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CALIFORNIA’S FI RST STATEWIDE LGBT ELECTED OFFICIAL? INSURANCE COMMISSIONER HOPEFUL LARA VOWS TO TAKE ON TRUMP
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04 • SEPTEMBER 28, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Bi Pride makes history in West Hollywood Hundreds turn out for first-ever event By AUSTIN MENDOZA History was made on Sat. Sept 22 as the City of West Hollywood sponsored the first bisexual pride celebration in the world. The festivities included a bi visibility march by several hundred people down Santa Monica Boulevard, a party in the West Hollywood Auditorium and performances by spoken word performer Irene Suico Soriano and singer Torrey Mercer. “September 23rd is Bisexual Pride Day around the world, so we decided to take that up a notch and create this event,” Robert Gamboa of WeHo’s Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board told the Los Angeles Blade, to make “the bi community feel welcome.” The social group amBi and the Human Rights Campaign/ LA cosponsored the event.
“We don’t feel like we fit in either world, but we definitely should fit into the queer world. This parade is really helping us create awareness and for us to be seen by both the queer and straight communities,” said Katie Sharpe. “[Bisexuality] is not something that we’re trying on. It’s our lives and our sexuality, and it’s legitimate.” WeHo Lesbian and Gay Advisory Boardmember Alana Rochay concurred. “We’re finally making a conscious choice to make the ‘B’ visible in LGBTQ for once. We’re actually spotlighting it by making this amazing march and making it visible to everyone that bi people exist,” she said. Amanda Price lamented that there were only two floats in this year’s LA Pride parade that highlighted bisexuality, and was glad to “have a space where we can be proud of the ‘B’ in LGBT.” “We’re always trying to prove that we’re enough for the queer community, and it’s nice to have spaces where we don’t have to do that,” said marcher Chelsie Uriarte.
Maggie Jung felt “empowered and validated to be surrounded by people who feel the same way about people as I do.” Interestingly, bisexuals actually comprise the majority of the LGBT community, according to the Pew Research Center—a point WeHo Mayor John Duran underscored. Bi Pride was “about public education so that the public understands [more about the bi community],” Duran told the Los Angeles Blade. Participants were appreciative. Amidst constant bi underrepresentation and erasure from broader society, “to have something that acknowledges our existence is very important,” said Uriarte. Rachel McAllister noted the importance of “showing that there’s other people in the community” beyond the gay white males that often typify the LGBT community. Rochay looks forward to this event continuing in the future, at least in West Hollywood: “I can’t wait for it to be bigger and better every year, because it’s going to be.”
Hundreds turned out for the first-ever bi visibility march on Sept. 22.
HRC calls on Homeland Security to stop ICE sexual abuse CHIRLA also concerned about LGBTQ sexual assault in detention By STAFF REPORTS In a Sept. 24 letter to Department of Homeland Security, the Human Rights Campaign calls on Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to address the increasing rates of sexual assault against LGBTQ immigrants while in ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) custody. “The dangerous levels of reported sexual abuse that LGBTQ people face while in immigration detention indicate that ICE is failing to adequately prioritize their safety and well-being,” HRC Government Affairs Director David Stacy wrote. “I urge you to address these deficiencies immediately and ensure that all detainees are treated with the respect and dignity all people deserve, no matter who they are or whom they love.” LGBTQ people make up less than 1% of people in immigration detention but account
HRC decried the levels of abuse facing LGBTQ people in immigration custody. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons
for a shocking 12% of reported victims of sexual abuse and assault in ICE detention, according to a May 30 congressional letter. This means that LGBTQ people are 97 times more likely to report being sexually abused in detention than non-LGBTQ people in the same conditions. Transgender detainees and detainees living with HIV/AIDS are especially impacted by poor oversight and regulation of ICE, with current policies placing transgender women in living conditions that put them at high risk of violence and facing
denial of or delayed access to necessary medical care and treatment. HRC asked ICE to investigate the death Roxanna Hernandez, a transgender woman with AIDS who died in custody last May. Hernandez petitioned for asylum as part of a caravan of migrants fleeing violence in Central America. A 2014 National Inmate Survey conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics revealed that 40% of surveyed transgender people held in state and federal detention reported that they experienced
sexual abuse, compared to 14% of gay, lesbian and bisexual individuals, and 3.1% of nonLGBT people in similar conditions, according to the Human Rights Watch. “We are extremely concerned about reports of increased sexual abuse cases LGBT people face while in ICE detention,” Jorge-Mario Cabrera, communications director for CHIRLA Action Fund, told the Los Angeles Blade. “This rogue agency is no stranger to giving a damn about children’s rights, women’s rights, or the rights of any other group in their care. But they should know Americans do care and ICE will be held accountable for their actions. Any person detained by ICE is someone who deserves respect, have their basic needs like health care and food met, and should be protected from physical, emotional, or any other violation of their body and dignity. ICE is a government agency and as such we demand the Congress request a review and stop the abuse.” To this end, CHIRLA endorsed Alex Villanueva for LA County Sheriff as a “Sheriff who will be accountable and truthful with the immigrant community in terms of dealing with ICE.”
06 • SEPTEMBER 28, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
The California-Kavanaugh nexus State lawmakers play critical roles in the confirmation drama By KAREN OCAMB What is the indelible memory of her alleged sexual assault by Brett Kavanaugh—President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court— Dr. Christine Blasey Ford was asked by the Republicans’ sexual assault prosecutor? “Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter, the uproarious laughter between the two, and them having fun at my expense,” Ford says, her voice cracking, describing what she felt was an attempted rape and possible accidental murder by a very inebriated 17-year-old Kavanugh when she was 15 years old as his best friend Mark Judge watched. “I was underneath one of them while the two laughed.” Like Professor Anita Hill’s 1991 testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee during Clarence Thomas’ Supreme Court conformation hearing, many Americans found Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s Sept. 27 testimony credible—not only because of her emotional authenticity and moment-tomoment search for the truth but because of her credentials. She’s a Professor of Psychology at Palo Alto University and a Research Psychologist at the Stanford University School of Medicine, where she received a master’s degree in Epidemiology in 2009; she received her first Master’s degree in 1991 in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University; and a PhD in Educational Psychology from the University of Southern California USC). Ford not only displayed signs of trauma that she continues to feel from the incident— where Kavanaugh allegedly put his hand over her mouth to stifle her screams—but she repeatedly tried to explain that she came forward to Democratic California Rep. Anna Eshoo when she saw Kavanaugh’s name on Trump’s short list of candidates for the Supreme Court. Subsequently, she sent a letter to Sen. Dianne Feinstein sharing her experience and asking for complete confidentiality. “It was my understanding that it was going to be kept confidential – period,” she said in response to questioning from
Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley and Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein during the Sept. 27, 2018 hearing testimony from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford during the confirmation hearing for Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Photo screen grab from C-SPAN
prosecutor Rachel Mitchell, who stood in for Republican senators during the historic Judiciary Committee hearing. Feinstein, the Ranking Member on the committee, continues to come under intense criticism for holding that confidence—from committee Chair Chuck Grassley and especially from new Trump avenger, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, who appears to be auditioning for Attorney General after Trump presumably fires Attorney General Jeff Session. State Sen. Kevin de Leon, who is challenging Feinstein in her re-election bid, also questioned why the senior U.S. senator did not violate the sexual assault survivor’s trust and at least show Ford’s letter to her Democratic colleagues. Feinstein did send the letter to the FBI to have Ford’s charges investigated. But without prior authorization to re-open Kavanaugh’s background check from the White House, the FBI simply put the letter in his file. Ford only came forward after word of the letter leaked and reporters showed up at her home and work. It was then that she decided to do the interview with the persistent Washington Post. It was Grassley who finally released the entire letter. But Ford and Feinstein are not the only Californians playing a major role in
Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing. In his rush to confirm the controversial judge, Grassley has refused to call two other credible accusers to testify. In an interview with Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer in the New Yorker, Deborah Ramirez claimed Kavanaugh “exposed himself at a drunken dormitory party, thrust his penis in her face, and caused her to touch it without her consent as she pushed him away,” during a drunken party when he was a freshman at Yale. Like Ford, Ramirez also called for an FBI investigation. Republicans blasted her story as not credible until San Mateo-based James Roche, Kavanaugh’s Yale roommate in the Fall of 1983, said he believes Ramirez. Though “Brett was normally reserved, he was a notably heavy drinker, even by the standards of the time, and that he became aggressive and belligerent when he was very drunk. I did not observe the specific incident in question, but I do remember Brett frequently drinking excessively and becoming incoherently drunk,” he told KGO TV. His friend Ramirez “stood out as being exceptionally honest, with a trusting manner.” Kit Winter, an openly gay man who shared that small dorm living space with Kavanaugh and Roche, also witnessed the Supreme Court nominee being extremely drunk and suspects Kavanaugh might have been the person who nailed a dead
bird to his door. “I have thought a lot about Kavanaugh’s statement on Fox, that he never drank so much that he didn’t remember what he had done the next morning. And having witnessed the level of drunkenness of Brett and his crew in that dorm, and the vomitous aftermath in the bathroom, I find that very hard to believe,” Winter told The Cut. Another Californian playing a major role in the Kavanaugh affair is Los Angeles-based celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti, whose client Julie Swetnick produced a three-page affidavit that included a list of explosive allegations against Kavanaugh, including that she witnessed him spiking the drinks at high school parties and stand in a “train” line with other guys waiting to have sex with a drunk girl. She also alleged she was raped with Kavanaugh and Mark Judge around when it happened. During her five minutes to speak during Ford’s appearance, California Sen. Kamala Harris, a former prosecutor, reminded Ford that she was not on trial. “I believe you and I believe many Americans believe you,” she told the witness, thanking Dr. Ford for doing her civic duty at the great personal cost of having to move after death threats to her and her family. “You have been a true patriot,” Harris told Ford. “You are a true profile in courage at this time.”
Navy Veteran Education Advocate Husband & Father “Jacki and I are proud to stand with LGBT families and supporters who help spread love and hope in our community every day. We will fight and advocate by your side for the rights of all people. Together, we will shape and move our country forward.” —Gil Cisneros VOTE GIL CISNEROS FOR CONGRESS BY TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 6TH CisnerosForCongress.com
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08 • SEPTEMBER 28, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Lara could become first LGBT candidate elected statewide
State Sens. Ricardo Lara and Toni Atkins promoting their universal healthcare bill. Photo courtesy Lara
Insurance commissioner hopeful spotlights core values By KAREN OCAMB Ricardo Lara has an easy smile, a warm, embracing smile that puts the uncomfortable quickly at ease. It’s a smile that may lure cynics into thinking the handsome 43-yearold gay man is tangoing his way into the California Insurance Commissioner job. But when Lara’s smile fades and he gets serious, politely but intensely explaining how this position would be his next step in helping marginalized minorities like his immigrant parents and his poorer friends with HIV/AIDS and children in need of healthcare—attention must be paid. “I’m running to be California’s next state insurance commissioner because I believe at my core that California needs a strong defender, and a counterpuncher, who will stand up to fight our bullying president, Donald Trump, and his increasingly reckless federal government on issues from healthcare access to economic security and more,” Lara said in a statement on March 21, 2017.
