THE RELIGIOUS RIGHT IS USING SOCIAL MEDIA TO DECEIVE, PAGE 06
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04 • AUGUST 10, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Orange County DA: College student killed because he was gay Will accused use ‘gay panic’ defense? By LOS ANGELES BLADE STAFF Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas announced that 21-year-old Samuel Lincoln Woodward, of Newport Beach, who was charged with murder in the stabbing death of his former high school classmate Blaze Bernstein, 19, will also face a hate crime sentencing enhancement. “A hate crime enhancement based on sexual orientation is appropriate due to the evidence developed by looking at Woodward’s cell phone, laptop, and social
media,” Rackauckas said in an Aug. 2 press conference. “All of this revealed the dark side of Woodward’s thoughts and intentions.” Rackauckas declined to elaborate on the evidence investigators discovered. Bernstein’s murder made national headlines after his body, with more than 20 stab wounds, was discovered in a shallow grave in a park in Lake Forest on Jan. 9, a week after he disappeared. Bernstein’s high school classmate, Woodward, then 20, was arrested on Jan. 12 after DNA evidence found at the grave and in Woodward’s car linked him to the slaying. No murder weapon has been found. The hate crime sentencing enhancement means that if Woodward is convicted, he could face a maximum sentence of life
in state prison without parole. Before Thursday’s announcement, the maximum he could have spent behind bars was 26 years to life, according to prosecutors. Woodward has pleaded not guilty to murder and denied the hate crime allegation, claiming a personal use of a knife. Woodward is expected to appear in court for a preliminary hearing on Aug. 22, according to Orange County Superior Court records, the Los Angeles Times reports. According to a search warrant affidavit, which the Orange County Register obtained before it was sealed last January, Woodward claimed that Bernstein tried to kiss him on the lips. During questioning, Woodward told investigators the kiss was unwanted and he
pushed Bernstein away, according to the affidavit. Detectives noted that Woodward clenched his jaw and fists when recounting the incident, telling them he wanted to call Bernstein a “faggot” and tell him to get off him. Although information indicating Bernstein was gay did not come out in initial reports, his parents appeared to confirm it once the Orange County Register reported the details of his death. “Our son was a beautiful, gentle soul who we loved more than anything,” Gideon Bernstein and Jeanne Pepper Bernstein wrote in a blog posting. “We were proud of everything he did and who he was. He had nothing to hide. We are in solidarity with our son and the LGBTQ community.”
Trump moving to limit legal immigration Latino Equality Alliance holding ‘Know Your Rights’ workshop on Aug. 16 By KAREN OCAMB firstname.lastname@example.org “You will not replace us! You will not replace us!” shouted hundreds of tikitorch-carrying white supremacists and neo-Nazis marching to a Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., last Aug. 11. The violent melee that resulted in three dead the next day shocked America, exacerbated by President Trump saying there were “very fine people on both sides.” That racist sentiment is becoming policy as the Trump administration moves to restrict green cards and legal immigration. The policy appears to be the brainchild of Trump’s senior immigration adviser, Stephen Miller, who grew up in a Jewish family in Santa Monica after his grandmother’s family fled anti-Jewish pogroms in the thenRussian Empire. Miller became a radical conservative while attending Santa Monica High School, telling fellow Latino students to only speak English. At Duke University, he befriended Richard Spencer, who would go on to become a national star in the white supremacist movement. Spencer called
Immigration protesters in Los Angeles. Photo by Jonathan McIntosh / Courtesy Wikimedia
Miller a “mentor” in a 2016 interview with Mother Jones. The New York Times called Miller the ‘True Believer’ behind scuttling the bipartisan immigration reform bill as communications director for then-Sen. Jeff Sessions. Under Trump, he was responsible for the cruel family separation policy, which
has left 572 children still in government shelters. Now, Attorney General Sessions plans to appeal a judge’s order to reinstate the DACA program set up for undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children. Meanwhile, Unite the Right plans another rally in Washington, D.C. on Aug. 12.
The LGBT Latino community in Los Angeles is mobilizing to help. “An often called for solution for the immigration conundrum is for people to follow the rules and get in line to gain legal status. Now, the Trump administration has revealed its intention to deny those who are in line for legal immigration the opportunity to do so by literally applying new meaning to the rules and effectively moving the immigration goal post on them. There is even a move to take away citizenship from already naturalized citizens!, Ari Gutierrez, co-founder of the Latino Equality Alliance, tells the Los Angeles Blade. “As with DACA, there is no rational explanation for these draconian policy changes that will result only in more distrust, fear and legal limbo for millions of US residents and push undocumented and now documented immigrants further into the shadows,” Gutierrez says. “At the community level, we are doing what we can to support our LGBTQ immigrant community. The Latino Equality Alliance (LEA) is working with various community partners to provide legal, financial and emotional support resources to the LGBTQ immigrant community.” On Aug. 16, LEA and Mi Centro are hosting a special free “Know Your Rights” event for Undocumented Queers in need of services, information or who want to help. Go to Latino Equality Alliance on Facebook for more information.
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06 • AUGUST 10, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Sex, lies, and YouTube The Religious Right is using social media to deceive By KAREN OCAMB email@example.com Love is love. The world is bright, colorful, full of joy and dancing. And for about two minutes, the Anchor North video on YouTube celebrates the love between two young girls, as told through the story of Emily Thomes who was 15 when she first started dating the girl down the street. “I was pretty pumped,” Thomes says, brimming with authenticity. When her father got livid after seeing a hickey, the teenager faced a reckoning. “I love her. It’s a girl. And I’m going to be with her. And this is how it is. And then “it went terribly” after her girlfriend told other people who then asked Thomes if they were gay together. “I can either cower away or I can own it so I’m going to own it. So I said, ‘yeah – what about it?’” Thomes says with images of happy young people dancing at a rooftop party. “Love is not necessarily between a man and a woman. The problem was backwoods thinking. And if you were truly a Christian, you were on my side. And if not…you needed to reread what God was really about. Judge not. God being love meant God being nice and God was chill with what you were cool with.” That’s the first minute of what seems like a pretty-cool pro-LGBT video, flipping the script of the theme for the “It Gets Better” project. It seems, as advertised, a “Powerful coming out story!!!” But then the worm starts to turn. Thomes becomes “super wild and in serial relationships with women,” until she goes to nursing school, meets a girl to whom she becomes engaged, and slows down because her fiancé has two kids. Her tone hints that there is something shady about this normal maturation process. Then, at 22, she agrees to go to a Bible study, expecting them to bring up her “lifestyle,” which will enable her to refuse to go back. But when Thomes hears other women share their stories, she has a revelation. “I have nothing like that and it bugged me. I could not stop thinking: what if all of it’s true? Are you sure this is who you are? I couldn’t stop questioning. I need to feel OK because I don’t feel OK anymore.”
Screen grab from Youtube of Emily Thomes when talking about her first love
Half way through the 4:32 video, Thomes says she googled bible verses on homosexuality and suddenly her world turns dark as she wanders alone in an abandoned warehouse, as if in hell. “Those who practice homosexuality – which was me—and also drunkards and a bunch of other things I would have been, I realized I will not enter the Kingdom of God,” Thomes says. “It scared me really, really bad.” By the end of the video, she is happy again, in the arms of a happy young man. “People say to me all the time ‘I was born this way.’ I say, OK, yeah, me too,” Thomes says. “You’re not born with right affections. That’s why Jesus had to come. You feeling a desire for sin just proves you need grace, like me. It’s not gay to straight. It’s lost to saved.” This deceptively seductive video has been seen by tens of thousands of viewers on YouTube and 6 million on Facebook, fulfilling the mission of the video’s creators, the Upland, California-based Anchor North, to evangelize and “reach the lost” through
social media. “Right now in our current generation, there’s this massive problem and it boils down to a misconstrued view of two things: what is good and what is true. Millennials between the ages of 18 and 34 are leaving the church at an alarming rate – 70% to be exact,” says co-founder Greg Sukert, an award-winning marketing writer and producer. “If they’re not going to be in churches, we have to reach them where they’re at and where they’re at is on the Internet consuming media….They’re being lied to left and right….And they’re just being torn apart by darkness, by sin, by evil.” Their mission is to “reach people with truth via video. The Internet and the media gives us the ability to throw the seeds of God’s work out like wildfire,” with online stories “for 1.6 billion to see at all times.” “The Internet is a mission field,” says co-founder David Reynosa, who notes that “time is short…and there’s people that are going to hell. That’s a sad reality. We want to
reach them as fast as possible.” The tax-exempt Anchor North has been the subject of outraged criticism since the videos were posted last January. Several news outlets have pressed YouTube and Facebook about their ad policies since the group’s ads for their videos seem to violate the social media Terms of Agreement to not target specific groups. The ads have since been taken down but Anchor North has found a way around the ads violation by posting affirming, authentic-looking stories that slip through the cracks. Sukert explained to Sophie Hemery for her Aug. 1 investigative report for Open Democracy/50.50 that social media users often watch only the first 30 seconds of a video, then share it. “I’ll tell you a really fun story,” Sukert said about “Love is Love.” “Seeing this video autoplay in their feed, with the language ‘love is love’, celebrating love and acceptance, [they were] sharing it before they saw the end…actually serving as our advocates to get
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • AUGUST 10, 2018 • 07
Screen grab of Anchor North website
the gospel out.” Sukert explained their “relentless” promotion. “Like when you go to Amazon and you see a spatula and then that spatula starts following you across Facebook ads, across Google display ads, and everywhere you go, you’re seeing that spatula,” Sukert told Open Democracy. “It really allows us to be missionaries—not just in the United States but all over the world—so that’s what we do, we hone into people’s interests.” Right now the media world is debating the limits of free speech after Facebook and YouTube took down conspiracy theorist Alex Jones for his harmful content. But other fanatics and Religious Rights groups are sliding by on stories. Anchor North insists that they are not promoting “conversion therapy,” for instance since that practice involves licensed therapists, not people telling their own stories. “The proliferation of outlandish lies and dangerously false information about LGBTQ people is something that GLAAD has been tracking and responding to for a long time,
however, it appears to be escalating under the most anti-LGBTQ administration in history,” Sue Yacka-Bible, Communications Director at GLAAD, tells the Los Angeles Blade. “Embodied by vile figures like Alex Jones, who uses his varied platforms to push countless false and hateful anti-LGBTQ myths, including that the Pulse Nightclub massacre was the LGBTQ community’s fault, we all must be vigilant in calling out these bad actors and correcting the record at every step.” With the start of the school year, new lies are hitting the Internet or resurfacing, such as the claims by anti-LGBT parental-rights groups claiming that California Governor Jerry Brown is forcing schools to show kids gay sex in class. Pictured alongside a photo of Brown is the warning: ‘“SODOM AND GOMORRAH: CALIFORNIA GOV. JERRY BROWN TO FORCE SCHOOLS TO SHOW KIDS ‘GAY SEX’ AS PART OF INCLUSIVE LGBT CURRICULUM.” A spokesperson for newly-appointed LAUSD superintendent, Austin Beutner,
told the LA Blade that officials are following California’s State Board of Education (SBE) approved instructional materials for grades K–8, that align with California’s groundbreaking History/Social-Science curriculum framework. The new materials follow guidelines established by the FAIR Education Act, which the Legislature approved in 2011 to require including the contributions of various groups in the history of California and the United States. The Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania’s FactCheck. org project reported last week that the claim started out on the notoriously unreliable website YourNewsWire with a post in December 2017. Since then, it has been shared on 20 different Facebook pages and reached a social media audience of 2.8 million in total, according to data from Crowd Tangle. A month after it first went up, the story was copied with the offensive headline now making the rounds on Facebook. Although that version of the story
doesn’t appear to have been shared widely, the photo and headline that were taken from it have been shared more than 32,000 times since being posted on Facebook on July 9. “It’s not surprising that far-right anti-LGBTQ groups continue to peddle outrageous conspiracy theories and propaganda in order to whip up a frenzy of fear among their relatively small but vocal group of supporters,” Equality California Communications Director Samuel GarrettPate tells the LA Blade. “Ultimately, we’re confident that Californians support teaching fair and accurate curriculum in our schools, providing students with comprehensive ageappropriate sex education and protecting LGBTQ Californians from the dangers and abuse of so-called ‘conversion therapy.’” But, he adds, “we cannot take anything for granted. Hate groups are alive and well in California, and it’s up to all of us to combat their offensive conspiracy theories by arming ourselves with the truth.” – Staff also contributed to this story.
