PHOTO BY LOUISE PALANKER; COURTESY FLICKR
SCHIFF TAKES ON TRUMP AND TRUTH NEW HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIR TO EXPOSE LIES, CORRUPTION, PAGE 08
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04 • NOVEMBER 23, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Hell freezes over as Orange County turns blue Fullerton elects nation’s first openly LGBT Muslim By KAREN OCAMB firstname.lastname@example.org Eric Bauman, the out chair of the California Democratic Party, had a little fun on Twitter after the midterm elections. Having predicted a Big Blue Wave before it became a popular catch phrase, Bauman posted an “overheard” comment at the CDP Executive Board meeting Nov. 19. “’There will be no CA Congressional #Dems vs #GOP baseball game this year... the @CAGOP can no longer field a team only 8 GOP players remain.” What say you @ GOPLeader McCarthy?” he tweeted, referring to California Rep. Kevin McCarthy, friend of President Trump and the new Republican Minority Leader after Democrats swept the House, flipped four once-deeply entrenched conservative Orange County district seats and two more in Northern California and left the state GOP in ruins.
“Transgender women are still walking around here like we have targets on our backs.”
– Black trans activist Paige Mahogany Parks, founder of the Transgender Awareness Project, to The Daily Beast about the number of trans killings in Jacksonville, Fla., before the Transgender Day of Remembrance on Nov. 20.
“No, no, I have a strong opinion. I want a great climate.”
– President Trump Nov. 18, when asked if he thought differently about climate change after visiting the fire devastation of Paradise, Calif., which he called “Pleasure.”
“The artist will not be financially benefiting.”
– Christie’s spokesperson after David Hockney’s “Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)” sold for $90.3 million at auction Nov. 15, an auction record for a living artist. The painting was first sold in New York in 1972 for $18,000.
Eric Bauman, out chair of the California Democratic Party, had a lot to celebrate after Election Day. Photo courtesy California Democratic Party
The pain goes deeper. Assuming she’d won, Republican Young Kim flew to Washington and posed for the freshmen class picture, only to have her Democratic opponent, Navy
veteran Gil Cisneros, officially defeat her in the race to replace Republican Ed Royce in the OC’s 39th CD. The LGBT community worked hard to elect Cisneros since Kim was in the anti-LGBT tradition of Royce and his predecessor, legendary hater Rep. William Dannemeyer. Now Kim will have to be photoshopped out of the picture. An even sweeter taste of karma: the City of Fullerton—Dannemeyer’s home base— elected small business owner Ahmad Zahra to the Fullerton City Council, making him the nation’s first openly LGBT Muslim elected official. In fact, Zahra is part of an historic Rainbow Wave with 432 openly LGBTQ candidates seeking seats, yielding 244 winners, according to the LGBTQ Victory Fund. California has two out members of Congress—Rep. Mark Takano (D-Riverside) and newly elected bisexual Katie Hill (D-Santa Clarita). In the state legislature, out Assembly members Evan Low, Todd Gloria, Susan Talamantes Eggman and Sabrina Cervantes won reelection and will join the Democratic super-majority working
Before Facebook and MySpace, there was GeoCities, invented in 1994 by then-37-year-old computer whiz David Bohnett in his garage. Devastated by depression after losing his beloved partner Judge Rand Schrader to AIDS, Bohnett deeply understood the need for people to connect, especially isolated LGBT people. Taking GeoCities public, then selling the network to Yahoo enabled Bohnett to set up the targeted grant-giving David Bohnett Foundation to advance social justice change. Thinking outside the box, 20 years ago on Nov. 15, the David Bohnett Foundation and the then- L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center created a CyberCenter at The Village at Ed Gould Plaza with 15 computers for Center clients and the public to communicate, create a resume, develop computer skills and enhance education. The pilot was so successful, the foundation created 63 CyberCenters in LGBT centers and on college campuses across the country to “wire” the LGBT community. And the foundation “refreshes” the computers every 3-4 years to keep up with technology. “[T]he David Bohnett CyberCenter is a lifeline for many LGBT people who can’t afford a computer or high-speed internet access. Nearly a quarter of LGBT seniors in Los Angeles, for example, live on less than $1,000 a month, and many transgender people remain in poverty because they experience an unemployment rate three times higher than the national average. These parts of our community—and many more—have benefited from the CyberCenter,” said Los Angeles LGBT Center CEO Lorri L. Jean. – Karen Ocamb
with pro-equality Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom to keep California progressive. How progressive? A new report from The Trevor Project reviewing California’s 340 school districts says that California “is the first and only state to include LGBTQ youth in school policies around suicide,” the second leading cause of death among young people. But LGBT California youth have a new role model. Popular openly gay Angelino Ricardo Lara won his race for Insurance Commissioner against GOP-light independent, Steve Poizner. Lara is the first LGBT person elected statewide in California. And the job is massive. Current Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones tweeted that he has issued “a formal declaration of emergency situation allowing insurers to bring in more staff to help with #wildfire claims.” This allows insurance companies to use adjusters from outside California. And there’s more hell on the horizon for these stricken regions, with rain threatening to result in mudslides, hampering the recovery of remains and further displacing those who have lost everything.
Philanthropist David Bohnett at LA LGBT CyberCenter Photo courtesy LA LGBT Center
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**NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A PURCHASE WILL NOT IMPROVE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING. ELIGIBILITY: Open to legal residents of California, 18 or older residing within 100 miles determined by Google maps driving directions of any participating Ashley HomeStore locations in California, who are not an employee, contractor, officer, or director of Stoneledge Furniture LLC, 755 Ashley Way, Colton, CA 92324, its subsidiary and affiliated entities, and agencies involved in this promotion, or immediate family or household member of such persons. PROMOTION DATES; GAME CARDS; PRIZES; ODDS: Promotion begins 11/23/18 at 10 a.m. PT and ends 11/23/18 at 9 p.m. or sooner if all Game Cards are distributed (“Promotion Period”). Visit the Store during Store hours during the Promotion Period to get an official Game Card while supplies last. To reveal whether a Game Card is a prize winning card, scratch off the circle on the Game Card. If it reveals “5,000” then to claim the prize, a $5000 Ashley HomeStore shopping spree (ARV $5,000), you must present the card to a Store Manager. Prize claim must be made in person at Store by 12/26/18. Prize must be used at store within Eligibility Zone by 12/26/18. Determination of winner subject to verification of eligibility and compliance with Official Rules including timely providing signed Affidavit of Eligibility and Liability and Publicity Release. 500 total Game Cards available in the promotion, 1 is Winning Game Card. Odds: 1 in 500 at beginning of Promotion. If due to a printing, production or other error, more than one (1) Winning Game Card is submitted for a prize claim in the Promotion, then the intended prize in this Promotion will be awarded in a random drawing from among all verified and validated prize claims received by Sponsor. One Game Card request per eligible person. If prize is not claimed by 12/26/18 it will be awarded in Second Chance Drawing. For complete Official Rules by which all participants are bound and details of Second Chance Drawing see Store. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. *Offer applies only to single-receipt qualifying purchases. Ashley HomeStore does not require a down payment, however, sales tax and delivery charges are due at time of purchase if the purchase is made with your Ashley Advantage™ Credit Card. No interest will be charged on promo purchase and equal monthly payments are required equal to initial promo purchase amount divided equally by the number of months in promo period until promo is paid in full. The equal monthly payment will be rounded to the next highest whole dollar and may be higher than the minimum payment that would be required if the purchase was a non-promotional purchase. Regular account terms apply to non-promotional purchases. For new accounts: Purchase APR is 29.99%; Minimum Interest Charge is $2. Existing cardholders should see their credit card agreement for their applicable terms. Promotional purchases of merchandise will be charged to account when merchandise is delivered. Subject to credit approval. ‡Monthly payment shown is equal to the purchase price, excluding taxes and delivery, divided by the number of months in the promo period, rounded to the next highest whole dollar, and only applies to the selected financing option shown. If you make your payments by the due date each month, the monthly payment shown should allow you to pay off this purchase within the promo period if this balance is the only balance on your account during the promo period. If you have other balances on your account, this monthly payment will be added to the minimum payment applicable to those balances. ‡‡Previous purchases excluded. Cannot be combined with any other promotion or discount. Discount offers exclude Tempur-Pedic®, Stearns & Foster® and Sealy Posturepedic Hybrid™ mattress sets, floor models, clearance items, sales tax, furniture protection plans, warranty, delivery fee, Manager’s Special pricing, Advertised Special pricing, and 14 Piece Packages and cannot be combined with financing specials. Effective 1/1/2018, all mattress and box springs are subject to a $10.50 per unit CA recycling fee. SEE STORE FOR DETAILS. Stoneledge Furniture LLC. many times has multiple offers, promotions, discounts and financing specials occurring at the same time; these are allowed to only be used either/or and not both or combined with each other. Although every precaution is taken, errors in price and/or specification may occur in print. We reserve the right to correct any such errors. Picture may not represent item exactly as shown, advertised items may not be on display at all locations. Some restrictions may apply. Available only at participating locations. ±Leather Match upholstery features top-grain leather in the seating areas and skillfully matched vinyl everywhere else. Ashley HomeStores are independently owned and operated. ©2018 Ashley HomeStores, Ltd. Promotional Start Date: October 30, 2018. Expires: November 26, 2018.
