Losangelesblade.com, Volume 2, Issue 34, October 26, 2018

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O C TO B E R 2 6 2 0 1 8 • V O LU M E 0 2 • I S S U E 3 4 • 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


Shop on Small Business Saturday and proceeds of retail sales and donations from participating businesses will be directed to the City of West Hollywood’s Homeless Initiative. Come out and see the stars and support our local businesses. Go to wehochamber.com/shopsmall for more information. LISA VANDERPUMP Philanthropist, Businesswoman, TV Personality and Advocate ROBERT KOVACIK Award-winning Anchor and Reporter for NBC4 KIRSTEN VANGSNESS Star of CBS hit drama Criminal Minds More stars to be announced!


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GOP to target Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, pre-existing conditions Report: Californians will be severely impacted By STAFF REPORTS After the 2014 midterms, a buoyant Mitch McConnell, about to assume the title Senate Majority Leader, made what some saw as a hopeful promise. “Just because we have a twoparty system doesn’t mean we have to be in perpetual conflict,” McConnell said, noting the Senate has an “obligation to work together” with then-President Obama “on issues where we can agree.” The Republican-controlled Congress then spent two years unsuccessfully trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act and then this past almost two years since Donald Trump was elected still failing to “repeal and

replace” ObamaCare, despite Republicans controlling the entire government. Now both House Speaker Paul Ryan and McConnell tell reporters that if Republicans prevail in the midterms this Nov. 6, they will not only try again to repeal the ACA, but they will also go after “entitlements”—code for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, which entails taking away coverage for preexisting conditions. But because voters want such coverage, Republican candidates are lining up to swear they will protect preexisting conditions, despite having repeatedly voted to eliminate such protections. A new report by the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform minority Democratic staff cautions that Republican leadership’s efforts to repeal or significantly alter the remainder of the ACA will result in millions

of Californians losing federal protections against coverage denials or premium increases, with major negative consequences to Californians with pre-existing health conditions. The report, released Oct. 18 by Rep. Ted Lieu, who represents Los Angeles’ Westside, indicates that as many as 1,321,000 people in the state who purchase insurance through the individual market have preexisting health conditions and of those, 576,000 individuals have pre-existing health conditions severe enough that insurers may deny them coverage altogether. “My district has the most people at risk of losing health coverage or facing premium increases because of the Trump Administration’s perplexing decision not to defend the individual mandate,” Lieu said in a statement. “Protecting the very popular clause in the Affordable Care

Act that protects Americans from insurance discrimination seems like a no-brainer. But, for Congressional Republicans and the Trump Administration, their unending efforts to roll back health protections are as heartless as they are senseless.” This report estimates that as many as 2,050,000 people in the individual market in California may lose federal protections against coverage denials or premium increases as a result of their pre-existing health conditions, gender, or age. While heart disease and cancer are the leading diseases in Los Angeles County, HIV/ AIDS is still an issue. According to public health officials, in 2016 an estimated 61,000 people in the county were living with AIDS or HIV— the second-largest such population in the nation. HIV/AIDS is a pre-existing condition.

Record number anti-trans hate crimes in Los Angeles County Officials say the total number of has climbed consistently over the past four years By CHRISTOPHER KANE Reported hate crimes in Los Angeles County increased by five percent last year to 508, the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations (LACCHR) announced Oct. 18. For the second consecutive year, there were a record number of anti-transgender crimes. Ninety-four percent of those were violent. Even amid a slight decline in crimes against gay men, lesbians, and LGBT organizations, the Commission found 76 percent involved violence—a higher proportion than the number of violent hate crimes committed last year on the basis of race or religion. All of the incidents involving lesbian victims were violent. Since 2013, the Commission reports there has been a 32 percent increase in the total number of reported hate crimes. “We are extremely concerned that reported hate crimes in L.A. County have been trending upwards for four years in a row,” said Robin Toma, LACCHR Executive Director, in a press release. “The rise in L.A. County

Scene from a transgender solidarity rally Photo courtesy WikiCommons

mirrors increases in hate crimes in most major U.S. cities in 2017.” This year’s numbers come just after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called for an investigation into whether a hate crime

was committed by a member or members of the far-right, pro-Trump organization Proud Boys during a fight between the group and protestors from the anti-fascist organization Antifa. A video clip taken during

the incident, which unfolded at a Republican Party event in Manhattan, shows a member of the Proud Boys kicking a protestor while yelling “faggot.” He was arrested Oct. 18 on charges of attempted assault and riot. Some studies have linked President Trump’s rhetoric and tweets to the nationwide year-over-year rise in anti-black, anti-Muslim, and anti-Latino hate crimes. L.A. County officials note nine suspects referenced Trump’s name during their commission of alleged hate crimes last year. Half of the crimes reported in the county in 2017 were racially motivated. There were 15 and 16 percent increases in hate crimes committed against African American and Latino/Latina residents, respectively. “We are truly alarmed at the continued over-representation of African Americans in racial hate crimes and the extremely high rates of violence directed against gay men, lesbians and transgender victims,” said Commission President Jarret Barrios in a press release. Black and Latino/Latina people were overrepresented in anti-LGBT crimes last year, the Commission reports. In January 2018, a transgender Los Angeles woman, Viccky Gutierrez, was stabbed— and her body set ablaze—in a brutal hate crime that underscores the type of violence encountered by trans people of color.

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Terrorism an everyday experience for trans people LA activists say they will not be intimidated or erased By KAREN OCAMB “Everyone needs to be alert,” said multiple security experts on multiple TV cable shows Wednesday, Oct. 24, after “live explosive devices” were sent to the Clintons, the Obamas, CNN, Rep. Maxine Waters and others repeatedly denounced as “enemies” by President Donald Trump at angry Republican rallies and on Twitter. The climate of fear throughout the country was so intense, the San Diego Union-Tribune building, which also houses offices of Sen. Kamala Harris, was evacuated after several “suspicious” packages were found at the entrance. Later, the UT tweeted: “San Diego police Lt. Kevin Wadhams said the packages contained: one shoe, two children’s books, one football, one empty bag of chips and one hat.” Reading off a teleprompter at a preplanned event at the White House, Trump called the use of mail bombs “abhorrent” and “upsetting to everything we hold dear.” And then he uttered another stunner, as if the mail bomb targets bore no resemblance to his favorite enemy’s list: “In these times we have to unify. We have to come together and send one very clear strong unmistakable message; that acts or threats of political violence of any kind have no place in the United States of America.” But for the transgender community in Los Angeles, the grip of terror that faced the nation Wednesday morning is a too-common experience. As the LA County Commission on Human Relations reported recently, there were a record number of anti-transgender crimes for the second consecutive year—94% of which were violent. Wednesday’s terrorism fear “gives a context, an idea of how trans people are terrorized every single day,” Bamby Salcedo, founder of TransLatin@ Coalition, told the Los Angeles Blade. “Terror manifests itself in many different ways through people’s actions. This is how terrorism comes to be. But we must not despair. It’s important that we hold each other with love and hope, understanding that evil minds and hearts will not terrorize our communities.” This was also a theme at the massive #WeWillNotBeErased trans rally Monday

TransLatin@ Coalition rally Photo by Tony Hoang, Managing Director of Equality California

night, Oct. 22, at City Hall. The rally was in reaction to a proposed memo from the Health and Human Services Department that a New York Times article suggested expressed based the Trump administration’s intension on “defining transgender out of existence.” The new regulation would require identifications to only list male or female, according to the person’s genitalia at birth. If adopted, the new definition of gender would essentially eliminate federal recognition of an estimated 2 million trans and gender non-conforming people in America, as well as numerous protections for women and some men. When asked about the proposal to strip civil rights protections from transgender Americans, Trump, leaving the White House for a political rally in Houston, told reporters: “We have a lot of different concepts right now. They have a lot of different things happening with respect to transgender right now — you know that as well as I do — and we’re looking at it very seriously.” Trump added, walking away: “I’m protecting everybody, I want to protect our country.” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is among those pledged to protecting the LGBTQ community from Trump. “Time

& again, the Trump Admin has attempted to rollback important protections for our #LGBTQ community. In response to these disgraceful actions, we have been here to defend patients, students, employees, foster parents & military servicemembers - we won’t stop now.#WontBeErased,” Becerra tweeted in response to The Times story. Becerra, representing the state of California, joined Equality California as a plaintiff in Stockman v. Trump, one of four lawsuits that have so far successfully blocked the implementation of the TrumpPence administration’s ban on transgender military service through a nationwide preliminary injunction. “The Trump-Pence Administration’s heartless, coordinated attempts to erase the existence of transgender Americans illustrates just how low they’re willing to go for their radical political base,” Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur said in a statement. “But rest assured, medicine, science and the law are all on our side — not the Administration’s — and so are Californians, a majority of whom want our government to do more — not less — to support and protect our transgender family members, friends, coworkers and neighbors….We are strong and resilient. And we will stand together to defeat

the Trump-Pence Administration’s agenda of hate and fear.” The Stockman v. Trump trial is tentatively scheduled to begin in July 2019. Meanwhile, on Oct. 22, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and GLAD filed a 72 page brief against the latest government attempt to enforce the transgender military ban by asking a DC appeals court to dissolve the preliminary injunction in Doe v. Trump. NCLR and GLAD challenged the Trump-Pence position that Sec. Mattis’ implementation plan is a “new” policy, arguing that it’s the same discriminatory policy Trump originally ordered by tweet. NCLR and GLAD will face the government on Dec. 10 to argue this issue before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. “This proposed policy is a heavy-handed attempt to strip federal legal protections from transgender people,” Shannon Minter, NCLR’s trans Legal Director, said in a statement. “It is part and parcel of this administration’s ongoing attempts to scapegoat vulnerable groups and to promote extremist policies rooted in stigma and stereotypes.” Extremist policies and pronouncements that some believe lead to active domestic terrorism.



