Photo Courtesy Becerra
XAVIER BECERRA DEFENDS LGBT RIGHTS PROLIFIC ATTORNEY GENERAL SAYS TRUMP IS ‘DANGEROUS’ PAGE 8
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04 • AUGUST 31, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Karger files IRS complaint against Polynesian Cultural Center Says Hawaii Center is a fundraising front for LDS Church By STAFF REPORTS Los Angeles gay political activist Fred Karger, founder of the watchdog website MormonTips.com, filed multiple complaints with the Internal Revenue Service on Aug. 17 against The Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints, targeting its highly lucrative Hawai’i tourist attraction, the Polynesian Cultural Center on Oahu. Speaking to a reporter from Honolulu’s KITV, Karger alleged that the church takes advantage of its tax-exempt status, with top Polynesian Cultural Center executives — high-profile Mormon Church members — using the center for their own personal and financial gain. “We are doing what no other organization does. We’re fighting back against the Mormon Church on something very sacred to them— their tax-exempt status,” Karger told KITV. “Church leadership has been attacking and demeaning women, the LGBTQ community and abetting and covering up rampant sexual abuse in the church for decades.
Fred Karger filed multiple complaints with the IRS against The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Screencapture Courtesy Youtube
Now they will have to defend all their highly questionable tax practices all over the U.S. The Hawaii filings are just the first of many that we are looking into.” Karger launched his Hawai’i investigation a year ago, running a 30-second TV ad featuring Hawaiian activist, the late Dawn K. Wasson, seeking tips from the public about questionable church practices. Karger also produced an “insider” cartoon series called “Salt Park” to engage ex-Mormons. The three initial complaint filings to the
IRS contain 283 pages of allegations that Karger says resulted from the TV campaign. “They boast that it’s a $100 million a year operation,” Karger told KITV. “It’s very successful, I’ve been there many times, beautifully run—but coincidentally they always have either a loss or a loss carryover.” Ashley Whitmer, a former 29-year church member, accompanied Karger. She blasted the church hierarchy on separate sexual abuse allegations. “In the wake of the Catholic priest abuse
news, there have been similar cases of abuse in the Mormon Church, as well,” Whitmer said. “Along with others, I believe the Mormon Church should ban the practice of asking sexually explicit questions to children beginning at age 8 behind closed doors with one man.” According to Whitmer, those questions are part of a “worthiness interview” that bishops conduct with children, a practice the church is under pressure to end. Both Karger and Whitmer hope the increased attention will force action. “We’re trying to get the pressure on the Mormon Church to do the right thing,” said Karger. A spokesperson for the Polynesian Cultural Center declined comment in a phone call with the Los Angeles Blade on Monday. In an email to KITV, the Polynesian Cultural Center noted that it’s a nonprofit organization and that “100 percent of its revenue goes to daily operations and to support the education of its studentemployees from neighboring Brigham Young University-Hawaii,” a university run by the LDS Church. Reporting by KITV ABC4 Honolulu, the staff of the Los Angeles Blade, and wire service reports.
Ivanka Trump shines with anti-LGBT Jim Garlow Onetime ally now hangs with the haters By KAREN OCAMB firstname.lastname@example.org When New York City developer and Reality TV star Donald Trump won the 2016 election, many LGBT politicos thought that beloved daughter and NYC sophisticate Ivanka Trump would intercede to protect LGBT rights. After all, Trump waved a Rainbow Flag and mentioned “LGBT citizens” during the GOP convention so there was a glimmer of hope he might listen to this self-professed LGBT ally. LGBT references were quickly erased from WhiteHouse.gov and the rollback of LGBT/HIV/AIDS rights began.
Additionally, former press secretary Sean Spicer recently revealed that those precious LGBT words were uttered to avoid convention opposition from a specific delegate. But still there was Ivanka, who tweeted on June 1, 2017: “I am proud to support my LGBTQ friends and the LGBTQ Americans who have made immense contributions to our society and economy.” Since then, that support has vanished. Ivanka and husband Jared Kushner are now enthralled by evangelicals. Before the Monday, Aug. 27 White House state dinner for about 100 evangelical Trump worshippers, CBN reporter David Brody tweeted: “Don’t underestimate the role that Ivanka and Jared have played in the evangelical orbit. It’s been substantial. Evangelical leaders close to the WH have embraced them fully.” Indeed, Ivanka was captured in photos
with scores of anti-LGBT evangelicals, including pastor Jim Garlow of the Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego. Garlow organized a major Prop 8 rally in Qualcomm Stadium, featuring the cream of the Religious Right, James Dobson and Tony Perkins, and extremists like Lou Engle. Garlow calls LGBT people “satanic” and said same-sex couples seeking marriage equality “want to destroy the very image of God upon the planet. This is a demonic happening in our midst.” He believes that “sacred moment” at the rally was the reason Prop 8 passed. Ivanka’s posing with Garlow thoroughly scotches any “friendship” with the LGBT community. It may impact her “compassionate” brand, as well. Garlow is a leader in the movement to neuter the IRS and allow pastors to preach politics from the pulpit. In Garlow’s case, that includes
getting the government out of the health and welfare programs to stop “freeloaders.” “I’m sorry for all the poor people who are on welfare, who are struggling, who are suffering and who are not ashamed of taking half of our national budget to buy Mars bars and Evian bottled water. But at the end of the day, ask yourselves why you’re poor,” Garlow said on the Janet Mefferd Today show. “Perhaps you have done something to deserve such a life, perhaps you’ve made mistakes. Bottom line – God doesn’t make mistakes and he sees everything. So, if you’re going through hardships and poverty and can’t afford medications, the man upstairs probably has a good reason for doing that.” This is the new face of evangelical Christianity with which Ivanka Trump is happy to associate at a dinner celebrating “spiritual warfare.”
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06 • AUGUST 31, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Equality California pushing 15 bills for LGBT rights ‘Conversion therapy’ measure could be delayed By CHRISTOPHER KANE Equality California presented an impressive package of 15 LGBT bills, two of which have already been signing into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, with two additional resolutions passed in the Assembly and the Senate. “We’re confident that all of our proequality bills this year have the support they need to make it to the governor’s desk and we’re proud of the overwhelming bipartisan support for combatting youth homelessness and providing California teachers with the tools they need to support LGBT students, among other issues,” Equality California Communications Director Samuel Garrett-Pate told the Los Angeles Blade on Wednesday, August 29, before the final session on Friday. Brown has until Sept. 30 to either veto or sign the bill — or not, in which case it becomes law without his signature, a practice the California governor is not known to favor. Despite Garrett-Pate’s optimism, the LA Blade has learned that there may be a last minute decision regarding California Assembly Bill 2943, So-Called “Conversion Therapy” is Consumer Fraud by Assemblymember and Legislative LGBT Caucus Chair Evan Low. The Christian Right has waged a major war opposing the bill, which would make the sale or advertisement of “conversion therapy” illegal under the state’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act. Though the bill has the votes for passage and Brown has signaled his willingness to sign AB 2943, a source familiar with the legislative process who has been watching the bill’s trajectory suggests that if the bill has not been taken up by now, it may be put on hold by the author, presumably to gather more support and further educate the public about the facts and harms of “conversion therapy” before delivering the legislation to the governor. AB 2943 has received overwhelming support from LGBT groups tired of decades of dangerous “junk science” disguised as therapy, the health community and mental health experts. Nonetheless, more than 40 bill opponents testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee claiming “success” in
Photo of Assemblymembers Richard Bloom, Tony Thurmond, and Evan Low, all of whom have LGBT-related bills this session. Photo screen grab from EQCA/LGBT Legislative Caucus press conference in Sacramento Aug. 20, 2018. Photo Courtesy Equality California
overcoming same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria with religious counseling. Defeating AB 2943 has been a top priority for Christian Right groups such as James Dobson Family Institute ( JDFI) and Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), including spending considerable resources. In a July 26 forum held in Washington, DC, JFDI and ADF warned against the global implications of California’s proposed ban on “conversion therapy” as consumer fraud, including its imposition on Freedom of Speech and parental rights. Additionally, AB 2943 opponents have been spreading lies that the bill would make it illegal to teach the Bible. As the LA Blade goes to press, the bill awaits a concurrence vote on the Assembly Floor to
rule on amendments from the Senate. Meanwhile, LGBT groups have cheered the passage of several important bills that have perhaps earned less attention. On Tuesday, EQCA and Interact Advocates for Intersex Youth, among other groups, celebrated the success of what marks the first legislation in the United States that protects the rights of intersex people. Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR) 110 will require medical practitioners in California to delay cosmetic genital surgeries on intersex children until they reach an age at which they are capable of making an informed decision. Also passed this week was another bill that will affect LGBT youth in California, AB 2291 by Assemblymember David Chiu, which requires
public schools to provide yearly training on bullying and cyberbullying in modules the California Department of Education must publish online. The legislation is sponsored by EQCA, the Advancement Project California, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – California, and Council on American-Islamic Relations, California. Pending administrative proceedings, both bills will await signatures from California Gov. Jerry Brown. On August 24, Brown signed AB 2719 by Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin, legislation that recognizes the needs of LGBT older adults and helps to ensure their access to services and support. That bill was sponsored by EQCA and Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • AUGUST 31, 2018 • 07
(SAGE). And on June 13, EQCA was joined by disability rights advocates and groups, including United Cerebral Palsy and The Arc, in celebrating Brown’s signing of AB 1985 by Assemblymember Phil Ting, which offers support to local law enforcement agencies to strengthen existing policies on the prevention and prosecution of hate crimes. LGBT folks can encounter harassment, discrimination, and violence at the hands of police and within the criminal justice system. Two more bills awaiting consideration on the Senate floor (AB 2504) and in the Assembly Appropriations Committee (SB 990) would strengthen training of law enforcement officers in LGBT cultural competency and require staff at jails and prisons to refer to transgender detainees by their preferred gender pronouns. Three other bills that would broaden rights and protections for LGBT Californians are also expected to be decided by concurrence votes on the Assembly Floor this week. Among these is AB 2153 by Assemblymember Tony Thurmond, which would equip California schools with resources and training to support LGBT students. EQCA considers this legislation an important step toward redressing the disparities in health and wellbeing encountered by LGBT youth. AB 2153 was passed on concurrence with broad bipartisan support. “Our public-school teachers and staff,” EQCA Executive Director Rick Zbur explained, “are on the front lines of ensuring that all California children — regardless of background, zip code, sexual orientation
