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04 • AUGUST 03, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM

Alaska Airlines overbooking infuriates Abbey founder David Cooley claims discrimination, airline ‘deeply’ regrets mistake By STAFF REPORTS A reservation and booking mix-up created a stir aboard a Los Angeles-bound Alaska Airlines flight at New York’s Kennedy airport Sunday. David Cooley, founder and CEO of the famed West Hollywood nightspot The Abbey, says that he and his traveling companion were asked by airline personnel to switch seats “to make way for a heterosexual couple,” according to a post

on Cooley’s personal Facebook page. “I have never been so discriminated against while traveling before. I was removed from an Alaska Airlines flight #1407 from John F. Kennedy International Airport to LAX to give preferential treatment to a straight couple,” Cooley wrote. “After my traveling companion and I had been seated in our assigned seats for a while, we were approached by the flight attendant and my companion was asked to move from his premium seat to coach, so a couple could sit together. “I explained that we were a couple and wanted to sit together,” Cooley wrote. “He was given a choice to either give up the premium seat and move to coach or get off the plane.

“We could not bear the feeling of humiliation for an entire cross-country flight and left the plane. I cannot believe that an airline in this day and age would give a straight couple preferential treatment over a gay couple and go so far as to ask us to leave.” An Alaska Airlines spokesperson told the Los Angeles Blade on Monday that there had been a mix-up and an unintentional overbooking of one of the Premium, (First Class) seats on that flight. “We mistakenly booked two people in one seat. We are deeply sorry for the situation, and are investigating the details while communicating directly with the guests involved to try and make this right,” Bobbie

Egan, External Communications Director for Alaska Airlines said by phone from Seattle. “Alaska Airlines has a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination of any kind, and our employees value inclusion for our guests and each other.” Egan indicated that the airline is still investigating the incident and has been in direct communication with Cooley. “We deeply regret this mistake aboard our flight.” Brian Rosman, a spokesperson for Cooley, tells the Los Angeles Blade in an email Monday afternoon: “We have not said anything beyond the original post on social media. If we do say something further, we will let you know. “ (Reporting by the staff of the Los Angeles Blade and wire service reports)

No charges for Ed Buck in Gemmel Moore’s death DA says there was ‘insufficient evidence’ By KAREN OCAMB kocamb@losangelesblade.com One year after Gemmel Moore’s death, his mother, LaTisha Nixon of Texas, and community activists gathered outside the West Hollywood Sheriff’s station to commemorate the 26-year-old gay escort who died of a crystal meth overdose in Ed Buck’s Laurel Ave apartment on July 27, 2017. The rally turned into a protest with the news that District Attorney Jackie Lacey had declined to file any of four possible charges— murder, voluntary manslaughter, and furnishing and possessing drugs—against Buck, 63, a white politico who had been active with Stonewall Democratic Club. Though Moore’s death was initially ruled an accidental overdose by the coroner, Moore’s mother and community activists protested what they believed was favorable treatment toward Buck because he’s white and a Democratic donor. In August 2017, Sheriff Jim McDonnell ordered a more thorough investigation by three homicide detectives. “When we became aware of the concern by the family, we had Homicide [Bureau] take a look at it,” McDonnell said in an exclusive September 2017 interview with

The DA declined to file charges against Democratic donor Ed Buck in the overdose death of Gemmel Moore. Photo Courtesy Facebook

the Los Angeles Blade. “We felt it was our obligation to look into those issues.” The detectives investigated for approximately 10 months, including looking for others who told activists they had also experienced meth injections during sexual liaisons with Buck. Apparently, the DA’s office offered some escorts immunity; other men the detectives knew about but could not locate. The detectives submitted their final report to the DA’s Office on July 10. On July 27, the DA’s Office declined to prosecute because “admissible evidence is insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable

doubt” that Buck intentionally injected Moore with the meth overdose that killed him. “With all the interviews and evidence that we have, we presented that to them,” LASD spokesperson Lt. Joe Mendoza told Fox News. “We’re like fact finders. To the best that we could, we compiled everything.” Deputy DA Greg Risling said criminal charges are filed if the following criteria is met: “legally sufficient, admissible evidence” that a crime occurred and of the suspect’s identity; the charging deputy believes the evidence proves the suspect is guilty of the crime; and the deputy determines that the

admissible evidence will bring a conviction. “There’s nothing there. As we always stated, this was an accidental overdose that Ed Buck had nothing to do with and it’s a tragedy,” Buck’s attorney, Seymour Amster, said. “I think that Ed Buck is guilty of injecting my son with meth,” said LaTisha Nixon at the protest rally outside the West Hollywood Sheriff’s station. “We’re deeply saddened by the fact that Jackie Lacey didn’t see fit to charge Ed Buck but we’re very, very clear that if anyone else dies at Ed Buck’s house, it will definitely be on them,” said community activist Jasmyne Cannick.


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06 • AUGUST 03, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM

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Kevin de León takes on Dianne Feinstein Says new leadership needed in the US Senate By KAREN OCAMB kocamb@losangelesblade.com Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017. Kevin de León quells rumors and officially comes out as a candidate for the US Senate this November. Headshaking ensues as seasoned politicos try to fathom challenging rich Democratic establishment icon Sen. Dianne Feinstein. It is disrespectful. It is divisive. Her seniority and years of deliberative, measured experience are needed now more than ever, they argue, to lead the charge against President Donald Trump and his chaotic administration. But progressive California Democrats are clamoring for bold, new energetic leadership to vigorously push back against Trump’s cruel Tweet-policies on immigration, climate change, healthcare and full LGBT equality. To them, de León is a champion who stands in sharp contrast to the patrician Feinstein. Born in Los Angeles of Guatemalan and Mexican descent, raised by a loving, hardworking single mother, de León, 51, got an education and rose to become the President Pro Tem of the California Senate, authoring and passing legislation and making history. It was his bill that Gov. Brown signed into law making California a “sanctuary state”—a law that was recently upheld by a federal appeals court. “Dianne Feinstein is one of the most conservative senators in the Democratic caucus,” RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of the progressive National Nurses United, told CNN. “And in the age of Trump, a state as progressive as California deserves the most progressive senators….It’s not her powerful position, and she is powerful, but we need someone who reflects today’s values as a leader. It’s not the age thing. It’s the political thing. I don’t think she’s in this for the long haul.” Feinstein is 85 and the age thing might matter to younger voters. An AP-NORC/ MTV poll released July 30 indicates that most Americans ages 15 to 34 are looking for young leaders and think the midterm elections will give them a say in how the government is run. Jolted by a real estate developer/Reality TV star becoming president, they realize that all that progress under Barack Obama could be nullified by a stroke of Trump’s magic marker. Youthful enthusiasm exploded at the

Kevin de León at the Democratic Convention Feb. 2018; and Kevin de León with State Sen. Ricardo Lara, CDP Chair Eric Bauman, and former Assembly Speaker John A. Perez at a Stonewall Democratic Club event. Photos by Karen Ocamb

California Democratic Convention last February as giggling young delegates angled for a quick selfie with Feinstein—then yelled, waved tons of signs and voted for de León. Feinstein’s missteps still rankled—rudely telling her “time’s up,” as she closed her remarks onstage. They appeared unforgiving of her calling for “patience” around Trump’s novice presidency during an Aug. 29 appearance last year at a Commonwealth Club event in San Francisco. “I don’t think children who breathe dirty air can afford patience,” de León told CNN. “The LGBT worker or woman losing their rights by the day or the black student who could be assaulted on the street, they can’t afford patience. ‘Dreamers’ who are unsure of their fate in this country can’t afford patience.” “We don’t owe Trump patience. We owe Californians resistance,” he told the Los Angeles Times. De León shocked the nation by winning 54% of the roughly 2,800 California Democratic Party activists at the convention, depriving Feinstein of the expected CDP endorsement.

But Feinstein rebounded in the June primary, winning by 26 points. De León won the next round, however, securing 65% of 333 ballots cast by the party’s executive board. He now gets his name and photo on official CDP door hangers, slate mailers and email blasts, among other endorsement benefits. “Earning the endorsement of so many leaders and activists of the California Democratic Party isn’t just an honor and a privilege; today’s vote is a clear-eyed rejection of politics as usual in Washington, D.C. Through years of hard-won progress, we have proven to the world that California can forge a path for the rest of the nation,” said de León. Feinstein’s camp brushed it off, noting her strong win in the primary and a slew of polls that suggest she’s a shoe-in for re-election. But de León has been on the ground in the state for years, cultivating union and immigration organizers, gun control advocates, educators, environmentalists, and a slew of friends and leaders in the LGBT community. “I’ve always been very close to the LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer,

intersex, asexual) community even before I even knew all the initials that keep growing,” de León says with a laugh during an extensive phone interview with the Los Angeles Blade. “It’s always been my core set of values that every human being deserves a real opportunity to succeed, regardless of who they love and regardless of the hue of their skin and regardless of their legal status. That is embedded in my DNA.” De León learned to care about LGBT people as a child from his mother and aunt around the kitchen table. “My mother got a third grade education and my aunt even less,” he says. “I was very young and they were talking about a gay friend, a colleague of theirs. I didn’t understand. Obviously, they didn’t understand themselves. But they spoke with such affection, such tenderness. And here were two immigrant women with limited formal education and the way they spoke so lovingly, tenderly, beautifully about their gay friend. I could deduce the person they were talking about was gay—they kind of spoke in code around


LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • AUGUST 03, 2018 • 07

me when I was just sitting there listening to them at the kitchen table. And it transcended ethnicity and legal status and poverty—that we’re all human beings and we deserve dignity and respect. That had an ‘Ah Ha’ impact.” De León’s LGBT education continued as he picked his mother up from her work as a housekeeper at convalescent homes. “She had quite a few gay colleagues with her and I just remember they were just so beautifully nice with my mother and my mother with them and that had a huge impression on me of the universal values of treating everybody with dignity and with respect. So when there is a discriminatory blow against anyone in the LGBTQIA community, I feel that blow equally.” Today, de León feels Trump administration’s harmful reversal of LGBT progress. “I feel that blow because what this president has done since day one is to use the power of the White House to defile this nation and pit one group against another and to reopen old wounds,” he says. “Clearly, we still have a long way to go for full and equal rights, not just legally but in society’s perceptions of our LGBTQIA community.

