Justice Kavanaugh needs a specifically Catholic justification for the protection of sanctuary cities, for instance, he can find it in the history of Los Angeles. During the Reagan Administration, another period of heightened hostility toward Hispanic immigration, a priest named Father Luis Olivares essentially began the modern sanctuary city movement. Building on the Catholic Church’s history of using Cathedrals and parishes as sanctuaries for the oppressed and refugees, the outcast and diseased, Father Olivares envisioned

Los Angeles as a city that could shield the vulnerable from a heartless ruling class, much like the role the Church had played throughout medieval Europe. Unbeknownst to many, those being persecuted could run into a Cathedral or parish, shout out the word “asylum,” and the priest or monk would immediately shut the door to protect them. It was Father Olivares’ faith that inspired his empathy toward those seeking a better life - and there is potential to apply that faith to today’s mothers fleeing violent abuse and drug wars only to have their children forcibly detained. Similar thinking informs catholic or universal attitudes toward liberty of conscience. Much of the tenets of modern democracy derive from religious struggles in European history. Long before democratic revolutions swept through Europe demanding political equality, the indiscriminate extermination of the Bubonic


Plague challenged deeply held cultural assumptions about natural inequality and God-ordained hierarchy. As peasants fled outbreaks of the plague, they, too, sought refuge in the houses of their lords and The Lord only to find the Plague ravaged prince and pauper, priest and prostitute alike. Among the sight and stench of the disease, it became harder to believe the strict class structure of feudalism and birthright of kings was God’s will and the theological underpinnings of an unfair economic system quickly crumbled. The invention of the printed press enabled the ideas of the Reformation of the Church and words of the Bible to spread throughout Europe. Before these new interpretations of holy scripture, the Catholic Church held a cultural and political monopoly. Protestantism’s challenge to Catholic political hegemony produced centuries of bloody civil wars across Europe. The most violent - the Thirty Years War among Lutherans, Protestants, and Catholics produced the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648. This treaty was monumental in the creation of the modern nation-state because it was the first governing document to recognize some form of religious freedom. Each denomination had fought for the political dominance of their version of Christianity --- but accomplished only mass casualties. In the end, nobody won. But the Catholic Church lost its political exclusivity, forcing it to reconsider its use of government to force compliance with its theology. The Treaty of Westphalia marked a nascent version of our cherished freedom of religion. This first codification of state neutrality toward a preferred faith ultimately became the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment. The first ten words of the Bill of Rights is called the Establishment Clause. It reads: Congress shall make no law respecting an established religion. An established religion is the official religion of a country. The official religion of the UK is the Anglican Church. The official religion of Italy is Catholicism and of Denmark is Lutheran Protestantism. The official religion of the United States is nothing because our founders were trying to do something different and reflect the lessons of history. But the framers of the Constitution did not merely say America would lack an established religion. Rather, they


St. Vibiana’s Cathedral in Los Angeles Photo Courtesy St. Vibiana

prohibited government from respecting an establishment of religion. This means we cannot have an official faith or even pretend that we do. The removal of nativity scenes and monuments of the Ten Commandments in public spaces is not some contemporary suppression of religious expression. Our founders recognized that a democracy cannot function if one demographic is awarded privileged status so institutions of the state must remain nonsectarian. The Establishment Clause is immediately followed by the Free Exercise Clause. It reads: Or prohibit the free exercise thereof. Herein lies the balance. The government may neither respect an official religion nor prohibit anyone from practicing religion in any way. The first is a limit on state action, the second is an expression of maximum

individual freedom. That individual liberty is not limited to formal religion. It includes a liberty of conscience for each citizen to develop their own understanding of transcendent truth and follow the right path for them even if faith is not part of the picture. The free exercise of one’s conscience, guaranteed by the First Amendment, enshrines the negative right to reject the religious dictates of one’s community. This means conservative Christians can govern their lives and believe sincerely that homosexuality is an egregious sin --- but other citizens are not coerced into obeying the proscriptions of others’ faiths. These core tenets of democracy have been reiterated throughout American history, so much so that we have taken for granted that justices on the Supreme Court will continue

to apply them to new conflicts. But we also know, some legal thinkers like the Federalist Society apply these historical principles differently. Once Kavanaugh becomes the sixth Catholic on the Court - and it is likely he will be - advocates of benevolence toward immigrants and fairness toward sexual minorities will benefit from grounding their arguments in catholic tradition rather than opposition to Catholicism. With all three branches of the Federal Government firmly in the hands of a party devoid of empathy toward the downtrodden, a little Catholic charity may be our saving grace. Gabriel S. Hudson, Ph.D., a democratic theorist, teaches at George Mason University’s Graduate School of Education and The Schar School of Policy and Government. He is the author of ‘Christodemocracy and the Alternative Democratic Theo-



LGBTQ Asian Pacific Islanders prepare for confrontation ‘Our community is suffering under this administration’ By KAREN OCAMB kocamb@losangelesblade.com Asian Americans are watching the cruelty of President Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy with shock and horror as children stripped from the arms of parents seeking asylum are placed in detention facilities as court-ordered deadlines for reunification are missed and a blur of chaos greets cries for information. But the perception of the cruelty might be different for the Asian Pacific Islander (API) community, which has experience with previous U.S. zero-tolerance immigration policies from the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 to the Japanese American internment camps ordered by President Franklin D. Roosevelt after Pearl Harbor. Their empathy is deep and intersectional, knowing that at least Japanese American children were allowed to stay with their parents behind the barbed wire fences. “It’s been an extremely difficult time under this administration for LGBT immigrants and racial minorities,” Glenn D. Magpantay, National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) executive director, tells the Los Angeles Blade. “The fear mongering that the Trump administration has put out there—and the policies based on fear and hate—is appalling.” NQAPIA notes that LGBT youth have been particularly impacted by Trump’s policies. “We filed a brief at the U.S. Supreme Court to show how the Muslim travel ban tears apart LGBT Muslim families,” he says. Additionally, “the stakes are higher for LGBT DACA kids” after Trump’s cancelation of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). “They won’t just be deported—they’ll be deported to countries that criminalize or persecute LGBTQ people. So it’s not just a deportation— it’s going to jail or torture.” There are a litany of issues, Magpantay says. “Our community is suffering under this administration.” NQAPIA is fighting back, “relentless in speaking out,” joining marches and rallies, lobbying Congress about the DREAM Act, suing the administration over the Muslim travel ban and sanctuary cities — “using all the tools in our arsenal to protect the LGBT

NQAPIA Executive Director Glenn D. Magpantay with APAIT Los Angeles board member Pei Chang; National LGBT API Giving Circle Founder Alice Y. Hom, LA advocate Myron Quon Photo Courtesy NQAPIA

API community.” But Magpantay notes that LGBT immigrants harbor what to them seems like justifiable fears, even in sanctuary cities with laws to prevent Immigration Enforcement (ICE) from coming into a home and rounding up immigrants. “For LGBTQ immigrants, ICE is our hate group,” Magpantay says. In states such as California, Texas and Illinois that have laws to protect LGBTQ people—hate crime laws, domestic violence laws. “We have access to courts, to services. We have rights as LGBTQ people. But when ICE is there – we cannot access those protections because there’s fear.” LGBTQ immigrants won’t go to court to get a retraining order against an abusive same sex husband. “You have the right to a restraining order—but have to go to court to get it. You cannot do that,” he says. “Or you’re a victim of an anti-gay bashing. You need to go to the police station to file a report. But you think: I’m an immigrant. Will they report me to ICE if I report my gay bashing?” And, Magpantay says, it doesn’t matter what kind of an immigrant you are. “Those who have lived in this country, loved this country, have worked in the LGBT community have been told you don’t belong. No matter

how long you’ve been here, no matter what visa you get, not matter what you have done to build up our LGBTQ community,” he says, “the administration is saying ‘Get away from America,’ again. This administration has policies of hate and scapegoating.” “This is the greatest fear,” however, is that Republicans will control the three branches of government with no recourse for minorities. “There would be no balance of power and we will suffer from a tyranny under unchecked power,” Magpantay says. But NQAPIA hopes to enhance their political participation, bringing LGBT Asians from across the US and activists from Japan, China, Vietnam, Bangladesh, India, and Malaysia to strategize, organize and mobilize. The occasion is the organization’s triennial national conference from July 26 to 29 In San Francisco. More than 400 LGBTQ APIs are expected, with international speakers and 100 workshops on racial justice, immigrants’ rights, LGBTQ equality, trans justice, philanthropy, religious acceptance, youth organizing, among other issues. This is no small matter. Asians are the fastest growing minority in the U.S., according to the Pew Research Center. “The U.S. Asian population grew 72% between

2000 and 2015 (from 11.9 million to 20.4 million), the fastest growth rate of any major racial or ethnic group. By comparison, the population of the second-fastest growing group, Hispanics, increased 60% during the same period,” Pew reported Sept. 8, 2017. “In 50 years, Asians will make up 38% of all U.S. immigrants, while Hispanics will make up 31% of the nation’s immigrant population.” Meanwhile, “Asian unauthorized immigrants made up about 13% of the 11.1 million unauthorized immigrants who live in the U.S.,” Pew reports. In September 2013, the Williams Institute estimated that 325,000 or 2.8% of all API adults in the U.S. identified as LGBT. That was five years ago—one reason NQAPIA will fight the “citizen question” on the upcoming census and educate LGBT APIs to come out. “For too long our needs have gone unmet. For too long, we have been marginalized,” Magpantay says. The conference will help develop ideas on how LGBT APIs can achieve greater fundraising skills and political representation. They’ve seen confrontations before. “We must act with love and solidarity,” Magpantay says. “We must support each other and move together.” For more information, visit nqapia.org.


QUOTES “I do fear for their safety in the sense of their mental health, their human spirit, that the sense of hopelessness and depression could cause some of them to take their own lives.”

Screencapture Courtesy Facebook

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin participated in a civil rights forum during UnidosUS’ annual conference in Washington, D.C. on July 9. Voto Latino President and CEO María Teresa Kumar, Center for American Progress President Neera Tanden, NAACP Legal Defense Fund President and Director Sherrilyn Ifill, and Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights President and CEO Vanita Gupta were also on the panel, which was moderated by UnidosUS President and CEO Janet Murguía. “The LGBTQ community is as diverse as the fabric of our nation. We are women. We are Muslim and we are Jewish. We are black, white, Latinx, Asian, and Native American. We are immigrants and we are people with disabilities,” said Griffin. “With so much of our progress under attack, never before has it been more important for social justice movements to stand as one in our pursuit of full equality.” Griffin noted that UnidosUS—formerly the National Council of La Raza—is the country’s largest Latino civil rights organization. “As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of UnidosUS, this important discussion is a perfect example of how we are standing together across movements to resist the politics of hate and fear and chart a path toward a more just and equal future,” he said. The forum was held against the backdrop of continued outrage over the White House’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy that included separating immigrant children from their parents. – Michael K. Lavers

- California Rep. Mark Takano July 2 after visiting Victorville prison where 1,000 immigration detainees have been sent, via HuffPo.

“If I had come out during my acting career in the 1950s, I would not have had a career. Not much in Hollywood has changed in 60 years.”

– Actor Tab Hunter to the Pocono Record Oct. 20, 2017. Hunter died July 8 in Santa Barbara.

“You’re not coming.”