08 • AUGUST 10, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Pro-equality voters are showing up — so are SoCal haters HRC stumps for Harley Rouda as Rise Above Movement gains influence By KAREN OCAMB firstname.lastname@example.org For several hours edging late into the night of Aug. 7, politicos fixated on the ticker at the bottom of cable news channels watching the results of Ohio’s 12th congressional district election roll in. Popping up behind network reporters at Democrat Danny O’Connor’s election party were blue posters with yellow equal signs emblazoned with the words Equality Voter. The same signs bobbed up and down when Democrat Doug Jones won Alabama’s Special Election for U.S. Senate over accused pedophile Republican Judge Roy Moore on Dec. 12, 2017. By now, most Americans with a hint of political acumen know that “equality” is code for LGBT and LGBT politicos recognize that sign as the brilliant branding of the Human Rights Campaign. But Democrats were denied their surge of euphoria when reports indicated that Republican Troy Balderson—for whom President Trump and a slew of high-profile GOP loyalists stumped—appeared to eek out a victory in what had heretofore had been solid red territory for 32 years. But with 8,500 provisional ballots still to be counted, HRC and others hold out hope that the bellwether district would still ring in for the young Democrat. HRC identified “more than 1.8 million equality voters” in Ohio, “voters who support LGBTQ-inclusive policies including marriage equality, equitable family law, and laws that would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity,” HRC says. With an expected Balderson and O’Connor rematch in November, HRC’s get out the vote effort may be even more significant, especially if the GOP fails to pour in more millions and fly in GOP honchos. Last February, HRC released a report — “A Path To Victory In 2018: The Power Of The Equality Voter” — explaining the new and growing political power of the LGBT movement and their allies, which HRC dubbed “Equality Voters.” Then last July, HRC launched a proactive grassroots political initiative to work in coalition with
HRC President Chad Griffin with congressional candidate Harley Rouda. Photo Courtesy HRC
other progressive and civil rights groups and organizing efforts on the ground to counter the Trump-Pence agenda and elect “proequality” candidates across the country. Their new HRC Rising initiative builds on the historic defeat of North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory—the only incumbent governor of either party to lose re-election in 2016 and the only incumbent governor to lose reelection in North Carolina’s history—due in large part to his signing the discriminatory, anti-LGBTQ HB2 law. It was during this period that HRC started refining a “Equality Voter Model” they’d been working on with data and analytics firm Catalist to determine which voters were more likely to be supportive of LGBT policies. The model allows for direct outreach to millions of equality voters in crucial battleground states, “moving them to action in support of pro-equality issues and legislation, as well
as our endorsed candidates.” “It is clear that LGBTQ voters — and their allies — are one of the most reliable and highly engaged voting blocs in the United States,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “From North Carolina to Virginia to Alabama to a wave of historic victories for transgender candidates across the nation this past fall, equality voters are making their voices heard at the ballot box. These victories are a model for our battles nationwide. And in 2018, HRC is mobilizing like never before to pull the emergency brake on the TrumpPence administration’s hate-fueled agenda and send a loud and clear message that if you come for our community, we’re coming for you on Election Day.” This year, HRC Rising is focused on Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. But HRC is not forgetting the imperative of flipping at
least six congressional seats in Southern California needed to win back the House— and has identified over 9 million voters as likely “Equality Voters.” On Aug. 4, Griffin flew to Huntington Beach to endorse attorney and businessman Harley Rouda in his race against longtime anti-LGBT Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher. “While Dana Rohrabacher has sought to undermine the rights of LGBTQ people at every turn,” said HRC President Chad Griffin, “Harley Rouda has spoken out for the equal dignity of all members of our community. Harley Rouda is the pro-equality leader the people of California deserve, and we look forward to working with him in Congress to pass the Equality Act and secure full federal equality for all Americans.” “Our campaign is honored to receive the endorsement of HRC. This is a great moment for a campaign dedicated to
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • AUGUST 10, 2018 • 09
Image Courtesy ProPublica/Frontline documentary ‘Documenting Hate’
the pure and powerful principal that too many LGBTQ Americans lack basic legal protections in states across the country. That’s why the first piece of legislation I will sign my name to as a member of Congress will be the Equality Act,” Rouda said. “Sadly, the same cannot be said for my opponent Dana Rohrabacher, who has never met a policy intended to roll back LGBTQ rights that he does not support. The CA-48 LGBTQ community - our entire community deserves much, much better. As an equality candidate, as an equality voter, I applaud HRC’s effort to turn out millions of equality voters this election. This can be a watershed election for LGBTQ rights in America and I look forward to working with HRC to make that happen.” Rouda has been getting a lot of attention lately, with his square-jawed Republican looks. “If Democrats suddenly have a shot
in Orange County, it’s because Trump has made basic decency a partisan position,” New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg writes in “Will the Birthplace of the Modern Right Turn Blue?” Yahoo News reporter Andrew Romano tells of a Q&A Rouda had at University Synagogue in Irvine, saying the “biggest issue” of 2018 is that “institutions of our government and culture — the foundations of democracy — are now under attack.” Rouda then paused, recounting a recent visit to the German Historical Museum in Berlin. “[T]he rise of Hitler was all based on nationalism….Hitler said, ‘Our country is getting screwed … [but] stand with me and we can take our country back,’” Rouda continued. “That process then evolved into the denigration of minorities as a rallying point for his base,” warning that America could become like Nazi Germany if Trump
is left unchecked. “What’s going on right now is we’ve got a president who’s trying to divide us,” Rouda said. “If we allow him to be successful, then our country’s going to go down a path that none of us wants to see.” Those unfamiliar with Orange County’s past may not know that the ultra-conservative region spawned such Religious Right activists as Rev. Lou Sheldon and enforcers such as the White Aryan Resistance (WAR), the KKK and pockets of swastika-tattooed Neo-Nazis. In the early 1990s, WAR tried to burn down the law firm of young attorney John Duran who was simply trying to secure a parade permit from the Santa Ana City Council for the first Gay Pride in Orange County. With the changing times and an influx of Latino and Asian immigrants, many politicos believe the bad old days are gone. Not so,
says ProPublica journalist A.C. Thompson, whose documentary “Documenting Hate: 48 Hours in Charlottesville” aired on PBS Frontline Aug. 7. After seeing the unleashed racist violence in Charlottesville last year, Thompson set out to track the new white supremacists. He viewed videos of numerous rallies that led up to Charlottesville, in Anaheim, Sacramento, Huntington Beach and Berkley, and spotted one fighter who was particularly violent—Robert Rundo, a NeoNazi who settled in San Clemente, Orange County after being released from prison. He interviewed retired probation officer Lowell Smith whose 30-year career was spent dealing with white supremacists. Now the movement is emboldened by Trump, a whole new generation pushing politics into the mainstream. “I’m really concerned,” he said. “I’m afraid Charlottesville could happen again and be a lot worse.” “Rob Rundo is part of that trend,” Thompson said. “His group’s first public appearance wasn’t at a torch march—it was at Huntington Beach at a pro-Trump rally behind a banner that read ‘Defend America.’ When antifascists showed up, Rundo and his crew attacked them. He pinned one of them on the ground and pummeled him.” Rundo became famous, a leader after that MAGA rally. “This is more than a couple of random people. There’s something much more organized,” Gustavo Arellano, former editor of the OC Weekly told Thompson. His team found the name of Rundo’s gang: The Rise Above Movement. RAM. “Patriotic nationalists” who celebrate Hitler and train with Neo-Nazis in an area off the 405 freeway in Irvine. But, notes Thompson, these “defenders of traditional white culture-traditional masculinity” do not stand out like their tattooed elders. They find ways to blend in. Thompson matched images of one violent RAM member with another violent hater from Charlottesville—and found Michael Miselis, UCLA Ph.d candidate who held a government-issued security clearance for his job at Northrop Gruumman. Miselis was fired the day after Thompson’s story appeared in ProPublica. Rouda is right to be concerned, especially since these RAM haters are the ones President Trump called “very fine people.”
