Losangelesblade.com, Volume 2, Issue 37, November 16, 2018

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Photo courtesy Well Strung, performing at the LA LGBT Center on Dec. 8

N O V E M B E R 1 6 2 0 1 8 • V O LU M E 0 2 • I S S U E 3 7 • 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

























The Jeremy Hotel staff, its General Manager, Tim Flodin and Director of Catering, Doug Hoagland for making this event the best it can be and under budget! We extend our appreciation to our alcohol partners and wranglers, Tom Doherty, Rudy Vallejo, Leslie Barclay and Kristin Clark. And our sincere and humble thanks to our volunteers and Special Events Committee who pulled off another miracle with an amazing silent auction! And last but not least CL22 for producing a fabulous creative event, and our artistic director and guru of all things graphically creative, Ruben Esparza.



WeHo to mark Transgender Day of Remembrance on Nov. 20 Commemoration to mourn victims of violence By KAREN OCAMB & CHRISTOPHER KANE The City of West Hollywood on Nov. 20 will join communities around the world to commemorate the Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) with vigils for trans victims of violence, such as Viccky Gutierrez, who was stabbed to death in her Los Angeles home in January. The observance is part of the city’s Transgender Awareness Month, as well as the nationally recognized Trans Awareness Week. Los Angeles County officials announced recently that a record number of transphobic crimes were reported last year, 33, of which 94 percent were violent. Nationwide, the FBI’s statistics, released on Nov. 13, report that in 2017, 7,175 hate crime incidents were reported, 1,130 of which were based on sexual orientation bias and 119 on gender identity bias, though the numbers may be higher as a result of mis-gendering and voluntary compliance with reporting. The Human Rights Campaign found 29 trans murders in 2017 and identified 22 trans individuals killed this year, many trans women of color: • Christa Leigh SteeleKnudslien, 42, found dead in her home on Jan. 5 in North Adams, Mass. She produced the Miss Trans New England and other pageants. • Viccky Gutierrez, 33, a beloved immigrant from Honduras, was found stabbed inside her Los Angeles home on Jan. 10. • Celine Walker, 36, was fatally shot in a hotel room on Feb. 4 in Jacksonville, Fla. Local police initially refused to identify her as transgender. • Tonya Harvey, 35, was fatally shot on Feb. 6 in Buffalo, N.Y. A friend wrote on Facebook: “I knew her since I started transitioning, she was so sweet and loving.” • Zakaria Fry, 28, went missing in midJanuary in New Mexico. Her body was found on Feb. 19. A friend said: “You were my older sister. You took care of me and loved me like family. I’ll forever love you. I’m sorry.” • Phylicia Mitchell, 45, was shot and killed outside her home on Feb. 23 in Cleveland. Her longtime partner, Shane Mitchell, described her as “funny and kind”

Viccky Gutierrez was stabbed to death in her Los Angeles home in January. Photo via Facebook

and that “everyone loved her.” • Amia Tyrae Berryman, 28, was fatally shot at a local motel on March 26 in Baton Rouge, La. Few details are known about the crime. • Sasha Wall, 29, was fatally shot on April 1 in Chesterfield County, S.C. Donovan Dunlap wrote: “I will miss you my beautiful sister. I cannot sleep, I hope they find who did this.” • Karla Patricia Flores-Pavón, 26, was found choked to death in her apartment in Dallas, on May 9. A friend wrote: “It hurts a lot, you were a good-hearted person. Sister, fly high. We will remember you with love. Your beautiful smile will stay with us.” • Nino Fortson, 36, was fatally shot in Atlanta on May 13. City police rushed to the scene, but Forston later died at the hospital. • Gigi Pierce, 28, was fatally shot on May 21 in Portland, Ore. Police investigators say she was shot during an altercation. • Antash’a English, 38, was fatally injured in a drive-by shooting in Jacksonville, Fla. on June 1. English described herself as an “independent” transgender woman who “thrives on being the best person” she can be. • Diamond Stephens, 39, was found shot to death on June 18 in Meridian, Miss. In

interviews family members said that Stephens had an “incredible personality.” • Cathalina Christina James, 24, was fatally shot in Jacksonville, Fla., on June 24. Her mother described her as having a “big and bold” personality, saying she loved to dance and travel. • Keisha Wells, 54, was shot dead in the parking lot of an apartment complex on June 24 in Cleveland. A friend said Wells was “the nicest person ever” but a “tough cookie.” • Sasha Garden, 27, was found dead with signs of trauma in Orlando, Fla., on July 19. She is remembered as a “firecracker” who “didn’t hold anything back.” • Vontashia Bell, 18, was fatally shot on Aug. 30 in Shreveport, La. The Louisiana Trans Advocates organization called on city’s leaders to stop violence against the trans community. • Dejanay Stanton, 24, was fatally shot in the head on Aug. 30. “Every time you saw her she had a smile on her face,” said LaSaia Wade, executive director of Brave Space Alliance. • Shantee Tucker, 30, was found fatally shot in the back in Philadelphia on Sept. 5. Friends remembered her “beautiful spirit and fun aura.”

• Londonn Moore, 20, died of multiple gunshot wounds in a remote area of North Port, Fla., on Sept. 8. Moore is remembered as someone who “made everyone laugh all the time.” • Nikki Enriquez, 28, was one of four women killed in September in a “serial killing spree.” Cousin Veronica Castillo described her as beloved and a “very outgoing” person who loved to party. • Ciara Minaj Carter Frazier, 31, was fatally stabbed by a man with whom she was arguing on Oct. 3 in Chicago. Friends said she will “always be missed.” HRC thinks there may be two other trans deaths this year: On May 25, Roxsana Hernandez died while in ICE custody after fleeing violence in Honduras. TransLatin@ Coalition founder Bamby Salcedo held a rally in her name. On July 19, Jessie Sumlar, 30, was found stabbed to death in Jacksonville, Fla. Loved ones say Sumlar performed in drag and identified as queer. West Hollywood Transgender Day of Remembrance will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 20 at The Jeremy Hotel, 8490 Sunset Blvd. Complimentary off-site parking at the West Hollywood Library (625 N San Vicente Blvd); on-site parking is $20.


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Hellscape, California Death toll rises, devastation spreads and wildfires aren’t over yet By KAREN OCAMB kocamb@losangelesblade.com Love is all that remains in the house bisexual singer Miley Cyrus shares with actor Liam Hemsworth in Malibu, Hemsworth posted with visual proof on Instagram. “Completely devestated by the fires affecting my community. I am one of the lucky ones. My animals and LOVE OF MY LIFE made it out safely & that’s all that matters right now. My house no longer stands but the memories shared with family & friends stand strong. I am grateful for all I have left. Sending so much love and gratitude to the firefighters and LA country Sheriff’s department!” Cyrus wrote on Twitter. The death toll continues to climb in the worst California fire in the state’s history, 50 dead as of Nov. 14 with hundreds missing and Santa Ana winds driving a new wildfire in Rialto. Emergency workers are still combing through fire-ravaged communities and thousands remain evacuated, including out singer Melissa Etheridge. Individuals and communities throughout California are rallying to help each other, often risking their own lives to rescue and help those fleeing by foot after their cars catch on fire trapped in gridlock on narrow roads or stranded homeowners who will not leave their pets and horses. A 27-year old man the New York Times identified as Mr. Gonzalez, “stayed at his house in Agoura Hills despite evacuation orders. He began to second-guess how long he should stay as the air grew increasingly black. Fire engulfed the hills around his community and ripped through several neighborhoods. One house nearby spontaneously erupted in flames from stray embers,” The Times reported. “Basically there was like a ring of fire all around. There was this thick, thick smoke, and just a bunch of ashes everywhere,” Gonzalez told The Times. “The freeways are closed north and southbound, the canyons, there was no way in or out.” The wildfires started last Thursday, Nov. 8, when the Camp Fire erupted in Northern

Image of Liam Hemsworth’s devastated home in Malibu, which he posted on Instagram.

California. It has already scorched more than 125,000 acres—totally destroying the town of Paradise in Butte County, and as of Nov. 13, was only 30% contained. The Woolsey Fire from Thousand Oaks to Malibu outside Los Angeles also started Thursday and startled thousands with the wind spread the fire rapidly, doubling in size overnight. That fire has burned nearly 100,000 acres with roughly 35% containment. The Thousand Oaks community is suffering twin heartbreaks: fear and loss from the unpredictable, still raging wildfires and the recent loss of young people in the mass shooting at the Borderline bar, with memorials continuing. Thanks to a massive and aggressive assault by firefighters, the Hill Fire in Ventura County was 85% contained on Monday, after destroying 4,500 acres. In a series of tweets on Saturday, President Donald Trump blamed local government for the fires. “There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor,” Trump tweeted. “Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!” There was an instant angry pushback. “His comments are reckless and insulting to

the firefighters and people being affected,” said Harold Schaitberger, president of the International Association of Fire Fighters. “The President’s message attacking California and threatening to withhold aid to the victims of the cataclysmic fires is illinformed, ill-timed and demeaning to those who are suffering as well as the men and women on the front lines,” said Brian K. Rice, president of the California Professional Firefighters. “In my view, this shameful attack on California is an attack on all our courageous men and women on the front lines.” Trump “is dangerously wrong,” Rice added. “Wildfires are sparked and spread not only in forested areas but in populated areas and open fields fueled by parched vegetation, high winds, low humidity and geography.” “This is an absolutely heartless response,” tweeted LGBT ally singer Katy Perry. “There aren’t even politics involved. Just good American families losing their homes as you tweet, evacuating into shelters.” Out talk show host and comedienne Ellen DeGeneres was kinder. “One of the reasons I love the firefighters, first responders and the people of California, is we don’t place blame or make threats. We come together, and we take care of each other. (Now more than ever.) #Thankstho.

Trump eventually relented and approved the state’s request for a major disaster declaration, making federal funds available for the stricken areas. Out LA County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl thanked the firefighters, first responders and volunteers who have rushed to offer relief—water, food, blankets, shelter, hugs— whatever they can do to serve those who’ve lost everything. “We are dedicated to helping each person displaced and frightened and securing ever more resources throughout the county,” Kuehl said in a message to her Third District constituents, those most impacted by the wildfires in the LA County area. “Through all this sadness, I’m also greatly filled with hope listening to the countless stories of residents who risked their lives to help their neighbors, of government agencies at every level working together to keep people safe, and of the outpouring of support from Angelenos offering refuge, sheltering of pets, essential supplies for those displaced and for our firefighters,” Kuehl said. Kuehl advised people to check www. lacounty.gov/woolseyfire and 211la.org/ fire for the latest updates, and for those looking for ways to help the victims please go to kueh.ly/WaysToHelp.