- Princess Charlotte, 3, to paparazzi as her family left the Royal Chapel at St. James’s Palace headed to a private tea after her brother Prince Louis’ christening on July 9, via Business Insider.


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Fight is on against Kavanaugh, but opponents face uphill battle Signs indicate nominee likely to be confirmed to Supreme Court By CHRIS JOHNSON Progressive and LGBT groups are marshaling efforts to block the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh, but the odds are against them as signs indicate the nominee has a clear path to the U.S. Supreme Court. At an event in the East Room of the White House on Monday, President Trump announced he had selected Kavanaugh, who has served for 12 years as an appellate judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, to succeed U.S. Associate Justice Kennedy on the bench. “This incredibly qualified nominee deserves a swift confirmation and robust bipartisan support,” Trump said. “The rule of law is our nation’s proud heritage. It is the cornerstone of our freedom. It is what guarantees equal justice. And the Senate now has the chance to protect this glorious heritage by sending Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court.” Kavanaugh’s ties to the Republican Party go back decades. In the 1990s, he assisted U.S. Special Counsel Kenneth Starr in his investigation of President Clinton over his affair with Monica Lewinsky, which led to his impeachment. Kavanaugh was also a legal counsel to the White House during the George W. Bush administration. The public record has yielded scant information on Kavanaugh’s views — legal or otherwise — on LGBT issues, although groups that support LGBT rights say his presence on the list of predetermined 25 choices coordinated by the Federalist Society and Heritage Foundation from which Trump said he’d choose his nominees is reason enough for the LGBT community to fear him. Why else would these right-wing groups support him and place him on that list of potential nominees if they didn’t think he would advance the conservative agenda in the courts, which would include compromising LGBT rights and undermining — if not eliminating — marriage equality? Eric Lesh, executive director of the LGBT Bar of New York, or LeGaL, said during a national call-in panel on Tuesday the

Judge Brett Kavanaugh appears likely to be confirmed. Photo Courtesy U.S. Court of Appeals of D.C.

support of right-wing groups for Kavanaugh speaks volumes. “These are groups that use hatred and fear-mongering to target the rights of the LGBT community and as we know, they are handpicking their federal judges,” Lesh said. When former President George W. Bush nominated Kavanaugh to the D.C. Circuit in 2005, the nominee was strongly supported by the anti-LGBT Family Research Council, which vigorously opposes LGBT and abortion rights. Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said in a statement Monday that support continues today upon Trump’s nomination of Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. “President Trump promised a constitutionalist — someone who will call balls and strikes according to the Constitution,” Perkins said. “We trust the president that Judge Kavanaugh will fit this mold as a justice. Judge Kavanaugh has a long and praiseworthy history of judging as an originalist, and we look forward to having a justice with his philosophical approach on the court.” While Kavanaugh’s record on LGBT issues is scant, he has writings from the bench and elsewhere contrary to progressive legal views. Prominent among them is a dissent he wrote in a case against “Jane Doe,” an undocumented teen in immigration detention who was barred from having an abortion. Although the D.C. Circuit ordered the U.S. government to grant the abortion, Kavanaugh disagreed, arguing “government has permissible interests in favoring fetal life.”

In 2015, Kavanaugh also dissented when the D.C. Circuit refused to allow a rehearing of Priests for Life v. HHS, a case filed by religious groups seeking to get out of Obamacare’s contraception mandate. Citing the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case, Kavanaugh argued “the regulations substantially burden the religious organizations’ exercise of religion because the regulations require the organizations to take an action contrary to their sincere religious beliefs.” At a time when U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating Russia’s influence on the 2016 election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign, Kavanaugh has opined that sitting presidents cannot be indicted, which has led progressives to speculate Trump chose him to get out of upcoming corruption charges. Leslie Proll, a civil rights lawyer who advises the NAACP on judicial nominations, said Kavanaugh’s past decisions are bad news and his confirmation would amount to remaking the court in the image of Trump. “He has been a strong and consistent voice for the wealthy and the powerful,” Proll said. “Over and over again, he’s ruled against civil rights, workers’ rights, consumer rights and women’s rights. We view him as a dangerous ideologue whose extreme views on civil rights would lurch the court to the far right.” Kavanaugh is nominated to the Supreme Court as a number of cases on LGBT issues are percolating and could reach the high court in the near future. Among them is litigation challenging Trump’s transgender military ban, cases seeking coverage of LGBT people under federal civil rights law and a lawsuit in which businesses are seeking religious exemptions to engage in anti-LGBT discrimination. Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said in the conference call “the gravity of this nomination — both to LGBT people and our country as a whole — cannot be overstated,” predicting doom on these LGBT cases if Kavanaugh is confirmed. “There’s nothing in Judge Kavanaugh’s record to suggest that he would understand the real world impact of these issues on the actual lives and well-being of LGBT people, or that he would be anything other than a consistent vote to deny basic freedoms to equality both to LGBT people and to other

vulnerable groups,” Minter said. While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has promised a confirmation vote on Kavanaugh this fall, progressives have launched a #SaveSCOTUS campaign against the nominee that began with a rally at the Supreme Court Monday as Trump made his announcement. Marty Rouse, national field director for the Human Rights Campaign, said the organization will contribute to that effort by mobilizing its 3 million members against Kavanaugh, whom he called “a threat to women’s reproductive rights, a threat to affordable health care and a threat to LGBTQ equality.” “This is a White House that has made rolling back LGBTQ rights a top priority, and having another seat on the Supreme Court is a further vehicle to push that hateful agenda,” Rouse said. Rouse said the focus of the effort will be in Maine and Alaska, which are represented by moderate Republicans Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkoski. Also a focus are redstate Democrats up for re-election: Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.) and Claire McCaskill (Mo.). (Rouse didn’t mention Sen. Joe Manchin in his list.) Presuming the Democratic caucus in the Senate is united against Kavanaugh — which is far from assured — “no” votes from Collins and Murkowski would be enough to sink his nomination in the Senate with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) absent as he battles brain cancer. Collins and Murkowski voted against Trump nominees before, including Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. But comments from Collins and Murkowksi after Trump made his announcement indicate they aren’t inclined to oppose Kavanaugh. In fact, the two Republicans have suggested they’re warming to the nominee. In a statement after Trump announced the Kavanaugh nomination, Collins spoke highly of his credentials. “Judge Kavanaugh has impressive credentials and extensive experience, having served more than a decade on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals,” Collins said. “I will conduct a careful, thorough vetting of the president’s nominee to the Supreme Court, as I have done with the five previous Supreme Court Justices whom I have considered.” Continues at losangelesblade.com



In first, Maine guv vetoes ‘ex-gay’ therapy ban Maine Gov. Paul LePage vetoed legislation on Friday that would have banned widely discredited “ex-gay” conversion therapy for youth in his state, making him the first governor ever in the United States — Democrat or Republican — to veto such a measure. LGBT rights supporters resoundingly criticized the veto of LD 912 by LePage, a Tea Party politician who was once dubbed by Politico as “America’s craziest governor.” Fourteen states and D.C. have enacted similar measures. Marty Rouse, the Human Rights Campaign’s national field director, said in a statement LePage’s veto was a “shameful decision” and “leaves Maine’s LGBTQ youth at risk of being subjected to a practice that amounts to nothing less than child abuse.” Rouse called on the Maine Legislature — controlled in the House by Democrats and the Senate by Republicans — to override LePage’s veto so the measure will become law regardless of his action. The Maine House approved the measure by 80-55 and the Maine Senate voted for final passage 19-12 in the special legislative session last month. The practice of therapy aimed at changing an individual’s sexual orientation or transgender status is considered ineffectual at best and harmful at worst. Major medical and psychological institutions — including American Psychological Association, the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics — widely reject the practice. In a statement to the legislature, LePage said he vetoed LD 912 because “it is bad public policy” and “attempts to regulate professionals who already have a defined scope of practice and standard of care per their statutory licensing requirements.” LD 912 would have prohibited the advertising, offering or administering conversion therapy to individuals under 18 years of age in Maine as an unfair trade practice, penalizing mental health workers who engage in the practice with loss of their license. The bill had an exemption for members of the clergy as long as they don’t engage in “ex-gay” therapy for monetary compensation. CHRIS JOHNSON Actor Tab Hunter came out in 2005.

Tom Gallagher, U.S. Foreign Service officer, dies at 77 Tom Gallagher, who became the first known U.S. Foreign Service officer to come out as gay in 1975 and who switched careers to become a social worker before returning to the Foreign Service in 1994, died July 8 in his hometown of Tinton Falls, N.J. from complications associated with a bacterial infection. He was 77. In a write-up of his life and career that he prepared shortly before his passing and in an earlier interview published in the online publication Slate, he said he decided to disclose his sexual orientation at a 1975 conference in Washington, D.C., organized by the then Gay Activists Alliance called Gays and the Federal Government. Knowing the disclosure would jeopardize his then 10-year career at the State Department and Foreign Service, he decided to come out because he became tired of having to conceal the truth of who he was, he recounted in the interview. One year later, in 1976, after he determined longstanding policies making it difficult if not impossible for gays working in the Foreign Service to retain their required security clearances, he resigned and moved to California, where he began a new career as a social worker His biographical write-up says he was born Sept. 11, 1940 in Manhattan before his family moved to New Jersey. He graduated from Holy Spirit School and Red Bank Catholic High School in Asbury Park, N.J. before entering New Jersey’s Monmouth University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in 1962. Five days after graduating from Monmouth he signed up as a Peace Corps volunteer and entered the first Peace Corps group to go to Ethiopia, his biographical write-up says. After completing a Peace Corps training program at Georgetown University he and his group of volunteers were invited to the White House, where President John F. Kennedy and first lady Jacqueline Kennedy hosted a send-off tea party. After resigning from the Foreign Service in 1976 he moved to California and underwent training to become a social worker. A short time later he began work in the first of a number of positions, including a post as an emergency room social worker at UCLA Hospital in Los Angeles. He also volunteered as director of counseling programs at the Gay Community Services Center in LA. Other positions he held included supervisor for the Travelers Aid Society in San Francisco; director of a Napa County, Calif., psychiatric emergency program; and as a volunteer for AIDS programs in the state. Continues at losangelesblade.com. LOU CHIBBARO JR.

Photo Courtesy Film Collaborative

Tab Hunter dies at 86 Tab Hunter, the 1950s teen heartthrob who would later become a prominent figure in the gay community, died Sunday night. He was 86. Allan Glaser, his partner for more than three decades, told the Hollywood Reporter that Hunter passed away in Santa Barbara from a blood clot that caused a heart attack. “Tab passed away tonight three days shy of his 87th birthday,” Hunter’s Facebook page announced. “Please honor his memory by saying a prayer on his behalf. He would have liked that.” Hunter rose to fame with his roles in “Battle Cry” (1955), “The Girl He Left Behind” (1956), “The Burning Hills,” and “Damn Yankees!” (1958), among others. He also kicked off a short-lived yet successful music career with his single “Young Love,” which Billboard named the number four song of 1957. The record’s success caused Warner Bros., where Hunter was under contract, to form Warner Bros. Records. His career slowed down in the ‘60s and ‘70s but revived again when he starred in the John Waters film “Polyester” (1981), opposite legendary drag queen Divine. Hunter came out as gay in his 2005 memoir “Tab Hunter Confidential,” where he detailed his experience of being a closeted actor in Hollywood. He also disclosed his PR relationships with actresses such as Debbie Reynolds and Natalie Wood to hide his real-life affairs with actors such as “Psycho” star Anthony Perkins. The memoir was adapted into a documentary in 2015. “Tab & Tony,” a film about the relationship between Hunter and Perkins, is in the works. J.J. Abrams, Zachary Quinto and Glaser are on board to produce. MARIAH COOPER



How the Supreme Court ruling against unions will hurt LGBT community Decisions on workers’ rights impact everyone in our movement

John A. Pérez is the first openly gay Speaker of the California Assembly. Before his election to the Assembly, he was a labor organizer.