This is no small next step; Lara is a fervent fighter for human rights stepping up to protect his extended family. And while he would become the first openly LGBT person elected statewide if he wins, the job itself is historically critical to LGBT people. Prior to 1988, the state insurance commissioner was a political appointee of the governor. That year it was Republican George Deukmejian, the governor who in 1986 vetoed a bill seeking AIDS nondiscrimination in housing and employment because “the provisions of this bill dealing with discrimination are unnecessary. They establish an inappropriate precedent of placing a physical condition in statute that is better left to a more flexible administrative process,” according to the Los Angeles Times. And in November 1988, Deukmejian endorsed Prop. 102, a radical right-wing initiative that would require doctors and blood banks to report anyone they have ‘’reasonable cause to believe’’ is infected with HIV to state and local authorities and require the HIV positive person to identify their sexual partners. In that November 1988 election, voters rejected Proposition 102 but approved
Proposition 103, making Insurance Commissioner an elected position, expanding the areas of regulation and giving the commissioner new powers, including “prior approval” of any insurance rate increase. Accustomed to unfettered power in a Republican-controlled marketplace, the insurance companies challenged the measure in court. Pro-gay Attorney General John Van de Kamp won his case before the California Supreme Court and progay Democrat John Garamendi won the post in 1990, becoming the first elected commissioner in 1991. It was an important victory: 1991 was the year Republican Gov. Pete Wilson vetoed the gay rights bill AB 101 and the California State Legislature turned even more deeply red and anti-LGBT. The non-partisan office has changed political hands, with current progressive Democrat Dave Jones succeeding Republican businessman Steve Poizner— who is trying for a comeback against Lara. This time, however, Poizner is running as an independent, though his policy positions still smell of GOP potpourri. And while Lara may be winning voters with his smile, he cautions that Poizner is seducing no-party
preference and Republicans disinclined to vote for a Democrat. “Recent polling shows that this race is actually tighter and it’s gonna be tough,” Lara told the Los Angeles Blade in a recent phone interview. “The fact is—Poizner has essentially gone back in the closet, hiding his true Republican ideals, and is running now as an independent. And in many counties, San Diego County, for example, there is a larger bloc of non-party preference voters than there are Republicans.” This is “a new Republican strategy,” Lara says, “to run people as independents or no-party preference because they know they can’t win otherwise statewide as Republicans. It’s truly sad but we can’t assume that this is a done deal. We can’t rest on our laurels.” Lara says he’s going up and down the state “reminding our voters how Poizner “has flip-flopped back and forth on a woman’s right to choose” and “wanted to deny immigrant children health insurance.” Lara, on the other hand, passed legislation “to insure that any child, regardless of where they come from, their economic income status, or their immigration status,
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • SEPTEMBER 28, 2018 • 09
Sen. Ricardo Lara at the 2018 Global Climate Action Summit. Photo courtesy Lara
will have access to full scope Medical health insurance in California.” That’s the big difference between them, Lara says: “I get things done. I make sure that we help our most vulnerable Californians instead of trying to spread hate and divisiveness, which is no longer a part of our tenor here in California.” In some states, he notes, “insurance companies are denying access to PrEP to our community because they consider that risky behavior.” The Insurance Commissioner position “is one of the most vital positions in the state because it touches every aspect of your life. And some people can even argue in utero, if your mother doesn’t have access to health insurance while she’s pregnant,” Lara says. “And when it comes to privacy, when it comes to data breeches, when it comes to cannabis regulation, autonomous vehicles—these are all regulations that are pending through the Department of Insurance. And the most important thing is that we keep our insurance industry honest and accountable so that they can pay out the claims to make sure people can move on with their lives. That is the basic work of the Insurance Commissioner.” It was the unexpected fate of a Lara bill that prompted him to run for Insurance Commissioner. He was working on a bill to allow immigrants to pay into the Affordable
Care Act since the more people that pay into the system helps stabilize premiums for everyone. “We know that immigrants are younger, they’re healthier and are working—so why not allow them to pay into a system to make sure that we continue to offer the services to folks who actually need it now? It’s an important investment,” he says. Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill. But while Lara was working on the waiver with the Obama administration, “unfortunately President Trump got elected and one of the requirements under that administration was that—if we moved forward—they wanted the names and addresses of the people who were going to be paying into the Affordable Care Act,” Lara says. “I had to withdraw the waiver.” On that plane ride back from D.C., “I was so angry and felt so defeated, that that’s when I decided to leave the Senate early and run for Insurance Commissioner,” he says, “because I have to continue to fight to get a single payer system, that we get universal healthcare in California. I want to be part of those discussions as Insurance Commissioner.” Lara says the issue with SB 562, the bill he co-authored with out Sen. Toni Atkins to provide policy goals for a universal healthcare plan, ran into deadline issues while they were waiting for a study from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst — experts
on health care funding — to get back with funding formula. They needed to “keep the momentum going” while they worked on a separate bill to get federal waivers, discussed constitutional amendments with the nurses regarding Prop 98 requirements and figure out spending limits. SB 562 was part of a not quite fully-cooked four-part plan that was sent to the Assembly to start discussions. “Unfortunately, we fell victim to the legislative timeline of having to move this bill or else it would’ve died. But there is no doubt in my mind that the work that Toni and I started really has been the emphasis of now the Assembly engaging in a way that they’ve never engaged before, in terms of talking about healthcare,” Lara says. “Hopefully I’m going to be part of those discussions as the Insurance Commissioner.” As commissioner, Lara would also have oversight of some fraud-related issues, including investigating the “troubled teen industry.” In 2015 and 2016, Lara worked with the LA LGBT Center and Survivors of Institutional Abuse to pass SB 524, “Protecting Youth from Institutional Abuse Act”— a bill with no religious exemptions that Brown signed in Oct. 2016. “To the victims that have been victims of this type of abuse in these so-called ‘troubled teen’ camps or through ‘conversion therapy,’
we are going to be very vigilant as the Insurance Commissioner to make sure that we not only investigate but we seek out these individuals who are causing our community harm and hold them to justice,” Lara says. “We’ll work with our Attorney General to make sure that we bring justice to so many victims and we weed out these shams that we know only serve to harm our community.” But first Ricardo Lara must be elected. “To our LGBT community in California, we have come a long way in such a short amount of time because we remain vigilant, we remain steadfast and more importantly we remain united. The work that we’ve been able to champion in the state senate, through our LGBT Caucus and through my work is really a testimony to how diverse we are and how much influence we yield to make positive change for the next generation in our community,” Lara says. “It’s time now for us to unite—to make sure we can elect somebody statewide that comes from our community, that understands our issues, and most importantly, understands where we need to be in the future to continue to protect our community and insure that the next generation of LGBTQI individuals have an opportunity to thrive and succeed in California, regardless of who is in the White House.” For more, see ricardolara.com.
10 • SEPTEMBER 28, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Big Pharma fights AHF’s rent/housing initiative $500,000 donation raises eyebrows By CHRISTOPHER KANE California’s housing affordability crisis is on the ballot this November as Proposition 10, the Affordable Housing Act, an initiative to repeal the state’s Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act. Repeal would enable local governments to enact rent control measures in their housing markets. Opposition to Prop 10, which consists of a broad coalition funded primarily by real estate developers, investors and landlords, got an unlikely ally recently when the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) donated $500,000 to the “No on 10” campaign. The industry association represents some of the largest and most profitable biopharma companies in the world—none linked to housing issues. PhRMA defends its involvement by explaining that the group fears passage of Prop 10 would make housing scarcer for the nearly 900,000 Californians who work in biopharma. (Interesting, that means nearly 2.6% of California’s population work in the biopharma industry.) Few are buying that argument, pointing instead to Big PhRMA’s ongoing feuds with AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), sponsor of the “Yes on 10” campaign. “AHF is public enemy #1 to the greedy drug companies—a distinction we hold as a badge of honor,” AHF President Michael Weinstein told the Los Angeles Blade. “No one believes that Pharma is contributing to No on 10 for any other reason than spite against AHF—the enemy of our enemy is our friend.” Dr. Adams Dudley, director of the Center for Healthcare Value at the University of California, San Francisco, concurs. “[I]t’s hard to imagine that [PhRMA’s] stated reason is plausible,” he tells STAT, an outlet devoted to science, medicine and health. PhRMA is “sending a signal: If you get on our bad side, we’ll keep opposing whatever you do, we’ll try to make your life difficult for a very long time, even if you do something else.” Weinstein has a long history of challenging drug manufacturers to cap or reduce their pricing. AHF sued Pfizer in 2007 over its marketing, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in 2013 over its pricing of AIDS drugs, and Gilead
AHF is spearheading the Yes on 10 campaign. Photo courtesy Yes on 10
Sciences, Inc. in 2016 over its patents. AHF lost that Gilead patent case but on Aug. 13, asked the Supreme Court to review the decision. At issue is AHF’s contention that Gilead is manipulating the patent system to thwart competition and pricing for HIV drugs (such as the important tenofovir alafenamide), and prevent access to generic medications. Ironically, on Sept. 24, Gilead announced it intends to sell generic versions of two Hep C drugs after their high-priced medications were undercut and sales struggled—a point Weinstein repeatedly made to investors. Asked whether AHF’s persistent pressure and lawsuits were linked to the trade association’s decision to contribute to “No on 10,” Gilead— which is not a member of PhRMA—declined the Los Angeles Blade’s request for comment; and GSK deferred to PhRMA. “The research-based biopharmaceutical industry supports nearly 900,000 jobs and $2.6 billion in economic output in California,” PhRMA spokesperson Priscilla VanderVeer said in a statement to STAT. “The industry’s investment in the state is threatened when our employees cannot find housing and Prop. 10 could make the situation much worse. That’s why we are opposing Prop. 10 and contributing to its defeat.” The California law “Yes on 10” hopes to repeal
a measure passed in 1995. It permits landlords of residential properties built during or after that year to raise rents as much as they wish. In Los Angeles and San Francisco, landlords of residential buildings constructed after 1978 and 1979, respectively, are covered by exemptions in Costa Hawkins and therefore are eligible to implement limitless rent increases. Supporters of Prop 10 believe that by restoring local governments’ ability to implement rent control policies, problems from homelessness to gentrification to car pollution will be ameliorated. Opponents contend the state’s housing crisis was created, in part, by the dearth of new housing projects. By repealing Sadie Hawkins, they argue, thereby dis-incentivizing new construction, California’s problems will be made worse. Most of the “No on 10” funding is coming from large developers such as Western National Group, based in Irvine, which contributed $3.8 million to Californians for Responsible Housing. So far, that coalition has raised more than twice as much as the “Yes on 10” campaign. The “Yes on 10” coalition is wide-ranging: AHF; the Affordable Housing Alliance and Coalition for Economic Survival; SEIU and Unite HERE; the ACLU of California; API-Equality/LA and
Latino Equality Alliance; the state’s Teachers and Nurses Associations; the California Democratic Party; the cities of West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Oakland, and Berkeley; LA Mayor Eric Garcetti and San Francisco Mayor London Breed. The Los Angeles Times and Sacramento Bee also agree that the repeal of the CostaHawkins Rental Housing Act would offer desperately-needed relief, especially for lowincome residents. Housing for the vulnerable has been part of AHF’s mission since the non-profit was incorporated as AIDS Hospice Foundation, providing care and shelter for people with HIV/AIDS, often those who were evicted or lost their apartment when rents were raised. Last year, AHF created the Healthy Housing Foundation and acquired four hotel properties on Los Angeles’ Skid Row and in Hollywood, totaling more than 600 units for rehab and rental. AHF’s also planning of the construction of 680 units in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. “We’ve jumped in whole-hog into this issue,” says Weinstein, “because it’s a crisis of the kind that we confronted at the beginning of AIDS, which was a vulnerable population whose needs were being ignored.” For more, visit voteyesonprop10.org/. Karen Ocamb contributed to this story.
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • SEPTEMBER 28, 2018 • 11
“Trans survivors are so often not believed” - Harper Jean from National Center for Transgender Equality at #BelieveSurvivors protests outside Supreme Court Sept. 24 against confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
“@RealDeanCain - We know that you’ve professed your support for LGBTQ people in the past, so why are you speaking at an event hosted by the anti-LGBTQ activists at @FRCdc? #VVS18” – GLAAD Sept. 20 tweet to “Supergirl” actor Dean Cane about his appearance at FRC’s Values Voter Summit.