10 • AUGUST 10, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
WeHo Council gets death threats after Trump Star removal vote By TROY MASTERS email@example.com A unanimous vote by the West Hollywood City Council Monday night passing a resolution asking the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and the City of Los Angeles to remove Donald Trump’s star from the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard has touched off a flurry of threats to city officials. In a long post on his personal Facebook page Tuesday, Aug. 7, West Hollywood Mayor John Duran noted that hundreds of angry emails from supporters of President Trump flooded the city’s offices. One caller left a voicemail message saying: “What is WeHo? I am going to start shooting faggots one by one.” Duran wrote: “This is one of the numerous voicemails that was left at city hall last night. There are hundreds of emails coming in right now to city hall. Most of them are filled with anger. Some threaten violence. Many are filled with ignorance, prejudice and homophobia.” The Council’s actions had been sparked by the actions of 24 year-old Austin Clay of Glendale, who spoke at the Council meeting in support of the Resolution. Clay was charged Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court after he was accused of smashing Trump’s star with a pickax last month. Clay has been charged with one felony count of vandalism, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. He could face up to three years in jail if convicted, prosecutors told the Los Angeles Blade There have been calls to not replace and simply remove Trump’s star after the latest round of vandalism based in part on Trump’s alleged abuse of women, his countless inflammatory statements regarding minorities and immigrants, some of which use racist code words, vernacular and phrasing, as well as his well publicized mocking attack on New York Times reporter Serge F. Kovaleski, who has a physical infirmity, while Trump was campaigning as a Republican presidential candidate in 2015. The star was also previously vandalized with a sledgehammer and pickax by James Otis days before the November 2016 election. Otis pleaded no contest to that felony charge. He was sentenced to community labor and ordered to pay $4,400 for the damage. Prior to the Council’s vote, the President’s supporters who spoke at the council
meeting last night “were ugly and cruel” Duran wrote. “One mocked a transgender man. They were disruptive and loud. I had to quiet the audience repeatedly to maintain a level of civility.” Duran also pointed out that, “We are not the decision makers. We have no authority over Hollywood Blvd. At most, the resolution was a petition for them to take action which they can heed or ignore.” But Duran spared no words for the man at the center of the controversy – Donald Trump – whose star was paid for with $30,000. And since the star was awarded in 2006 for his Miss Universe pageant, which he promotes with “The Apprentice,” he shows off his new baby Baron without addressing wife Melania with no one but close lawyer Michael Cohen and the National Enquirer aware that he was allegedly having an affair with Playboy model for a year. “[W]e won’t sit back silently while right wing forces attempt to harm our community
and our values,” Duran writes. “Donald Trump is a monster. He is a thug. He was declared the winner of the 2016 election. He could have brought our nation together as a leader should. He could have asked us to raise ourselves up to a greater good for our common welfare and future. But he didn’t. “He acts like a child,” Duran continues. “He throws tantrums, tweets and pouts. He is cruel. He is divisive. He lies incessantly. Evidence is being released that shows that he and his family were working with a foreign nation against the interests of the United States for their own profit and gain. If the future continues down that path, he should be impeached and treated with disdain by all future generations of Americans as a modern Benedict Arnold.” Despite the city council’s resolution, it’s unclear if Trump’s star would actually be removed. A spokesperson for the Hollywood Historic Trust told the LA Blade that the organization has planned on repairing
Trump’s star after the recent smashing. Removal of Trump’s star would create controversy and questions about some of the other stars honored on the Walk of Fame who have been disgraced. There was an outcry to remove comedian and TV actor Bill Cosby‘s star after his conviction this past April on three sexual assault charges, along with the dozens of women who came forward and accused him of sexual misconduct. Hollywood Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Officer Leron Gubler, however, told the media that stars are all part of the fixed historic landmark on Hollywood Boulevard and would not be removed for that reason. One major Hollywood figure, Star Wars actor Mark Hamill, weighed in Tuesday on Twitter offering: “How about replacing it with someone who really earned it? Like @ carrieffisher” Reporting by The New York Times, the staff of the LA Blade, and wire service reports.
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • AUGUST 10, 2018 • 11
“Kudos HGTV, I know you will do the right thing with the house.”
Variety’s special Trans Hollywood issue, featuring Chaz Bono, Laverne Cox, and Alexandra Billings on the cover and a special on GLAAD’S Nick Adams, highlights an “open letter to Hollywood” produced by GLAAD and 5050by2020 (an initiative in the Time’s Up movement) and signed by more than 45 agencies, production companies, and organizations to promote transgender inclusion in the entertainment industry. The historic effort is in response to the social media outcry over actress Scarlett Johnson being cast to play a trans man in “Rub and Tug.” Johnson quit the film because of the controversy. “First, some things you should know. As a community, trans people are fighting every day to be seen and accepted as human beings. Some in Washington DC are trying to erase trans people from our culture,” the letter says, detailing some of the struggles trans people face, including murder and high rates of attempted suicide. “That’s a lot of negative information, but we hope it helps explain why transgender people are pushing so hard to be heard. It’s because we are struggling to survive,” the letter says. “Women, people of color, people with disabilities, and diverse faith groups have made it clear they want more authentic stories about their lives in films and on TV. Trans people feel the same way.” The letter continues: “We believe that we are at an unprecedented cultural moment — a moment when we can ask Hollywood to use its power to improve the lives of trans people by changing America’s understanding about who trans people are. We want to help you tell our rich and diverse stories, and we need your help to do it.” To the end, GLAAD and 5050BY@020 produced a TRANSform Hollywood Resource guide with information on how to increase trans inclusion in Hollywood.
– Lance Bass on Twitter, after a saga of buying, then losing the famed “Brady Bunch” house, Aug. 7.
“I don’t believe that he’s a legitimate President.”
- Rosie O’Donnell on MSNBC Aug. 6 before speaking at an anti-Trump rally at the White House.
“While the pay gap adversely affects white women, the impact on black women, who earn just .62 cents for every $1 white men earn, is even more severe. This imbalance must change. Everyone deserves the same opportunity to achieve success.” – Icon athlete and equal pay advocate Billy Jean King on #BlackWomensEqualPayDay, Aug. 7, on Twitter.
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12 • AUGUST 10, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Lambda Legal CEO resigns amid staff discontent
Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.) has introduced the Screening With Dignity Act. Photo by Nymetsfan8790 / Courtesy Wikimedia
TSA bill seeks to improve screening for trans passengers New legislation introduced on Tuesday by Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.) seeks to improve the screening process for transgender passengers, who report a high level of invasive practices at security checkpoints. The bill, known as the Screening With Dignity Act, would require the Transportation Security Administration to develop procedures to screen transgender passengers that take into consideration their particular needs. The legislation would require that the TSA begin conducting in-person training of all officers on the screening procedures for transgender passengers and whenever possible with the participation of transgender rights groups. Rice said in a statement she introduced the legislation because the transgender community “deserves to be treated with fairness and respect in all aspects of life, including travel. “Maintaining high safety standards and screening all passengers with dignity should not be mutually exclusive,” Rice said. “It is clear that TSA needs to reassess its technological capabilities and improve its screening procedures to be more inclusive and ensure that no American is ever humiliated or discriminated against while going through security.” Rice announced in a statement Monday she’d introduce legislation and a spokesperson confirmed the bill was introduced Tuesday. In the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, 43 percent of respondents reported having at least one problem related to being transgender in the past year. One respondent is quoted as saying a TSA agent referred to him as “it” when he went through screening following gender reassignment surgery, then — after repeatedly being told he wasn’t a man — had to argue with TSA that a male employee needed to do the pat down after being informed a woman would be more appropriate. The Screening With Dignity Act would require TSA to conduct two studies within 180 days. The first would evaluate the cost and feasibility of retrofitting advanced imaging technology screening equipment, or developing new equipment, that would operate in a gender-neutral manner. The second study would assess the impact TSA’s screening has on self-identified transgender and gender-nonconforming passengers compared to other travelers. Further, the bill would codify vital privacy and anti-discrimination rules for travelers on the basis of numerous characteristics, including sexual orientation and gender identity. CHRIS JOHNSON
Amid staff discontent as the organization pursues legal challenges in support of LGBT rights against President Trump, the executive director of Lambda Legal has resigned, the organization announced Friday. In a statement, Tiven — who has served as head of Lambda Legal since 2016 — said she came to the organization “with a mandate to make big changes” and is “proud of how much we’ve accomplished,” but will take on a new position to work on the mid-term elections with the Leadership Now Project, a progressive non-profit of business professionals. “I’m grateful for the experience I’ve had at Lambda, and will remain a strong supporter and donor,” Tiven said. “We need Lambda Legal more than ever, and I’ll be rooting for them.” Tiven’s resignation comes at the same time as Lambda Legal spearheads efforts to stop the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court as well as other Trump judicial nominees. According to Lambda Legal, the executive committee and board will discuss interim leadership and next steps shortly. Although Lambda Legal continues to have success in court in favor of LGBT rights, Tiven’s resignation comes amid discontent from staffers, who have complained about attrition, an edict-based management approach and cuts to benefits. Last year, the organization voted overwhelmingly to form a union with the Washington-Baltimore News Guild. Lambda had lost key staffers through attrition. One staffer cited more than 50 departures from the organization since April 1. But Lambda also had key hires, such as Diana Flynn, who came to Lambda as litigation director after serving more than three decades at the civil rights division in the Justice Department. In a June letter to staffers, Nancy Marcus, who served as a senior staff attorney for Lambda, announced her resignation after nearly two years on the job and detailed her discontent with management practices as “dizzying and disturbing.” “The top-down ever-changing vague edicts and references to new priority lanes and buckets, and the elimination of key work (and positions) from departments and priority areas...along with the elimination of livable retirement and health benefits, merit raises, and the feeling of a supportive and stable work environment have been dizzying and disturbing,” Marcus wrote. Key among the concerns Marcus cited in her letter was unhappiness with workers as they continued to leave Lambda. “The truth is that nearly every staff meeting has started to feel like a memorial service as more and more Lambda Legal employees give up,” Marcus wrote. “Something has to change. And it can.” The letter was obtained by the Blade and verified as accurate by several Lambda staffers familiar with the missive. Marcus, who still works as an attorney in the Los Angeles area, told the Blade the failure of leadership at Lambda was squarely on Tiven’s shoulders and the organization should improve after her departure. “When I was referring to senior management, I was really referring to Rachel Tiven,” Marcus said. “I think that Rachel was not a good fit for the organization, but I think the organization is as strong as ever and the problems that I described, I think, are problems that are going to be largely alleviated when Lambda Legal moves forward with new leadership.” A spokesperson for Lambda referred to the Blade to the initial statement when asked for additional context about Tiven’s departure amid staffer discontent. CHRIS JOHNSON
14 • AUGUST 10, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Harris, Carper introduce bill to include LGBT questions on Census Trump administration reversed decision for inclusion in survey By CHRIS JOHNSON In the wake of the Trump administration’s decision not to allow Americans to identify as LGBT on the U.S. Census, two Democratic senators have introduced legislation that would require those questions in major federal surveys. Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Tom Carper (D-Del.) announced last week they have introduced the Census Equality Act, which would begin the process of adding questions allowing respondents to identify their sexual orientation and gender identity in both the decennial U.S. Census and the annual American Community Survey. Harris said in a statement the legislation is necessary because “the spirit of the census is that no one should go uncounted and no one should be invisible.” “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,” Harris said. “This information can also provide us with better tools to enforce civil rights protections for a community that is too often discriminated against.” Traditionally, the decennial U.S. Census has been a more streamlined questionnaire that seeks primarily to ascertain sheer numbers of the U.S. population. The annual American Community Survey, on the other hand, is longer, has more detailed questions and has been the focus of LGBT groups seeking to include LGBT questions on federal surveys. Carper said the legislation would assist in efforts “to ensure the information collected by the Census accurately reflects who we are as a society and that everyone is counted fairly.” “Today, despite the fact that roughly 10 million Americans identify as LGBTQ, the community is left unrepresented on the census,” Carper said. “In order for our government and the businesses that drive our economy to work for the American people, they must have the most accurate and comprehensive data on those they serve.” Last year, after initially indicating LGBT questions would be included in the American
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) have introduced the Census Equality Act.