At the end of June, the Supreme Court handed down a ruling that will have profound and negative effects on the LGBT community. You may have heard of this ruling in the case of Janus v. AFSCME thanks to banner headlines around the country proclaiming “Supreme Court Ruling Delivers Sharp Blow to Unions.” And that is exactly what the Supreme Court did with this ruling, which sharply impacts the ability of public employee unions to do their jobs representing folks like teachers, firefighters, public health workers and janitors. One of the biggest mistakes that progressives make is not connecting how decisions around workers’ rights impact everyone in our movement. Public sector unions have historically been an ally in protecting women, people of color, people with disabilities, adherents to lesscommon religions and people in the LGTBQ community. Make no mistake, the fallout from this ruling will have far reaching consequences for all of these groups and further denigrate our ability to organize around issues of basic human rights. The Janus decision is unique because of its outsized impact. On its face, this is a decision about the “free riders” that benefit from union membership but don’t want to contribute

financially to union operations. Let’s be clear: the money collected from folks like Mr. Janus goes to paying employee representatives, labor lawyers, and other basic union operations – not political campaigns. These are the nuts-and-bolts kinds of activities that enormously benefit and protect workers, and until this ruling, all members of the union were required to contribute to their union’s basic operating funds. And even though public sector unions still have to provide the same protections and support for every worker, their ability to even fund their operations is being attacked. This should concern every LGBT person greatly. We must be absolutely clear: unions are good for the LGBT Community. First, and most critically, in many parts of the country, there is no Employment Non Discrimination Act protecting LGBT workers from being fired just for being LGBT. In those communities, a union contract is the only protection from being fired by a homophobic supervisor. When LGBT organizations mobilize to try and pass ENDA or now Equality Act legislation, sometimes the only allies they have are labor unions. And laws protecting LGBT workers are the law of the land in states like California, thanks in large part to the efforts of labor unions. For millions of LGBT people public sector unions and union contracts are the only protections they have. While the Janus decision only applies to public sector unions, the intent and the implications for the broader labor community are very clear. Membership in a union comes with a great number of benefits and protections for our community. LGBT people, particularly lesbians, earn less than their straight counterparts and are more likely to live in poverty. But unionized LGBT workers earn the exact same high wages as their counterparts, thanks to contracts negotiated by their unions. LGBT workers have unique healthcare needs that can be ongoing and expensive. Transitioning is a lengthy and extraordinarily expensive process for trans workers. Dealing with difficult and isolating childhoods

means LGBT Californians need a higher rate of mental health wellness services for depression, alcohol and substance abuse and posttraumatic stress. Elderly members of our community face different long-term care challenges, particularly those without close relatives. Unions negotiate the kind of healthcare benefits that enable us to get the unique care LGBT people need. With the Janus decision the ability for a significant portion of the workforce will now be at a disadvantage. In the #MeToo era, public sector unions particularly play a crucial role in protecting our community. A trans worker who is constantly bullied and harassed by her coworkers can turn to her union and have plenty of support in changing the workplace culture. A lesbian consistently passed over for promotion by her homophobic supervisor can go to the union and they’ll make sure that she gets the fair shot at advancement she deserves. LGBT workers in a union, regardless of their background, will not have to stand alone when they blow the whistle on the kind of sexist, misogynist, homophobic behavior we have seen in company after company in recent months. In most jobs, our needs and concerns never even make it to management’s attention. But the union will insist on negotiating and securing these crucial benefits for their LGBT members. That’s why when unions are strong, LGBT workers earn good wages, get the benefits they need, and can go about their jobs without fear of harassment, assault or intimidation. And when unions are weak, LGBT workers are vulnerable to being fired, being attacked, and being degraded every single day. That’s why Janus strikes so ruthlessly at us. Labor unions aren’t just allies, they’re our partners in the fight for justice. When Harvey Milk organized the bars in San Francisco to join the AFL-CIO in their boycott against Coors Beer, it was because he understood the intrinsic power of people coming together for the betterment of all. Unions have clearly benefited LGBT workers and we will all be hurt by this shameful decision.

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LGBTQ people must oppose Trump SCOTUS nominee A voting record to the right of every current justice except Thomas

Shannon Minter is the longtime legal director at the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR).

On July 9, President Trump nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court. Kennedy, who authored the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision and a number of other landmark LGBT rights cases, was an occasional swing vote on the Supreme Court. Though he almost always sided with the conservative justices, sometimes he voted with liberal Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Kagan, and Sotomayor on civil rights issues, including those affecting LGBTQ people. By all measures, Brett Kavanaugh is considerably more conservative, ideological, and partisan than Justice Kennedy. When President George W. Bush nominated him to the D.C. Court of Appeals in 2003, his confirmation took three years because of his expressed partisanship. Additionally, in a rare move in 2006, the American Bar Association downgraded Kavanaugh’s

ranking based on interviews with more than 90 fellow judges and colleagues who described him as “less than adequate,” “sanctimonious,” “insulated,” and “immovable and very stubborn.” A recent study by political scientist Lee Epstein found that Kavanaugh’s voting record tilted him to the right of every current justice except Clarence Thomas. If confirmed by the Senate, Kavanaugh would tilt an already conservative court to the far right. LGBTQ people need to urge the Senate to do everything within its power to prevent his nomination. Here’s why: Kavanaugh supports virtually unchecked executive power. From barring Muslim immigrants to separating children from their parents at the border, Trump has repeatedly taken reckless and precipitous actions that blatantly violate constitutional and humanitarian norms. But Kavanaugh’s record suggests that he will fail to subject Trump’s policies—including those targeting LGBTQ people and other vulnerable groups—to meaningful judicial review. Kavanaugh co-authored the 1998 Starr Report that described President Bill Clinton’s sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky in salacious detail and reportedly strongly urged Special Counsel Ken Starr to use those details to embarrass Clinton during a grand jury investigation and to get an impeachment. Kavanaugh has since completely reversed course. He now says a sitting president should be immune from any civil suits, criminal investigation, or criminal prosecutions. More broadly, his decisions indicate that he has an extremely expansive view of executive power and

might well uphold even policies that violate constitutional rights if the president claims they are necessary to combat terrorism or for other national security reasons. The Family Research Council, one of the most venomous anti-LGBTQ groups in our country, loves him. The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated FRC as a hate group because it promotes bias against LGBTQ people. In 2005, FRC strongly supported Kavanaugh’s nomination to the D.C. Court of Appeals and, more recently, applauded his nomination to replace Justice Kennedy, vowing to work with Trump and senators to secure his confirmation. Kavanaugh believes religion can be used to discriminate. In the recent Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case, the Supreme Court affirmed the importance of anti-LGBTQ discrimination protections and rejected religion as a basis for discrimination. The court held that the government “can protect gay persons, just as it can protect other classes of individuals, in acquiring whatever products and services they choose on the same terms and conditions as are offered to other members of the public.” At the same time, the court did not unequivocally resolve the question of whether businesses can ever invoke religious liberty or free speech to justify denying services to LGBTQ customers. Meanwhile, several states have passed laws permitting taxpayer funded adoption agencies to deny services to anyone, including same-sex couples, based on their religious beliefs, and legal challenges to these laws are likely. The determination of the conservative majority in the House of Representatives to pass “license to discriminate” measures

underscores the need for a balanced court that will enforce the Constitution’s commitment to equality for all. There are strong reasons for concern that a Justice Kavanaugh would vote to permit religious-based discrimination. FRC president Tony Perkins has praised Kavanaugh for his opposition to what Perkins terms a “growing assault on religious freedom.” As an attorney in private practice, Kavanaugh supported studentled prayers at public high schools and the use of taxpayer funds for religious schools. As a judge on the D.C. Circuit, Kavanaugh wrote that an employer should be able to deny contraceptive coverage based on the employer’s religious beliefs. Kavanaugh is willing to diminish our most fundamental Constitutional rights. Last year, in Garza v. Hargan, Kavanaugh dissented from an appellate court decision allowing a 17-year-old detainee in a Texas immigration facility to obtain an abortion after she was raped. Kavanaugh’s dissent showed a shocking disregard for the young woman’s constitutional right to control her own reproductive choices. This decision should give the LGBTQ community and other vulnerable communities serious pause about his commitment to preventing the erosion of fundamental Constitutional rights and upholding justice and equality for all. New LGBT issues are likely to come before the Supreme Court and a Justice Kavanaugh could put the rights of our community at risk. This is a time to speak out and take action. It is critical for the future of our community and others that we urge senators to use every tool available to them to oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination.

meet varsity gay league’s outstanding members For our annual celebration of sports, the Los Angeles Blade reached out to LA’s very own Varsity Gay League and asked players and team leaders to nominate their choices for the most outstanding athletes among their ranks. Their picks were based on skill, athleticism, team spirit, attitude, and all around positive energy – along with a healthy dash of sex appeal, of course. Here are the final picks for the Blade’s All-Star Team, listed in alphabetical order:

Photo Courtesy Bass

Photo Courtesy Kinser

sandy bass

Los Angeles; originally from Virginia Beach, Va. Identifies: Gay Plays: Kickball, Varsity Gay League (captain, player, and sub, “Bloody Marys” and “Work, Pitch”) Sports Hero: A tie between Jason Collins, Gus Kenworthy, and Adam Rippon, all out athletes. “As a leader of the Human Rights Campaign, I had the privilege of meeting all three individuals, and they were just as kind, humble, and passionate as I imagined they would be.” Proudest Sports Moment: “Captaining one of the two teams in Varsity Gay League’s very first Drag Kickball Game. Not only was this a fun experience with some of my closest friends to celebrate our community for L.A. Pride weekend, but we had the opportunity to raise funds for one of my best friends – Ronnie Bartimus, who was hospitalized and in ICU at Cedars Sinai – and his family.” Thoughts on being an LGBT athlete: “I am an out and proud LGBT athlete. Just like any other passionate athlete, I exert myself to my utmost potential, and I give my all on the field.” Favorite locker room story: “In school, we rarely used the locker rooms, and when we did, it was mostly just getting in and out – no real ‘locker room talk,’ like you see in the movies.






chase kinser

West Hollywood; originally from Los Gatos, Calif. Identifies: LGBT Plays: Kickball, Varsity Gay League: co-captain of “The Bloody Marys.” Also plays in an LGBT-oriented flag football league. Sports Hero: Ray Bourque, hockey defenseman, Boston Bruins and Colorado Avalanche. Proudest Sports Moment: “Five days before my first flag football tournament (Gay Bowl), I pulled my hamstring in a kickball game. I wrapped it up and played the entire tournament, and completely dominated.” Thoughts on being an LGBT athlete: “In a high school football locker room, I felt being gay was really one of the worst things I could have been. I feel like I didn’t get a real chance to play to my 100% best because I severely lacked confidence due to how scared I was each day. Today, I play much more freely and really don’t think about it too much, which is how it should be – so being a gay athlete is really just about overcoming the perception that I didn’t belong.” Favorite locker room story: “It’s actually kind of sad. When I was a freshman playing JV football, some of the sophomores were hazing and they pinned me down trying to give me a “Purple Nurple” with a wrench. I was freaked out, but one of the other sophomores stopped them yelling ‘He is OUR teammate.’ It stuck with me.”