“Don’t ever think that we are not all Interconnected in this time and space in West Hollywood. Some of us don’t have biological families. So we create family. Caesar – you did that. And we are broken hearted at losing you and wondering why?” — West Hollywood Mayor John Duran on Facebook on the sudden death of popular bar manager Caesar Torres on Sept. 22.
The Los Angeles LGBT Center started its 50th anniversary at the Vanguard Awards on Sept. 22. More than 1,500 people at the Beverly Hilton Hotel honored Ariadne Getty, 56, an actress, philanthropist and granddaughter of John Paul Getty; “Love Simon” director Greg Berlanti and his husband, soccer star and author (“Coming out to play”) Robbie Rogers; and renowned out singer Ricky Martin, an Emmy nominee for his role in the “Assassination of Gianni Versace.” “Los Angeles cannot afford to be without a place (like the Center) where there are so many things for people of every age category to do, where a staggering 42,000 people walk through the Center’s door every month,” Getty said, adding that she was moved by meeting kids who had been “brutally, emotionlessly left on the streets to fend for themselves.” Jean received a standing ovation for her rousing speech covering the arc of the Center’s history from being rejected by the LA offices of the IRS for using the word “gay” in incorporation papers to purchasing the very building in which they had been rejected, “draping it with eight-story rainbow stripes.” She praised Anita Mae Rosenstein for contributing millions to the new housing/headquarters campus that bears her name. “Love Simon” star Nick Robinson introduced Berlanti and Rogers. “Without the LGBT Center and the changes in the world it has helped bring about, all the blessings we would not have been fortunate enough to have the successes we’ve had,” Berlanti said. “My mission is to go to those little towns in Latin America where the word gay is a curse,” Martin said. “We are all blessed—(husband) Jwan and I are blessed,” Martin told the Los Angeles Blade. “We are blessed to have a place like the LGBT Center and we are blessed to be able to support it.” – Troy Masters
12 • SEPTEMBER 28, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
What they really mean by ‘religious freedom’ Values Voters say it’s code for anti-LGBT discrimination By CHRIS JOHNSON firstname.lastname@example.org The call to protect religious freedom — often code among social conservatives for the ability to discriminate against LGBT people — continued to be a rallying cry at the annual anti-LGBT Values Voter Summit, where attendees declared support for President Trump and his policies ahead of the upcoming congressional mid-term elections. Speakers over the weekend at the annual confab in D.C. for social conservatives from Vice President Mike Pence on down repeatedly incorporated the term in their speeches, stoking paranoid fears that “religious freedom” is in peril and promising the Trump administration will act to preserve it. But what do social conservatives envision when they hear from political leaders about religious freedom being in danger? After all, the concept of religious freedom being imperiled could also apply to Trump’s travel ban on Muslim-majority countries, but social conservatives have championed that policy. Attendees at the Values Voter Summit who spoke to the Washington Blade about religious freedom largely signaled it was in fact a term used to express concern about the growth of LGBT rights and the desire for exemptions from laws that prohibit discrimination against LGBT people. Kenny Nelson, a 20-year-old attendee from New York, said religious freedom constitutes the ability to exercise conscience “in the free markets,” including the denial of services to LGBT people. “You have the right to say I don’t want to bake a wedding cake because I don’t support gay marriage,” Nelson said. “That’s really all religious freedom is to me, being free to express religion without persecution.” Nelson said discussion is warranted over the ability to deny employment to LGBT people “like if you come out as something, will you get fired,” but in his circles a prohibition on anti-LGBT discrimination is the province of the states, not the federal government. “I think that conservatives don’t like tackling that because it should be left up to the states, or something of that nature,”
‘This was a wedding cake that I could not create because I believe marriage is between a man and a woman,’ said Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, to thunderous applause. Blade photo by Michael Key
Nelson said. “We need to let people be free.” But Nelson pivoted to the idea that religious people are facing discrimination in the workplace instead of LGBT people when elaborating on the issue. “We need to let people be fired for whatever, but if you’re religious and you get fired, I think maybe religious freedom to me is being able to express your religious views without being totally persecuted for it by lawyers,” Nelson said. Although federal civil rights laws don’t explicitly prohibit anti-LGBT discrimination in the workforce, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does prohibit discrimination on the basis of religion. Asked to identify any incident of individuals fired for their religious beliefs, Nelson identified David and Jason Benham, real estate entrepreneurs who were among the speakers at the Values Voter Summit. In 2014, the Benham brothers were to set to launch a home improvement show called “Flip it Forward,” but HGTV scrapped the idea after comments emerged from the brothers over their opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage. David Benham wrote a 2012 article for the Christian Post in favor of Amendment One, a constitutional amendment that banned same-sex marriage in North Carolina. Benham called opposition to the amendment “a clear glimpse into why morals are
declining so rapidly in our culture today” and said redefining marriage “because of one small group of people” would erode the concept of family. “They got essentially fired for their religious beliefs, ultimately,” Nelson said. “So, yeah. I guess it can happen. I guess it’s sort of an outlier, so to speak. I’m really more focused on being able to say, ‘Hey, these are my religious beliefs, if I don’t want to provide you service, I don’t have to.’” Two examples of individuals attendees referenced for acting in the name of religious freedom were Jack Phillips, the Colorado owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop who refused to sell a custom-made wedding cake to a same-sex couple and whose case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, and Barronlle Stutzman, the owner of Arlene’s Flowers in Washington State who refused to sell floral arrangements for a same-sex wedding. Cindy Vick, a 59-year-old homemaker from Arlington, Wash., said religious freedom is under threat and cited as examples both Phillips and Stutzman, whom she called “true heroes.” “They did not deny service to anyone because of any discrimination,” Vick said. “They could not because of their conscience and their religious beliefs partake of a samesex marriage, so therein lies the difference. It was according to their faith.” Vick drew a distinction between refusal of services for an individual based on religion or race and refusing it based on sexual orientation, insisting one is discrimination but the other is not. “Discrimination would be when the customer walked into their store and if you’re black or yellow or red or green, and I refuse you service because of your color, or you are a certain race, or you subscribe to a certain belief system, [so] I refuse to sell you my cake or my flowers,” Vick said. “But that wasn’t the case, they didn’t refuse on those terms.” Vick also expressed opposition to the underlying idea of same-sex marriage despite the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2015 in favor of marriage rights for gay couples, saying “in the Bible it’s defined as a man and a woman.” “You’re wanting to rewrite the definition of marriage, so call it something else, but it’s not marriage,” Vick added. “It’s a bogus term for the true meaning of marriage, and that’s what because of their conscience,
due to their religious beliefs, they could not participate in.” Phillips was among the speakers at Values Voter Summit. Introduced on stage as “Jack the Giant Slayer,” Phillips and was praised as an individual who stuck to his religious principles in the face of the intolerable forces of the LGBT left. Recounting the story of gay couple Charlie Craig and David Mullins coming into Masterpiece Cakeshop to buy a wedding cake, Phillips said, “I knew this was a wedding cake that I could not create because I believe marriage is between a man and a woman.” That line got huge applause from attendees at the Values Voter Summit. After he refused Craig and Mullins service, Phillips said the couple flipped him off and swore at him as they exited Masterpiece Cakeshop. The baker also said he had to endure hate emails and death threats and his daughter was threatened, but he stuck to his principles. Phillips became emotional when he recalled years later reading from the Supreme Court orders list it had agreed to take up his case, acknowledging justices take up relatively few cases. The decision the Supreme Court handed down in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case wasn’t exactly what Phillips wanted. Alliance Defending Freedom asserted the court should find Phillips has a First Amendment right to refuse service to same-sex couples. Justices instead delivered a narrow ruling for Phillips based on the facts of the case, finding an anti-religion sentiment within the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Other attendees at the Values Voter Summit had a broader interpretation of the concept of religious freedom that wasn’t limited to refusal of service for LGBT people. One 23-year-old attendee from central Kansas, who spoke on condition of anonymity, looked at the reports on religious persecution of Christians overseas when asked about the term religious freedom. “You look at other countries like North Korea and Iran and other countries, less so, even like maybe Turkey where you can’t be a pastor without getting jailed,” the attendee said. “Religious freedom is the ability to witness, to talk to others about your faith, to live your faith out.” Continues at losangelesblade.com
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • SEPTEMBER 28, 2018 • 13
Mass. anti-trans ad renews bathroom fear mongering The campaign in Massachusetts seeking to repeal a law barring discrimination against transgender people in public accommodations is resorting to old tactics of stoking unfounded fears about male sexual predators being allowed in women’s restrooms. The ad is unveiled as Massachusetts voters are poised to vote in November on Question 3, which will decide whether the state will retain its non-discrimination law against anti-trans discrimination in public accommodations, including restrooms and locker rooms. The law was signed by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker in 2016 and has been on the books for two years, but placed on the ballot as a result of a voter-initiated referendum. Although similar anti-trans ads haved stoked fears about children being molested in public restrooms, the 30-second ad made public Wednesday by the “No on 3” campaign, which has dubbed itself “Keep MA Safe,” features an adult woman entering the locker room as a sinister-looking male predator wearing a hoodie awaits inside a stall. A new ad in Massachusetts raises misguided and offensive “What does the Question 3 mean to you?” asks female fears over a transgender non-discrimination law. Screen capture via YouTube voice in the ad. “It means any man who says he is a woman can enter a woman’s locker room, dressing room or bathroom at any time, even convicted sex offenders, and if you see something suspicious and say something to authorities, you could be arrested and fined up $15,000.” As the women is beginning to undo her clothes, the camera pans to her frightened face as the man snaps the stall open and releases a menacing, throaty gasp. The female voice concludes: “Vote No on 3. This bathroom bill puts our privacy and safety at risk. It goes too far.” Opponents have resorted fear-mongering over sexual predators in the restrooms and locker rooms again and again in the efforts to derail transgender non-discrimination measure. In 2015, a similar ad aired in Houston as the city considered the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance and resulted in the votes rejected the non-discrimination measure — which would have prohibited discrimination on the basis of numerous characteristics, including race, religious, sexual orientation and gender identity — by a large margin at the ballot. After that loss, transgender advocates started airing their own ads about the personal stories of transgender people in defense of non-discrimination laws. Earlier this year, a similar bathroom ad in Anchorage as voters in the municipality considered was repeal of a transgender non-discrimination ordinance. Despite the fear-mongering, voters decided to retain the measure on the books, marking the first time a transgender non-discrimination was upheld at the ballot. It’s not the first time the anti-trans Massachusetts campaign has resorted to stoking fears about bathroom use, but that ad is no longer available to the public. In May, “No on 3” aired an ad the campaign was subsequently forced to edit because it was revealed to have been filmed in a Wegman’s store without the consent of the owners and over their objections. The ad has since been removed entirely. Concerns laws against discrimination enabling sexual predators has proven unfounded based on the lack of problems in jurisdictions with such laws on the books, including 20 states and D.C. Just last week, the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, made public a study that found after passage of these laws, there were actually fewer incidents of privacy and safety violations than in places without genderidentity inclusive public accommodations laws. Kasey Suffredini, co-chair for the “Yes on 3” campaign, said the new anti-trans ad “flies in the face of the indisputable facts that show women – or anyone else for that matter – are absolutely not put at risk by this law.” One poll shows things are looking good for the transgender non-discrimination law. On Wednesday, a Suffolk University Political Research Center/Boston Globe poll found 73 percent of voters favor keeping the law as it is, 17 percent want the law repealed and nine percent are undecided. CHRIS JOHNSON