Community Survey in a report to Congress, the Trump administration immediately corrected that, claiming it was a mistake and announcing they wouldn’t be included. The reversal ignited a firestorm among LGBT rights supporters who accused the Trump administrating of trying to erase LGBT people. Harris and Carper had sought answers from the Trump administration on the reversal in a joint letter before introducing their legislation a year later. The decision to exclude questions allowing U.S. Census respondents to identify as LGBT stands in contrast to the Trump administration’s decision to include questions asking respondents if they’re U.S. citizens — a decision resoundingly criticized by civil rights groups as an attempt to single out undocumented immigrants. The Census Equality Act would require the secretary of commerce to expand data collection efforts of the Census Bureau to include collection of data on the sexual orientation and gender identity of Americans. The bill requires the Census Bureau to begin an implementation plan of LGBT questions no later than one year after it’s signed into law. The decennial census would
be required to include LGBT questions no later than 2030 and the American Community Survey would be required to include them no later than 2020. One section of the legislation explicitly instructs the Census Bureau to maintain the same level of confidentiality for the responses to the LGBT questions that the agency uses with sensitive information. A vast array of pro-LGBT groups are on the record in support of the legislation, including the National LGBTQ Task Force, the Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights and the Human Rights Campaign. Rea Carey, executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force, said in a statement the legislation “will put the Census Bureau back on the path it initiated two years ago to count LGBTQ people.” “We call on members of Congress to support a full, fair, and accurate Census by becoming co-sponsors of the Census Equality Act and opposing efforts to add an untested citizenship question to the Census,” Carey said. The Task Force indicated in a statement the inclusion of LGBT questions in the U.S. Census and American Community Survey is important
because Congress allocates and distributes $800 billion each year to programs like SNAP, Medicaid, Section 8 housing vouchers and foster care based on the findings. David Stacy, government affairs director for the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement the legislation is important to “help address the LGBTQ community’s underrepresentation in federal data collection efforts.” “It’s absolutely critical that we have the hard data needed to find solutions and address the unique challenges Americans face based on their sexual orientation or gender identity,” Stacy said. “The Census and American Community Survey are crucial tools to meet these needs.” Although no questions allowing respondents to identify as LGBT will on the 2020 Census, the agency announced earlier this year in a report to Congress it would allow same-sex couples to identify themselves and differentiate themselves from differentsex couples. But that move would only allow LGBT people to identify themselves in the U.S. Census if they’re in a same-sex relationship. The Blade has placed a request with the Census Bureau seeking comment on the legislation.
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16 • AUGUST 10, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Nine LGBT activists attacked in Armenia
Ariel Ruiz Urquiola under house arrest in Havana. Photo by Claudia Padrón
Why did Cuba jail a gay environmentalist? EDITOR’S NOTE: Maykel González Vivero is a contributor to the Washington Blade who is the publisher of Tremenda Nota, an independent e-magazine in Cuba that reports on the country’s LGBTI community and other minority groups and young people. The Institute for War and Peace and Reporting originally published this article.
VIÑALES, Cuba — On the morning of May 3 this year, environmentalist Ariel Ruiz Urquiola was working on his ranch in Viñales in western Cuba when two forest rangers approached him. Sirilo Seara Carrasco and Alexander Blanco Calzadilla asked to see his permits for cutting down trees and erecting fences on his farm, El Infierno; in turn, Urquiola asked to see their IDs. “One of them, ‘the boss,’ pulled out his penis and started to urinate on my ranch and in full view,” Urquiola later told a Cuban magazine. The 43-year-old environmentalist then refused to show his documents to the two men, whom he called “rural guards” — a term used for the repressive rural police before the 1959 revolution. Urquiola told the rangers he had used the words literally rather than pejoratively. Nonetheless, he was arrested and just five days later, after a summary trial, the Viñales Municipal Tribunal sentenced him to a year in prison. Article 144 of the Cuban Criminal Code establishes that whoever “threatens, defames, slanders, insults, tarnishes or in any other way affronts or offends” a public servant risks a prison term of up to a year. In mid-June, after spending a month and a half in the Provincial Prison of Pinar del Río and in the Correctional Cayo Largo, Urquiola went on a hunger strike. On July 2, having lost more than 30 pounds, he was released for health reasons to serve his sentence under house arrest. He was due back in court on Aug. 1. Urquiola, a biologist, has long been singled out as suspect by the Cuban authorities. The Viñales Municipal Tribunal accused him of “not participating in social and group organizations’ activities in his area of residence” and also of “fraternizing with people of poor conduct.” Several years ago, he spoke out about irregularities in the fishing of endangered hawksbill sea turtle by Cuban companies and more recently publicized the illegal hunting of huitas, a rodent native to the Caribbean. His former employer, the University of Havana, had repeatedly refused Urquiola a teaching position and dismissed him two years ago after a medical commission diagnosed him with a psychiatric illness, although without any in-depth examination. Urquiola’s farm was excluded from a plan to bring electricity to the area, and last year his sister Omara accused two neighbors of storming the property and threatening her at knifepoint. The Urquiola family has maintained it faced such harassment because of its public opposition to illegal hunting, claiming that the authorities had sanctioned the intrusions. Uriquiola was fencing off his ranch to prevent further incidents when the forest rangers visited. Laritza Diversent, the CEO of legal assistance association CUBALEX, said that the charges against Uriquiola were “based on a misunderstanding between the real and historic meaning of the word ‘police’ or ‘rural guard’ for the authorities.” “It has not been acknowledged that he was punished unfairly and if he does not comply with the rules imposed by the judge he can be sent back to prison,” she continued. MAYKEL GONZÁLEZ VIVERO
Dozens of people attacked a group of LGBT rights advocates in Armenia late last week. PINK Armenia on its Twitter page said “more than 30 people” attacked nine activists “and beat them” on Aug. 3 in the country’s Syunik Province. The advocacy group tweeted the attack left two of the activists hospitalized. It also said it took local police an hour and a half to respond to the scene. Armenia is a former Soviet republic in the South Caucasus region that borders Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan. Media reports indicate the attack took place in Shurnukh, a village on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border that is roughly six hours southeast of the Armenian capital of Yeveran. ILGA-Europe in a statement said it is “appalled to hear of this violent hate crime carried out against members of the LGBTQ community.” The Brusselsbased group also pointed out the Aug. 3 attack is the latest in a series of anti-LGBTI incidents that have taken place in Armenia since the beginning of the year. MICHAEL K. LAVERS
Tens of thousands attend Jerusalem Pride parade The annual Jerusalem Pride parade that took place last week drew tens of thousands of people. Media reports indicate the parade took place under heavy security. The Jerusalem Post cited a police spokesperson who said four people were arrested “for causing public disturbances in the area during the parade.” Haaretz, another Israeli newspaper, published a picture that shows two police officers removing an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man from the parade route. An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man stabbed to death Shira Banki, a 16-year-old, during the 2015 Jerusalem Pride parade. The man who killed Banki had just completed a 10-year prison sentence in connection with stabbing three people during the same event in 2005. This year’s parade took place less than a month after the Israeli Knesset passed a highly controversial bill that prevents gay couples from using surrogates. The U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem — which the Trump administration now recognizes as the capital of Israel — opened in May. It had previously been located in Tel Aviv, a city on the country’s Mediterranean coastline that is known for its large and visible LGBT community. The Israeli government’s policies toward the Palestinians continue to spark outrage in the country and around the world. MICHAEL K. LAVERS
18 • AUGUST 10, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
VOLUME 02 ISSUE 23
James Baldwin for the modern liberation movement The Fire Next Time is the fire now
David J. Johns is executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition.
“I am what time, circumstance, history, have made of me, certainly, but I am also, much more than that. So are we all.” —James Baldwin James Baldwin, arguably one of the most eloquent, truth telling novelists, poets and thought leaders ever to grace the world stage, would have turned 94, if he were still living on Aug. 2, 2018. In life, he triumphantly and publicly embraced all of his identities including being black, gay, from and of Harlem and poor. And he did this in spite of the judgement, ignorance, and danger he faced for living life unapologetically in truth. To be clear, while we celebrate it now, the path that Baldwin endured was not easy— he constantly and intentionally made the decision to always show up in truth and in pursuit of justice. So what would James Baldwin say to us now? How does he show up in the lives of those of us who proclaim to care about America? Coming of age during the Jim Crow Era and maturing during the rise of the Civil Rights Movement, Jimmy, as he was known to those he loved, built relatable and poignant critiques of American life by examining his own life and interrogating the subtle differences that have been used by those in power to exploit and divide communities, especially Black people. The path toward collective liberation is one where we lean into Jimmy’s insistence
that we show up for each other. At a time when the nation’s “leader” uses words to divide and inflict pain, Baldwin’s legacy invites us to not only remember the power of words but to also reexamine what leadership looks like. Voting and other fundamental rights are constantly attacked; children are being ripped from their parents both at borders and in communities ravaged by poverty and toxic stress; and too few hard working Americans have actual pathways to the employment and support to fully participate in civic society. More than fighting for air time with a Twitter thug, leaders should be racing to aid Chikesia Clemons, who was almost raped by three white male police officers who threw her naked body onto the floor of a dirty Waffle House restaurant. Or Anthony Wall who was choked by a police officer outside of a Waffle House in Warsaw, N.C. Both Anthony and Chikesia are victims of the brutal power Baldwin warned us about in books like “The Fire Next Time.” Among Jimmy’s greatest contributions to the struggle for freedom is humanizing Black people through vivid words and pictures of their lives. As he ruminated on the complexities of relationships, he spoke to how power directly threatens the concept of justice and liberty for all. He cautioned us against allowing those in power to prevent us from standing in our truth and from working better together to dismantle the systems designed to preserve white supremacy. These lessons are ever salient as the rights Black people have assumed to enjoy are being systematically denied, attacks that are most viscerally experienced by those of us with intersectional identities—who show up, as Baldwin did, as Black and _______. For as long as there have been Black people there have been Black LGBTQ and same gender loving people. Baldwin described the contours of our otherwise invisible lives— naming and describing emotions intimately known only by members of our community. During one of his most piercing interviews in 1984 with The Village Voice, Baldwin made a significant point about how queerness is
experienced by Black people: “The sexual question comes after the question of color; it’s simply one more aspect of the danger in which all Black people live.” Baldwin aptly names the reality that Black LGBTQ/SGL people are Black first and the compounding, discriminatory reality he describes endures to date. Dominant culture has a way of forcing people of color into monolithic and one-dimensional boxes, boxes that are then weighed down by the anchors of poverty, toxic stress and trauma. It is this collective struggle with the social construct of “Blackness” that Jimmy underscores the importance of Black people standing together—of marginalized and oppressed people standing together, especially in the moments in which the system seeks to keep us apart. Baldwin theorized if people can understand that our fates are tethered— that our liberation is dependent upon the liberation of the least of these, we could walk further down the path toward true justice. The lesson Jimmy taught me that I hope others will learn, as well, is that none of us are free until all of us are free. “I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.” —James Baldwin Now more than ever, we need social justice warriors trained in the school of Baldwin who understand the importance of speaking full truth to power, especially in the moments in which it is most inconvenient and uncomfortable. Are you registered to vote? Are you willing to help others exercise their right to vote? Does your plan include meeting with elected officials to let them know you will hold them accountable? Have you considered running for office or contributing to a campaign? If we do nothing else, we owe it to the children who will inherit our problems to stand in truth and on the side of justice. It’s this type of radical truth telling and standing in solidarity with those who have shared experiences, sometimes shared sorrows that made Baldwin a man of the people even when he stood alone.