A M E R I C A’ S




Photo Courtesy LaRoche

adam laroche

West Hollywood; originally from Chicopee, Mass. Identifies: LGBT Plays: Tennis, Varsity Gay League (player and assistant general manager). Sports Hero: Serena Williams. “She’s the greatest tennis player of all time and is still dominant into her late 30s. Watching replays of her matches on YouTube has been my equivalent of taking actual tennis lessons!” Proudest Sports Moment: “The advancements I’ve made with my skill level in playing tennis. It was only three summers ago that I joined LA’s Varsity Gay League in a division for beginners. Now I’m competing against much higher-level opponents, holding my own, and even snagging a few trophies along the way.” Thoughts on being an LGBT athlete: “I appreciate the fact that when it comes to sports, sexual preference doesn’t divide us. When I’m playing tennis, it’s just two people competing.” Favorite locker room story: “Unfortunately, I don’t have any really good ones… yet!”






Photo Courtesy Valdez

Photo Courtesy Washington

bertin valdez

Photo Courtesy Perry

gillian perry

North Hollywood; originally from Eildon, Australia Identifies: Gay Plays: Dodgeball, currently not on a team; she is official photographer of all sports content for Varsity Gay League. Sports Hero: Ian Thorpe, Australian Olympic swimmer who came out as gay. Proudest Sports Moment: “When I was 13, my first overseas journey was travelling to America to play tennis for a competition in Minnesota. I fell in love with the USA and wanted to move here after that.” Thoughts on being an LGBT athlete: “It’s important for everyone to be treated equally, encouraged to beat their personal bests and be supported by teammates. An athlete is an athlete” Favorite locker room story: “I’m not sure I have ever entered a locker room – but from what I’ve seen in ‘A League of Their Own’ there’s crying and singing.”






West Hollywood; originally from Mexico and raised in Grover Beach, CA. Identifies: Queer Latinx Plays: Kickball, Varsity Gay League (first base and other positions, “Bloody Marys” and “Dusty Queens”); Dodgeball, Varsity Gay League (corner, catcher and sniper, “Cummy Bears” and “Bromance”). Sports Hero: Anyone who has the confidence to be out, and to pave the way for others to be comfortable with themselves. Proudest Sports Moment: “I led a group of dodgeballers who never played kickball before to a winning kickball season in B Division. We were close friends who knew how to work together, and our teamwork led us to victory. I was a proud mother.” Thoughts on being an LGBT athlete: “I’m just an athlete who happens to be LGBT. It does feel liberating to be out, and to be acknowledged by your straight peers as a valuable player.” Favorite locker room story: “You’ll have to read my memoirs for that. ;-)”



A M E R I C A’ S




And because every team needs someone to whip up excitement from the fans, we’ve also included a topnotch cheerleader.

derrick washington

North Hollywood; originally from Palmdale, Calif. Identifies: Gay Plays: Cheer, West Hollywood Elite Cheerleaders (team captain and choreographer; cheer name, “Anita Cheer”) Sports Hero: Lebron James Proudest Sports Moment: “Leading a team of cheerleaders at LA Pride performing my choreography down the street and knowing four months ago we didn’t exist. We had started with nothing and now we were performing in one of the largest events in the city – and we looked like we knew what we were doing!” Thoughts on being an LGBT athlete: “For me it’s all about being able to be appreciated and entertain people in a fun and different way.” Favorite locker room story: “No comment!”




west hollywood aquatics team heads to paris for gay games LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION: JUST WHAT YOU’D EXPECT OF WH20 By SUSAN HORNIK

The team at their Culver City practice home. Photo Courtesy WH2O

WH2O’s LA Pride contingent. Photo Courtesy WH2O

West Hollywood is a vibrant city, chock full of innovative ways to stay fit. For those of you who want to kick up your exercise regimen, check out the West Hollywood Aquatics Team (WH20). This has been a good year for WH20; a large delegation from the team will be heading to Paris, to compete in the Gay Games in August. In addition, a Logo documentary, “Light in the Water,” chronicles the team’s history and will air on July 19. There are more than 180 WH20 members coming from all walks of life: different ages, gender identities, ethnicities, sexualities, etc. noted Sam Stryker, team president, serving on the board for four years. “We’re a varied bunch but we ALL love our daily dose of chlorine!” WH20 was founded 35 years ago, so that LA-area athletes could compete in the first Gay Games. A group of competitors trained together a month beforehand and following the games, because of the positive experience and the lack of opportunities for/prejudice against LGBTQ athletes, decided they wanted to continue together. Since then the team has expanded to have a water polo team, competing at meets around the world, and athletes have gone on to win championships and set world records. “Everyone’s reason for wanting to join WH2O is unique and personal, but a common thread is wanting to be a part of a community. “As a LGBTQ-friendly Masters team, we have a mission that goes beyond the pool and that sets us apart from other aquatics organizations,” said Stryker. “As a lifelong swimmer, I wanted to get back in the pool and get in shape, but I also wanted to be a part of an organization that valued who I am as a person — and that’s what WH2O is about.” While the coaches don’t currently teach people how to swim, their program features athletes of all abilities, ranging from newcomers to former Olympians and Division 1 athletes. “We simply look for people who are open-minded, committed to working hard, and interested in learning more about themselves, their fitness, and the water,” added head coach Shea Manning. “Both in how they move more confidently/efficiently/faster when they are in it… as well as how water moves around them,” he explained. This is the first time Manning will be participating in the Gay Games with his team, focusing his time on coaching the 60+ members who will be traveling to compete in the global sports event. “I am completely humbled and excited to have the opportunity...I cannot put into words just how special it is to attend,” acknowledged Manning, who describes his coaching philosophy as “seeing swimming as a sport AND lifetime skill that should be accessible to everyone.” Newbie swimmer James Carameta is thrilled to be on WH20 and will also compete. “I have not been a swimmer for very long; I learned how to swim at age 43. It was a New Year’s resolution— I wanted to do something good for myself and meet some new people. “Now, at 46, I have a wonderful group of dear friends who have been nothing less than supportive of my efforts,” he enthused. “I never dreamed that these very accomplished swimmers would be encouraging me to compete, and that’s exactly what I’m doing….It has been a life-changing, transformational experience. Lis Bartlett, the heterosexual director of the film, is even on the team. When she moved to LA seven years ago to pursue filmmaking, Bartlett knew only two people. “I googled swim teams and found West Hollywood Aquatics. I thought joining the LGBTQ team would be a great way to meet open minded people. I think somewhere inside I also knew it would feel like more of a family,” she said. “I felt so warmly welcomed by the community, even though I don’t identify as queer.” Besides the physical benefits, telling the story of West Hollywood Aquatics also allowed Bartlett to write a cathartic “love letter” to swimming. “I lost my eldest brother to a heart attack when I was 14 and he was 18. Four years later, my dad died the same way. I had been a swimmer since middle school and through the tragedy, I kept swimming,” she acknowledged. “It gave me strength, community, and somewhere to go when I was feeling sad. I understand firsthand, the power of swimming providing a space for healing, comfort, peace... and endorphins! A fellow swimmer once told me, ‘you leave it all in the pool,’ referring to the stress of life, etc.” By making this film, Bartlett wanted to shine a light on a period in history that many people might not know about. “In this current political time it feels so important to show how wonderful and powerful the concept of inclusivity is, to show the astonishingly positive things that can result when a group of diverse people come together to reach common goals,” she asserted. Bartlett received a grant from the City of West Hollywood that waived the cost of permits for shooting. Those of you who are interested in joining can drop by to any one of WH20’s practices. Your first workout is free of charge. And if you want swimming lessons, Manning owns a small business called The Manning Method, which offers coaching, lifeguarding, and aqua fitness for all ages and ability levels.

Hit the slopes with us!

The Arriba Ski and Snowboard club invites you to join us. We are a Los Angeles based group of LGBT skiers and boarders of all levels who explore some of the best ski resorts all over the U.S., Canada, and the world. We always have several trips to Mammoth Mountain and host fun social events throughout the year. Join us at

ArribaSki.org or Facebook.com/ArribaSki



Former MLB umpire Dale Scott threw out the first pitch at the Orioles’ first official Pride Night last month. Blade photo by Kevin Majoros

Dale Scott is making his way through the umpire’s tunnel in Oriole Park at Camden Yards. In a short time, he will throw out the first pitch at the Baltimore Orioles first LGBT Pride Night. “Hey, I need five minutes,” he says as he darts into the umpire’s prep room in the stadium. In the room, Scott hugs and reunites with his former co-workers, the four MLB umpires who will be working the game that night. After his appearance on the mound, Scott heads over to the dugout where he has a laugh-filled conversation with Orioles manager Buck Showalter and former MLB player Billy Bean. The respect and admiration for Scott in the stadium that night reflects how far Major League Baseball has progressed in regard to the LGBT community. As one of 76 MLB umpires, Scott was the only one who was openly gay. He came out in 2014. In his 3,897th game on April 14, 2017 in Toronto, Scott took a foul ball to the chin area of his mask and suffered a concussion and whiplash. It was his second concussion in eight months and his fourth in five years. “When I mentioned my neck, they put me in a brace and carried me out on a stretcher,” says Scott. “You know us gays, we like to make an exit.” Staring at the ceiling in the emergency room with the team doctor at his side, Scott pondered the long-term effects of concussions and began to rethink his original plan to work for two more years. He was put on medical leave through 2017 and after 32 seasons as an MLB umpire, he retired on Jan. 1 of this year. Scott has been with his partner Michael Rausch for more than 30 years and they married in 2013. Retirement has resulted in a lifestyle change for both of them. “It’s nice not to be in an airport, hotel or restaurant on a daily basis though we have traveled to Italy and Germany since my retirement,” says Scott. “Mostly I have been doing a lot of nothing.” Not entirely true as he has already had a busy summer advocating for the LGBT community. In addition to his appearance at Orioles Pride Night, he also threw out the first pitch at the Los Angeles Dodgers Pride Night. Last month, he rode on MLB’s first float in the New York City Pride Parade along with Billy Bean and deputy baseball commissioner Dan Halem. They were joined on foot by roughly 200 MLB employees. This month he will speak at the National Association of Sports Officials summit in New Orleans. “For years I had to compartmentalize who I was and what I was. I realized I was in a spotlight and I had to follow their path. I had the built-in excuse of constant travel to explain why I wasn’t dating,” says Scott. “It’s easier to separate when you don’t live in the same town where you work. I knew I was out on an island, but it was easy to navigate.” He actually was dating and co-habitating with Rausch whom he met a year after his first season in 1986 with MLB. Up until they were married in 2013 by the mayor of Palm Springs, Rausch had his own MLB I.D. card and was on Scott’s insurance as his same-sex domestic partner. “The player reactions were all positive to my coming out. They just wanted me to get calls, pitches and plays correct,” Scott says. “An Oakland pitching coach approached me and told me it took a lot of courage and guts to come out in this form.” Scott refers to the possibility of an MLB player coming out as the last bastion. He feels that for the younger generation it just isn’t a big deal. “It’s going to happen eventually. There will be a big league guy on the roster who comes out and it will be news,” Scott says. “The reaction from the players will be, “can he hit, can he field?’” Scott’s long list of favorite memories includes working in iconic ballparks, his first playoffs series, the 1998 World Series, his three MLB All-Star games and working his way up to crew chief for MLB. After a lifetime of officiating in sports starting at age 15, Scott says it is really strange to be in the stands. He isn’t watching much baseball but keeps an eye on highlight reels because he is receiving calls about plays from baseball analysts. One of his guilty pleasures is watching the University of Oregon Ducks sports teams. As he has always been, he is drawn to watching the mechanics and coverages of the umpires and officials who he refers to as the third team. “That will never leave me,” says Scott. “I will always be tied to umpires and I will always be on the third team.”