or gender identity — have a shot at the American Dream.” The passage on Monday of AB 2639 by Assemblymembers Marc Berman & Patrick O’Donnell, a bill that requires schools to review and update (as necessary) suicide prevention policies at least every five years, represents another victory for LGBT youth advocates. A previous version of the legislation was included in California’s budget and signed by Brown on June 27. Another measure aimed at supporting LGBT youth, Foster Care: Gender Affirming Health Care and Mental Health Care, AB 2119 by Assemblymember Todd Gloria, would require child welfare agencies to ensure access to clinicians who offer genderaffirming treatment for transgender and gender non-conforming youth. The bill has earned broad support from LGBT groups and is sponsored by EQCA, the ACLU of California, the Los Angeles LGBT Center, Lambda Legal, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights. It is awaiting a passed on concurrence. vote on the Assembly Floor. A bill proposed by Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian, AB 1247, represents another measure intended to promote social services that affirm and protect California’s LGBT community. The legislation would offer training in LGBT cultural competency to private professional fiduciaries, who help older adults and people with disabilities by providing services in financial management, as well as housing and medical assistance. This bill is awaiting a concurrence vote on the Assembly Floor. As California’s housing affordability crisis worsens, growing numbers of people in the
state are experiencing homelessness—a problem that disproportionately affects LGBT folks, especially youth. LGBT people in California who experience homelessness or housing insecurity have often left the places in which they were born to find greater acceptance in cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco, which can present hurdles if they do not have and must replace their vital records—like birth certificates—that are required to apply for government benefits, like housing assistance. Furthermore, homeless LGBT young people in California in many cases have experienced family rejection and cannot safely return to their former homes to collect their identifying documents. Increasing Access to Identification for People Experiencing Homelessness, AB 2490 by Assemblymember David Chiu, would remove the fees that often preclude homeless Californians from requesting vital records—a measure that would improve access, too, for vulnerable LGBT communities. This bill is awaiting a concurrence vote in the Assembly. Another bill, Establishing Services for Youth Experiencing Homelessness, SB 918 by Senator Scott Wiener and Assemblymember Blanca Rubio, which awaits consideration on the Assembly Floor, would increase, in each county, the number of available programs related to youth homelessness and housing affordability. It would also require these programs to be inclusive and culturally competent to address these issues within LGBT communities. A concurrence vote this week may also decide the fate of AB 2663, Property
Tax Equity for Same-Sex Partners – a bill sponsored by out Los Angeles County Assessor Jeff Prang and carried in the Assembly by Assemblymember Laura Friedman and presented on the Senate Floor by Republican Scott Wilk. The bill addresses another housing-related issue that affects some LGBT people in California — in this case, an unfair disparity that concerns property taxes. “For too long,” Zbur explains, “some registered domestic partners in California have unfairly paid more in property taxes due to the death of a partner.” This legislation would provide retroactive relief for those folks, helping to ensure they can continue to afford their homes. Also awaiting consideration on the Senate Floor is legislation concerning family law— LGBTQ Family Law Modernization Act of 2018, AB 2684 by Assemblymember Richard Bloom, which updates the code to provide equal legal protections for LGBT parents and their children. The legislative session was rounded out with two measures that concern LGBTrelated observances. On August 23, the passage of ACR 258 established August 16 as PrEP and PEP Awareness Day in California—which supports efforts by public health officials to raise awareness about the availability of antiretroviral medications that can reduce the risk of HIV infection. And SCR 137, passed on May 29, designates the month of May as National Foster Care Month, an observance that recognizes the role of LGBT parents in the foster care system. – with Karen Ocamb
08 • AUGUST 31, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra Defends LGBT Rights The prolific AG thinks Trump is ‘dangerous’ By KAREN OCAMB email@example.com America is deeply divided, a threat to democracy President Donald Trump created and exploits. At a virtual state dinner at the White House on Aug.27, Trump admonished his evangelical fans to turn out their flocks in the midterm elections to stave off a Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives and the inevitable move to impeachment. Democrats “will overturn everything that we’ve done, and they’ll do it quickly and violently,” Trump warned, adding “you’re one election away from losing everything you’ve got.” Prolific California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, an ardent LGBT ally, is on high alert, having already filed 42 lawsuits against the Trump administration, as well as amicus briefs, opinions, and other actions to protect California, challenge federal agencies and policies and uphold the Constitution. “It’s chilling to watch Congress abandon its role to put a check on Donald Trump’s excesses,” Becerra told the Los Angeles Blade in a recent phone interview. “I have no hope for Donald Trump. And I think he’s proven himself repeatedly who he is and what he’ll do. When you have someone who’s that much of a rogue and that dangerous a player, you expect the other branches of government to stand up.” In every respect, Trump is endangering the health, the security, the economic wellbeing of the people of the country,” Becerra says. “It’s been a long time since we thought we were this close to having someone press the button that could end up starting some nuclear conflict. But given how erratic Donald Trump is—you just never know what he’s going to come up with next. I think that’s probably as bad as it gets when you get to the point of a nuclear conflict. But the fact that we would even talk about that or believe that could be possible for irrational reasons—it makes you just wonder where are the checks and balances that would make sure that one irrational person could not topple the longest living democracy in history.” Becerra is the tip of the spear in California’s resistance to the growing conflict between the state’s laws and values
No H8 campaign photo by West Hollywood photographer Adam Bouska Photo Courtesy No H8 campaign
and the Trump administration, including sanctuary laws and LGBT rights. Sworn in as attorney general on Jan. 24, 2017, four days after Trump’s inauguration, Becerra’s first LGBT-related action came five weeks later on March 3 when he filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court in Gloucester County School Board v. G.G., a case involving discriminatory bathroom policy that segregates transgender students from their peers. Since then, he’s added states to the State-Funded Travel Restrictions law, filed numerous amicus briefs in LGBT-related cases and perhaps most significantly, on Nov. 9, 2017, filed a motion for the state of California to intervene in Stockman v. Trump, a federal case brought by Equality California and other plaintiffs challenging Trump’s ban on transgender individuals serving in the military. Becerra has kept up with that fight, including filing an amicus brief this past July 2 in in Karnoski v. Trump,
now in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Becerra has never had an issue with LGBT people. “I’ve always looked at things from the perspective of someone who remembers my dad’s stories where, simply because he was from Mexican heritage, he couldn’t walk into restaurants because of the signs that said ‘no dogs or Mexicans allowed.’ When I ran [for the California Assembly] in 1990,” Becerra says, “I ran for office to be able to fight against discrimination.” It was a quiet evolution. “You get accustomed when you’re younger to hearing things,” Becerra says. “I remember in my family it was always taboo if you weren’t Catholic. You begin to think, ‘well, if you’re not Catholic, I guess you’re a sinner all the time.’ And then you begin to realize, ‘wait, maybe you don’t have to be Catholic to be a good person.’ Same kind of thing. I think as time went on, not only were people willing to come out but people who were straight were willing to speak out
in defense of, in support of people who were LGBTQ because there were still people who would be very mean-spirited towards folks. Rather than just absorb an attack or a gesture against someone who was LGBTQ, you’d actually say, ‘wait a minute, that’s not right.” Becerra is still speaking out, however, how he has to be more cautious. For instance, advocacy groups representing victims of Catholic Church sexual abuse sent him a letter pleading for a grand jury probe into the decades of priest molestations and the church’s cover up in California. Becerra starts with the caveat of never even acknowledging a California Department of Justice investigation. Then he adds: “There is no doubt that there some serious allegations that have been proven facts here of past misconduct. And so at the Department of Justice we will take every measure that we must to try to make sure we’re protecting the rights of the people of California, whether it’s a consumer issue,
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • AUGUST 31, 2018 • 09
Congressional candidate Xavier Becerra with Gay and Lesbian Latinos Unidos co-founders Conrado Terrazas and Cecilia Estolano in 1992 Photo by Karen Ocamb
whether it’s a criminal matter and whether it’s a matter involving the church. We understand what the obligations are for the state and we will do what we are authorized to do.” Becerra comes to his job with deep experience: the first in his family to graduate from college, he secured his Juris Doctor from Stanford Law School in 1984, worked for State Senator Art Torres, then Attorney General John Van de Kamp before running for Assembly in 1990. He ran for Congress in 1992 after famed Rep. Ed Roybal announced his retirement. Becerra rose to leadership positions, including as chair of the House Democratic and Hispanic caucuses, until Gov. Jerry Brown asked him to replace departing AG Kamala Harris after her election to the US Senate. Becerra is running for re-election in November. During his long congressional tenure, Becerra fought for LGBT issues, including against the Defense of Marriage Act in
1996 and “to make sure that the standards for immigration were not discriminatory against people who were LGBTQ.” As attorney general, he is constrained by federal law in what he can do. However, “we can take on the federal government if the federal government violates constitutional rights,” which is why he’s had success defending the DACA Dreamers and “protecting the state status against the attacks” by Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Becerra is “very confident” about the lawsuits challenging the trans military service ban. “Why you would stop anyone who was willing to put his or her life on the line to protect our people in the nation goes beyond me and it certainly goes beyond the law,” Becerra says. “So I feel very confident that if the Trump administration seeks to act based on a bias and discrimination that the courts will overturn anything he tries to do.” But Becerra is concerned about the
confirmation of Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, who Senate Republicans seem to want to rush through without a thorough examination. “If you don’t stand up in this crucial time, you’re being far less of a patriot than what we need right now in Washington, D.C.,” he says. “And right now with the way Congress has constantly been AWOL in doing oversight and the work that’s necessary to put a check on the work that the Trump administration is trying to put forward, it’s time to have profiles in courage.” Anything short of “full, thorough, fair and transparent process” would be “a blemish on our form of governance” and would “undermine the credibility and the integrity of the Supreme Court to be that fair and final arbiter. And I think people will begin to say that the courts and the Supreme Court are no less a political body than is the executive.” Becerra has a pointed analysis about
Trump’s possible impeachment. “Let me just try to give you my own personal opinion. I absolutely believe that there is an accumulation of evidence that Donald Trump has committed crimes. I believe that Robert Muller is assembling those facts to prove that he has committed crimes. I believe that Robert Muller’s investigation will be the evidence that it take to take action against Donald Trump,” Becerra says. “Some people say that he might face indictment; some people say that you can’t indict a sitting president. Regardless, if Donald Trump has committed crimes, actions can be taken against him,” says California’s Attorney General. “I believe that Robert Muller has accumulated evidence that shows that Donald Trump committed crimes. Whether it’s through an impeachment process or through an indictment, I believe Donald Trump should and will face justice.”