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LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • AUGUST 10 • 19
Sessions’ Religious Freedom Task Force attacks religious freedom America is no longer a majority white Christian nation
Gabriel S. Hudson, Ph.D., teaches at George Mason University’s Graduate School of Education and The Schar School of Policy and Government. He is the author of ‘Christodemocracy and the Alternative Democratic Theory of America’s Christian Right.’ (Photo by Oliver Lawrence)
In the spring of 1962, Jack Woody and other members of the Navajo Nation in California were arrested and charged with possession of peyote. Woody and his co-defendants challenged California’s prohibition of Peyote because the substance’s use was an integral component of practicing the Navajo faith. The case ended when the California Supreme Court agreed and ruled in People v Woody (1964) that California had unconstitutionally violated the religious freedom of the Navajo. That case set a national precedent that has informed religious freedom interpretation ever since. When most people think of religious liberty, they typically imagine an uninhibited ability to believe what they want and live accordingly. Even if a religious practice violates other laws, like using peyote, Americans value religious freedom above just about any interest of the state. But most do not believe it includes
an obligation to obey their employer’s or pharmacist’s religion. That’s because, for the entire history of the First Amendment, freedom of religion has applied to citizens individually. One’s religion governed one’s life only and was non-transferable to customers, clients, or patients. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ new Religious Liberty Task Force, however, imagines religious liberty quite differently. At a summit introducing the Task Force, Sessions conflated legitimate impediments to religious liberty—such as mosque burnings— with prohibitions against discrimination toward LGBTQ people. Implying a sinister force is actively working to take away people’s religious liberties, Sessions errantly characterized a fight for equal treatment as a threat to personal liberty. Like many of President Trump’s other supporters, Sessions believes that an employer denying healthcare or a business owner denying service can be a necessary component of religious liberty. They are not. The US Constitution, in fact, makes that distinction quite clear. Constitutionally, religious freedom is divided into two clauses. The first clause of the First Amendment is the Establishment Clause. It prohibits the US government from recognizing an official religion or giving favoritism to any religion. The second clause is the Free Exercise clause. It prohibits the government from requiring or prohibiting any religious observance. It is from the Free Exercise Clause that most people understand their individual right to practice their faith. Most, however, do not realize that the clause is intended as a negative right - a right NOT to have to do something. Under the Free Exercise Clause, citizens are not compelled
to give to any church, attend any religious service, or profess any belief. The Free Exercise Clause guarantees the right of LGBTQ people not to follow the religious proscriptions of the majority faith. The correct interpretation of scripture, however relevant to an individual, has zero bearing on non-adherents’ legal status. In other words, it protects the minority from tyranny of the majority. The majority may disapprove, but a minority - even a minority of one - retains constitutional protections. Historically, LGBTQ people have been the minority in need of protection. But, as cultural attitudes continue to shift, those still opposed to LGBT rights are feeling the pinch of a loss of status. Sessions’ Task Force is not really fighting a loss of religious freedom but a loss of Christian privilege. In recent decades, the United States has seen a steady decline in its percentage of white Christians with a steady increase of every other demographic. Since the 1970s, the fastest growing religious group in America has been the unaffiliated. While many have sensed these incremental changes for some time, the US reached a cultural tipping point recently. The Public Religion Research Institute reported earlier this year that America was no longer a majority white Christian nation. Only 43% of Americans now identify as white and Christian and only 30% identify as white and Protestant. Christians who see these incremental populations shifts falsely equate a loss of majority status with a loss of freedom. The same fear of shifting demographics that animates the Trump Administration’s immigration policies also informs this new task force. This loss of privilege helps explain why Trump remains so popular among Christian conservatives despite
violating every attribute they championed for decades. He attacks the people they see as supplanting them: Muslims, non-white immigrants, and LGBT people. But Sessions’ Task Force likely violates the First Amendment and endangers authentic free exercise. Misconstruing religious freedom as a right to discriminate or right to deny healthcare enshrines legal penalties for non-Christians. Likewise, the Task Force probably violates the Establishment Clause by showing favoritism to Christianity. It is unlikely that Sessions would champion the right of a Muslim employer to require his female employees to wear hijabs. The Task Force instead champions the right of a particular type of Christian to remain culturally and politically dominant. The recharacterization of LGBT rights as necessarily attacks on religious freedom is rhetorically brilliant but Constitutionally bankrupt. LGBT people and their allies must avoid this framing trap. Sessions pits LGBT rights against religious freedom in a zero-sum game in which any advance in LGBT rights is automatically a loss of religious freedom, hoping Americans will favor the latter. It is incumbent upon advocates of equality to push back against the framing. The same freedom that allows a Catholic to take communion protects a Navajo using peyote. The same freedom that allows a conservative Protestant to believe God condemns homosexuality protects my freedom to live as an out and proud gay man. No one is attacking conservative Christians’ religious freedom. We’re attacking inequality. We’re attacking privilege. We’re fighting discrimination. To protect our rights AND theirs, we have to make that distinction loud and clear.
Lisa Vanderpump (center) partnered with Tom Sandoval and Tom Schwartz to open Tom Tom in WeHo. Photo Courtesy Tom Tom
Vanderpump empire expands with Tom Tom Stunning design, innovative food and cocktails on Santa Monica Boulevard By SUSAN HORNIK
Restaurant entrepreneur and reality TV star, Lisa Vanderpump, has opened her newest West Hollywood restaurant, Tom Tom. Her Bravo TV’s “Vanderpump Rules,” stars, Tom Sandoval and Tom Schwartz, are her new partners for this latest expansion of the Vanderpump empire. “Never did I think that I would be opening one of the sexiest bars, with Ken and Lisa, on the iconic Santa Monica Boulevard,” Schwartz told the Los Angeles Blade. “I am constantly pinching myself! What an honor, a master class from two of the best in the biz.” Vanderpump pitched the two Toms the idea at Schwartz’s wedding, which she officiated. Schwartz was, at first, hesitant. “My reflex response was a firm and instant
‘no thank you.’ I’ve worked in the restaurant industry most of my life and had my fill at that point. Also, I was emotionally drained, and couldn’t fully appreciate the golden opportunity that had been presented to me,” he said. “After some time to decompress and reassess the situation, we fortunately came back to the idea and the rest is history in the making.” “Working with Lisa is like getting another degree. I got my BS in exercise physiology at FSU. Now we are getting a master’s degree in the bar and restaurant business. She’s an entrepreneur, philanthropist, activist, television star, restaurateur, author—a huge source of inspiration for us both.” Schwartz’s favorite item on the menu is the impossible burger. “It’s a testament to
ingenuity and science and it’s frickin delicious. It’s the future. I’m not vegan but can feel myself going in that direction.” The eclectic WeHo space has some impressive nuances. “I wanted to create something really different,” said Vanderpump. “We have SUR down the road and Pump on the corner. To me, every space has to be unique. As soon as you walk into Tom Tom, you have a very different experience than the others.” Vanderpump loves the feeling of transporting her customers to another world. “You get that feeling here; it’s as if you have gone back in time. The design elements were absolutely paramount to me, I worked very closely with interior designer Nick Alain, who
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really did an incredible job.” She added: “Normally, I make all the decisions, so to listen to someone else and get their input is really special.” Behind the bar there is a mesmerizing, old world-style brass clock, a floor-to-ceiling timepiece that makes you feel like you are on a movie set. “Time means a different thing to me now, than it did previously,” acknowledged Vanderpump. Amid the joy of opening a new restaurant, the iconic reality star is dealing with the tragic loss of her brother. “I lost my only sibling, my brother, 12 weeks ago. I don’t want to indulge in that emotion right now. I have had to pull my life together and carry on….that first month I couldn’t do
anything. We very much do get caught up in what we are doing, we don’t realize the big picture of life.” Vanderpump’s humanitarian work has greatly fulfilled her. “All you can do is try to live a full life. That’s why (my husband) Ken and I have been very supportive to the LGBTQ community and animal rescue. This is very important; you have a responsibility to leave the world better than when you got there. Even just a small step makes the world a better place.” In addition to the restaurant being gorgeous, so are the gay waiters, including one that can teach you how to twerk. “Aside from working at TomTom, I’m known as the prince of twerk!” enthused JoJo
Guadagno. “I’ve created a large following from posting several twerk videos and even teach a class every week.” Guadagno loves working at TomTom. “I’ve learned from experience that figuring out the mechanics and kinks with the rest of the staff really makes you bond and create a family.” Guadagno’s favorite dish is Vanderpump’s vegan rigatoni ragout. “I’m not even vegan, but it’s so delicious I can’t get enough of it. Coming from an Italian family, this pasta dish is definitely one you must try!” The hot waiter’s passion for twerking has led him to start creating his own music to twerk to. Check out Guadagno’s new single “The Double Double” available on all music platforms.