Suspect pleads not guilty in murder of gay student Blaze Bernstein Woodward accused of links to neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division By KAREN OCAMB kocamb@losangelesblade.com Blaze Bernstein, 19, a gay Jewish University of Pennsylvania student home for the holidays, disappeared Jan. 2. His body, with 20 stab wounds to the face and neck, was discovered in a shallow Borrego Park grave a week later. DNA evidence led authorities to Bernstein’s Orange County high school classmate, Samuel Lincoln Woodward of Newport Beach, who was arrested on Jan. 12. Bernstein’s blood was found in Woodward’s car. On Nov. 9, Woodward, 21, entered a plea of not guilty to murder in Orange County Superior Court. Judge Kimberly Menninger denied bail, saying she thought Woodward posed a danger to the community after seeing troves of evidence linking Woodward to anti-gay, anti-Semitic messages and propaganda from the neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division, which apparently reveled in Bernstein’s brutal murder. “I love this,” one member wrote of the killing, according to copies of the online chats obtained by ProPublica, which exposed Woodward’s involvement with Atomwaffen on Jan. 26. “Sam did something stupid,” wrote one member. “Not that the faggot kike didn’t deserve to die. Just simply not worth a life in prison for.” Many of Bernstein and Woodward’s classmates from their former Orange County high school thought it was odd that the two were together because, Bernstein’s best friend Raiah Rofsky told CBS News’ “48 Hours,” Woodward “was literally known as being a crazy, homophobic, racist guy.” When Orange County cops first went to meet with him, Woodward was apparently cooperative, telling them and Blaze’s parents “that he and Blaze came to Borrego Park to hang out. And according to Sam, after a while Blaze walked down a path alone and disappeared into the brush,” 48 Hours reported. But according to a search warrant affidavit, which the Orange County Register obtained before it was sealed, Woodward claimed that Bernstein tried to kiss him on the lips and he pushed Bernstein away. Detectives noted

Accused murderer Sam Woodward Photo via CBS News 48 Hours

that Woodward clenched his jaw and fists when recounting the incident, telling them he wanted to call Bernstein a “faggot” and tell him to get off him. Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas subsequently added a hate crime charge to the one count of felony murder with sentencing enhancement for “personal use of a knife.” Woodward faces from 26 years to life in state prison, if convicted. Woodward’s description of Bernstein trying to give him an unwanted kiss prompted much speculation about whether defense attorney Robert Kohler might try for a “gay panic” defense. But that appears moot after ProPublica’s expose and the “48 Hours” investigation broadcast Nov. 10 that delved deeply into Woodward’s connection to Atomwaffen, including a photo of him in an Atomwaffen mask giving the Nazi salute. “Sam Woodward was … absolutely, definitely … a member of Atomwaffen Division,” British journalist and CBS News consultant Jake Hanrahan told “48 Hours.” “They made T-shirts using Sam Woodward’s mug shot.” Woodward’s Atomwaffen friends “call him the gay, the one-man gay, Jew wrecking

ball. You know, like kind of reveling in this idea that he’s killed this gay, Jewish kid,” Hanrahan said. Though they wear similar masks, the nationwide Atomwaffen is different from the local white supremacist group Rise Above Movement (RAM), which saw four members arrested Oct. 2 on federal charges for allegedly traveling to Virginia last year with the intent to incite a riot at the deadly far-right rallies in Charlottesville “Inspired by the writings of Hitler and the idea of ‘white jihad,’ members of groups like R.A.M. and Proud Boys don’t need much provocation to become violent. Indeed, members of Atomwaffen Division have been charged in five killings over the past two years,” including Woodward, former Nazi Christian Picciolini wrote in an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times. “It is true that the leaders of such groups draw in disillusioned young men who believe the world has sidelined them. But just because their members look familiar to many Americans does not make them less dangerous. Their violence is part of a growing pattern of domestic terrorism and should not be

excused as an adolescent blip. “Before the Third Reich murdered tens of millions of people,” wrote Picciolini, “it began in small Munich beer halls, just a few loyal street thugs with a social club.” Anti-Defamation League’s Joanna Mendelson told 48 Hours that the Atomwaffen Division’s online chats are “some of the most intense and some of the most extreme rhetoric that I’ve seen in a long time.” Started in Florida in 2015, the hate group believes the “Unite the Right” violence in Charlottesville last year didn’t go far enough. “They don’t even like to be associated with the alt right at all. They hate the Alt Right,” a former Atomwaffen member told “48 Hours.” “Their rhetoric and their ideology is white supremacy on steroids,” says Mendelson. “In fact, the name of Atomwaffen translates in German to atomic weapon….We’ll wipe you out.” After their son’s murder, Gideon and Jeanne Pepper Bernstein established a scholarship fund for foster care and at risk kids at Blaze’s former Orange County high school. See BlazeItForward on their Facebook page for more.



The Advocate & OUT’s straight owner disputes ‘inaccurate’ rumors Levin concedes he should have researched political donations more carefully By KAREN OCAMB kocamb@losangelesblade.com Adam Levin realizes now that he might have been a little naïve, contributing to politicians based on their pro-Israel and pro-cannabis positions without looking deeper into their records. But when an Oct. 18 Women’s Wear Daily story suggested the new straight owner of The Advocate and OUT magazines was “a documented supporter of conservative Republican politicians during a time when the culture wars have never been more fierce,” he was startled. And he certainly didn’t expect the backlash that followed. The article painted Levin as “opportunistic,” as one gay observer put it to the Los Angeles Blade on background. He believes Levin is intent on building up, then selling the brands as “assets” to pay down debt on High Times Holding, which Levin runs. “He’s probably bought into the narrative that LGBT people have millions of dollars in disposable income and he wants to monetize the brands. But he doesn’t understand where The Advocate came from or how important the legacy and reputation are for its existence.” Rumors quickly spread about Levin’s plans for Pride Media, his re-branding of the two magazines and other Here Publishing properties he bought last year from Here Media co-owners Paul Colichman and Stephen P. Jarchow. “The LGBT community is fiercely loyal and likes doing business with companies that are LGBT friendly, especially businesses that are LGBT owned and operated. We want to know that we will be treated fairly, equally, without feeling that we are being taken advantage of,” Leo Cusimano, co-chair of the National LGBT Media Association, told the Los Angeles Blade. “We need to hold businesses accountable for their support of our community, as well. Political donations by businesses have consequences.” The Advocate was first published as a gay activist newsletter in Los Angeles to provide news about police bar raids and rallies and protests before Stonewall. The magazine

Adam Levin is the straight owner of The Advocate and OUT magazines.

went through financial peaks and valleys as it attempted to inform and reflect back to the emerging national LGBT community the news, politics and cultural trends as an eyewitness to and sometimes driver of LGBT history. It was often one of the first sources of information for closeted LGBT people, including Pride Media CEO Nathan Coyle, who comes out of mainstream digital publishing. But The Advocate lost its luster and became a subscription insert into the more popular OUT Magazine. As the idea that print media was dying gained more traction, focus shifted to the digital platforms. But money remained an issue. “I took this job to help restore these titles and their relevance,” Coyle told the Los Angeles Blade.

In the WWD story, it appeared that Coyle essentially blamed former OUT editor-inchief Aaron Hicklin for not paying writers, including columnist Michael Musto, who is still owed money. “I really would like the money,” Musto told the Los Angeles Blade. “I have major bills to pay.” Coyle said that Pride Media severed its ties with a company that was supposed to pay the writers after having directly received payment from Here Media. “Aaron was absolutely not to blame” for the lack of payment, he said, adding that Pride Media will make good on the overdue payments. Levin, CEO and Managing Director of Oreva Capitol, sent a statement to WWD to correct the record. “In Today’s Politicized World, We Should Be Careful What We

Assume About Others,” read the title. “Recently, Women’s Wear Daily, a publication I deeply respect, published a piece about me, my business and political beliefs that wasn’t just hurtful, but inaccurate. It is my hope those same editors provide me the opportunity to defend against the false impressions this story may have left in the minds of readers we no doubt share,” Levin wrote. When the letter was posted on Oct. 24, the word “inaccurate” was missing and replaced with the redundancy “but could lead the reader to form the wrong opinion.” There was no mention that WWD apparently asked for the change. Other stories about High Times’ debt popped up online, then were quickly taken down. But with rumors about Levin and


suspected anti-LGBT investors in Pride Media still darting through the Internet, Levin has tried to be transparent by responding to media inquiries, including several long interviews with the Los Angeles Blade. Regarding being a big Republican donor, Levin laughs. “I’d have to make big Republican donations to be a big Republican donor,” he says. Indeed, a scroll through OpenSecrets.org shows that he has donated to a handful of Republicans but mostly to Democrats. Ironically, one donation in 2013 was to Republican Rep. Devin Nunes and another to Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff, now famously on opposite sides of the House Intelligence Committee. “I probably identify with [out newly elected Colorado governor] Jared Polis as much as any politician,” Levin says. “He’s pro-business, he has Jewish values and he’s pro-Israel.” When pressed, Levin says he personally identifies as a political “centrist.” His donations to Republicans were a result of his membership several years ago in a proIsrael AIPAC Leadership Training Initiative (LTI), which encourages “relationships with politicians on both sides of the aisle.” It is an

“unwritten expectation” that when LTI hosts candidates, “you support the candidates that attend as part of the LTI training program.” He didn’t realize some of the candidates had antiLGBT records until the backlash. “I, obviously, should have investigated all of them better.” In fact, Dana Rohrabacher’s name came up so persistently during the backlash resulting from the WWD story, he checked it out himself. “I even confirmed,” that he had not contributed, Levin said, “because everyone kept saying it so I was like, did I miss something? No, absolutely no.” Rohrabacher was in the High Times 100 issue, however, for the now-dethroned Republican’s support for cannabis. There are a number of other rumors Levin wants to dispute, starting with that debt question that led to concerns about how he would pay for the next iteration of the brands. “The acquisition of High Times was structured as a leveraged buyout that provided the sellers convertible debt that converts upon the IPO, which is expected to happen in the near future,” Levin says. “Pride has no convertible debt and the capital structure is very clean and simple.” “A majority of the board are members of

the LGBT community,” he says. He added that the rumor that right-wing Republican billionaire Ken Fisher is 40 percent investor is inaccurate. “I do not know Ken Fisher,” Levin says. “There are members of the Fischer family who are shareholders” but they are no relation to Ken Fisher. “I have zero intentions of combining High Times and The Advocate, OUT or any of the other media properties that I may buy in the future. I think The Advocate and OUT need their own voice,” he says. “And there’s synergies, absolutely there’s synergies. And there’re opportunities for companies to work together but I’m not combining them.” Levin laughs thinking people posit him as a kind of Rupert Murdock-wannabe. “Listen, I’m someone who invests in media properties. I love that people think I’m building an empire, candidly, but I’m an entrepreneur who likes communities and right now, I’m really focused on Pride and High Times. And I have a company called Boxlight that’s an education company,” he says. “The Advocate and OUT are media properties that matter to the community. And that’s the value of the brand, of the heritage, of the history. What was attractive


to me was the community around OUT, the community around the Pride Media brands. “There’s a stickiness,” he says. “They’re media properties that people care about. And in today’s competitive media landscape, I thought there was a real opportunity to reinvent the brands and create compelling content that would allow the brands to thrive for many years to come—in print and online and other mediums and platforms, as well. These are properties people have grown up with. “I believe strongly that print is not dead,” Levin continues. “When you’re trying to target and reach and market to a niche demographic, print is very much alive.” Levin says the purchase of The Advocate and OUT was not only a business decision but personal. “I am very close to Pride Media today and see the traction and the momentum of what we’re doing and I think it did take someone to shake up the brand … I’ve invested my own money in common stock of the company. I have family members, close family members who are LGBT. I don’t want to let them down.”