“But it is very clear that this president, in a very calculated way, is continuing to evoke these feelings of homophobia in our country— just exactly the way he has done with the antiimmigrant fervor that he has reawakened,” de León says. “He’s doing the same thing in our LGBTQIA community by eliminating any mention of LGBTQIA policies and programs that were in the previous administration from the White House website. “That is a complete revisionism of our history,” he continues. “No matter how difficult our history has been, to completely eliminate one’s presence, one’s pain, one’s fight for equality manifested through policies that improve the human condition for all individuals—it’s very clear that this is a war, this is a war to fan the flames of homophobic sentiment throughout the country.” De León notes that homophobia crosses party lines. “I moved [Assembly Resolution 15, the Uniting American Families Act] condemning the policies out of Washington, D.C.. This is pre-Trump. Men and women, particularly from south of the border, who were fleeing their home states because they

were being persecuted and were victims of extreme violence, or had to witness their loved ones, their friends, their partners murdered in cold blood because of who they loved or because their identification or preference—and the federal government was grotesquely guilty in not facilitating the application asylum process for these men and women who were seeking asylum.” De León chalked it up to ignorance, insensitivity. “But this president has taken it now to a higher level,” he says. “In our history books, in high school, in college, we read about Executive Order 9066, the Internment of Japanese Americans. We read about the Chinese Exclusion Act. We read about Stonewall. We read about Jim Crow laws. We read about Operation Wetback. These are things that we read about in our history books. We never would have thought that we would be witnessing it, in real time in 2018, by an American government perpetuating these awful, gross human rights violations.” De León wants to take that awareness to the US Senate. “From day one when this president was elected,” he says, “I made it

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clear as leader of the Senate of the largest state in the nation, that I would help lead the resistance. But not lead from patience in the hope that this president could be a good president in the near future, as the senior senator from California has articulated publicly. But to do everything within my power to protect our economic prosperity, our progressive values and our people.” Trump is a “clear and present danger to Californians and to the nation—but especially our home state because by a margin of two to one, we reject the politics fueled by resentment, fueled by homophobia, fueled by bigotry, fueled by misogyny,” he says. “And that’s why the LGBTQIA community will have a voice on the front lines...someone who’s proactive.” Current polls favoring Feinstein are not discouraging. “We’re generating a lot of excitement among young people and LGBTQIA members and Latinos and African Americans and others who have been disenfranchised and marginalized in our great state,” says Kevin de León. “So we’re excited.”


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08 • AUGUST 03, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM

‘Parental rights’ is back as a ‘conversion therapy’ talking point Christian right links parents’ right to fix child victim of sex abuse By CHRISTOPHER KANE & KAREN OCAMB Five influential anti-LGBT Christian Right leaders presided over a symposium on the primacy of parental rights as core to religious liberty at the Museum of the Bible on July 26. The presentation was a satellite panel discussion in conjunction with the three-day International Religious Freedom Roundtable, a Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom conference administered by the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C. Among the dignitaries delivering remarks to the largely invitationonly main conference were Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback. “Parental Rights: A Matter of Religious Freedom?” was co-sponsored by the antiLGBT James Dobson Family Institute ( JDFI) and the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) International and featured Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, who Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell nominated to serve as a commissioner on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom at the State Department. For about 90 minutes, the panel discussed “issues surrounding the fundamental human right of parents to provide care, custody, and control of their children,” including regarding “questions of religious and philosophical convictions.” The central question: “To what extent and at what point should a State intervene or even override parents’ decisions or objections?” “God-given parental rights” has long been a wellspring from which the Christian Right draws strength as a “natural law” that transcends the man-made laws of the state. In California, the anti-LGBT Christian lobbying group Capitol Resource Institute has often used parental rights to argue against sex education and LGBT history in schools, as well the rights of transgender students to have access to school facilities equal to other students. Parental rights has also been used as the

Commissioner and FRC head Tony Perkins Photo by Gage Skidmore / Courtesy Wikimedia

excuse for sending children to quack religious therapists and Christian camps for LGBT troubled teens to be “repaired,” believing sexual orientation and gender identity are behavioral choices to be rectified. California was the first to ban the practice of “reparative therapy” that had traditionally fallen under the purview of a family’s religious beliefs. Then-State Sen. Ted Lieu, however, took testimony from medical and scientific experts who discredited “conversion therapy” for minors, calling it “psychological child abuse.” When Gov. Jerry Brown signed Lieu’s bill, SB 1172, on Sept. 29, 2012, he said: “This bill bans non-scientific ‘therapies’ that have driven young people to depression and suicide. These practices have no basis in science or medicine and they will now be relegated to the dustbin of quackery.” On July 24, Delaware Gov. John Carney joined California and 12 other states that have passed similar bans.

But the Christian Right is fighting back, focused now on an extension of that ban for adults and minors. California Assembly Bill 2941 by out Assemblymember Evan Low considers selling or advertising such “counseling” by state-licensed therapists as “fraudulent business practices.” The well-funded ADF submitted a legal memorandum opposing AB 2941 in March with ADF Executive Director Michael Farris bragging at the symposium about ADF’s role in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission and scores of other victories. Panel moderator and JDFI Public Policy Director Jenna Ellis and JDFI Executive Director Dr. Tim Clinton elaborately railed against the California bill as a threat to their religious beliefs and fundamental rights as parents. “That’s been a huge issue in the United States right now,” Ellis said, “and it’s gotten national attention. This is a very dangerous bill and essentially, any book, any counseling,

anything that discusses same sex attraction and is against that or trying to counsel away from that would be under the consumer fraud protection element of California’s law. Basically, they’re saying that’s fraudulent, that belief, that understanding, and that counsel. That’s what’s at stake.” Ellis continued: “The people who are not interested in protecting religious freedom, who are not interested in protecting parental rights, they are very shrewd to not just openly say, ‘We don’t want you to advocate against same sex attraction. We don’t want to advocate against these worldviews and moral issues that strike at the heart of traditional values and the family,’ but they’re willing so far as to say that this is fraud. That’s what’s going on in the United States and then even globally.” Clinton, a practicing psychologist, also referenced the canard that homosexuality is caused by sexual abuse during childhood and


LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • AUGUST 03, 2018 • 09

framed “conversion therapy” as a vital course of psychological treatment for victims. “They want to take away any effort that a parent has to place that [confused] child in any type of ‘counseling’ or ‘psychotherapy’ to deal with what they’re going through,” Clinton said. “They’re saying that you should not be able to do that….[Y]ou only can provide affirming therapy. If someone is struggling and has unwanted same sex attraction issues or more—that you cannot pursue any kind of psychotherapeutic intervention.” Clinton then links child abuse with same sex attraction. “Think just for a moment about Penn State University, a place where I grew up, close to,” Clinton says. “Think Jerry Sandusky and think of all these young boys that he molested. Now, if you know anything about childhood sexual abuse for a moment, that when a child is abused, they can participate in this process and often get confused by it. There’s an affirmation, there’s sexual arousal, there’s so much more that takes place in this, just for a moment.” The parent, Clinton argues, has the right to put the boy into “reparative therapy” to help him overcoming those desires, resulting from sexual abuse, that could result in him thinking he is gay. “This is abuse. This is a violation of the law,” Clinton says. “This is your son for a moment in this situation. When he comes back and if he is confused by what took place in that very process—should you or shouldn’t you have the right to help him try to work his way through that particular journey in his life? That’s the kind of stuff that we’re

dealing with” in fighting the California bill. Controlling a child’s intake of information is also critical, thus the emphasis on home schooling. “When you look at the issues in schools, private schools’ and public schools’ content,” Michael Donnelly, Senior Counsel and director of global outreach at the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), asked rhetorically, “must content be religiously neutral? Must it be secular? Is secular neutral? I would say it’s not. Theories of origins, creation versus evolution, marriage and life issues, requiring children to be educated in particular ideas regarding sexuality, gender ideology…Parental notification, in terms of communication, parental notification of important issues. Parental consent over certain issues.” The panelists also underscored the international nature of their mission. HSLDA’s Donnelly and ADF’s Farris (former head of HSLDA) traveled to Moscow in 2014 for the eighth World Congress of Families (WCF), an international Christian anti-LGBT umbrella organization. WCF is now headed by National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown, who flew to Russia in June 2014 to support Duma member Elena Mizulina’s anti-gay propaganda law and proposed anti-gay adoption ban. The WCF conference had been officially cancelled after Russia’s annexation of Crimea, but went on under the auspices of local sponsors. At a WCF panel—and again on July 26— Donnelly spoke about parental rights, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child,

and what he characterized as the dangers of government overreach—slamming European governments that took children away from their parents because the children were homeschooled instead of complying with mandatory government education laws. But Donnelly and company apparently have no problem with the Russian government separating children from their LGBT parents.    ADF’s Farris was pressed about that on Facebook. “When you publicly condemn the California law that prohibits parents [from] seeking counseling for their children to dissuade them from choosing to identify as homosexual,” Farris wrote, “then I will consider amplifying my condemnation of the Russian proposal.” After the symposium, the  Los Angeles Blade asked Donnelly about his trip to Russia two months ago. Did he discuss LGBT subjects such as conversion therapy or policy concerning transgender issues during the trip? “I did not have discussions about anything like that with anyone, no,” Donnelly replied. “I was wondering if this parental rights argument was created to kind of circumvent the findings from most mainstream American medical organizations that say that specifically ‘conversion therapy’ is ineffective and can be tantamount to abuse,” the LA Blade asked. “I don’t think so. I think parental rights, as we’ve articulated here, are very deeply rooted in human rights law and practice, both in our country for centuries but also

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in international human rights documents and frameworks,” Donnelly said. “So it’s not been invented to cover anything. It’s acknowledged in these human rights documents as being a fact.” “This was truly a Trump power-panel of evangelical policy hawks—even at a museum dedicated to the Bible,” Charles Francis, president of the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C., an LGBT history organization, emailed to the Los Angeles Blade. “Rebranded as just another ‘parental rights’ issue like homeschooling, harmful ‘conversion therapy’ was promoted as a ‘liberty’ or a parent’s choice. No matter the new package, the powerful evangelical lawyers and advocates echoed decades of bad psychiatry and historic religious calumny that doomed generations of LGBT youth to damaged self-respect and secondclass citizenship.” “As an history society dedicated to ‘archive activism,’ we have been researching the bad science and harmful religious practices to change peoples’ sexual orientation—from electroshock and lobotomies to ‘pray away the gay,’” wrote Mattachine Society’s Pate Felts in an email. Felts and Shima Oliaee of New York-based production company Radiolab also attended the symposium doing research for an upcoming project. “We are committed to study this latest ‘parental rights’ rationale for harmful conversion therapy.” The State Department declined to comment on Commissioner Tony Perkins’ participation in a symposium advocating “conversion therapy.”