10 • AUGUST 31, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Duncan Hunter’s indictment doesn’t matter to voters: poll Whatever happened to ‘family values’ anyway? By KAREN OCAMB firstname.lastname@example.org Last Feb. 19, the anti-LGBT hate group Family Research Council Action honored California Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter Jr. for scoring a perfect 100% on FRC’s annual scorecard for 2017. He was given FRC’s “True Blue” award for “displaying unwavering commitment and consistent support of faith, family, and freedom.” “Rep. Hunter deserves praise for his unwavering commitment to stand for life, family, marriage, and religious liberty. Californians should be encouraged to know that they have a Member of Congress such as Rep. Hunter who has come alongside other members and our president to begin the work of rebuilding our nation, and protecting the very values that made America great,” said FRC President Tony Perkins. Almost exactly one year earlier, on Feb. 23, 2017, the FBI raided the office of Hunter’s campaign treasurer as part of an ongoing criminal investigation into whether Hunter and his wife used tens of thousands of campaign finance dollars for personal expenses and other crimes. “The search warrant suggests the FBI’s investigation into Hunter has taken a serious turn,” Politico reported. “While the records do not include the arguments the FBI made to obtain the warrant, investigators must show probable cause to raid private property.” Hunter denied any wrongdoing. Nonetheless, the House Ethics Committee decided to delay its own investigation into Hunter to not obstruct the federal probe. His alleged bad behavior was well known, spelled out in an extensive Feb. 8 Politico report, 11 days before he was honored by FRC. One issue under investigation was Hunter’s hiring of a young woman as an intern who was quickly promoted to a fulltime job, despite rarely showing up at work, being hostile to co-workers and wearing inappropriate office attire. Additionally, she sometimes accompanied Hunter to the Capitol Hill Club, where he would sometimes drink during the day, according to reports. She also showed up uninvited to
Rep. Duncan Hunter with FRC President Tony Perkins. Photo Courtesy Facebook
events, including one in San Diego. Hunter refused to fire her. “At the same time,” Politico reported, “Margaret Hunter started using the campaign credit card liberally, according to a person with knowledge of the investigation. In the spring of 2016, Hunter’s staffers began to take a closer look at their campaign finances after a series of news reports about questionable charges, such as $1,300 in video game charges that appeared on Hunter’s FEC report.” On Aug. 21, Hunter and his wife Margaret were indicted by a federal grand jury in San Diego alleging 200 counts of illegal behavior between 2009 and 2016, displaying a pattern of using more than $250,000 in campaign cash for personal purchases. The 48-page indictment included overdrawing their bank account more than 1,100 times resulting in about $37,761 in “overdraft” and “insufficient funds” bank fees and maxing out credit cards. With outstanding debt and delinquencies, “the HUNTERS knew that many of their desired purchases could only be made by using Campaign funds.” And then there was the $250 in Campaign funds to fly their pet rabbit on United Airlines to Washington, D.C. for a family vacation. The Hunters pleaded not guilty two days later, claiming the charges are a politically-motivated witch hunt. “This is
the new Department of Justice,” he told ABC News. “This is the Democrats’ arm of law enforcement. That’s what’s happening right now, and it’s happening with Trump and it’s happening with me.” But Hunter went beyond blaming the DOJ— he blamed his wife in a Fox News interview. “When I went to Iraq in 2003, the first time, I gave her power of attorney, and she handled my finances throughout my entire military career and that continued on when I got into Congress,” Hunter said about wife Margaret in a true exhibition of the new Republican family values. “She was also the campaign manager so whatever she did, that’ll be looked at too, I’m sure. But I didn’t do it. I didn’t spend any money illegally.” The indictment lists several allegations that are offensive to military service members and veterans, a core constituency—such as allegedly buying personal items at Dick’s Sporting Goods that were masked as purchases for a wounded warriors organization. “It’s disgusting. Disgusting and unbelievable,” wounded Marine Daniel Riley told the Los Angeles Times. “As a Marine, to use other people’s sacrifices to enrich himself — it’s unbelievable.” “If we have a congressman who can’t follow the law, how can we expect him to enforce the law?” asked his Democratic
opponent, Ammar Campa-Najjar. On Tuesday, Aug. 28, Hunter backtracked on blaming his wife. “Leave my wife out of it. Leave my family out of it,” Hunter told a reporter for 10News, an ABC affiliate in San Diego, as he headed into a meeting with Republican women. “It’s me they’re after anyway. They’re not after my wife. They want to take me down. That’s what they’re up to.” And despite the disgust of some, a Survey USA poll for the San Diego Union-Tribune released Monday, Aug. 27 indicates Hunter still has an eight-point lead—47% to 39%, with 13% undecided—over Campa-Najjar. Among Republicans, 77% are sticking with Hunter, while 72% say the indictment either made no difference or actually increased their support for him; 64% say the charges are politically motivated, the Union-Tribune reported. “An indictment is not a conviction, so his supporters are willing to give him the benefit of the doubt while Democrats won’t,” Carl Luna, a political science professor at San Diego Mesa College, told the Union-Tribune. “The mantra of the age is deny and castigate accusers. Hunter’s playing that game plan.” And with anti-LGBT leaders like FRC’s Tony Perkins praising him, as he does scandal-ridden Donald Trump, Duncan Hunter may survive the corruption he has brought to the ideal of “family values.”
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • AUGUST 31, 2018 • 11
“It is time that President Trump and [Health and Human Services] Secretary [Alex] Azar declare STDs in America a public health crisis.”
- David Harvey, executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors on Aug. 28, noting the jump from 2013, when there were 1,752,285 total US diagnosed cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis, to 2017 with 2,294,821 cased. Syphilis alone jumped from 27,814 cases in 2016 to 30,644 in 2017, with men who have sex with men accounting for 17,736 of those new cases.
“I know you buy me boy stuff because I’m a boy, but I’d rather dress like a girl.” - Jamel Myles, 9, coming out to his mother Leia Pierce. On Aug. 23, four days after starting fourth grade, Jamel was bullied and committed suicide, according to Fox31/Denver. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255).
“Our resolution (#SCR110) urging the medical profession to delay medically unnecessary genital surgeries on #intersex babies has now fully passed the CA Legislature. This is the first time a state has gone on record supporting the intersex community & opposing these surgeries.” – Out State Sen. Scott Wiener tweeted Aug. 28.
Donald Trump brought his New York City world of cheesy tabloid headlines and TV marketing to the White House after he became the cult president of his victimized red America. He knows that symbolism sells, which is why he goes in for memorable cheap sentiment like hugging an American flag while campaigning in New Hampshire on Aug. 19, 2015. Indeed, Trump has flipped honorable arguments about the flag and the First Amendment into a personal loyalty test in the name of patriotism. That penchant for power and control was itself tested when Trump was pressured into lowering the flag to half-staff to honor the passing of American hero Sen. John McCain, only to raise it to full staff again 24 hours later to signal his disgust with the senator who defied him, even in death. Trump was later forced to relent and lower the flag again after several military and veterans groups protested, the Military Times reported. Irony of ironies, however: for the man who constantly berates NFL players for “disrespecting” the flag by kneeling during the National Anthem (which he constantly fumbles), when Trump sat for a photo-op with kids during a tour of Nationwide Children’s Hospital on Friday, Aug. 24 in Columbus, Ohio—the complainer-inchief screwed up coloring the American flag. He included a blue stripe, though the stripes are red and white while the background for the stars is blue—something the kids, but not Trump knew. – Karen Ocamb
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12 • AUGUST 31, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
McCain leaves complicated legacy on LGBT rights Arizona Republican succumbs to brain cancer at age 81 By CHRIS JOHNSON Sen. John McCain, who died Saturday at 81, leaves a legacy of patriotism, service to country — and being a thorn in the side of President Trump — but his legacy on LGBT issues is more complicated. Throughout his decades in Congress, the Arizona Republican took widely different stances on LGBT issues — at times mocking them as unimportant, at other times embracing equal rights for the LGBT community. McCain would often oppose LGBT rights to align with his party and for the sake of political expediency, although the general direction of the positions he took as time went on demonstrated increasing acceptance of LGBT people. Masen Davis, CEO of Freedom for All Americans, said in a statement McCain’s growing acceptance of LGBT rights is consistent with many Americans. “John McCain’s journey to a more supportive place on a number of LGBTQ issues is one that is familiar to so many Americans,” Davis said. “His evolution is reflective of the growing awareness that each and every one of us share the same values and the same aspirations, and we all strive toward building a more perfect nation.” An early test for McCain on LGBT issues during his career in the Senate came in 1993, when lawmakers were debating gays in the military in response to then-President Clinton’s call to lift the administrative ban on their service. As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, McCain was part of the deliberation that ended with lawmakers passing the statutory ban on military service that came to be known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Three years later in 1996, McCain continued his opposition to LGBT rights when he was one of 84 senators to vote in support of the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal prohibition on the recognition of same-sex marriage. At around this time, former Rep. Jim Kolbe, McCain’s fellow congressman from Arizona who was closeted at the time, angered LGBT
Sen. John McCain died Saturday of brain cancer at 81. Blade File Photo by Michael Key
activists for his vote in favor of DOMA. LGBT activists, including the then-publishers of the Washington Blade, threatened to out Kolbe over his vote, but Kolbe pre-empted them by coming out as gay. Despite the political risk of coming out at the time, McCain came to his friend’s aid and said Kolbe’s coming out hadn’t “caused much of a ripple” in Arizona. “I think Jim Kolbe has the respect and appreciation of most Arizonans,” McCain said. “I believe if he ran for re-election, he wouldn’t have much difficulty.” McCain’s prediction proved correct. Kolbe would be re-elected and go on to serve another six terms in Congress before retiring in 2007. In an interview Sunday with the Arizonabased Kronkite News, Kolbe said having McCain’s support when coming out as gay was important. “In fact, before I could even tell him, he put up his hand and said, ‘Jim, don’t worry about it, you’re my friend, you’re always going to be my friend, and it’s not going to make any difference,’ before I even got the words out of my mouth,” Kolbe said. “And so, he was intensely loyal to people that he liked, and he was certainly intensely loyal to me.” Nearly a decade after the DOMA vote, McCain took a position aligned with the goals of the LGBT community in 2004 and
2006 when he broke with his party and opposed the Federal Marriage Amendment, a measure pushed by President George W. Bush that would have changed the U.S. Constitution to prevent the legalization of same-sex marriage. At a time when support for LGBT rights wasn’t popular and most Americans opposed same-sex marriage, McCain’s position as one of the few Republicans to oppose the Federal Marriage Amendment was distinctive. Although McCain acknowledged on the Senate floor opponents of the amendment contended it was “purposely divisive, discriminatory and intended to deny some Americans their right to the pursuit of happiness,” the Arizona Republican’s stated reason for opposing the Federal Marriage Amendment was federalism grounds. “The legal definition of marriage has always been left to the states to decide, in accordance with the prevailing standards of their neighborhoods and communities,” McCain said. “Certainly, that view has prevailed for many years in my party where we adhere to a rather stricter federalism than has always been the case in the prevailing views among our friends in the Democratic Party.” Consistent with that federalism approach, McCain was a vocal supporter in 2006 of a proposed state constitutional amendment