‘Blue Wave’ energized LGBT voters California Democrats could flip more GOP seats By KAREN OCAMB kocamb@losangelesblade.com Not even Democratic winner Harley Rouda could have appreciated the significance to the LGBT community of the Orange County Register’s clear, blaring headline: “Harley Rouda’s triumph over Dana Rohrabacher signals end of GOP’s O.C. congressional dominance.” For 30 years, Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, representing OC’s coastal 48th Congressional District, has been synonymous with all things anti-LGBT. One final example: last May Rohrabacher told a national group of Realtors that it was OK to not sell homes to gay people. Rohrabacher lost their endorsement and then late on Nov. 10, he lost his seat as the Associated Press called the race for Rouda. Rohrabacher did not jump up and concede defeat but nonetheless, it looked like the Blue Wave swept the bigot and the surfboard he swam in on out to a sea of oblivion. But Laguna Beach real estate executive Rouda was not alone in flipping Republicans out. Bisexual homeless advocate Katie Hill, 31, bested anti-LGBT incumbent Rep. Pete Knight in San Diego’s 25th CD – he conceded before a final call (53% to 47%, as of Nov. 13). And Democratic attorney Mike Levin blew Trump favorite Diane Harkey away 55% vs. 45% in CD 49. “The Blue Wave came out in force on Nov. 6,” out Los Angeles County Democratic Party Chair Mark Gonzalez told the Los Angeles Blade. “Expectations were shattered and we are seeing Democrats get elected to seats we never thought possible just a few years ago. People in traditionally red districts are disillusioned with Trump’s Republican Party and are realizing that the Democratic Party is the one that stands up for every man, woman, and child regardless of any part of their identity. Now that the Blue Wave has come crashing down, we are focusing our efforts on both retaining and gaining seats in 2020.” Rouda profusely thanked women staffers, volunteers and voters. But the LGBT community turned out in force, too. “Proequality voters helped make the difference in so many districts in California and across the country,” Equality California Communications Director Sam Garrett-

Harley Rouda, Katie Hill, Ammar Campa-Najjar, Mike Levin, Katie Porter and Gil Cisneros Blade photo by Karen Ocamb

Pate told the Los Angeles Blade, analyzing the latest election results Nov. 13. “Most voters want representatives to expand access to healthcare, improve our schools, help people get jobs—not attack transgender people, immigrants and women,” he said. “Our issues resonate with people because most moderates in swing districts just want everyone to be treated equality and when they see Trump allies in Congress supporting his attacks on the LGBT community in locked step, they look for someone new.” One week after the historic midterm elections, votes are still being counted— most notably in Florida and Georgia, but in several close California races, as well. After being behind since Nov. 6, consumer advocate and attorney Katie Porter pulled ahead of anti-LGBT Republican Mimi Walters in the Inland Empire/OC County CD 45 by 261 votes—116,732 (50.06%) to 116,471 (49.94%). Since the majority of the remaining ballots to be counted are mail-in and provisional—traditionally Democratic voters, Garrett-Pate predicts that Porter’s lead will hold. “She’s going to Congress.” Not so clear yet, but also pulling away is Democrat Gil Cisneros whose race against Young Kim in North Orange County’s 39th

CD turned ugly through defamatory and offensive national GOP campaign ads that had to be taken down. Kim’s substantial Election Night lead has narrowed significantly to only 711 votes. But Kim, who was declared the winner, is so upset, she’s assumed the Trump “voter fraud” playbook, issuing a statement claiming Cisneros’ campaign is “harassing and intimidating vote counters” and could be involved in “foul play.” Late Nov. 13, The Associated Press called the Central Valley/Stanislaus CD 10 for Democrat Josh Harder over Republican Jeff Denham. Former Obama official Ammar Campa-Najjar, however, seems unlikely to overtake indicted anti-LGBT Rep. Duncan Hunter in his Trumploving, deep red legacy seat. On the state level, Tony Thurmond pulled ahead of Marshall Tuck by 67,161 votes for Superintendent of Public Instruction; challenger Alex Villanueva is ahead of LA County Sheriff Jim McDonnell by 22,192 votes; and out Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes has pulled ahead of GOP challenger Bill Essayli by 693 votes in Riverside’s AD 60. And importantly, as of Nov. 13, out State Sen. Ricardo Lara is ahead of independent Steve Poizner, 51.5% vs 48.5%. If his lead holds, Ricardo Lara will become the first

openly LGBT person elected to statewide office in California. “As votes continue to be counted and races continue to be called, the degree to which voters across California and the nation rejected fear and division at the ballot box becomes clearer,” Equality California President Rick Zbur tells the Los Angeles Blade. “With a pro-equality majority in the U.S. House and pro-equality supermajorities in the California Legislature, we have an exciting opportunity to fight for civil rights and social justice and hold the Trump-Pence Administration accountable when they attack our community and the communities to which LGBTQ people belong. And we remain optimistic about a number of races that are still too close to call.” Out LA County Registrar-Recorder/ County Clerk Dean C. Logan said the total election results count is now 2,369,109, which is 45.56% of eligible Los Angeles County voters. The estimated number of outstanding ballots left to be counted in LA County is 688,000, consisting of 405,000 Provisional ballots, 275,000 Vote by Mail ballots and 8,000 miscellaneous and conditional ballots. The next ballot update is Nov. 16. The Sec. of State will certify the election results on Dec. 14.


“In the beginning was Pat Rocco! He was one of the original entrepreneurs of gay civil society in California....Pat Rocco helped invent our world.” - Charles Francis, President, Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C.to the Los Angeles Blade after Rocco’s death on Nov. 8.

“Wow, I never knew that. I don’t care what happens as long as they tell good stories, and they do.”

- Marvel Comics master Stan Lee upon learning that Marvel wanted to make X-Men character Iceman gay. Lee died Nov. 12 at 96.

“I can’t believe I need to say this, but every vote should be counted everywhere. Because if you’re scared of every vote being counted, you’re scared of democracy.” – Out re-elected Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin on Twitter Nov. 12 about the Florida and Georgia recounts.


The problem with mythology is that sometimes it gets written into books and memorized by school children. Explorer Christopher Columbus, for instance, did not “discover” America. Rather, his incorrect calculations sailed him to the Caribbean. And on Columbus Day 1989, Native American activist Russell Means poured torrents of fake blood over Columbus’ statue in Denver to shock Americans into awareness that the Italian American hero had been a cruel slave trader who also forced indigenous peoples to mine gold en masse, “speeding death from malnourishment, overwork and disease,” writes colonialism scholar Kris Lane in the Washington Post. LA County and LA City decided to remove the Christopher Columbus statue being removed from Grand Park in downtown symbol of oppression on Nov. 10, to the applause LA Nov. 10 Photo via KNBC News of a small crowd of about 100 people. “This is a natural next step in the progression to eliminate the false narrative that Christopher Columbus discovered America,’’ said out LA City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, a member of the Wyandotte Nation. “Columbus himself was personally responsible for committing atrocities and his actions set in motion the greatest genocide in recorded history. His image should not be celebrated anywhere.’’ “Minimizing — or worse, ignoring — the pain of Los Angeles’ original inhabitants is a disservice to the truth. The removal of the Columbus statue in Grand Park is an act of restorative justice that honors and embraces the resilient spirit of our County’s original inhabitants. With its removal, we begin a new chapter of our history where we learn from past mistakes so we are no longer doomed to repeat them,’’ said LA County Supervisor Hilda Solis, who authored the motion to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day.

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More voters identify as LGBT — and they back Democrats Exit polls show overwhelming support for the ‘blue wave’ By CHRIS JOHNSON Exit polling on Election Day 2018 revealed striking data about the strength LGBT voters, demonstrating they constitute a sizable 6 percent chunk of the electorate and overwhelmingly support the Democratic Party. A trifecta of sources — exit polling from CNN, NBC News, the Wall Street Journal — consistently revealed 6 percent of the voting bloc in the congressional mid-term elections identified as LGBT. That sizable bloc represents a slight increase from years past, when an estimated 5 percent would tell a pollster they identified as LGBT. Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a conference call with reporters last week that exit polling has been inconsistent on including LGBT people, but his organization months ago asked media outlets to include this question to assess the size of that voting bloc. “Once we know what the total voters are, that is likely to be around 7 million voters identified as LGBT,” Griffin said. “What’s important to note: That means 6 percent of the electorate identified to a stranger — in most cases in a swing state that they were LGBT. That is a powerful voting bloc, and that is an increase in turnout of LGBT voters from 2016.” As the number of voters who publicly identify as LGBT has increased, so has that voting bloc’s support for the Democratic Party — at least according to exit polling from CNN and NBC News, which is based on data from the National Election Pool. Both of those outlets reported 82 percent of LGBT people voted in 2018 for a Democratic representative, while 17 percent voted Republican. That represents an increase in Democratic support from years past. In 2016, 76 percent of LGBT-identified voters supported Hillary Clinton, but 14 percent voted for President Trump. In 2012, 77 percent of LGB-identified people voted for President Obama, while 23 percent voted for Mitt Romney. The only other demographic group with stronger support for the Democratic Party was black voters, which in exit polls have consistently voted for Democrats over Republicans by a 9-1 margin.

Rep. Kyrsten Sinema is headed to the U.S. Senate. New exit polling shows an increase in voters who identify as LGBT, a bloc that contributed to the Democrats’ big week. See related story, Page 08.

Gary Gates, a former research fellow at the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, said several factors could explain the greater number of voters identifying as LGBT as well as the increased support for the Democratic Party, including the anti-LGBT policies of the Trump administration. “Decreased social stigma likely explains recent increases in the portion of the population identifying as LGBT,” Gates said. “Further, LGBT voters may feel particularly under threat from a Trump administration that has shown open hostility toward the transgender population and has made several attempts to minimize the visibility of LGBT populations in federal data sources. This could explain increases in LGBT voter engagement and willingness to support Democrats.” Gates added demographic patterns among those who are coming out to exit pollers suggest younger women — who are more likely to support Democratic candidates — comprise an increasingly growing portion of people who are openly LGBT. Daniel Pinello, a political scientist at the City University of New York’s John Jay College, said he’s unsure why there would be an increased shift toward Democrats among LGBT voters,

but said the desire of federal LGBT nondiscrimination protections could be a factor. “After marriage equality, after the Obergefell decision of 2015, that’s really no longer a hot button political issue for our community,” Pinello said. “The only thing that’s really left is sexual orientation and gender [identity] discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations, but I don’t know how much of a driving force that is politically in the same way I think marriage equality was. I doubt that most people have had those kinds of personal experiences of job discrimination of being gay or [transgender] or what have you compared to those people who have been denied marriage licenses in their lifetimes.” The Wall Street Journal exit poll, however, demonstrates less support for the Democratic Party among LGBT people. In those results, 71 percent of LGBT voters backed Democrats, while 24 percent voted for a Republican candidate. Transgender voters also identified separately in the Wall Street Journal exit poll, making up an estimated 1 percent of voters. Notably, those voters skewed slightly more toward the Republican Party than lesbian, gay and bisexual voters. Although a majority

of transgender respondents, 58 percent, said they voted Democrat, 37 percent said they voted Republican. Another notable point about the Wall Street Journal poll: Without the LGBT bloc, voters in the 2018 congressional mid-term election would have broken evenly between Democrats and Republicans. That indicates Democratic victories on Election Day wouldn’t have happened without LGBT support. Gates, however, said relying on the CNN and NBC News data based on the National Election Pool is better for assessing LGBT trends as opposed to the Wall Street Journal data, which is relatively new and just started this year. “The polling data used by the WSJ does show less, though still very strong, support for Democrats among LGBT voters, but it’s really not possible to use that to assess trends since this was the first year of that data collection methodology, which does differ from the NEP approach,” Gates said. “I will admit that the relatively strong support for Republican candidates among those identified as transgender in the new polling seems odd. But I really can’t speculate on the accuracy of that finding as data on transgender voting is very rare.”