Professional wrestler Mike Parrow has a message for any young LGBT athlete that is sitting alone in a locker room wondering if they will ever be accepted. “Your sexuality has nothing to do with your athletic ability,” says Parrow. “I thought my teammates wouldn’t accept me and I was wrong. Your team will support you.” Leaving the team culture behind as a closeted college football player at Carolina Coastal University, Parrow put aside thoughts of law school to pursue a new path. At 6’4” and 345 pounds, he drove to Kissimmee, Fla., to attend the Team 3D Academy of Professional Wrestling. With no prior wrestling experience, Parrow entered a field that is a cutthroat mix of sports and entertainment. “I came from the sports world of a football locker room where I was an alpha male,” Parrow says. “The wrestlers at the academy were not of the same sports background. I wasn’t prepared for all the different personalities.” At the same time, Parrow was dealing with accepting his own sexuality. Along with stepping into the wrestling ring, he was about to enter another arena – the world of gay dating. “I knew I was gay, but I didn’t want to be,” says Parrow. “I was in a new town and I didn’t want people to know. I was scared.” Scared to the point that he borrowed money to pay for his own conversion therapy. He couldn’t suppress who he was anymore and decided to try dating. “I was this weird unicorn because I wasn’t part of the culture. The people I met on dating apps were rude, mean and cruel. I was called closet case, fat, ugly and was shamed for my masculinity. I was terrified, and it pushed me farther into the closet,” Parrow says. “A lot of misconceptions can be talked out, but I wasn’t meeting people who wanted to talk. We make villains when we don’t need to make villains.” A lot has changed for Parrow since he got past those first steps of accepting himself as a gay man. Based in Orlando, last month he celebrated his five-year anniversary with partner Morgan Cole. They will be married later this year. “Morgan believes in me and that has led to the success I am experiencing in my wrestling career,” says Parrow. “He has passed all the tests and he talks to my parents more than I do.” Mike Parrow has found his niche in the villain faction of professional wrestling. He is considered an independent wrestler and is promoted by Evolve Wrestling and Major League Wrestling. Originally from Troy, N.Y., he grew up playing baseball, basketball and football. Both his brother and sister were involved in sports as well as his father who is still active in the Pop Warner sports programs. His mother is a Sunday school teacher and her reply to Parrow’s coming out was, “God doesn’t make mistakes.” His police officer father commented, “I wouldn’t be a very good detective if I didn’t already know.” “My parents are proud of me and I have been lucky to have had a great experience with them,” Parrow says. “I will never understand a parent not accepting their child. Your child is yours, everything else is borrowed.” His former football teammates and the professional wrestling community have also accepted Parrow with open arms. He says his promoters are proud to have a gay, masculine, ass-kicking badass in their stable. “Pro wrestling is for every community and I love seeing people’s faces when I come out as a gay, masculine character,” says Parrow. “I have worn a Pride flag over my shoulder walking into the ring, and the standing ovation and resulting tweets were very positive. That’s why I am doing me now.” Making himself visible as an LGBT role model has had tangible rewards for Parrow. In April, he was part of a Progress Wrestling match before WrestleMania in New Orleans. People stopped him on the streets of the city, some for a hug, some for a cry. “I met a gay kid from England who had come over to see me. He was literally shaking and told me ‘we don’t feel forgotten in wrestling anymore,’” Parrow says. “It makes me feel like I am doing the right thing.” Parrow has set goals for himself as he progresses through his pro wrestling career. One is a new fitness regimen that helped him drop to 280 pounds. He calls it a nice mix of a ketogenic diet, CrossFit, weightlifting and elliptical work. Three days a week he works on moves with another wrestler and watches tapes. He travels most every weekend for matches, sometimes with his tag team partner, Odinson. He eventually hopes to wrestle in Europe and Japan, which could be a stepping stone to that one end goal. “The WrestleMania moment. My moment. The music hits and I am behind the curtain listening to the fans. I start crying. This whole quest, the ups and downs, the hard work was all worth it. That is my sports moment, my big goal,” says Parrow. “I like to be challenged and I want to prove you wrong. I used to be ashamed but now I am proud of who I am.”

meet the gay, masc, ass-kicking pro wrestler MIKE PARROW IS ON A MISSION TO COMPETE IN WRESTLEMANIA By KEVIN MAJOROS

Mike Parrow is a professional wrestler who says ‘your sexuality has nothing to do with your athletic ability.’ Photo Courtesy Parrow



Baseball and evangelical Christianity have a long history in the U.S. Photo by Bill Andrews; Courtesy Wikimedia

Baseball and white evangelical Christianity have a long history going back to the days of Billy Sunday (1862-1935), an outfielder in the game’s National League in the 1880s who went on to become widely accepted as the “most celebrated and influential American evangelist during the first two decades of the 20th century,” according to a 1955 biography. Sunday converted to Christianity and in 1891 turned down a lucrative baseball contract to go into fulltime ministry with a Chicago YMCA. Although Sunday was ordained by the Presbyterian Church and his revival meetings were nondenominational, he was a strict Calvinist and taught traditionally evangelical and fundamentalist doctrine such as the inerrancy of scripture and that one must be saved to avoid hell. The links between white evangelical Christianity and “America’s pastime” continue today through organizations such as Baseball Chapel, a group that appoints team chapel leaders to provide chaplainlike services to players in both Major and Minor League Baseball to “bring encouragement to people in the world of professional baseball through the gospel so that some become discipled followers of Jesus Christ.” According to the group’s website, chapel programs are established for all 210 teams in the major and minor leagues and many independent league teams. About 3,000 players, coaches, managers, trainers, office staff and other team personnel, umpires and members of the media attend. The agency was formed in 1973 when Watson Spoelstra, a Detroit sportswriter, approached Commissioner Bowie Kuhn with the idea of an organized chapel program for every major league team. By 1975, all major teams had a chapel program. The minor league component was started in 1978, according to the Baseball Chapel website. All board members and staff, paid and volunteer, agree to the group’s statement of faith “without reservation,” its website notes. White evangelical Christianity has evolved in the U.S. and there are varying views as to its origins, although it’s a relatively recent phenomenon in the history of the Christian faith. There was greater overlap of belief with mainline strains of the faith (e.g. Lutheran, Methodist, Episcopal) in the early 20th century but a starker line was drawn in the 1980s when Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority linked itself to the Republican Party. There was overlap with the Jesus Movement — conservative Christianity’s answer to the Woodstock era — where the born again experience was emphasized and eventually a full-on counterculture formed with books, movies, and especially pop- and rock-flavored gospel music created by and for this audience. These products existed to a far greater degree than anything comparable in mainline or Catholic Christianity. Today, just 34 percent of white U.S. evangelicals support same-sex marriage (numbers are higher among 18-29 year olds but lower overall in the Bible Belt) compared to 67 percent of white U.S. mainline protestants and 66 percent of white U.S. Catholics, according to the Public Religion Research Institute. And white evangelical support of President Donald Trump is at an all-time high, according to the same group — in an April poll, 75 percent held a positive view of the president (81 percent of among white evangelical U.S. men). Trump won the white evangelical vote by more than 80 percent according to polling data. Not all white U.S. evangelicals believe the same doctrine. There are charismatic and non-charismatic (i.e. “speaking in tongues”) strains, but there is much overlap of belief. Baseball Chapel’s statement of faith does not mention same-sex marriage or activity but reads much like those of other evangelical, antigay groups with language calling the Bible the “inspired, infallible word of God, inerrant in the original manuscripts.” It offers “daily devotions” with topics like “staying humble in success,” “thy will be done,” “remember God’s faithfulness” and many others. Some LGBT activists say even if Baseball Chapel isn’t openly condemning LGBT people, the fraught history of LGBT people and the historically heavily heteronormative world of U.S. sports culture is cause for, at least, caution. “Institutional religions have been part of the American sports story from the founding of this country,” says David McFarland, producer of the new sports documentary “Alone in the Game,” about the struggle of LGBT athletes. “I am very concerned for our LGBTQ athletes and their ability to fulfill their dreams in sports. Americans have habitually turned playing fields into praying fields. And more than ever, sports have also figured into the making of America’s civil religious discourse as athletic expressions of national identity. Extreme religious themes and ideas continue to attach themselves to sports in new and innovative ways keeping LGBTQ athletes off the playing fields and living in silence.” But is there a danger of being too wary if Baseball Chapel has no anti-LGBT history to point to? If anything, it appears to have attracted more controversy for other reasons. Josh Miller, a minor league umpire for eight years, said the weekly services — always optional though held in the close confines of a locker room that made them difficult to avoid — made him uncomfortable because of his Jewish faith in a 2008 New York Times interview. In 2005, the Washington Post reported that a Baseball Chapel volunteer chaplain’s assertion that Jews are “doomed because they don’t believe in Jesus” inspired Major League Baseball to reevaluate its relationship with Baseball Chapel (it continued). Continues at losangelesblade.com