06 • NOVEMBER 23, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Future of STD testing, treatment by Los Angeles LGBT Center uncertain STD epidemic rages in Los Angeles County By CHRISTOPHER KANE The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a motion on Nov. 20 to approve the allocation of emergency reserve funds for organizations, including the Los Angeles LGBT Center, for public health initiatives like STD testing and treatment. The motion, introduced by Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Mark Ridley-Thomas, will add $5 million for public health programs, along with $1 million in grant funding for clients with substance abuse disorders, over a period of two years. Pending the Health Department’s decisions concerning the allocation of those funds, the Center might be able to maintain levels of service for programs that were threatened, according to reports, by the organization’s dispute with Los Angeles County over funding for existing contracts. In the last fiscal year, STD programming cost the Center $1.5 million, which was covered by reserve funds and other sources including contracts with LA County— which has supplied a consistent, flat level of funding to the organization, including in this case. High demand for testing and treatment, however, has depleted available money from contracts with the County. Requests for funding increases from the County were turned down, to the surprise of the Center’s Chief of Staff, Darrel Cummings. He told the Los Angeles Blade the organization was forced to draw funds from other programs—like meal services for seniors and housing services for youth experiencing homelessness—to cover the costs: “Every service we provide is impacted by our having to redirect funds from one place to another.” The Board’s motion for emergency funding was introduced just as the Center was prepared to announce cuts in free STD testing and treatment, following the discovery of an internal email from the Center’s Chief of Staff, Darrel Cummings, which was printed in WEHOville. LA County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, author of the Board motion, told the Los Angeles Blade: “Local, state and federal governments have not been adequately investing in STD prevention. Funding has
Board Supervisor Sheila Kuehl on Nov. 20 Screen grab from BOS live stream–
not kept up with the need and rising costs. Today the County voted to utilize our reserves to help The LGBT Center and other important community providers prevent STD infection, and we will do everything we can to find ways to invest even more money in preventing STD infection. We will continue to work with our local providers to advocate ever more effectively.” Budgetary constraints have tightened amid a spike in STD rates nationwide, which has hit LA County especially hard. New gonorrhea cases nearly doubled from 2016 to 2017 among men who have sex with men (MSM), according to nationwide statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Officials shared the latest data documenting the number of diagnoses in the County between Jan. and August 2018. They found 5,337 cases of syphilis, 30 cases of congenital syphilis, and 16,654 cases of gonorrhea. If the emergency motion was not introduced by the LA County Board of Supervisors and the Center was forced to comply with funding limits set by existing contracts, Cummings explained that the organization would have to cut STD testing/ treatment services by 50 percent. “Epidemiologists here calculate, in a
very conservative fashion, what that would look like in one year,” Cummings said. “It would mean 8,000 people with undiagnosed gonorrhea. That would obviously be contributing to what is already a crisis.” Cummings said public health officials must redouble efforts to fund testing and treatment programs—including those performed by the Center—but instead feels the County voiced appreciation for the organization’s programs while ignoring their efficacy. “We’re diagnosing 22 percent of all syphilis cases in Los Angeles County,” Cummings said. “And the County has 14 of their own facilities—none of which are targeting the LGBT community. And [the County] doesn’t have to hold bake sales to keep their operations open. They’re fully funded no matter how effective or not they are.” The Center’s cultural competency respective to the LGBT community is in large part responsible for the rise in the number of patients whom the organization is testing and treating for STDs. LGBT Californians are disproportionately affected by the STD crisis while the number of diagnosed cases in the state has reached record highs for the third consecutive year. Michael Fraser, Ph.D., executive director of the
Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), explained that local and community-based providers are often better trained to meet the needs of at-risk populations. For example, “The techniques you might use in the MSM community are really different from what you might use with pregnant women,” he explained. The need to address public health challenges among underserved communities was addressed in the Board of Supervisors’ vote—which moved to, among other tasks, “Instruct the Director of the Department of Public Health to develop and release a solicitation within 45 days to support the delivery of STD screening and treatment services specifically targeting underserved geographic areas and subpopulations of the County.” Cummings emphasized that the Center has historically worked well with the County on public health issues. “Even though I’ve been pretty angry with the County because of their lethargic response to this issue,” Cummings told the LA Blade, “that exists in the context of—generally speaking, over decades—having very good relationships with public health officials in Los Angeles and elected officials who care a great deal about these matters.”
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • NOVEMBER 23, 2018 • 07
CDC alert: Do not eat romaine lettuce Bacteria can prove fatal for people with compromised immune systems By TROY MASTERS email@example.com For people with compromised immune systems, salmonella and e-coli can be fatal, which makes today’s news especially alarming. “Romaine lettuce contains a particularly dangerous type of E. coli,” warned the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Nov. 20. “It has been deemed unsafe to eat in any form” after a nationwide outbreak of illnesses was linked to it.” The CDC says that 32 people have been infected with the outbreak strain in 11 states, including 13 who have been hospitalized, as on Nov. 20. One of the hospitalized victims developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a potentially life-threatening form of kidney failure. No deaths have yet been reported. Antibiotics are not recommended for patients with suspected E. coli infections until diagnostic testing can be performed and E. coli infection is ruled out. Some studies have shown that administering antibiotics to patients with E. coli infections might increase their risk of developing HUS, and a benefit of treatment has not been clearly demonstrated. The CDC says that people have become sick in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Wisconsin. Canada’s Public Health Agency has identified 18 more people who have become sick with the same strain of E. coli in Ontario and Quebec. The CDC warns: • If you have any romaine lettuce at home, you should throw it away, even if you have eaten some and did not get sick. • This advice includes all types or uses of romaine lettuce, such as whole heads of romaine, hearts of romaine, and bags and boxes of precut lettuce and salad mixes that contain romaine, including baby romaine, spring mix, and Caesar salad. • If you do not know if the lettuce is romaine or whether a salad mix contains romaine, do not eat it and throw it away.
• Wash and sanitize drawers or shelves in refrigerators where romaine was stored. • Restaurants and retailers should not serve or sell any romaine lettuce, including salads and salad mixes containing romaine. Take action if you have symptoms of an E. coli infection: • Talk to your healthcare provider. • Write down what you ate in the week before you started to get sick. • Report your illness to the health department. • Assist public health investigators by answering questions about your illness. All types and brands of romaine lettuce are suspect because no common grower, supplier, distributor or source company has been identified by the CDC. Thus both
retailers and restaurants should not sell or serve romaine lettuce until more is known about the outbreak. The CDC says: “Symptoms of E. coli infection, which usually begin about three or four days after consuming the bacteria, can include watery or bloody diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting. Most people infected by the bacteria get better within five to seven days, though this particular strain of E. coli tends to cause more severe illness. “Children under 5, adults older than 65 and people with weakened immune systems, such as people with chronic diseases, are more likely to develop severe illness, but even healthy children and adults can become seriously ill.
Illnesses started in October. This outbreak is not related to a multistate outbreak linked to romaine lettuce this summer,” the CDC reports. Earlier, Jennie-O Turkey recalled more than 91,000 pounds of raw turkey in an ongoing salmonella outbreak. The recall is the first tied to an outbreak the U.S. Department of Agriculture says is widespread and likely affects a number of different producers in the industry. So far this year, the outbreak has resulted in one death and 164 reported illnesses in 35 states. About half of those sickened had to be hospitalized. Salmonella has also been detected in raw turkey pet food and live turkeys, an indication the bacteria is widespread in the turkey industry.
08 • NOVEMBER 23, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Schiff takes on Trump and truth New House Intelligence Committee chair poised to expose lies, corruption By KAREN OCAMB firstname.lastname@example.org It’s come down to this: name-calling. Literally. California Rep. Adam Schiff appeared on ABC’s “This Week” Nov. 18 explaining that Democrats intend to challenge President Donald Trump’s appointment of Matt Whitaker as acting attorney general. A former federal prosecutor who becomes chair of the House Intelligence Committee in January, Schiff said the appointment is unconstitutional. Trump responded like a spoiled five year old, calling Schiff “little Adam Schitt” in a tweet. “That’s a good one. Was that like your answers to Mr. Mueller’s questions, or did you write this one yourself?” Schiff tweeted back, referring to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Even Trump ally Laura Ingraham called the name-calling “an unforced error” on her Fox News show, saying it detracted from his accomplishments. But it also caused real life pain. “Just want to point out all the kids in school with the last name #Schiff getting bullied and name called #Schitt today because of the president of the US. I know because my nieces are Schiffs. #BeBest,” film producer Laurie David tweeted. Schiff recalls the spontaneous rally at the LA LGBT Center the night after the election where people were “despondent and fearful of what this meant for the future.” And in so many ways, Schiff tells the Los Angeles Blade in a phone interview, “the reality of the next two years proved every bit as bad, in some ways worse, than what we feared. It really takes your breath away.” Schiff is keenly aware of Trump’s attacks on the LGBT community, including the “Twitter change in policy regarding transgender patriots serving in the military” and the proposal to redefine “transgender.” “The administration’s efforts to define the transgender community out of existence is among its most pernicious acts,” Schiff says. “It’s just appalling. We are going to obviously fight this tooth and nail.”
Rep. Adam Schiff is poised to become chair of the House Intelligence Committee in January. Photo byLousie Palanker / Courtesy Flickr
Trump’s attacks helped create the coalition that won Democrats the House in the midterm elections. “People throughout the country recognized that an attack on the most vulnerable among us is an attack on all of us,” Schiff says. “And any one of us could be among the most vulnerable at some point in their life. And so we’ll fight this legislatively, we’ll fight this in the courts, and we’ll fight this until we succeed and we will succeed.” Schiff adds forcefully: “The transgender community is not going away. It won’t be defined away. It won’t be intimidated away. It won’t be legislated away. And we’re going to be doing everything we can in the majority to protect the community.” Schiff is “thrilled and grateful” that the House flipped convincingly to a Democratic majority “to provide a check on this president,” he says. “I think that this presidency and the threat that it presents to
our democracy motivated people like I’ve never seen to be involved.” From small group meetings in his district to fundraisers for candidates around the country, Schiff worked hard for that win. And he was impressed with the LGBT turnout. “One of the last events I did during the campaign was an event in North Carolina with [out California Rep.] Mark Takano in the LGBT community. I think it was perhaps the first LGBT DCCC fundraising event in that city in memory,” he says. “What we saw throughout the country was the extraordinary level of activism among all Americans—but particularly within the LGBT community. And I think both Chad [Griffin] and HRC [the Human Rights Campaign] and the broader community deserve a lot of credit for the results.” Schiff says passage of the Equality Act “is going to be a top priority for us,” which he expects to be taken up early in the House of
Representatives but will probably meet with “rough sledding” in the Senate. “It’s very important that we establish our positive agenda, that we show the country what we want to accomplish when they give us the responsibility of fully governing and when they give us control of the White House and the Senate,” Schiff says. “And strong legislation to ensure equality is of paramount importance. So I would expect us to underscore what an important part of the Democratic agenda this is.” The Equality Act is a top priority for Leader Nancy Pelosi, who is facing a rebellion from some Democrats who do not want her to return as House Speaker, despite having passed the Affordable Care Act, which she urged Democrats to run on in the midterms. The caucus vote happens after Thanksgiving with the floor vote in January. “I believe Nancy is going to be successful and I’m helping to whip votes,” Schiff says.
