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04 • OCTOBER 05, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Spacey named in new civil complaint in LA Massage therapist says he was forced to rub actor’s genitals By STAFF REPORTS Out actor Kevin Spacey was named in another court filing reported on by Tribune Media/Deadline this week alleging that the actor sexually assaulted a massage therapist. In the explicit 11-page document filed in Superior Court for Los Angeles Sept. 27, the unnamed ‘John Doe’ claims that “Spacey assaulted and battered plaintiff by forcing plaintiff to touch his scrotum, testicles, and penis, grabbing plaintiff’s shoulders and pulling him in for an apparent attempted forced kiss, and grabbing plaintiff’s genitalia.” The alleged incident occurred at a private residence in October of 2016 in Malibu. When the plaintiff asked Spacey prior to the massage if there was a problem area he
Gay actor Kevin Spacey faces more accusations of sexual assault. Photo by Vonora / Courtesy Bigstock
needed to be aware of, Spacey said “words to the effect that he was having some pain or discomfort in his groin area.” Instead of laying face down, Spacey lay on the table face up and when John Doe started messaging the actor’s leg, Spacey grabbed his hand and pulled him to the groin area. John Doe gave Spacey “the benefit of the
doubt,” thinking perhaps the actor wanted the pained groin area massaged. But it happened a second time. “Spacey again grabbed Plaintiff’s hand but this time forced Plaintiff’s hand to rub his penis, scrotum, and testicles.” In shock, John Doe “stepped backwards exclaiming words to the effect of ‘What
are you doing? This is ridiculous. I am a professional. This is what I do for a living. I have a son.” Spacey allegedly didn’t give up, getting off the table, grabbing John Doe’s genitals and saying “words to the effect ‘just let me give you a blow job.’” The complaint continues: “During these assaults, plaintiff repeatedly asked Spacey to allow him to leave, but Spacey blocked access to the massage table and the door with his naked body.” Eventually, Spacey let him go. John Doe reported the assaults to the Los Angeles Police Department, attorneys at the Genie Harrison Law Firm, APC, which specialists in employment law, wrote in the complaint. Outside of the United States, Spacey is being investigated in the UK for six sexual assault claims over 22 years, during which time he served as the artistic director at London’s The Old Vic theatre between 2004 and 2015. The civil filing asks for unspecified damages. Spacey has not yet commented on the latest allegation.
San Diego Union-Tribune endorses Democrat Campa-Najjar Paper slams GOP incumbent Duncan Hunter By STAFF REPORTS In a surprising, sharply worded endorsement, the editorial board of the conservative San Diego Union-Tribune, California’s second largest daily newspaper by circulation, endorsed Ammar CampaNajjar, the Democratic challenger to Republican incumbent Duncan Hunter, in the 50th congressional race. Hunter, under indictment for campaign financial fraud, ran a campaign ad that disparagingly linked his opponent’s ArabLatino heritage to terrorist groups, despite Campa-Najjar having worked in the Obama administration. “Ammar Campa-Najjar is working to infiltrate Congress,” says the narrator of Hunter’s ad on YouTube. “He’s used three different names to hide his family’s ties to terrorism.” The Tribune-Union editorial board wrote on Friday, Sept 28: “We endorse Campa-
Rep. Duncan Hunter is being criticized for an attack ad he aired about his opponent.
Najjar for Congress. He is far superior to the troubled incumbent. This fact is underlined by the despicable ad that Hunter has begun
to air in recent days suggesting that his ‘Palestinian Mexican millennial’ opponent was linked to terrorist groups and was ‘working to infiltrate Congress.’ It’s well known that Campa-Najjar’s grandfather was a terrorist who helped plan the 1972 attack on Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics. It’s also well known that CampaNajjar, a Christian, has had literally nothing to do with his grandfather. As Campa-Najjar notes, when he worked at the White House, he was ‘given a security clearance by the Secret Service after a thorough background check.’ With this smear, Hunter continues to demolish his own reputation.” The New York Times reported that Hunter’s ad is an escalation of comments he made about his opponent earlier when he emphasized that Campa-Najjar legally changed his name to “Joseph” from “Yasser.” A spokesperson for Campa-Najjar’s campaign told The Times that he had been given the middle name “Yasser,” his father’s first name, in keeping with Arabic naming traditions and that he changed it to “Joseph” because he preferred it.
A recent Monmouth University Poll revealed that Hunter was still leading with 49%, compared to 41% for Campa-Najjar. According to Monmouth pollsters, 10% of voters were undecided. The Times of San Diego noted that despite Hunter’s indictment, “he retains strong name recognition and a favorable opinion among voters in the largely rural East County district. Hunter and his father before him have represented the district in Congress for nearly four decades.” “This is an astounding endorsement that not only lavishes praise for Democratic candidate Ammar Campa-Najjar’s thoughtfulness and empathy but absolutely lacerates the Republican incumbent for his race-baiting campaign tactics and reeking corruption,” out California Democratic Party Chair Eric Bauman tells the Los Angeles Blade. “When one of the largest, most conservative newspapers in California is proudly endorsing a Democrat for Congress, it’s clear the Big Blue Wave is coming to wipe out Duncan Hunter and scores of Republicans in November.”
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06 • OCTOBER 05, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Equality California’s Rick Zbur: ‘We’re not going anywhere’ Evan Low explains pulling his ‘conversion therapy’ bill By KAREN OCAMB email@example.com The Equality California Awards gala was different this year. It felt like a breather, a respite from the frantic political activism racing into next month’s critical midterm elections. The rallying cries by honoree Kathy Griffin and others were met more with excited agreement than angry urgency during the well-heeled community party. But family fun did not mean shirking responsibility: more than $140,000 was raised in less than 20 minutes during the floor call for contributions, helping Equality California exceed its overall goal for the night, EQCA Communications Director Samuel GarrettPate tells the Los Angeles Blade. Griffin, receiving the Ally Leadership Award presented by friend Lance Bass, called for action against the administration that “wants to roll the clock back. And guess who that affects? LGBTQ folks.” This is the time “for the so-called ‘others’—that’s everyone in this room according to our fake president— because we are now the majority—we make up most of America. And I couldn’t be prouder to live in a diverse America.” Legend Jewel Thais-Williams, founder of Jewel’s Catch One nightclub (soon to receive an historic designation) was presented with the Community Leadership Award by another icon, her friend and singer Thelma Huston. “I think the most important thing for us to do now is to not assimilate and get caught up in broader society,” ThaisWilliams said to a standing ovation. “It’s important for all of us to keep our gayness, our greatness alive.” Queer Eye’s Karamo Brown accepted the Equality Visibility Award with the reminder: “Your voice has power!” Executive Director Rick Zbur said EQCA made history this year passing 14 bills and 3 resolutions—10 bills were signed into law; 2 bills (SB 990 and AB 2943) didn’t make it to Gov. Brown’s desk; and 2 bills (AB 2153 and AB 1247) were vetoed. Zbur also noted that “since January 20th of last year, we’ve been in the fight of our lives” battling Trump. “But even in the face
Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur at Awards gala Sept. 29. Los Angeles Blade Photo by Karen Ocamb
of adversity, I can proudly tell you this: we’re not going anywhere,” he said. “While the folks in Washington look for ways to divide Americans, we’ve marched forward together — toward a state that is healthy, just and fully equal for all LGBTQ people.” Zbur told of how his twin sons asked to go to a March For Our Lives rally with signs reading, “the NRA is Not Really American.” “As dark as these times may seem, I have never been more hopeful for our future. There is a generation of young leaders out there— some here in this room,” he said, “who are unjaded, uncorrupted and unwilling to wait for the rest of us to catch up. They’re marching in the streets— marching to the ballot box—ready to be the change they seek.” Rep. Jimmy Gomez and California Controller Betty Yee were among the 1,200 in attendance at the JW Marriott on Sept. 29, as were Assemblymember Blanca Rubio, whose LGBT youth homeless bill (SB918 with out Sen. Scott Wiener) was signed by Gov. Brown and Assemblymember Laura Friedman, whose Property Tax Equity for Same Sex Partners (AB 2663, with out LA County Assessor Jeff Prang) was also signed into law.
Election Day is Nov. 6. Vote-by-mail ballots drop on Oct. 8; the deadline to register to vote is Oct. 22 (see the California Sec. of State’s website for information on how to register online: https://www.sos. ca.gov/elections/voter-registration/). The Los Angeles Blade asked Assemblymember Evan Low, chair of the California LGBT Legislative Caucus, about his pulling AB 2943, the so-called “Conversion Therapy is Consumer Fraud bill,” despite having the votes. He explained that some conservative religious leaders with whom he met surprisingly disavowed “conversion therapy.” “We had the former president of the National Evangelical Association come out in opposition to ‘conversion therapy,’ thereby creating a greater environment for us to build bridges and work together to say, ‘Wow – this is actually a very narrow segment of the population that still practices this.’ Let us encourage and build that opportunity,” Low said. Low noted that there is great mutual interest in the movie “Boy Erased,” which premieres next month. “This is about the basic fundamentals of equality and people
and having those on the religious side of the community also create an environment for them to speak out in support of us, to say: ‘This not only doesn’t work but it’s not Christian and we will be with you and be strong to fight ‘conversion.’ “We should be celebrated and loved as who we are, as God made us,” Low said. “And that’s the kind of environment we want to continue to welcome people to best understand and we will do so in partnership with them to weed out those small segments of the population that continue to harm hard-working LGBT people all over the country.” Meanwhile, “they are bringing a wider conversation to change politics at universities, religious institutions, and having that fundamental conversation. That is where we begin this effort,” he said. “Progress takes time,” Low said, reacting to the anti-LGBT policy change at Azusa Pacific University, adding that he understands that the board is “fractured.” So how “to bring them to best understand that love wins,” he asks. “How do we create an environment where we can support those that are on our side and also help educate and show the type of love that we have with the others?”