Last fall, Reeves Gift was living a double life. He was making great strides in his high school classes and on the soccer field at Chesapeake Math and IT Academy near Washington, D.C. At the same time, he was invaded by fear at the prospect of going home. The girls on his soccer team knew he was transgender, but he had never talked to his parents about it. To make matters worse, he was named homecoming king at his school’s dance. “I left for the dance in a pre-approved outfit and then changed into my homecoming king outfit,” says Gift. “I had a blast that night, but I was terrified that I would be caught. There would be consequences if my parents found out.” Everything came to a head for Gift when he finally told his parents at the end of the year. The reaction was not good, and he did not feel safe in what he describes as an abusive situation. On Jan. 2, he left home and a case worker came and picked him up. He bounced around the D.C. area until he found a place to stay so he could finish high school. Through all of his struggles, he experienced acceptance and release through his sport of soccer. His teammates and coaches found out he was homeless and stepped forward with emotional support. “I was surprised by the love that they showed me. It’s hard for me to process good things without being suspicious,” Gift says. “I was feeling deep emotions and deep worry. That all falls away when I am playing soccer. It’s important for me to be with people who want to work as a team.” Gift played varsity soccer as a goalkeeper through all four years of high school. At his school, the boys’ and girls’ soccer teams ran the same practices and did drills together. Even though he wasn’t able to play on the boys’ team, it was a good experience to practice with them. “It made me feel good to know that I was on par with the boys’ goalkeeper,” says Gift. “Both teams knew I was trans and I felt like one of the guys.” His situation at home that once felt like a “dark cloud of terror” evolved through his final semester of high school. He turned 18, emancipated himself and obtained a protective order against his parents. While living on couches, he earned his high school diploma along with an associate degree through an early college program. “I have my teammates, friends and case manager to thank for all of this,” Gift says. “It was really hard dedicating the time to school and soccer with everything going on and I was afraid I wouldn’t graduate.” Coming up for Gift is one final summer in the D.C. area. He will play soccer as a goalie with the LGBT-based Summer of Freedom Soccer League, which is hosted by the Federal Triangles Soccer Club. This fall, Gift will enter the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts. With no money coming from his family, he had to get creative to come up with the funds for college. He is using a combination of Pell Grants, gift aid, work study and a financial aid scholarship from USC. “It took a lot of reaching out to people, marketing myself and relying on the LGBT community,” says Gift. “I am hoping my journey gives me the tools and resources to help other kids in my situation. I picked film school because I want to influence the world and change the way the world thinks.” He says that this summer he wants to focus on healing, getting to know himself and finding closure before he heads off to college. Leaving that feeling of terror behind is important for him to move forward. Sports at USC will be on his own terms and he hopes it includes rugby. “I want to learn, be curious and explore while being in a safe space,” Gift says. “I want to temper that with compassion even if it is impossible. Everyone’s path is different, and it is my time to rise up.”

rejected by family, trans soccer player finds support from teammates REEVES GIFT OVERCOMES HOMELESSNESS, HEADS TO USC TO STUDY FILMMAKING By KEVIN MAJOROS

Reeves Gift found himself homeless after coming out as trans to his parents. Now, he’s headed to film school at USC. Blade photo by Kevin Majoros


world cup draws attention to russia’s anti-lgbt policies ARRESTS, HARASSMENT, BEATINGS REPORTED By MICHAEL K. LAVERS

Russian LGBT Sports Federation President Alexander Agapov was at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium on June 14 for the first game of the 2018 World Cup. A picture that Agapov sent to the Washington Blade shows him holding a rainbow flag during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s speech. Apagov on July 2 said during a Facebook Messenger interview that a group of men from the North Caucasus region were the only people who “weren’t happy with the flag.” “At the stadium everything was quite fine,” said Apagov. Russia is hosting the World Cup against lingering criticism over a host of issues that include its LGBT rights record, the 2014 annexation of Crimea and the Kremlin’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The Moscow Times last month reported Cossacks — paramilitary groups that have previously targeted LGBTI and feminist groups — were planning to report to the police same-sex couples who are kissing during the World Cup in Rostov-on-Don. Russian police on June 14 arrested Peter Tatchell, a prominent British LGBTI rights advocate, as he protested against Russia’s human rights record outside the Kremlin. Media reports also indicate a gay couple from France who traveled to St. Petersburg for the World Cup was attacked. Apagov told the Blade he questions whether the couple’s sexual orientation motivated the attack. “I tend to think this was fake news,” he said. The Fare Network — an organization that fights against discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, race, ethnicity, disability and other factors in soccer — has opened two Diversity Houses in Moscow and St. Petersburg for World Cup fans with FIFA’s support. These Diversity Houses have also hosted meetings, presentations and other events with Russian human rights organizations. Fare Network Eastern Europe Development Officer Pavel Klymenko on July 2 confirmed to the Blade during a telephone interview from Moscow the landlord of the building in which the St. Petersburg Diversity House was located told his organization the night before it was scheduled to open that it had to move. Klymenko added the Fare Network has not “had any issues” in their new location in the city. Andrea Ayala, executive director of Espacio de Mujeres Lesbianas por la Diversidad, a Salvadoran advocacy group known by the acronym ESMULES, visited the FARE Network’s Diversity House in Moscow while she was in Russia for the World Cup. Ayala told the Blade during a WhatsApp interview from Nizhny Novgorod that she met a transgender Russian woman, a Russian woman with HIV, a pansexual woman and a woman from Chechnya. She added she did not feel “safe openly showing her diverse sexuality” outside the Diversity House. “It was very shocking for me,” said Ayala, referring to the Russians she met. “The bravery of these people is really admirable.” Putin in 2013 sparked worldwide outrage when he signed a law that bans the promotion of so-called gay propaganda to minors in Russia. The Kremlin has also faced criticism over its response to the anti-gay crackdown in Chechnya that Novaya Gazeta, an independent Russian newspaper, broke in 2017. Elena Kostyuchenko, who is a Novaya Gazeta reporter, is among the 10 LGBTI activists who were arrested in Moscow’s Red Square as they sang the Russian national anthem before the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics that took place in Sochi. A bomb threat, a smoke bomb that was detonated during a basketball tournament and venues that abruptly cancelled events are among the disruptions the Russian LGBT Sports Federation faced when it held the Russian Open Games in Moscow a few weeks later. The Russian government did not respond to the Blade’s requests for comment for this story. A FIFA spokesperson in response to the Blade’s question about Cossacks in Rostov-on-Dan said the organization has “a zero-tolerance approach to discrimination.” The spokesperson specifically pointed to

Article 4 of the FIFA Statute.

Russian LGBT Sports Federation President Alexander Agapov holds a rainbow flag during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s speech at the World Cup. Photo Courtesy Agapov

“Non-discrimination, gender equality and stance against racism discrimination of any kind against a country, private person or group of people on account of race, skin color, ethnic, national or social origin, gender, disability, language, religion, political opinion or any other opinion, wealth, birth or any other status, sexual orientation or any other reason is strictly prohibited and punishable by suspension or expulsion,” it reads. FIFA on June 20 fined Mexico $10,000 after its fans used an anti-gay chant during a match against Germany. FIFA in recent years has also fined Chile, Honduras and other countries for similar fan conduct. “FIFA is committed to fighting all forms of discrimination in football, including homophobia,” a FIFA spokesperson told the Blade in 2017. Ayala defended FIFA’s efforts combat discrimination. “I think FIFA is beginning to focus more on diversity,” she told the Blade. The Russian LGBT Sports Federation and the Fare Network are also hoping to work with the Russian Football Union to address homophobia and other forms of discrimination in Russian soccer. Continues at losangelesblade.com


Being a professional transgender athlete in the country that kills the most transgender people in the world does not escape Tifanny Abreu’s attention. “We need more love and less hatred, more education and less discrimination, respect for all and all for respect,” she told the Blade. “That is the only way to build a better country for all.” When we talk about Tifanny Abreu it is impossible not to mention how many barriers she had to cross to become the first transgender woman to play an official match in the Professional Brazilian Volleyball League. But when we approached her for an interview she was more than cautious about talking about her past — an understandable hesitation coming from someone who carries the heavy load of breaking paradigms and fighting for her earned right to play professionally the game she loves in spite of the negative attention she got for her first professional participation in the Brazilian League during the 2017/18 season. Much has been said about the advantage she might have by having developed as a man and only transitioning in her late 20s – her body’s development was entirely completed as a man given her an increase in bone development as some detractors argued. But that argument points to the prejudice still rampant in the country and reveals how far Brazil is from equality and full inclusion. José Roberto Guimarães, the Brazilian national women’s volleyball head coach, already stated that the fact of the matter is that she is playing inside the rules established by the International Olympic Committee, which regulates transgender participation in sports by the testosterone levels in the athlete’s blood – to be eligible the athlete must have less than 10 nmol/L of testosterone before the debut in women’s competitions. Abreu’s tests showed she had a testosterone level of 0.2 nmol/L. Her story with professional women’s volleyball started in Italy in early 2017 playing the country’s second division for Golem Palmi. As the season ended, she went to Brazil to visit friends and family and treat a hand injury. And that is how her story with Volêi Bauru team began. She was invited by Bauru Vôlei to treat her injury in their facilities and using their professionals. Soon enough came the invite to stay and play for them – and she decided not to go back to Europe and play in their team to stay in her country close to friends and relatives. Problems started to surface when she recovered from her injury and started constantly being the highlight of Bauru Vôlei’s campaign, scoring a high level of points, as high as Tandara Caixeta, the Brazilian national’s team opposite spiker. Currently in training to start playing the 2018/19 pre-season, Abreu wanted to leave behind past issues and talk to us about the future. She is signed for the season with Vôlei Bauru for another year and decided to do that because her reception in the city, by the local fans and by the staff and fellow players was the best she could ever hope for. And she can expect an even better season since the team has reached to sign other featured players known for playing at a high level. An example of that is Valentina Diouf, the internationally known Italian opposite spiker. But Abreu dismisses any sign of rivalry. “There is no dispute. A team is a family. We win, fight and lose together. The head coach will make a decision on which of us will make first string. The really important thing will be the results we can reach as a team.” Abreu has already completed a season as “the first transgender athlete” and as she probably will progress and grow in her game, she just wants to play the game she loves as “another one of the girls” away from the persecution she had to endure at her prior season of the Brazilian League. “I am just an athlete with dreams and challenges,” she said. “And like every other athlete I’ll keep fighting to win the challenges I face and reach as high as possible.” By the end of the interview, Abreu was asked about transgender youth and the challenges they face, and that is when she reaffirmed the most important part of her strength and beliefs in a message for anyone who might be struggling with identity. “Follow your dreams. Fight for who you are and never give up on yourself,” she said.

meet brazil’s first trans pro volleyball player TIFANNY ABREU REMINDS FANS TO ‘NEVER GIVE UP ON YOURSELF’ By FELIPE ALFACE

Tifanny Abreu, the first transgender athlete to play professional volleyball in Brazilian League. Photo Courtesy Abreu

‘Daddy Issues’ offers a candy-colored glimpse into first love that is not only gorgeously shot, but is also driven by slick editing and an empowering soundtrack, immersing the viewer — or voyeur — into a world laced with potent sexuality. Photo Courtesy Outfest

At Outfest 2018, a more inclusive rainbow An impressive two-thirds of this year’s selections come from female, non-white and trans filmmakers By DAN ALLEN

Even at unconventional arts showcases like LGBTQ film festivals, representation for those who aren’t cis-gender, white men has proven to be an ongoing struggle. So, it’s a particular accomplishment that an impressive two-thirds of the films at this year’s Outfest Los Angeles — which opened yesterday and runs through July 22 —come from directors who are women, of color or trans. We spoke with Outfest’s Director of Programming Lucy Mukerjee about this inclusionary cinematic feat. LOS ANGELES BLADE: Was it a particular goal this year to include so many films by female, of color and trans directors? LUCY MUKERJEE: It’s our responsibility as an organization to lead the charge when it comes to including marginalized voices, in order to create a more inclusive world. The LGBTQ experience cannot be represented by one identity alone — what gives the festival the most impact as a thought leader and influencer is the vast expanse of stories we showcase. Outfest has become a game changer for LGBTQ creatives; by opening up the doors to the film and TV industry, we empower artists to achieve a sustainable career doing what they love. To put the creative visions of women, people of color and trans folk on the same level as cis, white male directors is the only






logical and ethical course of action. BLADE: Does this year’s Outfest schedule reflect a broader spectrum than Outfest of the past? MUKERJEE: I can’t speak to the specific festival demographics before I joined the programming team, but I know that hitting 40 percent female directors in my first year was a landmark moment I was very proud of. I have heard feedback that both in terms of filmmakers invited and audience-members attending, the festival feels more inclusive today than it has in previous years. Last year we accomplished gender parity at Outfest, with 50 percent of the films at the festival coming from female directors. That was a significant milestone, and it’s been really rewarding over the past 12 months to see that milestone reinforced at film festivals across the country. This year, it was important to us to extend our efforts to proactively include the other underrepresented voices within the community. Much in line with the intersectional approach of the #MeToo movement, we chose to build from our accomplishment last year and bring not only female voices to the forefront, but also the voices of people of color and trans people. BLADE: Which female-directed films are you