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • NOVEMBER 23, 2018 • 09
Rep. Adam Schiff is a regular target of Donald Trump’s tweets, including an especially vulgar one last week. Blade photo by Karen Ocamb
“I think that her policy priorities are in the right place. She’s a superb organizer—she gets the disparate members of our caucus all working together on the same page. And under her leadership, I’m confident that we will pass the Equality Act.” Schiff finds the rebellion incomprehensible. “Are they prepared to have [California Republican Rep.] Kevin McCarthy be our Speaker? Because that would be the effect of [withholding support from Pelosi]. That seems to me a very perilous path they’re going down.” Meanwhile, there’s the lame duck period before January, during which Whitaker could shut down the Mueller probe and throw the country into chaos. “We will fight Mr. Whitaker in every way we can to protect the integrity of the Muller investigation. I think were he to initiate his own Saturday Night Massacre, and certainly the president began that process by firing [former Attorney
General Jeff] Sessions, it would prompt a constitutional crisis and where that would take us is very hard to tell.” Schiff says the most powerful remedy House Democrats have to Trump “is the power to expose what the administration is doing. Exposure has a powerful impact. Exposure of Scott Pruitt’s malfeasance got him fired and has gotten others fired within the administration. It has also affected policy by preventing the administration from doing things that it wanted to do.” In addition to investigating “the Russia bailiwick,” Schiff— cofounder of the House Caucus on Freedom of the Press—says he’s extremely concerned about Trump’s war on truth. He points to Trump’s secret meeting with the Postmaster General “to browbeat the Postmaster into raising postal rates on Amazon. Now I don’t believe the president cares about postal rates. This looks to me like an effort to punish Jeff Bezos and the
Washington Post,” as well as his ongoing attacks on CNN. “Exposing wrongdoing, if indeed wrongdoing is going on, can be powerfully corrective.” Schiff is also “deeply concerned” about “whether the Russians were laundering money through the Trump organization and that is leverage the Russians are holding over the president of the United States. And looking into those allegations and if they’re true, exposing it, and if they’re not, telling the country that they’re not, is vitally important and potentially will have great consequences on U.S. policy. It will certainly cause the Congress of the United States to push back against the president’s proRussian policies if it is revealed that they are being driven by the president’s financial interest and not the national interest.” And then there’s Trump’s corrosive license to lie. “This is probably one of the most cross-cutting and difficult problems
of all,” says Schiff. Fox News, for instance, provides an “alternative universe” where “they traffic in conspiracy theories about the deep state that used to be relegated to only kooks and cranks.” It’s perplexing. “We’re not going to legislate what they can say on Fox News. We’re not going to somehow publicly arbitrate what’s true and what’s not true,” Schiff continues. “This is a deeply distressing problem. And it’s likely to get worse before it gets better.” Already worse is the new “deep fake” technology that allows the production of fake audio or video that looks real, as recently demonstrated by director Jordan Peele who put fake words in the mouth of Barack Obama. “You can imagine how much mischief the Russians could do with this technology,” says Schiff. “They could put out an audio or videotape of a candidate saying something unethical or illegal or otherwise damaging. And before it was disproven, you would have half the country believing it, and even if it could be disproven technologically, would people believe the proof?” Conversely, says Schiff, “will we be able to tell what is real if the salacious videotape that has long been alleged involving the president in a hotel room in Moscow? If those allegations turned out to be true and the tape were produced tomorrow and it was 100 percent authentic, the president would simply call it a fake.” Deep fakes are “one of the gravest threats to our democracy,” says Schiff. “And what makes it so much worse is you have an administration that is pushing out the idea that there is no truth. [Rudy] Giuliani said truth isn’t truth and Kellyanne Conway says we’re entitled to our own alternate facts. And as Sarah Huckabee Sanders does almost everyday she goes to the microphone, she takes fiction and weaves it into her own alternate version of fact. “That’s the kind of administration the president has been running,” Schiff continues. “The president spouts falsehoods at an unprecedented rate, thousands and thousands since he took office. So there is literally a full-scale assault on the truth. It’s no wonder the president considers the press the enemy of the people since it’s so often the press that are pointing out what is true and what is not true.” Meanwhile, childish name-calling exposes the malicious pettiness of this president.
10 • NOVEMBER 23, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Chad Griffin to step down as HRC president Successful 7-year tenure saw arrival of marriage equality By CHRIS JOHNSON After a seven-year period leading the nation’s largest LGBT group that culminated in massive gains for LGBT rights supporters on Election Day 2018, Chad Griffin announced late last week he will step down as president of the Human Rights Campaign. “I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of this incredible organization at such an important moment in the history of our movement — and our nation,” Griffin said in a statement Thursday. “The true strength of the Human Rights Campaign is in its fearless army of staff and volunteers, who are committed to ensuring full equality reaches every LGBTQ person across America, and around the world. For decades, this organization has shown the world that love conquers hate. But this year, in this election, with the future of our democracy on the ballot and the equality of future generations on the line, we proved that votes conquer hate, too.” According to HRC, its board will work to establish an executive search process for Griffin’s successor in the coming weeks. Griffin plans to stay on until 2019 to ensure a smooth transition. Griffin’s tenure at the Human Rights Campaign ended with massive gains in a “blue” wave that resulted in Democratic control of the U.S. House, Jared Polis becoming the first openly gay person elected governor and four new lesbian, gay and bisexual candidates elected to the House. The wins were bolstered last week when Kyrsten Sinema was confirmed as the winner in the U.S. Senate race in Arizona, making her the first openly bisexual person elected to the chamber. The Human Rights Campaign contributed to this effort with a $26 million #TurnOut campaign to vote that sought to motivate the estimated 10 million Americans who identify as LGBT and 52 million Americans who support pro-LGBT policies to vote in the election. The #TurnOUT campaign identified six states — Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — on which to focus its efforts. In a conference call with reporters last
HRC President Chad Griffin announced he will step down in 2019. Blade file photo by Michael Key
week, Griffin touted those contributions and said they helped drive the “blue” wave on Election Day that ousted anti-LGBT members of Congress, calling it the “largest grassroots expansion in the history of the Human Rights Campaign.” “It is not only ousting these anti-LGBT equality members of Congress,” Griffin said. “If you look at the pro-equality champions they were replaced by, all across the country, in red, blue and purple states alike, they were defeated by not just pro-equality champions, but candidates who actually fought for our votes and made passing the Equality Act one of the top campaign issues in their districts.” Griffin’s work to advance LGBT rights pre-dates his tenure at the Human Rights Campaign. In 2009, shortly after the passage of Proposition 8 in California, Griffin established the American Foundation for Equal Rights, hiring the dream team of Ted Olson and David Boies to challenge the ban on same-sex marriage in court. The lawsuit was filed contrary to wishes of major LGBT rights groups, including HRC, over fears the lawsuit was too risky and would be unsuccessful. Although the litigation worked its way through the courts for several years before making it to the Supreme Court, where justices ultimately issued a ruling based on standing and not the merits of the case, the lawsuit resulted in the restoration
of marriage equality to California. Kris Perry, who along with her spouse Sandy Stier was among the plaintiffs in the Prop 8 case, told the Washington Blade in the aftermath of Griffin’s announcement he’s an “incredible leader.” “I first met him in 1999 after he helped Rob Reiner pass Proposition 10 in California, a tobacco tax that still generates hundreds of millions of dollars in public funding for children zero to five,” Perry said. “As you know in 2008, Chad turned his attention to fighting Proposition 8, the same-sex marriage ban in California which he masterfully won. Sandy and I have been HRC supporters since his arrival there in 2011 and we are in awe of the energy, expertise and courage he demonstrates year after year in his fight for human rights, fairness and equality. Chad has improved our lives and the lives of tens of thousands of Americans.” Early on in 2012 during his tenure as HRC president, Griffin pushed to increase support for marriage equality by encouraging lawmakers to echo President Obama’s declaration of support for samesex marriage. That year, for the first time, three states — Maine, Washington and Maryland — legalized same-sex marriage at the ballot, and one state, Minnesota, rejected a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. In 2013, passage of the Employment Non-
Discrimination Act was a priority for the organization. Griffin coordinated an effort that led to passage of the legislation in the Senate, although the bill never came up in the Republican-controlled House. After the legislative effort petered out, Griffin led efforts to develop and introduce the Equality Act, which would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to bar not only antiLGBT discrimination in employment, but also public accommodations, housing, education, jury service, federal programs and credit. Griffin also led the Human Rights Campaign during victories at the Supreme Court for same-sex marriage aside from the decision against Prop 8, including the 2013 decision in the Windsor case against the Defense of Marriage Act and the 2015 decision in the Obergefell case for same-sex marriage nationwide. After the Windsor decision in 2013, many skeptics scoffed when Griffin said full marriage equality would come throughout the country within the five years, but that prediction became reality even sooner when the Obergefell decision was handed down years later. But Griffin’s tenure wasn’t successful in every effort. HRC was an early supporter of Hillary Clinton in her 2016 presidential bid and contributed to her election campaign. (Griffin at age 18 was a White House press office manager during the Bill Clinton administration.) Those efforts were ultimately unsuccessful and President Trump and Republican majorities were elected to Congress. However, in that same year, HRC contributed to efforts to unseat North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory after he signed the anti-trans House Bill 2 barring transgender from accessing restrooms in state government buildings. Despite Trump’s success, McCrory in that year was ejected from the governor’s mansion. Griffin also didn’t win consistent adulation from the LGBT community. When the book “Forcing the Spring” came out in 2014 on the Prop 8 case and compared Griffin to civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks on the first page, Griffin became the subject of criticism from LGBT rights supporters who thought he was taking too much credit. Griffin, however, distanced himself from the comparison and the controversy abated. Continues at losangelesblade.com
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12 • NOVEMBER 23, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Pelosi’s moment Bid for House Speaker gets boost as Marcia Fudge makes surprise endorsement By CHRIS JOHNSON A potential showdown in the new House Democratic majority in which LGBT rights would have been a major factor fizzled on Tuesday night when House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) won an endorsement from Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), her most likely competitor. In a surprise move, Fudge — who said she was considering a run for speaker, but never declared her candidacy — announced her endorsement of Pelosi as speaker for the 116th Congress in a statement Tuesday night. A former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, Fudge said Pelosi “granted me the opportunity to create the record necessary” to satisfy the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2013 decision against the Voting Rights Act, which she said will lead to protections under that law to be “reinstated and improved.” Fudge also said Pelosi assured her the “most loyal voting bloc in the Democratic Party, Black women, will have a seat at the decision-making table.” “I am now confident that we will move forward together and that the 116th Congress will be a Congress of which we can all be proud,” Fudge added. “I now join my colleagues in support of the leadership team of Pelosi, Hoyer and Clyburn.” LGBT issues were a factor in the competition between Pelosi and Fudge. A champion of the Equality Act, Pelosi as minority leader said the legislation would be a top priority in the next Congress with Democrats in control of the House. On the other hand, Fudge has declined to support the Equality Act, which would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964, citing concerns the measure would water down the historic law when legislative action is opened. Pelosi isn’t out of the woods yet in obtaining the 218 votes necessary for her to become speaker. On Monday, a group of 16 House Democrats unveiled a letter declaring they were committed to winning a change in leadership in the Democratic caucus when it takes the majority next year. Other House Democrats, including Rep. Conor Lamb (D-
Rep. Nancy Pelosi made a surprise appearance last week at the annual dinner in D.C. for the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce. Blade photo by Michael Key