Another anti-LGBT official heads DOJ after Sessions fired Whitaker opposes marriage equality, said judges should have ‘biblical view’ By CHRIS JOHNSON The firing of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions — who used the Justice Department to undermine LGBT rights — has led to the interim appointment of another official with an anti-LGBT record that makes a change in direction for the department unlikely. Last week, one day after the 2018 congressional mid-term elections, Sessions announced in a letter to President Trump he made public that he’d resign as attorney general, making clear that action was “at your request.” “I have been honored to serve as attorney general and have worked to implement the law enforcement agenda based on the rule of law that formed a central part of your campaign for the presidency,” Sessions wrote. For some time, Trump has publicly expressed frustration with Sessions, who recused himself from the Russia probe after he failed to disclose in his Senate confirmation hearing meetings he had with Russian official in his former capacity as a U.S. senator. Sessions served as attorney general for just shy of two years, but built a substantial anti-LGBT record that includes excluding LGBT people from enforcement of civil rights laws against sex discrimination and “religious freedom” guidance that enables anti-LGBT discrimination. Just two days after Sessions came into the job as attorney general, the Justice Department withdrew its appeal of a court order barring enforcement of Obama-era guidance requiring schools to allow transgender kids to use the restroom consistent with their gender identity. Weeks afterward, Sessions along with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos revoked the guidance altogether. Under Sessions, the Justice Department similarly withdrew a lawsuit against North Carolina’s House Bill 2 when it was replaced with a compromise law signed by North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper and let stand a court order against protections for transgender patients under Obamacare. Also under Sessions, the Justice Department

The 84th Attorney General of the United States Jeff Sessions (left) and acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker Photo of Sessions by Gage Skidmore via Flickr; photo of Whitaker public domain

sent U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco to argue before the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of Jack Phillips, a Colorado baker and owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop who refused to make a custom wedding cake for a same-sex couple over religious objections. All in all, the policies that unfolded at the Justice Department under Sessions stand in direct contrast to his assertion during his confirmation hearing that he has heard “the demands for justice and fairness made by our LGBT community” and would “ensure that the statutes protecting their civil rights and their safety are fully enforced.” It should be noted as attorney general Sessions pledged to “aggressively and appropriately” enforce the Matthew Shepard & James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act — a measure he voted against as a U.S. senator — to investigate and prosecutor the murders of transgender people. Last year, Sessions sent federal prosecutors to Iowa to assist in the case of the murder Kedarie Johnson, a trans woman of color. Sessions’ anti-LGBT record was consistent with a larger record on civil rights criticized by advocacy groups that includes reversal of voting rights protections and police reform. Despite objections to those policies, Sessions’ resignation sparked concerns among those who felt it would jeopardize the independence of the Mueller investigation

or lead to its termination altogether. Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said in a statement Sessions wasn’t a friend to transgender people, but also expressed concern about the resignation. “Jeff Sessions was a terrible attorney general who lawlessly refused to enforce federal civil rights laws, attacking almost all marginalized people,” Keisling said. “However, his dismissal by President Trump to exert unjust control over the Department of Justice over his own likely wrongdoing should make every American worry about the president’s increased lawlessness.” But Trump’s interim replacement for Sessions, former Department of Justice Chief of Staff Matthew Whitaker, has an antiLGBT record suggesting nothing will change while he is at the helm of the department. As a Republican U.S. Senate candidate in Iowa, Whitaker told the conservative blog Caffeinated Thoughts in 2014 he thinks it’s “primarily a state issue,” but he opposes marriage rights for gay couples. “I believe marriage is between one man and one woman,” Whitaker said. “Throughout history it’s traditionally been up to the churches and to God to define that. I don’t have an omnibus solution. Certainly it’s affecting all sorts of parts of our country. Here in the state of Iowa we can’t even get

our elected officials to do anything about it and that’s really frustrating.” Whitaker added same-sex marriage is “affecting our military,” where he said chaplains are “under a lot of pressure to go against their religious beliefs.” “But what can I do as one freshman senator in the U.S. Senate?” Whitaker said. “Give me the bills and I’ll vote for them, but [President Obama] has done significant damage all over the country. There will be an unbelievable, long-term negative impact he’s leaving.” According to the Des Moines Register, Whitaker told a conservative audience at a forum hosted by the anti-LGBT group Family Leader he’d only support judges who adhere to a biblical view of the world. “If they have a secular world view, then I’m going to be very concerned about how they judge,” Whitaker is quoted as saying. As noted by the New Civil Rights Movement, when an Iowa newspaper terminated its editor in 2014 over an antigay post on a personal blog referring to the LGBT movement as the “LGBTQXYZ crowd” and the “Gaystapo,” Whitaker came to the former employee’s defense, asserting he had been unlawfully fired for “religious beliefs similar to millions of Americans.” “An employer violates Title VII when it fires an actual employee by taking his religious beliefs about the most sacred element of his beliefs into account in an employment decision, when it treats the employee worse than even the disgruntled former employee with a long, acknowledged history of complaints and incidents, and when it announces it has done so to the world,” Whitaker wrote. As a federal prosecutor, Whitaker also investigated and charged gay Iowa State Sen. Matt McCoy (D-Iowa) with the crime of extortion. A jury took less than two hours to acquit McCoy after a nine-day trial. As an opinion column in Des Moines Register reposted this week demonstrates, speculation persists about whether Whitaker pursued the charges against McCoy because he’s gay and advocates for LGBT rights. Jon Davidson, chief counsel for Freedom for All Americans, said he’s “disturbed” by the choice of Whitaker to lead the Justice Department. Continues at losangelesblade.com

On Saturday, December 1 – World AIDS Day – amfAR will launch its inaugural Dance2Cure challenge with a festive kickoff event. The evening will feature a DJ, performances, cocktails, and hors d’oeuvres. You don’t want to miss it!

Special appearances by: Dance2Cure Creative Director

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Tricia Miranda and Jason Samuels Smith

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‘A movement for human rights, for the right to migrate’ LGBT contingent reaches U.S. border after harassment from fellow migrants By YARIEL VALDÉS TIJUANA, Mexico — A group of LGBTI+ migrants here is waiting to reach the U.S. border. Dozens of people left the caravan of at least 5,000 Central Americans to avoid harassment from their fellow travelers. Loly Méndez began the longest trip of her life more than 22 days ago. El Salvador is roughly 4,400 kilometers (2,684 miles) from the U.S. Loly nevertheless decided to join one of the groups of Central American migrants who are fleeing the violence in their home countries and travel toward the U.S. border. Loly, a transgender woman and cosmetologist, not only has a goal of achieving the “American dream,” but the opportunity to escape violence and transphobia. A gang member had assaulted and robbed her in her own country. “I am thankful to God because they did not take my life, nor did they rape me,” she says. Loly already knew that she was a woman when she was a child. The climate of intolerance that exists in her country of origin, however, prevented her from completing the transition that she wanted. “You never know if you are going to stay alive,” she says. “I cannot stop thinking about my friend, how they killed her, strangled her and threw her off a bridge. We had plans to leave El Salvador together, but people hated her because she already looked like a woman.” Cruz Torres, director of the Office of Diversity in El Salvador’s Ministry of Social Inclusion, estimates that 600 LGBTI+ people have been killed over the last 24 years in the Central American country. At least 145 of these crimes occurred in only three years, from 2015-2017. “All the gay people who traveled with this caravan came with the goal of being free, of working, of not being criminals,” Loly explains to Tremenda Nota. “I have never prostituted myself and I am not going to another country to do this.” The Salvadoran arrived in Playas de Tijuana last Sunday as part of an advance group of around 80 people from the LGBTI+

Loly Méndez left El Salvador less than a month ago. She is among the group of LGBTI+ migrants who arrived Tijuana, Mexico, on Nov. 11. Photo by Yariel Valdés González/Tremenda Nota

community, members of the first caravan of more than 5,000 Central American migrants. The group arrived, escorted by officials with Mexico’s National Institute of Migration and by officials from various human rights commissions in the Aztecan country. They arrived in the border city after passing through San Luis Río Colorado (Sonora) and Mexicali, the capital of the state of Baja California. César Mejías, one of the migrants who is the group’s unofficial spokesperson, declared that this first caravan reached northern Mexico earlier than they expected because they received support from “an organization in the U.S. that also belongs to the LGBTI+ community.” Mejías did not mention their supporters’ name. The uncertainty of the migrants in Tijuana has increased. “It hurts to know that now they are going to deport us to our countries,” says Kecha Cataleya, a 24-yearold trans Honduran woman. “They doused me with gas and set me on fire in 2015, I can still see the scars,” she recalls. The young trans woman also insists that gangs also force trans people to sell drugs and prostitute themselves. Latin America has the world’s highest rates of violence against the LGBTI+ community, according to the non-governmental organization Transgender Europe. El Salvador, for example, has seen “terrifying hate crimes against LGBTI people” in recent years, according to a report from the group COMCAVIS Trans. They are