N.Y. Yankees to award Stonewall scholarships The New York Yankees will launch an LGBT initiative in 2019 that will provide scholarships to high school students to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. The Yankees-Stonewall Scholars Initiative will award five $10,000 scholarships to one graduating public high school student from each of the five boroughs who” have demonstrated academic achievement, a commitment to equality and impactful support for the LGBTQ community.” The students will be awarded the scholarships at Yankee Stadium from June 17-26, 2019. “Through this initiative we are proud to recognize the profound historical impact of Stonewall and celebrate the many meaningful contributions of the LGBTQ community,” Yankees Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner said in a statement. “The Yankees wholeheartedly support equality for all individuals and applaud any efforts which make our society more inclusive and tolerant. It is our hope that this scholarship program will serve as a springboard for young LGBTQ student community members and advocates as they continue the pursuit of their dreams, ambitions and livelihoods.” The Yankees and the L.A. Angels were notably the only two Major League Baseball teams that have never hosted an LGBT Pride event. Now, both teams have planned Pride events for 2019. MARIAH COOPER
‘Superman’ actor slammed for speaking at anti-LGBT event Actor Dean Cain, best known for portraying Superman on the TV series “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman,” came under fire after he agreed to speak at the Family Research Council’s Value Voters summit last weekend. The Family Research Council has been labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The summit’s lineup included names such as Michele Bachmann, Mike Pence, Tony Perkins and Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips. Cain appeared at the event in promotion of his upcoming movie “Gosnell,” where he plays a detective who imprisons abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell. Cain has stated before that he is a supporter of LGBT rights but his decision to speak at the summit was a red flag for some, including GLAAD. Cain defended his decision by saying he would voice his support for LGBT rights and of pro-choice but the main reason for attending the event would be to promote his film. At the summit, Cain was asked if he was ever pressured on social media for his choice. “Yes. Certainly. I take that sort of heat and abuse every single day but it doesn’t bother me in the least…it doesn’t make me mad, it just shows people’s intolerance towards listening to another opinion. Just the fact that I’m here, just the fact that I’m here people were blowing me up all day long with the most ridiculous things that you could ever here. Talk about intolerance. It’s ridiculous. I take heat. It doesn’t bother me, I welcome it, because I sleep well at night. I know I’m doing something that matches my convictions and my heart and I’ll happily defend the things that I say and I stand for,” Cain said. Cain endorsed Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential election. MARIAH COOPER
14 • SEPTEMBER 28, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Puerto Rico marks Hurricane Maria anniversary Activists remain highly critical of Trump response By MICHAEL K. LAVERS SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Thursday marked one year since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico. The hurricane had winds of 155 mph when it made landfall near the city of Yabucoa on Puerto Rico’s southeastern coast on Sept. 20, 2017. Maria’s eye passed over the municipalities of San Lorenzo, Caguas, Aguas Buenas, Comerío, Naranjito, Corozal, Morovis, Ciales, Manatí, Florida, Barceloneta and Arecibo before it moved offshore of Puerto Rico’s northern coast. Hurricane Irma, which devastated St. Thomas and St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands and other islands in the northeastern Caribbean, brushed Puerto Rico less than two weeks before Maria made landfall. Sixty percent of Puerto Rico lost power during Irma. Hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. commonwealth were without electricity and/or running water for months after Maria. Governor Ricardo Rosselló and his wife, Beatriz Rosselló, joined Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and hundreds of others at an event in Old San Juan that marked the anniversary of Maria. Flags flew at half staff at government buildings across Puerto Rico on Thursday. The Associated Press reported a ceremony took place in Yabucoa at the exact moment that Maria made landfall a year ago. San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz on Wednesday visited a photo exhibit in Old San Juan’s Columbus Square that showed pictures of Maria’s immediate aftermath and relief efforts in her city. Grissel Bonilla, co-founder of Waves Ahead, a group that is helping LGBTI Puerto Ricans and other groups recover from Maria, and former New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who was born in Puerto Rico, on Wednesday spoke at the Human Rights Campaign about the hurricane’s continued impact in Puerto Rico. Lisbeth Meléndez Rivera, who grew up in Caguas, helped organize the event that benefitted Waves Ahead. Waves Ahead’s other co-founder, Wilfred Labiosa, told the Blade this week in Puerto Rico that discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and poverty have made LGBTI Puerto Ricans even more
Ricky Santiago on Feb. 1, stands in what remained of his hair salon in Humacao, Puerto Rico, that Hurricane Maria destroyed. Waves Ahead, a group that is helping LGBTI Puerto Ricans and other groups recover, helped Santiago rebuild his salon and turn it into his new home. Santiago was sitting in his living room on Sept. 19, when Wilfred Labiosa, co-founder of Waves Ahead, visited him and his family. Blade photos by Michael K. Lavers
vulnerable since the hurricane. Raymond Luis Rohena of the Puerto Rico Trans Youth Coalition and Brian Ínaru de la Fuente of La Sombrilla Cuir echoed Labiosa when they spoke with the Blade on Wednesday at a Starbucks in the San Juan suburb of Carolina. Edgardo Rosario Rentas of Vieques Ready, a group that helps residents of Vieques, an island off the Puerto Rico mainland, prepare for hurricanes, said during a telephone interview the island is still on generator power. Rosario, a gay man who worked at a W resort before Maria, told the Blade there are still people on Vieques who are still living without electricity or running water. “We’re trying to move forward,” he said. “The government is going slower than they should go.” The other activists and HIV/AIDS service providers with whom the Blade spoke in Puerto Rico — including Bill’s Kitchen Executive Director Sandy Torres, Puerto Rico Community Network for Clinical Research on AIDS Executive Director Rosaura López-Fontánez and Anselmo Fonseca of Pacientes de Sida Pro Política Sana — also said recovery efforts have been very slow. Maria devastated St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands the day before it made landfall in Puerto Rico. Lavonne Wise, an LGBTI activist who works for the Women’s Coalition of St. Croix, told the Blade on Monday during a telephone interview that many people on her island, as in Puerto Rico, are still living in homes with blue tarps as temporary roofs. Wise also said she and her wife still do not have a landline or Internet connection at their home. “Things are getting better,” she said. “We still got a ways to go.” President Trump’s response to Maria continues to spark widespread outrage in
Puerto Rico. Rosselló, who has faced his own scathing criticism over his government’s response to Maria, has been reluctant to publicly criticize Trump. Rosselló earlier this month pushed back on Trump’s rejection of the results of a George Washington University study that attributed 2,975 deaths to Maria. Cruz told the Blade on Wednesday during an interview in Old San Juan that Trump’s decision to reject the hurricane’s official death toll in Puerto Rico is “despicable.” “It shows that he’s unhinged from any sense of reality,” she said. The White House on Thursday issued a fact sheet with a headline that says the Trump administration “helped lead a historic recovery effort in Puerto Rico.” It contained a one sentence statement attributed to Trump that acknowledged Maria’s anniversary. “And we stand with Puerto Rico, and we are helping them to rebuild stronger and better than ever before,” he said. Wise on Monday was highly critical of Trump’s response to Maria in Puerto Rico. “It’s disgraceful that he needs to be right whether he’s right or not,” she said. “It’s a bit of an embarrassment and his need to be louder and righter than everybody else is embarrassment and waste of everyone’s time and energy.” Rosario told the Blade that Trump is “wrong” to reject Maria’s death toll. “PTSD after the hurricane was so big and the uncertainly among the people were so big, people are going to keep dying,” said Rosario. “There’s people on Vieques who still don’t have electricity. There’s people on Vieques who still don’t have running water.”
San Juan mayor: Trump ‘unhinged’ San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz last week reiterated her sharp criticism of President Trump’s response to Hurricane Maria. “More than 3,000 people have died, that’s for sure,” she told the Blade during an interview in Old San Juan. “They died of neglect. They died because they couldn’t have their insulin refrigerated because we didn’t have power. They died because hospitals weren’t ready and because hospitals didn’t have power. Those are deaths that could have been preventable and they weren’t.” “Some people decided to make this a spin ever since the beginning and tell the world that things were right when things were not right and we lost time and we lost precious opportunities in order to be able to save lives,” added Cruz. “I’m referring to President Trump.” Cruz spoke with the Blade while she was visiting a photo exhibit in San Juan’s Columbus Square that commemorates the first anniversary of Maria. She also spoke with the Blade less than a month after George Washington University released the findings of study that attributed 2,975 deaths to Maria. “It’s despicable,” Cruz told the Blade, referring to Trump. “It shows that he’s unhinged from any sense of reality.” Cruz, who is a member of the Popular Democratic Party that supports Puerto Rico’s status as a U.S. commonwealth, pointed out Trump threw paper towels to a crowd of people when he visited a church in the San Juan suburb of Guaynabo less than two weeks after Maria made landfall. Cruz also pointed out Trump rejected the hurricane’s death toll in Puerto Rico as Hurricane Florence was beginning to batter the Carolinas. “Maria in Puerto Rico is Trump’s Katrina,” said Cruz.
16 • SEPTEMBER 28, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
VOLUME 02 ISSUE 30
Ending a long silence Los Angeles Blade publisher and news editor share their #MeToo stories
Troy Masters is publisher of the Los Angeles Blade.
(Editor’s note: Brave Andrea Constand’s testimony against Bill Cosby and trans survivor Harper Jean’s comments at a #BelieveSurvivors rally highlight the fact that the #MeToo movement also impacts the LGBT community. To encourage more discussion, we are coming out with our stories, too. – Troy Masters and Karen Ocamb) As a very young child growing up in 1970s Nashville, it was no secret I was gay. Not at all. I adored my mother and grandmothers; loved Princess, my German Shepard; treasured my action figure dolls; worshiped David Cassidy; and ran home every day from school to watch Dr. Smith protect himself with Will Robinson on “Lost In Space.” I had a gallery of the latest male teen heartthrob Tiger Beat posters above my bed. If there was a beauty pageant on TV, I was making cardboard crowns and dressing my sister up to make her the winner. I was also adventurous and trusting, loved talking to adults about current events, art and music. For most people at that time, the presumption might have been that I was precocious rather than gay. But being gay was something I had already, though privately, embraced as my own truth.
When I was 14 years old I traveled alone for the first time in my life, taking “The Floridian” from Dothan, Ala., where I had spent my summer, returning home to my family in Nashville. I was not at all afraid. On that train, I remember the first time I saw the maitre’d of the Amtrak dining car. “He’s gay like me,” I thought. It was my first independent encounter with another person like me, unshielded by family. And, yes, I accepted his attention. I needed the very private affirmation of his glances. It wasn’t sexual attraction, at least not for me, but I was overjoyed to be able to interact, unmonitored with someone else like me. But that day has impacted me in the most profound ways, ways that I am still comprehending. The maitre’d, after my meal, found me in another car on the train and invited me on a tour that eventually led to his private cabin, behind a locked door and into his bed. What I thought was innocent and flirtatious affection quickly turned sexual and into a full-fledged rape. I panicked as he undressed me, unable to yell out and frozen by fear. I was falling into a deepening shame that was almost like a dissociation, something I found myself doing in moments of childhood stress from that moment on. Occasionally, even now. Eventually I was able to cry. But instead of relenting, he placed a pillow over my face and continued, pressing himself ever harder, more aggressively as I screamed and tried to get away. He did give up and he let me go. I ran back to my seat and found an elderly woman who I sat next to, thinking she would protect me. He came back and he charmed her, inviting us both back to the dining car and to my horror she wanted to go. So we did and it turned out she was the sister of House Judiciary Committee chair Peter Rodino. Our conversation that day saved my life and she listened to my crazy fantastic tales and dreams, helping me avoid focusing on the trauma I had just experienced. But it was a formative sexual experience that over the years has never fully left me.