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22 • AUGUST 10, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
QUEERY 20 GAY QUESTIONS FOR MARC MALKIN
Photo Courtesy Malkin
By TROY MASTERS email@example.com
When Marc Malkin left E! Entertainment last year, the Hollywood Reporter’s Chris Gardner described him as “one of the most beloved figures of the Hollywood red carpet and events scene.” It was only natural, then, that Variety, the influential 113-year-old definitive chronicler of entertainment business news would soon come knocking. And on July 30, Marc was named senior events and lifestyle editor for the publication, giving him a wand in the entertainment community that wields enormous power. We’re pretty sure that power is in good hands. You see, Marc is someone who has rebooted his life and is still evolving. He is determined to be out, loud and proud about his own struggles with shame and addiction because he believes it will save lives. The notoriously bubbly and impeccably bespectacled dapper man about town has undergone something of a personal metamorphosis, overcoming an addiction to crystal meth that he calls “the devil.” “It grabs onto you and won’t let go. There has never been a bigger challenge in my life,” he told the Los Angeles Blade. “Deciding to get sober changed my life. It didn’t happen overnight — it was a process,” he said. “There were some very dark days but also moments of clarity that showed me my life was worth living.” “I had treated myself worse than I would have treated my worst enemy,” he adds. Now that he is clean and sober, he wants to do what he can to help other people who are struggling: “My fear now is gay men are not talking about it. People are too ashamed to share that they’ve used or even worse, that they’re addicted. I can tell you that my addiction was hidden for a very long time. It wasn’t until I decided it was time to for help that most of my friends even knew what was going on,” he said. “Meeting my husband and learning his story also gave me purpose. We met one another at exactly the right moment to save both of our lives,” he said. Fabian QuezadaMalkin had struggled with alcohol and was nearly homeless until the Los Angeles LGBT Center was able to help him tap the help he needed. “They saved his life and for that I will be eternally grateful. He saved mine.” Paying it forward is important to Malkin and he’s worked hard in support of the Center, having just completed the 548-mile San Francisco to Los Angeles AIDS LifeCycle ride he says has also changed his life. He raised $7,984.00. “The ride can be really tough at times but there is always someone riding beside you to tell you, ‘you’re doing great. You can do it,’” said Malkin. “As a man in recovery and living with HIV, I proved that I am no less than anyone else. The shame of addiction and my status fell away as I pushed myself up and over hills,” Malkin said, his voice breaking. The day after the ride, Malkin came out publicly as HIV-positive and with a greater appreciation of himself and his mission: “#visibilitymatters. I need to be out about my status to help others.”
queery MARC MALKIN How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell? I came out when I was 18, my freshman year in college. I went to a meeting of the gay student group at Boston University and I felt like I had finally found my tribe. It took a few years, but coming out to my dad was not easy. He eventually came around. He was an oldschool Brooklyn guy who just needed some time and education. Who’s your LGBT hero? My husband, Fabian, for everything he’s been through and survived to become the smartest and strongest man I know. Others include AIDS activist Peter Staley and groundbreakers like Ellen DeGeneres (we must never forget the impact of her coming out on the cover of Time), RuPaul, Barney Frank, Billie Jean King, Elton John, Ryan Murphy, Lena Waithe, the stars of Pose…I have so many. What’s Los Angeles’ best nightspot, past or present? I don’t go out to bars and nightclubs so much these days (getting sober and being married will do that to a guy). I think I loved Cherry Pop, but I may have been too drunk to remember most of my nights there. Describe your dream wedding. It happened on Jan. 3, 2014. My husband and I got married at the Beverly Hills Courthouse with about 25 guests followed by lunch at Escuela Taqueria on Beverly Boulevard. What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about? Recovery. Gay or straight, I want to see people struggling with drugs and alcohol to find recovery. Getting sober saved my life. What historical outcome would you change? Ronald Reagan’s refusal to do anything about HIV and AIDS. What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime? Ellen DeGeneres coming out on the cover of Time. And anytime Madonna releases a new album or music video.
On what do you insist? Laughter. What was your last Facebook post or Tweet? I usually don’t take photos with the celebrities who I meet while I’m working. But I did when I met Indya Moore and Dominique Jackson of Pose. The show and the stars have blown my mind. If your life were a book, what would the title be? “I’m Not One to Gossip, But...” If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do? Throw away the discovery. What do you believe in beyond the physical world? My late uncles David and Arthur both died of AIDS. I believe they’re out there somewhere looking over me. What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders? Take a page out of the ACT-UP playbook. Be loud. Don’t take no for an answer. Fight like our lives depend on it. What would you walk across hot coals for? To save my husband and our dogs from danger. What LGBT stereotype annoys you most? “You’re gay and my friend is gay. I should totally set you up. You’ll love each other.” What’s your favorite LGBT movie? Do “Moulin Rouge” and “Chicago” count? What’s the most overrated social custom? If burning cinnamon and gingerbread scented candles during the holidays is considered a social custom, please stop. What trophy or prize do you most covet? A Willy Wonka Golden Ticket What do you wish you’d known at 18? That drugs and alcohol really suck. At least they did for me. Why Los Angeles? Moved here for a job. Stayed because I loved it.
24 • AUGUST 10, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
‘We the Animals’ explores youthful sense of ‘otherness’ Film adaptation captures Justin Torres’ profound novel By JOHN PAUL KING
The coming out story of 10-year-old Jonah, who lives with his mixed-race family and a host of identity issues. Photo Courtesy Cinereach, Public Record
For anyone who knows what it’s like to grow up as an “other,” it should be no surprise that so many narratives emerging from LGBT cinema – despite the infinite number of possibilities to be explored within a community so diverse – keep returning to one recurring theme: coming of age as a queer person in a straight world. The process of “coming out” – or not, in some cases – is a universal, keystone experience within the LGBTQ consciousness, and resonates deeply with queer audiences no matter where they are on their own personal journey or what that journey may look like. Usually, such films tackle the subject from the perspective of teenagers, for the obvious reason that this is the age when sexuality becomes an overriding factor in a person’s inner life. But queerness doesn’t start there; ask any person who is gay, bi, trans, or otherwise situated on the spectrum, and they will most likely tell you that they knew they were different long before puberty began to work its life-upending magic. That’s why “We the Animals,” Jeremiah Zagar’s new film adaptation of the book by Justin Torres, feels like such a welcome breath of life. Set in upstate New York in the 1980s, the story is told from the child’s eye view of 10-year-old Jonah, who lives in an unspecified rural community with his mixed-race family – “Paps,” who is Puerto Rican, “Ma,” who is white, and older brothers Manny and Joel. They’re a tight-knit crew, but there is tension. Struggling to make ends meet, the parents work night jobs, leaving the three boys to live unstructured, rambunctious lives much of the time. Worse, the couple’s marriage is unstable; they love each other but their relationship is volatile – Paps is sometimes violent, and Ma wants a better life for herself and her children. As the effects of this dysfunctional environment begin to show within their household, Jonah feels increasingly isolated – a sense that is heightened by an awakening identity he recognizes as “different” from the rest of his family. A film narrative about preteen sexuality is a tricky thing to manage, for obvious reasons, but Zagar treats the subject with a respectful and delicate hand – there is nothing onscreen that could be considered exploitative of the film’s young actors. Adding an additional dimension to this poignant story, as well as to the separation it builds around its young hero, is a subtle undercurrent of race. Though the family’s ethnicity is never overtly depicted as an issue, it is easily observable to be a factor in the family’s sparse interactions with the outside community – and in Jonah’s growing awareness of his own “otherness.” These multiple layers would make little Jonah’s all-too-recognizable plight heartbreaking, but what makes it even more devastating is the fact that the screenplay, penned by Zagar and Daniel Kitrosser, takes pains to show us the love in his life, too. Paps is revealed to us as a man of great tenderness and compassion for his loved ones, making his moments of explosive anger stand out in sharp and terrifying contrast. Through the sensitive performance of Raúl Castillo, we understand that he is not a monster; rather, it is his own deeprooted expectation of what it means to be a man, frustrated by his sense of failure in living up to it, that is the destructive force – and he is as much its victim as the rest of this family. Likewise, the boys’ mother, played with equal sincerity by Sheila Vand, is a warm and nurturing presence; her occasional neglect and unavailability in their lives is clearly traced by the film’s observational stance to her own depression over the emotional turmoil of the marriage, and we feel the ache of her powerlessness right along with her. As for Jonah’s brothers, captured perfectly in the performances of Josiah Gabriel and Isaiah Kristian, it’s impossible not to feel compassion as we watch them begin to evolve from exuberant boys into enthusiastic bullies in misguided emulation of their father. It’s Jonah, though, who is the emotional lynchpin of the story, and Evan Rosado is a revelation in the role. Never idealized, he is as real a child as you will ever see onscreen – completely natural, whether bouncing gleefully on the furniture with his brothers or stealing a furtive glance at the neighbor boy with whom he strikes up an unlikely friendship, he gains our empathy through his unfiltered authenticity far more than could ever be achieved through the artifice of polished performance. Zagar’s movie would be unforgettable just for the superb cast at its heart – but the lush cinematic landscape he builds around them only adds to its strength. Awash in delicate yet luminous color, and largely composed of intimate perspective shots that frequently offer only partial views of their subjects, “We the Animals” feels like a memory; captured by Zak Mulligan’s extraordinary cinematography, the imagery is visceral – full of the kind of ultra-specific details that conjure instant emotional flashbacks to remembered experiences – and plants the viewer squarely into the headspace of little Jonah. Bolstered by Nick Zammuto’s ethereal score, and enhanced with artist Mark Samsonovich’s breathtaking animated sequences, representing Jonah’s escape from bleak reality into the imaginative world of his drawings, the final film allows us to feel with the young protagonist while our adult understanding gives us a wider view. “We the Animals” – which won the NEXT Innovator award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival before going on to with the Grand Jury Prize for Best American Narrative Feature at LA’s own Outfest – has invited comparisons to Barry Jenkins’ “Moonlight,” not just for the similarity in its subject matter and its focus on people of color, but also because of its impressionistic and dreamlike visual style. It’s too early to say whether it will garner the same kind of honors earned by Jenkins’ Oscar-winner – but no matter how many awards it may ultimately win, there can be no hesitation in considering it an essential piece of queer-centric cinematic expression. “We the Animals” opens in theaters on August 17.