GOP candidate Diane Harkey has anti-LGBT voting record Democrat Mike Levin leading in the polls By CHRISTOPHER KANE Democratic candidate Mike Levin has a slight but consistent lead over Republican Diane Harkey in the race to fill longtime Republican Rep. Darrell Issa’s seat in California’s 49th congressional district, which encompasses historically conservative Orange and San Diego Counties. President Trump’s approval rating there is just 39% and two years ago, he lost to Hillary Clinton by seven points while Issa barely eked out a victory by the smallest margin of any congressional election in the country. Trump threw his endorsement behind Harkey on Aug. 20 and the candidate has since fielded questions on her allegiance to the president. She disapproves of Trump’s “approach” and disagrees with some of his positions on issues like offshore drilling, but she supports his economic agenda, his proposed border wall, as well as his decisions to withdraw from the Paris climate accords and from the Iran nuclear deal. In an Oct. 2 debate, Levin, a lawyer and expert/advocate on clean energy, argued Trump had abdicated America’s responsibility to close allies overseas. LGBT issues were not discussed during that debate. However, following the revelation that the Trump administration is considering defining gender as biological, immutable, and assigned at birth—effectively erasing transgender and non-gender conforming Americans—the candidates’ positions on the subject will likely be front-of-mind for many voters. After Equality California and the Human Rights Campaign endorsed Levin this summer, the groups took aim at Harkey’s allegiance with Trump, as well as her record as a member of the California State Board of Equalization and former member of the California State Assembly. “Diane Harkey would continue to work against Southern California values—even supporting the debunked and cruel practice of so-called ‘conversion therapy,’” HRC President Chad Griffin said in a statement. “With the president dead set on turning back the clock on health care, women’s

Diane Harkey Photo via Harkey campaign website

rights and LGBTQ equality,” said EQCA Executive Director Rick Zbur, “California’s 49th District can’t afford another corrupt extremist Trump ally like Diane Harkey representing them in Congress.” While in the California Assembly, the GOP candidate votes were consistently antiLGB -- and especially anti-T. Harkey voted against bills that would: let transgender students use facilities consistent with their gender identities; allow transgender people to change their names without a hearing; and include trans/non-binary communities in Civil Rights protections, anti-discrimination laws, and legislation on hate crimes. At nearly every turn, Harkey voted against political, social, and legal equality for LGBT people—whether by opposing the ban on “conversion therapy” for minors or by giving the thumbs-down to any measure intended to make life easier for same-sex couples. Prior to the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling—which she opposed—Harkey voted “no” on a bill to ensure that health care and insurance coverage for domestic partners is equal to services provided to spouses. In 2009, she opposed a bill that urged Congress to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Also that year, she voted against urging Congress to pass the Matthew Shepard And

James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Act. Among Harkey’s comparatively few positive votes in favor of pro-LGBT measures was her endorsement of a 2014 bill that prohibits state healthcare exchanges from employing marketing practices or benefit designs that discriminate against LGBTQ people. She also voted to require local medical societies to create and distribute a survey for LGBT and intersex patients. “The fight for full legal, economic and social equality for the LGBTQ community is far from won,” said Mike Levin, accepting his endorsement from HRC. The subject of LGBT rights has otherwise heretofore been a sidebar in the heated battle for Issa’s seat in California’s 49th district. Throughout her campaign, Harkey has been trailed by allegations of corruption made against her ex-husband, Dan J. Harkey. A judge, jury, and appellate court each found him guilty of “willful and malicious” breaches of fiduciary obligations to investors in his companies, National Financial Lending LLC and Point Center Financial, Inc. The candidate, who was named in the civil litigation, claims her former husband did not—as has been alleged—operate a Ponzi scheme. In response, Harkey’s campaign has drawn attention to Levin’s tenure at Bryan

Cave, LLP, where he served as a junior associate alongside disbarred Los Angeles attorney Mitchell Roth. The California attorney general’s office found Roth guilty of fleecing distressed homeowners by failing to provide the foreclosure relief services for which his clients were paying him. Levin’s campaign notes Bryan Cave filed the lawsuits against Roth that resulted in his dismissal from the California Bar Association and the $1 million restitution judgment against him. Earlier this month, Harkey publicly demanded her opponent return a $10,000 donation from a PAC chaired by Democratic Rep. Tony Cárdenas, who is accused of drugging and fondling a teen girl in 2007. “To accept the donation knowing where it comes from condones the alleged activity,” she said. On Oct. 22, Levin used Twitter to renew interest in a controversy first reported in Newsweek a few weeks ago. On her website, Harkey published her endorsement by the San Diego Patriots, a group that called the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida a “false flag.” The conspiracy theory suggests mass shootings are staged events with “crisis actors” paid to invoke sympathy for gun control. “This weekend,” Levin tweeted, “Fred Guttenberg visited us. He lost his daughter at Parkland. He’s no conspiracy theorist.”



Katie Porter campaigning as an progressive Democrat in Orange County

Katie Porter Photo by Karen Ocamb

And she could beat the Republican in the 45th District By KAREN OCAMB Katie Porter is a mama bear. Her countenance is welcoming, as if ready to give a hug when needed. But threaten her kids or the stability of her family and the single mother of three will roar back with a ferocity unexpected from a tenured bankruptcy law professor at the University of California in Irvine. She’s now running for Congress to hold President Donald Trump accountable for the pain he is causing, especially to those in the LGBT community. Protecting families as a consumer advocate has been Porter’s passion since her parents struggled to save their family farm outside Des Moines, Iowa during the severe economic downturn of the 1980s. “There were farmers who were committing suicide because they were going to lose their farms, and nobody came to help,” Porter told Mother Jones for a profile last May. “Washington

looked the other way as the economy really fell apart in the agricultural Midwest. So growing up, I had really seen firsthand what happens when people need help and they don’t get it.” Then she met and was mentored by nowSen. Elizabeth Warren at Harvard Law School in the fall of 2000. Porter subsequently made it her mission to find out why the government was bailing out predatory banks but wasn’t helping families drowning in debt. Her in-depth, on-the-ground research of foreclosure-related bankruptcy cases in 2006 lead her to be among the first to recognize the systemic mortgage fraud that caused the 2008 economic crisis. In 2012, California Attorney General Kamala Harris appointed Porter to oversee the state’s participation in the $25 billion mortgage fraud settlement agreement between the federal government and 49 state attorney generals to address loan and foreclosure abuses in the five largest providers of mortgage services. “[I]t is hard to dispute the fact that the media, Congress, and pundits have spent more time on the financial collapse of big banks than of everyday families,” she wrote in Broke: How Debt Bankrupts the Middle

Class, to which Warren contributed. “At a conference I attended, someone quipped that while banks were ‘too big to fail,’ families were ‘too small to save.’” A progressive Democrat running to unseat Republican Rep. Mimi Walters in California’s 45th District, Porter is the true representative of Orange County family values. And like her mentor, Porter is a persistent fighter. When the California Democratic Party endorsed a rival, Porter piped up, declaring: “It’s not just about electing any Democrat; it’s about electing a Democrat who will act like a Democrat.” Porter didn’t win the endorsement but she nonetheless persisted and beat her Democratic opponent in the June primary—with a perceived uphill battle against Walters, who won 53% of the vote in the very Red district. As a candidate in one of the key Republican districts Democrats hope to flip to win back the House, Porter has received a lot of help, money and attention going into the Nov. 6 election. She is now slightly ahead of Walters, thanks in large part to the focus on healthcare and the threatened loss of coverage for people with preexisting conditions—Walters has repeatedly

voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Porter, meanwhile, has kept it real, identifying with the voters she hopes to serve. “Health care is intensely personal for people and that’s also true for me,” Porter told the Los Angeles Blade in a recent phone interview. “I was cognizant of choosing a hospital that was farther away even as I thought my appendix was about to burst so that I could be assured of having insurance coverage—only to discover that my surgeon, who performed the life-saving surgery on me, is not in my insurance plan. And so my insurance company has denied that claim and I’m having to totally appeal that. The letter that they sent me said that I should have asked whether my surgeon was in-network while I was under sedation and getting ready to have an operation. “This goes to show some of the absurdities that people experience in our current healthcare system,” Porter said. “Protections for pre-existing conditions are incredibly important. And every time we deny healthcare to somebody and make healthcare out of reach and unaffordable, we are just setting ourselves up for longer-term problems and costs. We all are benefited by having a healthy and



Katie Porter at Orange County Pride 2018 with Rep. Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana) and Luke, Betsy and Paul. Courtesy Katie Porter campaign

strong and safe work force that has access to preventative care, that has access to affordable health insurance coverage. I’m very focused on the cost of healthcare and on issues of access.” Another issue that struck Porter was the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. She was among the more than two thousand law professors who signed a letter opposing his nomination “on the specific grounds that he had displayed a shocking lack of judicial temperament,” she said. Walters’ silence “was just another example of her unwillingness to stand up for what is right.” It was also personal for Porter, a survivor of domestic abuse and workplace harassment. “I think that Trump’s attacks on women and what we saw in the Kavanaugh hearings was traumatic for millions of Americans. The statistics and the realities of sexual assault, sexual violence, family violence, they are tremendous,” she said. “For me personally, it was very hard to speak out about what had happened to my kids and to me but when I did, I knew that I was helping lots of other people have the courage to know not only that they are not alone but that I will fight to tackle these very, very serious problems in Congress.”

Porter will also fight for LGBT people, especially transgender people who are under threat of erasure by the Trump administration. “I strongly oppose what Trump is attempting to do, which is really to eliminate people’s freedom to define themselves and really attack the transgender community,” Porter said. “But I think when you dig a little deeper, it’s clear that they’re planning on attacking the lesbian and gay community and the bisexual community, as well. This is a country of freedoms and people should have the right to identify themselves in whatever way fits with their lives. We’re a place that should respect those differences….It obviously has a political intent, which is to try to intimidate and to signal to people that their voices don’t matter.” But voices do matter to both candidate and mama bear Katie Porter, particularly the voices of her children Luke, Paul and Betsy as they discuss worldly matters around the kitchen table. “One night at the dinner table, my middle son Paul—who was really young, about five years old—said, ‘I’m gonna marry my friend!’ And his friend was a little boy. And Luke said, ‘You’re going to marry a boy?’ And Paul said, ‘I will marry whomever I want! This is California

and you can love anybody.’ And it was such a proud moment for me that, at that age, he was standing up to his older brother and he was letting him know that he would find his own path and his own sense of family and define family for himself. “And so one of the things that I talk a lot on the campaign trail about is families,” Porter continued. “And it’s very intentional because it’s reflecting the fact that whether we are single, whether we’re married, whether we have children or not—we all have loved ones that we hold close and dear to us and those are our families in the most practical and meaningful sense. “So mykids are real warriors on LGBTQ rights and I’m really proud of them for it,” Porter said. “We have had a number of LGBTQ care givers and nannies. We have a lot of volunteers in the campaign and a lot of the campaign staff who identify as LGBTQ and reflecting the diversity of Orange County, in terms of my campaign staff, has been a really important part of this— especially running against someone like Mimi Walters who just has a terrible record on the LGBTQ community. She has a zero percent rating from the Human Rights Campaign and has called gay marriage ‘a travesty of family

values.’ I can’t think of anything that is more consistent with family than allowing people to form their own families.” On the other hand, the fact that Porter and her children talk positively about LGBT equality when no one’s looking offers hope for the future. “What made me most happy about [the exchange between her sons] was that my children felt like this was dinner table conversation to talk about civil rights, to talk about equality and to talk about people’s freedoms. And the fact that they were having that conversation with each other and with me and with their sister—that’s my idea of what it means to be raising a family right in today’s America.” Porter pledges to stand with the LGBTQ community. “I will always fight for equality, for the Equality Act and to make sure that we add gender identity and sexual orientation to our nation’s laws,” Porter said. “I understand the fear and the intimidation that they’re facing and I am so grateful to them for having the courage to continue to speak up and participate in the democratic process and I’d be honored to have their vote.” For more, visit: https://katieporter.com/