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • OCTOBER 05, 2018 • 07
Evangelical university reinstates ban on gay relationships Christian Azusa Pacific pledges to ‘uphold biblical values’ By CHRISTOPHER KANE A series of colorful messages, accompanied by drawings of rainbows, were chalked in front of academic buildings at the evangelical Christian Azusa Pacific University (APU) on Sept. 30. “You Are Meant To Be Here,” “Love Is Not Selective,” “Love Is Love.” The sidewalk art looked like a welcome for new LGBT students but, in fact, it was an act of protest after the university announced its plans to reinstate a controversial ban against same-sex romantic relationships. On Sept. 18, the school’s student newspaper reported that language regarding sexual orientation was removed from a policy governing student conduct, a move widely interpreted to mean students in LGBT relationships would no longer be subjected to disciplinary action. Conservative evangelicals were upset. Accusations that APU had compromised its commitment to upholding biblical teaching on homosexuality appeared in influential outlets like Christianity Today and The Christian Post. Ten days later, the school reversed course, releasing a statement saying the university was trying to “find the best language possible to capture our heart and intent.” The Board of Trustees, APU said, never approved the change—and therefore the policy was amended again to restore the original language banning LGBT relationships. APU administrators denied that they were influenced by pro-LGBT forces, within or outside the university. “We pledge to boldly uphold biblical values and not waver in our Christ-centered mission,” the board wrote. APU will never “capitulate to outside pressures, be they legal, political, or social.” APU has a history of discrimination against LGBT students and faculty. In 2013, transgender theology professor H. Adam Ackley was dismissed from APU after 15 years that included serving as chair of the theology and philosophy department. The university declined to comment on personnel matters but Ackley told the Huffington Post he believes he was fired because “other people, such as donors, parents and churches connected to the university will have problems not
Protesters wrote messages in chalk after APU reinstated a ban on same-sex relationships. Photo by Brace Commons / Courtesy Facebook
understanding transgender identity.” Last year, Mahesh Pradhan, a chef and supervisor at APU, filed a wrongful demotion lawsuit against the university, the fate of which is pending in the Superior Court of Los Angeles. The action alleges university officials physically and verbally assaulted him for his perceived sexual orientation and retaliated against him when he spoke out on behalf of others who encountered similar abuse. APU denies Pradhan’s allegations, but students rallied in support—a harbinger of the recent protests against the ban on same-sex relationships. Students, including representatives from the LGBT student group Haven, asked for an investigation last year in a letter that also demands APU officially recognize the club. Members of Haven were also in talks with administrators concerning the student conduct policy. Erin Green, an APU alum who is co-executive director of Brave Commons, an organization that offers supportive services for LGBT students at Christian universities, told the Los Angeles Daily News she was shocked by the university’s announcement Sept. 28 that the ban on same sex relationships would be reinstated. “We poured our hearts out, were vulnerable and relived our trauma telling
our stories, telling stories of previous students who were damaged or hurt in some way by the institution, which had action taken against them for being gay or being in a same-sex relationship. They looked us in the eye and said this policy is harmful, it’s discriminatory, it’s stigmatizing and we’re going to get rid of it. And we trusted them,” Green said of the meeting she and her peers held with university administrators. Policies against LGBT “behavior,” including romantic relationships, are not unique to APU. Campus Pride, a nonprofit dedicated to LGBTQ college students and their allies, includes such policies in a ranking system, “Shame List: The Absolute Worst Campuses for LGBTQ Youth.” APU earned a spot on that list, along with 17 other universities in California. Campus Pride notes efforts by evangelical schools and universities to seek exemption from Title IX—the federal anti-discrimination law that applies to higher education—in order to discriminate against LGBT students on the grounds of religious freedom. California tightened allowable Title IX exemptions with the 2016 Equity in Higher Education Act, which effectively permits only seminaries and universities that train clergy/ministers
to enforce policies that discriminate against LGBT students and staff. APU fiercely opposed the measure, which applies mostly to institutions that receive government funds or enroll students who receive financial aid from the state. Students say they face serious consequences when Christian universities seek to discriminate against LGBT students and employees, from inner turmoil and depression to disciplinary action, often expulsion. “I am asked oftentimes by Christian universities to be patient while the universities are trying to make progress in this area,” Green told the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, “but, as a gay Christian, honestly, I don’t think we have time for patience and for tolerance. People’s lives are at stake. If [LGBT students] aren’t selfharming or being harmed by others, they are dying on the inside.” More than 200 students staged an hourlong demonstration the morning of Oct. 1, at the end of which they sang “No Longer Slaves,” with its chorus: “I’m no longer a slave to fear. I am a child of God.” “We will not be silent. We will not be silenced,” Green wrote on her Facebook page. “We aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, Board of Trustees.”
08 • OCTOBER 05, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
SoCal is key to keeping democracy
Katie Hill with HRC volunteers Photo Courtesy Hill for Congress
Midterm races closer than expected By KAREN OCAMB firstname.lastname@example.org Warning: this is not hyperbole. If the Democrats do not flip the House on Nov. 6, Trump Republicans will control the White House, the US Senate, and the US Supreme Court, with the elevation of controversial nominee Brett Kavanaugh, despite the outcry from a majority of women who think his character makes him unfit to serve for a lifetime on the highest court in the land. President Trump successfully convinced many Republicans that federal Judge Kavanaugh was effectively put on trial during his confirmation hearing and was denied due process since the FBI did not corroborate Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s sworn testimony that a very drunk 17 year old Kavanaugh sexual assaulted her when she was 15. Democrats claimed the
FBI investigation, limited in scope by the White House, was a whitewash since the FBI failed to interview many of the people Ford said could corroborate her account. Indeed, Democrats insisted that his Senate confirmation hearing was a job interview where his lies under oath, Ford’s powerful public testimony, as well as the accusations of other alleged would ordinarily have been an immediate disqualification by any other potential employer. How much will Kavanaugh and Trump’s mocking of Dr. Ford at a campaign rally in Mississippi have on voters? The answer is hard to gauge, especially since each day brings a new, explosive revelation that could tip voters one way or the other. But right now, the fight over Kavanaugh has so galvanized sleepy conservative GOP voters that most poll takers think the Senate, once a possible win for Democrats, will now remain in the hands of Republicans. The House, on the other hand, has become increasingly more vulnerable—Democrats need 23 seats to re-
take the House. But that Big Blue Wave may now have subsided as the enthusiasm gap between Democrats and Republicans shrunk to only two points with the Kavanaugh hearings. The Hill Reports: “Polling released from Harvard CAPS/Harris on Monday (Oct 1) showed that registered Democratic voters are slightly more likely to vote than Republican and independent voters based on the battle over the Kavanaugh nomination, which could provide some comfort to the party. Half of Democratic voters say they’re more likely to vote, compared to 46 percent of GOP voters.” But the polls are hard to decipher: bisexual candidate Katie Hill, 31, had a sizable lead over anti-LGBT incumbent Steve Knight in California’s 25th Congressional District to the point that she was a “Lean Democrat” in the Cook Political Report. On Oct. 4, that race was listed as a “Republican Toss Up.” Real Clear Politics’ summary of polls had Knight up by two points though Hill was still within the huge 10 point margin of error.
Roll Call also took Knight off their list of the most vulnerable House incumbents. “At this point, the consensus is that this race will be close,” Lindsay Bubar, Senior Advisor to the Hill for Congress campaign, tells the Los Angeles Blade. “Every poll has it within two points one way or the other, indicating that every single dollar we raise and every door we knock on will matter. We need all of the support we can get between now and Election Day to ensure we flip this seat and elect Katie to Congress.” Roll Call also took anti-LGBT Rep. Dana Rohrabacher’s seat in California’s 48th District off their vulnerable House list. The Cook Report has that seat as Republican Toss Up, though Democratic businessman Harley Rouda is more confident of winning if women, young people and minorities turn out to vote. Indeed, Rohrabacher’s notoriety as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s favorite congressman ties him directly with Trump— both of whom are essentially on the ballot for voters who care about the range of
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • OCTOBER 05, 2018 • 09
Harley Rouda Los Angeles Blade Photo by Karen Ocamb
issues from national security to LGBT and women’s rights to climate change to basic human decency as an example for the next generation. “Unfortunately, Donald Trump is a bad example, in so many ways, for our kids and also for elected politicians. I think what we’ve seen in the Senate with this breakdown in decorum—Donald Trump has to take some responsibility for that happening by creating an environment where that type of behavior is not only acceptable but it’s almost encouraged. Rouda told the Los Angeles Blade at an LGBT fundraiser in Los Angeles Oct. 3. “The role of the President of the United States is to bring Americans together. This is the first time in our lifetime that we have ever seen a president who purposely and systematically is pitting Americans against Americans.” A new poll conducted for the Los Angeles Times by UC Berkeley’s Institute for Governmental Studies— taken before the Kavanugh hearings—suggests the Republicans “are at risk of a wipeout
in California’s six most hotly contested congressional races.” But, the Times points out, “if the tide ebbs only slightly, the GOP could emerge with much of its control intact.” “Trump appears to be the main motivator for voters in these districts,” veteran pollster Mark DiCamillo, who directs the Berkeley IGS Poll, told The Times. “He’s the central figure.” As of their Oct. 4 poll, The Times reports: - Republican incumbent Rep. Steve Knight of Palmdale (CD 25) “is narrowly trailing in the only remaining L.A.-centered district the GOP holds.” Hill has a slight edge, 50% to 46%, within the poll’s margin of error. - longtime anti-LGBT incumbent Rep. Duncan Hunter of Alpine (CD 50), who has been indicted on federal fraud charge, “has only a 49%-47% lead over Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar, a result well within the poll’s margin of error.” - Democrat Mike Levin has a 55%-41% lead over Republican Diane Harkey to replace retiring Republican Rep. Darrell Issa in CD 49. - longtime anti-LGBT Rep. Dana
Rohrabacher of Costa Mesa and Democrat Harley Rouda in CD 48 “are in a dead heat, each with 48%. Voters also split almost evenly on whether they approve of Trump.” - Republican incumbent Rep. Mimi Walters of Laguna Beach is trailing Democrat UC Irvine law professor Katie Porter, 52% to 45%, a big deal since Walters is so tied to Trump. - Democrat Gil Cisneros and Republican Young Kim are locked in a dead heat for CD 39, an open seat vacated by Ed Royce. Kim and the Republicans have been running a horrific ad against Cisneros, touting a sexual harassment charge by a woman who later retracted the allegation. But the harm may have been done. The Times poll show Cisneros holding a nominal 49%-48% edge. Another poll commissioned by Democrats show that women will be the key to winning and voter turnout. The poll by Change Research, commissioned by Fight Back California SuperPAC and the California Labor Federation, which tracked 337 likely women voters from Oct. 2-3 shows:
“In CA-39, Cisneros leads Kim among women voters, 58 percent to 39 percent. In CA-45, Porter leads Walters among women, 53 percent to 42 percent. In CA-48, Rouda leads Rohrabacher among women, 56 percent to 43 percent. In CA-49, Levin leads Harkey among women, 59 percent to 36 percent.” “Based on this poll, It is clear that suburban women who fueled Hillary Clinton’s victories in these districts are now fueling the support for the Democratic Congressional candidates in these districts,” lead strategist Katie Merrill told POLITICO. LGBT voters are turning out, too, from Human Rights Campaign and Equality California, to Stonewall Democratic Club, Stonewall Young Democrats, and others, to unseat the Republican incumbents who they say do not represent California and pro-equality values. But only turnout will determine if Democrats can flip the House, keep Trump Republicans in check and democracy viable until Trump can be relieved of command.
10 • OCTOBER 05, 2018
October is both LGBT History Month and National Domestic Violence Awareness Month and for lesbian filmmakers Renee Sotile and Mary Jo Godges, the intersection of the two issues is deeply personal. Nicole Brown Simpson, the divorced wife of former football star OJ Simpson, and her friend, restaurant waiter Ron Goldman, were found brutally murdered on June 13, 1994 outside her home in Brentwood. OJ Simpson was arrested and after a controversial televised trial, was acquitted of their murders on Oct. 3, 1995. Nicole became a global symbol for domestic violence. Filmmaker Renee Sotile worked as a news cameraperson for a local TV station covering the murder trial for more than 100 days. “Sotile never forgot the impact Nicole Brown Simpson’s death made on her. Imprinted in her mind are the shocked and heartbreaking expressions on the faces of Nicole’s family. She and Mary Jo Godges want the world to remember Nicole and all women who suffered and continue to suffer from domestic abuse,” they write on their “I Remember Nicole” Facebook page. To commemorate the 25th anniversary of Nicole’s murder, Sotile, a two-time Emmy winner, and her tech-savvy spouse Godges dedicated more than a year to producing a moving music video “to bring a resonating voice to the voiceless” that they hope will “raise awareness and empower victims” to reclaim their power over domestic violence. There are some familiar faces in the video, including lesbian icon Ivy Bottini, to illustrate that domestic violence is not relegated to straight couples. Please visit losangelesblade.com/ to see the video and learn more about domestic violence in the LGBT community. If you need immediate help, call the 24-hour national domestic violence hotline at 888-799-7233 (SAFE). – Karen Ocamb
“He wrote me beautiful letters and they’re great letters. We fell in love.” – President Trump at a Sept. 29 rally in West Virginia about North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
“I mean, typically when you’re asked about a sexual assault and your drinking problem at a job interview, you don’t get the damn job.”