It robbed me of innocence, disrupted my enjoyment of sex, and slowed the development of my confidence. It blurred my focus and made trust an extremely difficult prospect for me. Even into my adulthood it has made me vulnerable, sometimes accepting bad bargains rather than negotiating to put my best interests forward. I have not used it as a crutch. I honestly haven’t given the experience much thought over the years. I spent so much energy as a child, after all, not letting on that anything had happened. There was no safe person to tell. While I knew without a doubt that I was gay, telling anyone about the rape would not only have outed me (and I was not prepared for that), it would have forced me to deal with anger and hatred toward gays I was already trying to avoid at home. What authority would believe a gay kid in 1975? I completely understand why these incidents go unreported. Rapists are gifted opportunists, looking for people in situations they can exploit. #MeToo is a complex movement that seeks an even more complex variable of justice. But it is not a subterfuge of due process, as some have argued, unqualified by the lens of trauma and time. Victims should be believed and those accused should face their accusers. I cannot imagine that Brett Kavanaugh sees himself as Dr. Ford’s rapist. I’m sure my rapist, who I hope is dead and rotting in hell, would never have seen himself as my rapist. LGBT people are part of a vanguard movement that has made it possible for gay youth to report rape and find justice. And the Women’s Movement has made it possible for women like Dr. Ford to fight back. But the forces that seek to shunt aside the allegations against Kavanaugh—devil-bedamned—are the same forces that support a president who brags about sexually harassing women. By refusing to stay silent anymore, by refusing to let that rapist claim space in my head, by coming out as a survivor of sexual assault, I proudly stand with others as part of the #MeToo movement.
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LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • SEPTEMBER 28, 2018 • 17
I was sexually assaulted. Maybe my story will help other LGBT victims speak out Kavanaugh revelations have triggered my rage
Karen Ocamb is news editor of the Los Angeles Blade.
I am 38 years clean and sober. The first 10 years were a real slog, rough going. My defiant, independent streak kept flaring up. But that streak kept getting me in trouble when I drank and used, which I did whenever I could from age 14 to age 30. I was a Broadcast Associate at CBS News in New York when my boss gave me an ultimatum: Get sober or you’re fired. Luckily, he thought I was worth saving. My job was my identity so I went to rehab. I didn’t realize that getting sober required me to get honest with myself, something I professed to do as part of my Age of Aquarius persona. But as I dug deep, excavating the layers of lies I told myself, the masks of self-
protection started crumbling off. I had to confront the ongoing belief that I was an alien in this world, that I didn’t belong, that I felt like an orphan in this group others called my family. I learned how to walk around with two faces—one that gauged the room and turned chameleon-like into whatever was acceptable; and the other, deep inside, alternately quivering and brave, distrustful and naïve, defiant and blithe, and always fearing I’d be found out. But why? Lots of reasons, it turned out, including internalized homophobia so profound I constantly thought of suicide. I had my own 12 Step saying: I will not drink use or kill myself one minute at a time. Even in sobriety, I had a “brave” face while trying to share my secrets. It wasn’t until I was five years sober that I allowed myself to cry— I’m the child of an Air Force Colonel who believed stoicism was good behavior. But at five years an internal dam broke and I finally allowed my muck to rise to the surface and be expunged. I had been raped in college and told no one. I had been raped after moving to New York City in the 1970s and told no one. No one talked about “date rape” then. If a guy bought you dinner, he expected sex and if you said, no—too bad. That’s just the way it was. And when I came to work with a black eye and puffed up split lip, I sloughed it off: shit happens on the streets of New York City and big girls don’t cry. Besides, I was usually drunk or high so I thought somehow
I deserved it. The one time the cops were involved, they just added to the trauma I was trying to ignore. It was late one night, after dinner with a friend and I was trying to catch a cab on the Upper West Side. This white pickup truck stops, two white guys jump out and one guy asks me if I have the time. I moved under the streetlight to look at my watch when suddenly the second guy jumps me from behind and the two hustle me into the front of the truck. I start flailing away so the dominant one punches me while the other one ties my hands behind my back. The dominant guy drives a bit until there’s no more glare and then he unzips and tries to force me to have oral sex as the other one tries to keep me from jerking my head and body around. I remember being amazed that the guy wasn’t worried that I might bite his thing off. This was one time when my defiant streak was serving me well. Except the guy gets so pissed off, he ejaculates on me, hits me again and then starts strangling me. I was on the verge of passing out when the other guy says: “That’s enough.” He opens the door and dumps me onto the street, into the proverbial puddle. I lay there for a bit until my survivor mode kicks in and I manage to sit on the curb. A passing cab stops and the man asks if I need help— he’d take me to the hospital—even though I have no money. The second guy had taken my wallet.
The late shift cops and nurses in the admitting room look at me with scorn, annoyed I’m interrupting them. They take my clothes, have me lay on a cold steel gurney and then leave as if I’m a slab of meat with eyes. One nurse later slips in surreptitiously and whispers: “Remember, you’re the victim.” I’m grateful. Two bored cops later ask me questions off a sheet of paper. My description of the men and the location lead them to conclude the guys were probably sailors on shore leave during Fleet Week. I probably led them on. Besides, I’d been drinking. This interview is an exercise in futility. Why don’t women report? Who wants to be blamed for their own victimization and re-traumatized? I thought I’d worked through all this in my 12 Step program. And then came Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and now, Brett Kavanaugh. But this time it’s not my vulnerability and shame that’s been triggered—it’s my outrage. Despite the #MeToo movement, victims are still being too easily dismissed as unbelievable. Being professional is keeping me in check. Did you know that (then-closeted lesbian) Kellie McGillis was a real rape survivor who played the attorney in “The Accused” where (then-closeted lesbian) Jodie Foster played a (real life) woman viciously raped in a bar as others watched? I hope my story encourages more LGBT victims to come out in the #MeToo movement.
18 • SEPTEMBER 28, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Open military service is critical to freedom Remembering the contributions of Major Dusty Pruitt and Col. Grethe Cammemeyer
Mary Newcombe is an attorney based in Los Angeles. (Photo courtesy Newcombe)
By MARY NEWCOMBE Recently my partner Kate shared a story about a colleague’s 13-year-old daughter coming out to her straight mom, who responded quite lovingly and appropriately. Having raised two adolescents, we know that teen identities commonly morph and her colleague should allow her daughter space to experiment with her identity. But we also know it’s necessary for all people, whatever their ages, to be able to claim their identities and live without consequence for expressing them. The ability to name oneself and live freely was central to the defense of lesbians and gay men in the armed services in the dark 1980’s and 1990’s, including my clients, Maj. Dusty Pruitt and Col. Grethe Cammermeyer. It’s still central 7 years after the official end of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” on Sept. 20, and as
transgender servicemembers continue to fight on the legal frontlines. In 1985, when I began practicing law, I knew of only a handful of lawyers who were openly gay, most of whom were sole practitioners or activists. I knew only one person in a large firm (shout out to Alan Heppel!) who was out at work. They were all courageous, given the extreme risk of job loss or family rejection. Many people lived in fear—but it was much harder for lesbians and gay men in the military. A gay accusation or suspicion would instigate an investigation that would often result in discharge under less than honorable conditions—a status that drastically limited job and other opportunities in the civilian world. Not to mention the unspeakable injury to an individual’s dignity: every servicemember I ever knew took pride in their service, even if they disagreed with a particular military conflict. There were crucial differences in the discharge proceedings against Dusty and Grethe. Dusty had been out a long time, during her five years in the Army, serving as a Captain in the Army Reserve, and as a minister in the Metropolitan Community Church. In 1983, she talked to the Los Angeles Times about her ministry and the difficulty of reconciling her sexual orientation with Christian teaching, volunteering that she was still in the Army Reserve. Dusty’s commander saw the story and initiated an investigation. Susan McGreivy of the ACLU Lesbian and Gay Rights Project stepped in to defend Dusty but Dusty was stripped of her recent promotion to major and discharged. I became a cooperating attorney just
before the federal district court upheld Dusty’s discharge, despite no allegation of improper conduct. We appealed the decision to the Ninth Circuit. Three years later, in August 1991, the court rejected our argument that Dusty had a First Amendment right to assert her identity. But, for the first time, the court stated the Army was required to demonstrate the regulation was premised on fact, rather than supposition. This meant we could move beyond the inevitable motion to dismiss and demand the armed forces prove the ban was justified. It was a tiny shift that altered the scope of future litigation over gay and lesbian rights—and it was made possible by Dusty’s willingness to challenge her discharge. Soon after, Keith Meinhold won an order reversing his discharge because the Navy was unable to prove a legitimate evidentiary basis for its ban. Dusty ultimately won her case and retired as Maj. Dusty Pruitt. I was introduced to Grethe in 1989 when she sought help from Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund. Grethe, a lieutenant colonel in the Washington National Guard who had served as a trauma nurse in Vietnam, had only recently come out after surprisingly falling in love with another woman. She did not really like people who marched in parades and had no intention of doing so herself. She wanted our help, though, because she had been threatened with discharge proceedings after disclosing her newly discovered sexual orientation during an interview for a highergrade security clearance, a requirement for her goal of becoming Chief Nurse of the National Guard. Although she was not out to anyone, the Army ordered the unwilling
Washington National Guard to commence discharge proceedings. Grethe was incensed—she did not believe the Army she had served faithfully would take such a hard, illogical position. She wanted to fight. I told Grethe that she should think long and hard before taking that step because it would mean intense public furor that could interfere with her relationship with her four sons. She had to come out to them first to show us she was serious—they were all supportive. That was my first real hint of Grethe’s strength of character. Grethe’s commander, who didn’t care one whit about Grethe’s sexual orientation, was able to delay discharge proceedings for several years. In 1991, however, she was discharged by a three-colonel panel led by Col. Patsy Thompson, a closeted lesbian. Thompson gave an emotional speech praising Grethe’s record and skills, calling her a “great American” but concluding the regulation required her discharge. Members of Grethe’s unit wept at her final command ceremony. The following year, Bill Clinton was elected president, after promising to lift the ban on gays serving openly in the military. Enter Sen. Sam Nunn, the conservative Democrat who launched the hearings that ultimately yielded “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the doctrine that allowed gay people to serve their country, as long as they didn’t share their personal authenticity. Grethe’s story about finding her lesbian identity late in life and fighting for the freedom to express it became a touchstone for the movement. And she marched in quite a few parades, loving every minute.
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LA’s most intensive cultural lens focuses on evolving glamour The Getty Center celebrates ‘Icons of Style: A Century of Fashion Photography, 1911 - 2011’ By JOHN PAUL KING
‘The V Back Evenings, Suzy Parker, Dress by Trigère, New York, 1955,’ Lillian Bassman, gelatin silver print. The J. Paul Getty Museum from the Estate of Lillian Bassman. Photo courtesy of Getty Center
When Edward Steichen was hired by French publisher Lucien Vogel to photograph a collection of gowns by Parisian designer Paul Poiret, it was not the first time the camera had been used to create images of fashion. The year was 1911, and though photography was still a young medium, designers and sellers of clothing had already experimented with it as a means of showcasing their wares; the results, sharply detailed but visually static, were deemed less effective than those achieved by the more dynamic medium of illustration.