Pa.) made campaign promises they wouldn’t vote for Pelosi, but they didn’t sign the letter. To keep that in perspective, Pelosi can afford to lose only 15 votes in her new Democratic majority and still have enough support to win the gavel. But Fudge’s decision to stand down from the speaker’s race is a major blow to antiPelosi Democrats, who have struggled to field a candidate. It remains to be seen if another challenge will emerge. After having once wielded the gavel under the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama and helping to usher into law the Affordable Care Act, the Matthew Shepard & James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal, Pelosi’s claim to the gavel in the 116th Congress appears stronger now. Despite her failure to endorse the Equality Act, Fudge has a consistent voting record in favor of LGBT rights. She has cited concerns about opening up the historic law to amendments on the House floor. “What I opposed was including the Equality Act in the current Civil Rights Act,” Fudge said last week in a statement. “The Civil Rights Act is over 50 years old and
isn’t even adequate to protect the people currently in it. I want us to do a new and modern civil rights bill that protects the LGBTQ community and updates protections for this era. I do not believe it is appropriate to open and relitigate the current Civil Rights Act.” Along with Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.), who has a reputation for being an anti-LGBT Democrat, Fudge in the last Congress was one of two Democrats who wouldn’t cosponsor the Equality Act. Fudge’s office didn’t respond to multiple requests from the Washington Blade to comment on whether she as speaker would have allowed the Equality Act to come up for a vote on the House floor even if she personally doesn’t support the measure. Meanwhile, Pelosi championed the Equality Act since it was introduced. Prior to Democratic wins on Election Day, Pelosi signaled advancing the Equality Act would be a personal goal and the legislation would be assigned a low bill number in the next Congress signifying its importance. “It isn’t in our ‘For The People’ agenda because it doesn’t get that specific, but there’s one more because it’s personal for me that I really want to do, and it’s called the Equality Act,” Pelosi said last month. “The Equality Act expands ending discrimination against LGBTQ people and women and adding that to the Civil Rights Act.” Hilary Rosen, a lesbian D.C.-based Democratic activist, supports Pelosi in her bid to become speaker and drew a distinction between her and Fudge on LGBT issues. “We don’t have a better champion than Nancy Pelosi,” Rosen said. “Rep. Fudge hasn’t even co-sponsored the bill. Her Democratic colleagues might be surprised to know that and it would concern me about electing her leader.” Pelosi raised millions for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and helped secure huge wins for House Democrats on Election Day that exceeded expectations for the “blue” wave. In contrast, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), whose caucus lost in the mid-term election, faced no similar challenge. On Monday, a group of 16 House Democrats (who, with two exceptions, were men) went public with a letter asserting they’re committed to voting against Pelosi. Other Democrats who won on Election Day have
made campaign promises about voting against her, but aren’t signatories to the letter. Despite the challenges and criticism, Pelosi has repeatedly expressed confidence she’ll have the votes to become speaker in the 116th Congress. “I intend to win the speakership with Democratic votes, if that was your question,” Pelosi said. “I have overwhelming support in my caucus to be speaker of the House, and certainly we have many, many people in our caucus who could serve in this capacity. I happen to think that, at this point, I’m the best person for that.” The moment of truth will come soon. The party nominating vote within the Democratic caucus will take place on Nov. 28 and the floor vote within the entire House will take place Jan. 3. Faced with prospects of investigations under the new House Democratic majority, President Trump has offered to help on Twitter and said he “can get Nancy Pelosi as many votes as she wants in order for her to be speaker of the House.” If Republicans during the vote for speaker on Jan. 3 vote “present,” that would lower the threshold needed for her to win election. But asked if she’d accept Republican support to win the gavel, Pelosi replied, “Oh, please, no, never, never, never.” Drawing on her major achievements for the LGBT community in her role as Speaker of the House during part of the Bush and Obama administrations, a group of 102 LGBT leaders have signed a statement “enthusiastically endorsing” Pelosi as speaker. Cited in the statement are the landmark laws in favor of LGBT rights Pelosi ushered through Congress as speaker, such as the Matthew Shepard & James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal. For the time when Democrats were in the minority, the statement enumerates Pelosi’s call for support for marriage equality in the 2016 Democratic Party platform and support for Rep. Ted Lieu’s (D-Calif.) proposal to ban widely discredited conversion therapy. Lane Hudson, a gay D.C.-based Democratic activist, signed the statement and said Pelosi has “been our most vocal and reliable ally from her first days in Congress to now.” Continues at losangelesblade.com
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14 • NOVEMBER 23, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
House GOP urges Trump to drop LGBT protections in NAFTA update A group of nearly 40 House Republicans is calling on President Trump to drop from the updated U.S. trade proposal with Mexico and Canada a provision encouraging countries to adopt policies barring anti-LGBT discrimination in the workforce, throwing ratification of the deal into question. In a letter dated Nov. 16, lawmakers led by Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) say they’re “deeply concerned” by the proposed LGBT requirements in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, a renegotiation of the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement initiated by President Trump. An article in Politico highlighted the letter. “A trade agreement is no place for the adoption of social policy,” the letter says. “It is especially inappropriate and insulting to our sovereignty to needlessly submit to social policies which the United States has so far explicitly refused to accept.” The letter urges Trump to remove the language from the agreement before signing it at a planned Buenos Aires event with the leaders of the United States, Canada and Mexico on Nov. 30. After the leaders sign the agreement, the countries would have to ratify the deal for it to take effect. For the United States, that means approval in Congress after an election in which House Democrats swept into power amid dissatisfaction with Trump. Section 23 of the USMCA contains a provision against sex discrimination in the workplace, calling on members in the deal to adopt rules against sex-based discrimination, including on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The sections also calls for cooperation among the member states “in promotion of equality and elimination of employment discrimination” with regard to numerous characteristics, including sexual orientation and gender identity. According to Politico, the language was included in the draft agreement at the behest of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whose government reportedly called the provision a “big win.” The language is unprecedented in a U.S. trade agreement, Politico reports, but it’s unclear whether the provision has real teeth and Canada and United States agree it wouldn’t require a new law. In opposition to the provision, House Republicans enumerate other policies of the Trump administration excluding LGBT people from the definition of “sex” under federal law. The Justice Department has reversed Obama-era policy interpreting laws against sex discrimination, such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, to apply to transgender people and has asserted discrimination against lesbian, gay and bisexual people isn’t covered under the law. Also cited is an explosive recent report in the New York Times asserting the Department of Health & Human Services is drafting a proposal essentially to erase transgender identity. Although that proposal generated a firestorm of opposition among transgender advocates, House Republicans call the effort “encouraging” and say it would “restore the historic definition of ‘sex’ to a person’s anatomical sex at birth.” Adopting the agreement along with the LGBT protections, House Republicans assert, would undermine efforts currently underway in the U.S. government. “One wonders at the contradictory policy coming through [the U.S. Trade Representative] when other departments under your administration are working to come into alignment on SOGI policy,” the letter says. Signers of the letter includes House members with a history of anti-LGBT views, including Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.), who proposed an amendment seeking to bar the U.S. military from paying transition-related care for transgender service members, as well as Reps. Steve King (R-Iowa), Andy Harris (R-Md.), Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) and Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), chair of the House Freedom Caucus. A statement from Lamborn asserts he signed the letter along with 45 other co-signers. However, the Blade counts 38 total signatures on the missive. Slots for two signatures — Reps. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio) and Roger Williams (R-Texas) are left blank. In the statement, Lamborn said the adoption of the proposal in the USMCA would be “an unnecessary black eye.” “My concern is the precedent this could set for activist courts to cite as congressional support for SOGI language once the USMCA is adopted,” Lamborn said. “I strongly urge him to remove the troubling language in the deal that was adopted behind the scenes.” Drew Hammill, a spokesperson for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), slammed the letter as “despicable.” “This despicable letter is more of the same from a Republican Congress with open contempt for the humanity of the LGBTQ community,” Hammill said. “It enrages these GOP members that LGBTQ Americans should be treated with respect and dignity under the law. They are on the wrong side of history, and come January, they will be on the wrong side of the newly elected House majority.” According to CTV News, Trudeau isn’t saying what he’s willing to do to keep the LGBT provision intact, reportedly telling reporters Sunday he’s not going to negotiate the deal in public. “We got to a good agreement that I think represents Canadian values, Canadian approach, but also values that are broadly shared amongst citizens of our three countries,” Trudeau is quoted as saying at the end of a summit with Asia-Pacific leaders. “In any trade deal, there are going to be people who would like this or like that or not want this or not want that,” Trudeau reportedly added. The Washington Blade is unable to find any reporting on the Mexican government’s position on the LGBT language. A representative of the Mexican government couldn’t be immediately reached for comment. According to Politico, opposition from House Republicans is just “one more landmine in the path” of enacting Trump’s biggest trade achievement. Labor groups have also expressed concern mechanisms to enforce new worker protections aren’t sufficiently strong and hinted the incoming Democratic House might seek changes. Given the deal requires congressional approval for implementation, a lack of support among members of Congress — Republican and Democratic — could spell doom for the proposal when it comes before lawmakers for ratification. According to a report in Business Insider, the concern over the agreement already means the deal is “suddenly in trouble” and it’s future is “in question.” CHRIS JOHNSON
Supreme Court asked to undo Pa. school’s pro-trans policy Following rejection from lower courts, an anti-LGBT legal group is calling on the U.S. Supreme Court to block a Pennsylvania school district’s policy allowing transgender kids to use the restroom consistent with their gender identity. Alliance Defending Freedom submitted the 32-page petition for certiorari before the court on Monday, asserting Boyertown Area School District’s pro-trans bathroom policy violates the right to privacy of its students — a notion rebuffed by a trial court in Pennsylvania and the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals. “Forcing a teenager to share a locker room or restroom with a member of the opposite sex can cause embarrassment and distress, particularly for students who have been victims of sexual assault,” the petition states. The petition asserts the Third Circuit erroneously decided the school policy is allowed despite Title IX of the Education Amendment of 1972, which bars sex discrimination in education. Although the consensus among the courts is that the law prohibits discrimination against transgender students, Alliance Defending Freedom draws on that statute to argue students shouldn’t be forced to share facilities with transgender students. “The claim is based on petitioners’ own sex, which dictates whom they consent to be with when undressing in a school privacy facility,” the petition says. “And the claim is based on sex in a more general way because the school’s permission to use a locker room or restroom depends on the sex designation of that facility. Either way, the claim falls within Title IX’s plain language, contrary to the Third Circuit’s conclusion.” The questions Alliance Defending Freedom presents before the court are 1) Whether a public school has a compelling interest in allowing transgender kids to use the restroom consistent with their gender identity and 2) Whether the school policy “constructively denies” access to locker rooms and bathrooms under Title IX. Alliance Defending Freedom has had little success in this lawsuit as it has moved through lower courts. After filing the complaint and a request for a preliminary injunction in March 2017 before trial court, U.S. District Judge Edward Smith, an Obama appointee, denied the request in August of that year. When the case came before a three-judge panel on the Third Circuit in May 2018, the judges issued a ruling within one hour of oral arguments rejecting Alliance Defending Freedom’s arguments and upholding Boyertown’s policy. Upon a request for a rehearing “en banc,” or before the full court, the judges agreed to vacate their decision and issue a new one, but the newer decision was only slightly scaled back. It eliminated the conclusion the injunction Alliance Defending Freedom requested was unlawful under Title IX, but still reached the same general ruling against the anti-LGBT legal group. CHRIS JOHNSON
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16 • NOVEMBER 23, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
VOLUME 02 ISSUE 38
Trump’s first trans refugee seeking asylum in Sweden Danni Askini: ‘I can be myself without fear of violence’
Pauline Park is an LGBT and human rights activist who led the campaign for the transgender rights law enacted by the New York City Council in 2002.