– Comedian Michael Che about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s Senate confirmation testimony, on Saturday Night Live’s “Weekend Update” Sept.29.
“A news conference means you get to ask whatever question you want to ask. #FirstAmendment.” - ABC News’ Cecilia Vega on Twitter after President Trump tried to humiliate her during an Oct. 1 news conference.
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12 • OCTOBER 05, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
National LGBT Veterans Memorial stalled due to lack of funds Project planned for D.C.’s historic Congressional Cemetery By LOU CHIBBARO JR. Longtime LGBT rights advocate Nancy Russell, a retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel, was hopeful that the three 11-foottall black granite panels designated as the centerpiece of a National LGBT Veterans Memorial would be installed in D.C.’s Congressional Cemetery in time for a Memorial Day dedication in 2015 or 2016. Russell, who’s 80 years old and serves as chair of the memorial’s board of directors, joined several other LGBT veterans in announcing plans for an LGBT veterans memorial in the nation’s capital in 2012. The proposed memorial was immediately embraced by LGBT veterans and their supporters throughout the country. But now, six years later, the board has raised only about 25 percent of the estimated $500,000 cost for building and installing the monument and paying the balance owed for the purchase of the land in Congressional Cemetery where the monument and surrounding space will be located, according to Marty Gunter, the memorial project’s development director. “We’re still working very hard on this,” said Gunter, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran. “Nancy and I speak on a very regular basis about moving this project forward,” he said, adding that the board was in the process of retaining a professional fundraiser. Russell and Gunter both live in San Antonio, Texas, where the memorial project’s official headquarters is located. Gunter said the board was also planning to set up one or more online fundraising sites such as GoFundMe or Benevity, which encourage workplace giving and corporate philanthropy for specific charitable causes. Also under consideration, according to Gunter, was an appeal for help from an LGBT supportive public relations firm that could help publicize the memorial and its fundraising effort. “Just getting the word out, that’s been the hard part of it to be honest with you,” he said. “Some potential large donors said they wanted to donate. But they always wanted to
A rendering of the planned LGBT memorial at Congressional Cemetery. Image Courtesy Congressional Cemetery
wait until after the election or after this or after that,” Gunter said. “I think it’s going to be those small donors and the veterans, the everyday veterans that are going to build this memorial,” he said. “I do believe there’s a need for it. I just feel very confident that we can do it.” In August 2014, the board announced the selection of a design for the memorial prepared by an architect. It consists of three black granite panels or pillars standing 11 feet high, five feet wide and one foot thick. Two of the official emblems of the nation’s six military branches are planned to be placed on each of the three pillars, with the Navy and Marines on one, the Army and Air Force on another, and the Coast Guard and Merchant Marines on the third. “This monument is simple yet stately and will stand proudly on its site just as those it represents served this country with pride,”
says a statement released at the time the design was announced. “The pillars will be placed in a triangle to allow space for visitors to walk inside where there is a flag pole and inscriptions explaining the Memorial’s meaning and the history behind it,” the statement says. The statement notes that a significant part of the funding for the project was expected to come from LGBT veterans who want to have their service memorialized by purchasing paver stones with their name and service information engraved on them. The pavers would be placed on the memorial’s grounds, the statement said. Russell said at that time that additional funds were expected to be raised through the purchase of space for the interment of cremated ashes of veterans and their partners or spouses also within the memorial grounds if there was a demand for
such interment. Gunter said no funds have been raised so far from the purchase of interment sites or pavers and he doesn’t expect such purchases to take place until the memorial is built. Paul Williams is president of Congressional Cemetery, which is privately owned by the LGBT-supportive Christ Church of Capitol Hill. He said the cemetery enthusiastically supports the LGBT Veterans Memorial. He said the cemetery allowed the memorial’s organizers to make a down payment on the cemetery plots where the memorial will be located knowing they had yet to raise the money to pay it all at that time. But he said that under Congressional Cemetery’s financing policy the memorial cannot be installed until the plots are paid in full. Williams said the place reserved for the memorial is located near the gravesite of U.S. Air Force Sgt. Leonard Matlovich, who came out as gay on the cover of Time magazine in 1975 as the first active duty service member to challenge the military’s ban on gays. Matlovich, who died in 1988, was buried in a section of the cemetery that Williams says has become the burial site for other LGBT people, including LGBT military veterans and is referred to as the cemetery’s “gay corner.” He said Congressional Cemetery is believed to be the only known cemetery anywhere that has an LGBT section. Matt Thorn, executive director of OutServe/SLDN, a national group that advocates for active duty LGBT service members, said his group would be willing to help the LGBT Veterans Memorial project in any way it can. “We wholeheartedly support a memorial,” he said. Also serving on the National LGBT Veterans Memorial board are longtime gay activist and Marine Corps veteran Tom Swann Hernandez of Palm Springs, Calif.; and 86-year-old Navy veteran, cryptographer and Russian linguist Jim Darby of Chicago. The two said they also are hopeful that the LGBT community and its supporters will recognize the importance of the memorial to veterans like them and make a contribution so the memorial becomes a reality. Contributions can be made through the memorial’s website at nlgbtvm.org or by mailing a donation to NLGBTVM, P.O. Box 780514, San Antonio, Texas 78278-0514.
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • OCTOBER 05, 2018 • 13
State Department’s ‘cruel and bigoted’ policy Partners of UN employees must be married — but only 12 percent of member states allow same-sex marriage By MICHAEL K. LAVERS A new State Department policy that requires partners of foreign mission personnel and employees of international organizations to be married in order to qualify for a diplomatic visa took effect on Monday. A State Department letter the Washington Blade obtained last month states, “consistent with internal Department of State policy changes, partners accompanying officers and employees of international organizations or seeking to join the same must be married in order to be eligible for a derivative G-4 nonimmigrant visa or to seek a change into such status beginning October 1, 2018.” The letter also says the State Department as of Monday “will only accept the accreditation of spouses of newly arrived officers and employees of international organizations, both same-sex and opposite-sex, as members of the family of the respective international organization.” The State Department letter that was distributed on July 20 also says, “all currently accredited same-sex domestic partners of officers and employees of international organizations serving in the United States who wish to maintain their derivative G-4 nonimmigrant visa status and acceptance of accreditation” should ask their organization “to submit appropriate documentation” to the State Department’s Office of Foreign Missions no later than Dec. 31 that indicates “the couple has legally married.” “After December 31, 2018, unless such individuals are able to obtain separate authorization to remain in the United States through a change of nonimmigrant status with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, they will generally be expected to depart the country within 30 days,” reads the letter. “However, on or after October 1, 2018, partners of officers and employees of international organizations applying for a visa renewal in the United States must be married in order to qualify for a derivative G-4 visa.” Senior administration officials who spoke
The Trump administration this week implemented a new policy requiring partners of foreign mission personnel to be married in order to qualify for a diplomatic visa. Photo by palinchak / Courtesy Bigstock
with reporters on a conference call on Tuesday said the new policy is consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling in the Obergefell case that extended marriage rights to same-sex couples across the country. They also said the new policy would impact 105 families, with 55 of them working with international organizations. The State Department letter notes the new policy applies to same-sex and opposite-sex partners. “It’s to promote the equal treatment of all family members and couples,” said a senior administration official on Tuesday. Alfonso Nam, president of UN-GLOBE, a group that advocates on behalf of the U.N.’s LGBTI employees, told the Blade last month that most countries have yet to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples. Nam on Tuesday reiterated this point when he discussed the new policy. “It doesn’t (take into account) the fact to be a same-sex couple in today’s world is to face a number of hurdles,” he told the Blade. Human Rights Campaign Government Affairs Director David Stacy in a statement described the new policy as “an unconscionable, needless attack on some LGBTQ diplomats from around the world, and
it reflects the hostility of the Trump-Pence administration toward LGBTQ people.” “It is unnecessary, mean-spirited, and unacceptable,” he said. Former U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic James “Wally” Brewster on Tuesday told the Blade he “saw how difficult it was to get accreditation for my husband [Bob Satawake] as a diplomat to a country where same-sex marriage was not recognized.” “It will limit quality leaders from around the globe from working here in international organizations,” added Brewster, referring to the new visa policy. “The argument of treating it the same as opposite sex relationships is either a smokescreen or another example of how this administration is blind to the facts. Either way the physical and legal damage many would face in their countries where it illegal to be married is real.” Former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power in a tweet described it as “needlessly cruel and bigoted.” “Needlessly cruel & bigoted: State Dept. will no longer let same-sex domestic partners of UN employees get visas unless they are married. But only 12% of UN member states allow same-sex marriage,” she tweeted. The Obama administration in 2009
implemented a policy that asked countries to accredit same-sex partners of U.S. Foreign Service personnel on a “reciprocal basis” in order to receive diplomatic visas. A State Department official with whom the Blade spoke last month said U.S. Foreign Service personnel as of Monday “must be married to enjoy the rights and benefits of spouses.” “Parallel to that, and based on the principle of reciprocity, under which our current policy is based, the department will likewise require that, as a general matter, officials from other governments be married to enjoy the rights and benefits of spouses for purposes of visa issuance and privileges and immunities,” said the official. “We will continue to rely on modified principles of reciprocity to advocate for equality in countries which will not permit same sex marriage or accept our same sex spouses as persons forming part of the family of the US officer, with appropriate privileges and immunities,” added the official. A senior administration official on Tuesday told the Blade the new policy is “not meant to be punitive” against LGBTI diplomats and their families. “This is certainly not an attack,” said the official.