“acts that take place with greater cruelty than usual: Mutilations, excesses of violence that reach the point of multiple shots, bodies that are tied up, dismemberment of genitals and acts of systematic torture.” When Kecha Cataleya and her counterparts arrived at Olas Altas Street in the Coronado section of Playas de Tijuana, several neighbors protested. “Thank God,” recalls César Mejías. “They already understand who we are, what we are going to do and how long we are going to be here.” Mejías and the rest of the group, which includes minors, are waiting for their “legal representatives” to begin the process of seeking political asylum in the U.S. “We want to do things right,” he added. President Donald Trump, however, has tried to close all doors into the U.S. to Central American migrants. The president on Nov. 9 signed an executive order that prohibits illegal entry into the U.S. through its border with Mexico. If Central American migrants cross north into the country through unauthorized ports of entry, they would be arrested and would lose the right to stay in the country or seek asylum. The U.S. government at the end of October announced the deployment of 5,200 troops to the border with Mexico. Trump on Twitter said, without any evidence, that the caravans “are also made up of some very bad thugs and gang members. He threatened the migrants in another of his tweets: “This is an invasion of our country and our army is

waiting for you!” The LGBTI+ members of the caravan walked with their Honduran, Salvadoran and Guatemalan counterparts during the journey. They swam across the same rivers, climbed over the same border fences, slept exposed to the same bad weather, endured the same cold and the same hunger. Their status as LGBTI+ people, however, meant they were discriminated against by their fellow migrants. “I didn’t expect this from them because we are all migrants and we came together. I thought that we had to support each other,” complained Noe Alvarenga from El Salvador. “Because we are the most vulnerable community,” stresses Loly. “We have suffered violence, machismo that comes from within this caravan. We have been viewed badly, they have shouted things at us.” Marta García Ortega, a social anthropologist and investigator at Colegio de la Frontera Sur de México, concedes the LGBTI+ community is particularly vulnerable within the group of migrants “because they are not only asking for a right to asylum, but they are at high risk and require special attention, like women.” Discrimination, homophobia, violence and hate crimes, in reality, forced Loly Méndez, Kecha Cataleya, Noe Alvarenga and César Mejías to undertake a journey of thousands of kilometers from their home countries to the U.S. border. “To live as I want to live, being who I am without anyone discriminating against me, without hiding who I am, without some thugs coming around the corner and hitting me…this is what I want,” stressed Mejías. This route, however, does not end at the U.S. border. They will have to undertake another “walk” through the U.S. legal system from there. Investigator Marta García Ortega feels the caravans, which have begun an unprecedented process in the recent history of forced migrations, in a few days will be knocking on the doors of the U.S. “This is not just a movement of exodus, it is a movement for social rights, for human rights, for the right to migrate.” Editor’s note: Yariel Valdés is a contributor to Tremenda Nota, an independent e-magazine in Cuba that reports on the country’s LGBT and other minority communities. Tremenda Nota is the Washington Blade’s media partner in Cuba.



Hate came to my bookstore Drag Queen Story Hour promoter encourages community

Linda Sherman-Nurick owns and runs Cellar Door Books in Riverside. A lifelong Southern California resident, her previous work as an English professor at Riverside Community College showed her the deep importance of books in creating an educated, understanding and compassionate society.

In October, the ignorance and hatred boiling over in our country walked in and attempted to disrupt Drag Queen Story Hour at Cellar Door Bookstore in Riverside. Their ugliness interrupted a community event that promotes understanding among us all. Amid ever-growing violence and fear in our country, these kinds of events are critical opportunities to celebrate our common humanity, erasing fear and hatred – and we must continue them no matter who tries to shout us down. I opened Cellar Door Bookstore six years ago because I felt the absence of an independent bookstore specializing in new books that could accurately reflect the diversity, intellectual curiosity and brilliance of Riverside’s community. We have more than 20 book clubs and welcome all thoughtful discussion. Cellar Door is a place to gather and wrestle with the most difficult issues of our times while enjoying the deep pleasure of discussing ideas, characters and

the books we love or hate. We had our first Drag Queen Story Hour in June, to celebrate LGBTQ+ Pride month, and it was by far the most attended story time we’ve ever had. Parents and kids loved the lively performance and kept asking when we would coordinate another. So again last month, parents from our community made the choice to bring their kids to hear drag queens read Halloween stories. But two people came in to stop me and the parents from making that choice. When I noticed that the woman was filming, I told her that she couldn’t without the consent of the parents. She just started spewing hateful, uninformed rhetoric about everything from the LGBTQ community to politics and refused to leave. Security was called, but only when Riverside Police Department came did she leave the premises, shouting her ugliness as she left. The drag queens were amazing: They kept reading books, engaging the kids in story time despite it all. But unfortunately they couldn’t completely drown out the hate, and parents had to have conversations about the woman’s despicable behavior with their shaken children after. I have listened to lots of people talk about the hate speech of “both sides,” but it is one side that sent bombs across the country, killed 11 people in a place of worship and yelled at children in a privately owned bookstore in just one week last month. Donald Trump, with his complete disregard for the laws and policies of this nation, is at the center of this. Bookstores are places where ideas and the hard work of figuring out the complexities of the world in which we live flourish. Trump not only proudly refuses to take part in any such conversations, he denigrates the people who do so and calls upon his followers to repudiate the hard work of scientists, philosophers, writers and any other “intellectuals.” The danger in which

this president has placed our country surpasses any war, natural disaster or enemy that has come before. Bookstores, books and libraries promote learning, discussion, disagreement, engagement; we are therefore at odds with the very essence of this administration. Since that Saturday, my store has received phone calls, emails and Facebook posts filled with name-calling and threats. None of these people were actually willing to have a conversation. The alt-right champions the “free speech” of websites like Infowars (a sticker that was illegally plastered on my store window later that week), but when the time comes to talk to others, they follow their leader and shout insults. Drag Queen Story Hour is a way to bring people together so that hatred of the “other” disappears. All of us prosper from such inclusion, and giving our kids an opportunity to interact with these fun, warm people is a way bookstores and libraries across the country are helping to prevent the fear and ugliness. Our kids will grow up knowing that no matter how they identify, they will be loved and welcomed into our community – and will treat others the same. I don’t need to tell you all about the great strides we made in last week’s midterms for all Americans – and especially the LGBTQ community – but there is still more work to do. Bookstores like mine are committed to being part of the cultural shift away from the terrifying, anti-thought movement in our country, and we welcome your support and input because I’ve seen the impact events like Drag Queen Story Hour can have on the next generation. At our first such event, one of the kids said, “My little brother likes to dress in my mom’s clothes.” One of the drag queens lovingly responded, “And that’s OK.” And perhaps, that was all that needed to be said.

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We don’t have to live — or die — like this LGBTQ voters cite gun violence as top issue of concern

Jason Lindsay is founder and executive director of Pride Fund to End Gun Violence, a PAC that supports state and federal candidates who will act on sensible gun policy reforms and champion LGBTQ equality. To help enact real gun reform, visit them at PrideFund.org. For more, visit Facebook at www.facebook.com/PrideFund and follow on Twitter @Pride_Fund.

On Nov. 8, I woke up to the news of yet another mass shooting. As routine as these news updates have become, it still breaks my heart every time I see the headline and know that more Americans have lost their lives to senseless gun violence. This time, the tragedy took place in Thousand Oaks, Calif., where a man entered the Borderline Bar & Grill on “college country night” and opened fire with a .45-caliber handgun. Thirteen people were killed, including the shooter and Ventura County Sheriff ’s Sgt. Ron Helus. Many of

the victims were college-aged, including a man who survived the 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas, only to be gunned down in yet another mass shooting. At least a dozen others were injured. Since 2015, Americans have seen five of our nation’s top 10 deadliest mass shootings. A mass shooting happens in our country eight out of every nine days. This uniquely American epidemic costs us 38,000 lives per year. The majority of Americans are fed up and ready for change. There’s a distinct pattern in the rhetoric that follows every shooting: the public calls for stricter gun laws, Republicans offer “thoughts and prayers,” and then a few days later, we’re back to being complicit in the senseless violence. The NRA and congressional Republicans rely on Americans to do what we do best: get distracted, move on, and forget. Soon enough, “gone but not forgotten” becomes just “gone.” However, in recent years there has been a growing shift in political activism and public support for gun reform. Support for changes to our gun laws is at an all-time high and the public is demanding action. On Election Day, voters defeated many NRA-backed Republicans, sending a clear message that if candidates stand with the NRA over American safety, they will be voted out of office. Gun reform groups spent a record-breaking amount of money on electing gun reform champions and defeating gun-lobby backed candidates. Polling shows that public support is there,

but now we have to see if the follow-through with sustained action is just as strong. On Election Day, exit polling found that gun reform was very important to voters and that 10 percent of voters considered gun reform to be the most important issue facing the nation, placing it in the top four issues on voters’ minds. For Democratic voters, gun reform was the second most important issue, following only behind healthcare. It also found that 60 percent of voters were in favor of stronger gun reform. These polls reiterate that gun reform is at the forefront of Americans’ minds and the overwhelming majority supports changes to our gun laws. In a groundbreaking poll released by the Pride Fund to End Gun Violence, gun reform was identified as the top issue to LGBTQ voters going into the election. Ranked above healthcare, the economy, and even LGBTQspecific issues, more LGBTQ voters said they would vote based on a candidate’s gun reform platform than on any other issue. Overall, 75 percent said that a candidate’s position on gun reform was likely to impact their vote. This groundbreaking poll was the first of its kind to specifically look at the positions of the LGBTQ community surrounding gun issues. The LGBTQ community has the population and the political participation to significantly impact elections over this issue and hold elected leaders accountable for their actions on gun reform. It doesn’t have to be this way, which is why our mission here at Pride Fund is to pass gun safety legislation through advocacy, lobbying, and our critical election work to

defeat NRA-backed politicians at the ballot box and elect gun reform champions in their places. Our strategy is working. This election cycle, we endorsed 22 candidates across 11 states who are advocates for gun reform and LGBTQ equality. Several races are still too close to call, but of the decided races, 17 of our candidates won, including all four of our Spotlight Candidates who were running in the country’s most critical, competitive races. Of the decided races, we have an 85 percent win ratio. The most important thing for people to remember now is not to get frustrated or discouraged: This is a marathon, not a sprint. We just elected a Democratic Congress whose members have pledged to act on gun reform. However with a Republicancontrolled Senate and NRA-ally Donald Trump in the White House, we face an uphill battle at the federal level. That means we have to work hard and do everything we can to show Republicans we mean business and that if they don’t act, we are coming for them in full force in the 2020 elections. Meanwhile, we have other opportunities to fight for change at the state level. But one thing is certain, we MUST continue to be loud and demand action. Too many people have died from gun violence for us to sit on the sidelines. I know that, working together, we can stop the senseless bloodshed. We all must roll up our sleeves and work hard on this issue to make a difference. Hillary Clinton said it best when she urged us all to, “Resist, Insist, Persist.” That is what it is going to take to win this fight.