Steichen’s work, published in the journal “Arts et decoration,” was different. Softly focused, luminous, and elegant, they conveyed more than simply the mere physical form of the clothes; they beamed with life. It was the dawn of a new era in style, and the birth of an entire genre of photographic art. The Getty Center is currently celebrating that genre with a new exhibition, “Icons of Style: A Century of Fashion Photography, 1911 – 2011,” which is on display through Oct. 21. Starting with Steichen’s landmark work,
which succeeded in part because he drew inspiration from other visual arts (including the very fashion illustrations to which he was providing an alternative), the museum’s retrospective seeks to explore why some of these photographs “transcend their commercial character to function as works of art, while others do not.” According to the Getty’s literature, the secret lies in the ability of the photographer to reflect both the perfect world inside the image – “where youth, beauty, and luxury
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reign supreme” – and the imperfection of reality. Such artists redefine what fashion photography is “supposed” to be by evoking the influence of art from other mediums or by expanding the boundaries of the genre. By charting its evolution over the course of a hundred years, the museum also aims to show how fashion photography – like the fashion it records – is reactive, perpetually changing to reflect social, political and economic shifts across time. It also charts the genre’s course “from niche industry to powerful cultural force, and its gradual embrace as an art form.” In doing so, the Getty’s thorough and sumptuous exhibit takes a journey which is not only about the way fashion looks, but the ways in which we look at fashion. From the ethereal glamour of the salon to the gritty realism of the streets, from sweet simplicity to smart sophistication, from studio-bound fantasy to Instagram-borne branding; “Icons of Style” shows us how fashion is shaped by the world – and perhaps, how the world is shaped by fashion. Featured are over 160 photos, along with a selection of costumes, illustrations, magazine covers, videos, and advertisements. These materials have been drawn from the Getty’s permanent collection and supplemented by loans from private and public sources; they provide “a rich context that reaches beyond the magazine page to represent how fashion infiltrates everyday life.” While the exhibit features the work of
countless photographers, there are some definite highlights. Lillian Bassman (1917-2012) worked as a fashion photographer from the 1940s until the 1970s. Known for her emphasis on form, the starkly-contrasting, grainy, black-and-white composition of her photos fell from favor in the industry with the advent of an era devoted to color and sensuality; undeterred, she focused on personal projects and continued to create remarkable images well into her 90s. She is represented in the Getty collection by pieces such as “The V Back Evenings, Suzy Parker, Dress by Trigère, New York, 1955.” Cecil Beaton (1904-1980) was one of the most influential and recognized fashion photographers of the 20th century, spent a decade defining the visual style of the 1930s for Vogue, then reinvented himself by capturing unforgettable images of World War II. He was also a portraitist (he became the preferred photographer to Queen Elizabeth and the royal family), as well as a costume designer for the stage and screen. The Getty show features several of his most striking photos, including “Fashion is Indestructable.” Helmut Newton (1920-2004) was another photographer who specialized in sexy images, whose career spanned from the 1940s until his death at 63 (in a car crash which occurred as he was driving out of the Chateau Marmont on Sunset Boulevard). Known for his penchant for stylized, technically proficient, black-andwhite photos which often hinted at stories
with an erotic subtext, he also did a number of pictorials for Playboy, most famously with Nastassia Kinski. The “Icons of Style” exhibit features several of his works, including “Woman Examining Man, Saint Tropez 1975.” Bruce Weber (b. 1946) is known for his provocative, sexually-charged imagery, on display in widely-seen campaigns for Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Versace and Abercrombie and Fitch, to name just a few. He’s been featured in virtually every fashion magazine in the business, and has worked extensively with celebrities – especially musicians like Chris Isaak and Harry Connick, Jr. Among his several photos on display at the Getty is perhaps his most famous work, the iconic Calvin Klein ad featuring Olympian Tom Hintnaus wearing only a pair of white briefs. In addition to these famous figures, “Icons of Style” features familiar images from such renowned photographers as Baron Adolph de Meyer, Man Ray, Herb Ritts, Hiro, Sheila Metzner, Guy Bourdin, Irving Penn, Richard Avedon, Louise Dahl-Wolfe, George Hurrell and Gordon Parks. It’s a comprehensive experience, a true feast for the eyes – and the mind – which is sure to satisfy anyone with a taste for fashion, from the casual to the obsessed. The Getty Center is located at 1200 Getty Center Drive, at the intersection of Getty Center Drive and Sepulveda Boulevard in Los Angeles. Admission is free, but parking is $15, $10 after 3 p.m. Hours are Tuesday – Friday 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m., and Saturday 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Closed Sunday and Monday.
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LA’s biggest night in drag Kathy Griffin is Sofanda Cox and can’t wait to host Best In Drag By REBEKAH SAGER
Alliance for Housing and Healing’s 2018 cast. Photo courtesy Best In Drag
If you’re looking for a way to give back to a community hugely in need, while also enjoying an evening of one of the most electric, fierce and outrageous drag queen shows this side of the Mississippi, then get your tickets for the annual Best in Drag Show, held at the Orpheum theater in downtown Los Angeles on Oct. 7. A fundraiser for Alliance for Housing and Healing, the Best in Drag Show emerged out of an annual night of friends getting together to watch the “Miss America” contest in a small West Hollywood apartment in 1989. “A hairdresser and friend of mine who had AIDS, Alexis Pittman, loved the ‘Miss America’ contest,” Jack Lorenz, Director of Development and Communications at Alliance for Housing and Healing tells the Blade. “So, every year, whether we liked it or not, we had to go and watch the show with him. One year, he decided to invite some drag queens over, and while the women on TV were doing the real show, the drag queens were doing the same thing. The next thing I knew, people stared crumpling up dollar bills and throwing them at the drag queens. At the end of the night we asked Alexis what he was going to do with all of the crumpled up dollar bills. He said, ‘I’m gonna’ iron the bills and take them to Aid for AIDS in the morning.’ That night we ‘raised’ $40 dollars. Fast-forward to last year, and we ironed $20,000,” Lorenz says. Alliance for Housing and Healing’s flagship initiative, Aid for AIDS, was founded in 1983 by a small group of friends in the greater Hollywood. The group got together to help a community being devastated by the HIV/AIDS pandemic. AFA provided emergency rent, mortgage, and utility payments, allowing people to die with dignity in their own homes. Since AFA’s founding, it has touched the lives of more than 16,000 men, women, and children. Moving from Pittman’s apartment and then to larger and larger venues, the official Best in Drag Show launched in 2003, and has since made more than $600 million to support the work of AFA. All of the six contestants are amateur drag queens. The auditions are held in March, and though it’s not fierce, Lorenz says, they’re also not easy, he adds. Contestants work from March to October to hone their characters. Some of the original “Miss America” watch-party group, as well as an army of volunteers organizes the show. And for more than ten years, Kathy Griffin has generously opened the show. She leads the judges’ panel and contributes her talent by doing what she does best… keeping things hilarious and raucous. She is also a major financial contributor. Griffin tells the Blade that a great drag queen always starts with a fabulous name. “My drag name is ‘Safonda Cox.’ I come from a long line of Cox,’” she says. “I’ve done this show more years than I can count and even I’m surprised about what still comes out of my mouth the minute I hit the stage,” Griffin says about her duties as comic relief. “The good news is that this audience has always been so open and receptive; I know I can say anything. They show up to laugh and leave any and all political correctness at the door,” she adds. Alliance for Housing and Healing provides group homes with 24/7 care for those who are too ill with HIV/ AIDS to live on their own and have no other resources. It offers permanent, subsidized apartments that are safe places for individuals and families with HIV/AIDS and a second diagnosis. And it gives emergency financial assistance to help cover rent and utilities for those with HIV/AIDS who are facing eviction and homelessness. Lorenz explains that in the years since the organization first began helping people, the folks getting assistance are not the same today. “Our mission has shifted from people like me who have HIV, to people who are marginalized and on the fringes. And at the time we started people like me were marginalized and on the fringes,” Lorenz says. “So, the face has changed, but the need has not. We are committed to an AIDS-free generation, but the only way we know for sure we can end this problem is to solve the homeless problem,” he adds. Raising money for this new face has become a very real challenge. Lorenz says young men of color, trans women, women of color and the homeless, are the new faces, and he adds that he spends much of his time fundraising, educating the old guard about the new need. “One of the group homes is almost entirely devoted to Latina women and children. Many of those women are undocumented and acquired the virus from their husbands who then kicked them out of the house, Lorenz says. “When I talk to people in my community, I say I believe you have a moral obligation to help people who need help now. Because there were people who were not like us, who took care of us. And it’s now our turn to help those people who don’t look like us,” he says. Events like Best in Drag will raise a lot of money to help all of the faces of people living with HIV/AIDS. “This is a community that does not stop. This is a community that approaches a health crisis from every angle and is now allowed to be a hell of a lot more open and proud then when I started doing standup all those years ago in gay bars where so many of these sufferers were forced to be in the closet. Progress has been made and progress will continue to be made,” Griffin says. Each year, the Best in Drag Show blossoms into a bigger and more star-studded evening, with topshelf contestants. “Patrick Rush has always been the host. I am merely the crazy red-haired shiny object thrown on stage like a piece of red meat to a den of gays, glitter, and catcalls,” Griffin says. “My hosting has changed in that I have probably gotten bolder (if you can imagine), because as a long-time ally in the LGBTQIA2345Caitlyn community, I couldn’t feel more at home,” she adds.
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LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • SEPTEMBER 28, 2018 • 25
When it comes to queer erotic art, few artists cast a larger shadow than Tom of Finland. Born Touko Laaksonen (in Finland, obviously), his anatomically-idealized representations of the male form were first introduced to the world through his illustrations in Physique Pictorial in the 1950s and went on to become iconic; hyper-masculine, overtly sexual, and usually depicted in leather or other fetish gear, the men in his drawings helped to define an important aesthetic of gay male culture throughout the mid- and late-20th Century and remains a potent influence to this day. As many gay Angelenos know – at least those who are involved in the leather and fetish communities – Tom’s legacy is maintained here in LA through the “Tom House,” the Echo Park home where the late artist lived and worked for the last decade of his life, and which is now headquarters to the Tom of Finland Foundation. This historical and cultural landmark museum serves as a museum, gallery and cultural center devoted to the Foundation’s mission of “protecting, preserving and promoting erotic art.” As a platform in furthering that mission, one of the key public events initiated and run by the Tom of Finland Foundation is the Tom of Finland Art and Culture Festival, an annual event and art fair which will convene for its 23rd incarnation at Tom House (1421 Laveta Terrace, Los Angeles) on October 6-7. Over 60 queer artists will be featured, including Seth Bogart, Hector Silva and the late Michael Kirwan. This year’s theme for the festival is “Eye On Collecting,” and its programming will focus on the purposeful commitment of collecting art. “What better way to say ‘thank you’ to an artist than investing in his vision?” says Durk Dehner, president and co-founder of Tom of Finland Foundation. “A review in a magazine, or a comment left, is definitely a way to show support – but to buy something by them is the ultimate way of acknowledging them. At the festival you find what represents you, and you then get to share the artwork in your home with your friends – the gratitude is circulated.” The theme is also intended to celebrate of the release of a new book, “My Gay Eye (Mein schwules Auge),” a special Tom of Finland Foundation edition which spotlights the work of numerous important queer erotic artists – many of whom will be represented at the festival with works available for sale. Some of these will be included within the Rubén Esparza Curatorial, which will be showing Marcel Alcala, Amina Cruz, Cleonette Harris, Peter Kalisch, Naruki Kukita, Bruce LaBruce, Slava Mogutin, Gio Black Peter, Oliver Sarley, Phil Tarley and Jon Vaz Gar; others will be represented in Rick Castro’s Dungeon, which will feature John Blackburn, Sierra Domino, Paul Mahler and Joel-Peter Witkin. The festival is not just about visual art, though. Literature will also be celebrated. Special guest artist Slava Mogutin, a photographer, poet and Russian dissident, will read and be on hand to sign books. In addition, poet and educator Steven Reigns has invited other notable authors to share their written words on Saturday, including author Clint Catalyst and performance artist Ron Athey. There will also be a preview of “Secret Gay Box”, curated by John Wolf. An expansive history of “Queerness embodied in a menagerie of objects from across time,” the show features works by Brian Andrew, Patrick Angus, Paul Cadmus, Hossein Edalatkhah, Don Joint, Mike Kuchar, Joseph La Piana, Robert Mapplethorpe, Jose Gonzalo Garcia Munoz, Justin Olerud, Stuart Sandford, Matt Siegle, Andy Warhol and David Wojnarowicz. Other attractions include: Drawings by Silvia Prada from her recently released artist book, “Tom,” developed in collaboration with Tom of Finland Foundation. A series of photographs by Daniel Trese taken at the Foundation in 2014, showcased in conjunction with his exhibition “Surface Streets” at Tom of Finland Store. A booth by Los Angeles’ Lethal Amounts, showcasing their collaborations with artists and musicians on subversive and counter culture themes. Works by Jeremy Lucido, photographer and publisher of Starrfucker, featuring zines as art. Works by resident artist Phuc Le who will display his photography. Works by Josh Paul Thomas, whose photography is the cover for “My Gay Eye,” and who works across multiple mediums. Previews of upcoming exhibitions by artists Miguel Angel Reyes, Jess Scott and Stefan Pinto. A live auction on Sunday which will allow attendees to bid on classic homoerotica. A Saturday night screening of “Born to Raise Hell” (1974), a time-honored film which has been the standard by which all gay S/M films are judged around the world. It will be introduced by writer and director, Roger Earl, who received the Tom of Finland Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015. Finally, for those with an interest in creating a little art of their own, Miguel Angel Reyes will direct life drawing sessions from noon-2 p.m. on both days. Visitors who want a little break from the artistic attractions can get their footgear shined and benefit from expert hair and facial grooming. There will also be food and beverage offered throughout the day. Anyone who has been to the Tom House can tell you that a visit there is always a treat. When it plays host to an important cultural and artistic event such as this one, it’s guaranteed to be a stimulating – and sexy – adventure. Admission is $10 each day on Eventbrite (tomsfoundation.eventbrite.com) and at door. For a complete list of participating artists, schedule and more information visit tomoffinlandfoundation. org/foundation/events.