The word ‘refugee’ conjures up images of people of color fleeing war, persecution and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and other poor and war-torn regions of the world; someone like Danni Askini would be the last person whose image would come to mind, especially in Sweden. She’s an attractive young blonde and would blend right in on any street in Stockholm, which is where she is now. She’s also an American citizen, born and bred; but Danni may well be the first refugee to flee persecution from Donald Trump’s homophobic and transphobic administration to a country far wealthier per capita than the United States. Trump may be escalating his war on the LGBT community, as indicated by a memo circulating in the Department of Health & Human Services leaked to the New York Times last month that indicates an intention
to try to fix a definition of gender in Title IX on sex assigned at birth. I do not believe that that attempt will ultimately succeed, but it is a clear indication of the intense animus being directed by the Trump administration — no doubt at the instigation of Christian fundamentalists in the White House — above all, Vice President Mike Pence. “Filing for asylum in Sweden was absolutely the right thing to do… I can be myself in Sweden without fear of violence or discrimination. Migrationsverket [the Swedish Migration Agency] has reassured me that they have not found my application manifestly unfounded as a recent European Court of Human Rights ruling says that Sweden does not have a parliamentapproved a list of ‘safe third countries’ (i.e. the USA) and thus they will fully examine my application. I will be going through the normal asylum process. My hearing in November is a more detailed intake hearing — however, they still view the USA as a ‘functioning democracy’ and thus, I will have an uphill battle,” Danni posted on her Facebook page on Oct. 16, adding, “I have lost everything in the USA, the price of safety was immense, and I have spent 3 months homeless and in daily terror. This was not some extravagant holiday or vacation despite posting pretty pictures.” Lest you think Danni’s case is irrelevant to your life, consider Trump’s broadsides against the LGBT community here. Few of us are likely to have to flee for our lives as Danni has, but it is incumbent on the LGBT community and allies here in the U.S. to support Danni’s asylum case by demanding that U.S.-based and international LGBT advocacy and human rights organizations
— such as the Human Rights Campaign, the National LGBTQ Task Force, the National Center for Transgender Equality, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch — actively support her application for asylum in Sweden by demanding that Migrationsverket (the SWA) approve Danni’s application. Sweden has taken in more refugees and migrants per capita in the last decade than any other European country, which has provoked a right-wing backlash from white nationalists and has made the government ever more cautious about taking in more migrants. Danni Askini has fled to Sweden from a country that the SWA has not heretofore considered a source of refugees. Danni’s hearing with Migrationsverket is this month, so it is urgent and imperative that those who are in a position to contact LGBT advocacy organizations, human rights organizations, members of Congress, the media (here and in Sweden) and the SWA itself do so as soon as possible. Danni’s fate is important to me because she is a dear friend and an effective activist who has done incredibly important work on behalf of the transgender community in Washington State and nationally. But her case should be important to everyone in the U.S. LGBT community because a successful application for political asylum in Sweden would set an important legal precedent for those fleeing persecution in the U.S. for more progressive European and non-European countries, should the need ever arise for those of us now challenging the Trump administration’s attack on our community from the comfort of our homes in the United States.
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LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • NOVEMBER 23, 2018 • 17
How Congress can give rightful honor to our veterans Ensuring access to quality care and the best resources
Mark Takano represents California’s 41st congressional district in the U.S. House.
The 2011 repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” opened the door to new possibilities for military servicemembers who identiﬁed as LGBTQ. After multiple generations faced discrimination, were expelled based on their sexual orientation, or were forced to hide their identity in order to serve in our armed forces, LGBTQ individuals are now able to serve freely and openly without fear of repercussion. This policy reversal was a major step forward for equality and respect for the dignity and honor of all those who were willing to ﬁght for our country. But seven years after the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” trans servicemembers continue ﬁghting for their rightful place in our military. In July 2017, President Trump issued a tweet stating that the United States would no longer allow trans individuals to
serve in the military in any capacity. This directive effectively ordered the Department of Defense to ban trans troops – a move that dishonored brave trans soldiers. The U.S. Court system blocked this ban, but the President’s efforts persist. In the midst of these efforts to undermine the service of members of the LGBTQ community, and minorities, Congress must help our country give rightful honor to all servicemembers and veterans. The best way to honor our troops is by giving them the support they need, respecting and upholding their right to serve, and ensuring that they have access to quality care and the best resources to succeed in their transition to civilian life. As more openly LGBTQ servicemembers continue to enlist, as more women climb the ladder of military ranks, and as the veteran population becomes more diverse, the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) must adapt to these changing demographics. In order to see this type of progress, Congress must help create a plan to help the VA adapt to the evolving needs of the veteran population and ensure that all veterans are receiving the best care. In the 116th Congress, Democrats have the opportunity to advance these priorities in the U.S. House of Representatives. First, by being forward-thinking and predicting the challenges that lie ahead, the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs can move to correct current problems and develop plans to address high priority
issues over the next 10 years. Under a new Democratic majority, the Committee will develop a “VA 2030” plan that will envision how the Department can deliver good quality of care. Part of this strategy includes recognizing the differences in the types of beneﬁts needed by veterans from different backgrounds. For example, women veterans, LGBTQ veterans, and minority veterans all face unique challenges when attempting to receive VA services and care, and resolving these challenges requires innovative solutions. Increased diversity means that there must be an inclusive approach to beneﬁts and care that the VA provides. Understanding these unique needs and adapting to demographic changes must be done to ensure that beneﬁts and healthcare can be accessible and effective in meeting the needs of veterans. It is crucial to deliver on the promise of “access,” and to know that access does not look the same for every veteran. That is why the VA must evolve and improve the services that it provides – and Congress can help make this possible. Apart from laying out a “VA 2030” vision to improve beneﬁts and VA care, Congress must also prioritize performing proper oversight and demand better accountability from Department leadership. This means working with the VA to see that the more than 45,000 employee vacancies across the Department are being ﬁlled and ﬁghting partisan and special-interest driven privatization efforts. Filling vacancies and ﬁghting privatization
are important priorities because more than 9 million veterans rely on the VA for their healthcare. There are currently 40,000 employee vacancies in the Veterans Health Administration alone and this impacts timeliness and quality of care it provides. By ﬁlling these vacancies, delivery of care can be improved, and veterans can receive the best healthcare possible. It is also critical to ﬁll these vacancies with qualiﬁed, diverse, and culturally competent staff who can provide better services to those who may need specialized care. Doing this will help the VA be better equipped to help heal and mend the visible and invisible scars veterans carry with them after their service. All of this is necessary work that must be done, because all of our veterans deserve access to effective, high-quality care. This January, the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, on which I currently serve as Vice-Ranking Member, will continue working to give rightful honor to all veterans – no matter their race, gender identity or sexual orientation. This Committee has a track record of putting the needs of veterans ﬁrst and facilitating improvements that help make the VA work more effectively. In this regard, the next Congress will be no exception – real work will be done to improve the lives of every veteran and real solutions will be implemented to protect hard-earned beneﬁts and increase access to high quality and timely care for all the brave individuals who have fought for our country.
Good stuff for Fido, from a menu fit for you: A pup laps it up, at the WeHo location of JustFoodForDogs.
From 2017’s Shop Small Saturday: Bruce Vilanch, at Capitol Drugs and Power Zone. This year’s celebrity participants include Lisa Vanderpump and Kirsten Vangsness.
Photo courtesy of JustFoodForDogs
Photo by Jon Viscott, courtesy of WHCC
Live Large Locally, on Small Business Saturday West Hollywood celebrates LGBT friendly small businesses By SCOTT STIFFLER
Size matters — and when it comes to shopping local, small is the preference we can all agree on. So plan now to rock the momand-pop look, by saving some of your Black Friday energy, and bucks, for the day after. That’s when many of West Hollywood’s trove of retailers and restaurants will be offering a slew of treasures. Think discounts, free products, giveaways, gift cards, delicious food samples, and more. November 24’s Small Business Saturday isn’t just a way to feel good about supporting the neighborhood merchants who rescue us from poorly decorated box stores and cookie cutter corporate brands. It’s a way to check a multitude of boxes off your holiday shopping list, while helping the community you’ve shown up to support spread that love in a very tangible way.