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10 • AUGUST 03, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM

National LGBT Bar asks lawyers to repudiate anti-LGBT law firms Call to action comes at critical time By KAREN OCAMB kocamb@losangelesblade.com The National LGBT Bar Association is asking attorneys across the United States to repudiate anti-LGBT legal groups as the Trump-Pence administration takes its predilection toward divisiveness to a new level. The new inclusiveness campaign comes at a particularly important time as the Senate prepares to confirm anti-LGBT Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court this August and continues to pack the lower courts with anti-LGBT judges suggested by the Federalist Society and Heritage Foundation. Meanwhile, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the creation of a Religious Liberties Task Force alongside anti-LGBT extremists from the ubiquitous anti-LGBT Alliance Defending Freedom. “Under this administration, the federal government is not just reacting—we are actively seeking, carefully, thoughtfully and lawfully, to accommodate people of faith,” Sessions said. “Religious Americans are no longer an afterthought.” The taxpayer-funded task force will be led by Jesse Panuccio, the acting Associate Attorney General at the Department of Justice who in 2010 worked for attorney Chuck Cooper defending Proposition 8, California’s same-sex marriage ban, during the federal trial that struck down the ban. Additionally, as a thorough report by Media Matters points out, at least 55 ADFaffiliated lawyers, fellows, and former staff have secured influential positions in federal and state government as of 2017. The group’s influence also extends overseas, as it enjoys special consultative status at the United Nations, and ADF lawyers have often intervened in legal battles on foreign soil— including many that involve LGBT rights. “Over the last 18 months, Donald Trump, Mike Pence and Jeff Sessions have engaged in a brazen campaign to erode and limit the rights of LGBTQ people in the name of religion. The Attorney General standing shoulder-to-shoulder this morning with anti-LGBTQ extremists tells you everything you need to know about what today’s

Jon Davidson is part of the new LGBT Bar Association campaign to dissuade colleagues from taking up cases that defend or advocate for anti-LGBT causes. Screencapture Courtesy Commit to Inclusion

announcement was really all about,” said Human Rights Campaign Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “Religious freedom is important,” Jon Davidson, chief counsel of Freedom for All Americans Education Fund, tells the Los Angeles Blade, “and it’s already concretely protected in our Constitution and laws…. [But] time and again, Jeff Sessions’ DOJ has seized the opportunity to side in court with those who seek to be permitted to violate those laws and discriminate against LGBTQ Americans. Decades of legal precedent make clear that religious freedom is not a justification for harming others, and that should apply to LGBTQ people, as well.” Davidson is part of the new LGBT Bar Association campaign to reach out to and dissuade colleagues from taking up cases that defend or advocate for anti-LGBT causes. “For more than 25 years, groups like Alliance Defending Freedom and Liberty Counsel have overseen an army of litigators and waged a systematic, insidious, and wellfunded crusade to strip protections from LGBT people,” says LGBT Bar Association Executive Director D’Arcy Kemnitz. “We are imploring the legal profession to hold back pro bono resources that would help these groups advance their discriminatory agenda. When you help anti-LGBT legal groups - even on matters not relating to LGBT issues - you hurt LGBT people.”

The COMMIT to INCLUSION campaign includes a fact sheet detailing the history of these anti-LGBT legal groups, their enormous budgets, and a sample list of cases in which they have sought to harm LGBT people. It also includes a one-minute video featuring: Kemnitz; Davidson; and Cathy Sakimura, Family Law Director at the National Center for Lesbian Rights. The COMMIT to INCLUSION campaign pledge reads in part: “We commit to inclusion by ensuring that our personal pro bono and volunteer capacity and personal financial resources will not be used to support the work of ADF and Liberty Counsel.” “As someone who has been on the other side of the Alliance Defending Freedom and Liberty Counsel in more than a dozen lawsuits, I can say with certainty that, if a member of the National LGBT Bar Association were to provide their services to the Alliance Defending Freedom or Liberty Counsel, they would be working directly in opposition to the mission of association they have joined. I commend the LGBT Bar for educating the public about these groups’ anti-LGBT activities and urging its members to work to end discrimination against LGBT people through the bar’s Commit to Inclusion campaign,“ Davidson, tells the LA Blade in an email. Tony Perkins, head of the anti-LGBT Family Research Council, put out a press

release slamming the LGBT Bar Association. “First, LGBT activists wanted conservatives out of the wedding business. Then came professional sports, the restaurant industry, big tech, teaching, broadcasting, the police force, fire department, local government, the Olympics, military, counseling, adoption and foster care. What’s left? According to one extremist group, the law,” says Perkins. “The legal profession has already seen its share of bullying from LGBT extremists. In at least four states, judges have been threatened, suspended, or otherwise punished for their marriage views. In two states, they’ve been professionally disciplined. Of course, there’s been an effort to shun lawyers who express any sort of support for natural marriage for years,” Perkins continues. “The LGBT Bar Association is hoping to persuade people that mainstream organizations like Liberty Counsel and Alliance Defending Freedom are waging ‘a systematic, insidious, and well-funded crusade to strip protections from LGBT people,’” Perkins opines. “In the end, the people who avoid a debate are the ones scared of losing. They scream about freedom when it suits their purpose, only to deny others the freedom to even be heard. Like so many people outside the mainstream, this group’s call for tolerance is just a cover for social tyranny.”


LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • AUGUST 03, 2018 • 11

“We must expand data collections efforts to ensure the LGBTQ community is not only seen, but fully accounted for in terms of government resources provided,”

- Sen. Kamala Harris upon introducing the Census Equality Act with Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) on July 31.

“He was big in terms of gays in the military before that was fashionable. Gay marriage before that was fashionable” - Dan Lindeim, former policy adviser to Ron Dellums, upon the death of the Congressional Black Caucus co-founder who died July 30 at 82.

“6 years hasn’t erased our outrage.... We will never forget Trayvon and the victims of gun violence that go nameless.”

– March For Our Lives tweet on the anniversary of the Feb 26, 2012 fatal Florida shooting of 17-year-old African-American student Trayvon Martin.

The countdown clock to Nov. 6 is ticking away—and Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar just sped up his race against Republican incumbent Rep. Duncan Hunter Jr. in the heavily GOP 50th congressional district. Hunter—the anti-LGBT extremist who first introduced the transgender military ban with Rep. Vicky Hartzler— has easily coasted to victory since 2008 in the conservative district his anti-LGBT father, Duncan Hunter Sr. held for 14 terms. Campa-Najjar, a former Obama administration Labor Department official, has hired political consultant Joe Trippi to turn the red tide blue. “There’s a clear hunger right now in CA-50 for independent leadership,” Trippi said in a statement. “Ammar can win this race. Just like we saw in Alabama with Doug Jones, voters want to end the divisiveness and chaos, and start working together to get things done.” An internal Tulchin Research poll shows the race narrowing to single digits, with Hunter at 51% to 42% for Campa-Najjar. “This poll shows voters are fed up with Congressman Hunter Jr.’s unethical behavior and are ready for real representation,” CampaNajjar said in a statement to Roll Call, alluding to the ongoing FBI investigation into Hunter’s use of campaign cash. The difference between Democratic and Republican registration in the 50th CD is 54,309, as of last May 21. But there are 117,110 “get-able” votes of the 374,853 registered voters in that San Diego/Riverside area, with San Diego showing a 28.90% No Party Preference voter registration. Will Campa-Najjar and Trippi win over those independents to end the mundane anti-LGBT dominance of the Hunter clan?

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12 • AUGUST 03, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM

NATIONAL

DOJ touts anti-LGBT views at ‘religious freedom’ summit Sessions announces task force to implement guidance issued last year By CHRIS JOHNSON A summit at the U.S. Justice Department this week ostensibly intended to promote religious freedom, including the creation of a Religious Liberty Task Force, often highlighted efforts to enable anti-LGBT discrimination. At the summit in the Justice Department’s Great Hall, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the creation of the task force to implement “religious freedom” guidance he issued last year. “The task force will help the department fully implement our religious liberty guidance by ensuring that all Justice Department components — and we got a lot of components around the country — are upholding that guidance in the cases they bring and defend, the arguments they make in court, the policies and regulations they adopt and how we conduct our operations,” Sessions said. According to the Justice Department, Sessions will serve as chair of the task force, which will be co-chaired by Acting Associate Attorney General Jesse Panuccio and  Associate Attorney General for the Office of Legal Policy Beth Williams. Sessions said a primary mission of the Religious Liberty Task Force will be ensuring Justice Department employees “know their duty is to accommodate people of faith.” “This administration is animated by the same American view that has led us for 242 years that every American has a right to believe and worship and exercise their faith in the public square,” Sessions added. The underlying guidance on which the task force is based seeks to allow individuals and businesses to act in the name of religious freedom — often used as an exercise for anti-LGBT discrimination — without fear of government reprisal. Nowhere in the guidance is there a limiting principle assuring the right to free exercise of religion should be an excuse to engage in anti-LGBT discrimination. Announcing the new task force, Sessions referenced the Masterpiece Cakeshop

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the creation of a Religious Liberty Task Force. Blade Photo by Michael Key

case in which a Colorado baker was sued after he refused to make a custom-made wedding cake for a same-sex couple. The U.S. Supreme Court narrowly ruled in his favor based on the facts of his case, citing anti-religion sentiment on the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Sessions commended Phillips for having endured an “ordeal faced so gravely,” touting an amicus brief the Justice Department filed on his behalf before the Supreme Court. U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco also argued in favor of Phillips before justices in oral arguments. “Let’s be frank: A dangerous movement, undetected by many, but real, is now challenging and eroding our great tradition of religious freedom,” Sessions said at the start of his remarks. “There can be no doubt, it’s no little matter. It must be confronted intellectually and politically, and defeated.” LGBT rights supporters said in response to the creation of the Religious Liberty Task Force its purpose was to further the Trump administration’s goal of compromising LGBT rights. Louise Melling, deputy legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union, said the agenda of the Religious Liberty Task Force “isn’t consistent with religious freedom.” “Religious freedom protects our right to our beliefs, not a right to discriminate or harm others,” Melling said. “Jeff Session’s Department of Justice is again turning that understanding of

religious freedom on its head.” Lucas Acosta, director of LGBTQ media for the Democratic National Committee, said in a statement the task force is “just the latest assault in this administration’s continued campaign against LGBTQ people and our civil rights.” “By creating this task force, Sessions is establishing a unit dedicated to undermining LGBTQ rights and giving anti-LGBTQ farright extremists like task force head Jesse Panuccio a taxpayer-funded platform to push their anti-equality agenda,” Acosta said. “Rather than ensuring every person has equal protections and opportunities, Sessions is shamefully doubling down on bigotry.” But the creation of the Religious Liberty Task Force was just one portion of the summit, which also included the voices of participants who urged a commitment to religious freedom to advance anti-LGBT discrimination. Archbishop of Louisville Joseph Edward Kurtz, who formerly served as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said religious freedom is facing challenges that amount to “power-seeking for the purpose of imposing one’s will on others.” Kurtz cited as an example Catholic adoption agencies being “targeted for closure” for refusing to place children with LGBT families out of religious objections. “One of the biggest concerns is the ability of our child welfare providers to continue

to be able to place children with foster and adoptive families consistent with our teaching,” Kurtz said. Although no government is actively seeking to close Catholic adoption agencies, they have threatened to shut their doors on their own in the wake of the legalization of same-sex marriage because they feel they’ll be forced to place children with gay couples who marry. As a result, a growing number or states have enacted anti-LGBT adoption laws allowing taxpayer-funded agencies to refuse to place children with LGBT families over religious objections. House Republicans have inserted an amendment in a pending appropriations bill that would penalize states and localities for having policies barring anti-LGBT discrimination among adoption agencies. Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, was himself present at the summit and took part in a panel of individuals who say they are facing challenges to their religious freedom. Moderating his panel was Justice Department spokesperson Kerri  Kupec, formerly a spokesperson for the anti-LGBT Alliance Defending Freedom. At a time when that term is used as justification for antiLGBT discrimination,  Kupec said in her introduction of the panel religious freedom is often “housed in scare quotes, as if it’s not a real thing, or even worse, a bad thing, which is tragic.” Much of Kupec’s questioning of Phillips sought to elicit sympathy for him, which meant his act of refusing to make a custom-made wedding cake for a same-sex couple who entered his store was glossed over as he explained his commitment to his religious views. In addition to refusing to make a samesex wedding cake, Phillips said his religious beliefs compel him to close on Sundays, refuse to service Halloween celebrations or make cakes with denigrating messages. “It’s the message of the cake that I evaluate, not the person who ordered the cake,” Phillips said. “In one instance, I had a man who wanted me to make a cake basically telling his boss that he was a jerk, so I wouldn’t do that, but I’ve also had people asked me to do cakes that would disparage gay people, the gay lifestyle, but I wouldn’t do that either because they’re hurtful cakes.” Continues at losangelesblade.com