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • AUGUST 25, 2018 • 25
Leslie Jordan is one of these delightful creatures you immediately fall in love with as soon as you hear him speak. His latest project is FOX’s “The Cool Kids,” where the veteran comedian joins Vicki Lawrence, Martin Mull and David Alan Grier, in an fun ensemble series about life in a retirement community. While Jordan has had decades of supporting or guest acting gigs, “The Cool Kids” is his ﬁrst starring role. “At 63 years of age, it feels amazing. I’ve always been the funny guy that came in with a zinger. That was my job from the day I got here in 1982, with $1,200 that my mother pinned into my underpants on a Greyhound bus,” he quipped during a panel at the Television Critics Press Tour. “I got oﬀ at the corner of Vine Street and De Longpre and I realized that was my job.…Thirty years I did that. ‘’Will & Grace’ (which he guest starred in) won an Emmy for it. And I thought, ‘you know what? It’s time.’ Just the way it’s unfolded has been amazing.” Jordan describes his new show as “‘Golden Girls’ on crack.” “I think the beautiful part about this series is, even though it’s about old people, you have an aging gay man, you have an aging African American, you have an aging straight white hippie, and you have a woman of a certain age. But it’s not really about that, it’s about friendship, bonding together and doing these outrageous things. And most importantly, it’s silly.” With lively dialogue, and fun repartee on set, Jordan couldn’t be happier about getting this role, which he feels, is the closest character he has ever played to himself. “You think, “well, how hard is that?’ Hard. With all the internal homophobia, being raised in the Baptist church, baptized 14 times. Never did take!” Co-creator/executive producer/writer, Charlie Day, who also stars and produces FXX’s “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” was impressed with Jordan in his audition. Casting director, Tess Sanchez, had recommended Jordan for the role, which was originally written as a 73 year old straight man from Brooklyn. “And suddenly I couldn’t see the part another way, and it changed everything,” acknowledged Day. After he cast everyone, they did their ﬁrst table read. “We just went through endless rewrites to write towards their personalities. So when Jordan says it’s the closest to who he is as a character, that’s because we thought, ‘who you are is fantastic, and the world needs to see it.’ So we’ll make that a character, and you can be you.” Things weren’t always that easy for Jordan. In fact, back in the day, he was hesitant to come out. “First of all, I had a huge mustache, and I didn’t want anybody to know I was gay. And I had an acting teacher who said, ‘come here, honey. Whatever it is that you are hiding, that is going to be your selling point.’ During the FOX press reception, Los Angeles Blade talked exclusively with Jordan about his highs and lows. Recently, the actor had a moment to reﬂect on his life, where he recognized what this starring role has meant to him. “I was thinkin’ the other day: when I got here from Tennessee, my big dream wasn’t so much to have a career in entertainment, i wanted to live in West Hollywood. There were queers hanging from the trees. And I thought, ‘wow, what a full circle this has come, almost 30 years later, still in West Hollywood.” Another career highlight for Jordan started as a book he was writing for Simon & Schuster, but turned into a one man show, “My Trip Down the Pink Carpet,” which I performed at the West End in London. “This was a spiritual journey for me; Lily Tomlin and Jane Wagner produced it for me. I thought you couldn’t top that. But then I got this role!” One area a Jordan is passionate about, is getting gay kids to vote. “When I got sober from drugs and alcohol in 1997, i had never voted.i was 42 years old. It’s a source of shame for me. Prior to that, didn’t know Republican from Democrat. So my thing is now, kids, we have to vote.” He added: “ My generation got in the streets and that’s ﬁne. That brings attention to your cause, but it doesn’t solve anything. We have to vote. It has to happen from within. This is an issue I really want to be a part of.” “The Cool Kids” premieres next month and Jordan is hoping you will watch. “We need that laugh. We need it so bad.”
Leslie Jordan is the luckiest and coolest man in Hollywood From Tennessee to Hollywood, he’s everywhere By SUSAN HORNIK
Photo Courtesy FOx
26 • AUGUST 10, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Madonna’s 60th Despite records, legendary hitmaker faces uphill radio battle By JOEY DiGUGLIELMO
Madonna in her ‘Rebel Heart’ era in 2015. The singer turns 60 next week. Photo Courtesy Live Nation
Interestingly Madonna and the Billboard Hot 100 chart are both turning 60 this month and the industry Bible has announced she’s the all-time pop chart queen with 57 entries and 12 no. 1 hits (Mariah Carey and Janet Jackson are in second and third place respectively). The numbers are impressive — Madonna holds the record for most top 10 hits of all acts with 38 and she’s had 46 no. 1 hits on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart, more chart toppers than any act has ever accumulated on any Billboard chart. That’s the good news. The bad news is that despite consistently putting out solid material in the last 10-15 years, her chart dominance has waned considerably with only one of her last seven singles even cracking the Hot 100 (“Bitch I’m Madonna” made it to no. 84 in 2015), an unthinkable track record compared to her ‘80s and ‘90s heyday. Her last U.S. top-10 hit was “Give Me All Your Luvin” in 2012; her last no. 1 was “Music” in 2000. But how much of it is — as Madonna has claimed — ageism? Do the men (Springsteen, Paul McCartney, U2) with new material fare any better than women (Stevie Nicks, Cher, etc.)? The short answer is not really. The only time McCartney has had hits in the last 30 years were his high-charting collaborations with Kanye West, Rihanna, et. al. (“FourFiveSeconds made it to no. 4 and “All Day” to no. 15, both in 2015.) And are the numbers even relevant, as the Washington Post has suggested, now that Billboard records are constantly being broken as the agency continues shuffling its methodology to factor streaming into the popularity equation? One particularly eyebrow-raising shattered record happened last year when Nicki Minaj passed Aretha Franklin for most Billboard Hot 100 hits of any female artist, amassing 73 chart entries since 2010 alone. She pulled off this astounding feat because she’s such a ubiquitous guest artist (occasionally with Madonna): 32 of her entries are as lead artist; she’s “featured” on the other 44. Billboard didn’t count Minaj, Franklin et. al. for its latest proclamation with Madonna on top. For all Hot 100 genres among women, Madonna comes in fifth behind Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Franklin and Minaj. Fans have been concerned as far back as 2006 when they launched an “End the Madonna on U.S. radio Boycott” aimed at Clear Channel Communications after her “Confessions” singles failed to generate much interest. It hasn’t improved. Madonna herself cried foul in 2015 when Great Britain’s BBC Radio 1 declined to play her then-new single “Living for Love.” And in a 2016 speech in which she was named Woman of the Year at a Billboard Women in Music awards ceremony, she said in the world of music, “To age is a sin. You will be criticized, you will be vilified and you will definitely not be played on the radio.” That pop music and the Hot 100 has always pretty much been a young person’s game is a fairly accepted music industry truism. Look at any female pop singer going back to the days of Connie Francis (53 Hot 100 entries), Brenda Lee (48) or Dionne Warwick (56) — none of them were having major hits into their 50s and 60s. Despite a major comeback in her 40s, Tina Turner’s chart power slipped as she got older. Even Cher’s 1998 hit “Believe,” often cited as an example of what’s possible for older women artists, was a bit of a fluke. When it hit no. 1 on the Hot 100 in 1999, she was 52 and became the oldest woman to have a no. 1 hit. But that was 20 years ago and only two of the 16 singles she’s released since then have even cracked the Hot 100, the highest (“Strong Enough”) at no. 57. Like Madonna, she’s fared much better on the dance chart. Pink, 38, told the New York Times last year while promoting her latest release “Beautiful Trauma” she knew her days on the chart were limited (she’s had 23 top 40 hits). “I had the whole sit-down, you know: ‘Just be prepared — they don’t play girls over 35 on top 40 radio,’” she told the Times. “There are exceptions but they’re songs, not artists — unless you’re Beyonce.” Thus far Madonna appears fairly undeterred. With “MDNA” in 2012 and “Rebel Heart” in 2015, she’s kept to a fairly regular release schedule. She’s teased new material on social media and appears to still enjoy making new music and live performance. She wowed the crowd in May with an elaborate performance at the Met Gala performing “Like a Prayer” at the “Fashion and the Catholic Imagination” event (right up her alley thematically). But how long will Madonna feel like going back to the well if this law of diminishing returns continues as it’s likely to? Sure, Madonna does lots of things — she writes, acts (not so much anymore) and directs, but what is she supposed to do when the thing she clearly does best no longer has a place in pop culture? One might argue we don’t expect our sports legends to keep up the pace and records they set in their prime but writing, recording and releasing a hit single doesn’t require one to be at peak physical ability. It could — in theory — happen at any age. Her tours are still massive extravaganzas that sell out all around the world (she’s the top-grossing female touring artist of all time) but she’ll never expand her considerable fan base into younger generations with zero radio support. Outside of touring, there’s nothing comparable in pop music for the way actresses like Jessica Lange, Jodie Foster, Kathleen Turner and Glenn Close (Meryl is, of course, in a league of her own, no pun intended) have managed to keep the creative fires burning with TV, directing and stage work. Younger audiences still have ways to discover them. It will be interesting to see how Madonna — and the Pinks and Beyonces of the world after her, for their time will surely come as well — tackles this conundrum in the years to come.
28 • AUGUST 10, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Six of LA’s leading LGBT inﬂuencers strike a post These entrepreneurs are selling everything from underwear to ice cream By TROY MASTERS firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo Courtesy Aguilar
Photo Courtesy Borges
It was inevitable that LGBT folk would be a leading part of the new trend in corporate advertising we’ve all come to know as “inﬂuencers.” You know who they are, posting impossibly beautiful selﬁes, art poses and daring things, making you feel downright unworthy and, well, fat and old. But don’t feel too bad. They are working and you aren’t (not like this, at least). Chances are you’ve seen them in an ad for Bird or FitTea or any number of other advertisers who’ve determined reaching their followers is worth big bucks. Some reportedly earn thousands for a single post. Inﬂuencers now dominate Instagram and increasingly YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, crowding out puppies and grandma. They’ve turned their lives into billboards, monetizing every aspect of their online life sneaking ads onto your phone. Don’t tell the marketers, but you probably didn’t notice the product. It’s the new face of millennial entrepreneurship. Though there are deﬁnitely several LGBT inﬂuencers in LA who have millions of followers (think RuPaul and Ellen) across every platform, we thought we’d present a few of our favorite upstart locals RJ Aguilar says he’s been in the game since 2010. He’s a writer, YouTuber, actor, host, comedian, model, “and the luckiest husband/doggy daddy ever!” He’s sold everything from underwear to sunglasses, doggy wear to ice cream cones. He has a reach of 284,000 and for $150 he will consider posing with your product. Angela Borges “represents the LGBT community in a very smooth, non aggressive manner.” She says her audience is highly responsive to her focus on travel and adventure experiences. She’s 30 years old and claims a reach of more than 300,000. Don’t even think about asking her to post for less than $500. Bray Love, Bad Boy Bray Love will post for you beginning at $75. And it may just be worth it because he’s edgy, sexy and has an engaged combined metric of more than 50,000 LGBT followers who love his take on men’s health, adult entertainment and men’s fashions.
Emile Ennis, Jr.
Photo Courtesy Love
Photo Courtesy Ennis
Emile Ennis, Jr. has a reach exceeding 300,00 people and seems to always have a donut in his mouth, but he is seriously engaging and has represented products like Equinox, Monarch Beach Resort, Google, SmartShake and, of course, Krispy Kreme. He earns a reported $400 for a post. Greg McKeon is a UC Berkeley grad turned celebrity ﬁtness trainer. “I live to travel and share my travels with my family and friends.” And it’s paid oﬀ. With a reach of more than 50,000, Greg is quickly moving up in the top ranks of the LA inﬂuencer world, earning more than $250 per post.