A rainbow-guide to holiday treats in Los Angeles ’Tis the season By JOHN PAUL KING

Pink Martini will perform for New Year’s Eve at the Disney Concert Hall. Photo Courtesy Disney Hall via Pink Martini

The whirlwind of the holiday season is upon us once again, and as always, it brings with it a craving for entertainment that lights that magical glow in our hearts. Fortunately, this is Los Angeles, and there is no shortage of fine options to be enjoyed on those special nights out – whether it’s an outing for the whole extended family or a date night for two. Los Angeles Blade has put together a guide to some of the best holiday offerings from our local arts scene – some traditional, some not – that are guaranteed to provide just the kind of seasonal stimulation you need. Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” – Now through Dec. 9 at Geffen Playhouse (10886 Le Conte Ave.). A staple of every holiday season, this timeless and beloved Christmas classic is reinvented in a wildly theatrical and spectacular new production directed by Tony nominee Michael Arden and starring Tony winner Jefferson Mays, who brings fresh perspective to Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim and the rest, playing every role in this whirlwind one-man show. While the heart of “A Christmas Carol” is evergreen, this version breathes new life into the greatest

ghost story ever told. For more information and tickets, visit www.geffenplayhouse.org. Enchanted: Forest of Light – Nov. 18 – Jan. 6 at Descanso Gardens (1418 Descanso Dr, La Canada Flintridge). If you’ve never experienced this luminous holiday wonderland, it’s time to treat yourself. Each year during the holidays, Descanso Gardens transforms its grounds into an enchanted forest with whimsical lighting displays and interactive exhibitions. A one-mile path, intended for nighttime enjoyment, veers through the Oak Woodland, Camellia Forest, Japanese Garden and Rose Garden. Descanso Gardens partners with Lightswitch to create ten high-impact theatrical experiences using environmental light effects. New this year is “Aqueous” by Jen Lewis, an interactive landscape of meandering pathways of light. It’s a rain or shine event, and non-refundable tickets can be purchased at www.descansogardens.org. “Come From Away” – Nov. 28 – Jan. 16 at Ahmanson Theatre (135 North Grand Ave.). It’s not about the holidays, but the touring production of this acclaimed Broadway show will

be a treat nonetheless. Based on a true story, this folk-inspired musical is the tale of 7,000 airline passengers stranded in a small Canadian town when their flights are diverted there on 9/11; cultures clash and nerves run high, but uneasiness turns into trust, music soars into the night and gratitude grows into enduring friendships. A small ensemble cast masterfully assumes multiple roles in this New York Times critic’s pick, which earned a Tony nomination for its score by Irene Sankoff and David Hein and scored a win for its director, Christopher Ashley. For more information and tickets, visit www.centertheatregroup.org. An Intimate Evening with Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen – Dec. 1 at Dolby Theatre (6801 Hollywood Blvd.). It’s not holiday and it’s not the arts, but it’s sure to be entertaining when silver foxes Cooper and Cohen take the stage together for a session of unscripted, uncensored and unforgettable conversation. This one is sure to be a sell-out, so grab your tickets now at www. ticketmaster.com. A Well-Strung Christmas – Dec. 8 at Los Angeles LGBT Center (1125 N. McCadden Pl.). The internationally acclaimed singing string

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Jefferson Mays stars in the Geffen Playhouse world premiere adaption of Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol.’ Directed by Michael Arden.

Andy Cohen and Anderson Cooper take Hollywood Boulevard on Dec. 1 at Dolby Theater.

Sheer ‘Sandemonium’ is coming Dec. 13-15 at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts.

Photo courtesy Geffen Playhouse by Chris Whitaker

Photo courtesy New York City’s 92nd Street Y

Photo courtesy Sandra Bernhard

quartet Well-Strung, who specialize in pairing universally recognized classical pieces while singing pop music hits, returns to the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Renberg Theatre with their hit holiday show. The show will feature the group’s own unique pop-classical spin on some of the most beautiful and traditional holiday favorites from “Silent Night” and “Sleighride” all the way to Dolly Parton’s “Hard Candy Christmas,” and everything in between. Net proceeds from all ticket sales will support the full range of free and low-cost programs and services offered by the LGBT Center, so you’ll be supporting a great cause while enjoying the music of a jawdroppingly talented ensemble – who are pretty easy on the eyes as well. For more information and tickets, visit www. lalgbtcenter.org. Sandra Bernhard: “Sandemonium” – Dec. 13 – Dec. 15 at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts (9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd.). The inimitable Miss Bernhard returns to the Wallis with her all new show, just in time for the holidays. “Sandemonium” is swirling all around you, minute to minute “breaking news.” No one knows what’s coming next. Climate disaster, Russian invasion, unhinged leaders. Have you been slut shamed?

Are you gender neutral? It’s time for a psychic break, and Sandra is here to bring you back from your bad trip. Soothe your aura and calm your chakras, shut down your electronics, find your mantra, do a meditation, let it all go! Sandy and the Sandyland Squad Band will make it all better. Get your tickets fast, at www.thewallis.org. GMCLA Holiday Spectacular: Calling All Angels – Dec. 15-16 at Alex Theatre (216 North Brand Blvd., Glendale). If there’s any single “must-do holiday” event for LGBTQ LA, GMCLA’s annual holiday concert is it. This year, as always, they will offer up an eclectic mix of holiday treats sweeter than Santa’s cookies. What could be more heavenly than celebrating the holidays with the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles? There are only three performances, and this one always packs the house, so make sure and get your tickets before it’s too late. For more information and tickets, visit www.gmcla.org. “The Wonderful Winter of Oz” – Dec. 15 – Dec. 30 at Pasadena Civic Auditorium (300 E. Green St., Pasadena). Presented by the Pasadena Civic Auditorium and presented by

the Pasadena Civic Auditorium and The Lythgoe Family, this musical adventure is fun for the family. A holiday version of America’s favorite modern fairy tale, performed in the style of a traditional British Family Panto, this reimagining of the familiar story has Dorothy swept away on Christmas Eve by a “freak” Kansas blizzard which lands her in a world of munchkins and witches. With songs from Journey to Wham!, “The Wonderful Winter of Oz” is the perfect family experience at the holiday time, featuring Broadway star Marissa Jane Winokur and none other than Kermit the Frog himself as the Great and Powerful Oz. More information can be found at www.visitpasadena.com. New Year’s Eve with Pink Martini – Dec. 31 at Walt Disney Concert Hall (111 South Grand Ave.). Pianist Thomas Lauderdale and the celebrated “little orchestra,” featuring a rare joint appearance by singers China Forbes and Storm Large, return for another quintessentially eclectic New Year’s program that mixes the heat of Brazilian samba, party sounds of ’30s Cuban dance music, and a dash of Parisian café cool. There’s no classier way to ring in 2019! Tickets available at www.laphil.com.

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queery DIXIE LONGATE How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell? I got out of prison the last time almost 18 years ago. The toughest people to tell were my kids because I knew that meant they were going to come back and live with me again. If you have any, you know kids muck up so many weekday drinking plans. Who’s your LGBT hero? I’m quite partial to Ellen. She just puts a dang smile on everyone’s face that she comes across. I don’t think there is a person’s day she doesn’t make brighter and I think that is a great thing. We need more smiles these days.

Photo Courtesy Dixie Longate via Bradford Rogne

By TROY MASTERS tmasters@losangelesblade.com

Dixie Longate, America’s favorite Tupperware Lady, is settling into Los Angeles with her plastic containers tightly in hand to help y’all with your holiday food storage needs. She started selling Tupperware as one of the conditions of her parole. Her unique wit and alternative uses for the iconic bowls made her a hit with housewives in her native Alabama and soon catapulted her to become the highest selling Tupperware lady in the entire United States. Her secret weapon, “Booze. The more you drink, the more you buy.” It was that formula for success that got her noticed by a New York theater producer who took her from the living room to the stage. In 2007, “Dixie’s Tupperware Party” opened in the Big Apple, garnering praise from critics and audiences alike and nabbed her a Drama Desk Nomination for Outstanding Solo Performance. Hot on the heels of that success, she took her show on the road. After 10 years and more than 1,300 performances in five countries, “Dixie’s Tupperware Party” has become one of the longest running off-Broadway tours in history. She played the Geffen Playhouse four years ago, earning rave reviews in LA, so she figured it was time to come back. This time, she’ll be spending the entire holiday season at the Kirk Douglas Theater in Culver City. That makes her an Angeleno, right? “I love meeting people and sharing bits of my life growing up in the south so getting to do that in a theater is a perfect job for me,” Dixie says. “My goal is to make people smile and hopefully inspire them a bit so they leave the show feeling a little more empowered than when they came in and ready to take on the world. In all my years, one things I have learned is that a little smile goes a hell of a long way.”

What’s Los Angeles’ best nightspot, past or present? One time, ages ago, I did a giant Tupperware fundraiser at the Backlot that used to be Studio One. I have never seen so many well-built, well-dressed and glitter covered people in all my days. It was magical. Describe your dream wedding. I’ve been married three times and each one was a little more regretful than the one before. Now I reserve weddings for the people in movies because their “happily ever after” only has to last until the credits. What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about? I don’t like seeing so many homeless and hungry people these days. It crushes my soul. We have the resources to change it but we don’t seem to have the heart to do anything about it long term. What historical outcome would you change? Wars: Any of them and all of them. We fight for the dumbest reasons. And because we watch most fighting from the comfort of our homes on TV, we don’t even have a grasp on the human cost. I’m not sure why we can’t find more common ground in the world. Oh, and Titanic. I was so sad to see Leonardo freeze in the ocean. What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime? Here’s a blast from the past. Remember “Hands Across America?” Back in 1986, people from all over the country held hands making a giant squiggly chain from coast to coast. I remember it so well because it didn’t run through Alabama, so my momma put me in the car and we drove all the way up to Indianapolis. It was that big of a deal. That was the first time I ever crossed the state line not being tailed by a cop car. On what do you insist? A 32 pack of batteries to keep my little friend in the nightstand going in case we lose power during a storm and it doesn’t come on for a week. Gotta be prepared. That’s what the Boy Scouts say. What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?

My last post was talking about my show at the Kirk Douglas. Gotta start getting the word out to all of my friends in LA. If your life were a book, what would the title be? “Vodka – Not just helpful for getting through church services anymore.” If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do? Talk about it over vodka. What do you believe in beyond the physical world? Sandra Bullock. I saw that movie where she got stuck in space. It was terrifying. I believe in Sandra Bullock. What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders? No one knows how to find the joy in life like gay people. It’s like their default position. I think most of the rest of the world could take a lesson from y’all. My advice: Be proud of yourselves for all you’ve done and will do. What would you walk across hot coals for? A honky tonk with a mechanical bull in the corner. What LGBT stereotype annoys you most? The idea that gay people are just bitchy and catty. I have met many of y’all and I find most gay people to be as neighborly as any sweet grandmother from the South. Gay people just have a way of coating the world in sugar. What’s your favorite LGBT movie? Don’t know if this counts, but “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” That was the first time I saw people dressing up when it wasn’t Halloween. All the screeching and singing from the audience makes me giggle. What’s the most overrated social custom? Waiting to have sex till after you get married. Who the hell came up with that? What trophy or prize do you most covet? I got a “Drama Desk Nomination” when my show ran originally off-Broadway. I lost to Laurence Fishburne. I remember I made him laugh at the awards ceremony in NY and he shook my hand and said, “You have a new fan.” I almost pooped my pants. What do you wish you’d known at 18? I’m better than I give myself credit for. That would have taken a lot of pressure off me and made me take even bigger risks in my life, I imagine. Why Los Angeles? I played LA in 2014 at the Geffen Playhouse and had such a blast, I wanted to come back and do it all again. The Kirk Douglas was nice enough to open their doors for me so how could I possibly say no.