at the ballot in Arizona seeking to prohibit same-sex marriage and even appeared in a campaign calling for its passage. (Ironically, the Arizona amendment in 2006 was the first anti-gay marriage amendment to fail at the ballot, although voters in the state corrected that by passing a different version of the amendment in 2008. The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals would eventually strike down the amendment as unconstitutional.) Unlike other politicians, McCain never evolved on the issue of same-sex marriage and continued to oppose it even after the ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015 in favor of marriage equality nationwide. In 2008, McCain embarked on his presidential run and won the nomination to run against Barack Obama for the White House. Seeking to appeal to a nationwide audience, McCain reached out to the LGBT community through an interview with the Washington Blade, making him the first (and still only) Republican presidential nominee to participate in a Q&A with the LGBT media. In the interview, McCain suggested he could support the Employment NonDiscrimination Act and was open to a review of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Although he reiterated his opposition to the Federal Marriage Amendment, McCain suggested that might change if the courts forced states to recognize same-sex marriage. Notably, McCain when asked to identify a gay role model chose 9/11 hero Mark Bingham, who helped lead passengers in diverting United Airlines Flight 93 from the terrorists’ intended target of the U.S. Capitol building. McCain delivered the eulogy at Bingham’s funeral and spoke warmly about him during the Blade Q&A. “I love my country, and I take pride in serving her,” McCain said. “But I cannot say that I love her more or as well as Mark Bingham did, or the other heroes on United Flight 93 who gave their lives to prevent our enemies from inflicting an even greater injury on our country.” McCain was endorsed during his presidential run by Log Cabin Republicans, a distinction Trump failed to achieve eight years later despite having the reputation in 2016 of being the most pro-LGBT Republican nominee in history. Continues at losangelesblade.com
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • AUGUST 31, 2018 • 13
Kavanaugh hearings to begin Tuesday despite Trump scandals Senate Dems, LGBT groups object to withholding of Bush-era documents By CHRIS JOHNSON Despite objections to holding confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court amid the withholding of documents from his time at the Bush White House and mounting scandals facing President Trump, the Senate is nonetheless poised to begin its public questioning of the nominee next week. The Senate Judiciary Committee is moving forward with hearings — scheduled from Tuesday to Friday — as Republican leaders push to have a floor vote on his confirmation before Election Day — after which control of Congress could change. LGBT groups and Democrats — who oppose Kavanaugh based on fears his confirmation would tilt the Supreme Court in a more conservative direction — are insisting the hearings be delayed until the Trump administration makes public the entirety of Kavanaugh’s records of his time during the George W. Bush administration, including when he served as staff secretary from 2003 to 2006 at the White House. With Kavanaugh’s 12-year record as a circuit judge on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit scant on LGBT rulings, those Bush administration records may be more revealing on his work or thoughts on LGBT policy. After all, that was the time the U.S. Supreme Court struck down state anti-sodomy laws in the Lawrence v. Texas decision and Bush was pushing a Federal Marriage Amendment that would have banned same-sex marriage nationwide. Additionally, the Bush administration was taking heat at this time for use of torture in interrogation of terrorist suspects, warrantless wiretapping and misleading the American public in motivations for the Iraq war. Sasha Buchert, staff attorney for the LGBT legal group Lambda Legal, cited those Bush administration initiatives, saying with Kavanaugh up for an appointment to the Supreme Court the availability of those documents is “really, really critical.” “We don’t have adequate information,”
Confirmation hearings for Judge Brett Kavanaugh are set to begin Tuesday. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Court of Appeals of D.C.
Buchert said. “For our lane specially, we don’t know his involvement in so many of those Bush-era scandals, so it’s critical that this not move forward without us knowing his full involvement.” Among the documents revealed so far suggest Kavanaugh had a hand in Bush administration policy in which the Salvation Army requested an exemption from local nondiscrimination laws to discriminate against LGBT people and still receive federal funds. Although then-White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said in 2001 the administration had decided “not to proceed with the Salvation Army request,” the records suggest Kavanaugh developed an alternate policy for the Bush White House allowing a religious exemption, which would be consistent with a leaked report at the time from the Salvation Army. In July 2001, White House counsel Bradford Berenson wrote in an email to fellow White House counsel Jay Lefkowitz he hadn’t seen an inquiry from House Democrats on the Salvation Army issue, but “if it’s on faith-based, Brett is talking point.” In a subsequent exchange with Berenson, Kavanaugh wrote, “We have mapped out a preliminary strategy.” Buchert said the email exchange about Kavanaugh’s involvement on the Salvation Army issue is revealing. “It’s clear that he had extensive
involvement in that issue and likely many others, this is just the tip of the iceberg,” Buchert said. Senate Democrats have also asserted the withholding of documents stands in contrast to the confirmation process for U.S. Associate Justice Elena Kagan, who was required to hand over documents related to her time at the Clinton White House. According to Senate Democrats, only six percent of Kavanaugh documents have been made public. Calls for delay are also based on recent developments suggesting President Trump may have engaged in unlawful activity in the 2016 election. Chief among them is Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s pleading guilty to criminal violations of campaign finance law, which Cohen asserted as part of a plea deal was done at Trump’s request. Harper Jean Tobin, director of policy for the National Center for Transgender Equality, cited both the legal troubles facing Trump and the withholding of Kavanaugh documents as reason to suspend the hearings. “This entire process has already been farcical at best, and attempting to keep Judge Kavanaugh’s record a secret is an extreme step that ignores the will of the American people,” Tobin said. “Given the severity of the legal crisis facing the top levels of this country’s leadership, these hearings must be suspended at least until
Judge Kavanaugh’s full records have been made available to the public.” But those calls for delays aren’t enough to persuade Republicans to hold off on the Kavanaugh hearings. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a statement he’s “not going to delay Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation” because the calls for delays are disingenuous. “Minority Leader Schumer said he’d fight Judge Kavanaugh with everything he’s got,” Grassley said. “Some members of this committee announced their opposition before giving him any consideration whatsoever. The goal has always been the same: Delay the confirmation process as much as possible and hope Democrats take over the Senate in the midterm elections.” Grassley disputed the Trump administration wasn’t forthcoming in the confirmation process when compared to the process for confirming Kagan, denying only 6 percent of the Kavanugh documents were released. “We have received almost three times the number of pages for Judge Kavanaugh than we received for Justice Kagan,” Grassley said. “This is on top of the fact that we have Judge Kavanaugh’s 12-year judicial record to look at, while we didn’t have any judicial writings to review for Justice Kagan. This is the most transparent and open Supreme Court confirmation process of all time.” The Senate considers the Kavanaugh nomination as the U.S. Supreme Court may take up major LGBT cases in the coming years. Among them are cases challenging Trump’s transgender military ban, lawsuits seeking clarification on whether federal statutes against sex discrimination — such as Title VII and Title IX — cover LGBT people and “religious freedom” litigation seeking a First Amendment right to discriminate against LGBT people despite non-discrimination laws. Although the Supreme Court already decided in the Obergefell v. Hodges case of 2015 that marriage equality is the law of the land, new cases seeking to compromise that ruling may also come before justices. Among them is Turner v. Pidgeon, a case percolating in the Texas judiciary challenging spousal health benefits for Houston city employees in same-sex marriages and whether the Obergefell decision applies to those benefits. Continues at losangelesblade.com
14 • AUGUST 31, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Wisconsin state Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Milwaukee Co.) are in a dead heat, according to a new poll. Blade photo of Baldwin by Michael Key; photo of Vukmir public domain
Poll: Baldwin in dead heat in Wis. Senate race
Rep. Kyrsten Sinema Photo by Gage Skidmore; courtesy Flickr
Sinema wins Arizona Senate primary Arizona Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) won a significant victory on Tuesday in the primary when she became the first openly bisexual person to win a major party nomination to run for a U.S. Senate seat. The Associated Press declared Sinema, a three-term member of Congress, the winner at 9:21 local time after polls closed in Arizona at 7 p.m. Sinema faced Muslim progressive activist Deedra Abboud for the Democratic nomination to run for the open U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Jeff Flake (R), an outspoken critic of President Trump. (The other seat representing Arizona in the Senate after the death of Sen. John McCain will be filled by a interim replacement chosen by the Arizona governor and will come up for a vote in the general election in 2020.) As the only openly bisexual member of Congress and co-chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus, Sinema has taken the lead on LGBT issues during her time in Congress. Among other things, Sinema was a co-sponsor of the Equality Act, comprehensive legislation that would prohibit anti-LGBT discrimination in all areas of federal civil rights law and legislation against Trump’s attempted ban on transgender service members. Representing a moderate district in Congress, Sinema has taken votes in line with the Republican caucus that have angered progressive and LGBT activists. Sinema has never voted for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) as speaker, voted to delay implementation of the individual mandate in Obamacare and voted for a measure that would have inhibited Syrian refugees from coming to the United States. The winner on the Republican side was Rep. Martha McSally, a former Air Force pilot who represents Arizona’s 2nd congressional district in Congress. CHRIS JOHNSON
A new poll from Marquette University shows Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) in a dead heat with her Republican challenger Leah Vukmir, showing a tightening race as Election Day approaches. The poll from Marquette University Law School finds a plurality of 49 percent likely Wisconsin voters support Baldwin, but Vukmir is two points behind in the race at 47 percent. Moreover, 3 percent of respondents in the poll said they were undecided, which would be enough to put Vukmir over the top if they entirely side with her on Election Day. The poll comes shortly after the Wisconsin primary in which Vukmir, the GOP establishment candidate, came out on top in the Republican primary against the Steve Bannonbacked Democrat-turned-Republican Kevin Nicholson. The Marquette University poll stands out among other polls in recent weeks that had Baldwin with a significant double-digit lead over Vukmir. Among all registered voters in Wisconsin voters as opposed to likely voters, the polling is more consistent with earlier numbers. Baldwin has a commanding lead of 51 percent compared to 43 percent for Vukmir. The new polling could be reflective of the continued TV ads aired in Wisconsin against Baldwin funded by Koch brothers-backed Super PACs, which see Baldwin as vulnerable and have spent millions in the race to unseat her. The Marquette University poll also found incumbent Republican Gov. Scott Walker now in a 46-46 dead heat with Democratic candidate Tony Evers. Following the two is Libertarian candidate Phil Anderson with 6 percent of the vote and 2 percent who are undecided. CHRIS JOHNSON
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16 • AUGUST 31, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
VOLUME 02 ISSUE 26
McCain, a maverick redeemed Early opposition to LGBT rights gave way to support
Tom Carpenter is a former U.S. Marine Corps Captain (1979-1982), retired co-chair of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (19952012) and co-chair of the Forum on the Military Chaplaincy.