Tom of Finland Art and Culture Fest unleashes queer erotica on LA The Finnish artist’s niche continues to inspire By JOHN PAUL KING
Drawings by Miguel Angel Reyes are among the work of over 60 artists to be featured at the 23rd Annual Tom of Finland Art and Culture Festival. Courtesy Tom of Finland Foundation
26 • SEPTEMBER 28, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Sarah Jones stars in Sell/Buy/Date*, Sat. Sep. 29 @ 8:00 PM to 10:00 PM at Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Renberg Center (1125 N McCadden Pl, Los Angeles). Tony Award-winning playwright and performer Sarah Jones (Bridge & Tunnel) comes to the Renberg Theatre with her celebrated new play, Sell/Buy/Date*. A mustsee one-woman marvel, Sell/Buy/Date is an exuberant show inspired by the real-life experiences of people affected by the sex industry. Brimming with Jones’ dazzling medley of masterful, multicultural characters, the play presents an honest, moving, and humorous look at a complex and fascinating subject, all while preserving the full humanity of voices seldom heard in the theater. “Absorbing and piercing, with unexpected humor and often biting and bright.” -The New York Times. “A must-see.” -Los Angeles Times. What will the Los Angeles Blade think? Eventbrite.
Protect Trans Rights Phonebank, Sun. Sep. 30 @ 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM at The Village at Ed Gould Plaza, Los Angeles LGBT Center (1125 N McCadden Pl). What do we do when trans people are under attack? We dial and text America and make our case. Trans rights progressed significantly over the past couple of years, but from bathroom rights to trans people in the military, those rights are under attack and it appears we could face a Supreme Court that will ensure that’s the case. It’s a five alarm fire and you are needed. Join the the Resistance Squad. We advocate for the rights of communities that are underrepresented and underserved. And we won’t stop fight for our communities until everyone has the resources they need to be healthy, equal, and complete.
From Influence to OUTfluence, Tue. Oct. 2 @ 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM at Los Angeles LGBT Center’s The Village at Ed Gould Plaza (1125 N. McCadden Place). Help kick off the Center’s “50 Years of Queer” Big Queer Convo series: From Influence to OUTfluence, featuring a diverse panel of LGBT social and cultural influencers discussing the inclusion of and visibility of LGBT people in the rapidly changing landscape of today’s entertainment media. This series explores the history and impact of LGBT people on the arts and media over the last 50 years in celebration of the Center’s 50th anniversary. Panelists include: musician and content creator Sam Tsui; producer and writer Ashly Perez (formerly BuzzFeed); actor Clark Moore (Love, Simon); model and actress Arisce Wanzer (Strut); and Universal Music Group Executive Vice President of Creative Dave Rocco. The moderator will be social media influencer Andy Lalwani.
The Bench, a play by Robert Galinsky, every Thu.
Famed artist Vance Lorenzini’s work will set the stage for a red carpet celebration of the life and work of the late Tab Hunter will be held on Saturday, October 6, at 6 PM at the AC Gallery in Hollywood, 1546 North Highland Avenue. Image courtesy Allan Glaser
and Fri. from Oct. 04 through Fri. Nov. 09 @ 8:00 PM at Hudson Guild Theater (6539 Santa Monica Blvd). The East Village comes to Los Angeles in the form of a play mined from the true stories of people in the infamous New York neighborhood, home to writer/activist Robert Galinsky. Galinsky presents a unique perspective of life on the streets through five homeless characters whose lives become forever entwined. With brutal honesty and humor, the story makes it alarmingly clear that so many of us are just one mistake away from joining this underserved and growing population. The Bench, A Homeless Love Story is set in the urban decay of a crumbling city during the start of the AIDS crisis. Thirty years later, what has changed? Tickets are $25.
Disneyland Gay Days, Fri. Oct. 5 thru Oct 7 @ 7:00 AM to 12 AM at Disneyland (1313 Disneyland Dr, Anaheim). OMG fun! Last year’s Gay Days at Disney festivities attracted over 30,000 homosexuals, glittering the park...gay, gay, gay. “What I love most about being at Disneyland during Gay Days is how different the parks feel,” producer Eddie Shapiro to Los Angeles Blade’s Billy Masters. Enjoy the first ever Gay Days Anaheim free film screening under the stars. Since it’s October, why wouldn’t they show “Hocus Pocus”? Disney and gay favorite Bette Midler camps it up with Kathy Najimy and Sarah Jessica Parker in this perennial Halloween favorite on Friday night on the lawn of the Anaheim Majestic Garden Hotel. Saturday you can check out “Confessions of a Mormon Boy,” Steven Fales solo show prior to its off-Broadway run this fall (and he is certainly worth checking out). For more information, tickets, and a full list of events and times, check out their website at GayDaysAnaheim.com. And, as they say, see you on the Matterhorn.
Celebrating the life of Tab Hunter, Sat. Oct. 6 @ 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM at The AC Gallery (1546 N. Highland Avenue). A red carpet life celebration for film star Tab Hunter will feature a series of life-size paintings of Hunter by famed artist and video director Vance Lorenzini (Madonna’s Vogue), unveiled for the first time. Hunter’s funeral was held in a private ceremony near his home in Montecito recently and this event will mark the first public memorial for him and will be hosted by Hunter’s life partner of three decades, Allan Glaser. The exhibit itself will run through Nov. 28. Call 323-464-3900 for details or email gallery@artistcorner. us to attend. California Men’s Gatherings (CMG) Short Film Festival, Sat Oct. 6 @ 5:00 PM & 8:00 PM and Sun Oct. 7 @ 3:00 PM & 6:30 PM at West Hollywood City Council Chambers (625 North San Vicente). An innovative film festival of mostly gay male themed short film that takes on some intimate subject matter that most festival shy away from.Four programs of short films for and about LGBT community: Down, But Not Out explores survival and perseverance; Life’s Too Short is a group of shorts based on Mark Twain’s premise that “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did.”; Can We Get Angry Again asks if we really have made the heady social progress we think we’ve made; and The Hidden Language looks at dance as an LGBT artform and expression; all proceeds to to AIDS Walk Los Angeles.
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.
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • SEPTEMBER 28, 2018 • 27
“’America’s Got Talent’ got a bigger audience than the Emmys. Write your own punchline. It’s a Jewish holiday.” - Perennial awards show scribe Bruce Vilanch’s quip on the ratings for the Emmy Awards. If you missed the Emmy Awards, you weren’t alone. Not only were the ratings down 11 percent from last year, they hit an all-time low. But don’t take these numbers as a waning interest solely in television - ratings for this year’s Oscars telecast were down 19 percent, while the Grammys tanked more than 23 percent. The decline for a televised awards show about television is also deceptive - the vast majority of nominees were for cable and streaming services, while the show was hosted by “Saturday Night Live” cast members on NBC. Relevancy is as hot a topic as diversity, which was the theme of the Emmy’s opening musical number. Since most of you missed the show, here are some of my highlights. Jenifer Lewis showed her support for Colin Kaepernick by arriving clad head-to-toe in Nike (and she threw in a high kick on the red carpet just to show those bastards she still could). After his first nomination 42 years ago, Henry Winkler finally won an Emmy! I’m not entirely sure Betty White knew where she was, but she managed to pull it off — even though she was dangerously close to exclaiming, “Gladiator!” RuPaul presented an award with Leslie Jones. Girl, would it kill you to wear a gown? Yes, I’m talking to you, Leslie! As to Ru, congrats on making history by winning Best Host of a Reality Competition Series and snagging Best Reality Competition Series with “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” Darren Criss never misses an opportunity to remind us he’s straight. I LOVED the “Reparation Emmys” sketch. Why is it that Tina Fey always looks as comfortable walking in a dress as Jodie Foster or Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg? Taraji, you work that train! Sandra Oh is still trying to explain to her mother that she didn’t win (but as she said, “It’s an honor just to be Asian”). I’m still not convinced Tim Gunn isn’t being held hostage by Heidi Klum and possibly the Symbionese Liberation Army. Lastly, that was an awfully chaste kiss between Ricky Martin and his hubby. Adam Rippon is officially an American treasure. Last week, he announced (on Twitter, of course) the following: “Pretty cool to soon have something on display in the American History Museum. Now, I just need to convince someone that they need to be next to the ruby slippers.” Rippon donated his Olympic costume and skates to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History. I’d say “Sesame Street” qualifies as an American treasure. And I’d place Ernie and Bert near the top of the list of indelible inhabitants. Every once in a while, people wonder whether the “roommates” are gay or straight. Former “SS” writer Mark Saltzman added fuel to the fire. “I always felt that without a huge agenda, when I was writing Bert and Ernie, they were gay. I didn’t have any other way to contextualize them.” It should be noted that the characters were actually created in the original “Sesame Street” pilot in 1969; Saltzman didn’t start writing for the show until 1984. The Sesame Workshop issued a statement of its own. “Sesame Street has always stood for inclusion and acceptance. It’s a place where people of all cultures and backgrounds are welcome. Bert and Ernie were created to be best friends, and to teach young children that people can get along with those who are very different from themselves. They also added “they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation.” Tell that to Miss Piggy, who constantly lusts after an ambivalent amphibian, Kermit. With all the buzz about Bradley Cooper’s remake of “A Star Is Born,” many media outlets say that the one film you have to see FIRST is Barbra Streisand’s remake of “A Star Is Born.” The 1976 version has been available in the home video market for years. However, Streisand recently remastered it, added in some deleted scenes, and spruced it up for Netflix. Well, you didn’t expect her to sit back and let Lady Gaga have a moment, did you? When I heard that Cicely Tyson was receiving an honorary Oscar, I was sure it was for her stirring performance at Aretha’s funeral - except, of course, that wasn’t a film (but it might as well have been). This particular honor is for her body of work on the silver screen. The presentation will take place at the 10th Annual Governors Award on Nov. 18, because, of course, they don’t have time to give it out during the Oscars telecast. Those of you in Southern California will want to save the date of Oct. 6. That’s when the AC Gallery in Hollywood will host a “red carpet” life celebration of Tab Hunter, which will coincide with a series of life-size paintings of the actor by video director Vance Lorenzini. Hunter’s partner, Allan Glaser, came up with the idea of remembering Tab with this event, which will start at 6 p.m. The exhibition runs through Nov. 28. When we’re saying goodbye to Tab, it’s time to end yet another column. And what a long column it was. I barely have time to remind you to check out www.BillyMasters.com - the site that doesn’t need remastering. As always, send your questions to me at Billy@BillyMasters.com and I promise to get back to you before Ernie and Bert get married in a very special episode of “Sesame Street”! So, until next time, remember, one man’s filth is another man’s bible.