A M E R I C A’ S




most excited about in this year’s schedule? MUKERJEE: There are so many female-directed films to be excited about that it’s impossible to mention them all here. Three films I encourage everyone to check out are “Daddy Issues,” the kinky, subversive coming-of-age romance from director Amara Cash (US); “Montana,” the empowering revenge drama by Limor Shmila (Israel); and “Eva & Candela,” a fictional portrayal of a director who falls for her lead actress, directed by Ruth Caudeli (Colombia). These are all impressive films in their own right, but also notable is the fact that all three are debut features. The high caliber of work proves what female directors can accomplish when given the same industry access, support and opportunities that male directors have enjoyed for years. It’s exciting to see the queer female lens being validated around the world in this way. BLADE: Which films from directors of color are you most excited about? MUKERJEE: Our documentary centerpiece “When The Beat Drops,” which follows a fierce group of queer performers who are the rising stars and pioneers of the dance trend known as “bucking.” This uplifting dance documentary is the directorial debut of choreographer-tothe-stars Jamal Sims, the visionary behind the dance moves of Madonna, J-Lo and RuPaul.





‘Do I Have Boobs Now?’ follows trans activist Courtney Demone’s viral campaign against censorship on Instagram towards their policy on female nudity.

Beauty is at the forefront of ‘Happy Birthday, Marsha!,’ a re-enactment of events leading up to Marsha P. Johnson’s role in instigating the 1969 riots at the Stonewall Inn.

Photo Courtesy Outfest

Photo Courtesy Outfest

And “The Miseducation Of Cameron Post,” starring Chloë Grace Moretz and Sasha Lane, directed by Iranian-American filmmaker Desiree Akhavan. In Akhavan’s semi-autobiographical comedy “Appropriate Behavior,” she tackled the topic of a queer brown woman coming out to a conservative Iranian-American family. “Appropriate Behavior” has since become a treasure in the queer canon, so we’ll be celebrating her highly-anticipated new film “Miseducation” at our Closing Night Gala, while also putting the spotlight on the film’s message: challenging the troubling fact that conversion therapy is still considered a viable option by the religious right. BLADE: Which trans-directed films are you most excited about? MUKERJEE: “Beyond Binaries,” curated by actress Angelica Ross (“Pose,” “Her Story”), and “Desires & Resistance: Unearthing Trans* Legacies” from guest curator Finn Paul. Both of these shorts programs have an abundance of trans directing talent, including Reina Gossett’s highly-anticipated “Happy Birthday, Marsha!,” a retelling of the hours leading up to the Stonewall riots through the eyes of trans leader Marsha P. Johnson (played by Mya Taylor from “Tangerine”), and Milena Salazar’s “Do I Have Boobs Now?,” a headline-grabbing critique of the







unethical gender policing that takes place daily on social media. As Hollywood continues to hire cis-gender writers, directors and actors to tell transgender stories, these shorts are a vital and uncensored insight into the trans experience. BLADE: Of course, Outfest’s lineup also includes plenty of films from cis, white male directors. Are you hopeful though that audiences will venture beyond their own niches? MUKERJEE: Yes, absolutely. One way we’re accomplishing this is by programming trans shorts in front of cis-gender features, bringing awareness to people who know little about the community beyond their own lived experience. When Kirsten Schaffer brought me on as director of programming almost four years ago, she instilled in me the importance of encouraging attendees to step outside of their comfort zone and see films about people who don’t look like themselves. My hope is that people will trust in the curatorial strength of the lineup and have confidence that they will find something to admire in every film, whether it is L, G, B, T or Q. BLADE: Outfest’s Trans Summit will return for its second year on July 21. How successful was the first Trans Summit last year, and how will this year’s be different?


A M E R I C A’ S



MUKERJEE: Holding the Trans Summit at Outfest LA last year was a deliberate move to make more space for the trans and nonbinary community at the festival. With 40,000 attendees coming together over these 11 days, we wanted to make it clear that trans visibility, both onscreen and off, is a priority, so that the wider LGBTQ community and our allies can foster that same inclusivity. This year the summit will kick off with a keynote from Academy Award-nominated director Yance Ford, whose film “Strong Island” was one of the best documentaries of 2017. We will then take a look at three case studies, each focused on different areas of need in trans and non-binary storytelling, including the continued lack of narrative content featuring trans leads. To close the summit, we will move to the discussion portion of the day. The incomparable Tre’vell Anderson, awardwinning writer from the LA Times, will lead this year’s urgent and necessary conversation. However you identify, I urge you to be there. Tickets and schedule information for Outfest Los Angeles can be found at outfest.org.






queery KIRK WALKER How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell? I’ve been out professionally since 2005. The hardest person to tell was my sister, and professionally the hardest to tell was my softball team at Oregon State. Who’s your LGBT hero? Former NFL player Dave Kopay. What’s Los Angeles’ best nightspot, past or present? The Chapel.

Photo Courtesy Walker


Kirk Walker is an Angeleno at heart, and almost by birth. The Woodland Hills native went to school at UCLA, where he also made a name for himself on the Bruins’ softball coaching staff. Before he had graduated with his bachelor’s degree, he had already won three NCAA National Championships with the team. So it wasn’t a surprise when Pac-10 rival Oregon State came calling to promote Walker to head coach and empower him to build the Beavers a successful program. At Oregon State, Walker became a legend. In almost two decades coaching there he won more games than any other softball coach in school history and was the first coach to lead an Oregon State women’s team to a Pac-10 regular-season title in any sport. He also lead the team to its first Women’s College World Series. When Walker got a call from UCLA to return to Westwood in 2012, he simply couldn’t pass it up. So he packed up his family and moved back to La La Land, settling just a couple miles from Six Flags in Santa Clarita. Most recently, the team made it to the 2018 Women’s College World Series and was one of the last four teams remaining before being eliminated. As a coach, Walker has won the NCAA Division I Softball National Championship and the WBSC Junior Women’s World Championship. With his success, Walker has made visibility a cornerstone of his advocacy. Since becoming one of the first Division I coaches to come out publicly, Walker has found incredible acceptance and support from across the sports world. “I discovered that athletics by and large is a far more accepting community than has ever been portrayed in the media,” he recently wrote. “I have witnessed more positive experiences within the athletic community. Uplifting stories of athletes, coaches, officials and other members of the sports community receiving powerful affirmation and acceptance after coming out.” Walker spends much of his time building important support networks for LGBTQ athletes and coaches. He helps manage both GO! Athletes and the Equality Coaching Alliance, both of which help bridge gaps of solitude between LGBTQ people in sports. He is also a very successful athlete, winning a national championship as a fast-pitch softball pitcher. When he’s not coaching or playing softball, Walker can often be found spending time with his daughter, Ava. He currently lives in Beverly Glen. Walker took some time off from his summer vacation at Bass Lake near Yosemite to answer some of our questions.

Describe your dream wedding. It would be on the beach in Hawaii. What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about? Congressional term limits. What historical outcome would you change? I would stop the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime? Michael Jackson passing away. On what do you insist? Integrity. What was your last Facebook post or Tweet? I added three people to GO! Space and the Equality Coaching Alliance on Facebook today. If your life were a book, what would the title be? “Going Deep.”

If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do? I would not choose to change my sexual orientation. What do you believe in beyond the physical world? I believe in a higher power in the universe. What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders? Be consistent in our fight, and also in our acceptance of others. What would you walk across hot coals for? The people I love. What LGBT stereotype annoys you most? That gay men are weak. What’s your favorite LGBT movie? It wasn’t all LGBT, but “My Best Friend’s Wedding.” I just loved Rupert Everett and Julia Roberts in that. What’s the most overrated social custom? The selfie. What trophy or prize do you most covet? Winning another NCAA title, or an Olympic gold medal. What do you wish you’d known at 18? Value what I’m uniquely good at, instead of trying to do what others are good at. Why Los Angeles? Family, opportunity, weather and quality of life. When UCLA asked me to come back to coach the softball team in 2012, I couldn’t resist.






‘McQueen’ documentary matches designer’s dark and beautiful style The complex life of a fashion supernova By JOHN PAUL KING

Alexander McQueen in New York City. Photo by Ann Ray / Courtesy Bleecker Street

Alexander McQueen, the iconoclastic young designer who became an icon himself by confronting the fashion world with his dramatic vision, delivered the greatest shock of his career when — at the mere age of 40 — he killed himself by hanging in 2010. Now, in the wake of the recent high-profile suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, the timing seems weirdly apt for the release of a new documentary by filmmakers Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui, which looks at the life and legacy of the notorious English “bad boy” — and offers, through his work, a glimpse at the troubled psyche that fed his artistic vision and undoubtedly led to the decision to end his own life. “McQueen” traces its subject (who was born Lee Alexander McQueen — his family and friends continued to call him “Lee” even after the rest of his name had become a world-famous brand) from his youth as a working-class teen to the pinnacle of his fame. With no formal education, no knowledge of fashion, and no connections, he was nevertheless driven by his passion to learn the skills he needed to begin creating the remarkable clothing that would soon become a major influence on turn-of-the-millennium style. Drawing inspiration from history, violence, nature, mythology and his own dark imagination, he designed clothes that were both disturbing and beautiful, and presented them at elaborately staged events that were intended to provoke and challenge their audiences as much as — or more than — they were to highlight the fashion. His rise from upstart outsider to darling of the industry was meteoric, helped along by an undeniable talent and a cadre of close friends and associates; but life at the top was demanding, and as the work became more and more all-consuming, so also, it seems, did his personal demons. Old friendships grew strained, drugs entered his life, his physical and mental health appeared to deteriorate. While the film makes no attempt to assert a reason for his eventual suicide, the portrait it creates of him makes it clear that — to him, at least — there were many. There are threads in the tapestry that stand out. Among them is the significance of Isabella “Issy” Blow, the influential stylist who was among his first patrons and became his mentor and closest friend; the role she played for McQueen blended the personal and the professional — as seemed to be the case with most of his non-familial relationships — and their falling out, along with her own eventual suicide, ran parallel to the downward spiral of his later life. Equally resonant are the stories of abuse within his family, that come in the memories related by his older sister, Janet, and her son, Gary. It is within these and similar underlying narratives that “McQueen” seems to tap most deeply into the subject that remains the “elephant in the room” within its larger story: why a man who has fulfilled a lifelong dream beyond the level of any reasonable expectation would make the choice to die by his own hand. Bonhôte (who produced and directed) and Ettedgui (who wrote and co-directed) construct their movie in five “chapters,” each one focusing on a key period of McQueen’s life and culminating in a look at one of his most famous shows. It’s a technique that lends itself well to using a focus on his artistry to reflect the personality underneath. There is no narration, per se, to guide us; instead McQueen’s story is told through a combination of interviews, both new and old, and archival footage; some of the latter consists of rare, newly-unearthed material shot by the designer himself as a sort of “self-made” documentary, starting in his youth — long before fame. There are also some stunning animated segments that add a touch of art to the proceedings, periodically setting the tone of a chapter by swirling together some of the recurring motifs – skulls, butterflies, reptilian scales – that figured into McQueen’s visual palette. Final polish comes from the haunting score, a standout offering from composer Michael Nyman (himself a frequent McQueen collaborator), who contributed a range of previously created music for the filmmakers to use as accompaniment. Unsurprisingly, though, the highlights of “McQueen” are the segments which show his infamous fashion shows. It’s with this footage that we are fully immersed in the designer’s being; these were the moments that defined his career and his art – we learn more about him through the unforgettable imagery he created for these presentations than in any of the myriad words spoken by or about him throughout the rest of the film. It’s to his credit that this is the case; an artist’s goal is self-expression, and looking at these historic moments in retrospect, there can be no question that he achieved it. “McQueen,” perhaps intentionally, is a film reminiscent of one of its subject’s own creations: pieced together with disparate materials of contrasting tone and texture, it’s striking, rebellious, brooding with undercurrents of violence and sorrow – yet it’s full of wit, whimsy and breathtaking beauty. Given the current cultural concern with depression and suicide, one can’t help but wish that it had been able to shed more light on the darkest corners of his life; but likely, there is no archival material that would have supported such explorations – though he put his demons on display, he was mostly silent about them. So is the film; and that silence, perhaps, provides its most profound commentary on his tragic fate. “McQueen” opens on July 20 at the Arclight Hollywood (6360 Sunset Blvd.) and the Landmark Westside Pavilion (10850 Pico Blvd.).