Sen. John McCain became known as “The Maverick.” Solidly conservative on most issues, from time to time he would oppose the positions staked out by his fellow Republicans. Not the case on most LGBT issues. From 1995 through 2012, I was a board member and co-chair of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, an organization dedicated to the repeal of the harmful “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law. McCain was one of the strongest and most outspoken opponents of open and honest service, a position supported by the Republican Party. In 1993, when newly elected President Bill Clinton attempted to fulfill his promise to lift the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the U.S. Armed Forces, McCain was one of the leaders of the assault on the president’s efforts. During the Senate hearings on the proposed DADT, he demonstrated his ignorance of the gay community and the issue. In a question to General Colin Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, McCain equated transvestites to gay men. In 2000, during the Republican presidential debate, McCain maintained that DADT was working. “I rely on people like General Colin Powell, people I served
with all my adult life, who tell me that this policy is working,” he said. During a 2007 Republican presidential debate, when asked about repealing DADT, McCain stated: “I think it would be a terrific mistake to even reopen the issue. It is working, my friends.” By then, thousands had been discharged from the service under the law while the majority of the public supported open service of LGBT Americans. Every year during SLDN’s annual Lobby Days, we attempted to meet with McCain to discuss the issue and every year he refused. There were many Naval Academy graduates leading the fight to repeal DADT. All of us shared a profound disappointment in McCain’s intransigence and outright opposition. Finally, in December 2010, in the lame duck session of Congress, McCain made his last stand in opposition to the repeal of DADT. In a bitter speech, he told the Senate he had talked to thousands of active duty service members and most were against repeal. He predicted doing away with DADT would lead to a breakdown of unit cohesion and damage our military readiness. When the legislation finally passed he said, “Today is a very sad day.” McCain’s predictions about how damaging the repeal of DADT would be to the military proved to be completely wrong. The implementation of the change in the law by the military was flawless. Today, LGB service members are serving around the world with pride. Finally, in 2016 the Obama administration lifted the longtime ban on transgender service. Unlike 1993, when all the senior military leaders opposed open service of LGB Americans, the current leadership was completely on board with this change in policy. On July 26, 2017, before the policy could be fully implemented, newly elected President Donald Trump tweeted that he would not allow “transgender persons to serve in any capacity.” The Pentagon was blindsided. How would Sen. McCain, chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, respond? Perhaps he had already shown his hand.
In April 2016, McCain came out in support of the first gay Secretary of the Army, Eric Fanning. After months of a hold on Fanning’s nomination by Sen. Roberts of Kansas, McCain argued to his Senate colleagues: “Mr. Fanning is eminently qualified to assume that role of Secretary of the Army. So I would urge my friend and colleague to allow me… to not object to the unanimous consent that I am just proposing.” In September 2017, McCain co-sponsored a bill in support of transgender Americans serving in the military. In a statement he declared: “When less than one percent of Americans are volunteering to join the military, we should welcome all those who are willing and able to serve our country. Any member of the military who meets the medical and readiness standards should be allowed to serve — including those who are transgender.” Why did John McCain change so much? Perhaps, diagnosed with a brain cancer not usually survivable, McCain was facing his own mortality. Trump, who never served a day in uniform and escaped the draft with a “bone spurs” medical exemption, insulted McCain during his run for president, saying: “He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured.” McCain began to oppose Trump at every turn. He dramatically cast the deciding vote to kill the bill that would repeal Obamacare. McCain favored the Dream Act and opposed “the wall,” the central promise of Trump’s campaign. Because of her admitted involvement in torture and refusal to call it immoral, he voted against Gina Haspel, Trump’s nomination for director of the CIA. McCain became the only Republican member of Congress to speak out against an administration that is fatally flawed. Whatever motivated McCain does not matter. What does matter is that he finally saw the light. He followed his better angels. At the end of a long and distinguished life of public service, he recognized the important contribution of LGBT Americans to our country. Indeed, Sen. McCain leaves us a Maverick redeemed.
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LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • AUGUST 31, 2018 • 17
In memory of David McReynolds One gay historian remembers another
Lee Mentley is author of ‘The Princess Of Castro Street.’ (Photo by Karen Ocamb)
David Ernest McReynolds was born in Los Angeles on Oct. 25, 1929, one day after the Black Thursday stock market crash signaled the beginning of the Depression. David passed away Aug. 17 at the age of 88 after a fall in his New York City East Village apartment, a few doors west of the legendary La Mama Avant Garde Theatre on 4th Street. I met David online in a gay elders chat group while serving as AIDS History Curator at ONE Archives at USC. Several older men were seeking a way to share information on the Gay Movement and politics. We had all lost so many friends to HIV/AIDS and needed to expand our circle of friends. David stood out to me as a sweet and
intelligent man with tons of political movement knowledge. I was particularly interested to hear of his friendship with gay civil rights icon Bayard Rustin and David’s leadership in the national socialist, civil rights and gay liberation movements. As a friend of Coretta Scott King and a Democratic Socialist myself, I was drawn to his brain trust and wealth of national movement history. After years of corresponding, we met when I moved to New York City’s East Village to write my own book and landed on his doorstep for delightful breakfast and lunch meetings. We shared stories and I was excited to know that as an activist he had landed in jail several times, compliments of the FBI because of his anti-Korean and Vietnam War protests as an officer in the War Resister League before his work on communities of color and Gay civil rights. The FBI had complied hundreds of pages on his activist work. I hope this ﬁle ﬁnds its way to ONE Archives. David’s soft and gentle nature seemed such a contrast to his draft card-burning political history because in his personal life he was a photographer and a member of the botanical society, surrounding himself with fragrant tropical plants, the sounds of Edith Piaf and a lounging yellow cat. His apartment was that of an eccentric academic
with papers and books strewn everywhere. I was right at home. After being radicalized by a group of young socialists on campus at UCLA, where he received a bachelor’s in 1953 and where David had his ﬁrst gay liberating sexual experience with choreographer Alex Ailey, his world opened up. Over the years he visited peace groups in Europe, Libya, Japan and Vietnam. Once when he returned to the United States in 1958, he ran for a U.S. congressional seat on the Eldridge Cleaver Peace and Freedom Party Ticket as openly gay. In 1980, he ran for president on the Socialist Party USA ticket with a focus on denuclearization. Then in 2000, he ran again—this time on the Green Party ticket against Chuck Schumer for the U.S. Senate. He knew he wouldn’t win these races but he felt it was a great opportunity to have a national platform to educate the public and youth on socialism. One of our favorite topics was reaching out to youth to encourage them to join movement politics. David continued over the years to be a mentor to youth in the Socialist Party, attending annual conventions that he said grew smaller and smaller, to his deep concern. We also found humor in often discovering ourselves to be the oldest persons in the room, wishing we still had our youthful stamina and sharing
memories of romping around the Westside water front and the infamous “Trucks” in the sexual liberation of 1970s New York. Bringing people together in community coalitions was something we shared. We also shared a fear that the gay movement had been splintered by the politically correct alphabet soup that had divided us into small groups with limited agendas, losing our grip on Gay Liberation for Full Equality. David had a deep need to communicate, educate and bring people from all walks of life to an understanding that we all have a responsibility to the world we live in—Gay & Straight, Right & Left, Rich & Poor. Reading different biographies this past week, I learned even more about my Elder friend. It made me cherish the short times we spent together. I had thought we would have many more breakfasts together. I will miss those early morning e-mails and calls to arms. Life is short my friends, reach out and make it count! David is survived by a sister, Elizabeth Gralewski, and a brother, Martin McReynolds. You can learn more about David McReynolds in a biography entitled “A Saving Remnant” by Martin Duberman. David McReynolds Photography Can be Found Here: http://www.mcreynoldsphotos.org/
18 • AUGUST 31, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Help needed for Massachusetts trans initiative It’s all hands on deck to defend our rights
Masen Davis is the CEO of Freedom for All Americans, the campaign to secure LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections nationwide. (Photo courtesy Freedom For All Americans)
The LGBTQ movement is facing a historic moment this November: our first statewide public vote on a transgender nondiscrimination law and it’s an “allhands-on-deck” moment. A small but vocal group of anti-transgender activists has mounted an attack on the Massachusetts law protecting transgender people from discrimination in public places—signed by the Commonwealth’s Republican governor just two years ago. I’m proud that Freedom for All Americans was a lead partner in successfully passing these protections for transgender people in Massachusetts - and we’re just as committed to defending it now through the Yes On 3 campaign to uphold the law. This fight isn’t just one of the biggest challenges facing our movement today - it’s also one of our biggest opportunities. It’s an opportunity to show
how deep support is for transgender equality - and for nondiscrimination protections for all LGBTQ Americans. In our work to protect all people from discrimination, this is a crucially important fight to win. This is a high stakes campaign with national implications. Our movement has fought back attempted rollbacks in Anchorage and Montana this year - and won. If we hold the line in Massachusetts, we’ll send a strong message that America is evolving in support of transgender equality. As Andrew Beckwith, the head of the Massachusetts Family Institute which forced this initiative onto the ballot, told Politico: “If this movement [for transgender equal rights] can be stopped in Massachusetts, it can be stopped anywhere in the country.” MFI is leading repeal efforts and has a history of aggressively opposing protections and rights for LGBTQ people, including marriage equality and anti-bullying policies, and even supports the dangerous practice of conversion therapy. LGBTQ supporters can win this campaign - but it’s also winnable for the opposition. As Jim Rooney, CEO of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce and early endorser of the law, also told Politico, “The [fact that the] repeal question made it to the ballot — clearly it needs to be taken seriously … With the national reputation of the state, while there is a demonstrated history of a progressive bent on social issues, it’s not to say it’s a homogeneous state where everyone thinks the same.’” While LGBTQ Californians rightfully feel more protected legally than many of
our fellow Americans, we cannot insulate ourselves from our opponents’ efforts across the country - especially when even the future of the courts hang in the balance. Ten years ago, here in California, we faced a similar predicament. We didn’t think enough of our neighbors, friends, and coworkers could possibly vote against our freedom to marry the person we love, but they did. Prop 8 was a heartbreaking setback, and now our LGBTQ movement is faced with a similarly terrifying vote -- but rather than marriage, it’s transgender rights; and rather than here at home, it’s across the country in Massachusetts. We need to unite as a movement and fight this together. Even at a time in which the Trump administration is doubling down on attacks on transgender people, we have plenty of reasons to be hopeful. Just this year, Anchorage became the first municipality in the country to uphold transgender protections on a stand-alone ballot measure, proving that a growing majority of Americans nationwide are rejecting discrimination against transgender people. Anti-transgender activists failed to gather enough signatures to place a similar repeal of protections on the ballot in Washington State and Montana. The Republican-controlled New Hampshire legislature approved comprehensive legislation protecting transgender people from discrimination just this past year, proving how bipartisan our support truly is. Voters in neighboring Vermont will even have the opportunity to vote for the first transgender gubernatorial nominee of a major state party, Democratic
candidate Christine Hallquist. The tides are turning, but we know all too well that equality and justice for all are not inevitable guarantees. As my good friend and fellow activist Gina Duncan often says, “When they go low, we go local.” Even for those of us who live on the Left Coast, this fight in Massachusetts is our fight. And there are plenty of ways you can help make sure we win. Our opponents are a small but vocal minority, and it takes a lot of resources to overcome their myths and lies. The single best way you can encourage Massachusetts voters to uphold the law and vote Yes On 3 is to donate $100, $50, $10, or any amount you can so that our team can talk to every single undecided voter. The campaign to vote Yes On 3 is organizing virtual phone banks you can participate in right where you live and they are even hosting folks on “volunteer vacations” who can travel to Massachusetts and volunteer directly with the campaign to talk to voters about why transgender equality matters to them. That means anyone can participate, no matter where you live. Just like California, Massachusetts has long led the country on matters of equality. This ballot campaign again makes Massachusetts a “first.” Winning in Massachusetts will allow us to create momentum that moves the LGBTQ movement forward on a path to a nationwide victory in which we successfully pass a comprehensive nondiscrimination bill in Congress. We can win this fight, but we need all hands on deck. Visit FreedomMassachusetts.org and help us hold the line in Massachusetts and beyond.