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• Upper respiratory tract infection (sinus, nose, and throat infection) • Bronchitis (swelling in the tubes that carry air to and from your lungs) • Cough • Flatulence (gas) • Increased bilirubin (a waste product when red blood cells break down) For a full list of side effects, please talk to your doctor. Tell your doctor if you have any side effect that bothers you or does not go away. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

RELIEF, PURE AND SIMPLE

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NATIONAL

14 • AUGUST 03, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM

FTC mum on ‘historic’ conversion therapy case LGBT advocates say discredited practice is form of ‘consumer fraud’ By LOU CHIBBARO JR. In a little-noticed development, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission appears to have acted behind the scenes to persuade a Virginia-based “ex-gay” organization to drop its name People Can Change and soften its longstanding claims that its counseling programs can help people “transition away from unwanted homosexuality.” But the FTC has declined to confirm or deny it took this action in response to a February 2016 consumer fraud complaint filed against People Can Change, Inc. before the FTC by the Human Rights Campaign, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and the Southern Poverty Law Center. In a joint statement released at the time they filed the FTC complaint, the three groups called the action historic, saying it had the potential to bring about an FTC ruling that could effectively ban conversion therapy performed for a fee throughout the country on grounds that it constitutes consumer fraud. “It is our position that this is prohibited under the existing Federal Trade Commission Act language as well as under state level consumer protection laws,” said Xavier Persad, HRC’s legislative counsel. “So yes, it is our position that existing consumer protection laws do prohibit the sale of conversion therapy in the public marketplace because we know that this is an unscientific practice that is thoroughly debunked and rejected by every major medical and mental health organization,” Persad said. Delaware last week became the 14th state in addition to the District of Columbia to enact legislation prohibiting licensed mental health professionals from engaging in the practice of conversion therapy for minors. In its preamble, the Delaware law lists 12 prominent U.S. and international mental health organizations that oppose conversion or “reparative” therapy aimed at changing someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity on grounds no evidence exists other than unconfirmed anecdotal reports

People Can Change, Inc. abruptly ‘rebranded’ to Brothers Road after a complaint by LGBT advocacy groups.

to show that such efforts have worked. The organizations cited in the law, including the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, also warned that evidence exists that conversion therapy has caused harmful effects including depression, low self-esteem, substance abuse and suicidal ideation.   LGBT rights advocates have expressed mixed views on whether the best approach to curtailing conversion therapy is through laws banning licensed practitioners from performing it or by seeking to invoke existing state or federal consumer protection laws to declare the practice consumer fraud. The consumer fraud approach has the advantage of covering all states, including many “red” states that are not likely to pass a specific law banning licensed professionals from performing conversion therapy. It also has the advantage of covering unlicensed practitioners who are known to perform conversion therapy. However, LGBT rights attorneys point out that the consumer fraud approach requires that a lawsuit or formal complaint be filed in order to take action against someone engaging in the practice. Although the consumer fraud approach requires legal action, advocates of that approach have pointed to a study released in

January by the Williams Institute, an LGBT think tank affiliated with the UCLA School of Law, which estimates that 20,000 LGBT youth ages 13-17 will receive conversion therapy from a licensed health care professional before they reach the age of 18 in the 41 states that did not ban the practice when the report was released in January. The report says that 6,000 LGBT youth ages 13-17 who lived in states that ban conversion therapy would have received such therapy from a licensed practitioner before the age of 18 if their state had not banned the therapy. FTC spokesperson Betsy Lordan told the Blade last week that the FTC has a longstanding policy of not publicly disclosing any information about complaints it receives or its investigation of complaints unless and until it takes official legal action on such complaints. “The FTC has not taken legal action against a Virginia company engaged in conversion therapy going by the name People Can Change, Inc.,” she said. When asked whether the FTC played any role in People Can Change’s decision to change its name to Brothers on a Road Less Traveled, or “Brothers Road” for short, and shut down and re-launch its website with cautiously worded suggestions about whether someone can transition away from

“same-sex attractions” – all of which took place shortly after the FTC complaint was filed against it, Lordan declined to comment. Richard Wyler is listed as executive director and CEO of Brothers on a Road Less Traveled on the group’s IRS 990 finance report for 2016. Wyler did not respond to a phone message and email from the Blade seeking comment. The old version of the group’s website under the name People Can Change identified Wyler as a certified life coach and said he “personally experienced enormous transformation from unwanted homosexual attractions.” The complaint filed against the organization by the three LGBT supportive groups says he founded People Can Change in 2000 and incorporated it as a non-profit corporation in Virginia in 2002. The IRS 990 report filed in 2016 includes an attached letter to Wyler from the Virginia State Corporation Commission approving Wyler’s application to change the organization’s corporate name. The letter confirming the name change is dated June 29, 2016 and was sent to an address under Wyler’s name in Barboursville, Va. near Charlottesville. The letter was sent four months after the FTC complaint was filed against the group under its previous name. However, the group’s new website says the name was changed in October 2016. The current website makes no mention of the FTC complaint. “Why the change?” it asks. “Simply to better communicate who we really are and what we’re really about,” it says. “We are a brotherhood of like-minded men who – instead of living a gay life or embracing a gay identity – support each other in addressing our same-sex attractions in affirming ways that align with our faith, values, morals and life goals,” the website says. “In changing our name, we are not backing away from our personal, lived experience that people can and do in fact experience positive changes and growth…And yes, even our sexual desires, feelings and attractions,” it says. Jacqueline Grise, a D.C. attorney who is representing the three groups that filed the FTC complaint, said it appears more than a coincidence that People Can Change changed its name and “rebranded” itself not long after the complaint was filed. Continues at losangelesblade.com


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16 • AUGUST 03, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM

NATIONAL

Could Trump cost San Fran 2020 AIDS Conference? Activists want to move event; letter cites White House ‘violation of human rights’ By MICHAEL K. LAVERS HIV/AIDS activists in the U.S. and around the world are urging the International AIDS Society to relocate the 2020 International AIDS Conference that is scheduled to take place in the San Francisco Bay Area. HIPS, a D.C.-based group that advocates on behalf of sex workers, and the Trans Latin@ Coalition in Los Angeles are among the more than 200 HIV/AIDS service organizations and advocacy groups that have signed an open letter to the International AIDS Society and the committee that is organizing the conference. The letter specifically criticizes the Trump administration’s policies toward people with HIV/AIDS, the LGBTI community, immigrants and other marginalized groups. It also notes the “prohibitively expensive” registration fees that are as high as $1,200, the cost of travel and the lack of affordable accommodations in the Bay Area make the conference “unaffordable and inaccessible for the vast majority of U.S. advocates who most need to attend.” “Hosting AIDS 2020 in the U.S. flies in the face of ample and undeniable evidence that the Trump administration’s violation of human rights, targeting of vulnerable communities for harm, and exacerbating HIV-related stigma worldwide, coupled with drastic budget cuts, threatens the advancements we have made in the domestic and global epidemics,” reads the letter. The conference is scheduled to take place in San Francisco and Oakland from July 6-10, 2020, roughly four months before the 2020 presidential election. “We anticipate that the U.S. political climate will only be worse in 2020, in the final months of a presidential election year that, like 2016, may well be marked by heightened violence, intentional promotion of stigma and the need to mobilize to protect our communities,” reads the letter. The letter says the U.S. “has become increasingly militarized in its approach to immigrants, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is specifically targeting

Protesters at the 2018 International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam urged the International AIDS Society to relocate the 2020 International AIDS Conference that is scheduled to take place in the San Francisco Bay Area. Photo by Sean Black/A&U

California” because of “its failure to comply with Trump administration policies on undocumented immigrants.” The letter also notes U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on March 7 filed a federal lawsuit against California over its status as a socalled sanctuary state for undocumented immigrants. The International AIDS Society on March 13 announced the Bay Area would host the 2020 International AIDS Conference. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) — who represent San Francisco and portions Oakland and the East Bay respectively — both applauded the decision in an International AIDS Society press release. “San Francisco is an inseparable part of the story of HIV/AIDS,” said Pelosi. “It is fitting and deeply inspiring that advocates, researchers and survivors will return to the Bay Area for the 2020 International AIDS Conference.” Lee in the press release noted the Bay Area “has long been at the forefront of the AIDS epidemic.”

“While San Francisco and Oakland emerged as an early epicenter of the crisis, these cities have also been a hub for AIDS activism, research and community support,” she said. HIV/AIDS advocates who attended the 2018 International AIDS Conference that took place in Amsterdam last week urged the International AIDS Society to relocate the 2020 International AIDS Conference from the U.S. Mark King, a Baltimore-based HIV/AIDS activist who publishes the blog “My Fabulous Disease,” attended the 2018 International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam. He also signed the letter that urges the International AIDS Society to relocate the 2020 conference from the Bay Area. King on Tuesday noted to the Washington Blade during a telephone interview the International AIDS Society relocated the 1992 International AIDS Conference that was to have taken place in Boston to Amsterdam because the U.S. at the time would not allow people with HIV/AIDS into the country. “This is far worse than the HIV travel

ban,” said King.” “This is an environment that is far worse.” King told the Blade the White House continues to target lesbians, gays, bisexuals, immigrants and those who use drugs. He also said transgender people are “being systematically stripped of their human rights in this country” by the Trump administration. “This isn’t just about our personal distaste of Donald Trump,” said King. “It is the administration and those policies run deep. They run deep into these agencies that have profound influence over every aspect of what we stand for as activists.” Trans Latin@ Coalition President Bamby Salcedo echoed King. “The immigration policies this admin has have been absolutely ridiculous,” Salcedo told the Blade on Wednesday. “There are going to be many people who are the most marginalized who aren’t going to be able to get into the country.” She also said the conference registration fee is “too costly.” “It really is the exclusion of the most marginalized,” said Salcedo. A Pelosi spokesperson on Wednesday declined to comment. The International AIDS Society and Lee’s office did not respond to the Blade’s requests for comment. Daniel Bruner, senior director of policy for Whitman-Walker Health in D.C., on Wednesday said his organization understands the concerns about holding the conference in the U.S. Bruner told the Blade conference organizers and HIV/AIDS advocates should “dedicate ourselves to making sure that everyone can get there and any attempt to raise barriers or keep people out (of the U.S.) is vigorously resisted” if the International AIDS Society decides not to relocate it from the Bay Area. “There are many reasons to host the 2020 International AIDS Conference in the U.S. — in fact, we think that a big reason is to demonstrate continued opposition to the Trump Administration’s policies on health care, LGBTQ rights and women’s rights,” he said in an emailed statement. “However, the overriding reason to consider relocating the conference outside the U.S. is to ensure that all people can attend and all voices can be heard. The administration’s hostile immigration policies would likely be a barrier to many people who should attend.”