10 • OCTOBER 26, 2018

Not all political disagreements inspire threats of violence. Some generate laughter—like the 24-foot helium-filled Trump Baby balloon that first flew over London when President Trump visited the UK this summer. Two New Jersey Trump resisters started a GoFundMe campaign that raised enough for six giant balloons and launched the pre-midterms Baby Trump Tour. Over the Oct. 20-21 weekend, the balloon floated over downtown Los Angeles before settling in at the LA Convention Center as an exhibit for the Politicon convention. There even MAGA-hat wearing Trump supporters laughed and took selfies. For West Hollywood Mayor John Duran, Trump Baby represents the best of satirical political resistance. “Remember how the actors at the Kit Kat Klub in ‘Cabaret’ made fun of Hitler and fascists? It’s the same story,” Duran told Los Angeles Blade. “Except this time the players are LGBT people in theater, film and television—and we fight for keeps.” Another Hollywood reference popped easily to the surface—“The Producers” and the immortal song “Springtime for Hitler and Germany,” only with new lyrics: “Fall-Time for Trump Babe and the GOP.” Duran is looking forward to Trump Baby being deflated on Nov. 7. – Karen Ocamb

West Hollywood Mayor John Duran with Trump Baby in downtown LA photo courtesy Duran)

“Trans people won’t be erased.”

– Trans Reality star and former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner tweeted 9x against a trans color background on Oct. 22 after reports of a Trump administration resolution to require binary identification only.

“Drag is brilliant because it allows you to become your superhero to your Clark Kent.” – RuPaul to Marketplace’s Kai Ryssdal on his new book, GuRu.

“Our struggles are not separate from the struggles of the TGNC (transgender, gender non-conforming) community—they’re bound up in each other, intertwined. When we support each other—when we fight together—we can bring about change.” – Actress/#MeToo activist Alyssa Milano to feminists on trans rights, in Broadly.

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Outrage over Trump’s sweeping anti-trans attack HHS falsely blames Obama amid protests By CHRIS JOHNSON Transgender advocates were vocal in their indignation this week over a report in the New York Times about a sweeping anti-transgender plan within the Trump administration to limit the definition of “sex” in U.S. government policies to biological gender. According to the New York Times, the Department of Health & Human Services is set to spearhead the initiative with the proposed rule that has been drafted and circulating since last spring and will be presented to the Justice Department by the end of the year. In the words of the New York Times, the proposal would amount to “defining transgender out of existence.” According to the Times, the proposal asserts Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which bars sex discrimination in schools, doesn’t apply to transgender people and calls for government agencies to adopt an explicit and uniform definition of sex “on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable.” The proposed definition would describe gender as either male or female, immutable and determined by an individual’s genitals at the time of birth. A dispute about one’s sex, the New York Times reports, would have to be clarified using genetic testing. “Sex means a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth,” the memo reportedly says. “The sex listed on a person’s birth certificate, as originally issued, shall constitute definitive proof of a person’s sex unless rebutted by reliable genetic evidence.” Under fire for the plan that would eliminate federal protections for transgender people, the Trump administration pushed back in defense of its enforcement of the law — but with a statement that is filled with errors and blames the Obama administration for undercutting transgender rights. Caitlin Oakley, an HHS spokesperson, said the department has no comment on “alleged, leaked documents,” which the New York Times reported Sunday was being spearheaded by the Department of Health

& Human Services and would restrict the definition of “sex” under federal law to biological gender. In defense of current policy, Oakley blamed the Obama administration for enforcement of the law excluding transgender status from the definition of “sex.” “The Obama administration’s broad definition of ‘sex’ was enjoined by a federal court on a nationwide basis in December 2016 and the Obama administration did not appeal,” Oakley said. “That court found that the Obama administration regulation was overbroad and inconsistent with the text of the 1972 Title IX law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex. The court order remains in full force and effect today and HHS is bound by it as we continue to review the issue.” Oakley also asserted HHS continues to apply the law fairly and enforces all laws under its purview against discrimination. “Everyone deserves to be treated with respect and HHS’s Office for Civil Rights will continue to vigorously enforce all laws as written and passed by Congress, prohibiting discrimination in healthcare on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age and disability,” Oakley added. For starters, the response appears to conflate two separate rulings in 2016 from U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor in Texas, although both rulings were against transgender rights. The part about a ruling in December 2016 seems to reference O’Connor’s decision against an Obama-era regulation interpreting Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, which bars sex discrimination in health care, to prohibit bias against transgender people, including refusal of gender reassignment surgery. But the part about Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 appears to reference another anti-trans decision from O’Connor in July 2016 barring the Obama administration from enforcing its guidance requiring schools to allow transgender kids to use the restroom consistent with their gender identity. In either event, the response makes incorrect statements about the Obama administration’s role in these lawsuits and falsely accuses the previous White House of supporting the decisions. If the statement was intended to reflect the Obamacare ruling, the decision to

refuse to appeal the preliminary injunction rests solely with the Trump administration. The deadline for the Justice Department to appeal the decision was March 2017, when U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions was the running the show. At that time, no action was taken. Josh Block, a senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, affirmed the decision to let the Obamacare ruling stand rested with the Trump administration, not the Obama administration. “The Trump administration made the decision not to appeal,” Block said. “The PI decision came down just before New Year’s Eve in December 2016, and the federal government had 60 days to file an appeal.” Sharon McGowan, chief strategy officer for Lambda Legal and former Obama administration official for the Justice Department, said not appealing O’Connor’s anti-trans decision in health care “was a decision ultimately made by Trump’s Justice Department” and compared it to the Trump administration’s action in the Title IX case. “Even if a protective notice of appeal had been filed during the last weeks of the Obama administration, that appeal could have been pulled, just as Jeff Sessions pulled DOJ’s appeal challenging the nationwide injunction to the transgender student guidance on his second day on the job,” McGowan said. If the statement was intended to reflect the Title IX ruling, the Justice Department under U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, although the Trump administration later reversed those decisions. The Obama administration filed a notice of appeal on Oct. 20, 2016, and later asked O’Connor to reconsider the nationwide application of his order. On Sessions’ second day as attorney general in February 2017, the Justice Department rescinded the request for a more limited ruling. Two months later, the Justice Department dropped the appeal before the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals entirely. Jon Davidson, legal director for Freedom for all Americans, affirmed the “Obama administration did appeal Judge O’Connor’s preliminary injunction ruling” in the Title IX case contrary to HHS’s statement, but added the notion the order remains in force “also is a lie.” “The same day that the Fifth Circuit dismissed the appeal, the plaintiff states that filed the Texas v. U.S. case dismissed their

case because the Trump administration withdrew the Obama administration policy and guidance that the states were suing over,” Davidson said. “As expressly stated in the Notice of Voluntary Dismissal filed by the plaintiff states this dismissal ‘necessarily dissolved’ the preliminary injunction, which is no longer in effect.” McGowan said the Justice Department overall has acted in ways that serve to bolster its interest when judges issue antiLGBT decisions consistent with the Trump administration’s policy. “The fact is this Department of Justice had no interest in appealing Judge O’Connor’s ruling [on health care] because it is aligned with their own ideology and policy preferences, as evidenced by the fact that within 48 hours of assuming the position of attorney general, Jeff Sessions pulled the plug on a DOJ appeal from a different Judge O’Connor ruling that prevented the Department of Education from protecting transgender students nationwide,” McGowan said. Regardless of which case HHS was referencing, the blame on the Obama administration seems likely an attempt to shift responsibility to someone else for the underlying outrage over the anti-trans memo reported in the New York Times, which has nothing to do with any anti-trans decision from the courts. (In fact, the memo is contrary to at least eight federal appeals court rulings and 35 trial court rulings finding the definition of “sex” under federal law applies to transgender status, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality.) Davidson said whomever is advising the Trump administration on transgender rights “appears to have as tenuous connection to the truth as they do to the law, sound public policy and the facts regarding transgender people.” “HHS’s blaming the Obama administration and their reliance on a terribly flawed and now dissolved preliminary injunction that was and remains in conflict with the overwhelming majority of federal courts which have held that, properly construed, Title IX protects transgender students is shocking,” Davidson said. “Although it is hard for anything the current Departments of Justice, Education, or Health and Human Services do or say on LGBTQ issues to surprise me anymore, this manages to, and it is appalling.”