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Greg Berlanti’s TV superpowers keep getting stronger The out producer has Hollywood’s full attention By SUSAN HORNIK
Veteran gay producer Greg Berlanti has his hands full executive producing shows like The CW’s “Riverdale,” “Black Lightning” and NBC’s “Blindspot.” Best known for his work as executive producer and co-creator of The CW’s “Arrow,” “The Flash” and DC’s “Legends of Tomorrow,” Berlanti has numerous upcoming projects, like the live-action version of DC Entertainment’s “Titans,” as well as “Doom Patrol,” “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” for Netflix; and CBS Access’ “God Friended Me.” All of which which makes him one of the busiest guys in Hollywood. To have so many scripted series on air at the same time is simply unprecedented. And he’s also delved into movies—did you see the brilliant “Love, Simon”? Yep, he directed that film too.
The WGA, DGA, and Golden Globenominated writer and director is executive producer/creator of Lifetime’s new psychological thriller, “You,” which has already been renewed for season two. He also oversees the new CW series, “All American.” During the “You” panel for the Television Critics Press Tour, a reporter joked that the critics were three years away from every other show on television being executive produced by Berlanti and his Warner Bros. Televisionbased production company. When asked how he juggles his various commitments, Berlanti acknowledged it depended on each show. “On this one, I read the book and was just transfixed. I read it in a night, night-and-ahalf. I passed it around to friends. We were all
reading it. The studio said, ‘Is this something you’d be interested in making? We know this is maybe darker than some of the things you’ve done in the past?” The veteran writer/director, who has worked on iconic shows like “Dawson’s Creek,” “Brothers & Sisters,” and “Everwood,” never has worked on a thriller television series. “I was intrigued if I could, and I’d been wanting to work with (co-creator and executive producer) Sera Gamble. We had sold the pilot at least once before...this was just one that when we kind of got together and started pitching it out, I asked her if she’d let me write the script with her, just because I hadn’t written, co-written anything like that ever.” Berlanti tried to conserve a certain amount of story time, usually to the newer shows, to be
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Greg Berlanti Photos Courtesy Facebook
in the writer’s room or giving notes on scripts. “And then there is usually a moment also where they do kind of just take flight mostly on their own, and I realize that they don’t need me as much anymore. And by then I’m usually dreaming something up with somebody else.” This is the first time Gamble wrote a script with Berlanti and loved the collaborative experience. “Greg is such a good writer, and he writes men brilliantly and he writes women brilliantly,” acknowledged Gamble. “So, really, the process between the two of us was much more about egging each other on.” Gamble was delighted by the playful competitiveness they shared, which pushed her to bring her A game.
“The fun thing about writing with a writer that you admire is that they send you pages and you’re like, ‘Shit. Now my pages have to be better.’ Or darker or more interesting. Or I have to surprise him before I send it back. I have to figure something out that he’s not going to see coming,” Gamble said. Berlanti is also executive producing “Batwoman” starring lesbian Ruby Rose, which is currently in development for the 2019-20 television season. The DC Comics character is an out lesbian and will appear in the CW’s DC Crossover event in December. Next month brings a particularly noteworthy moment for the uber-busy producer. Along with his longtime love, former soccer star turned producer, Robbie Rogers, Berlanti is being honored by the Los Angeles LGBT
Center’s upcoming Gala Vanguard Awards. The happy couple will be celebrating their one year wedding anniversary in December. Berlanti has been an inclusive force to be reckoned with in the television industry. He’s responsible for the first gay superhero to headline a TV series, (“Freedom Fighters: The Ray”) the first romantic kiss between two gay characters, (“Dawson’s Creek”) and the first legal gay marriage on network television, (“Brothers and Sisters”). He also brought the first transgender recurring character to primetime television, (“Dirty Sexy Money”) as well as the first gay African-American male and female superheroes (Echo Kellum as Curtis Holt playing Mr. Terrific in “Arrow” and Nafessa Williams as Anissa Pierce in “Black Lightning”).
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22 • AUGUST 31, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
OUT & ABOUT
Visibility Awards high above soaring Downtown Los Angeles Los Angeles Blade and U.S. Bank’s Pride in the Sky was a huge success By STAFF REPORTS
About 200 people attended the Los Angeles Blade’s first Pride in the Sky Visibility Awards, held Aug. 25th on the 70th Floor of the U.S. Bank Building and presented by U.S. Bank. The honorees were (L-R) Hany Haddad, U.S. Bank vice president, district manager at U.S. Bank; James Wen, transgender activist and member of the West Hollywood Transgender Advisory Board; Dr. Joe Nadeau, artistic director and conductor of Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles accepted for the Chorus; Eddie Martinez, Mi Centro and Latino Equality Alliance executive director; Jewel ThaisWilliams, activist, LGBT community pioneer, founder of Catch One and director of the Netflix documentary, “Catch One;” Marc Malkin, Variety magazine/TV personality, senior events and lifestyle editor; Jennifer Gregg, ONE Archives Foundation, executive director; Greg Wilson for Jeffrey King, In The Meantime Men’s Group executive director. Not pictured are Michael Weinstein, president of AIDS Healthcare Foundation and Oliver Luke Alpuche, founder of DTLA Proud and RedLine Bar. Also pictured in the second row is Troy Masters, publisher of Los Angeles Blade and event emcee Tony Moore. (Photos by Michelle De Vita unless otherwise noted)
Attendees enjoyed great views and cocktails.
Abey Alfasi and Shemuwel Lavoz of Unite Energy Drink.
Los Angeles Blade news editor Karen Ocamb is pictured here with Dante Alencastre, executive director/CEO at California LGBT Arts Alliance and John Johnston.
Austin Marin, director of communications at AIDS Healthcare Foundation; Jewel Thais-Williams and AIDS Healthcare Foundation President Michael Weinstein. (Photo by Karen Ocamb)
Berkshire Hathaway HomeService Corporation’s Nicholas Cacarnakis, his son and husband Effie Cornejo Cacarnakis.
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • AUGUST 31, 2018 • 23
OUT & ABOUT
Jennifer Gregg, executive director of ONE Archives Foundation and Eddie Martinez, executive director Latino Equality Alliance. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1r2Zz5VEpflFBgukE368KPHjfmy6 YFDJV/view?usp=sharing
Oliver Luke Alpuche and his identical twin brother Dominic Alpuche.
Out gay boy band Echo V were in attendance, pictured here with publisher Troy Masters, hands crossed.
Sergey Grankin and Jonathan Shuffield.
Michael Mirch and husband Mark Morales.
Awardee James Wen (L), his son (center) and son’s girlfriend.
(L-R) Anthony Gutierrez, Ari Gutierrez, Eddie Martinez and Joseph Sahagun.
Jennifer Gregg, ONE Archives Foundation executive director.
OUT & ABOUT
24 • AUGUST 31, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
DTLA Proud 2018 heralds new day for DTLA An event and a community come into their own Photos Courtesy DTLA PROUD
More than 25,000 people attended 2018’s DTLA PROUD Festival held in Pershing Square from Aug. 24th through 26th in celebration of the culture, history and diversity of a growing LGBTQ+ community in Downtown Los Angeles. Proceeds from the event will be earmarked toward helping establish an LGBTQ+ Center for Downtown Los Angeles, according to founder Oliver Luke Alpuche.
26 • AUGUST 31, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
QUEERY 20 GAY QUESTIONS FOR HUNTER LEE HUGHES
queery HUNTER LEE HUGHES How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell? I came out at age 18, and like so many gay men, my father was the most difficult person to tell. Now, he’s one of the most supportive! Who’s your LGBT hero? Martina Navratilova. She was out before out was cool.