Here’s how that happens: Many of the businesses participating in Small Business Saturday will be giving a portion of their proceeds to a worthy cause, noted Genevieve Morrill, President and CEO of the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce (WHCC). In years past, that amount has passed the 20k mark, benefitting recipients such as the Foundation for The AIDS Monument. This year, donations will be made to the City of West Hollywood Homeless Initiative, which, the Chamber notes, “seeks to effectively address homelessness with a multi-disciplinary, multiagency, collaborative response,’ by targeting “the problems of homeless LGBTQ youth, as well as homelessness generally.” Along with the WHCC and the City of West Hollywood, American Express is on board for the Nov. 24 event, having chosen WeHo as a
city of focus. So while you might see a variety of logos on signage, what it really means, for you, is celebrity sightings and sweet, sweet swag. Visit wehochamber.com/shopsmall for a full list of participating stores. Here’s a primer to get you started. At 1:00 PM, at Fred Segal Sunset (8500 Sunset Blvd.), “Criminal Minds” star Kirsten Vangsness will be sharing holiday gifting ideas. Segal will gift shoppers with clothe tote bags, beauty samples, coffee, and espressos, Other stores on site will also be providing enticing incentives. Fred Segal CEO Allie Samek gave us the scoop on two items that calmed us down, during a pre-Thanksgiving, “What do I give to the hard-to-shop-for?” tizzy. Priced at $480, the 100 percent cashmere sweater is an exclusive item, from the Hartel (men’s store) label. “This is for your fashionable guy,”
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L to R: Tom Sandoval, Lisa Vanderpump, KenTodd, and Tom Schwartz. Vanderpump hosts and open house at Tom Tom, 4:00 PM, Nov. 24. Photo courtesy of Tom Tom
Samek said. “It’s not too boxy, and not too short — with a slim fit. It’s the best cashmere sweater you’ve ever seen.” No need to bother Samek with proof of that claim. Send a picture of your fashionable self or significant other, wearing the sweater, and whatever else (if anything else) they’re modeling, to the publisher and editor of this fine publication: tmasters@losangelesblade. com. Disclaimer: All photos are fodder for his “tasteful is in the eye of the beholder” holiday card. If you and/or Mr. Masters are all hot and bothered by viewing that cashmere pin-up pix, Samek has the perfect treatment: Refresh with a sip or two of cool, clear, H2O. The Boss Babe Crystal Water Bottle ($160) can be found in the Tesoro gift store. Within its casing are 24-karat gold flakes and citrine stone (whose very proximity to the water, Samek playfully
said, “manifests abundance, and will amplify everything you desire.”). And if that claim stops short of manifesting a winning lottery ticket, at least you’ll be properly hydrated. Elsewhere in WeHo, at NARS (8412 Melrose Ave.), enjoy a complimentary glass of champagne and a Focus Feature demo with a boutique artist, and then walk away with giveaways, including travel-size products and full-size lip products. The Barber Surgeons Guild (805 Larrabee St.) is offering special prices for grooming and clinical services throughout the day. Call 310-975-7094 for details, and to schedule an appointment. Do drop by IV Drip Doctors Vitamin Therapy & Regenerative Center (8489 Sunset Blvd.), but don’t tell them to “just open a vein” — at least when it comes to claiming your energyboosting booty. That will require prep time
to administer. So take away a free, B12 IV gift card and return another day to experience this unique form of vitamin therapy. Food, of course, is always bragging about its status as an iconic, old school energy delivery method. Small Business Saturday swag gives you a good excuse to pay your respects, by stopping by Yogurt Stop (8803 Santa Monica Blvd.), for 10 percent off. At Le Pain Quotidien (8607 Melrose Ave), scoop up free samples of cider and pumpkin muffins; and, at Cafe D’Etoile (8941 ½ Santa Monica Boulevard), you’ll get a complimentary, housemade, individual-size key lime pie. At 4:00 PM, at Tom Tom Restaurant & Bar (8932 Santa Monica Blvd.), Lisa Vanderpump hosts an open house, where mixers and minglers can sip a signature cocktail made just for the event.
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Rounderbum’s padded boxer brief lifts your confidence — and another essential part of what you show to the world.
No rolls here, only buttah: The seamless compression tank, from Rounderbum/ Rounderwear, works its magic.
At Fred Segal Sunset’s Hartel men’s store, this 100 percent cashmere sweater is calling to the fashionable guy on your holiday shopping list — especially if that’s you.
Photo courtesy of Rounderbum
Photo courtesy of Rounderbum
Photo courtesy of Fred Segal Sunset
In the midst of shopping for others, and feeding yourself, take some time to take care of the body beautiful. Unplug Meditation (8500 Melrose Ave., Suite 201) will give you 20 percent off their $35 introductory offer, which allows you to take an unlimited number of classes, for two weeks. They’re also offering 20 percent off 5, 10, and 20-class packages. LYMBR (603 North West Knoll Drive) makes it easy to shake loose your purse strings, by providing $20 off a stretch session. In addition to salivating over anticipating the above savings and swag, we spoke with the men behind two of Saturday’s participating businesses, to find out what makes their product tick, and why they feel a special connection to West Hollywood.
JustFoodForDogs Men can be real dogs. But when it comes to the four-legged variety, that’s a high compliment. As such, we want only the best for them: beef, chicken, rice, lamb, venison, and potatoes of the sweet and russet variety — and no gluten or preservatives. Sounds like
your own dinner menu? That’s the point, says JustFoodForDogs founder Shawn Buckley. “Everybody wants to buy local, and it doesn’t get any more local than 20 feet away,” noted Buckley, of the WeHo branch, which houses a kitchen where good stuff for good doggies is dished up daily, every day of the year. “It’s not like a show, where we act like we’re making it,” Buckley said of the kitchen. “We’re open to the public from 10 to 8, but we’re in there from around 6:00 AM to 11:00 PM.” The WeHo branch is the second of what now numbers over 70. “We are thrilled to be there,” Buckley boasted. “It helped us launch our business, and it’s a hugely successful location for us. There are certain neighborhoods that are just incredibly dog-friendly, and this is one of them. West Hollywood helped us prove the concept.” The JustFoodForDogs concept is a simple one, based on a new trick Buckley brought to an old industry. “When I found out what was allowed to be in dog food,” he recalled,” I thought, ‘There’s no way I’m feeding my dogs that.’ It’s not just gross, it’s unhealthy.” Typical supermarket chow, no matter how high the quality, he noted, “is from the Midwest. We
use a Los Angeles-based company that sells us produce and protein. West Coast Prime Meats sells us chicken, fish, beef, and lamb that’s all human-grade. We’re the only deliver they make that is not a restaurant, theme park, or hotel.” — giving credence to their motto, “It is food for dogs… not dog food!” Small Business Saturday pet parents can see for themselves on Nov. 24. Right in time for holiday party hosting season, the WeHo location will be offering free cooking lessons, to learn how to make safe, organic, healthy treats for your pets. Emmy-winning NBC4 anchor and reporter Robert Kovacik (Woof!) will also be appearing at the store, at 2:30 PM, to cook up gourmet food recipes with the store’s chef. Your hyperlocal JustFoodForDogs destination is 7870 Santa Monica Blvd. (corner of Fairfax). Hours: Mon.-Sat., 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM and Sun., 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM. Call 323471-4242 or visit justfoodfordogs.com.
Rounderbum Yes, it’s true: The holidays can leave some
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Whet your appetite for holiday shopping, with the Boss Babe Crystal Water Bottle, available at Fred Segal Sunset.
Tap into inner peace, at Unplug Meditation.
Photo courtesy of Fred Segal Sunset
Photo by David Young-Wolff
of us feeling as if we lack support; that nobody in the world has our back. But what about those of us who go through the whole year feeling as if the whole world can see we have no backside? To the rescue is “Shark Tank” success story Rounderbum — a clever, downright cheeky, line of men’s shapewear that not only understands your pain, it knows how to define it. Or, more accurately, give it appearance-altering lifts and tucks. Asked about the Rounderbum mission, CEO Jonathan Diersing said he co-founded the company to help those who “can’t gain muscle mass” back there and, as such, “have not butt — and their pants fall down.” Rounderbum’s booty-enhancing magic bullet gives your look something extra that no mere belt is capable of, and something else that comes from within: “Our mission is to enhance your body in the areas you desire most, helping you look and feel amazing before walking out the front door,” Diersing said, adding, “We are not only changing the way people look, we are changing the way people live.” For the Nov. 24 event, they’re also changing their prices: For in-store purchases of $100 or
more, Diersing noted, “We will be giving each customer one free underwear from our all-new sister underwear company, Rounderwear.” To check out those undies, visit rounderwear.com, where they are “#MUGA: Making Underwear Great Again!” Also in-store and online, Black Friday heralds the start of “the best sale we’ve ever had,” Diersing vowed, and “the most percentage off we’ve ever offered — up to 50 percent off and more.” And those discounts arrive not a moment too soon, for those of us who might have given in to temptation at the Thanksgiving table — and the buffet tables to come, from now until the ball drops on New Year’s Eve. Compression clothing is also part of the product line. “A popular one around this season,” Diersing said, “is a boxer brief with a waist slimmer band built into it. Let’s say you’re wearing a sweater. Sometimes the love handles stick out. This will smooth it all out for you. And the muscle shirt is good, because it has padding on the shirt, and keeps you warm. Our compression tops acts as a layer. It keeps your body heat inside, and firms up your belly — or whatever you might have, that
you want to tighten up a little bit.” Judging from the photos sent to us, the tastes of LGBT consumers are always on the mind, at Rounderbum. Diersing namechecked “authenticity and acceptance” as qualities the company admires most about its queer customers — and that this desirable demographic appreciates “all forms of expression and creativity… There is so much love in the community, and that love transcends within the very core of our company and values.” But why West Hollywood? “With Beverly Hills being the cosmetic surgery capital of the world,” Diersing observed, “it only seemed natural for us to be here and offer an affordable alternative to body enhancement. Being in such an influential, iconic city constantly serves as a reminder of where we came from, and how much further we have to go. This city inspires us to want to make a real difference for all people — one booty at a time.” Rounderbum is located at 802 N. San Vicente Blvd. Hours: Noon to 8:00 PM, daily. Call 424-278-1114 or visit rounderbum.com.