A very gay Emmys that no one watched RuPaul triumphs, Jenifer Lewis thrills and Ricky’s awkward kiss By BILLY MASTERS
AC Gallery in Hollywood is set to host a ‘red carpet’ life celebration of Tab Hunter. Photo Courtesy AC Gallery
QUEERY 20 QUESTIONS FOR RJ HOLGUIN
28 • SEPTEMBER 28, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
queery RJ HOLGUIN How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell? I was in college. I was 20-something years old. My parents were the hardest to tell. I actually never told them. Someone else did. They came to my West Hollywood apartment to have a conversation about it and then two months later they went with me to the LA Pride parade. They’ve always been very supportive. Who’s your LGBT hero? I don’t know that I have an LGBT hero, but I can say that I resonated with Elton John. He ended up in recovery and I grew up with his music. I recall one Halloween I made in Elton John costume for my father to wear to a costume party and he played the part so well and captured all of his flamboyance, so I always associate that moment to Elton John. She’s not LGBT, but I would honestly have to say Madonna. She set the tone for many things.
Photo by Paulo Murillo
By PAULO MURILLO
Meet RJ Holguin, the owner of My 12 Step Store, a recovery themed gift shop and bookstore located at 8730 Santa Monica Boulevard, in West Hollywood. RJ is widely considered to be one of the hardest working people in the sobriety community, not above working the register, helping customers select gifts for their loved ones, or packing items he ships out to customers around the world. But what people may not realize is that his work is tireless advocacy through marketing. His public relations effort has a dual purpose, messaging that many believe helps save lives and which works to promote the store. His efforts not only make sure the store survives in a city where retail stores come and go, it has given shelter to many people in recovery. Martin D. says, “before I was sober I walked into My 12 Step store and met RJ. That was my first step and I left with a card I still have on my refrigerator 5-years later. It says, ‘keep coming back,’ and as strange as it sounds, that card saves my life every day.” If sobriety is a hard sell....well, imagine what it has taken to keep the doors open. But that’s RJ’s way of being grateful and giving back to a community he loves. My 12 Step Store sponsors numerous fundraisers, donating gift items to a variety of nonprofits. Holguin, who is 32 years sober, says he is happy to pay it forward. He has shepherded the one-stop shop and a go-to online recovery-themed gifting brand into a community with 12-step friends around the world. My 12 Step Store is now celebrating 15 years in business, fortuitously during the September National Recovery Month celebrations.
What’s Los Angeles’ best nightspot, past or present? I was 22 or 23 and Rage opened. I was the 50th person in line, so I was the 50th person to open Rage. Describe your dream wedding. It’s a very white wedding. Lots of freedom. Not contrived. Lots of orchids and flowers. I have this vision of walking down a very long, long cloudy walkway. What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about? First and foremost will definitely be 12-step recovery. The second would be the political climate. What historical outcome would you change? Obviously, the most recent election for the presidency. What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime? I was always a fan of JFK Jr. When he died, I bought a ticket to New York, because I really wanted to be a part of that. I recall thinking that a part of an era had just died.
the celebrities that have supported us throughout this 15-year journey. If your life were a book, what would the title be? RJ Holguin: Be For Now – It’s a book with two meanings. My life before now and being here for the now. If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do? There was a time when I prayed for something like that. It’s taken 57 years to be comfortable in the skin I am in now and I don’t know that I would bother changing anything. What do you believe in beyond the physical world? I believe in spirits. I believe our spirit lives on. What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders? Leaders need to recognize that the needs of the past three generations dating back to Stonewall, are not necessarily the same needs what the Millennials, or the current generation needs. What would you walk across hot coals for? I literally walked across hot coals. It was during a life coaching series. I did it for myself, for my own life, to become a better person. What LGBT stereotype annoys you most? We sell many amazing recovery medallions in hundreds of colors and styles. Some of them are sparkly and pink and sometimes when people are shopping for a gay friend they assume that they would like it because it’s glittery and pink. What’s your favorite LGBT movie? Madonna’s “Truth or Dare” documentary, because she brought gay people to the big screen. The other one is the movie “Philadelphia” with Tom Hanks. I cried. What’s the most overrated social custom? Saying you’re sorry. Especially when you don’t mean you’re sorry and it comes off like you’re not really sorry. I’d rather have honesty.
On what do you insist? My way or the highway. I laugh, because my way doesn’t always happen.
What trophy or prize do you most covet? Reaching 33 years of recovery. Not picking up and using drugs and alcohol is my prize.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet? I posted an amazing My 12 Step Store video that captures the past 15 years of love and service. There is a collection of many inspirational posts, a showcase of the many gifts that we offer and photos of the friends that we’ve made along the way, the events and parties that we’ve thrown, and some of
What do you wish you’d known at 18? Everything I know now, but definitely wish I’d used sun block. Why Los Angeles? It was either Los Angeles or New York and I didn’t get to New York first.
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • SEPTEMBER 28, 2018 • 29
BMW 640i xDRIVE GRAN TURISMO $72,000 Mpg: 19 city, 27 highway 0-60 mph: 4.9 seconds Calling this BMW a hatchback seems silly, even if it is one. Instead the 640i xDrive Gran Turismo screams out as a cross between slinky sport sedan and souped-up SUV. The refined, 335-hp engine is smooth and strong, with more than enough power to handle this 4,409-pound bad boy. Along with all the vroom, there’s plenty of room. Both the headroom and legroom are bountiful, despite a dramatically tapered roof. Lowering the back seats doubles the amount of cargo capacity to 65 cubic feet. And the standard panoramic moonroof only adds to the feeling of spaciousness. As for handling, the steering is light but controlled and the dynamic air suspension, where the car can be raised and lowered manually, is perfectly tuned between cushy comfort and weekend racer. Other niceties include soft-close automatic doors, frameless side windows, head-up display, gesture control and automatic parking. Inside, the kicky cabin is full of aluminum and wood trim, as well as a gigantic touchscreen, thick-rimmed steering wheel and high-tech LCD instrument cluster that changes readouts based on driving mode. This Bimmer is eerily quiet, except when pumping up the volume on the exquisite Harmon Kardon stereo. But don’t get too excited grooving to those tunes: If you start drifting out of your lane or get too close to a car in your blindspot, a visual warning goes off and the steering wheel starts to vibrate. LEXUS RX 350 F SPORT $51,000 Mpg: 19 city, 26 highway 0-60 mph: 7.7 seconds
Drama queen cars These zippy little rides like being the center of attention By JOE PHILLIPS
BMW 640i xDRIVE GRAN TURISMO
Lexus certainly takes chances. Not satisfied with producing some of the most reliable luxury vehicles on the planet, the automaker started shaking up its lineup and its buyers with radical designs. It also added the F Sport trim level, though these vehicles are sportier in look than performance. Yet it all works, including on the RX 350 midsize crossover, a fan fave since it was introduced 20 years ago. It’s easy to bypass the base model, which rides a bit soft, and splurge for those spicy F Sport add-ons: heated/ventilated seats, heated steering wheel, paddle shifters, ambient lighting, firmer suspension for better handling, and special interior and exterior design cues, including a more menacing grille. Plus, it has 20-inch, dark-graphite alloy wheels and a sexy engine growl. Lexus also tosses in 10 airbags, rain-sensing wipers and touch-free power liftgate, and you can opt for a 15-speaker Mark Levinson stereo. The RX 350 is definitely not as quick as the BMW 640i xDrive Gran Turismo, but the price is much more appealing. Along with a hybrid version (the RX 450h) there’s now a longwheelbase, three-row RX 350 L model that seats seven. VW GOLF R $41,000 Mpg: 22 city, 29 highway 0-60 mph: 4.8 seconds With European flair and sure-footed handling, the VW Golf has always been popular. But now there’s the radical Golf R — at twice the price of the base model — screeching around the corner. This is the uber high-performance model, surpassing even the spiffy Golf GTI in chills and thrills. A launch-control system helps this pocket rocket blast off from standing starts, while precise steering and burly brakes make commuting through traffic bearable — almost fun, even. But to truly appreciate the Golf R, it’s best to head to a test track or fast freeway and let this puppy off leash. Along with Sport, Normal and Comfort drive modes, a customizable setting lets drivers fine tune the power and handling. Inside, there’s an eight-inch touchscreen and 400-watt, eight-speaker Fender stereo. There are more safety features here than on most competitors, including collision warning, pedestrian detection, front/rear parking sensors, blind-spot monitor and lane-departure warning. Alas, the sporty styling
LEXUS RX 350 F SPORT
VW GOLF R
30 • SEPTEMBER 28, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Everybody Hates Chris star, activist and former football player Terry Crews with Vennice Harrell, mother of I Love Me Foundation founder and CEO Robert Harrell at the group’s “Breaking The Silence Awards.” Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Senator Holly Mitchell, Asst. Captain, LAPD Beatrice Girmala, Chaz Dean, Mariah Roman and many others joined the LGBT community and LGBT allies in Hollywood on Sunday Sept 23. on the Rooftop Cinema Club at the Ricardo Montalban Theatre, raising thousands of dollars for the Foundation. Fashion Expert, Kelly Osbourne, #MeToo Founder, Tarana Burke, Medical Nurse, Vennice Harrell, and Trans Activist Karina Samala were honored at the All-White Attire luncheon, which included a live performances by the Inner City Youth Orchestra and gut-busting, raunchy antics of comedian Melanie Comarcho. The event was sponsored by Chaz Dean and his new hair products line, Wen. Photo of Crews and Harrell by Earl Gibson; photo of Chaz Dean with Maria Roman and photo of Karina Samala by Troy Masters
Los Angeles LGBT Center celebrated its 49th anniversary with its annual Vanguard Awards, kicking off a major fundraising push for the Center’s 50th year. On Saturday Sep. 22 a capacity crowd at the Beverly Hilton Hotel that included dozens of celebrities and other notables like out NBA star Jason Collins, Laker’s family member Riley Buss, a slew of movie and theater stars took to the red carpet before the dinner began. Ariande Getty, granddaughter of John Paul Getty, was honored along with Love Simon Producer Greg Berlanti and his Soccer Star Robbie Rogers. Ricky Martin was also honored. Getty, pictured here with Center CEO Lorri Jean, announced she had made a “shameless” donation to the Center and that Lorri Jean and her wife Gina had in turn taught her “how to cook a mean steak.” Also pictured, Greg Berlanti and Robbie Rogers. Photo by Troy Masters
On Wed. Sep. 150 people celebrated the 15th Anniversary of West Hollywood’s My 12 Step Store at 8730 Santa Monica Boulevard. The event, held in conjunction with the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, also celebrated National Recovery Month. West Hollywood Mayor John Duran, Hollywood entrepreneur Brian Pendleton, Los Angeles Blade publisher Troy Masters, Los Angeles Blade advertising sales representative Van Hong, WeHo Times publisher and editor Paulo Murillo and from the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce Tracy Paaso, Genevieve Morrill and David Hunter were on hand as were dozens of residents of in-patient recovery centers around Los Angeles, including Van Ness House and Pride Health in Santa Monica. Photos by Troy Masters
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