Protesters declare transgender people #WontBeErased LGBT advocates denounce Trump’s HHS plan By MICHAEL K. LAVERS & CHRIS JOHNSON Upwards of 200 people gathered outside the White House on Monday to protest the Trump administration’s proposal to define sex in federal policy as biological gender. National Center for Transgender Equality Executive Director Mara Keisling and Casa Ruby CEO Ruby Corado are among those who spoke at the #WontBeErased rally. Keisling, Corado, National LGBTQ Task Force Rea Carey, Freedom for All Americans CEO Masen Davis and others spoke at the Human Rights Campaign before they marched to the White House. The New York Times over the weekend published a report on the proposal,

which the newspaper said would amount to “defining transgender out of existence.” Transgender rights advocates and their supporters quickly criticized the proposal that emerged less than three weeks before the midterm elections. “Despite the cruel efforts of the Trump administration, trans people #WontBeErased,” wrote Rodrigo HengLehtinen, the trans son of U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), on his Twitter page. “We are your family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers. We are committed community organizers who have been beating the odds for generations. This administration will not define us bc we won’t let it.” Ros-Lehtinen on Monday praised her son, while criticizing the Trump administration’s proposal. “I am so proud of my son,” said RosLehtinen, referring to Heng-Lehtinen. “Your activism is an inspiration to folks all over our country to live as their true selves. Acceptance

National Center for Transgender Equality Executive Director Mara Keisling speaks in front of the White House on Oct. 22. She is among those who spoke during a rally against the Trump administration’s proposal that would define sex in federal policy as biological gender. Blade photo by Michael Key

and tolerance of the transgender community speak to our shared value of individual freedom and must be recognized as such.” Carmen Yulín Cruz, the mayor of the Puerto Rican capital of San Juan, also criticized the Trump administration’s proposal. “The decision taken by the Trump administration attempts to deny and erase basic human rights for our trans brothers

and sisters, and making trans people invisible is just another attempt to deny their basic human dignity,” said Cruz in a press release sent to the Washington Blade. “The laws, rules, and regulations have been put in place to provide equality for

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each human being,” she added. “No one can try to erase that reality. Even less can the lives of millions of trans people be erased. These are people who face discrimination and inequality every day, and still fight to achieve the respect and equal protection under the law they deserve.” Hundreds of people gathered in New York’s Washington Square Park on Sunday to protest the proposed policy. Equality California is among the myriad groups that have also criticized the Trump administration over it. President Trump was characteristically vague in response to outrage over the reported proposal. Before boarding Marine One on departure from the White House, Trump said in response to a reporter’s question “different concepts” are on the table within

his administration for transgender rights. “We’re looking at it,” Trump said. “We have a lot of different concepts right now. They have a lot of different things happening with respect to transgender right now. You know that as well as I do and we’re looking at it very seriously.” When the reporter reminded Trump he pledged to protect LGBT people during his 2016 speech at the Republican National Convention, Trump said he wants to protect everybody. “I’m protecting everybody,” Trump said. “You know what I’m doing? I’m protecting everybody. I want to protect our country.” President Trump’s own director of the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention pushed back Tuesday on the reported memo within the administration seeking to eliminate federal protections for transgender people, according to the Boston-based STAT news life science website. Although Robert Redfield reportedly

declined to criticize the proposal restricting the definition of “sex” under federal law to biological gender, the CDC director suggested the plan would heighten stigma for transgender people. “We need to understand that stigmatizing illness, stigmatizing individuals is not in the interest of public health,” Redfield was quoted as saying. According to STAT, Redfield made the remarks in an interview with the publication’s executive editor Rick Berke at the Milken Institute’s Future of Health Summit, which is taking place this week in D.C. Redfield reportedly said he wasn’t responsible for drafting the policy. According to the New York Times, the Department of Health & Human Services is responsible for the drafting the anti-trans memo. In a report Monday, the Washington Post said officials in the Education Department are seeking to push back on it. Redfield reportedly continued to talk

broadly about stigma is harmful and said it interferes with treating diseases, including the opioid epidemic facing the United States. Although HIV/AIDS continues to have considerable stigma, Redfield said that stigma is “nothing compared to what we’re confronting with drug use.” According to STAT, the opioid epidemic is personal for Redfield, who has a son who’s been in recovery for drug use for three years. “I pray for him every day,” Redfield was quoted as saying. “People don’t realize that addiction is a medical condition, it’s not a moral failing. People don’t realize it’s a chronic medical condition.” Comparing addiction to cancer, Redfield reportedly said people with cancer whose disease goes into remission and then comes back aren’t stigmatized. On that basis, Redfield questioned why people seeking treatment for drug use face stigma. Redfield reportedly said treatment for addiction should be integrated into primary care.

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New migrant caravan hopes to reach U.S. border Thousands seek refuge as Trump exploits issue for election gains By MICHAEL K. LAVERS Thousands of migrants who are trying to reach the U.S. left Honduras on Oct. 14. Reports indicate the migrant caravan, which left from the Honduran city of San Pedro Sula, reached the Guatemala-Mexico border on Oct. 19. Activists in San Pedro Sula and in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa with whom the Blade spoke last week said upwards of 4,000 migrants are part of the caravan. The activists also said some of the migrants are LGBTI. The Blade’s attempts to speak with LGBTI migrants who are part of the caravan have thus far proven unsuccessful. President Trump has threatened to cut U.S. aid to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador if their governments did not stop the migrants from leaving their countries. “We have today informed the countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador that if they allow their citizens, or others, to journey through their borders and up to the United States, with the intention of entering our country illegally, all payments made to them will STOP (END),” he proclaimed on Oct. 16 in a tweet. Trump on Oct. 18 said he would “call up the U.S. military and close our southern border” if the Mexican government did not “stop this onslaught.” He has also described the migrants as a “large flow of people, including many criminals.” The Mexican government has begun to process migrants who have entered the country from Guatemala. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Oct. 18 in a statement said the U.S. welcomes the Mexican government’s announcement that it will work with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees “to address immigration issues in the region, including the influx of people arriving in Mexico.” Pompeo on Oct. 19 spoke further about the migrants during a press conference with Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray in Mexico City. “The challenge related to securing our southern border is also a challenge for American sovereignty,” said Pompeo. “We’ve got to fix U.S. laws in order to handle this

A caravan of thousands of migrants left San Pedro Sula, Honduras, on Oct. 14, with hopes of entering the U.S. Sources in Honduras have told the Blade that some of the migrants are LGBTI.

A human rights observer watches over a group of migrants who left San Pedro Sula, Honduras, on Oct. 14.

properly as well. That is an American burden, a uniquely American burden, and as President Trump has said, it’s something that we need to address inside of our country to make sure that we do this well. If we get it right, we will improve the relationship between our two countries materially as well.” Pompeo later told reporters before he left Mexico City that outgoing Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto deployed 500 federal police officers to his country’s border with Guatemala. Pompeo also noted four of them

were reported injured on Friday during clashes with migrants who were trying to enter Mexico. “We understand that to be accurate,” said Pompeo. “We don’t know the severity of those injuries, but I want to express my sympathy to those four policemen. That’s evidence of what this really is. This is a group, a large group of people; they are putting women and children in front of the caravan to use as shields as they make their way through. This is an organized effort to come through and

violate the sovereignty of Mexico, and so we’re prepared to do all that we can to support the decisions that Mexico makes about how they’re going to address this very serious and important issue to their country.” The caravan left Honduras less than a month before the U.S. midterm elections. Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández and Salvadoran Vice President Óscar Ortiz on Oct. 11 reiterated their governments’ concerns over separation of migrant children from their parents under Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy when they spoke at a conference at the State Department that focused on prosperity and security in Central America. Vice President Pence, who spoke at the conference alongside Pompeo, again urged countries in the Northern Triangle — Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador — to stem the flow of migrants. “The leaders in the room, the governments that you represent, should tell your people don’t put your families at risk by taking the dangerous journey north to attempt to enter the United States illegally,” said Pence. “The truth is your message can probably be summed up by telling them that if they can’t come to the United States legally, they shouldn’t come at all. Say it with strength and say it with compassion as neighbors and as friends because it’s the truth.” The Honduran government in an Oct. 16 press release said the caravan “was organized by political sectors with false promises of receiving a humanitarian visa that (would allow migrants) to pass through Mexican territory and seek refuge as an asylum seeker in the United States.” Activists in Honduras with whom the Blade has spoken over the last year say the Honduran government has not done enough to address violence, discrimination and a lack of economic opportunities they have said prompts LGBTI people to leave the country. The activists also noted more than 30 people died in violent protests that took place across Honduras last November after Hernández’s disputed re-election. The Honduran government in its press release urges migrants “not to put their lives and those of their children at risk,” noting hunger and human trafficking are among the risks they face. The Honduran government also said it “will continue to provide assistance (to migrants) to return to their communities.”



Trans youth facing public health and human rights crises in America I’ve heard thousands of stories in my clinic

Dr. Johanna Olson-Kennedy is the medical director of The Center for Transyouth Health and Development at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

Despite the increasing visibility of transgender individuals in media and society, many people still don’t understand what it means when someone is transgender. For many, the only way to comprehend the struggles and resiliency of transgender individuals is if we ourselves have a transgender loved one. How best can we grasp another’s personal battle than to hear it from them firsthand? As the medical director of the Center for Transyouth Health and Development at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA), I have the privilege of caring for transgender children, teens and young adults, and I bear witness every day to the challenges they face. I’ve been an attending physician at CHLA for 12 years, working almost exclusively with gender non-conforming and transgender youth. I am deeply committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of my patients and helping them live full lives true to who they are. This weekend we learned of a leaked memo from the White House that aims to invalidate the experiences of transgender people. This memo diametrically opposes the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recent statement encouraging pediatricians to extend affirmative care to transgender youth. The perspectives and policies provided by medical providers and scientists should take precedence when the lives of

vulnerable populations are threatened. There seems a great divide between the perspective of us doing the work, so to speak, and those who merely talk about it, or extend their own ideology around gender essentialism to deny rights to transgender individuals. My colleagues and I sit in rooms day after day having thousands of conversations with youth and families, hearing firsthand about the traumatic impact of having one’s authentic gender invalidated, belittled, disparaged and overtly discriminated against, and how deeply those wounds carry into every aspect of life. My own experience as a pediatrician has definitively demonstrated that supporting young people and affirming their authentic gender is imperative for them to live happy, fulfilling lives. Some of my patients know from a very young age that their gender is different from the one their body might dictate. These patients are insistent and persistent that their true gender differs from how their parents (and often, society at large) are raising them – and even as children they find ways to communicate this. Others are not as able to articulate how they feel but know that who they are doesn’t align with how the world sees them. Research suggests that even at an early age, brain activity patterns and structure in transgender youth more closely match those found in their desired gender than their assigned one. Many of my patients struggle with gender dysphoria – the clinically significant and severe distress one feels if their body and gender do not align. This can lead to overwhelming levels of anxiety and depression. Studies have shown that affirmation and acceptance is critical to their physical and emotional well-being. Support for transgender young people can include the use of pronouns that match the child’s gender identity, using the name of their choosing and, often, allowing them to change their hairstyle and clothing to reflect their authentic identity. Taking these steps is known as “social transition,” which is reversible and does not involve the use of medication or surgery. At its core, understanding transgender

people is two things: First, it is a human rights issue. Compounding my patients’ anxiety and depression is the discrimination they often meet in their schools, communities and even within their own family. Many patients have been victims of bullying, as well as emotional, physical and sexual violence. Laws that protect transgender people from harm, ensuring they can go about their daily lives without fear, are fundamental to their survival. For example, nondiscrimination laws offering explicit protections for transgender people to receive medical care in doctor’s offices and hospitals, as well as the right to access public spaces, is directly correlated to their mental health, not to mention their physical and emotional safety. Secondly, we are facing nothing short of a public health crisis. Nearly half of all transgender youth will attempt suicide at least once before their 20th birthday. We must do everything in our power to stem the rate of suicide within this community. No child should have to think about, let alone attempt, ending their own life simply for being who they are, and because others have opinions about their truths. Our center has cared for transgender young people since the 1990s and is one of the largest such programs in the country. In my years here, I have learned this truth about my patients: Transgender youth are not damaged, deceived or confused about who they are. The dreams and aspirations of my transgender patients are no different than the dreams of other children. They want to be nurses, firefighters, soldiers, attorneys, physicians, police officers and teachers. Many want to get married and have a family. And they want to participate in their communities. We cannot allow discrimination and uninformed opinions to alter their paths and prevent them from being the productive, successful, and happy members of society that they dream, and are capable, of becoming. All people, including transgender people, have the right to feel safe and secure in the communities they call home.