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18 • AUGUST 03, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM

VOLUME 02 ISSUE 22

10 ways Trump is attacking LGBT rights Ignore the tweets, focus on the assault on our Democratic norms

Kevin Naff is editor of the Washington Blade, a sister publication of the Los Angeles Blade. Reach him at knaff@washblade.com.

Keeping track of the endless Trump scandals is a Sisyphean task: As soon as you fully dissect one anti-Democratic transgression, the rock rolls back down the hill as our faux president torches another American norm. Attacking the free press, embracing murderous dictators, retaliating in the pettiest of ways against critics, enforcing an overtly racist ideology, demonizing longtime allies and late night tweets ridiculing everyone from Oprah and Meryl to Trudeau and Merkel. The list goes on. Sadly, too many of us are taking the bait and wasting time and resources playing along with social media posts of our own responding to Trump and his enablers. Mainstream cable news outlets have devoted endless hours of pearl-clutching commentary to all the tweets. Instead, we should remain focused and resist being distracted by the sideshows. They are a smokescreen intended to hide what’s really going on, which is a systematic dismantling of the U.S. government. And it’s happening across agencies, from the State Department to the Department of the Interior. As Trump tweets, his sycophants roll back environmental regulations, abandon treaties, gut healthcare. And make no mistake that Obama-era LGBT protections are in the crosshairs. The Blade chronicles these attacks on a near daily basis so it’s hard to keep up. Here’s a primer on what’s been going on while you were vacationing this summer, in no particular order. #10 Abandoning LGBT people in need around the world. The State Department used to advocate on behalf of LGBT rights in hostile

countries. Now we have Trump kowtowing to Vladimir Putin behind closed doors. Do you think he raised the issue of Chechnya’s anti-gay crackdown in that meeting? Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) recently told the Blade that there is no policy in place that addresses the needs of LGBT immigrant children the Trump administration has separated from their parents. Where the United States once strived to set the example for equality, we now inspire autocrats in other countries to crack down on their press and suppress the rights of minorities. Our example matters. The bully pulpit is real. And it’s being used to embolden dictators and to green-light attacks on free speech and assembly. #9 Undermining LGBT adoption rights. A House committee just last week approved an amendment that would allow taxpayer-funded adoption agencies to deny placement to LGBT families over religious objections. The measure would empower the secretary of health and human services to withhold 15 percent of federal government funds from states and localities if they penalize adoption agencies for acting on their religious beliefs in child placement decisions, as the Blade reported. #8 Pushing federal workers back into the closet. As we reported, in a letter dated June 28 to Defense Secretary James Mattis, eight House Democrats expressed concern about lack of formal recognition of Pride this year, saying the Pentagon is “backing away from supporting and celebrating” LGBT service members and Defense Department employees. That issue crops up across the government. Where federal workers were proudly out and happy to talk to us about their Pride plans during the Obama years, now they are largely afraid to talk on the record. Trump and his anti-LGBT cronies like Attorney General Jeff Sessions have cast a shadow of fear across the government. The Justice Department, meanwhile, hosted a Pride event for its LGBT attorneys and law enforcement officials — but for the first time in 11 years, the ceremony wasn’t held in the building’s Great Hall. It was closed to media and attendees were too afraid to talk about it afterwards. The Small Business Administration removed LGBT references from its website, even though the agency won a prestigious award from Harvard University for its groundbreaking outreach to LGBT entrepreneurs during the Obama years. When the SBA reached out to me to assist in putting together its Pride celebration,

I declined citing the removal, which was later reversed after much protest, including from the NGLCC. And for the second year, Trump declined to issue a proclamation recognizing June as Pride month. #7 Stacking government panels with antiLGBT zealots. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell named Tony Perkins, president of the notoriously anti-LGBT Family Research Council, to a two-year term on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. Perkins, whose organization was long ago labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, presided over a three-day “religious freedom” conference the State Department held last week in D.C. The event brought together some of the most bigoted homophobes of the far right, granting them the prestige and legitimacy of being endorsed by the U.S. government. #6 Banning the Pride flag. A Republican lawmaker in the U.S. House has introduced legislation aimed at barring U.S. embassies from flying the Pride flag. Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) introduced the measure last week, which seeks to “prohibit the flying of any flag other than the United States flag over United States diplomatic and consular posts, and for other purposes.” The State Department didn’t respond to the Blade’s inquiries on the matter. Will our openly gay ambassador to Germany, Ric Grenell, have anything to say about this effort? Although it’s not a Trump initiative, make no mistake that the antiLGBT forces of the far right and their supporters are now unleashed thanks to Trump and the base tone he has set for the country. #5 Undoing bias protections for trans people. The Trump administration has asserted that transgender people aren’t covered under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars sex discrimination in the workplace. In addition, Sessions has rescinded Obama-era guidance requiring schools to allow transgender kids to use the restroom consistent with their gender identity. #4 Attacks on trans health. The Trump administration plans to roll back an Obamacare rule barring health care providers from denying treatment to transgender people, including gender reassignment surgery. #3 Advocating for “religious liberty.” This

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LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • AUGUST 03 • 19

LGBTQ Israelis should embrace solidarity with Palestinians Full equality requires all forms of discrimination to be eliminated By KHELIL BOUARROUJI LGBTQ Israelis are fed up with the contempt hurled at a marginalized minority. Last week, Aguda — the nation’s premier LGBTQ organization — called for the nation’s very first queer general strike. A few days prior, Israel passed a basic law (the equivalent of a constitutional amendment) forsaking the old formula of a “Jewish and democratic” state with an ethno-nationalist definition of Israel as the “nation-state of the Jewish People.” The new law declares national self-determination a right “unique to the Jewish people” and “omits any mention of democracy or the principle of equality.” Arabic, formally an official language, has been downgraded to a “special status.” Palestinian citizens of Israel, a fifth of the population, already face over 65 discriminatory laws from housing to marriage. Unlike other discriminatory laws, however, the nationstate law constitutionally enshrines their second-class status. It wasn’t the only discriminatory law passed last week. The day prior to the “nation-state” vote, the Knesset voted to deny surrogacy

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is a common theme now, as the far right often pivots from overtly anti-LGBT statements, which don’t play well with independent voters, to their favorite code term for anti-LGBT bias, “religious liberty.” The White House in June hailed as a win for religious freedom the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of a Colorado baker who refused to serve a wedding cake to a same-sex couple. #2 Trans military ban. A federal appeals court recently reaffirmed an injunction barring the Trump administration from enforcing its cruel and discriminatory transgender military ban. That’s good news, but the move sets up a potential showdown at the Supreme Court. So far, the Trump administration is mum on its next

rights to gay couples. A cacophony of Israeli LGBTQ protest erupted culminating in the strike. While some protesters expressed broad support for equality, others did not directly link the two bigoted acts passed by the legislature. The omission of any vocal solidarity with Arab citizens could not have been an oversight given the proximity of the votes and the religious-nationalist coalition behind both acts. Regrettably, it fits a pattern among LGBTQ leaders in Israel. While some LGBTQ Israelis harbor racism toward Palestinians (indeed there is an openly gay member of the ruling, right-wing Likud party), much of the LGBTQ community refuses to express solidarity with Palestinians fearing it would set back the gay rights movement inside Israel if gay activists are perceived as “Arab lovers.” An LGBTQ movement that openly condemns the occupation would certainly encounter more pushback than a movement that toes the nationalist line, but the lack of solidarity is morally bankrupt and self-defeating. The bet on a succession of right-wing governments (drifting further right every election), aligned with religious fundamentalist parties, will never pay off. Of the 17 pro-LGBTQ bills introduced in the Knesset since 2013, only one of them has passed. As recently as 2016, the Knesset voted down “proposals to recognize a bereaved widower in same sex couples … a bill banning conversion therapy … a bill to

recognize a same-sex marriage contract and ... a bill to train health professionals to deal with gender and sexual inclination issues.” The day before the bills were voted down, the Knesset approved a symbolic gesture recognizing LGBT Rights Day. That same year, the Ministry of Tourism announced a $2.9 million publicity campaign to promote gay tourism in Israel, meanwhile the government funded Israeli LGBT organizations at one tenth that amount. These two toothless acts demonstrate that when it comes to the gays, the Israeli government is less interested in our well-being at home and more concerned with how to market us in its Brand Israel propaganda, portraying the country as liberal in a cynical gambit to distract from its horrific occupation, a policy known as “pinkwashing.” Complicity has served to alienate many LGBTQ Israelis from their peers around the world. The decision of Tel Aviv’s LGBTQ film festival to accept state funding, and thus avoid any films and panels critical of Israeli policies toward Palestinians, prompted a queer boycott. The excuse “but Palestine isn’t a gay issue” won’t do. Every human rights struggle should be of concern to LGBTQ individuals still fighting for our human rights; nevermind the obvious fact that gay Palestinians also suffer under occupation. The silence of most LGBTQ organizations is shameful. Not all are so servile toward the Israeli government. A courageous minority — echoing

the radical spirit of Stonewall and ACT UP — raise the banner “No pride in occupation” and stage their own Pride parade, in opposition to the de-politicizing of Pride. They understand that their liberation is interwoven with equal rights for the Palestinians and that full equality can only be secured once all forms of discrimination have been eliminated. Instead of seeing their cause as distinct, Israel’s LGBTQ movement should embrace an intersectional struggle for queer and Palestinian liberation and support universal equality. They could start by forming a partnership with alQaws, the queer Palestinian activist group. It is no coincidence that a stronger American gay rights movement emerged after the successes of the Civil Rights Movement that amplified the values of fairness and equality, which post-Stonewall gay activists could reference with more resonance among the general public. If the right-wing is voting against them anyway, LGBTQ Israelis have little to lose and much to gain if they join the global BDS movement to support equality for all Israelis and Palestinians.

steps. #1 Anti-LGBT judicial appointments. Last November, New York Times reporter Linda Greenhouse wrote a column about the “conservative plan to weaponize the federal courts.” She cited a 37-page plan written by Northwestern University law professor Steven G. Calabresi, founder and board chair of the conservative Federalist Society, in which he declared their intention: “undoing the judicial legacy of President Barack Obama.” To that end, we have Neil Gorsuch and now Brett Kavanaugh likely headed to the Supreme Court. But while the mainstream media are focused on Kavanaugh, there are scores of lower-level judicial appointees moving toward confirmation, many of whom have disturbing anti-LGBT records. Mark Norris, for example, was

nominated by Trump for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Tennessee. Norris served for 17 years as a member of the Tennessee Senate, where he advanced anti-LGBT legislation as Senate majority leader. A lawyer who defended Prop 8 in court is nominated for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah. And so on. These attacks, as reported by the Blade, have occurred in just the last few months. They will only increase as the midterms approach and Trump needs more red meat to feed his brainless base of bigots and rednecks. This motley crew was aptly described by Hillary Clinton as “deplorables.” They disdain education, ignore hypocrisy and racism and even basic facts, in defense of a bloated con man who will stop at nothing to line his pockets and those of his equally corrupt

family and friends. Congressional Republicans in their blind allegiance to Trump have lost the moral authority to criticize any Democrat for any behavior for a generation. They have cast their lot with a wannabe demagogue and are in bed with the murderous Putin, whom they admire for his zero-tolerance of dissent and diversity. There is one way out of this mess: Everyone offended by it must vote in November and again in 2020. Sadly, a new poll suggests that only 28 percent of millennial-aged voters plan to vote this year. You can march every weekend in protest and launch a million petitions on change.org, but if you don’t vote then the deplorable one-third of Americans who still support Trump will win again.