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Saoirse Ronan in ‘Mary Queen of Scots.’ Photo by Liam Daniel; courtesy Focus Features
Tale of two Marys and a lot more ‘Mary Queen of Scots’ and ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ among holiday film highlights By BRIAN T. CARNEY
With 2019 just around the corner, it’s time for the final cinematic rush toward Oscar glory and box office gold. Already generating significant Oscar buzz, “The Favourite” is a sumptuous but irreverent period drama that gleefully mocks traditional depictions of gender, sexuality and politics. Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos (“The Lobster” and “The Killing of a Sacred Deer”), this lesbian love triangle is set in the court of England’s Queen Anne (Olivia Colman), where Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) and down-on-herluck aristocrat Abigail (Emma Stone) battle for the frail Queen’s affections and the right to wield her power. “The Favourite” opens Nov. 30. Dec. 7 marks the premiere of a new kind of holiday movie: the zombie Christmas musical. In the zom-com musical “Anna and the Apocalypse,” the small Scottish town
of Little Haven is attacked by zombies right before Christmas. Anna and her friends must slash and sing their way through the zombie hordes to save their loved ones. Ella Hunt plays the intrepid Anna and Sarah Swire plays her lesbian friend. A different kind of threat is the subject of “Divide and Conquer: The Roger Ailes Story,” which also opens Dec. 7. The documentary tracks the rise and fall of the bombastic media mogul from his work with Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan to his controversial tenure at Fox News. Another leading Oscar contender is slated to open on Dec. 14. “Roma” is a semiautobiographical tale that chronicles the life of a middle-class family in Mexico City during the turbulent early 1970s. The movie is written and directed by award-winning filmmaker
Alfonso Cuarón who is known for his work on “Gravity,” “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” the dystopian thriller “The Children of Men,” and the homoerotic road movie “Y Tu Mama Tambien.” Yalitza Aparicio has already been widely acclaimed for her breakout performance as the family’s maid. Another tale of royal intrigue unfolds in “Mary Queen of Scots,” which opens Dec. 14. The movie was written by Beau Willimon (“House of Cards”) and is directed by Josie Rourke, head of London’s renowned Donmar Warehouse theater company. The movie stars Saoirse Ronan as Mary Stuart and Margot Robbie as Queen Elizabeth I; both women were nominated for Best Actress Oscars earlier this year. Also opening on Dec. 14 is “Ben Is Back” starring Lucas Hedges as Ben Burns, a
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Emily Blunt in ‘Mary Poppins Returns.’ Photo courtesy Disney
recovering addict who unexpectedly leaves his rehab program to spend Christmas with his family. Julia Roberts plays Ben’s anxious mother and the movie is written and directed by Lucas’ real-life father Peter Hedges who wrote “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?” and “About A Boy.” On Dec. 19, everyone’s favorite nanny flies back into cinemas everywhere. Emily Blunt takes over the magical parrot head umbrella from Julie Andrews and Lin-Manuel Miranda plays her chimney sweeper sidekick Jack. “Mary Poppins Returns” is set 35 years after the original in Depression-era London. Michael Banks (Ben Whishaw) is a widower raising his three young children with the help of his sister Jane (Emily Mortimer) when the mischievous nanny returns to bring singing and dancing back to 17 Cherry Tree Lane. Dick Van Dyke is the only actor from the
original movie to appear in the sequel; he plays the son of one of his original characters. There are appearances by Meryl Streep, Angela Lansbury, Julie Waters and Colin Firth. Rob Marshall (“Chicago” and “Into the Woods”) directs and choreographs (with John DeLuca and Joey Pizzi). The new songs are by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, the gay songwriting team who won a Tony Award for “Hairspray.” Following in Mary Poppins’ wake, Jason Momoa moves from supporting actor (“Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Justice League”), to leading man in “Aquaman” (Dec. 21). Amber Heard plays his love interest Mera and Patrick Wilson plays his half-brother and rival Orm. Movie theaters will be very busy on Dec. 25 when the last of the big releases finally open. Felicity Jones plays Ruth Bader Ginsburg
in “On The Basis of Sex” which follows the early career of the famous Supreme Court Justice. Armie Hammer plays her husband Morty. The notorious RBG herself appears in the movie. Barry Jenkins, director of the Academy Award-winning “Moonlight,” returns to the big screen with “If Beale Street Could Talk,” a straight romance based on the novel by openly gay author and activist James Baldwin. Finally, Adam McKay (“The Big Short”) directs Christian Bale as Dick Cheney in “Vice,” the story of the ultimate Washington insider. The supporting cast includes Alison Pill (“American Horror Story”) as Cheney’s lesbian daughter Mary; Amy Adams (Lynne Cheney), Lily Rabe (Liz Cheney), Steve Carell (Donald Rumsfeld), Sam Rockwell (George W. Bush), Justin Kirk (Scooter Libby), Lisa Gay Hamilton (Condoleezza Rice) and Tyler Perry as Colin Powell.
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24 • NOVEMBER 23, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
QUEERY 20 QUESTIONS FOR MADONNA CACCIATORE
queery MADONNA CACCIATORE How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell? Oh, 45 or so years. I came out when I was 6 months old. Or 19, I can’t remember. My dad. He got very upset, threw all my clothes on the bed, made spaghetti, and invited my girlfriend over for dinner. Awkward.
Photo by Gene Reed
By ROBIN McWILLIAMS
When they asked my wife, Madonna Cacciatore, to come interview for the position of Executive Director of CSW/LA Pride, it was no surprise. I’ve watched her go into situations on behalf of our LGBTQIA community for years, level-headed and with pure heart, looking at the tasks ahead and knowing she would do what was needed and asked of her. She is always ready to take the steps needed to listen to all points of view, see all work ahead and watch everyone flourish with their strengths to grow in our community. I am so proud (does it show?) (mush, gush). Listening to her say, “this is amazing” and know, she feels truly at home makes me happy. When Christopher Street West (CSW), the 501(c)3 non-profit that produces the annual LA Pride Festival and Parade, announced that Madonna had been appointed to the role of Executive Director, the move was widely praised. Everyone who knows her resume seems to agree that she embodies the right mixture of leadership, development, fundraising, community affairs, and event production expertise for one of the community’s most important leadership roles. Couple that with her lifelong passion for activism and an unwavering dedication to the welfare of LA’s LGBTQ+ community, she will have the good fortune of lead helping lead CSW as events get underway for the historic 50th anniversary Pride celebrations in 2020. CSW’s board has recently undergone something of a transformation and is comprised of several new members, including Jake Brooks-Harris, President of MKG West, Experiential Marketing; Candie Davidson-Goldbronn, Associate Senior Vice President, Foundation Operations for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles; Craig Greiwe, Senior Vice President and Head of Digital for Rogers & Cowan; Tracy Paaso, Director of Membership & Events for the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce; Johanna Padilla, Linkage and Retention Coordinator at Trans Wellness Center. They join Gregory Alexander, Mistress Cyan, Gerald Garth, Kevin Kelly, Alexandra Magallon, Julie Neumark, Raul Rios, Brian Rosman, and Shayne Thomas. Departing are Steve Andrews, Chris Classen, Erica Meyer, and Marquita Thomas. Estevan Montemayor, CSW President and Board Member said of Madonna that “CSW Board of Directors has chosen a leader who so beautifully reflects our mission and core values. I can’t wait to see what amazing things we all accomplish together. I am so proud of my wife.
Who’s your LGBT hero? I have many but there are two who stand out: My brother Johnny who died of AIDS in New York City in 1991. His life was lived with vitality and passion and he taught me, me. I came out first and he took me under his beautiful wings, calling me a few years later to tell me that he’d fallen in love with a man. Through his life and death, he continues to teach me how to be strong, kind and compassionate. My other hero is Lorri Jean, CEO of the Los Angeles LGBT Center. Kick-ass leader. Strong. Compassionate. Great listener. Leader of the largest LGBT org on the planet. What’s Los Angeles’ best nightspot, past or present? Besides my house with my wife and kitties? I’d say.....the rooftop at Mama Shelter. There are unicorns up there. Describe your dream wedding. I had it with the love of my life August 5, 2017. After 14 years together, Robin and I got married at the Renberg Theatre at the Center in the Lily Tomlin / Jane Wagner Cultural Arts Center. We asked everyone to wear white (they all hated us, asking questions like, “does this wedding make my ass look big?”) Everyone sang Imagine, Carole Cook roasted us, my best friend of 40 years sang, our dear friend played the piano and Lorri married us. Best night of my life. What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about? Animals. I don’t eat them and I try to save them all. Ask my wife. It drives her crazy. I take spiders outside in a cup. What historical outcome would you change? The 2016 presidential election. What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime? Prince $25 concerts On what do you insist? Respect.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet? Transgender Remembrance Day If your life were a book, what would the title be? Cacciatore. A fluid continuum. If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do? Be exactly who I am right now. Women... yeah. I’d tell science to focus other things like discovering a way to change mean people into kind ones. What do you believe in beyond the physical world? A really awesome place of pure love. Puppies. Horses. Kittens. Kindness. No judgment. What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders? Stay true to yourself. Surround yourself with kind, caring people. Don’t take any crap. What would you walk across hot coals for? To save a life or to save any living being from being hurt or tortured. What LGBT stereotype annoys you most? Let’s see, UHaul 2nd date, flannel shirts, softball. I’ve done all of those so I guess I like them. What’s your favorite LGBT movie? As long as I’m watching them, they’re LGBT. I did love “A Fantastic Woman.” Great storytelling. What’s the most overrated social custom? Washing your hands after using the restroom. Just kidding. The forks on the left. I’m righthanded. Actually, I don’t even know which side they go on. We ate on TV trays. What trophy or prize do you most covet? Best Supporting Actor at the DC At the Source Theatre Festival years ago for my role as a washed up Miss America in “Sweet Dreams, Miss America.” What do you wish you’d known at 18? That a career in theatre could be a day job. Why Los Angeles? I got a small co-star role on “The Fugitive” TV show in Seattle. My background was in dance and theatre so when they walked me to me trailer for my small role, I packed my bags and moved to LA.