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Yes, your vote matters Especially if you are LGBTQ and/or a person of color

Ari Gutiérrez Arámbula identifies as LatinX Lesbian and is a longtime community leader based in Los Angeles, a volunteer non-profit board member and, with her wife, raising their 7-year-old daughter to be empowered and politically aware.

Likely you are obsessed with politics (as I am) or are not at all interested. Recently, a political fundraising caller asked if I knew how many seats had to be turned from red (Republican) to blue (Democrat) to “Flip the House” (change leadership in the House of Representatives). Amazingly, I answered “23,” not realizing that fact had sunk in subconsciously. As the Nov. 6, Election Day approaches, we do not need to know the granular details of politics but we must understand that each vote really does matter – especially yours!

Even if you are not yet clear about the ballot initiatives or the names of the candidates— the important thing to know is that your vote matters and it is your responsibility to make the time to vote. It is so important that your employer is required to allow you the time off to vote—just ask. In elementary school I was allowed to miss school once and that was so I could attend my mom’s citizenship ceremony. When I asked why this was so important, her immediate answer was that, as a naturalized citizen of the United States, she could now vote. She has not missed a vote since nor have I since I turned 18. Campaigns would be wise to focus on this “niche” electorate of Latino voters, including immigrants and U.S. born Latinos. As per a recent Latino Decisions poll, more than 84% of Latino voters are expected to vote in the midterm elections. This high regard for voting is common among those who immigrate to the United States, often under desperate circumstances, and value the quality of life opportunities the U.S. can provide for them and their children. For those of us fortunate to be born in the U.S., voting is a responsibility we owe our country. Voting is the most powerful defense a citizen has to assure those in power are held accountable. Our government was formed “…by the people, for the people…” and some elected leaders need to be reminded of that fact—the hard way.

You, and we collectively, can “Vote ‘em out” if they don’t do what they promised to earn our vote. If you voted for someone who turned out to be not so great—Vote ‘em out! We, the voters, have the last word. That’s the gist of Willie Nelson’s song in support of the breakout candidate, Beto O’Rourke, running against Texas Senator Ted Cruz. That sentiment applies in every state of the union! Whomever you are—if you identify as L-G-B-T or Queer, if you are an immigrant or transplant from another state, if you are the first in your family to graduate from college or if you are the next lawyer or doctor in your family. If you are single or married, with or without children, if you are HIV positive and managing life as a senior or if you are Transgender with the healthcare you need to live as your authentic self, if you are one paycheck away from becoming homeless or live in a community that is being gentrified— your vote matters! If you are part of the post 2016 election resistance, if you believe Black Lives Matter, if you are a feminist who believes women have the right to make health decisions for ourselves, if your skin color is dark, light or somewhere in between, if you believe women can govern just as well—if not better—than men, then your vote matters! If you want to redirect the school to prison pipeline toward good paying jobs for young men and women of color then your vote matters!

As a co-founder of Honor PAC working to elect LGBTQ LatinX candidates, like State Senator Ricardo Lara, a co-founder of the Latino Equality Alliance working to build majority support for the LGBTQ community and our families in people of color communities, a board member of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare Foundation working to make life affordable for LGBTQ seniors and the disabled, as a member of the Stonewall Democratic Club working to endorse legislation and candidates that support our values and priorities, I urge you to vote! While in this midterm election there is no specific anti-LGBT initiative on the ballot—our rights as a community are always challenged by Donnie-comelately candidates who are against us and our values. We must learn the issues and consider the candidates’ priorities. Ask who is endorsing them. Are the propositions and candidates aligned with your values and beliefs? A good way to prepare to vote is to use a voter guide issued by organizations that you support – such as the Stonewall Democratic Club. If you believe in equality and equity— vote to assure the laws and policies of our city, state and country reflect the values and priorities that you support! Voting is a right and a responsibility – now, support the March for Our Lives…and cast your ballot!

Desert Visibility Awards to celebrate LGBT service in Coachella Valley U.S. Bank, Desert Business Association and Los Angeles Blade honor change makers By JOHN PAUL KING

The LGBTQ community has no shortage of heroes and role models, but often the ones that do the most for us remain behind the scenes – unknown, unsung, and uncelebrated. For a few such heroes, that will change on October 29, when the Los Angeles Blade partners with the Desert Business Association and U.S. Bank to sponsor the first annual Desert Visibility Awards. Designed to honor local community members and organizations that are giving back to the LGBTQ community in the Coachella Valley, these awards will be presented to organizations whose mission has great relevance to the community, and to individuals for the importance and length of their service. The honorees are: Matthew L. Schreiner, Vice President/ Project Manager/CBBD Strategy and Transformation, U.S. Bank

A 22 year employee with U.S. Bank, Matthew has coordinated the company’s participation in five southern California pride parades/ festivals (Long Beach, Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, and Palm Springs), along with participation with the LGBT Centers (Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego), HRC, and a number of other organizations. He says, “Our focus has been to allow our employees to be their authentic selves. Bringing my fellow bank colleges and the community together has yielded so many great moments over the years, it’s what makes me want to do more. Our time to share, support and reassure those experiencing challenges is what makes the LGBTQ community unique,

we are there for one another when nobody else is.” Transgender Health and Wellness Center

The Transgender Health and Wellness Center is dedicated to all aspects of the health and wellness of the Transgender and Gender Diverse community. Their aim is to create a safe, social, and educational environment for the transgender community at large; to promote and maintain the development of the community, local transgender leadership, and education; and to bring the fun into the wellness aspect of caring for our community

for her efforts, including Palm Springs Pride Stonewall Advocate of the Year Award 2016 and The Human Rights Commission Equality Award 2017. In her words, “I am deeply invested in our mission to provide financial assistance to Lesbians in crisis, to empower Lesbians through education, and to celebrate Lesbians in community.” The LGBT Sanctuary Palm Springs

Safe Schools Desert Cities empowers area LGBTQI+ youth, their allies and Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) advisors, and offers opportunities that foster a sense of community and individual growth by providing education, guidance, advocacy, resources, recreational activities and opportunities for self-expression. They work with students and families when school districts do not follow California laws that provide protection and support for LGBTQI students, and they assist youth and their parents when bullying surfaces at school and when cyber-bullying follows them home.

The LGBT Sanctuary provides a physical and emotional environment of health, education and kindness for LGBT teens in Foster Care in the Greater Palm Springs area. Residents receive ongoing counseling to meet their goals of mental health and physical well-being from SPS counselors and therapists. SPS also offers educational and skill-building programs, as well as a Matched Mentor program which connects residents with successful adults in the LGBT and general community who can help them find their special gifts and possibly their ideal employment or career path. In the words of founders David Rothmiller and L.D. Thompson, “Our beliefs hold that everyone deserves the opportunity to succeed. We want to provide a healthy environment for LGBT youth to find their voice, find their art, find their strength and find their peace.”

Barbara Carpenter, The L-Fund

East Coachella Valley Pride

Safe Schools Desert Cities

Barbara Carpenter served as the President of the L-Fund Board for three years before assuming her new role as Executive Director in July. She has worked hard representing the L-Fund and the LGBTQ community at large and has received a number of awards

The mission of ECV Pride Advisory Committee is to support and guide ECV youth to advance wellness and access to resources among persons with widely diverse gender and sexuality identities. The committee is composed of east and west Coachella Valley

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serving organizations such as Desert Mirage High school and Community college students, ECV leaders, Alianza Coachella Valley, The LGBT Center of the Desert, Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest, Trans Community Project, and Desert AIDS Project. According to Youth Advocate and Committee Member Mariela Huazano, “On my side of the valley it is still to this day not as safe to be out and visibly Queer – although, I must highlight that we have started to move a little bit forward with our very own Pride Festival. I had the opportunity to help organize the 2nd annual Pride in the ECV this year; it was very community oriented – it was home, it was a place where I saw la vecina (neighbor),

my sister, abuelitas (grandmothers) and people of different age groups that looked like me, brown and queer coming together to celebrate and continue to emphasize the work needed.” Ron deHarte, Palm Springs Pride

CEO of DeHarte Group Business Management Solutions, Rob has been delivering fund development, strategic planning, operations, financial management, innovation, and execution for twenty-five years to for profit corporations as well as non-profit arts, business and human rights organizations. He is a recognized champion for human rights and equality for all with

a charismatic passion for LGBT issues. As President of Greater Palm Springs Pride, Inc., he is responsible for working closely with the board and community stakeholders in guiding the organization in the fulfillment of its mission. He is one of two Region Directors for region one at InterPride, the International Association of Pride Organizers -- people who organize various events to promote the human rights of the LGBTI worldwide Community. The First Annual Desert Visibility Awards will be presented October 29, 2018, from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM, at U.S. Bank, 1793 East Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, CA 92264.