14 • OCTOBER 05, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Colombia mother fights bullying after gay son dies by suicide By MICHAEL K. LAVERS BOGOTÁ, Colombia — Alba Lucía Reyes Arenas beams with pride when she talks about her son, Sergio Urrego. She told the Washington Blade on Sept. 24 during an interview in the Colombian capital of Bogotá that he liked opera from “an early age” and he read his first book, “The Neverending Story,” when he was around 6 years old. Reyes said her son was an atheist who enjoyed art and politics. Urrego was also a member of an anarchist student group. “There are many things that I can tell you,” said Reyes. “For all moms, our children are very special, but Sergio was interested in things that were beyond his age since he was very little.” Urrego was 16 when he took his own life on Aug. 4, 2014. Administrators and a psychologist at Urrego’s Roman Catholic high school in Bogotá targeted him after a teacher saw a picture of him kissing his boyfriend on his cell phone. The parents of Urrego’s boyfriend accused him of sexually abusing their son. Urrego was to have begun attending another school the day after his suicide. Reyes was in the Colombian city of Cali when she first learned something was wrong with her son. She flew back to Bogotá and arrived at her home at around 9:30 p.m. Reyes said through tears the first thing she found was a note with “very big letters” from her son. Reyes said she initially thought he had left it for her mother, but it was for her. Reyes told the Blade her son wrote, “I wasn’t able to go to school because there was a problem.” “When I saw this note, I said something happened,” she said. Reyes said she then went to her son’s bedroom and found books on his bed and a note that asked her to give them to his best friends. Reyes also found other notes that her son had written before his suicide. “It was something that filled me with anguish,” she said. “It was painful.” Urrego’s death sparked outrage among LGBTI rights activists in Colombia. Reyes filed a legal complaint against Urrego’s school on Sept. 11, 2014. A Bogotá court a few weeks later ruled Urrego had been the victim of discrimination,
Alba Lucía Reyes Arenas in Bogotá, Colombia, on Sept. 24. Her son, Sergio Urrego, took his own life in 2014 after administrators of his high school bullied him because he was gay. Blade Photo by Michael K. Lavers
but she did not receive any damages and the ruling did not order Colombia’s Ministry of Education to review the school’s policies. Reyes appealed the decision to the Council of State, which considers appeals from administrative courts. Then-Inspector General Alejandro Ordóñez — an outspoken opponent of LGBTI rights who President Iván Duque named as Colombia’s new ambassador to the Organization of American States last month — ruled against Reyes on grounds that schools had the right to ban “kisses and hugs.” The school’s administrator, Amanda Azucena Castillo, resigned on Oct. 10, 2014. Colombia’s Constitutional Court on Aug. 21, 2015, overturned the Council of State’s decision and ruled in favor of Reyes on Dec. 11, 2015. Schools in Colombia cannot discriminate against their students based on their sexual orientation. An amendment to the
nondiscrimination law that bares Urrego’s name also requires Colombian schools to update their policies to ensure they are not anti-LGBTI. Reyes since her son’s death has become a vocal anti-bullying activist. She was among the 31 LGBTI activists from around the world who attended the Human Rights Campaign’s annual Global Innovative Advocacy Summit that took place in D.C. in April. Reyes in May traveled to Cuba and participated in events commemorating the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia the country’s National Center for Sexual Education (CENESEX) organized. CENESEX Director Mariela Castro, who is the daughter of former Cuban President Raúl Castro, invited Reyes to take part in a panel that took place at CENESEX’s Havana headquarters. Reyes this year officially launched
Fundación Sergio Urrego, which seeks to end discrimination in Colombian schools and prevent suicide among those who suffer discrimination. She told the Blade that suicide is the second most common cause of death among “our young people.” Reyes also noted statistics that indicate 192 people between the ages of 15-24 in Bogotá have taken their lives so far this year. “It is something that is not talked about here,” she said. “There is no institution that is providing immediate attention to children who are in crisis.” The foundation has responded to roughly 70 cases. It also holds workshops for children and parents in businesses and in other locations throughout the country. “My goal is to prevent cases like Sergio’s from happening,” said Reyes. “This campaign gives me strength to continue, to keep going.”
16 • OCTOBER 05, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
VOLUME 02 ISSUE 31
The consequences of dismissing Dr. Ford’s claims It’s doubly dangerous for LGBT victims of sexual assault
Gabriel S. Hudson, Ph.D., a democratic theorist, teaches at George Mason University’s Graduate School of Education and The Schar School of Policy and Government. He is the author of ‘Christodemocracy and the Alternative Democratic Theory of America’s Christian Right.’ (Photo by Oliver Lawrence)
It is disappointing - but not surprising - that even accusations of sexual assault do not transcend the entrenched tribalism of American political discourse. Even in the age of #MeToo, when it seems sexual predation is finally having its day of reckoning, the testimonies of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Brett Kavanaugh have been filtered through red and blue prisms. In this time of hyper partisanship, even sexual assault is reduced to a partisan weapon—as evidenced by the crwod cheering President Trump as he mocked Dr. Ford at a Mississippi rally. Republicans walk a precarious tightrope. Many have tolerated Trump’s behavior in the interest of broader, long term goals - chief among them, tipping the federal judiciary to overturn Roe v. Wade. However, they are still cognizant of the lessons from the “Year of the Woman” in 1992 following the Anita Hill fiasco and acutely aware of polling numbers moving against them prior to the midterm elections. They have to be careful in how they counter Ford’s accusations so as not to appear too calloused toward women while sustaining the enthusiasm of their base. That base is made up primarily of Christian conservatives who have remained
President Trump’s most loyal supporters. Their energy is critical to counter the predicted blue wave on election day and Kavanaugh’s confirmation is critical to their galvanization. Likewise, Christian conservative leaders who want to remain beloved and influential among their flocks have to speak strategically about the sexual assault allegations. For these admittedly partisan reasons, their rhetoric toward Ford has ranged from churlish to dismissive to accusatory. Christian conservative leaders like Franklin Graham, Richard Land, and Pat Robertson carry the water of the Republican Party by attacking her in a way Republicans on the Hill or seeking election wouldn’t dare. Christian conservatives like Graham chide Ford for not coming forward sooner or dismiss the accusations as ancient history. Roberts and Land dismiss Ford as a Democrat political operative. Kavanaugh’s own testimony echoed these presuppositions of a partisan agenda against him. But these attacks demonstrate precisely why victims of sexual assault do not share their stories. They fear not being believed. They fear judgment. They often wrestle with internal feelings of shame and guilt. Their silence is the logical result of these fears,which are amplified by the collective shrug or finger wagging of conservative Christian leaders. But this pain is exponentially amplified for LGBTQ sexual assault survivors. There are many parallels between revealing a sexual assault and coming out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or gender non-conforming. They fear coming out because of internal conflicts, or they fear they won’t be believed and their intimate authentic revelation will be dismissed as trendy or just a phase, or differently after they reveal their truth. In so many ways, the fear that silences is the same, even if the catalysts are distinct. A few years ago, CNN anchor Don Lemon unceremoniously came out as gay. A little while later, he also revealed that he had been molested as a child. Immediately, Christian conservatives seized on both revelations and conflated the two. He was gay because he had been molested, they claimed. This
is a common canard of anti-gay activists. They profess they are not hateful because homosexuality is a developmental defect. Sexual abuse causes gayness, which can then be “cured” with “conversion” therapy. This conflation makes it doubly difficult to come out as gay and a victim of sexual assault. Those who need to tell both truths fear inadvertently confirming an anti-gay talking point. They fear having their worst fears confirmed about themselves. They fear hearing their sexual orientation and victimhood derive from some deep personal deficiency that must be corrected. We know these two things are different. Being a survivor of sexual assault and being gay are two entirely different things. Both, however, require a trusted loved one to listen, to believe, and to empathize. For this reason, the response of Donald Trump and Christian conservative leaders to Dr. Ford’s accusations are doubly hateful, doubly closeting, and doubly dangerous to LGBTQ young people. They inform survivors of sexual assault not to bother telling their truth because they will be dismissed as irrelevant, mistaken, or worse, at fault. They also tell LGBTQ people to stay silent or worse, seek quack therapies, because the abuse is used to confirm there is something damaged and in need of fixing. They perpetuate the pain of many LGBTQ people already struggling to disentangle their identities and their experiences. And they send the very dangerous message that political outcomes trump personal pain while ideology supersedes empathy. We are all waiting to see if much has changed since Anita Hill’s accusations against Clarence Thomas almost thirty years ago. We hope things are different for women and there are many signs that times really have changed. But for young people growing up in deeply religious households and unsure of how to be themselves, we know not enough has changed. We have to realize that the messages of Evangelical leaders are doubly insidious and then be careful in our own response to compassionately and precisely disentangle and counter both. It is difficult, but essential, to be an advocate while making these critical distinctions.
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Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles celebrates 40 years with a show of diversidad Dos Coros Una Voz set to tear down walls and lift people up By JOHN PAUL KING
Most people who live in LA – especially those in the LGBTQ community – are familiar with the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles. The group, more fondly known as GMCLA, has been a local institution for nearly four decades, a mainstay of the annual arts calendar in the city and a treasured source of entertainment among all their devoted followers. Their annual holiday concert is a must-attend event for thousands of queer Angelenos and their families, every December. Though it’s now a firmly established arts organization, with non-profit status and a list of prominent donors and patrons that reads like a who’s who of local civic leadership, it didn’t start out with such a lofty pedigree. GMCLA grew out of a grassroots movement that started in San Francisco, when a group of men gathered on the steps of City Hall to sing after the 1979 assassination of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk. Those men formed the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, the first such group in the country. Two months later, 99 other men came together to sing at Plummer Park Auditorium in Los Angeles, and GMCLA was born as well. “It was really the start of the next chapter in the LGBT civil rights movement,” says Jonathan Weedman, who serves as GMCLA’s executive director. “What people didn’t realize then was that in three years our lives would be turned upside down by the AIDS epidemic. The gay chorus movement suddenly had more urgency and more profundity, because they were singing for their lives.” In those dark years, the GMCLA became the voice of the LGBT community in Los Angeles, turning up to sing at memorial services, celebrations and activist events. Its members
would even volunteer on Christmas to sing carols to the men languishing in the AIDS wards at hospitals – a tradition that continues to this day, though such wards are, thankfully, a thing of the past and the holiday cheer is now directed toward all patients. “They took on a central role throughout that crisis,” Weedman says, “and they’ve continued to play it ever since. Through the fight for marriage equality, the fight to be included in military service – the chorus has always been there, for 40 years.” More recently, though GMCLA has continued to stand at the forefront of issues affecting the community, hard-won progress in the fight for equality has allowed for an atmosphere in which their status as an activist organization may have faded a bit from public memory. Now, as they launch their 40th anniversary season, the group is returning to the spirit of activism, which marked its beginnings with “Dos Coros Una Voz!” It will be an extravagant joint concert presentation in collaboration with Mexico City’s own Gay Men’s Chorus – Coro Gay Ciudad de México – on October 13. A massive, logistically challenging undertaking, this event is the culmination of nearly two years of planning. Weedman explains, “Five days after the 2016 presidential election, I was hired as executive director of GMCLA, and I realized that our work suddenly had become 10 times more important than it was before. The challenges presented to us by this new administration would require a return to our activist roots. We would have to be a voice for resistance, for change, for social justice – all the things that our community has always stood for.” A few months later, Weedman and his husband were planning a trip to Mexico City.
“I thought, ‘Gee, I wonder if there’s they have a Gay Men’s Chorus there?’ It turns out there was, of course. We met their founder and their leadership, we went to a rehearsal, and I decided I would invite them to come up a year later. When I came back to LA, we got to work on the programming – we arranged for the venue, we made plans for the content and the messaging of the show. One year later, we went back down there, took them all out to dinner – the entire chorus, 65 guys – and I told them, ‘One year ago I said you were all coming to LA – and you are.’” “For me, it’s probably the most important and proud thing I’ve done in my life,” Weedman says. “Ever.” The concert will take place at Glendale’s Alex Theatre, the performance space that GMCLA has called home for the past few years. It’s a collaboration that will commemorate and celebrate the rich traditions and history shared by both the United States and Mexico. During the concert, the two choruses will also be joined onstage by Mariachi Arcoiris de Los Angeles, the world’s first LGBTQ Mariachi Band. Together, GMCLA and Coro Gay Ciudad de México will perform a wide array of beloved Mexican and Mexican-American music, paying tribute to artists such as Juan Gabriel, Gloria Trevi, Selena and Los Lobos. There will also be other cultural components and celebrations throughout the week of this exchange, including a concert on Oct. 12 at Roosevelt High School in East Los Angeles, where together the two choruses will sing for students in appreciation of the city’s diverse communities. “At a time in this country when we are facing so much negativity surrounding our relationship with our southern neighbors,” says Weedman, “we wanted to make a
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LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • OCTOBER 05, 2018 • 17
Bawling and belligerence in the ruling class Senate Republicans display their un-evolved views of women
Richard J. Rosendall is a writer and activist. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Republican Sen. Jeff Flake has spent the Trump era delivering high-minded sermons deploring the president’s crassness while mostly continuing to vote the party line. Last week he made a show of being torn over Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, only to announce on Friday that he would vote to conﬁrm. Minutes after Flake’s announcement, Ana Maria Archila and Maria Gallagher cornered him in a Senate elevator to tell him they were sexual assault survivors and rebuke him for falling in line despite Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s brave, compelling testimony.