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, Producer & Restaurateur ROBERT KOVACIK Award-winning Anchor and Reporter for NBC4 KIRSTEN VANGSNESS Star of CBS hit drama Criminal Minds




A trans runway of empowerment TransLatin@ Coalition’s GARRAS Fashion Show was about more than survival By TROY MASTERS

Mother Karina Samala leads the Pageant of Legends. Los Angeles Blade Photo by Troy Masters

It was a trans empowerment super-event that certainly lived up to its name: Groundbreaking Activism Redirecting and Reforming All Systems (GARRAS) Fashion Show. Call it the ACT-UP of trans rights. “I need you to clap if you hear my voice,” said Maria Roman, one of the event organizers as show participants gathered. “This is one of the most amazing things we can do for our own community. By being part of this tonight you are helping us with our greatest dreams and helping us establish a place where trans-people can stay, get better, get healthy and say ‘Fuck this administration.’” And that was just the backstage beginnings of the TransLatin@ Coalition’s fourth annual GARRAS Fashion show, as trans Latina women sorted through their fashion choices from select designers that they would wear for the highly choreographed event. “We’re all together for the same goal, making trans people part of this society and standing up to say we will not be erased,” said Roman. The ladies were proudly set to rule the runway. Opening with a spectacular and energetic African drum and dance performance by the Rhythm Arts Alliance, the event kicked off with a parade of legendary survivors. And when they took to the stage, a spirit of love filled the room with a profound joy that beamed with the same intensity as the dancers. Serving beauty, pride and “Long-fucking-gevity,” Karina Samala, or Mother Karina as she is known, led the Pageant of Legends, walking proudly. And she was followed by several other women in their 50s, 60s and 70s. Many of them survived life in the streets, poverty and brutal violence, overcoming many obstacles and finally witnessing the rise of a trans community that today is coalescing around a very public and nasty fight to preserve recent social and political gains. Their stories were incredible and the audience went wild. Susanna Hernandez is a proud 62-year-old Latina trans woman who “loves true friendships and values honesty,” Roman boomed as she took to the runway. Hernandez serves the trans community as a volunteer to groups like TransLatin@ Coalition. 62-year-old transgender advocate Zulma Velasquez has worked for the past 20 years in her community, her message was “Si Se Puede.” Chocolate, an educator, says she loves her job because it is the future of America. Candy Rios, a 75-year-old activist who has helped build her community since the 1960s, says she feels lucky to have survived. She was Miss Mexico Gay 1971 and has continued to be active in the trans community. Cheryl Hoffman, 61, the daughter of an Air Force colonel has worked for decades in HIV prevention. Rosalyne Blumenstein, 60, is a licensed clinical social worker, author and addiction specialist. Grecia De Pablos is a 77-yearold health educator with over 25 years experience working in HIV prevention. Duchess Mila, 71, has been an out trans woman since she was 15 years old. Loretta Loraine, 77, a former Miss Universe, stunned the crowd in a special gown designed by Ruben. As the show broke out into the various houses of fashion, models of every age, size and shape took to the runway working fashions by leading local transgender fashion designers. About 300 people were in attendance. Bamby Salcedo, the nationally honored Los Angeles based trans activist and group’s president and CEO, took to the stage to great applause and raised tens of thousands of dollars in donation for the agency. Jazzmun Nichola Crayton, who is gender fierce and works as a health and policy coordinator at Asian Pacific AIDS Intervention Team (APAIT), says the GARRAS Fashion Show was a “spirited event full of glamour, beauty and elegance. It was a fabulous fashion fundraiser with a purpose. It provided the trans community an opportunity to dress up and dazzle in the City of Angels.” The event exceeded its fundraising goal of $100,000, funds that will be used to help provide social, health, legal and financial assistance to trans people in need.


For decades after the successes of “Les Misérables” and “Phantom of the Opera” in the 1980s, the Broadway stage was dominated by musicals cut from the same tried-and-true cloth; between new shows based on already-familiar sources, “trunk” musicals built around previously-existing song catalogues, and good oldfashioned revivals of past hits, it was an era of “safe” choices. Though this period may have generated its share of enduring classics, many devotees of the art form likely heaved a collective sigh of relief when “Hamilton” – which turned traditional conventions of the genre upside down and still became a box office juggernaut – emerged to herald the dawn of a new era in which a fresh and daring vision could find expression on the stage and people would be willing to pay premium ticket prices to see it. Prior to that, “Dear Evan Hansen” might have seemed unlikely to be a hit. With a mostly post-millennial cast of characters and a story firmly rooted within the contemporary world of social media, its appeal to the typical Broadway audience – which traditionally skews to an older demographic – would have been considered limited, at best. Instead, the new piece – with its buoyantly poppish yet emotionally complex score by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul and its sincere yet ironic libretto by Steven Levenson – was embraced. New York’s theatergoers, energized by the “youth-quake” of “Hamilton” and hungry for more, turned it into the season’s breakout smash; it earned six Tony awards, including Best Musical and Best Score. Thanks to the first touring production, now approaching the end of its run at the Ahmanson Theatre, Angelenos have had the opportunity to embrace it for themselves; judging from the difficulty of getting tickets (and the price tag of those tickets, once secured), they have embraced it just as fully. It’s not hard to see why. This is an eminently likable coming-of-age piece, centered on a character so broken he demands our empathy and exploring the struggle of reconciling private self with public perception in a way that resonates with anyone who has an account on Facebook or Instagram. Its storyline revolves around the title character, a high-schooler with deep-rooted social anxiety whose hard-working single mother barely has time to nurture him; on assignment from his therapist, he writes a letter of encouragement to himself, but it inadvertently ends up in the hands of Connor – another troubled teen at his school who later takes his own life. When the letter is found by Connor’s parents, they contact Evan, mistakenly believing it was written to him by their son; Evan, wanting to provide comfort to the grieving family, tells them that he and Connor were secretly friends – a fabrication which quickly spins out of control and places Evan in the center of a social media phenomenon that forces him to live a lie even as it brings him a sense of connectedness that has always seemed out of his grasp. Even in this brief synopsis, it’s obvious that “Evan Hansen” is a show that pulls in opposing directions. It’s both comic and tragic, which makes it neither; it deals with somber subject matter, yet it’s an uplifting parable about finding light in the darkness. That it proffers the idea of finding that light within an audacious pretense adds yet another layer to its double-edged ethos, and that it further suggests such pretense can benefit a greater good leaves us in contemplation long after we have walked out of the theater humming its tunes. Of course, there are times when the plot strains credibility; it’s a little too easy for everyone to accept Evan’s lie, even considering the willingness of people to believe in things that they want to be true, and quickness with which this awkward and socially inept outsider finds his footing within the community drawn into his false narrative feels like a bit of a disservice to those who suffer from mental health challenges in real life. As is often the case with musicals, the show’s powerhouse first half gives way to a second act that loses steam as it dutifully ties up the threads of its story – though Michael Greif’s succinct direction does keep it from dragging. Even so, there is so much to appreciate that such observations amount to little more than minor quibbles. What the show says about human interaction – and the lack of it when we need it most – rings true despite the occasional simplification; and while there have been shows that tackled psychological disorder with greater depth and insight (Kitt and Yorkey’s “Next to Normal” comes to mind), there has never been another that has addressed the impact of cyberspace on the human psyche – both individual and communal – with as much savvy and observational shrewdness as this one. Supporting this all-important facet of the story is David Korin’s remarkable set, a multi-media fortress of screens and scrolling text that reflects the omnipresence of these things in our modern life; in its midst, modular platforms representing the bedrooms and dining rooms of the characters – the inner sanctums of their private lives – drift in and out to set the various scenes, still under the ever-watchful thousand eyes of the technological towers that surround them. There’s a lot more to admire. The engaging performers, led by the gifted young Ben Levi Ross as Evan; Pasek and Paul’s effective and affecting songs (it’s impossible not to leave the theater with the strains of “For Forever” drifting through your head); Levenson’s intelligent book, which makes you laugh even as it breaks your heart – all these are best appreciated first-hand, without over-exposure here. Theater, after all, is an immediate experience, providing us the opportunity to discover its joy on our own – and “Dear Evan Hansen,” if you can manage to get a ticket, has plenty of joy to discover. “Dear Evan Hansen” runs through Nov. 25 at the Ahmanson Theatre (135 North Grand Ave.) in DTLA. For more information and tickets, visit centertheatregroup.org.


Musical theater meets the internet in ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ Self-perceptions are rarely what others see By JOHN PAUL KING

The cast of ‘Dear Evan Hansen,’ starring Ben Levi Ross (center). Photo by Matthew Murphy, courtesy Center Theatre Group



Four-door fun MazdaA6, Toyota Camry bring panache to new models By JOE PHILLIPS


Whoa! Who knew four doors could be such a blast? Three of the most solid sedans get extreme makeovers and the results are stunning. MAZDA6 $23,000 Mpg: 26 city, 35 highway Zero-60 mph: 6.4 seconds

Mazda always takes the road less traveled, offering a more performance-oriented lineup than the competition. In the past, such sporty fare wasn’t for everyone, especially families or drivers wanting a luxelike ride. But this year the updated Mazda6 offers it all, with a fresh exterior — almost as sexy as an awesome Alfa Romeo Giulia — and a fine, spacious cabin. With the streamlined dash and comfortable seats, there’s a Lexus vibe here. Same with the long list of amenities, especially in the higher trim levels: 11-speaker stereo, heated steering wheel, heated/ventilated front seats, heated rear seats and a head-up display that projects your speed and other traffic info. There’s also smartphone integration, voice control and USB ports for front- and rear-seat passengers. While the base engine on this midsize sedan is so-so, there’s now a sweet four-cylinder turbo for more oomph. And it’s difficult to overstate just how smooth and nimble the Mazda6 handles, thanks to compliant steering and tight suspension. Tackling tight corners is a breeze and there’s virtually no body roll. As for safety, automatic emergency braking and blind-spot warning are now standard. Splurge for the top-of-theline Signature model to get microfiber suede, real wood, LED ambient lighting, 360-degree parking camera and a frameless rearview mirror. Such goodies boost the price above $35,000, but that’s a bargain compared to a Lexus ES 350 or similar high-end sport sedan. TOYOTA CAMRY XSE $30,000 Mpg: 28 city, 39 highway Zero-60 mph: 5.8 seconds


Zachary Quinto is sexy. Ellen and Portia are sexy. But Toyota Camrys? These middling sedans are definitely not sexy — until now, that is. Completely redesigned this year, the cocky-looking Camry is longer, lower and lusher than ever. It’s also livelier, if you opt for the sport-tuned XSE model with optional V6 engine. All Camrys come with automatic LED headlights, rearview camera and scads of safety features: 10 air bags, pre-collision alert with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning and automatic high beams. Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert also are available and there’s plenty of headroom, legroom and cargo space, along with four cup holders and four bottle holders. But it’s the bad-ass XSE that boasts a menacing look, with its black grille, flared rocker panels, machine-finished wheels, dual exhaust outlets and rear spoiler. Notable options: panoramic sunroof, burgundy-red interior and 10-inch color head-up display. Inside, the seats are firm but comfortable, with faux-metal trim on the futuristic and user-friendly dashboard and center console. Rev the engine for an exciting exhaust growl. Accelerate sharply through switchbacks with flawless control. Maneuver over potholes and speed bumps with nary a shimmy. In short, the beefed-up Camry XSE has muscled its way from functional family hauler to serious sport sedan. VW JETTA SEL PREMIUM $28,000 Mpg: 30 city, 39 highway 0 to 60 mph: 7.7 seconds


With a dashing design and added features, the all-new VW Jetta shows off its style and substance. The sheet metal is nicely chiseled with a wraparound front end and flashy grille accents. At 185.1 inches long, the compact Jetta has been stretched to within spitting distance of many mid-sizers. That means more room for passengers and an increase in cabin storage. But curiously, trunk space is slightly reduced. The improved interior is quieter, with better build quality and more ergonomically attuned seats. Under the hood, it’s the same four-cylinder as before, which means a competent but less-than-thrilling acceleration. At least the new transmission helps boost fuel efficiency. And the tight handling and braking make for a refined ride, even in the base model. But opt for the top-of-the-line SEL Premium, with remote start, larger alloys, foglights and heated everything: front/rear seats, steering wheel, even the windshield washer nozzles. Jazzy ambient lighting comes in choice of 10 colors, and a clever, high-tech “digital cockpit” replaces the standard speedometer and tachometer with a 10.25-inch screen. Another plus: the brilliant BeatsAudio premium stereo, with eight speakers and a bangin’ 400-watt subwoofer.