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Photo by Yunen Bonaparte

“My life has been very complicated and it didn’t really get started until I was 30 years old,” Bamby Salcedo said, with a mixture pride and wonder in her voice. And for the transgender Latin community in the United States, that has resulted in something of a miracle. Or as Bamby puts it, “Yo soy un milagro.” As an 8 year old kid growing up in Mexico, Bamby discovered streetlife. “There was a love that I found. I became a member of a group, Band of Orphans; kids without a home and with no parents. Although I had a home and I had parents, I didn’t. So, I just started learning everything from the streets. I was taught how to mug people and how to steal. I started popping pills and smoking weed. I lived two or three different lives and none of them intersected.” At 12 years old she discovered who she was, dressing as a woman for the the first time and going to clubs with other gay kids. “It was the most wonderful experience I had ever had,” she says. “I felt the transformation. I honestly felt like I was Cinderella.” But, in Mexico, she says, “I couldn’t be me; my gang friends, my mom, nobody could know about it.” Eventually, facing a year in prison over her gang activities, that fleeting glimpse of who she could be seared into her brain, Bamby fled to California. “But coming here I had to go all the way into the closet, not knowing my father and needing to make a good impression.” But her father introduced Bamby to cocaine and she developed an intense addiction, shooting the drug, drinking, smoking weed and other drugs. Still yearning to be herself, Bamby discovered Los Angeles and applied for immigration amnesty at 19 and slowly began transitioning. She also found herself shooting up heavier drugs and prostituting on the streets of Hollywood. By 1991, Bamby had tested positive and began a lengthy struggle with depression and suicide, fearful of what she had witnessed other HIV-positive people go through. Her drug addiction escalated and she served years in jail for selling crack “to support a habit.” Years later, suffering lengthy periods of homelessness and poverty Bamby found herself in treatment and has been sober for the past 18 years. Bamby Salcedo is much more than a mere survivor. The success of her recovery has wound up impacting the lives of thousands of undocumented Trans Latina people, a segment of the trans community that Bamby realized is often overlooked and for whom scant services are available. With Maria Roman and a grant from the Caitlyn Jenner Foundation, Bamby has launched a radical concept with Trans Latin@ Coalition (TLC). TLC is working to facilitate access to social services for Trans Latin people locally and nationally, advocating for their healthcare, housing, jobs and civil rights. When news of the Trump administration proposing to overturn the civil rights progress of transgender people by defining gender as a person’s birth gender, she sprang into action. Her call for a community response drew nearly 2,000 people to the steps of City Hall. When it comes to transgender rights, Donald Trump has no idea what he’s up against. Bamby is now a fully formed Latina warrior. She is a fighter for the Latin children Trump has stolen from their parents, for trans Latin people on the border at Tijuana or the rights of ICE detainees stolen from the streets, another attack on her community will not stand.

queery BAMBY SALCEDO How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell? Complicated. At 12 years old I dressed as a girl for the first time. I was with friends and we went to a club. But I couldn’t be myself. It was until I was 19 when I was away from everyone that I became my true self, in Los Angeles. Who’s your LGBT hero? There’s not just one. There are many. Sylvia Rivera. Marsha P. Johnson. Maria Roman. Valerie Spencer. And the many courageous young people who are living their authentic lives. What’s Los Angeles’ best nightspot, past or present? Circus and Arena were the places to be. I had the opportunity in the late 80s to attend Catch One many times, too. Describe your dream wedding. As a little girl always dreamed of a fairy tale wedding, this magical moment where you marry the person you love the most. What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about? Immigration and trans-liberation. Transliberation is about us being able to live happy lives without any fear of being attacked for who we are. What historical outcome would you change? The beginning of the gay liberation. I would make sure trans issues were always included from the beginning as part of the movement. Unfortunately, trans people did not benefit from every social and political advance. What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime? I’ve been very lucky that I have experienced a couple of cultural shifts. When I was younger, Madonna shifted cultural views. In Latin-American culture there were artists who shifted culture in the same way she did, especially views of LGBT people. Gloria Trevi, Alejandra Guzman. Now the young artists are shifting culture. On what do you insist? Trans liberation. What was your last Facebook post or Tweet? I thanked everyone who came to our rally (against the Trump administration plan to define gender as immutable) and for standing

with the local trans community in solidarity support. If your life were a book, what would the title be? My book is called “Unconventional Woman: a portrait of resistance and love” If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do? I would do what is right for people. We have to stand up and fight back. What do you believe in beyond the physical world? I am a spiritual person. I believe in energy, that there is something beyond here, that we transform. I am a warrior. An indigenous warrior spirit lives in me. What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders? To be intentional about what we do. To be honest. And to do everything with integrity. That will change how society views our people. What would you walk across hot coals for? My own peace of mind. What LGBT stereotype annoys you most? That we are sexual deviants. What’s your favorite LGBT movie? Rent. What’s the most overrated social custom? People mirroring what they see on social media like someone’s going to discover them, when in reality they need to discover themselves. What trophy or prize do you most covet? The trophy for me would be seeing, in my lifetime, Trans people viewed as part of the human race, living with dignity and respect and unafraid to be who we are. What do you wish you’d known at 18? That I don’t know everything, as I thought I did then. I learn something new every single day. Why Los Angeles? There’s no place like Los Angeles. We get to experience and see the four seasons at any time of the year. If you want to go the beach you can go. Or to the mountains. Or to the desert. And Los Angeles is where my people are and where I call home.

In partnership with




Honoring local community members and organizations that are giving back to the Coachella Valley. For more information, visit losangelesblade.com/visibility



The Queen gets his crown, at last Freddie Mercury is the champion By JOHN PAUL KING

Rami Malek stars as Freddie Mercury in ‘Bohemian Rhapsody.’ Photo by Nick Delaney. Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

When a film has as long and troubled a production history as “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the Queen/Freddie Mercury biopic was first announced in 2010, it doesn’t bode well for a satisfying final product. Even more ominous, when the film’s first trailer devoted much of its screen time to his relationship with long-term female partner Mary Austin, there was widespread concern over whether the movie was going to “straightwash” Mercury – who never publicly declared his sexual orientation despite his flamboyant stage persona, but spent the last years of his life with a same-sex partner before dying of complications from AIDS in 1991. There’s good news to report on both fronts. “Bohemian Rhapsody,” despite its difficult birthing process, is as slick and entertaining as anyone could reasonably hope. Better still, it puts Freddie’s sexual identity front and center. The film tracks Queen from Mercury’s entry to the band in 1970, through their rise to superstardom to their appearance at Live Aid in 1985. Within that context, it follows Mercury’s personal relationships – with his significant others, with his fame and with his own sexuality – and his struggle toward self-acceptance, culminating in the HIV diagnosis which would eventually end his life. It’s the charting of that journey which makes “Bohemian Rhapsody” more than just a crowd-pleaser. Screenwriter Anthony McCarten portrays the singer as the product of a devout religious upbringing – deeply closeted, perhaps even in denial about his sexual nature, despite his boundary-pushing presentation and personality – for whom fame affords both the temptation and the freedom to explore his taboo longings. His struggle to embrace himself for who he truly is becomes an integral part, if not the central focus, of the film’s narrative. In in his real life, Mercury never officially came out. He avoided, he downplayed, he obfuscated. When rumors began to circulate that he had contracted HIV/ AIDS, he flat out denied it; indeed, he did not publicly confirm his diagnosis until the day before he passed away. From a contemporary perspective, it’s easy to criticize these choices. “Bohemian Rhapsody” leaves such judgments to the viewer, however, and instead presents Mercury as he famously was – private, closely guarded, and wary about public perception. For all the bombastic theatricality of his stage persona, he was an introvert in his “real” life – a contrast the movie conveys well, in no small part thanks to the performance of its star, Rami Malek. Malek, though at times somewhat hampered by the prosthetic teeth required to simulate the singer’s famously massive overbite, fully inhabits the role and delivers a heartfelt and insightful portrayal that honors Freddie’s legacy and his truth. He shines brightest in the recreations of Queen’s live performances, capturing Mercury’s electrifying onstage presence with every move and gesture – painstakingly choreographed, but executed with as much spontaneity as if they were his own.

As for the cast that surrounds him, it’s top-notch. There are too many fine performances to single out here, but special mention is deserved for Lucy Boynton, whose tender performance as Austin helps illuminate the deep and genuine bond she shared with Mercury throughout his life, and for Tom Hollander’s delightfully dry turn as Queen manager Jim Beach. Also fun is a barely-recognizable Mike Myers as EMI executive Ray Foster. As for the movie’s approach to its larger story, the rise of Queen to fame and fortune is presented with a flashy showmanship fitting of the group’s over-thetop style. It also packs in a lot of information – perhaps too much. Like most biopics, “Bohemian Rhapsody” is handicapped by the need to tell an entire life story in an impossibly short time, and it fails to avoid the usual flaws – full of elisions, conflations, contrivances and clichés, it has an inescapable “Hollywood” feel that tends to undermine any sense of real authenticity. Still, with the extensive participation of the band’s surviving members, as well as their manager, there’s still a ring of truth, albeit a polished and simplified one, and most audiences are not likely to quibble over formula when a film is as entertaining as this one – and entertaining it is. Slickly packaged, lavishly produced, full of exuberant energy and good-natured high spirits, it’s an impossible film not to get caught up in. It has tremendous fun with its ‘70s and ‘80s setting; the designers have a field day with the outrageous fashions and hair, served up with the just the right mix of fond nostalgia and winking irony. And of course, there’s the music of Queen; the film’s soundtrack – which seems designed as a singa-long experience – makes sure to touch on all the band’s greatest hits, and there’s plenty of fan service in the film’s re-enactments of key “behind-the-scenes” moments (such as the creation of the title song’s famed operatic interlude) which likely fall somewhere between fact and legend. What’s most remarkable, is how cohesive the whole thing is – particularly considering the well-publicized departure from the project by director Bryan Singer, who was reportedly sidelined by “a personal health matter,” and his subsequent replacement by Dexter Fletcher. Per DGA rules, Singer retains sole credit on the finished film, but Fletcher deserves kudos for maintaining the integrity of the movie’s vision and shepherding it into a seamless finished form. “Bohemian Rhapsody” seems poised to be a big hit, and deservedly so. Sure, it’s mainstream fluff, but there’s nothing wrong with that when it’s done this well; and in its decision to address Mercury’s complex sexual identity, it achieves real significance. It would have been easy enough to allude discreetly, perhaps, to his same-sex relationships, or to downplay his role as the first major rock star to die of AIDS, but this movie does neither. Instead, it unequivocally celebrates the icon’s truth, arguably allowing him to “come out” officially for the first time – and in doing so, cements his welldeserved status as the queer hero we’ve always known him to be.