Flake then attended a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting, where he conferred with his friend, Democratic Sen. Chris Coons, and others. This led Flake to leverage his senatorial power, backed by Republican Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, to slow the process to allow a week for an updated FBI investigation. The bipartisan breakthrough was a welcome interruption of partisan rancor; but the shift by Flake’s GOP colleagues from attacking Anita Hill in 1991 to politely dismissing or patronizing Dr. Ford today reﬂects a halfhearted desire to improve the optics, not growth in respect for women. At the Judiciary hearing on Sept. 27, the Democrats were sober and professional, in contrast to the belligerent nominee and his angry defenders on the Republican side of the dais. By its end, despite overheated right-wing accusations and conspiracy mongering, my overall sense was that Democrats appeal to aspirations while Republicans appeal to resentments. Kavanaugh could have striven to show he is more than a scion of white male privilege and a dedicated partisan operative. Instead, he pouted, cried, yelled at and insulted Democratic senators, and displayed an outraged sense of entitlement rather than anything like a judicial temperament. He left no doubt regarding the narrow interests he
would serve on the Court. Last week showed that it matters who is at the table, who stands in the elevator doorway, and who does the reporting. As a friend who knows the Court well recently noted, Trump’s ﬁrst Supreme Court nominee was “a rich white frat boy ... who attended Georgetown Prep with its own Olympic size swimming pool.” For the next vacancy on the Court, Trump chose “a rich white frat boy ... who attended Georgetown Prep.” My friend observes, “This from a populist president who promised to drain the Washington lobbyist swamp. He can’t even drain the Georgetown Prep swimming pool.” “Why,” my friend wishes a senator had asked Kavanaugh, “should we add such a similar pea to that small pod? What do you bring to the Court’s deliberations that Neil Gorsuch didn’t?” The answer, he suggests, is that conservative economic true believers “wanted to take no chance whatsoever on getting a rock solid anti-redistribution, anti-regulatory Fifth Justice.” (Actually, they are ﬁne with upward redistribution to themselves.) The lack of diversity on the Court (every justice hales from Harvard or Yale) resembles that of commercial bananas, which are genetically identical to the point that a single blight could wipe out the entire world supply. Beyond their privilege blindness
regarding sexual assault, Kavanaugh’s patrons overlook the innovation and vitality that have come from immigrants and their children (see Steve Jobs). They dismiss the greater good that is served by environmental regulations. As they widen the gap between the monied class and the working class, they weaken the common cause that binds us as a people. They rob us of the adaptability that diversity gives us in facing future challenges. In contrast, the bracing spectacle of Flake’s “elevator moment” may inspire more women to end their miscasting as props for men. Standing against the trampling of norms and decency in pursuit of power, women and their male allies can work to restore the vital center and pull America back from alienation and governmental immobility. When Senators Kamala Harris and Mazie Hirono stood with women protesters in the Hart Senate Office Building, one felt a ﬁghting resolve stirring that will endure beyond the current battle. If Kavanaugh is defeated, his replacement may be scandal-free but will likely be just as bad on constitutional issues including reproductive choice. Trump cannot be negotiated with, only defeated. Consistent civic engagement is essential if equality is to prevail. Copyright © 2018 by Richard J. Rosendall. All rights reserved.
Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles launches its 40th season with a show of resistance, bringing Coro Gay Ciudad de México to Los Angeles for a joint performance, ‘Dos Coros Una Voz,’ at Alex Theatre, 216 N Brand Blvd, Glendale, at 8 p.m. on Oct. 12. Photo Courtesy Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles
powerful statement by reaching across the border and saying, ‘We’re you’re brothers, we love you, we share a common history and tradition, heritage and humanity, and we want you to come up here and sing with us.” “It sounds so corny, but we really do want to build bridges and not walls.” Dr. Joe Nadeau, GMCLA’s Artistic Director and Conductor, echoes these sentiments. “Over the past year our connection to Coro Gay Ciudad de México has grown. In looking at our 40th anniversary season, we wanted to create a way to kick it off with a bang, and we thought that an international collaboration between our choruses would be a fantastic way to go.” He continues, “Personally, I’ve felt frustrated with the recent political developments between the U.S. and Mexico. I want to offer a completely different view on how our two choruses, our two cities , and our two countries can work together. We, of course, can do this through the universal language of music.” For their part, the Mexico City group – which has been reaching out internationally to other gay choral organizations, as well -- is excited and eager to join GMCLA for this show of solidarity between nations. Oscar Urtusástegui, Board President and founding member of Coro Gay Ciudad de
México, says that it’s really a dream come true. “As we started we watched lots of videos of gay choruses,” he says, “and the one we most wanted to be like was GMCLA. For a 5-yearold organization such as ours, sharing the stage with such a prestigious organization is an honor, and at the same time makes the friendship much stronger between us.” Like Weedman, Urtusástegui believes that the collaboration between their two groups is an opportunity “to show that building bridges – between two choruses, two cities and two countries – only makes us stronger and more powerful.” Weedman says GMCLA took pains to make sure everything would go smoothly when it came time for the Mexican chorus to make the trip. “These guys are excited,” he says. “For many of these men, it’s the first time they’ve left the country. They are coming up here for 8 days, so we’ve raised money for their hotels, their food, their transportation. Southwest Airlines is generously flying all of them up here for nothing. We even went so far as to meet with then U.S. Ambassador Barbara Jacobs, an Obama appointee, to make sure they would all get visas. We wanted to make sure they could get up here.” He adds, somewhat proudly, “There are very few arts organizations who would invite a
group of more than 60 gay Mexican artists to come into the country three weeks before the midterm elections, or that would assemble as distinguished a group of supporters as we have for this event.” He’s not exaggerating, either. GMCLA has gathered a Distinguished Host Committee for the visiting chorus that includes such names as Eric Garcetti, Dianne Feinstein, Richard Bloom, Howard Bregman, Stephen Schwartz, and a list of luminaries too long to mention here. Even actor William Shatner is among them. It’s this kind of overwhelming community support which makes Weedman confident that not only is GMCLA doing the right thing in staging such a bold show of cooperation and mutual respect with its Mexican counterpart, but that it has both the will and the ability behind it to keep aspiring toward positive change. “I believe that GMCLA is one of the foremost leaders among the gay men’s chorus groups in the country,” he says. “This concert is a culmination, an event in itself, but it’s also a first step towards a new vision for GMCLA. As we turn the page on 40 years, we have to ask ourselves, ‘what do we want to do, what do we want to become?’” Continues at losangelesblade.com
O C TO B E R 0 5 2 0 1 8 • V O LU M E 0 2 • I S S U E 3 1 • A M E R I C A’ S LG B TQ N E W S S O U R C E • LO S A N G E L E S B L A D E . C O M • 1 9
20 • OCTOBER 05, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Tab Hunter memorialized in iconic works of art 20 life-size pieces on display in Hollywood mark first public tribute By SUSAN HORNIK
Vance Lorenzini brings Tab Hunter works to Hollywood. Image Courtesy AC Gallery / Photo courtesy the Film Collaborative
Hollywood’s AC Gallery (1546 N Highland Ave., Los Angeles) latest exhibit is “HOMAGE: The Tab Hunter Paintings,” a solo exhibition by artist/video director, Vance Lorenzini. Many of his creations offer fascinating insight into the life of the much loved actor/singer. Hosted by Hunter’s life partner of three decades, Allan Glaser, this is the very first public event to memorialize him. Known for movies like “Battle Cry,” “The Burning Hills” and “Damn Yankees,” Hunter died earlier this year, at the age of 86. Hunter, whose real name was Arthur Gelien, was gay but kept that away from the public eye for most of his professional life. He came out in his 2005 memoir, “Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star.” Lorenzini will unveil close to 20 life-size images of Hunter at the exhibit. The much loved actor’s memorial service was held in July during a private ceremony near his home in Montecito. Lorenzini’s paintings were first displayed there. “I painted these portraits four years prior to Tab’s unexpected passing,” said Lorenzini. “This series has never left my studio – it’s unseen work.” At the memorial, the crowd responded with cheers, applause, tears and heartfelt appreciation while the gathering viewed his paintings. “It was a very special moment that I will never forget.” Lorenzini is thrilled to share Tab’s legacy to the public. “This show will make you feel good and celebrate Tab’s amazingly brilliant career. Glaser has been so generous to share his vast collection of Tab Hunter documentation and wonderful research. His creative support has been amazing.” There are many highlights in the exhibit. “I believe the Cowboy paintings – silver, black and pink are extremely important and significant,” noted Lorenzini. “Very strong and visually arresting. Repeating the image and a bit larger in scale.” Lorenzini is an American West Coast artist who works with pop culture themes. His work examines the relationship between artistic expression, cinematic images, celebrities, culture, advertisement, branding and related musical themes. He produced and designed numerous music videos and television commercials as well as several feature films and TV projects, creating music videos for artists such as Madonna, Kanye West, Mariah Carey, Jennifer Lopez, Elton John, Prince, Snoop Dogg, Eminem and Dr. Dre. Just before his passing, Hunter had been working on a Paramount Pictures biopic with gay actor/producer Zachary Quinto, about Anthony Perkins, called “Tab & Tony.” “It’s really motivating for me to feel like I want to honor his legacy,” Quinto told Variety. “It was so meaningful that he was a part of the process up until his death and provided first hand, unique, and otherwise irretrievable access to that time and that journey that he had. I feel like I’m just more committed now than ever to telling his story and celebrating his legacy and honoring his contribution to the industry.” “Losing him was a real tragedy, in some ways personally, because he was such a vital and loving person,” Quinto continued. “He lived an amazing life, and I was just with him a few weeks ago. So there was a shock factor in his death just because he was so energetic, and he just seemed the picture of health.”