ScarJo plays trans and Tom & Dustin get trolled Trump supporters aren’t happy about gay couple’s baby By BILLY MASTERS

The announcement of the birth of Robbie Ray Black-Daley, the surrogate born son of Olympic Gold winner Tom Daley and Oscar winner Dustin Lance Black, was greeted by Trump supporting trolls. Photo Courtesy Twitter

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Scarlett Johansson is being taken to task after being cast in a transgender role. “Rub & Tug” is based on the life of Jean Marie Gill — who was born female but lived life as a man and ran massage parlors and a prostitution ring. Politically correct people claim that Johansson is taking the role away from a transgender actor — because there are so many gifted trans actors at Scarlett’s level of fame. Johansson’s reps said, “Tell them they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment.” It should be noted that both Jean Marie Gill and Scarlett Johansson were born with vaginas, so I think that gives ScarJo at least a foot in the door. This is not the first time her casting has been called into question. Last year, she played a character that was based on an anime of a Japanese woman. Not coincidentally, both projects are directed by Rupert Sanders. When films about LGBT topics started being produced, we applauded actors taking on the roles and helping to tell our stories. By having a name attached to a project, it ensured the film could be made — such as Tom Hanks in “Philadelphia,” Vanessa Redgrave in “The Renee Richards Story,” etc. Then the tide turned and people complained that these non-LGBT actors were taking roles away from LGBT actors. However, people also say that gay actors should be able to play any role. But when a gay actor plays a straight character, aren’t they taking a role away from a straight actor? I believe the best actor should get the role — period. History was just made with the crowning of a trans woman as Miss Spain. She was not crowned because of, or despite of, her trans-ness — she was crowned because she was the best/most attractive contestant. Angela Ponce will now go on to compete in the Miss Universe pageant, making her the first trans contestant in that pageant’s history (trans people were banned from the contest until 2013). Felicitaciones, Angela! An Irish priest has been placed on “personal leave” after a gay sex video surfaced showing a man in vestments performing sexual acts on another man. A local paper described it thusly: “Priest desecrates altar with gay sex acts!” It was filmed at St. Bartholomew’s Church in Kildorrery, North Cork and according to the subheading, “State police in Ireland are investigating the sacrilege.” Words like “desecrates” and “sacrilege” always catch my eye. The video first appeared on a gay “dating” app and was brought to the archdiocese by Bishop Pat Buckley - so we have a good idea what Pat does at night in the rectory (I love spending time in the rectory). Two guys aged 18 and 19 claim they met the priest through the site and he brought them to St. Bartholomew’s. The church has not identified the cleric in question, although people whisper it is a certain someone who resigned due to alcoholism. There is concern that the church has to be re-consecrated due to the sacrilege. Some parishioners are even calling for an exorcism! Yeah, like this is the first time a Catholic priest had gay sex on an altar. Tom Daley and Dustin Lance Black have a new young man in their lives and, no, it isn’t what you think. “Welcome to the world our precious little Robbie Ray Black-Daley. The amount of love and joy you have brought into our life is immeasurable, our precious little son.” Within days, online trolls began clamoring for the child to be removed from the home and accused the diver of child abuse. One such tweet said, “It’s astonishing. Twitter has been full of outrage about children being taken from their mothers on the Mexican border but, when Tom Daley and Dustin Lance Black take a baby from its mother, everyone says how wonderful it is.” Now, I don’t know the details of their surrogacy deal, but I would reckon nobody was taken from anyone, and someone made a pretty penny for the use of her uterus. Speaking of British divers, our “Ask Billy” question comes from Patrick in Boston: “You wrote about nude photos of Freddie Woodward before. Are those the same photos he’s suing about?” Back in 2015, the allegedly heterosexual Woodward took part in the “Naked Issue” of the U.K. “Gay Times.” All of a sudden, his lawyers are threatening to sue websites posting the three-year-old photos. Or perhaps they mean those even nuder (and erect) photos, which fell into my hands. If anyone’s interested, they’re on BillyMasters.com. Continues at losangelesblade.com



Kathy Griffin recently sold out Carnegie Hall, of all places, but there are still tickets left for her hometown appearance at the home of the Oscars, the Dolby Theater (6801 Hollywood Blvd). See July 19 listing below for details.


OUTFEST: Game Girls is tonight from 9:30 p.m.-11:30 p.m. at Directors Guild of America (7920 W. Sunset Blvd.). A personal and moving documentary that follows Teri and her girlfriend Tiahana as they struggle to navigate life on the streets of Los Angeles’ Skid Row. Recently released from prison for selling drugs, Tiahana returns to find Teri desperate to get off the streets. In intimate and sometimes unsettling scenes that include group therapy sessions and domestic violence, we are transported into the lives of these two women and root wholeheartedly for their love and survival. This local story spotlighting LA’s homelessness epidemic premiered at the 2018 Berlin Film Festival. Tickets via outfest.org.


OUTFEST: The New AIDS Narrative Panel is tonight from 6:30-8 p.m. at Directors Guild of America (7920 West Sunset Blvd). Nearly 30 years since the first films about the HIV/AIDS epidemic hit the big screen, a new wave of scripted dramas is emerging. Join Outfest and GLAAD for a discussion of the history of HIV/AIDS representation in cinema, and what the arrival of films like “BPM (Beats Per Minute),” “1985,” and “Bohemian Rhapsody” mean with regards to telling HIV/AIDS stories to a new generation. Presented in Partnership with GLAAD. Post-panel Reception. Tickets available at outfest.org.


OUTFEST: Latin American Shorts is tonight from 9-11 p.m. at Plaza De La Raza (3540 N. Mission Rd.). OutFest presents an eclectic Latinx program embracing all LGBTQ communities. Short films from Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic show us that it doesn’t matter which America we live in — South, Central, or North — we need to be united to empower the community in the fight against discrimination and for

equal rights, gender equality and freedom of expression. “Tailor” (Dir: Calí dos Anjos, 10 min.); “Elena” (Dir: Ayerim Villaneuva, 22 min.); “Profane Cow” (Vaca Profana) (Dir: René Guerra, 15 min.); “Julia’s Piece” (Una Pieza Para Julia) (Dir: Amelia Eloisa, 9 min.); “Afronte” (Dir: Bruno Victor & Marcus Azevedo, 16 min.); “Naranja” (Dir: Hanna Isua, 3 min.); “Sandra Calling” (Dir: João Cândido Zacharias, 13 min.). Tickets via outfest.org.


Outfest Under The Stars is Wednesday, July 18 through Saturday, July 21 from 8:30-11:30 p.m. at Ford Theater (2580 Cahuenga Blvd E). Outfest Los Angeles returns to the Ford Theater to screen four outstanding films under the stars as part of the 2018 Outfest Los Angeles LGBTQ Film Festival. Wednesday, July 18: “Flu$h;” Director: Heather Mana Acs, 9 minutes. “Bad Reputation;” Director Kevin Kerslake; USA, 98 Minutes, 2018. Thursday, July 19: “When The Beat Drops;” Director: Jamal Sims; USA, 87 minutes, 2018. Friday, July 20: “Postcards from London;” Director: Steve McLean; United Kingdom, 87 minutes, 2018. Saturday, July 21: “Wild Nights with Emily;” Director: Madeleine Olnek; USA, 84 minutes, 2018. Tickets available at outfest.org.


Kathy Griffin: Laugh Your Head Off World Tourm is tonight from 8-11:30 p.m. at Dolby Theater (6801 Hollywood Blvd.). She’s back and stronger than ever before. After posting a mock photo holding Donald’s severed head on a platter, Kathy got a little visit from the SS and she actually thought her career was cooked. And it indeed seemed to be, until, that is the Los Angeles Blade helped her come back out of the closet and seated her at our table at the White House Correspondents dinner. Since then she has been the gal about town, even selling out Carnegie Hall. Don’t miss the hometown girl. She’s

back. Shows run until Saturday. Tickets available through Ticketmaster.


OUTFEST: All-Girl Friday is tonight from 5-11:59 p.m at Directors Guild of America (7920 Sunset Boulevard). Five incredible queer women films: “Crazy Kinky Cool” screens at 5 p.m.: Sexy, unpredictable girls shorts are guaranteed to get your blood pumping and to keep you up all night. “Dykes, Camera, Action!” is at 7 p.m.: A revealing journey through the history of queer women in cinema: the kick-ass women behind the camera, and the politics that inspired their films. “Professor Marston and the Wonder Women” screens at 7:15 p.m.: Angela Robinson introduces her latest feature about what inspired Harvard psychologist Dr. Marston (Luke Evans) to create the iconic Wonder Woman character. “Girl Shorts” is at 9:30 p.m.: This year’s signature program amplifies the unapologetic exhilaration of women living their truth loud and proud. “Show Me Love” screens at 10 p.m.: This swoony and romantic Swedish schoolgirl romance celebrates its 20th anniversary as a beloved date-night classic. Visit outfest. org for details.


Families Belong Together Rally is today from 10 a.m.2 p.m. at McArthur Park (2230 W. 6th St.). Organizers want to continue to grow the movement. The Trump administration pretended to change the separation policy but has not agreed to reunite the families separated on the Mexican border. Thousands are still detained and parents are now being sent to federal prisons. Many parents have been deported back without their children and their children E-mail calendar itemshave to been placed in private foster care tmasters@losangelesblade.com systems around the country. Organizers are hoping for a two weeks prior to your event. Space is limited so priority is massive demonstration. outwith more onparticipants. social media given to LGBT-specific eventsFind or those LGBT using #FamiliesBelongTogether. Recurring events must be re-submitted each time.

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