When Garrard Conley’s book, “Boy Erased: A Memoir,” was published in 2016, only five states had adopted legislation that banned so-called “gay conversion therapy” for minors. Two years later, that number has grown to 15, if you count the District of Columbia – meaning that, in nearly 70 percent of the United States, it is still legal to subject your child to a practice deemed by the American Psychiatric Association to have “serious potential to harm young people.” Now, at a time when the current presidential administration is pursuing the kind of regressive policies that make it seem particularly timely, comes the highly-anticipated film version of Conley’s memoir. Written and directed by actor/filmmaker Joel Edgerton, “Boy Erased” adapts the book – which combines Conley’s personal experiences with a more journalistic look at the “ex-gay” movement – into an intimate comingof-age tale about a 19-year-old college student (Lucas Hedges) who is “outed” to his conservative Baptist parents (Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman) and subsequently forced to attend an evangelical counseling program. It’s Conley’s own story, though the names are changed, and the author worked extensively with Edgerton throughout the project. Edgerton’s film takes a different tack than “The Miseducation of Cameron Post,” this year’s other gayconversion-camp movie, in which the camp and its counselors – at least in the beginning – are treated with a touch of tongue-in-cheek irony; the tone is light, almost comedic, until the seriousness of what is being done in the name of “curing” these children begins to become clear. With “Boy Erased,” however, there is no distancing humor. Its young protagonist truly thinks there is something wrong with him, and the staff, far from the pseudo-hippie goofiness of the “Cameron Post” crew, are true believers – almost chillingly so. It’s clear from the start that what is going on here is not just wrong, but dangerous. It’s as upsetting to observe as you might expect. We’ve heard the stories, we know what goes on in these places – the shaming, the judgment, the gaslighting designed to brainwash participants into believing they are “broken” and must be “fixed.” Even so, seeing it depicted here is sure to outrage any viewer already opposed to such practices, and – hopefully – call them into question for any who are not. Though the movie is unequivocal in its harsh view of conversion therapy, it is more charitable toward the motives of the people who buy into it. “Boy Erased” portrays the parents as well-meaning, loving people who act in what they genuinely think are the best interests of their son; as Conley has said, they simply “put their trust in the wrong people.” For many, especially at a time when the words “sincerely-held religious beliefs” are widely seen as code for bigotry, it’s a bit of a hard sell to see such parents as blameless; but it helps that they are played by two of the finest screen actors of their generation. Crowe, who submerges himself completely in his role, exudes a quiet strength clearly founded on sincerity, however misguided the principles behind it may be; and Kidman, superb as always, radiates with such innate kindness that we simply know her complicity cannot last – a knowledge which provides us with a ray of hope even through the movie’s darkest moments. As for Hedges, he continues a run of performances that is fast making him one of the standout young actors in Hollywood. This is his largest role to date, placing the burden of the film essentially on his shoulders, and he proves himself more than capable of carrying it. The casting of a non-gay performer (Hedges has said he is not ready to put a label on himself, but that he acknowledges he “exists on a spectrum”) has inevitably provoked controversy, but author Conley – whose story, after all, is the one being told – stands by the choice. In any case, from the standpoint of talent, there is no reason to object; his work is stellar. In supporting roles, Edgerton himself plays the program’s “ex-gay” director, in a solid and surprisingly likable performance; Flea (bassist of the Red Hot Chili Peppers) is a strong standout as a menacing staffer who puts a face on the ugly homophobia which underlies the entire concept of conversion therapy; and out musician Troye Sivan has a memorable scene as a program participant who shares his savvy and surprising truth in a private moment with Hedges. The fine cast is showcased by Edgerton’s confident but low-key direction, and like them, he favors underplaying. He keeps the tone soft, even tender, so that when the shocking moments come, they strike us hard. This tactic mostly serves him well, but it must be said that the overall impression left by the film is oddly muted; the emotional highs and lows never quite seem to reach fruition, leaving the viewer without a satisfying release. At the same time, there are a few scenes that feel contrived – confrontations and climactic moments that feel a little too on-the-nose, orchestrated for dramatic purposes (or perhaps, more cynically, to provide an “Oscar moment”) and not quite in keeping with the otherwise lifelike flow. Still, the film’s messaging is on point, and it’s impossible not to be affected by the empathy which is its defining quality. It extends compassion to all its characters, and although it delivers a damning indictment against a barbaric practice, it does so without demonizing or grandstanding; rather, it tells a simple, human story which reaffirms both the individual right to live one’s own truth and the power of our common bonds to bridge the gaps between us. In a time when our culture feels irreparably divided, it’s a message that seems too good to be true; but thanks to its loving heart and its good intentions, “Boy Erased” makes us almost believe it.


‘Boy Erased’ confronts conversion therapy with compassion At a time when the community fears erasure, a timely movie By JOHN PAUL KING

Lucas Hedges, Troye Sivan and Devin Michael in ‘Boy Erased.’ Photo Courtesy Focus Features



Is your wig ready for Halloween? Your definitive gay spooky calendar By ROBERT WILLIAMS

What should you do to celebrate Halloween? From erotic ballet blurring the lines of heaven and hell, to a free haunted house in the backyard of a Burbank home, there are plenty of spine-tingling options for you to enjoy. Here is the Los Angeles Blade Halloween breakdown:

West Hollywood Halloween Carnival • Santa Monica Blvd • Free • Oct. 31 Santa Monica blvd. between N Doheny and La Cienega will be closed and taken over by goblins, sexy nurses and some of the most creative costumes you will see anywhere. It’s a big party, be prepared for a large crowd. The party goes from 6-10:30 p.m. Halloween Horror Nights • Universal Studios Hollywood • $$$$ • Through Nov. 3 A scary, intense event that takes you into the “immersive worlds of living, breathing icons from the most twisted imaginations in film and television,” according to its website. Take a date to use as a human shield as you walk terrified through eight horrifying mazes based on film and television, including Netflix’s “Stranger Things,” “Poltergeist,” and AMC’s “The Walking Dead.” There are five new scream-invoking scare zones and an allnew Jabbawockeez live show.

After Dark Tour • Paramount Pictures Studios • $$$ • Through Nov. 3 Los Angeles loves a good vampire, but please get your hair and makeup right before you drink our blood.

The two-and-a-half hour tour promises to expose the dark, twisted stories that haunt the studio by moonlight and to reveal how Old Hollywood scandals still live today. The walking-intensive tour starts with a toast of complimentary champagne to honor the coming darkness, and includes a creep through the darkest corners of the infamous backlot and Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

Horror Made Here • Warner Bros. Studio Tour • $$$ • Through Oct. 28 A Halloween Party and creepy carnival on the iconic studio’s backlot where evil clowns, demon nuns, super villains and the devil himself will come to life. The park features five hair-raising dark mazes based on “The Conjuring,” “It,” The Joker and others.

The 10th Los Angeles Haunted Hayride • The Old Zoo in Griffith Park • $$ • Through Oct. 31 Enter through the gates of Purgatory, where vicious clowns wait in the haunted woods, ready to unleash their bags of tricks. A sinister hayride featuring a terrifying cast of characters seems almost safe enough until you disembark midjourney to experience the nightmarish Corn Maze. Other attractions are the Trick or Treat interactive neighborhood, House of Shadows dark maze, a psychic and an old-world haunted village.

Creep: A Wake • The Row DTLA • $$$ • Through Nov. 4

A 75-minute environmental theatre experience where guests feel like they’re inside a horror movie. The avant-garde production explores what makes a creep, while allowing the audience to feel as if they are creeping into a dark and twisted world, as they explore 60,000-square feet of unsettling psychological imagery and sounds.

KCRW’s Masquerade • Los Angeles Theatre • $$$ • Oct. 27-28 KCRW favorites Santigold, White Denim, Cherry Glazerr, DaM-Funk, Wajatta, Shannon Shaw and the Flaming Lips’s drumming duo, Brothers Griiin, will perform in the haunted rooms of the Los Angeles Theatre. The night also features KCRW DJs, Lucent Dossier, a costume contest and food trucks.

Danny Elfman: The Nightmare Before Christmas • Hollywood Bowl • $$ • Oct. 26-27 Los Angeles’ reigning Pumpkin King, Danny Elfman, will return to the Hollywood Bowl performing his role of Jack Skellington singing live to film for a very special screening of Disney’s timeless holiday classic. The immersive experience will include live scenery projections, live orchestra and spectacular guests, like original cast members Catherine O’Hara and Ken Page.


Lucha Vavoom: Circo de Vampiros • Mayan Theatre • $$ • Oct. 24-25 An action-packed scream-a-thon extravaganza that is the perfect combo of authentic masked Mexican wrestling, comedy and high-octane performances. Featuring a long-list of performers including Cavernario, Flamita, Extreme Tiger, Magno, Karis, Neon Music, Veronica Yune and special performance by Bionic Viktoria Modesta.

LA Opera Presents Vampyr • Theatre at Ace Hotel • $$ • Oct. 27-28

monsters dwell and evil magic brings forth chaos into the world. Live rock band YNMDI-with members formerly of The Shakers-will play the show, accompanied by sorceresses, aerialists, creatures on stilts and clowns sure to traumatize.

Halloweenie • Belasco Theatre • $$$ • Oct. 26

Join all your favorite ghouls n’ goblins in a tribute to American Horrors with a night of dancing and drinking at the yearly event that benefits GMCLA’s youth outreach programs. The party welcomes all types and will be littered with glittered half-naked men.

Bordello Halloween Night • Doheny Room • $ • Oct. 31

The LA Opera’s annual Halloween mashup of opera and cinema returns to the spectacular gothic caverns of The Theatre at the Ace Hotel with filmmaker Carl Theodor Dreyer’s surreal 1932 masterwork, with score by composer Joby Talbot and conducted by Matthew Aucoin.

An exclusively whorefying ticketed experience by Paul Nicholls and Justin David with DJs Noir D Costas and Ryan Kenney. This is one option if you want to enjoy Halloween in West Hollywood without being out on the crowded street like a plebeian.

The Backwoods Maze • A random house in Burbank • Free • Weekends through Oct. 31

Chad Hudson Events’ 10th Annual Halloween Carnival Party • Palihouse • $ • Oct. 31

This is a free maze that will scare the hell out of you. With a five-star rating on Yelp, guests are thrilled by the terrifying characters and attention to detail, as well as the fact that some guy dreamed of a haunted house in his backyard and created it for the community to enjoy.

Burlesque & Inferno • DTLA • $$ • Through Oct. 31

American Contemporary Ballet presents “Burlesque & Inferno,” a thrilling, chilling Halloween double feature. The world premiere of “Burlesque,” a blend of eroticism and dance, is paired with ACB’s haunting “Inferno,” an immersive ballet that will blur the lines between heaven and hell.

Shapeshifter Circus: The Carnival Underneath * The Concord • $ • Through Nov. 3 A rock ‘n roll circus where guests are taken to an underworld dimension where

If you want to be out in West Hollywood during Carnival but want to enjoy the festivities from a protected perch on the rooftop of the Palihouse, this is your event.