22 • OCTOBER 05, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
A star shines ever brighter in ‘Beautiful Boy’ Radical acting and a transformative look at the gay meth crisis By JOHN PAUL KING
Timothée Chalamet and Steve Carrell in ‘Beautiful Boy.’ Photo Courtesy Amazon Studios and Plan B Entertainment
After his star-making turn in last year’s “Call Me By Your Name,” fans of Timothée Chalamet have been eagerly awaiting the young actor’s return to the screen. Their wait is over with the release of “Beautiful Boy,” a new drama about a family thrown into turmoil by crystal meth. It tells the real-life story of successful writer David Sheff (Steve Carrell) and his teenage son Nic (Chalamet), who have what can only be described as the picture-perfect ideal of a father-son relationship – until Nic’s increasingly erratic behavior leads to the discovery that he has been using meth. Ever the supportive parent, David is determined to help; but despite his best efforts, Nic continues to relapse, and his loving father is forced to recognize that he can only watch, powerless, as his beloved boy slides further into addiction. Adapted from two complementary memoirs by the real David and Nic Sheff (“Beautiful Boy” and “Tweak,” respectively), the film endeavors to show their experiences from both perspectives. Director Felix Van Groeningen, working from a screenplay he co-authored with Luke Davies, assembles his movie a bit like a collage, flashing forward and backward through time to reveal memories of the past and foreshadows of the future as both father and son endure their separate-but-intertwined struggles. It’s an effective approach; Van Groeningen handles it skillfully, maintaining a natural flow that prevents the non-linear departures from making things seem disjointed. Even so, this stream-of-consciousness structure – which, along with its eclectic, deep-cut rock-and-roll soundtrack, gives “Beautiful Boy” a comfortably quirky, indie feel – leads to a sort of clinical distance. The tone seems detached and observational; we watch what happens on the screen without really being drawn in to even the most intense situations. As a result, the film is less moving than one might expect – or desire – from a narrative as emotionally charged as this one. Not that this is necessarily a flaw; there’s much to be said for the power of understatement in telling such stories. The plot, though based on an admittedly heartbreaking real-life experience, is almost a cliché – we’ve seen it so many times it feels like an overused Hollywood formula, and one that easily turns maudlin, at that. Anyone who grew up in the ‘70s and ‘80s will remember the “After-School Specials,” those cautionary tales about the dangers of bad behavior and foolish choices; if allowed to devolve into overwrought emotional manipulation, “Beautiful Boy” might well have turned into a modern version of one of those. Thankfully, it does not; and though Van Groeningen deserves some of the credit for keeping things restrained, it’s really the work of the cast that ensures the movie stays this side of melodrama. Carrell, known more for his comedic skills, reminds us here that he also possesses some serious acting chops. His portrayal of a devastated father is meticulously truthful; yes, there is anger and despair, but these are punctuations in a journey that is really about frustration, bewilderment, and – ultimately – acceptance. As for Chalamet, he veers into territory carved out by actors like DeNiro by undergoing some harrowing physical transformation to portray his character in the depth of addiction, but his internal performance is every bit as authentic as his exterior presentation. From the bright confidence of intelligent youth to the blank numbness of a desperate addict – and everything in between – this gifted actor brings his role completely to life, proving his astonishing performance in “Call Me By Your Name” was no fluke. The other players are effective, too; Amy Ryan and Maura Tierney, as Nic’s mother and stepmother, respectively, assert their presence despite being largely left on the sidelines in this father-and-son tale. Stefanie Scott has a luminous and heartbreaking turn as Nic’s college girlfriend; and Timothy Hutton, in a nod to his own iconic troubledteen performance in “Ordinary People,” has an all-too-brief performance as a psychiatrist who helps the elder Sheff understand what his son is going through. With all this excellent work on the screen, one would think that “Beautiful Boy” should be a powerful movie; likewise, as possibly the first major film to deal with crystal meth as something other than a criminal enterprise, one would hope it might live up to a potential for carrying a powerful message about addiction and recovery. As good as it is, though, it somehow falls short. Part of this may have to do with its aforementioned emotional detachment; but perhaps the problem is something deeper, something for which there may ultimately be no solution. In depicting the subject of addiction, most movies – no matter how good their intentions – inevitably leave an impression of those in its grip as somehow weak, somehow victims of their own choice. The reality, as anyone who either works in recovery or is in recovery themselves will tell you, is that they are as powerless to stop themselves by choice as their loved ones are to help them. That’s the true heartbreak of substance dependence, and even though a film may be filled with words that express it, it’s virtually impossible to convey the truth of it to an audience who does not understand it firsthand. Consequently, despite the honest integrity of Chalamet’s performance and the effort of the writers to tell his side of the story, for many viewers Nic is likely to come off as a kid who puts his family through hell just because he wants to get high – something that is only half the truth. Still, “Beautiful Boy” is a well-made film. Even if it fails to deliver a fully understandable portrait of addiction, it certainly offers a realistic one, and thanks to the two excellent performances at its center, it never fails to be engrossing. Everyone who is a fan of young Mr. Chalamet, of course, will consider this one a must-see – but it’s a pretty safe bet for anyone else, too. “Beautiful Boy” opens in theaters on Oct. 12.
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • OCTOBER 05, 2018 • 23
When it comes to cinematic singularity Jean-Pierre Melville is utterly sui generis. Born Jean-Pierre Grumbach he adopted the name of his favorite author, not in homage to Moby-Dick, but rather the more obscure and textually dense Pierre or the Ambiguitis. Curiously, Melville the filmmaker never adapted works by Melville the novelist to the screen. Instead, he paid tribute to American culture through a series of crime melodramas, the most famous being “Le Deuxieme Souffle” (1966) “Le Samourai” (1967) “Le Circle Rouge” (1970) and “Un Flic” (1972). Utterly abstract affairs, they feature toughs in trench coats and fedoras moving through a dream-like, sparsely populated Paris toward criminal rendezvous inspired by Melville’s favorite film, John Huston’s “The Asphalt Jungle” (1953). The difference is Huston never had leading men as pretty as Alain Delon nor did he trade in dramatic atmospheres whose homoerotic undertones extended even to the world-weary visage of Melville’s other favorite actor Lino Ventura. Yet while these films are the core of his oeuvre, it’s agreed by most critics that Melville’s masterpiece was “Army of Shadows” (1969) his adaptation of Joseph (Belle de Jour) Kessel’s book about the French resistance during World War II. Many critics have said this grim “based on a true story” tale recasts aspects of his crime films in a different context. To some degree that’s true. But then Melville was always about reworking cinematic forms. And this is what comes through most strongly in “When You Read This Letter,” a drama from 1953, which, like “Army of Shadows” (released stateside in 2005), is just now making a belated U.S. debut this year. That Melville remains of considerable cinematic interest, commercial 45 years after his death, testifies to his peculiar moviemaking genius. Made between “Les EnfantsTerrible” (1950) — the adaptation of Jean Cocteau’s famous novel of quasi-incestuous love that put him on the cinematic map — and “Bob le Flambeur” (1956), his melancholy crime tale of a retired thief’s plan for one last big score, Letter is an unusual entry in the Melville canon. Written by Jacques Deval (Melville otherwise wrote all his films) it stars actress-singer Juliette Greco (darling of the “existentialists”) as a novice about to take her vows as a nun who puts off doing so in light of the sudden deaths of her parents and the unsettling existence of her younger sister Denise (Irene Galter). She discovers she has become involved with a decidedly shady character named Max Trivet (Philippe Lemaire). A garage mechanic who is also carving out a career for himself as a boxer, Max has for all intents and purposes raped Denise who, despite the rape, wants to marry him. Max is also involved with a wealthy older woman (Yvette Sanson) whose car he repairs and money he steals — and later murders. And then there’s his fellow mechanic Biquet (Daniel Cauchy) who’s obviously gay, even more obviously in love with Max, and used thoughtlessly by him for schemes large and small. This is quite a departure for Melville in a number of ways. While his protagonists are almost always criminals, they’re clearly “gentlemen” as well, with their own code of honor. Max has none. He’s the most thoroughly reprehensible protagonist in all of Melville’s canon. And while homoerotic stirrings flit about the edges of his other films (particularly those starring Alain Delon) in “When You Read This Letter,” they come very near center stage. Lemaire is more “jolie laide” than handsome, but his lean, tightly muscled body is a sight. The result is a film noir that’s as noir as it’s possible to get. Beautifully shot by the great Henri Alekan (“Beauty and the Beast,” “Roman Holiday,” “The State of Things”), it’ s a feast for the eyes. And, thanks to Melville’s crackerjack pacing, moves at a breathless clip. And that’s a considerable help when the center of attention is a scoundrel like this one. Max’s deeds are sometimes quite uncomfortable to watch -- yet we can’t ever look away, he’s that compelling. It’s safe to say you haven’t seen anything quite like “When You read this Letter,” even amidst the darkest celluloid alleyways of the noir.
Melville and his men You’ll be so thrilled ‘When You Read This Letter’ By DAVID EHRENSTEIN
Jean-Pierre Melville’s noir masterpiece ‘When Your Read This Letter.’ Image Courtesy Rialto Pictures
24 • OCTOBER 05, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Gaga wows in ‘Star’ Singer’s first major film role is Oscar worthy despite uneven script By BRIAN T. CARNEY
Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga in ’A Star is Born.’ Photo Courtesy Warner Bros.
When the music is playing, the latest version of “A Star Is Born” soars. When the characters are performing, improvising, rehearsing or writing songs, the movie (which opens wide today) crackles with electricity. But all too often, when the music stops, the movie sags until someone picks up a guitar again. This is the fourth Hollywood version of the classic showbiz story of mismatched lovers and misaligned careers. In the 1937 version, Norman Maine (Fredric March) is the Hollywood leading man who gets North Dakota farmgirl Esther Blodgett (Janet Gaynor) her first audition and a new name: Vicki Lester. They make a movie and get married, she wins an Oscar, he drinks and commits suicide after his career collapses, and the grief-stricken widow famously proclaims to her fans, “This is Mrs. Norman Maine.” The 1954 version follows the same basic outline with James Mason as Norman and Judy Garland as Esther/Vicki, but adds some incredible music for Garland, including “The Man That Got Away.” The 1976 remake starred Barbra Streisand as Esther Hoffman Howard and Kris Kristofferson as John Norman Howard. In this version, both characters are singers, Esther wins a Grammy and Streisand launched the hit song “Evergreen” which won a real-life Grammy and Oscar. The latest version of the classic showbiz saga stars Bradley Cooper (who also wrote and directed) as Jackson Maine, a rock star who’s still at the top of his game but who is losing his hearing and is addicted to pills and booze. Late one drunken night, he accidentally stumbles into a gay bar. He watches Ally (Lady Gaga) perform “La Vie en Rose” and is instantly smitten. She reveals that she is reluctant to sing her own material; he convinces her to join him onstage and, the rest is showbiz legend. She becomes an overnight international superstar while he spirals out of control. At a memorial concert, she introduces herself as “Mrs. Jackson Maine” and premieres his final song, the haunting “I’ll Never Love Again.” As writer, director and star, Cooper’s achievements are mixed. The screenplay (written by Cooper with Eric Roth and Will Fetters) wastes a lot of great talent in underwritten supporting roles that drop in and out of the story. Sam Elliott as Jackson’s craggy older brother, Dave Chappelle as Jackson’s friend Noodles, Anthony Ramos as Ally’s gay BFF and especially RuPaul alum D.J. “Shangela” Pierce as the drag bar emcee all deserve more screen time. Surprisingly, the one supporting character who stands out is Andrew Dice Clay as Ally’s loving but infuriating father Lorenzo, a frustrated singer and successful businessman. In a few excellent scenes, he creates a compelling character who is both Ally’s biggest fan and biggest obstacle. Like the rest of the cast, Clay shines brightest in the reflected glow of Lady Gaga who turns in a bravura Oscar-worthy performance in her first major movie role. Gaga does something simply amazing. She creates a fully developed character named Ally who is certainly Gaga-esque but is definitely not Gaga. Lady Gaga, who co-wrote all of her songs, also writes and sings convincingly in Ally’s voice. The songs believably reflect Ally’s emotions and experiences. Gaga’s performances always sizzle. Her bond with the audience is palpable and her joy in entertaining is apparent in every note. Cooper on the other hand, is a fine actor but only a passable musician; his musical performances only catch fire when he’s singing with Gaga.