Photo Courtesy McKeon
Photo Courtesy Wes
Kai Wes is a Los Angeles non-binary star “riding the gender waves attempting to do something meaningful.” Kai has succeeded online with more than 100,000 combined followers across every platform. Kai’s monetizing success is “a secret,” but engagement reports suggest it could be lucrative.
TO ADVE RT IS E CONTACT M ICH AE L JORTN ER AT 3 23.637.7180 O R MJ O RTNER@LO S ANGELES BLADE. COM
30 • AUGUST 10, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Kim Kardashian’s metric keeps dropping while Britney drops a pound An Instagram ‘influencer’ comes out, gay comedy ’Trick’ gets sequel By BILLY MASTERS
Tyson Beckford has worked Kim Kardashian’s last nerve. Photo Courtesy Facebook
“First of all, it’s totally hogwash. My sister would never, ever have done anything to do any harm to any child, especially within our family. And for those lies to be perpetuated in this so-called documentary film, I think it’s evil. I will never, and I mean this, ever forgive those who perpetuated this insanity.” - Dionne Warwick addresses claims that her sister Dee Dee sexually molested Whitney Houston and her brother Gary. I gotta give props to anyone who still uses the word hogwash! Last week, a 23-year-old male model came out as gay. No, not someone on “The Bachelorette.” This is Derek Chadwick, who is described as an “influencer” — which begs the question, how much influence does someone no one ever heard of have? Eh, he’s happy, I’m happy. And he’s hot enough to post photos of on BillyMasters.com. Speaking of male models, four are coming out claiming they were allegedly sexually assaulted by photographer Rick Day. And, because you know how I like to tie things together, two of those models say that when they were assaulted, they were virgins! The first, Barrett Pall, claims that Day “robbed him” of his virginity by — again, I couldn’t make this up — masturbating him and urging him to ejaculate on his face! The second model, Kai Braden, says Day pinned him against the wall and asked if he had ever had sex with another guy. Kai said he never had sex period, so Day backed off. Twins Michael and Zach Zakar say they were sexually assaulted separately. Michael says Day tried to push his head down as the photographer pulled out his penis. According to Zach, Day said, “I’m going to shoot you, then you’re going to make me shoot.” I smell a pattern - or is that the twins? There’s a dispute a-brewin’ between Kim Kardashian and Tyson Beckford. It all started when Beckford commented on a photo of Kim where one hip looks significantly larger than the other (I assumed it was sloppy photoshopping). “Sorry I don’t care for it personally. She is not real, doctor fucked up on her right hip.” Kim wasted no time in clapping back (and from the looks of her derriere, she could cause a standing ovation): “Sis we all know why you don’t care for it,” with an emoji of a frog, a steaming cup of coffee (or, more likely, tea), and a nail being painted. Suddenly I feel SO old - I thought she was asking Tyson to get together for a manicure over coffee and frog legs! I guess “Sis” should have clued me in that she was implying Tyson is gay - and apparently getting his nails done, drinking tea and doing something unspeakable with a frog! Tyson responded, “Train 5-6 days a wk, weights Martial Arts and Firearms and I defend those who can’t defend themselves! I support LGBTQ, even though I’m not Gay. It’s just the Human thing to do.” Then TMZ caught up with matriarch Kris Jenner and asked what she thought. She amped up the ridiculous factor by saying, “Who’s Tyson?” Like there’s a Jenner/Kardashian woman who is unaware of a hot black man within 100 feet! Poor Britney. Prior to performing at Brighton (U.K.) Pride last weekend, Spears released a Pride edition of her perfume, Fantasy. She even donated one pound (British currency) from every purchase to GLAAD. Now, that sounds good until you do the math. The perfume costs 40 pounds, so her donation is roughly 2.5 percent of sales — which I still think is OK. But many people feel it isn’t enough. One critic said, “Can you not afford to donate more and also to a U.K. based charity, you are after all celebrating love and equality here in the U.K.” In other words, the optics are bad. I suspect Spears’ heart is in the right place, but she’s really not what I’d call a numbers person. She thinks, “Blah-blah-blah, I’m doing a good thing.” So give the girl a break. And perhaps a calculator. Can you believe it’s been almost 20 years since “Trick” came out? The film that introduced us to Christian Campbell, J.P. Pitoc, Miss Coco Peru and the comedic talents of Tori Spelling was released in 1999. Apparently people have been clamoring for a sequel - but enough about Miss Spelling. Back in 2014, director Jim Fall said he was open to the idea. Tori pitched her scenario: “I always saw her still wedging her way into Gabe’s relationship - even offering to be a surrogate for them while she does a one woman musical on ‘Mommie Dearest’. That’s my fantasy.” J.P. had his own view. “I always like the happily ever after thing. And I think that they would stay together and they’d have kids.” Fall said, “It’ll never be like anything you just said.” I guess we’ll find out soon enough. Fall says he’s written the script, is planning a reading with the cast, is starting to raise the money and hopes to have the film released next year to coincide with the 20th anniversary. He better hurry.
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • AUGUST 10, 2018 • 31
Sabrina Cervantes of Riverside County, the state’s youngest legislator and a member of the Legislative LGBT Caucus, is a top target for state Republicans in 2018. See Thursday August 16 listing. Photo Courtesy Facebook
FRIDAY, AUG 10
Star Wars: A New Hope is tonight from 8-10:30 p.m. at the Hollywood Bowl (2301 Highland Blvd.). May the queer force be with you as John Williams’ iconic score is performed live-to-the-movie on the Hollywood Bowl’s big screen. This is definitely one of those dress up events. The Los Angeles Philharmonic asks that you show up as Princess Leia, a Jedi or even R2D2. If you arrive early you’ll get a free lightsaber. (One per person, while supplies last of course). Are all Jedi’s tops? Are all Princess Leia’s trans? Enquiring for Darth Vader. Tickets available at hollywoodbowl.com. Splash House August 2018 is today through Sunday at the Saguaro Palm Springs (1800 E Palm Canyon, Palm Springs). Splash house, the multi-venue, hot and sexy festival is bringing the best in house music to three resorts around Palm Springs. Some say it’s the hottest party at the hottest time of year. And even though it’s probably sold out, you know how to work it and get in. Tickets available at splashhouse.com.
SATURDAY, AUG 11
LifeWorks Sixth Annual Unique Carnival is today from noon-4 p.m. at the Los Angeles LGBT Center (1220 N. Highland Ave.). LifeWorks, the groundbreaking LGBTQ youth development and mentoring program at the Los Angeles LGBT Center celebrates your uniqueness, bring it on. Join in for games, a talent show, food and more. This event is free for our youth 24 and under. No registration required. One of the Los Angeles Blade’s favorite LGBT resource fairs and networking/ mentor programs. Free. Visit lifeworksla.org.
SUNDAY, AUG 12
Valley Pride Street Festival is today from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. outside of Bullet Bar (10522 Burbank Blvd., North Hollywood). This pride event is for everybody who’s proud and supportive of the Valley’s LGBT community. It’s a “block party style” celebration on Burbank Boulevard between North Hollywood’s Cahuenga Boulevard and Strohm Street. Bring your inclusive
energy, even your doggies, and share the love with everyone. Your leather and fetish bros will be on hand to please and punish and serve, hosted by Master Kevin Cowger. Free. For details, visit valleypride.org. Two Dykes and a Mic is tonight from 8-10:30 p.m. at The Virgil (4519 Santa Monica Blvd.). Comedians Rachel Scanlon and McKenzie Goodwin bring you LA’s new monthly LGBT comedy show Two Dykes and a Mic featuring your favorite female comics. Hold onto your butts because this show will rock your body with laughter and sexual tension. Featuring: Emily Heller, Steph Tolev, Paige Weldon and Kari Assad. Free registration at eventbrite.com.
Victory Fund, HonorPAC, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, Michael Chavez, Samuel & Matthew GarrettPate, Justine Gonzalez, Tony Hoang ad Ian Grady, Robbie Martin, Jesse Melgar and Angel Rodriguez and others for a reception in support of Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes (D-Riverside). Cervantes is the state’s youngest legislator and a member of the Legislative LGBT Caucus. After turning her purple district blue in 2016, Sabrina became a top target for state Republicans in 2018. In the assembly, she’s been a strong advocate for small businesses, clean energy innovation, college affordability, reproductive rights and LGBTQ equality. Donations required. Visit EQCA.org for more details.
MONDAY, AUG 13
FRIDAY, AUG 17
Travel The World as a Volunteer is tonight from 7-10 p.m. at Who Mentors, Inc. (655 North Central Ave., Glendale). There are enormous IRS based tax benefits available to people who are willing to go to remote places around the country and the planet in service of others, helping lend a hand to communities and individuals in need. From housing to food services and care, you can volunteer and offer your expertise. Learn more and feel great about yourself. Text 415-373-6767 for reservations.
WEDNESDAY, AUG 15
Phone Bank to Help Flip the House is tonight from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Sea Change (3916 Sepulveda Blvd., Culver City). Join Sea Change volunteers for a phone bank in Culver City. You are needed to make calls to voters in red congressional districts and help recruit volunteers across the country. All you need to bring is a charged cell phone, a laptop or tablet and buckets of enthusiasm. Scripts, training and snacks provided. For more information, search Eventbrite.
THURSDAY, AUG 16
DTLA Reception for Sabrina Cervantes is today from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at SilverLake Wine in the Arts District (1948 East 7th St.). Please join Equality California, LGBTQ
Summer Shebrew Shabbat is tonight from 7:3010:30 p.m. at a private residence (525 Huntley Dr., West Hollywood). Join JQ International at the beautiful West Hollywood home of Sheila Kady and Jenner Deal for a delightful Shabbat celebrating with the women of our LGBTQ+ and allied community. You love ending the week with delicious food, drinks and great times with friends new and old. Everyone is welcome. Tickets are $25 at the door. Search Facebook for more information. Ventura County Beachside Pride: Celebrating Diversity, Raising Up is today from 6 p.m through Sun. Aug. 19 from 2:00 PM at Promenade Park (Shoreline Dr. and Figueroa St., Ventura.). The largest LGBT event in Ventura County is a weekend long celebration of diversity on the beach. Come and shake it off and enjoy your pride, brought to you by sponsors normally reserved for big city Prides. This year’s festival will include beachside entertainment all day headlined by drag legends Sherry Vine and Jackie Beat. Also featuring up and coming sensation Lauren Ruth Ward and the allgay boy band Echo V, over 70 vendors and food trucks. Free entry. For more details, search Eventbrite.
E-mail calendar items to email@example.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.
model grand opening Saturday, August 11 th 11AM - 5PM
From the high $400,000s New, Solar-powered Homes 201 E. La Habra Blvd., La Habra, CA 90631
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