Six Flags Fright Fest • Valencia • $$$ • Through Oct. 28

Be prepared to be scared as zombies and ghouls take over the park. With mazes, scare zones and all kinds of creatures lurking in dark corners, the petrifying rollercoasters won’t be the only thing making your blood run cold.

A Club Called Rhonda: Drag Me to Hell w/2ManyDJs • Los Globos • $ • Oct. 27 and 31 The pansexual pleasure cult is set-up in Silver Lake to anchor the eastside with omnisexual amalgamation, hot dance beats and a fusion of fashion flavors. It’s always Halloween at A Club Called Rhonda parties, but this is the real one. The Halloween edition runs until 3 a.m.




Exploring a vibrant Los Angeles, alive with theater Sarah Jones stuns in ‘Sell/Buy/Date’ By BILLY MASTERS

Tony Award-winning playwright and performer Sarah Jones (Bridge & Tunnel), pictured here with Lily Tomlin, Jenifer Lewis, Rashida Jones and Laverne Cox is now performing Sell/Buy/Date at the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Renberg Theatre through Nov. 3. Photo courtesy Sarah Jones

“I actually feel bad for him. What I saw was a minstrel show today. Him in front of all these white people - mostly white people – embarrassing himself and embarrassing Americans, but mostly African Americans, because every one of them is sitting either at home or with their phones, watching this, cringing.” - Don Lemon on Kanye West’s recent Oval Office visit. When Sarah Jones’ solo show “Sell/Buy/Date” opened at the Geffen Playhouse last spring, it sold out in a matter of minutes. It’s fortunate that the Los Angeles LGBT Center is mounting this encore presentation so that others can experience this mesmerizing work. Jones is a phenomenon, with many touting her as a successor to Lily Tomlin. Comparisons between the two miss a vital point - while Lily is the face of her work, the words are those of partner Jane Wagner. Sarah Jones writes and performs her own material. But like Tomlin’s solo pieces, “Buy/Sell/Date” could be seen repeatedly and leave you gleaning something new each time. The show takes place in the future during a seminar on sex workers. We meet men, women, children, elders, and Miss Jones inhabits them all beautifully. The audience is not only entertained, but also moved to think. In many ways, Sarah Jones makes one hopeful for the future. Special plaudits must go out to director Carolyn Cantor. The construct of the show, the seamless transitions, the fully integrated technical aspects, the precise light and sound cues - those things don’t appear out of thin air. Alas, too often a director gets short shrift because one imagines it all begins and ends with the performer. Towards that end, kudos to set designer Dane Laffrey, lighting designer Matt Richter, and Bray Poor on sound. The show runs though Nov. 3, and you can get tickets at LALGBTCenter.org. Opening night was hosted by Lily Tomlin and Laverne Cox. Rashida Jones (no relation) was also listed as a host but, to the best of my knowledge, she showed up, took some photos, and presumably had better places to be. Afterwards, my play mama, Jenifer Lewis, went backstage to congratulate Sarah. I was walking into the lobby with Debra Messing when, right in front of me, I saw her — Brigitte Nielsen. Believe it or not, I would (and did) knock people over to get to Nielsen. Most remember Gitte from her marriage to Sylvester Stallone, her various other romantic entanglements, and her tabloid headlines. But if you were in the UK when she did “Celebrity Big Brother,” you saw another side of Gitte - a human side and a real person capable of great love and compassion. She’s smarter than you think, wickedly funny, brutally honest, and a nurturer. When I came upon her (you can’t miss her - she’s like nine feet tall), she was chatting with a group of women, led by comedian Whitney Cummings! The topic? Fertility, IVF, and older women giving birth. Cummings was asking Brigitte everything about her landmark pregnancy at 54. Whit may be only 36, but she’s obviously thinking about having children and, more importantly, when. She even said, “You know, they should tell girls when they’re young that they should freeze their eggs so that they have them...just in case.” What a brilliant idea - and it came from Whitney Cummings! Nielsen spoke with them endlessly and even offered to stay in touch and be of service. It was surely anticlimactic when I engaged her in conversation about her time on “CBB,” dished about Jackie Stallone, spoke Italian with her husband, and perhaps drooled a bit over her model son, Douglas Aaron Meyer (picture a male version of Gitte). The big theater event in Los Angeles is “Dear Evan Hansen,” which opened at the Ahmanson Theatre and runs through Nov. 25. While I wasn’t able to see this touring company, I was fortunate enough to be invited to the show when it opened on Broadway. I am certain this production will be a transformative experience that will linger with you long after the curtain falls. Should you be in the area, good luck getting a ticket - at CTGLA.org. Gay porn star Austin Wolf was on a Delta flight when he met a newly hired flight attendant. The FA in question was not working, but he was in uniform. At a certain point, the two disappeared into a lavatory for eight minutes. I’d say you can only imagine what went on, but no need to imagine - Austin took a video with his phone! Not only is the FA’s face clearly visible (since his mouth is doing much of the initial work), but so is his employee ID. Oops! And, before you ask, yes, the attendant enjoyed Austin from both ends. Moments after Wolf posted the video, people went crazy and immediately identified the Delta employee. He claims to have not known he was being filmed, which is: a) unbelievable and 2) hardly the point. He’s been suspended. Austin quickly deleted the video from the web...but not before we snagged it. Prepare for liftoff!

october 31 - november 4, 2018


















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100,000 people are expected for Palm Springs Pride 2018, a fabulous weekend long celebration that begins Friday, Nov. 2 and ends with a parade and festival on Sunday, Nov. 4. Photo courtesy Palm Springs Pride

OCT 27

19th Annual L.A. Day of the Dead at Hollywood Forever is Saturday from noon-midnight at Hollywood Forever Cemetery (6000 Santa Monica Blvd.). For the 19th Annual Dia de los Muertos, honor the Aztec goddess who gave birth to the moon, stars and the sun. Celebrate the divine feminine, the loving mother that unites us all; Coatlicue (/kwɑːtˈliːkweɪ/) “skirt of snakes” “mother of the gods,” is the Mexica-Aztec goddess who gave birth to the moon, stars,and Huitzilopochtli, the god of the sun and war. It’s a festival of food, kids, art, makeup and traditional costumes, communing with the stars of yesteryear. Get your tickets at hollywoodforever.ticketfly.com.

OCT 28

Outfest UCLA present The Legacy Awards is Sunday from 5:30-9 p.m. at Cathedral of Saint Vibiana (214 South Main St.). Support Outfest UCLA Legacy Project, now celebrating 13 years saving and preserving LGBT moving images. The Legacy Project aims to preserved lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender moving image and create an archive. Many of the landmark LGBT films produced over the last 40-plus years are already in danger of fading away; their original exhibition prints are in tatters and their negatives are in woeful storage conditions or even lost. Since its inception, the Legacy Project has collected more than 40,000 moving image items and restored 23 historically important film and video projects. This year’s honorees are Sony Pictures Classics, the cast and producers of “Pose” and filmmaker Justin Simien of “Dear White People.” Tickets available at Outfest.org.

OCT 29

Desert Visibility Awards is Monday from 6-8 p.m. at U.S. Bank Palm Springs Branch (1793 East Palm Canyon Dr.). The first annual “Desert Visibility Awards,”

sponsored by the Los Angeles Blade, with partners U.S. Bank and the Desert Business Association will recognize LGBT-focused organizations, community leaders, activists and others from around the Coachella Valley to honor their efforts in enhancing our communities. Matthew Schreiner, U.S. Bank, Transgender Health and Wellness Center, Safe Schools | Desert Cities, Barbara J. Carpenter (The L-Fund), The LGBT Sanctuary Palm Springs, Eastern Coachella Valley Pride and Ron DeHarte (Palm Springs Pride). Tickets at Eventbrite.com.

OCT 31

West Hollywood Halloween Carnaval 2018 is Wednesday from 6-10:30 p.m. at West Hollywood (between Doheny and La Cienega along Santa Monica Blvd.). An epic event that attracts hundreds of thousand of people dressed to kill, be killed. It’s the world’s largest Halloween celebration and it’s right here in WeHo. You know it, you love it, you’ve been. Santa Monica Boulevard between North Doheny Dr. and La Cienega Blvd. is jam packed with crazy performances, wild street scenes and amazing music and parties on every corner. It’s an alcohol free event. And it’s also free of charge.


Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce November Networking Mixer is Thursday from 6:30-8 p.m. at Sofitel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills (8555 Beverly Blvd.). The Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce “increases the economic strength of the LGBTQ and allied professional communities through business development, advocacy, leadership and visibility.” And every month they get together to do just that, this month in Beverly Hills at Sofitel. It provides the perfect opportunity for business-to-business networking, helping you establish new relationships and business contacts. Bring plenty of business cards and get ready to meet your next

client or strategic alliance. Free for members and $20 for future members. Visit LAGLCC.com for more details.


Nevertheless We Resisted: A Pre-Election Party is Friday from 6-9 p.m. at NeueHouse Hollywood (6121 Sunset Blvd.). LA had the biggest Women’s March in the world and yet less than a three percent voter turnout in June. When history was being made, did you make yourself part of it? The midterm elections are almost here, gulp. Who better to celebrate and prepare with than Pat Lambert and Kate Hefler at Neuehouse? They are ready to help mobilize and excite voter turnout the weekend before the midterm elections. You don’t want to miss this exclusive cocktail party filled with drinks, music by DJ Daisy O’Dell and food from Shake Shack and more. Promote voter turnout and distribute a curated, progressive LA county voting guide that can help people make more informed choices at the polls and can be shared via text and email with friends before Nov. 6. A $20 donation is suggested. Please RVSP by Oct. 30 to midtermvoter2018@gmail.com. Pride Festival Palm Springs 2018 is Friday, Nov. 2 through Sunday, Nov 4 from 7 p.m.-midnight at Palm Springs Town Center. Over 100,000 people will invade Palm Springs for the dozens of LGBT Pride events that take place over the three day period. Join people from around the world in celebrating against the crystal clear blue skies and majestic mountains. It’s one of the best pride celebrations in the nation and expertly run. On parade day, Sunday, Nov. 4, 60,000 spectators are expected to gather along palm tree-lined streets to cheer and support local organizations, activists and themed floats along historic Palm Canyon Dr.

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

We #WontBeErased Because we will VOTE

There are 10 million LGBTQ voters and 52 million Equality Voters across America. WE can be the difference. Text Vote18 to 30644 to make a plan to vote, and volunteer at HRC.org/TakeAction.

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