A sketch of Hunter Lee Hughes by legendary artist Dan Bachardy. (Image Courtesy Hughes
By JOHN PAUL KING
Hunter Lee Hughes is a multidisciplinary artist living and working in Los Angeles, best known as a playwright and indie filmmaker whose work comes as an expression of LGBTQ-centric experience. He founded Fatelink in 2004 and StoryAtlas in 2013. Originally from Houston, he graduated from Trinity University in San Antonio before moving to Los Angeles in pursuit of an acting career. He studied acting with Ivana Chubbuck in her master class for five years, and also spent five years as writer’s assistant to Mardik Martin (cowriter of Martin Scorsese’s “Mean Streets” and “Raging Bull”) – which also amounted to a master class in screenwriting. He says, “I came to Los Angeles to pursue acting, but at that time it was very difficult for openly gay actors to advance. So, I quickly realized I would need to start making my own work in order to have a creatively satisfying career – well, actually, to have a career, period!” Pursuing that end, he created “Fate of the Monarchs,” a multi-media one-man show that premiered at Highways Performance Space in 2004 and went on to be a fully realized production in 2005 at NoHo Arts Center. It was chosen as a Critic’s Pick by BackStage West. A second play, “The Sermons of John Bradley,” was workshopped in 2008, then presented in 2009, and was awarded Best Leading Actor in a Drama (Male) by StageSceneLA.com. For the screen, he created the gay dark short film “Winner Takes All” in 2011, which starred Alec Mapa and went on to be acquired by Guest House Films for their Black Briefs collection; a year later, he directed the comedy narrative webseries “Dumbass Filmmakers!,” launched in 2012, which won four awards at L.A.WebFest, including Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series. His feature directorial debut, “Guys Reading Poems,” came into being after Hunter immersed himself in poetry books left to him by his late grandmother Kathleen. He committed to write and direct a movie with the hope of effectively combining visual poetry with narrative storytelling. The movie had its world premiere at the 21st annual Palm Beach International Film Festival, followed by screenings at Dances With Films and qFLIX Philadelphia. It won the Audience Award for Best Feature (Drama) at the 25th annual Woods Hole Film Festival, the “Creativity in Drama” award at Breckenridge Film Festival and “Best of Fest” at the South Texas Underground Film Festival. It was released across platforms by Gravitas Ventures on Feb. 20, 2018. “I’ve always been better at dreaming than actually living,” he says, “so I guess I had no choice but to make movies.” He is currently developing his second feature film, “Inside-Out, Outside-In.” His newest play, “Nathaniel Quinn: Filmmaker,” focuses on the personal journey of its disillusioned title character, as narrated by the ghost of his dead best friend. It premieres August 31 at Highways Performance Space in Santa Monica.
What’s Los Angeles’ best nightspot, past or present? I had a magical birthday party at the bar at Chateau Marmont one year, so I’ll go with that. Describe your dream wedding. 55-60 guests in an Emerald Forest kind of theme. What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about? Suicide prevention and treatment for depression. So many good artists are lost needlessly so I believe we need to find a way to be more helpful to those suffering with mental illness or suicidal thoughts. What historical outcome would you change? I would go back and make the U.S. government MUCH more responsive right away to the AIDS crisis in the 1980s. So many lives could have been saved. What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime? The death of Princess Diana. On what do you insist? Alone time. What was your last Facebook post or Tweet? Promoting this show by posing with my set designer!
What do you believe in beyond the physical world? I believe in God (singular) and The Casting Gods (plural) and, most days, reincarnation. What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders? Re-read “Twilight of the Golds” and start preparing for that fight. It’s coming. What would you walk across hot coals for? The opportunity to make an independent feature film. What LGBT stereotype annoys you most? The eunuch gay best friend character. What’s your favorite LGBT movie? “Maurice.” What’s the most overrated social custom? Wishing people happy birthday over Facebook. At this point, does it really mean anything? What trophy or prize do you most covet? Hmmmm....I love that Wimbledon dish that Serena and Martina have won so many times, but I guess I’ll have to wait until a future lifetime to have a crack at that! What do you wish you’d known at 18? Make mistakes. But don’t get paralyzed in a destructive pattern. Do what you have to do to break out of those as soon as you can.
If your life were a book, what would the title be? Between Two Things
Why Los Angeles? There are lots of creative people here and LA has an open mind toward entrepreneurs, so it’s the right place for me!
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you
BONUS: Favorite poet? Rumi.
28 • AUGUST 31, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Sex and racism collide in LGBTQ thriller, ‘The Breeding’ An exploration of youthful sexual exploits By JOHN PAUL KING
David J. Cork and Marcus Bellamy star in a scene in ‘The Breeding.’ Photo Courtesy Breaking Glass and Novo Novus
When a movie is described as “an erotic LGBTQ thriller,” you are likely to go into it prepared for something dark and racy. In the case of “The Breeding,” you won’t be prepared enough. In this brooding drama, which won a 2018 Best Feature Award at the Harlem Film Festival, writer Dane Joseph and director Daniel Armando have delivered something designed to make you uncomfortable, to feed your sexual fantasies even as it challenges you to think about things you probably would rather not. To put it more plainly, “The Breeding” is a movie that uses sex to explore the difficult and extremely timely subject of race in America – specifically within the context of the LGBTQ community, and even more specifically as it manifests in the gay bondage subculture. According to Joseph – a gay black man who is also co-founder of Novo Novus, the film’s production company, which is dedicated to producing content that explores the experience of queer people of color – his screenplay was inspired by an art piece about Harmen van den Bogaert, a slave master in the pre-Civil War era who was accused of sodomy with his slave – a crime punishable by death. Master and slave fled together and eventually perished when they fell through the ice of a frozen lake and drowned. Joseph says, “The artist envisioned their plight as a forbidden love story. I felt it to be a problematic interpretation and so I began research on master/slave relationships. It led to my discovering BDSM, where racially charged situations and language are used during cross cultural sexual encounters. My mind began to wonder how people of color could reconcile that sort of behavior, considering the horrific past from which the practice stems.” His contemplation provided a springboard into a story that also explores the question of “whether fetishes based on race serve to dehumanize LGBTQ people of color and perpetuate harmful myths, such as the ‘Black Mandingo.’” The film which Joseph eventually shaped around these issues is an intense, almost transgressive. Yes it’s full of sex – and not the pretty, sanitized variety usually seen in the movies, but the kind that feels so authentic you can almost smell it. It’s also a deep-dive into the sensitive topic of racism – not as a social phenomenon, as it is presented through the daily dialogue conducted in our news and social media, but as a lingering demon that dwells in the darkest corners of the soul. A macabre footnote casts an even more unsettling tone over “The Breeding.” In 2016, a few months after shooting the film, its star, Marcus Bellamy, was arrested for murdering his boyfriend. Bellamy, a Broadway dancer who appeared in “Tarzan” and “Spider Man: Turn Off the Dark,” allegedly strangled 27-year-old Bernardo Almonte in their Bronx apartment before confessing to the crime via a cryptic Facebook post. It was a tragedy that will forever be linked to the movie’s legacy, and which makes the young actor’s powerful performance all the more devastating. In the film, he plays a young black artist named Thomas, who lives with his boyfriend Amadi (Marcus J. Cork) but is secretly exploring his sexual fantasies with hook-ups on the side. One night at a gallery opening, he meets a white man named Lee (Joe MacDougal), and he soon becomes enmeshed in a racially-charged relationship that threatens to push his boundaries further than ever before. Meanwhile, Thomas’ white friend and fellow artist, Jackson (Patrick Kuzara), uses his work to explore his own interracial fetishes, with equally disturbing results. Without giving away any further details of the plot, it’s enough to say that what begins as consensual erotic play turns into something unexpected and dangerous. Such scenarios have been rehearsed on film many times before; here, though, the subject is used as a filter through which we are given a shocking examination of racism in its most primal, insidious form – the kind that has been programmed into our cultural consciousness by centuries of white domination and privilege. This ugly subject is made more unpleasant by being interwoven with issues of sexuality and culture. There is a deep undercurrent of internalized homophobia at work on both sides of the racial divide here; insecurities about masculinity, shame around sexual desire, fear of communicating authentic feeling – all these play their part in the complex interrelationship between characters, and leave the audience questioning their own place in the challenging landscape of queer identity. Director Armando – himself a gay person of color, in this case Latino – makes sure we cannot distance ourselves from these difficult topics. He gives us a film full of close-ups; intimate, sweaty, claustrophobic, and oppressive, his technique seems geared toward conveying the sense of a trapped existence – evoking the legacy of slavery still influencing our culture today. A stream of background details laced throughout – a news story about a police shooting, a #BLM protester in the street – ensures the subtext of racism never sinks far below the surface. “The Breeding” is a difficult film to judge critically. The acting is good, sometimes excellent, and the director’s skill is never in question; but there is so much emotional baggage tied up in the issues raised by this film that finding a purely aesthetic viewpoint is nearly impossible. It’s fair to say it can hardly be called entertaining. Some viewers are likely to be offended, particularly white viewers who have not quite come to grips with their own privilege and entitlement issues; likewise, there will be some who may object that the film casts a negative light on the B&D fetish community. Lastly, those who believe that art should offer positive messaging and behavioral modeling will be left unsatisfied. There is no solution presented in Joseph and Armando’s disturbing film, only observation. By this measure, then, their work must be deemed a success; their intention was to present the experience of people of color, without softening it for mainstream consumption or shying away from controversy. It’s true that some of the content may go awry – at times the narrative veers toward the implausible in the service of making its point, and the structural conceit of dividing the story into numbered “chapters” feels like a disruption of flow – and that there are unavoidable suggestions of “slut-shaming” inherent in its cautionary tale about the risks of anonymous sexual encounters; but these flaws, however problematic, are ultimately immaterial. “The Breeding” is a cinematic moment of awareness-raising protest; challenging, sometimes hard to take, but profound and honest, nonetheless. “The Breeding” opens September 7 in select theatres in Los Angeles.