Khelil Bouarrouj is a junior fellow at the Institute for Palestine Studies.


Reporter John S. Adams in the Montana Capitol building in a scene from ‘Dark Money.’ Photo Courtesy PBS Distribution

Trans filmmaker gets political with ‘Dark Money’  ‘It just didn’t make any sense to me that corporations are people’ By BRIAN T. CARNEY

Trans artist and activist Kimberly Reed is in the middle of an amazing career. Her latest documentary “Dark  Money”  premiered to great acclaim at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year and her latest opera “Today It Rains” will premiere next spring. Although Reed didn’t realize it at the time, “Dark Money” was born on Jan. 10, 2010 when the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision in the Citizens United case.  “It just didn’t make any sense to me,” she says, “that corporations are people and  money  is speech and therefore corporations can give unlimited  money  to campaigns. I am very skeptical of slippery slope arguments, but you could just see how more and more money was going to be consolidated in the hands of fewer and fewer people who were richer and richer and that the voice of the everyday citizen was going to get drowned out. And that is what has happened.” Like the majority of Americans, Reed was outraged by the decision, but she didn’t know how to make a film about such an abstract and complex issue. She then learned that her home state of Montana was leading the charge for campaign finance reform. Reed started following Attorney General Steve Bullock as he defended Montana’s century-old campaign finance laws against

Citizens United, first in the Montana Supreme Court (where he won) and then in the U.S. Supreme Court (where he lost). As a filmmaker and as an activist, Reed was disappointed by his loss. “I originally wanted the whole film to be about that court case, a kind of ‘Mr. Bullock Goes to Washington,’ but that didn’t happen. I ended up following the story for five years after that,” she says. Tracking the investigations of intrepid journalist John S. Adams and other state officials and legislators, Reed began to fully understand the harmful impact of “dark money,” a new type of political fundraising that was launched in the wake of the Citizens United decision. As Adams explains in the movie, dark money organizations like the “Americans for Prosperity” and the “Club for Growth” raise  money  from anonymous donors and fund a variety of right-wing causes and candidates. Reed says the impact of “dark  money” is especially insidious in primary elections and ballot initiatives.  Dark  money  funders focus on unseating incumbents and replacing them with opponents who are more financially and socially conservative.  “In primary elections, in safe districts, it’s not about Republican versus Democrat,” Reed

says. “It’s about how far to the right they can push the Republican party. Repeat that again and again and you’re going to have a vastly polarized political system.” “Dark Money” was Reed’s second cinematic excursion into her home state of Montana. The first was the autobiographical documentary “Prodigal Sons,” which followed Kimberly and her girlfriend Claire as they returned to Helena for Reed’s 20th high-school reunion. While Reed’s high-school classmates knew that the former football star had transitioned, she had not seen any of them in person since her graduation. The award-winning “Prodigal Sons,” which premiered at the Telluride Film Festival in 2008, also chronicles Reed’s stormy reunion with her estranged brother Marc, who was adopted by Reed’s parents the year before she was born. They ended up in the same grade when Marc was held back due to behavioral problems. Marc’s issues with being adopted and with sibling rivalry were exacerbated after an automobile accident left him with severe brain injuries. Medications and several operations reduced his dangerous seizures but increased his violent mood swings. The movie captures several of his frightening outbursts, including one where he smashes a picture frame and another when he hurls transphobic insults at Reed.

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Kimberly Reed’s first film was autobiographical. ‘Dark Money’ follows the ripple effect of Citizens United. Photo by Claire Jones

While Marc’s medical issues remained unresolved, “Prodigal Sons” does contain a surprising revelation about his parentage. Shortly after the reunion, Marc learns that his birth mother was Rebecca Welles, daughter of legendary filmmaker Orson Welles and his second wife, screen goddess Rita Hayworth. While Rebecca died before she could meet Marc, the family does get to spend time in Croatia with Welles’ companion Oja Kadar. As Reed notes, “Prodigal Sons” was an unusual and unexpected constellation of events that taught her a lot about the vagaries of documentary filmmaking. Making the movie also gave her fresh insights into her relationship with her family while she transitioned. “Families can be very supportive and loving,” she says. “In my case, I was the one who was withholding. I wanted to go it alone, so I never really gave my family a chance to react.” During the years she was filming “Dark  Money,” Reed’s artistic life took an unexpected turn. Composer Laura Kaminsky and librettist Mark Campbell asked Reed if she wanted to make some films that would be part of an opera. Intrigued, Reed said yes. The result was  “As One,”  a chamber opera for two voices and string quartet. In 15 songs, a mezzo-soprano (Hannah after) and a baritone

(Hannah before) depict the experiences of its sole transgender protagonist as she endeavors to resolve the discord between herself and the outside world. As work on the opera progressed, Reed ended up working with Campbell on the libretto and several of the songs are based directly on her own experiences. The award-winning piece has made operatic history for its subject matter and for it incredible popularity. Since its premiere in 2014, “As One” has become the most-produced modern opera in North America. According to Opera America it was performed 15 times and was number 14 on the list of most performed operas in the Unites States and Canada. It was the only new work to be included on the list and even beat out old warhorses “Turandot” and “The Barber of Seville.” While her next film project is still under wraps, Reed and her operatic collaborators have already been commissioned by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation to start work on their next opera. Based on an original concept by Campbell, “Today It Rains” is a new chamber opera inspired by the life of bisexual artist Georgia O’Keefe. Reed is again creating new films to frame the action and is working with Campbell on the libretto. The new opera envisions O’Keeffe’s

personal journey on a life-changing train ride as she reexamines her tumultuous marriage with photographer Alfred Stieglitz, her artistic stasis, and her need for new inspiration to guide her work. “Today It Rains” will premiere in March under the banner of American Opera Projects. So how bleak in Reed’s opinion is the dark  money  phenomenon? She says it’s flooded into states facing ballot initiatives on a variety of progressive issues including unions, reproductive rights and LGBT issues.  “Because bigots don’t want to stand up and say they support discrimination against LGBT people, they hide behind dark money. It’s really maddening. The reason I find campaign finance reform so compelling is that it is the fundamental issue,” Reed says. “You can’t solve any other political problem without knowing where the money is coming from, where the influence is coming from, what you’re up against.” According to Reed, the antidote is disclosure: enforcing existing laws and fighting to get new ones in place.  “What you see in our film, what you see happening across the country, is that states are calling for disclosure. You see it moving like marriage equality did. Pretty soon we’ll hit the tipping point.”

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22 • AUGUST 03, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM

QUEERY 20 GAY QUESTIONS FOR MATTHEW BIANCHI

queery MATTHEW BIANCHI How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell? I came into my sexuality around the age of 15. I never had to “come out” because I have an older brother who is gay who came out years before and laid the path for me. Who’s your LGBT hero? My partner, Roger, who faced significant adversity and the things you would expect a gay man to experience who lived through the 80’s.

Photo Courtesy Bianchi

By TROY MASTERS tmasters@losangelesblade.com

Matthew Bianchi was saved. Yes, you read that right. And he’s not at all shy about telling you he believes in God. “I am a spiritual person who has found a renewed relationship with God,” he told the Los Angeles Blade. But it wasn’t something that just came out of the blue. He spent years addicted to prescription opiates and benzodiazepines, an addiction so intense it drove all of his closest friends away and nearly destroyed his family. “My mother was exhausted doing everything possible to keep me alive and to get the help I needed,” he said. “After a couple of failed rehabs and detoxes, finally I surrendered to the powers of the universe or what I like to call God. And that made everything a thousand times easier. I let go of control and gained a completely new perspective on my life and things around me instantly.” He entered treatment at Gosnold on Cape Cod in 2005 (a third attempt) and spent nine months there before realizing he had found not only a spiritual calling but a professional one too. He returned to school at the University of Boston and became a credentialed substance abuse counselor, working for the treatment center that helped save his life. Today, Matthew is helping to build Pride Recovery LA, a solely LGBTQ outpatient treatment center in WeHo. He jumped in like an entrepreneur, branding the agency and focusing on outreach, business development and establishing it as a refuge that increasingly focuses on the needs of people struggling with methamphetamine and sex-addiction. “In recent months, several people have died from methamphetamine that is enhanced with fentanyl,” he said with great urgency in his voice, as if reaffirming his commitment. He has also taken a special interest in building recovery and intervention services for trans people. “Everything is so connected,” he says.“Many of us grow up to find ourselves traumatized by a million cuts of marginalization, losing access to our families, our faith and the basic support system we thought would never fail us. Some of us get lost trying to negotiate that pain, soothing it with substances that slowly replace us. That’s where my passion comes in.” The recovery community of Los Angeles is huge. AA offers dozens of meetings every day in Los Angeles and there are sober living services and rehabs in just about every neighborhood, many of them LGBT specific. “I know we can be a healthier community. We are rich with resources and love. Life does get better, if you let go and let god.” Matthew said. And with that he laughed aloud, “Why just last night my husband surprised me with a trip to LAX and this morning I woke up in a Mexican jungle town. Thank god I am sober and can experience love...and Mexico.”

What’s Los Angeles’ best nightspot, past or present? Mulholland Drive Overlook after nightfall Describe your dream wedding. Small, out of the country, closest family and friends. The dogs. No tuxedos and no tulle. What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about? Veterans who are not getting the well deserved respect and care that they desperately need. What historical outcome would you change? Aside from thousands of years of the heinous torture of LGBTQ people?, The decimation of the Mayan culture. What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime? Discovering Grace Jones

Facebook post about my partner taking me away for my 30th birthday. If your life were a book, what would the title be? THE COURAGE TO CHANGE If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do? Nada. What do you believe in beyond the physical world? No attachment, no separation, no beginning and no end. What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders? Thank you and keep fighting! What would you walk across hot coals for? To save a life. What LGBT stereotype annoys you most? That we are all the same. What’s your favorite LGBT movie? Anything that properly portrays our culture and educates others about who we are. What’s the most overrated social custom? Not wearing white after Labor Day . What trophy or prize do you most covet? Seeing a client happy with years sobriety.

On what do you insist? Honesty, Starbucks and turn signals on the 101.

What do you wish you’d known at 18? The answer to this question.

What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?

Why Los Angeles? Why not?