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • OCTOBER 05, 2018 • 25
In today’s digital world, many book authors take pains to ensure that their work is perceived to be relevant for a generation raised on endlessly streaming, quickly digestible narrative content. Jim Provenzano, whose latest novel, “Now I’m Here,” is drawn from his own experiences growing up as a gay teen in rural Ohio, is not one of those authors. “I’m ﬁne being an old fogey who’s still talking about the 1970s and ‘80s,” he says. “I’m not actively seeking out that audience. If they ﬁnd me, that’s great, but I’m trying to tell a story that took place before all that.” Provenzano, who will be reading from “Now I’m Here” on Oct. 12 at West Hollywood’s Book Soup, has built a following with his gay-centric novels, starting with “PINS,” his 1999 book about gay high school wrestlers which found its way onto college reading lists and held its place on the gay best-seller list well into the following year. His biggest success came with 2011’s “Every Time I Think of You,” which won the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Romance. Its 2014 sequel, “Message of Love,” was a ﬁnalist for the same prize. With his new book, he has turned away – at least somewhat – from the genre that brought him those accolades. “That’s a genre where there’s no reality,” he says. “There’s no reference to anything that puts it in real time and space, and I wanted to go back to that realworld context. So, this one looks and feels like a romance, but the real world enters into it and it becomes historical literature.” Set in a ﬁctional Ohio town like the one Provenzano grew up in himself, “Now I’m Here” is the story of Joshua and David, two teenagers who fall in love in 1978. Their passionate aﬀair grows into a life together in the face of religious intolerance, “rehabilitation therapy,” and – perhaps most signiﬁcantly – the heartbreak of AIDS. Provenzano knows he may be alienating some of his fans, but he’s willing to take that chance. “Some of the readers who liked my last two books – they’re probably going to be upset. I’m sorry, but this is the actual gay experience. This is not about happy gays, and romances. I fell into that category for a while, and I did well by it, but this time I’m writing for older gay men who survived the AIDS crisis.” “I’m micro-marketing,” he admits. “It might be a downfall for me, but this one is all for the people who ‘get it.’” He balks at the suggestion that another story about AIDS – whether by him or by anyone else – is unnecessary. “I’m sorry, but it was a huge pandemic and it’s been shunted to the sidelines. It’s like saying, ‘We don’t need another Vietnam novel, or another Civil Rights Era novel.’ Well we do need those things, actually.” “I’m never going to not write about it,” he adds. “Now I’m Here” also deals with religious intolerance, another subject that remains a continuing source of struggle for the gay community – especially in the small towns of rural America. “Where I was raised in Ashland, Ohio,” he says, “there were churches everywhere – but I never got into it.” He adds, only half-joking, “I would have crushes on boys, and if they asked me to church I would say, ‘Sure! But that was the extent of my involvement.” Even so, religion was an inescapable inﬂuence. “They were all around us,” he says. “In the book there’s a lot of that – you can see Christian teenagers inﬂuencing things that go on in the story, there’s a strange and eccentric radio preacher who gets into the lives of the kids. It’s woven into the book because it was woven into the culture I grew up in then.” He’s adamant, however, that no parallels should be inferred with the institutionalized religious bigotry being promoted today. “Now, of course, they’re so disgustingly overbearing – I don’t want to compare it to now, because it’s so horrifying what they’re doing in the name of politics.” There is one element of the book, however, that the author hopes will resonate with today’s culture – the subject of music, and that of one certain band, in particular. Continues at losangelesblade.com
Jim Provenzano has arrived in ‘Now I’m Here’ Survival and identity resonate By JOHN PAUL KING
Author Jim Provenzano. Photo Courtesy Provenzano
26 • OCTOBER 05, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Manhattan 1980s East Village comes to life onstage in Hollywood As Los Angeles battles a homeless crisis, lessons from New York By SUSAN HORNIK
Riot police faced off with squatters and anarchist protesters in Tompkins Square in the 1980s. The protesters demanded that the sprawling Tent City in the park remain until the city housed the homeless. There were frequent clashes with police, the biggest being the 1988 riot over a curfew for the park. Photo by Betsy Herzong / Courtesy Brooklyn College Library Archives
In late 1980s Manhattan, part of the “East Village” locals know as Alphabet City was a kind of cultural soup that heralded today’s more socially conscious world. More than 750 homeless people were living in Tompkin Square Park, many camped out beneath a luxury highrise that became the defining contrast of a neighborhood on the cusp of a difficult transition. A budding grassroots activist movement was also emerging, focused on gay rights, AIDS and the rights of the poor mixed with the traditional beatnik bohemian blend that had defined the neighborhood for generations. Yet, even given that progressive blend, it was still a neighborhood where many people would avoid making eye contact with homeless people, quickly walking away. Writer, actor, and artist Robert Galinsky, however, was not one of them, spending years digesting the energy and rawness of that transformative era into a television series and play, “The Bench: A Homeless Love Story,” that chronicles the time and passions that still resonate today. Los Angeles Blade sat down with Robert Galinsky in preparation of a limited engagement Hollywood run of his hit off-Broadway play at Hudson Guild Theater (6539 Santa Monica Boulevard) from October 4 through November 9: tickets available at plays411.com/thebench. Los Angeles Blade: You have worked with this material for decades, why was it important to you to keep working with it vs other projects? Galinsky: I’ve worked on this material for so long because it never left my soul and now is the time for live audiences and streaming television audiences to witness it too. The road to great television is through great theatre, so the years put into the research and writing of the play have made it possible for me to go solo on “the boards”, and next fully cast on TV, tablets, flat screens, phones and more. We are pitching this to Hulu, Netflix, Amazon and a host of other television services. The way people watch streaming television services today, is the same way people love viewing great theatre: by appointment, with enthusiasm, and no distractions. The stories are taken from the late 1980’s and range from those struggling with gender identity, addiction, veterans, and the mentally ill. Here we are 30 years later, still wrestling with these issues. I also have appreciated the robust conversations with friends, colleagues, and family around what they’ve seen... What’s happening in our Supreme Court nomination process is at the heart of so many homeless women’s journeys. My gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, who sit in the eye of this conversation around harassment and abuse. These thoughts and problems have always been in my face and on my mind. Over the years, I’ve raised a son, I’ve opened and closed businesses, created other shows and events, but the characters in “The Bench”, and their struggles have always lived within me. Time for them to broadcast far and wide! Los Angeles Blade: The play is making its debut in Hollywood, what else would you like to do with the material? Galinsky: “The Bench” has always been a love of mine
waiting for ME to mature enough in order to bring it to TV and the theater with the justice it deserves. I wasn’t flavored enough and hadn’t been through enough in my life, to do and say the things that need to be said in the play. The material matured and changed with me as the stakes in my life have risen. And also because real life events have brought new insights and meanings into my work. People watch the stage and get immersed in the stories and the characters and they do the same when binge watching TV. That’s why it’s important to me to keep working on this. Los Angeles Blade: How did actor Chris Noth (“The Good Wife,” “Sex in the City”) get involved as a producer? Galinsky: Chris sees the potential to take this from stage to small screen and he, as well as show runners and network executives know now is the perfect time to do it. Noth is an incredible human being with a huge heart and a very acute mind. He saw the material, along with Barry “Shabaka” Henley and both wanted to be advocates of it. My director, Jay O. Sanders is another incredible force, as is my producer Terry Schnuck, and we’re all excited about its future. Chris is now in the discussion as a Producer of the series, as we pitch to television. Jay and “Shabaka” are ready to act, along with a number of other people who I can’t mention just yet. Los Angeles Blade: How did your spoken word background contribute to this? Galinsky: When I began writing this piece, I had just discovered writers like Sonia Sanchez, Allen Ginsberg, Nuyorican Poets Cafe poets Reg E Gaines, Ron Cephas Jones (now starring on NBC’s “This is Us,”) along with Sam Shepard, Marty Watt and Bell Hooks. Their writing opened up language to me that I never knew existed. At that same time, I had the great fortune of being a regular bartender for playwright August Wilson in New Haven, Connecticut. He was working on “Fences” at Yale University, with Lloyd Richards at the time. I would interact with him as though he was my instructor, as if I were taking my own private mini-master class with him. He told me many things and coached me through how to take the ideas written on cocktail napkins to full blown moments where the language rattles out of the characters’ mouth. Elevated to the level of poetry, but always grounded in their real character, situation, and moments, this gave me permission to think of spoken word as every day language in everyday people. Los Angeles Blade: How have things changed from the time u first wrote it? Galinsky: We have solutions today we never had before, because we have uncovered the roots of the problems through new technology, education, and wisdom. We have more advocates today willing to do the work. It’s actually fashionable to help others, imagine that! I love it. Continues at losangelesblade.com
“RUPERT EVERETT IS MAGNIFICENT AS OSCAR WILDE. IT IS A PART HE WAS BORN TO PLAY, AND HE DOES IT WITH EXACTLY THE RIGHT KIND OF POIGNANTLY RUINED MAGNIFICENCE.” -Peter Bradshaw, THE GUARDIAN
RUPERT EVERETT COLIN FIRTH
EDWIN THOMAS AND
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY
A SONY PICTURES CLASSICS RELEASE OF A BBC FILMS PRESENTATION IN ASSOCIAWITIOTNH LIONS GATE UK MOVIE MANAGEMENT CORPORATION DARYL PRINCE PRODUCTIONS CASA KAFKA PICTURES MOVIE TAX SHELTER EMPOWERED BY BELFIUS ZIELKE STRAT ET GO INTERNATIONAL AND RAINDOG FILMS A MAZE PICTURES AND ENTRE CHIEN ET LOUP PRODUCTION IN CO-PRODUCTIWIOTNH PALOMAR DIRECTOR OF CINE PLUS FILMPRODUKTION TELE MÜNCHEN GROUP PROXIMUS RTBF (TÉLÉVISION BELGE) A FILBYM RUPERT EVERETT “THE HAPPY PRINCE” STARRING COLIN FIRTH EMILY WATSON COLIN MORGAN EDWIN THOMAS RUPERT EVERETT PHOTOGRAPHY JOHN CONROY PRODUCTIDESIGNERON BRIAN MORRIS EDITBYED NICOLAS GASTER DESICOSTUMEGNERS MAURIZIO MILLENOTTI AND GIANNI CASALNUOVO MUSIBYC GABRIEL YARED CASTING HAIR EXECUTIVE BY CELESTIA FOX MAKEUP LUIGI ROCCHETTI DESIGNER FRANCESCO PEGORETTI CO-PRODUCERS CARLO DEGLI ESPOSTI NICOLA SERRA FRANK EVERS PRODUCERS AZIM BOLKIAH CONNIE FILIPPELLO GED DOHERTY COLIN FIRTH ANDREAS ZIELKE SÉBASTIEN DELLOYE CHRISTINE LANGAN JOE OPPENHEIMER ZYGI KAMASA NICK MANZI THORSTEN RIT TER DIRK SCHÜRHOFF HERBERT G. KLOIBER MARKUS ZIMMER PRODUCEDBY SÉBASTIEN DELLOYE PHILIPP KREUZER JÖRG SCHULZE WRIDIRTECTEDTEN ANDBY RUPERT EVERETT WWW.SONYCLASSICS.COM
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28 • OCTOBER 05, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Los Angeles’ Inaugural Indigenous Peoples Day Celebration is today from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. at Los Angeles City Hall and Grand Park (200 North Spring St.). City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell and the Los Angeles CityCounty Native American Indian Commission present the first official celebration to commemorate Indigenous Peoples Day. A major day-long event at both Grand Park and City Hall public spaces filled with activities including: a sunrise ceremony, a 5K run, a parade of nations, a Native American powwow, panels on trending topics related to Native Americans and the community, a fashion show and a grand finale that will include a performance by critically acclaimed Native American rock group Redbone. Free. Search eventbrite for details.