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • AUGUST 31, 2018 • 29
Things continue to look good for queer wunderkind Troye Sivan. The 23-year-old pop star is out with his second full-length album, “Bloom,” the follow-up to his successful first album,“Blue Neighbourhood,” which debuted at no. 7 in 2015. The new record (out today) traces much the same lines as the previous. His characteristic chill dance pop returns in full vigor — or rather, mellowness — on “Bloom,” but this time in bleach blond. It’s a good sound and look for the perennially boyish Australian. Sivan first came to notoriety as a YouTuber, where he collaborated regularly with Tyler Oakley. His coming-out video, posted five years ago, has been viewed more than eight million times. Sivan makes no bones about his queerness, evidenced no less by the title of the new album. As was much commented on in the mainstream press, the song “Bloom” is a not-so-subtle reference to bottoming. It’s a bold choice of title for an album that is musically less so. Nonetheless, Sivan once again works his dream pop magic, playing it safe without becoming redundant. Much like the previous album, “Bloom” is a mesh of loverboy lyrics and warm, ethereal synth sounds — it’s less a break from “Blue Neighbourhood” than a companion album, a slightly more energetic side B. This is not a criticism; in fact his sound is somewhat unique among his pop music contemporaries. Drawing attention to the deeply similar character of the album might say more about our expectation that artists continually do something new and unexpected than it does about Sivan’s music. The album opens with “Seventeen,” a song chronicling Sivan’s early sexual encounters with older men. (For the record, the age of consent in Australia is 16.) The lyrics, like those of many of his songs, have a spoken quality, giving them a relatively natural flow: “And he said age is just a number, just like any other.” Or, to take an example from the song “Postcard,” one of the most subdued and compelling tracks on the album: “I sent you a postcard from Tokyo baby/You never picked it up/I even wrote it in Japanese, baby/You didn’t give a fuck.” The lyrics have the weight of regular speech but without sacrificing musicality. Nor are they short on wit. This is one of the more remarkable things about Sivan’s music, and it gives the impression that Sivan is telling a single, continuous story over the course of an album. But songs also buzz with sexual yearning. “Lucky Strike,” an almost enchantingly catchy tune, is a good example. With the bass thumping, he sings in his whispery tenor: “‘Cause you taste like Lucky Strikes/You drag, I light.” Sivan is, of course, no stranger to innuendo or to lyrics about smoking. The new album certainly hasn’t been short on singles: Five have been released to date, including lead single “My My My!,” “The Good Side,” “Bloom,” “Dance to This” (featuring Ariana Grande) and “Animal.” “My My My!” has already enjoyed a fair amount of radio play and is likely destined for a long afterlife of remixes. The same can be said, though to a lesser degree, for “Bloom” and “Dance to This.” The song “The Good Side” is largely acoustic break-up song and a refreshing break from synth-heavy sounds. The music video for “Bloom,” however, is a point of interest on its own. In bright red lipstick, Sivan wears a variety of androgynous flower-inspired gowns that look like they were taken from a J.W. Anderson runway show. It’s a fun, provocative celebration of queer identity. The Frank Ocean-inspired “Animal”strays the farthest from the herd. If anything, it indicates a drive toward more effect-heavy, quasi-psychedelic sounds. It’s by far the most adventurous track. But the joy of this album is not in shuffling through the singles — it’s in listening start to finish. With good albums, the whole is always greater than the sum of its parts. This one is no different.
Time to ‘Bloom’ New Troye Sivan sophomore album is lovely, logical follow-up By THOM MURPHY
Troye Sivan previewed material from his new album ‘Bloom’ this summer at Capital Pride where he headlined. Blade photo by Michael Key
30 • AUGUST 31, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Twists and turns Teen protagonist faces family crisis in late 1800s-set novel By TERRI SCHLICHENMEYER
Author John Larison has crafted a buzzworthy tale in his new book ‘Whiskey When We’re Dry.’ It’s his third novel, his first that’s not about his other passion — fishing. Photo Courtesy Viking
There’s an increasingly rich vein of storytelling, both fiction and non-fiction, about the ways people of yesteryear dealt with transgender issues. It was, of course, a “thing” before we had the language for it. In John Larison’s new novel “Whiskey When We’re Dry” (his third) out last week and already praised by Entertainment Weekly, O Magazine and other outlets, we meet a teen protagonist thrust into crisis. Jessilyn Harney never knew her mother. She died in childbirth, leaving Jessilyn’s father to raise Jessilyn and her brother, Noah, who was five years older. Noah took care of Jessilyn when their father drank too much syrup. He was a good brother, making sure she was warm, dressed and protected, until the year she turned 13 and, as young men are wont to do, Noah had a fight with his father and rode away. For a few years, Jessilyn did what she could to help her father run things, but he’d gotten addled in that fight and was never the same. Sensing the truth, perhaps, he schooled her on sharp-shooting for protection, and talked of marrying her off. Six days after he left on a solitary ride, Jessilyn found his bones scattered. Not knowing what to do, she asked if the nearby Mormon family might take her in, but she was denied. That was when Jessilyn went into the old wooden box that Noah left behind. She found some of his outgrown clothes — things that fit her fine — and she became Jesse. Women on the frontier circa 1885 stuck out, he learned, but a baby-faced man was mostly ignored. Still, he was soft and that cost him; he was unwise to the world, and that cost more, though guns would ultimately protect Jesse and they’d generate money in wagers with fools who thought a lad wasn’t good with a Colt. But Jesse didn’t want money; he only wanted one thing. Noah had taken up with some outlaws and there was a bounty on his head, dead or alive. Sharp-shooting was fun, but Jesse only wanted to find Noah before the law did. Reading “Whiskey When We’re Dry” is like opening dozens of little gifts at Christmas: each time a surprise occurs, it’s a delight, the last no less than the first. Author John Larison does that over and over again, gifting readers with a great opening, exceptional characters and plenty to unwrap. Set in the years following the Civil War in an unnamed state, this book offers a lot to fans of many genres: for sure, this is an oater, complete with hosses and outlaws. With stunningly described scenery, it’s a book for adventurers. There’s a gauzily told romance with another woman here, and small crushes on gun-slinging men. It’s un-PC, so beware. There’s heroism in this novel, but not where you might anticipate it. If you’re in need of a sweeping epic — a film adaptation is already in development — that offers plenty of minishocks throughout, it’s right here. ‘Whiskey When We’re Dry’ By John Larison Viking $28 400 pages
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • AUGUST 31, 2018 • 31
Benefiting AIDSLifeCycle, Lezathalon is back. See September 1, 2018.
Presenting Sara Gazarek for Free Friday Night Music at LACMA, Fri. Aug 31 @ 6 PM at Los Angeles County Museum of Art Smidt Welcome Plaza (5905 Wilshire Blvd). Championed by some of music’s most celebrated figures, Sara Gazarek has emerged as a strikingly original artist with limitless potential. With three highly acclaimed CDs, Gazarek and her trio continue to seamlessly combine the intimacy of singer/ songwriter styling with the musical and improvisational elements of jazz. Blessed with a gorgeous, translucent voice, excellent pitch, and supple sense of time, Gazarek is steeped in the jazz tradition, but is not afraid to embrace the music that moves her generation.And remember that the museum is free to all Los Angeles County residents after 3 p.m. on Mon.-Fri. so be sure to check out the latest exhibits.
LA Times “The Taste,” Sat. Sep. 1 @ 7:30 PM to 10:30 PM at Paramount Paramount Pictures Studios Backlot (783 N. Van Ness St). This Labor Day weekend, join the Los Angeles Times for 3 evenings of amazing food (Aug. 31 through Sep. 2), wine, spirits and chef experiences, plus unique culinary pop-ups and collaborations. Dozens of hand-picked local restaurants each evening will showcase LA’s rich and diverse culinary scene by serving you their best. And, of course, the stars are the many LGBT chefs and culinary experts. Sip, savor, and celebrate Southern California’s most inspired food and drink amid the movie history of LA. 21 and over only. Your ticket is all-inclusive and is good for unlimited food, beer, wine & spirits tastings, plus all stage activities. $110 and up. Tickets available online at Eventbrite or at the gates. Lezathlon Los Angeles 2018, Sat. Sep. 1 @ 10 AM to 6 PM at Elysian Park/Dodger Stadium (929 Academy Road). Riproarious Lesbian fun, Lezathlon is heading back to Elysian Park for some fun in the sun
Labor Day Weekend!!! The lesbian charity sporting event celebrating women in athletics and the idea that no one is too cool to do a wheelbarrow race. It’s an intense competition with all the right ingredients: Prizes. Food. Alcohol. Music. And lots of laaaaadies. By an “Athlete Pass” if you want to Oil Wrestle with a goddess or maybe just participate in “Hungry, Hungry Lesbos.” Don’t ask. “Spectator Pass” will allow you to stand around and gawk while sipping margaritas’ and watching your bestie make a fool of herself. Tickets are $33 at eventbrite.
Quench Pool Party/Official Lezathlon Closing Party, Sun. Sep. 2 @ 2:00 PM to 7:00 PM at Montrose West Hollywood (900 Hammond Street). With one of the hottest summer’s in herstory…it’s about damn time we bring you one kick ass pool party right in the heart of West Hollywood! Get your queer thirst on at QUENCH coming to you this Labor Day weekend located at the beautiful rooftop pool at the Montrose Hotel! With impeccable views, delicious speciality cocktails, and the opportunity to get wet surrounded by our lesbian and queer community…you will not want to miss this event. Lezathletes get in FREE with their Athlete ticket. Everyone else pays $15.
Outfest West Hollywood Series: Bi Showcase, Wed. Sep. 5 @ 7:30 PM to 9:30 PM @ West Hollywood City Council Chambers (625 N. San Vicente).Local bi artists come together to showcase their work and celebrate bi visibility in honor of September’s Bisexual Awareness Week. Join us to hear new work from actors, poets and Outfest alumni Dalila Ali Rajah, Lise Johnson, and Yasmin Monet. Many special guests to be announced. You will bi glad you did. This event is free of charge.
Dare to Flair, a QUEER Open Mic, Thu. Sep. 6 @ 8:00 PM at Echoes on Pico (5025 W Pico Blvd). Hosted by D’Lo w/support from OUTFEST, storytellers, musicians and poets do short take standup work and compete for the best most awesome Queer comics in the world. It’s great energy and a lot of fun at one of LAs best venues. $5 gets you one free drink.
LAWN Casino Night, Fri. Sep. 7 @ 7:00 PM at Liaison Restaurant + Lounge (1638 NORTH LAS PALMAS AVE). Join the Los Angeles Women’s Network (LAWN) for Casino Night and let luck be your lady! LAWN’s annual Casino Night benefits the Center’s vital services for women and girls and this year it’s bigger and better than ever. VIP and General Admission tickets guarantee $200 and $100 in play money respectively. Play money is redeemed for gaming chips and raffle tickets. Not actual gambling and the event is open to all LBTQ women, nonbinary folks, and those who want to lift us up. Free DTLA Dancing in the Park, Fri. Sep. 7 @ 7:00 PM to 11:00 PM at Grand Park (200 North Grand Avenue). It’s the 90’s all over again and Dance DTLA is back for its 14th season of dancing under the stars. Head downtown on September 7 and move to the sounds of summer, the final night of this weekly summer event. Featuring Dance Downtown (7:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.), open-air dancing in the park with beginner dance lessons alongside a live band or DJ, and alternating DJ Nights (9:00 p.m. – midnight), curated by influential artists who give voice to a dynamic, vibrant, socially conscious L.A. culture. The event is free.
E-mail calendar items to firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
ICONS OF STYLE A C E N T U R Y O F FA S H I O N P H OTO G R A P H Y, 1 9 1 1 - 2 0 1 1
Image: Yohji Yamamoto, Autumn/Winter 1995 (detail), 1995, David Sims. Chromogenic print. Courtesy of David Sims. © David Sims. Text and design © 2018 J. Paul Getty Trust
Through October 21, 2018 at the Getty