24 • AUGUST 03, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM

FILM

Sundance winner ‘Cameron Post’ is timely indictment of anti-gay therapy A defining movie for our times By JOHN PAUL KING

Cameron Post (Chloë Grace Moretz, l.), meets another girl (Sasha Lane, c.) at a conversion therapy center that treats teens ‘struggling with same-sex attraction.’ Photo Courtesy FilmRise

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“WILL HAVE YOU LOOKING AT TURNER CLASSIC MOVIES IN A WHOLE DIFFERENT WAY.” -VULTURE “FUN, DISHY, UNIQUELY NOSTALGIC. Scoy DEFINITELY SUCCEEDS.” -LOS ANGELES TIMES

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When Emily M. Danforth published “The Miseducation of Cameron Post” in 2012, it was a different world in many ways. Inspired by the real-life story of Zach Stark, a 16-year-old blogger from Tennessee who shared on his MySpace page about being sent into gay conversion therapy by his parents, the young adult novel was a coming-of-age story about a young girl forced to attend a “faith-based” conversion camp. At the time, it felt like part of a larger social movement towards awareness and acceptance of LGBTQ rights. It’s painfully ironic that Desiree Akhavan’s new film adaptation of Danforth’s book finds itself coming, six years later, into a culture where opposition to the legitimacy of same-sex attraction – and the rights of those who feel it – has resurged into the social and political atmosphere with emphatic and frightening force. In the current context, the release of such a film seems like radical activism. Set in 1993, the movie stars Chloë Grace Moretz as Cameron, a teenager who lives with her conservative aunt after losing both parents in an automobile accident. While attending her high school’s homecoming dance, she is caught making out with another girl in the backseat of a car. She quickly finds herself being sent off to a remote “summer camp” in the Montana wilderness where residents are subjected to counseling designed to realign their sexual orientation. Cooperative at first, she finds kindred spirits among the other teens and attempts to settle in for the duration; but as she becomes more aware of the psychological damage being inflicted on her fellow campers, she begins to realize that this ostensibly loving environment is in fact a dangerous fraud. The film initially creates an almost comedic tone, allowing us a few sly chuckles over the excessively wholesome atmosphere of the camp and the obvious denial of its “ex-gay” counselors. As the story progresses, however, the layers begin to peel back; we discover the dark toxicity lurking beneath the surface, and our bemusement gives way to outrage. In this way, screenwriters Akhavan and Cecila Frugiuele follow the novel’s tactic of slow revelation to good advantage. The screenplay does make a significant alteration from the source material, however; in Danforth’s book, Cameron is 12, but the film boosts her age well into her teens. While seeing a little girl subjected to the kind of brainwashing tactics portrayed here might have been a more potent indictment against conversion therapy, the added maturity does permit a deeper exploration of Cameron’s sexual feelings – which gives her plight a visceral urgency that might otherwise have been absent, and allows for a more deeply layered performance from the movie’s star. That Moretz is excellent in the title role comes as no surprise; she has proven herself a gifted young actress even when saddled with sub-par material, and here she rides an intelligent wave of thoughtful writing that is worthy of her talents. What makes her performance even more praiseworthy is the way she allows her fellow actors to shine around her. Cameron serves as our point of access to the story, but it’s our involvement in the experiences of those around her that solidifies our emotional engagement, and Akhavan’s direction lovingly ensures that these other characters – and the actors that portray them -- are given full weight and scope on the screen. Sasha Lane and Forrest Goodluck, as Cameron’s two closest friends at the camp, bring authenticity and wry humor to their roles as they embody the kind of defiant resilience that comes from being a lifelong outsider. Owen Campbell has a powerful turn as Mark, a camper under excessive pressure to conform, delivering a wrenching biblical recitation that highlights the hypocrisy at the root of faith-based oppression. Emily Skeggs is simultaneously hilarious and heartbreaking as Erin, desperate to suppress her own obvious sexuality even as she struggles with her attraction to Cameron. As Reverend Rick, a “successful” camp graduate now turned lead counselor, John Gallagher, Jr. infuses a character that might easily have been a one-note joke with humanity; as his faith is challenged and his confidence is shaken, we cannot help but feel compassion for someone who is himself a victim. Continues at losangelesblade.com


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26 • AUGUST 03, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM

TELEVISION

TV critics take on the fall lineup Even the cable reruns are gay now By SUSAN HORNIK

Malcolm Venable

Jim Colucci

Brendan Haley

Photo Courtesy Venable

Photo Courtesy Colucci

Photo Courtesy Haley

With more broadcast, cable and streaming network programs than ever before, gay television critics have their hands full, in a constant state of binge watching all the new and returning series. At the Television Critics Press Tour, which took place in Beverly Hills, the Los Angeles Blade’s Susan Hornik talked to gay television critics about their favorite shows.

this fall too, and, like a fabulous queen who has faithfully applied moisturizer with SPF every day, this show is aging really well. “Crazy ExGirlfriend,” in its final season, promises to be bonkers, and though they’re both animated, “She-Ra” and “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina,” both on Netflix, promise to bring more kick-ass women to the small screen and give lots of queer fangirls new crushes to obsess over.

Malcolm Venable, senior writer, TVGuide.com

Jim Colucci, freelance television critic, author of “Golden Girls Forever” and “Will & Grace: Fabulously Uncensored”

This fall, I’m excited about the return of “The Deuce,” where the divine Maggie Gyllenhaal this season will be giving less blowjobs in dirty theaters and producing porn in 1970’s New York City. Last season, the series flirted with depictions of gay sex, and here’s to hoping that this season will take those flirtations even further, by showing more same-sex porn and what happens when authorities try to clamp down on it. Like everyone else with a pulse, I’m also keen to see what ways the Pearsons of “This Is Us” will be making us cry again -- I suspect it’s only a matter of time before they push a grandma down a flight a steps or punt a puppy across a football field. Though Denis O’Hare is highly unlikely to return as William’s partner unless the show is going to depict some kind of dead person-alive person romance, we can probably count on some type of LGBTQ representation...or at least more Beth. I need more Beth. I’m also giddy with anticipation for another season of “The Good Place.” It’s a show that never fails to make you happy. Of course “Will & Grace” comes back again

Of all the new and returning fall shows, the thing I’m most excited about, from both an overall and LGBT perspective, is a classic: “Will & Grace.” The show returned last fall, just when the world needed it again, as the current administration regularly threatens LGBT rights. After all, this was a show that in 1998 -- eons ago, as far as LGBT rights go -- captured the world’s hearts and minds, and showed the humanity of gay and lesbian characters. That, plus the show has always been one of the wittiest, campiest, and yet most touching sitcoms ever on TV. Now that it’s back for a second “rebooted” season, things are changing -- Will’s mom is engaged to Grace’s dad, Jack has a new, steady boyfriend -- and the show and its cast is becoming more diverse. One of the things that stood out most to me when I wrote my book, “Will & Grace: Fabulously Uncensored” is when the show’s creators, Max

Mutchnick and David Kohan, told me that they enjoyed deliberately “writing themselves into a corner” with the cliffhanger of every season. It challenged them as writers in determining how to proceed with the next season’s storylines, and therefore ultimately made the show deeper and better. Last season’s cliffhanger sure did force some changes, and I can’t wait to see how those play out.

Brendan Haley, contributing writer for PRIDE.com

As we can expect the forthcoming season three of “The Crown” to debut a brand new cast, it’ll be exciting to see the developments in one relationship in particular, both performance and story wise, Princess Margaret (Helena Bonham Carter) and her bisexual ex-husband AntonyArmstrong Jones (Ben Daniels). Antony’s sexuality played a key role in last season’s drama, depicting the harsh judgements that LGBT people faced in the 1960s. Also, obviously I anticipate the return of “Will & Grace” this coming fall season, knowing several new comedic additions are in store, including the legendary Chelsea Handler, and the talents of Brian Jordan Alvarez (Estefan). Where the landscape of TV show reboots can sometimes plateau, “Will & Grace” has not only come back harder than where it left off in 2006, it has thrived in a new era of entertainment, receiving nominations for both Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actress (Megan Mullally), and Guest Actress (Molly Shannon) in a Comedy Series.


LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • AUGUST 03 • 27

THEATER

Frack DeCaro

Hunter Ingram

Dennis Pastorizo

Photo Courtesy Decaro

Photo Courtesy Ingram

Photo Courtesy Pastorizo

Frank DeCaro, writer/comedian I’m most excited for the fifth and final season of “Gotham.” I’ve been obsessed with this lush, twisted, delicious, funny, gorgeously costumed, and perversely sexy “Batman” origin story since its debut. What’s not to love? Pansexual girl gangs! Erotic tension between the Penguin and the Riddler! A hunky Mr. Freeze with an enormous freeze gun! Watching it makes me happier than a queer in Arkham, and, hold on to your Batpole, this is one series that is sure to go out with a bang!

Hunter Ingram It’s only been a few months since Pop’s “Schitt’s Creek” wrapped its fourth season, but the Canadian import has left a maple leaf-sized hole in my heart waiting until season five to arrive in 2019. Lucky for us Schittheads, the Catherine O’Hara-Eugene Levy-fronted comedy series saved the final episode of its 13-episode order for a Christmas special, set to arrive in December. The series has matured from its fish-out-ofwater roots into a genuinely uproarious laugh riot with undercurrent of heart and family, and I, for one, can’t wait to see what they do with “Schitt’s Creek” holiday special. Family dinner at Cafe Tropical? Some carolling from Jazzagirls? If nothing else, David and Patrick, TV’s most underrated gay romance, better find themselves under some mistletoe. Eight seasons in, FX’s “American Horror Story” has hit some scary-good highs and frustrating lows. Many of the former came in its first and

third seasons -- “Murder House” and “Coven,” respectively -- meaning September’s crossover season between the two installments comes with ultra-high expectations. The tease of a return to LA’s deadliest house and a visit from a few of Miss Robichaux’s Academy’s finest already has my spine tingling. But the addition of the Drama Queen herself, Joan Collins, and the lingering hope for more surprise faces (Jessica Lange, perhaps?) make this the most highly anticipated “AHS” in years. Don’t let us down, Ryan Murphy! Netflix’s churns out so much original content it’s hard to lose things amongst the deluge. But one thing I’ve kept my eye on is Cary Fukunaga’s “Maniac,” a trippy limited series about a questionable drug trial, starring Emma Stone and Jonah Hill. It was first announced two years ago and since then, the drip-drip of pictures and promises it’s happening have kept me thirsting for more. With the recent announcement it will arrive Sept. 21 and a psychedelic teaser to boot, this one has already grab my attention. And that’s even without our first glimpses of co-stars Justin Theroux and Sally Field! Movie stars on the small screen rarely have the same shock value as it had at the dawn of Peak TV. But Julia Roberts is an exception. The Oscar winner is taking on her first series regular (let’s not forget that stellar guest spot on “Friends” in 1996) with Amazon’s “Homecoming,” an adaptation of the popular podcast (Nov. 2). No one doubts Roberts’ talents, but how do they translate to episodic television, let alone a character-driven half-hour thriller that’s already a go for two seasons. I’m ecstatic about the

potential, and not just because she finally lands “My Best Friend’s Wedding” co-star Dermot Mulroney as her boyfriend.