Stormy gets sainted! Chalamet watches peach scene with his dad and more By BILLY MASTERS

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence bestowed Sainthood on Stormy Daniels at Penthouse in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood on Nov. 10. Photo Facebook via Aaron Baldwin

I’m not gonna say that if you vote then I’ll have sex with you but if you don’t then I can promise you that I won’t.” - Gus Kenworthy does his part to get out the vote. If you didn’t vote, have no fear - he’ll never find out. I love an election. Or do I love an erection? Either way, I’m up for it. Someone who hoped to get people all hot and bothered was Larry Sinclair. The name may not ring a bell, nor will the fact that he was running for mayor of Cocoa, Florida. But you may recall him as the guy whose self-published memoir vividly described a two-day sex romp with former president, Barack Obama. Oh, he also said they were high on crack at the time. And Trump thought he cornered the market on “fake news”! What is real is Sinclair’s police record. He’s served jail time in Florida, Colorado and Arizona, and he’s been convicted of forgery, fraud, and larceny. Forget running for mayor, he should be appointed a Supreme Court Justice! P.S. He lost by a landslide. I do hate to sound crabby, but if I can’t be crabby, who can? I’m really disappointed in most of these reboots. “Murphy Brown” might as well be filmed in slow motion at an old age home, “Roseanne” was fine until Roseanne died, and “Charmed” has no magic. Perhaps it’s these disappointments that explain my fondness for “Dynasty” - as long as I don’t compare it to the original. Last week, Nicollette Sheridan had a great moment when her Alexis popped a potato chip in her mouth after saying, “If you haven’t noticed, Cristals come and go around here.” We’re barely into season two, and we’re already on our second Cristal. But wait, there’s more Steven is out. The current actor, James Mackay, revealed, “While Steven had a choice to leave, unfortunately I didn’t.” Executive producer Sallie Patrick was not pleased. She blames the firing on “notes from the network”, mentioning that “the series just lost its sole queer couple. Let’s hope Steven’s leave of absence is temporary.” My sources tell me that the network has an intriguing idea - recast the role. Why? Because that’s what they did in the original series. I told you that Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet would be re-teaming for a sequel to “Call Me By Your Name.” Recently, Chalamet did an interview with Harry Styles for “i-D” (don’t ask...I don’t know). Harry asked, “Can you still eat peaches?” Oh, that little scamp. Chalamet said, “Umm I can, but not without thinking about it.” He also said, “That’s the most awkward scene to see with your parents in the whole world. My poor father.” Inexplicably, Styles followed that up with the quip, “I’m sure he’s done it too.” Oy! Most weeks, I’d only have one questionable masturbation story. But this week, I’ve got two. John Stamos told Busy Phillipps about going to the sperm bank when he and his wife were doing IVF. He was led to a little room and my first thought was, “Did someone give him enough tokens?” Then I realized the little room he was in probably didn’t require tokens...nor did it have a hole in the wall (who are you to judge me?). John says that he turned on the TV (you know, for stimulation) and what was on? “Fuller House!” “If I’m gonna masturbate to myself, it’s my old self and not the new self.” He swore the story was true, and actually said, “Hand to God.” I just hope he washed it first! There is not a member of the Grande family who interests me. But, I know my readers like little Frankie, so here goes. On Halloween, he announced that he is a part of a throuple. For those of you not sexually adventurous, that means he’s in a relationship with two people. What I have learned in my time around the block is that most throuples consist of the actual couple and a third who either doesn’t last long, or takes one member of the couple with him when he leaves. I suspect this throuple is no different since Frankie revealed his boyfriends are a legally married couple. I’ll say this for Frankie - he’s nabbed a hot couple. And they bring something to the table - one’s a doctor, and one’s a lawyer. When asked what his favorite part of the relationship is, Grande said, “Dick.” Times two. With Frankie, I’m sure nobody is waiting for a turn. We interrupt this gossip with some breaking news. Stormy Daniels has just been sainted. Yes, our beloved Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence have named Stormy Daniels a saint. The Sisters surprised Stormy at her show at the Penthouse Club in North Beach, and we hear she couldn’t have been more delighted. And I bet it was a treat for the audience - how many times do you get to motorboat a saint? No, Mother Teresa doesn’t count. Continues at losangelesblade.com






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NOV 16

and swank of all the Transgender Day of Remembrance events, is replete with a red carpet reception and formal program, followed by an invitation to join the march. Gather in solidarity to mourn those who have been victims of anti-trans violence, and to ensure that their lives, and deaths, are not forgotten. Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) allows us to call attention to the continued violence and discrimination transgender people face every day. Free.

Transgender Day of Remembrance Shabbat, Fri. Nov. 16 @ 8:00 PM to 10:00 PM at Congregation Kol Ami (1200 North La Brea Avenue). Join the world’s largest LGBT synagogue for its annual Shabbat observing Transgender Day of Remembrance, featuring guest speaker Eli Mendelson, a trans dynamo from the City of Hope, and the Trans Chorus of Los Angeles.

NOV 17

NOV 21

Failed Films LA, An Underground Art Affair, Sat. Nov. 17 @ 7:00 PM to whenever. Failed Films LA showcases artist in all stages of their expressions and from all walks of life, but focused on the kinky side. The festival celebrates “those among us who function on the periphery and bring them into focus. We exist outside of the conventional art world standards in disorder to bring you a festival where you feel safe and encouraged to embrace the radical self expressions and wild imaginative antics you and those around you dare to share.” It’s a gender bending, fistful of imaginative fun. Bring an open mind. Tickets are $15 via Venmo @failedfilms.

NOV 18

Magic Queendom Pre-Thanksgiving Dinner & Dance for LGBT Youth, Sun. Nov. 18, 2018 @ 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM at Hollywood Banquet Hall (5214 Sunset Boulevard). Community Intervention Through Youth (C.I.T.Y.) x1 is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to putting on free social events for at-risk and Homeless LGBT youth ages 14-24. Each year they host a free themed Thanksgiving Dinner and this year, the group’s 16th year, they celebrate all things Disney at the “Big Feast.” Free Dinner, Live DJ, Club Dance Floor, Giveaways, Special Guests and more. FREE. Call (213) 417-8888 for more details. Queer Kids Kickoff - Open Call & Day Party, Sun, Nov. 18 @ 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM at One Piece (631 Wilshire Boulevard, Santa Monica). Join Queer Kids’ for a firstever casting call. Enjoy free drinks, snacks, and and loads of fun as they kick-off and take photos for our Los Angeles series trading cards and providing a queerfriendly, safe and inclusive space. It’s an innovative program. Queer Kids is a series of collectible LGBTQ+ trading cards, featuring the local Queer community. They hope to provide more powerful representation within the LGBTQ community for Queer People of Color. The project isn’t just for those young, it is for everyone both young and old. The group is partnering with Tangible Movement, which provides support to young adults who are struggling with depression, addiction, sexual and gender identity issues and abuse. The event is free. Trans Can Work and JQ International 3rd Annual Trans Equality Brunch, Sun. Nov. 19 @ 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM at West Hollywood City Council Chambers (625 North San Vicente). In observance of Nov. 20 Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day to memorialize those who

TransGiving Party, Wed, Nov. 21 @ 8:30 PM to 11:00 PM at LA Celebrations Banquet Halls (2969 Wilshire Blvd). What a great idea. The UWC’s “Trans-Giving Dinner; an annual Transgender Thanksgiving Dinner, an event geared to provide a full course traditional holiday dinner, a safe social environment among TransIdentified community members, allies and their loved one’s particularly during a time when Trans people may feel disenfranchised and miss their families the most. Trans Wellness Center, Los Angeles LGBT Center, Ed Gould The Village,Center For Health Justice, The Wall Las Memorias Project, and Unique Woman’s Coalition have teamed up to make this powerful event free of charge. It’s Thanksgiving and y’all are bound to need to move. Check out Naked Men’s Yoga, listed below on November 24. Photo courtesy Naked Men’s Yoga

have been murdered as a result of transphobia and to bring attention to the continued violence endured by the transgender community, Trans Can Work and JQ International will bring the voices, stories, and experiences of diverse and accomplished transgender and genderqueer community members, with hopes of being better friends, family, allies, and supporters together for an esteemed panel of members of the transgender and genderqueer community to speak about their experiences. Food, conversation, and enlightenment. The event is free with RSVP and includes brunch. Brunch will be from 1 - 1:30 pm, with panel discussion and program from 1:30 - 3 pm. RSVP @ JQInternational.org/events.

NOV 20

BAI Friendsgiving, Tue, Nov. 20 @ 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM at Black AIDS Institute (1833 West 8th Street). The Black AIDS Institute is celebrating a night of fellowship, celebrating the differences between Biological and Logical family in the black gay community. “There’s the family we were born into and then there’s the family we create as we navigate the world.” This will be an intimate and non-formal discussion followed by food and refreshments. Free. Transgender Day of Remembrance (West Hollywood), Tue. Nov. 20 @ 6:00 PM to end at The Jeremy Hotel (8490 Sunset Blvd.). Hosted by the City of West Hollywood and HRC, this event, the most formal

NOV 22

Thanksgiving Banquet of Love, Thu. Nov. 22 @ 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM at Iglesia Fundadora De La Comunidad Metropolitana Los Angeles (4607 Prospect Avenue). Thanksgiving Brunch for our City’s LGBTQ+ Youth, ages 14 TO 25. In collaboration with CityX1 and My Friend’s Place, Metropolitian Community Church opens its doors, “our space and our hearts to those who may not otherwise have a Thanksgiving brunch.” The event will serve up to 100 youth. If you wish to donate funds, food, time or talent, please email Rev. Alejandro at revalejandro@mccla.org or Roger Owens at rogerowens@mccla.org. FREE.

NOV 24

Naked Men’s Yoga LA, Sat Nov. 24, 2018 @ 1:00 PM to 2:10 PM at Brandon Anthony Studio (1820 Whitley Ave). Brandon Anthony’s Naked Men’s Yoga classes were created as safe space for men (cis and trans) to release shame and deepen their connection to self and community. His flowing, heat building, and heart opening experiences are about Self Love and Exploration. All are welcome. Come shed your clothes, release your inhibitions, and celebrate every inch of your beautiful self. And there are bound to be more inches this week. Cost is $20 to $40. For more info social @nakedmensyoga.

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.





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