A curated reading by select Q Youth Foundation scholars at the Eastside Queer Stories Festival 2018 Reading. See Oct. 11.
WeHo Reads and the Library Foundation of Los Angeles’ ALOUD Series: Poet Laureates Kim Dower and Eloise Klein Healy in Conversation is tonight from 7-8:30 p.m. at the West Hollywood City Council Chamber Public Meeting Room at the West Hollywood Library (625 N. San Vicente Blvd.). West Hollywood’s Arts Division and WeHo Reads features the inaugural Poet Laureate of Los Angeles, Eloise Klein Healy, in conversation with West Hollywood City Poet, Laureate Kim Dower, reading and discussing Healy’s new poetry collection, “Another Phase.” The evening will include a discussion and book signing, with books for sale by Book Soup. Friends of the West Hollywood Library will host a reception as part of this event. Co-presented by the City of West Hollywood’s Arts Division and ALOUD, the Library Foundation of Los Angeles’ celebrated literary series of conversations, readings and performances. The event is also an official selection of the Lambda Literary Festival of Los Angeles 2018. Admission is free. For details, search eventbrite.
WeHo Reads and Lambda Lit Present Black Lives Matter Co-founder Patrisse Cullors Live today from 6-7 p.m. at Plummer Park Fiesta Hall (7377 Santa Monica Blvd.) Lambda Lit, with support from the City of West Hollywood’s Arts Division, presents a WeHo Reads event featuring Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of Black Lives Matter in a live podcast taping with Eric Newsome and the LA Review of Books (LARB) Radio Hour. Topics covered will include Patrisse’s memoir, LGBT issues and Black Lives Matter. The conversation will be followed by an audience Q&A. Admission is free. To RSVP, visit eventbrite.com. Best in Drag Show is today from 5-9 p.m. at The Orpheum Theater (842 South Broadway). The wildest night out you’ll have in Los Angeles, in drag at least. Join Kathy Griffin for her annual turn as Sofonda Cox and watch as the brightest divas in Hollywood shine
outloud and proud for a good cause. Best In Drag Show benefits Aid for AIDS, a program of Alliance for Housing and Healing. 100 percent of the proceeds from the outrageous and legendary beauty pageant spoof help prevent homelessness and hunger for men, women, children and families living with HIV/AIDS throughout Los Angeles County. Kathy Griffin told Los Angeles 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,” Tickets go for up to $1000. Doors open at at 5:30 p.m.; curtain call at 7 p.m. For more information, visit alliancehh.org/bestindragshow.
Doing Well By Doing Good, LGBTQ Entrepreneurs with a Mission is today from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at WeWork Pacific Design Center Sky Lobby (750 North San Vicente Blvd.). StartOut Los Angeles present an all-star panel of the LGBTQ entrepreneurs who are building socially conscious companies and nonprofits. Find out what motivated them to build their organizations, what challenges they have faced, and what successes have inspired them to continue their journey. Join Brooke Chaffin, the co-founder and CEO of Maverick; Fred Rosser “Mr. No Days Off” aka “Darren Young,” WWE Veteran Superstar and LGBT advocate and CEO of the clothing brand HeadQuarters; Brian Pendleton, ResistMarch organizer and tech entrepreneur who built CauseForce, LLC, an athletic event and production company that works directly with charitable organizations to help them raise money for their mission; and Jim McAleer, CEO of Alzheimers of Orange County. $10 tickets available on eventbrite.com.
Women in Film Speaker Series is tonight from 7-9 p.m. at the City of West Hollywood’s Council Chamber Public Meeting Room at West Hollywood Library (625 N. San Vicente Blvd.). The Women in Film Speaker Series hosts a monthly panel of filmmakers to discuss how they have carried their messages beyond the screen to urge involvement from viewers in response to social issues and injustices. Women in Film will present a special edition of its monthly speaker series, “How We Engage: The Intersection of Hollywood, Power and Politics.” The program will feature a gathering of filmmakers, industry executives and representatives at this most crucial time to discuss: beyond voting and marching — how to engage with the political process this election cycle and onward, Hollywood’s role and how to support the growing wave of women running for office as well as hold them accountable. The event is co-sponsored by the West Hollywood Women’s Leadership Conference & Network and the City of West Hollywood through its Arts Division and its Women’s Advisory Board. Admission is $10. Free parking. For tickets and more information, please visit womeninfilm. org/speaker-series.
Q Youth Foundation’s Eastside Queer Stories Festival 2018 Reading is tonight from 7-10 p.m. at LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes (501 North Main St.). There will be readings by 10 emerging LGBTQIA+ Latinx writers from Los Angeles. The works presented are part of a LGBTQIA+ writing fellowship offered to Los Angeles LGBTQIA+ community by Uptown Gay and Lesbian Alliance and the Roybal Foundation Q Youth Foundation. The foundation, through the event, hopes to create spaces for writers to tell their truth in a brave creative space. The event is free. Learn more on social media @QYouthFoundation.
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LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • OCTOBER 05, 2018 • 29
“What do you expect? I’m a black lesbian.” — Wanda Sykes’ response when asked why she made jokes about Trump at a recent show in New Jersey. More than 1,500 people cheered, while a dozen or so walked out. If you were wondering if the summer was over, this past week cleared it up. It ended with Bill Cosby being carted off to jail. At dinner his first night in the clink, someone threw a hot dog bun at him. Oh, the humanity! And what was dessert? Vanilla pudding! And not even Jell-O, but a knockoff brand. You can’t make this shit up. I’m sure you were all glued to the Kavanaugh hearings. I dunno what really happened, but I have serious doubts about somebody writing what he did in his yearbook and then saying he never blacked out from drinking (100 kegs or bust, my ass). Do you want someone that angry making decisions that affect our lives? I thought he was gonna have an aneurysm on the stand. But let’s discuss the gay angle. You may not have heard, but Brett had two roommates at Yale, and one of them was Kit Winter, who is gay. Winter describes Kav and his friends as “loud, obnoxious frat boy-like drunks” and claims that during the year they lived together, they never spoke. That’s not to say they didn’t have any interaction. Once Winter came home to find a dead pigeon nailed to his bedroom door! Winter says, “I interpreted it as an act of social hostility/terrorism. I thought it was a very clear message. ‘We don’t like you, and we don’t want you here.’” Maybe someone was just letting him know what they were serving in the caf. It was definitely a sign - of what, I’m not sure. I’ll have to re-watch “The Godfather.” By the way, Kit Winter did an in-depth interview with this very paper back in June. You can check it out at LosAngelesBlade.com. While everyone was focusing on Kavanaugh, news about Vice President Mike Pence slipped by. He became the first sitting VP to speak at the Values Voter Summit. That’s an event which our current president previously appeared at (four times) sponsored by the Family Research Council, an anti-LGBT group. Pence was trying to motivate evangelicals to vote during the midterms. As luck would have it, Dean Cain also appeared at the Values Voter Summit to screen his new film “Gosnell,” in which he plays a detective who puts an abortion doctor in prison (so you can see why this would be appealing to them). However, Cain also considers himself one of our straight allies. He Tweeted, “I’m speaking there. And I support gay rights. And I’m pro-choice until viability. End of story.” GLAAD jumped in and Tweeted, “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?” Cain responded, “I’m discussing a film - and I’m happy to speak to any group. I don’t change my beliefs based on the audience. Perhaps it will spark a good conversation.” It certainly sparked some good Tweets! I say give Dean a break - his last job was trying to track down Bigfoot! Murphy Brown has been known to tackle a vice president or two. Alas, the reboot of the sitcom had a whiff of desperation, with jokes far below the usual standards of Diane English, the show’s creator. Candice Bergen’s characteristic wooden delivery seemed positively petrified, but perhaps she’ll loosen up a bit as the show meanders along. Murphy’s son, Avery, is all grown up and now being played by the very appealing Jake McDorman. But why not use Haley Joel Osment, who played Avery as a child? They’re about the same age, and Osment has the advantage of being able to see dead people. That would have made interacting with this cast a piece of cake! Kevin Spacey’s troubles are far from over. He was just sued over a 2016 incident with a masseur (shades of Travolta). According to the complaint, “Spacey assaulted and battered plaintiff by forcing plaintiff to touch his scrotum, testicles, and penis, grabbing plaintiff’s shoulders and pulling him in for an apparent attempted forced kiss, and grabbing plaintiff’s genitalia. During these assaults, plaintiff repeatedly asked Spacey to allow him to leave, but Spacey blocked access to Spacey’s massage table and the door with his naked body.” More to come, I’m sure. Our “Ask Billy” question comes from Henry in Rhode Island: “Did you hear about Batman’s penis being in the latest comic? I looked online and I couldn’t find it - did I miss it?” Last week, “Batman: Damned #1” was released and created a buzz by including full-frontal nudity - as if a drawing of a penis is a big deal. People scoured the digital edition and found no Bat penis. That’s because DC Comics decided to expunge the elusive dick from the online edition, thus making the print version even more valuable. While that’s something I applaud, it won’t stop me from presenting the prohibited penis on BillyMasters.com. When folks are banning a comic cock, it’s definitely time to end yet another column. Isn’t it interesting - we had Batman’s penis and Superman speaking to an anti-gay group the same week. If only Teri Hatcher would do something relevant. Alas, you won’t find her on www.BillyMasters. com - the site that’s here each and every week, same Bat time, same Bat website. If you have a question, send it along to Billy@BillyMasters.com and I promise to get back to you before we see Dick Grayson’s Batcave! Until next time, remember, one man’s filth is another man’s bible.
Kavanaugh, Pence and Dean Cain take over Billy ’s brain Oh, and about that dead pigeon on Kit Winter’s door By BILLY MASTERS
Dean Cain spoke at the anti-LGBT Values Voter Summit last month. Photo by Kathclick / Courtesy Bigstock
30 • OCTOBER 05, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Equality California celebrates LA Equality Awards in Downtown LA
1200 people attended Equality California’s LA Equality Awards at the JW Marriot on September 29.
Honoree Jewel Thais-Williams.
Legendary Singer Thelma Houston introduced honoree Jewel Thais-Williams.
Photo courtesy Equality California
Photo courtesy Equality California
Photo courtesy Equality California
Comedian Dana Goldberg served up her acerbic political wit.
Left to Right, Equality California President Ric Zbur, honoree Kathy Griffin, Lance Bass and Karamo Brown of Queer Eye.
Hundreds celebrate after the dinner, a Los Angeles Blade in every chair.
Photo courtesy Equality California
Photo courtesy Equality California
Photo courtesy Equality California
Gay Men’s Chorus of LA’s newest members join just in time for Season 40 and Dos Coros, Una Voz. Photo courtesy Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles
About 100 people attended a fundraiser at the Beverly Grove home of Alan Uphold and Jeff Olde in support of the candidacy of former Republican turned Democrat Harley Rouda. Rouda is running for California’s 48th Congressional District seat. He is challenging the longtime Congressman Dana Rohrabacher in Orange County.
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