Dennis Pastorizo, TV Host, Host of LATV Network’s The Zoo

Shows like “The Big Bang Theory,” “The Voice” and “Dancing with the Stars” seem like they’ve been on forever and are here to stay, so I don’t feel as much anticipation for their premieres. I am, however, thrilled to see the new “Magnum P.I.” with Jay Hernandez. I’m usually weary about remakes but he‘s a hunk and the locations look amazing. Speaking of remakes and reboots: I am excited to see what the new season of “Murphy Brown” will look like. The show’s been off for 20 years and I’m wondering if its core audience will return and how much more can be done with the characters. And although I never cared for “Last Man Standing” on ABC, I want to see how long it will last on FOX. Original episodes are currently running on Antenna TV, but if it isn’t available on a streaming service beforehand, I don’t know how much hype can be built around the premiere or if viewers will remember important plot points, given Antenna TV is nowhere near accessible or popular as a Netflix or Hulu. “The Conners” is definitely going to be mustsee-TV, at least for its first episode, because we all want to know what will happen to Roseanne’s character. Only time will tell if she is indeed the glue that kept everything together in that show, or if her supporting cast is strong enough to continue the series’ legacy.


GOSSIP

28 • AUGUST 03, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM

From the Royals to Broadway, the Hollywood Bowl to Rodeo The author is clearly jealous By BILLY MASTERS

Gucci’s August girl of summer, Faye Dunaway. She’s back and working the supermodel Rodeo runway for a new generation. Photo Courtesy Instagram

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“I was gender confused. My parents just let me grow out of it. As I look back, I knew they were frustrated. I was that kid that ran around in a T-shirt and a rubber band around his waist with no shoes on his feet because all I had was boy shoes...I stole a pair of Mary Janes from a best friend of mine.” - Brent Corrigan’s confession about his colorful childhood. I just went to the opening of “Head Over Heels” on Broadway. This show features the music of The Go-Go’s and the story of Sir Philip Sidney’s “Arcadia”. Sir Philip was a contemporary of Shakespeare, and “Arcadia” is a royal romp regarding romantic relations, mistaken identities, gender disguises and sheep. All I kept thinking was, “Why not just use ‘As You Like It’?” Alas and alack, no one asked me. If you think squishing the darlings of the ‘80s into a pastoral period piece from the 16th century was easy, forget it. Many songs fit effortlessly. Some required a shoe horn...and possibly a speculum. A bit more finessing of the script could have helped. As is, it feels like a work in progress. I say amp up the carnival atmosphere, be even more outrageous and go full-tilt camp. If we can accept mermaids singing backup on the Island of Lesbos during “Vacation,” why not have them waterskiing? Use the visual we already associate with the song. Things like that could help to balance the strong message of acceptance, equality and choice. But even in its imperfect state, the show still oodles of fun and features fabulous songs. As for the cast, Rachel York delivers classical dialogue with authority and vocal range. Kudos to the delicious Andrew Durand as both a leading man and lady. I couldn’t help but wonder if ye olde undergarment shoppe sold Lycra boxer briefs. Since he looks so good in them, I’m not complaining. You may remember Jeremy Kushnier leading the Broadway cast of “Footloose” 20 years ago. Now he’s the bearded father figure - and still mighty dashing. And, of course, Peppermint not only made history as the first transgender person in a leading role on Broadway, she also got to intone something I’m sure Sir Philip never wrote: “Thou better workest”! I had to cut my Go-Go’s festivities short in order to dash to the midnight performance of “The Boys in the Band”, which was a benefit for the Actors Fund. Since everyone involved donated their time, they raised quite a pretty penny. The capacity crowd was probably the best audience the cast ever had. There’s something subversive about seeing “The Boys in the Band” at a midnight show with an audience primarily made up of gay theater folk. There was a feeling of camaraderie, warmth, solidarity - and that was even before the divine Charles Busch took the stage to thank us for what we were doing just by buying tickets and showing up (you’re welcome). It is entirely possible one will never assemble as evenly talented a cast for this show ever again. There was no weak link. Those of you who follow my column, please take note of the statement I am about to make - it was almost impossible to take one’s eyes off of Andrew Rannells. I found him positively riveting. Perhaps a tad too aggressive at times, but you know - BOLD choices. Throughout the performance, I wondered how it would be if Andrew and Matt Bomer switched roles. If you sit on the left side of the balcony (or in the box), you get the best view of Bomer’s underwear and shower sequence. And at the end, you get a great view of Rannells and Tuc Watkins coupling - which was definitely worth the price of admission. Perhaps a brief bit of Bomer’s briefs was captured for posterity, if not posterior. I suppose the only way to know for sure is to check out BillyMasters.com. Brace yourself for another installment of Fayewatch. You’d think after backto-back Oscar stints, Miss Dunaway would be...well, done away with. But she’s surfaced in a new Gucci campaign that perplexed one of my readers. “Is this an actual ad or an SNL skit?” Here’s how Faye describes it: “The character is a busy, successful Hollywood mother who has a special relationship with her daughter, played by the lovely Soko.” If a “special relationship” means treating her daughter as an employee, then she’s right on the money. Continues at losangelesblade.com


CALENDAR

30 • AUGUST 03, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM

AARP California presents one of the most insightful Frida Kahlo retrospectives in years. Join Gregorio Luke for ‘Frida Kahlo Under the Stars.’ See Aug 11 listing. Photo CourtesyFacebook

SATURDAY, AUG 4

Instagram and Instastories for Style Influencers is today from noon-2 p.m.at Breguet Boutique Beverly Hills (280 North Rodeo Dr.). It’s LA baby and you have to learn how to get the perfect selfie so monetize! You’ve got brains, you’ve got style, you’ve got the social media skills. So, how can you leverage Instagram to become a style/fashion/beauty star? Learn from the best with a discussion of the ins-and-outs of Instagram and the beauty business. It’s a intensely competitive world in which only the best can survive. Join Fox anchor Susan Hirasuna, the famous Cherie Chan, Kinya Claiborne, founder and editor-in-chief of Style & Society magazine, Veena Goel Crownholm, La Petite Belle’s Hieu Gray, and Styleteller Tommy Lei for questions, discussion and networking with journos, fashionistas and ascending influencers! The event is free. Breguet will be providing champagne and snacks to sweeten the affair. For details, search Eventbrite.

SUNDAY, AUG 5

“Brotherly Love” hits Los Angeles! is tonight from 7:30-9:30 p.m. at Laemmle Music Hall (9036 Wilshire Blvd.). After an award-winning festival run, “Brotherly Love” finally hits theaters! Come check out the film Edge Media calls “one of those old-fashioned feel-good crowd pleasers” and Queerguru calls “an entertaining movie, and perfect for a date night.” Meet writer/ director and star Anthony J. Caruso and Salvatore Sapienza, writer of the novel “Brotherly Love” which inspired the film. Tickets available at laemmle.com. Brits in LA Weekly Breakfast Club is today at 9:30 a.m. at Cecconi’s West Hollywood (8764 Melrose Ave.). British expats in Los Angeles are a force. Look around WeHo and you’ll see a half dozen famed entrepreneurs and dominant agencies. It’s the accent? No, it’s the intimidating officiousness and arrogance? Ah, um, hello, no. It’s because Brit expats are just the coolest thing going in LA, the best and brightest from merry old England. And the get togethers are much more about networking than about tea and crumpets. Well, unless mum is in town. $15 tax and tip inclusive full on breakfast. For more information, visit facebook.com/britsinla.

Impules LA’s GAY-ish - Premiere at Beaches is today from 1-4 p.m. at Beaches WeHo (8928 Santa Monica Blvd.). Join Impulse LA for the launch of the group’s latest web series, GAY.ish. RuPaul’s Drag Race Divas, Alaska Thunderfuck and Manila Luzon plus several of West Hollywood’s finest or dare we say hottest men star in this year’s three-part series. “Always be a first-rate version of yourself and not a second-rate version of someone else.” - Judy Garland. You can see all three episodes of Gay-ish, so don’t arrive too late or you’ll miss out. For more information, visit facebook. com/impulselosangeles.

TUESDAY, AUG 7

Trae Crowder Making Friends at Largo is tonight at 8:30 p.m. at Largo at Coronet (366 North La Cienega). Trae Crowder is known to millions for his “Liberal Redneck” viral videos. His blend of country humor and awoke politics has developed a huge following. Unlike most folks in rural Tennessee, Trae grew up with an affinity for literature, film, blacks and gays and decided at an early he’d become a comedian. He’s finally taking a stab at the big stage, relocating recently to Los Angeles. We love him. Let’s welcome him to West Hollywood. Tickets may still be available at ticketfly.com. The Once Over with Roz Drezfalez ft. Sam Pancake, Willam Belli, Justin Martindale & more! is tonight at 9:30 p.m. at Hollywood Improv Comedy Club (8162 Melrose Ave.). Do you ever judge a book by its cover? Of course you do! In this new live game show hosted by drag queen Roz Drezfalez, a comedian gives a pre-selected contestant “The Once-Over” and then has three minutes to tell the audience everything they assume about that person based on how they look and the vibe they’re giving. For every fact the comedian gets wrong, the contestant wins a point. After three rounds of this, one of the three contestants emerges victorious and wins a prize, and then the three comedians each do their set. With actor/comedian Sam Pancake (“Arrested Development,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm”) as the Announcer/Scorekeeper.Tickets are $15 and are available at ticketweb.com.

WEDNESDAY, AUG 8

CrackedUp at the Faultine is tonight from 9:3010:30 p.m. at Faultline (4216 Melrose Avenue). Ejoy world-class queer Stand Up Comedy by and from LGBT & Allies. Enjoy the meanderings of Scott Joel Gizicki, Sara Kay Godot, Samantha Hale, Joe Padilla, Akeem Woods, and Steve Brett Young, hosted by Venk Modur & Darrin Yalacki. It’s free, just drink and laugh. For details, visit faultlinebar.com.

THURSDAY, AUG 9

Trans* Lounge Movie Night presents “A Fantastic Woman” tonight from 6-9 p.m. at Trans Lounge (The Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Village at Ed Gould Plaza, 1125 N. McCadden Pl.). Learn more about the The Trans Lounge, a trailblazing new series of educational and empowerment workshops, labs, events and groups aimed at serving the needs of all transgender people at all aspects of their journey toward self-discovery and acceptance. And on this night enjoy a free screening of the 2018 Academy Award Winner for Best Foreign Language Film, “A Fantastic Woman.”

SATURDAY, AUG 11

Frida Kahlo Under the Stars with Gregorio Luke is tonight at 8 p.m. at La Plaza de Cultura y Artes (501 North Main St.). Frida Kahlo is one of the America’s most celebrated artists and one of the most important women artists in history. Her iconic self-portraits are just a slice of her amazing repertoire. This fully illustrated lecture presents a kaleidoscopic portrait of Frida Kahlo, with more than 300 slides of her paintings and documentary photographs as well as rare film footage. Presenter: Gregorio Luke, expert on Mexican and Latin American art and culture. Tickets are $25 and are available on Eventbrite.

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


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Profile for Los Angeles Blade

Losangelesblade.com, Volume 2, Issue 22, August 3, 2018  

Losangelesblade.com, Volume 2, Issue 22, August 3, 2018

Losangelesblade.com, Volume 2, Issue 22, August 3, 2018  

Losangelesblade.com, Volume 2, Issue 22, August 3, 2018

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