26 • NOVEMBER 23, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Mariah’s return New album ‘Caution’ sustains slinky, sexy mood throughout By JOEY DiGUGLIELMO
The new Mariah Carey record ‘Caution’ is a little samey throughout, yet rich textures, current production keep things moving. Photo courtesy Epic)
Mariah Carey is pretty consistent. She’s never really made an all-out dud. Even the most nominal of fans can always find something enjoyable on her many studio albums. It’s just that sometimes they’re so clunkily and pretentiously titled, many don’t bother to check them out. In stark contrast to snappily titled early releases like “Daydream” (1995), “Butterfly” (1997) and “Rainbow” (1999) came more recent efforts such as “Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel” (2009) and the ludicrously titled “Me. I Am Mariah … the Elusive Chanteuse” (2014), the lowestselling album of her long career. You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover or an album by its title (“Angel” and “Chanteuse” both had worthy moments) but thankfully we can get past all that titular tomfoolery with “Caution,” (**1/2 out of four) her Epic label debut out last week. Is it a great start-to-finish record? No. And if you’ve been out of the Mariah loop for awhile and pick it up thinking there’s gonna be a barnburner like “Honey,” “Make it Happen” or “Dreamlover,” well — dream on. Any longtime music fan knows sometimes our favorite acts don’t always make the record we wanted them to. The “Caution”-era Mariah, now in her late 40s, is musically more subtle. These tracks don’t come roaring out of the gate. This is a richly atmospheric record you can play anywhere; its slinky, sexy, lite hip-hop grooves (courtesy a wide array of top-shelf producers) are easy on the ear. The handful of rap cameos from Ty Dolla Sign, Slick Rick, Blood Orange and Gunna are woven in deftly. There’s a sonic cohesiveness (although some might call it a mid-tempo rut) to the whole thing that’s refreshing. It’s also a tight record with just 10 songs clocking in at 39 minutes total. Carey deserves kudos for reining in both musical excess and overall bloat here. The best cuts all come early. “GTFO” (“get the fuck out”) is mellow and chill and would sound great on a turntable. Despite it being a sly and cleverly worded kiss-off, it’s an ear worm and a great opening cut. First (non-promo) single “With You” drips with atmosphere and Carey and a lover enjoy “shots of Remy/playin’ confessions and our bodies blending/ooooh I’m in love it’s true/yeah damn I fux witchu.” Of course she’s no Bob Dylan (Carey co-penned all 10 cuts), but we never expected her to be. It’s again mellow, the chord progressions flow like melted butter and the lyrics are loose enough so as to give her plenty of room to improvise as the song reaches a boil. She does it all with her usual tricks — doubled vocals an octave higher, ad-libby sounding outro lyrics, cascading vocal melismas and even a subtle cameo from her famed “whistle register,” (the upper reaches of her vocal range which early on were her trademark). Carey has struggled in live performance in recent years. Her range has at times appeared shot, her pitch shockingly iffy and even her mid-range lacking the luster it had in the ‘90s. But with all the studio bells and whistles at her disposal, Carey sounds great on “Caution.” The range is there but you never feel like she’s beating you over the head with vocal gymnastics. The title cut is mellow, slinky and catchy. Several tracks follow in similar lush, always midtempo fashion — cute “A No No,” radio-friendly and current-sounding “The Distance,” vapory Streisand-referencing “Giving Me Life” and plinky, sputtering “Stay Long Love You.” She’s variously horny, nostalgic, ready to put a douchey lover in his place and so on. There’s no grand statement here about anything, but that’s OK. There are only two out-and-out duds — inane “One Mo’ Gen” (just her hoody way of saying she wants to have sex again over neo-Vaudevillian chords) and nicely textured but lyrically weak “8th Grade,” which makes absolutely no sense. The record only changes gear at all on final cut “Portrait,” a heartbroken piano ballad that ends on an optimistic note and a major chord. It’s the only cut that particularly goes anywhere, reaching a nice little musical/vocal froth that just as quickly simmers back down. You never particularly feel in these choices that Carey is reining things in to save herself taxation. That could be a factor but it feels more like an artistic choice and overall it works quite well. Sadly Carey is now — by sheer age and sexism alone — several years into the inevitable radio shut-out that plagues all divas after about age 35. She had a decent hit (no. 15) with Miguel with “#Beautiful” in 2013, but her last no. 1 (“Touch My Body”) is a full decade behind her. “With You” has done OK on some of the minor charts but hasn’t cracked the Hot 100, which would have been unthinkable for Carey in the ‘90s or early ‘00s. How our various veteran lady artists tackle this sad reality creatively is always interesting to witness. “Caution” is no “E=MC2” (Carey’s last great record) but it’s uber current sounding, subtle and captures the singer vamping around like she’s still in her fun-loving and sexual prime without coming off as Norma Desmond-ish. She’s hovering — if not totally hitting — a late career sweet spot that sounds warm and inviting whether radio decides to do anything with it or not.
28 • NOVEMBER 23, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Jaden and Tyler go where Will Smith didn’t And Trump’s attorney general loves a well-hung man By BILLY MASTERS
Jaden Smith and Tyler, The Creator. Photo courtesy Jaden Smith via Facebook
“Broadway’s disastrous ‘King Kong’ is a $35 million crime against puppets.” - Rex Reed’s headline for his review of “King Kong: The Musical.” I haven’t read any further, so don’t ruin it for me. But do you think he likes it? Usually I wait till the end of my Thanksgiving column to give thanks. But you know what? I’m thankful right off the bat. I’m thankful to be alive, and I’m thankful you’re reading this column. And, well... that’s it. Typically I’m a greedy bitch, but that just about covers it. Everyone is talking about Michelle Obama’s biography, which seems to be the book Mr. Obama would have written if he were free to say whatever he’d like. But you know, presidents used to maintain a certain level of decorum and discretion. Be that as it may, Mrs. Obama can say whatever she’d like - within reason. One section stood out for me. On the day the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage, LGBT folks were celebrating in front of the White House. Michelle wanted to share the historic day with her daughter, Malia. She tried to sneak out of the White House (as if) to join the festivities - not considering she wasn’t wearing any makeup...or shoes! She whipped herself together, and went out incognito with Malia. “We just took it in. I held her tight, and my feeling was, we are moving forward. Change is happening.” Jussie Smollett is enjoying having a fiancé on “Empire.” But it almost turned out quite differently. “There was talk about Jamal having a white boyfriend and I said, ‘Fuck no!’ Not for any reason except we have a responsibility and we have such a beautiful opportunity to show two black men in a relationship together, in a healthy relationship. But it was important and that wasn’t anything against white men. It was just a thing of...this is what I wished I had seen as a kid because if I had seen certain things as an adolescent, I would have had a much different understanding of who I am in an earlier space.” Then there’s Jaden Smith, who is going somewhere Daddy never went. At a recent show, he said, “I just want to say Tyler, The Creator is the best friend in the whole world and I love him so fucking much. And I want to tell you guys something - Tyler doesn’t want to say, but Tyler is my motherfucking boyfriend, and he’s been my motherfucking boyfriend my whole fucking life. Tyler, The Creator is my fucking boyfriend. It’s true!” Or is it? Tyler, The Creator (a name I’m fairly confident doesn’t appear on a birth certificate) can be seen shaking his head offstage. Then Jaden Tweeted, “I told everyone you can’t deny it now.” Tyler responded with a post of his own (and don’t get mad at me - I’m just quoting him): “hahaha you a crazy BLEEP man.” Part of me believes this. Part of me doesn’t. Part of me doesn’t have a clue who Tyler, The Creator is. And part of me thinks this is a bunch of straight guys laughing about being gay...which brings us back to Will. It wouldn’t be the first gay rumors about Tyler, The Creator (and let’s hope I don’t ever have to type those three words again). Last year, he wrote a song extolling the virtues of Timothée Chalamet. In “Okra” (get ready to sing along), he rapped: “Tell Tim Chalamet to come and get at me, skin glowin’, clear of acne.” Now, there’s a talent. I bet even Cole Porter wouldn’t know what to rhyme with acne - let alone Clearasil! Still, it’s nice to see Tyler doesn’t have a type. Didya know our Acting Attorney General has a secret about his private parts? Back in 2014, Matthew Whitaker was on the advisory board of World Patent Marketing Company, which developed a toilet for well-endowed men! Their research showed that well-hung guys’ penises dangle into the water when they sit on a toilet. “The average male genitalia is between 5” and 6.” However, this invention is designed for those of us who measure longer than that. I estimate that a 12” distance is adequate enough for most well-endowed men. An ‘extra long’ (XL) version can always be created if needed.” This product would be right up Barbara Corcoran’s alley on “Shark Tank.” The company was shut down after it allegedly bilked “thousands of consumers out of millions of dollars.” WHAT? There are thousands of customers for this product! LOL. Time to get busy. Our “Ask Billy” question comes from Victor in Detroit. “I just read that Michael C. Hall says he’s bisexual. Didn’t you write about this years ago?” Apparently I knew before Mikey did. In an interview with “The Daily Beast,” he said that appearing in “Cabaret” made him aware of it. “I think there’s a spectrum. I am on it. If there was a percentage, I would say I was not all the way heterosexual. I think playing the Emcee required me to fling a bunch of doors wide open because that character I imagined as pansexual. Yeah, like I made out with Michael Stuhlbarg every night doing the show. I think I have always leaned into any fluidity in terms of my sexuality.” He added, “I’ve never had an intimate relationship with a man.” Now, I don’t want to call Michael C. Hall a liar, but I think he’s a big fat liar...just my humble opinion. As a bonus, we’ll give you a nude nobody asked for. You all watch “Will & Grace.” And you all know Jack’s biological son, Elliot. In the film “In a Relationship”, actor Michael Angarano appears naked and shows off his assets - if you’re into that kinda thing.
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30 • NOVEMBER 23, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Chico’s Angels in Feliz NaviDivas 2018 is tonight at 8 p.m. at Casita del Campo (1920 Hyperion Blvd.). Join the ever-popular Chico’s Angels as they don their cha-cha stockings for the opening night of their Holiday show, Feliz NaviDivas. Spice up your season with Kay Sedia, Chita Parol and Frieda Laye, as they take their audience on a magical show with sparkling stories, seasonal music and their own take on the classic “Christmas Carol” story – or as they would call it: “A Chico’s Christmas Carol.” If you can’t make it for the opening, don’t worry – the show runs through Nov. 28 before heading off to Palm Springs Dec. 12 – 16. Get your tickets at chicosangels.com.
Queer Clothing Swap is today at 11 a.m. at Dungeon East DTLA (address provided with ticket purchase). Bring your clothes, shoes and accessories to be swapped! The hope is to have a wide variety of sizing, including extra small to plus-size, in a supportive queer fashion environment – leave your shade at the door please! Mimosas, orange juice, coffee and bottled water will be provided, along with cheese platters and vegan doughnuts from Donut Friend. Please bring food potluck style to share. Whatever has not been swapped will be donated to Los Angeles LGBT Center. 21 and over only please. Leave animal pets at home. Suggested donation sliding scale is $5-$20. You can bring clothes to swap (one large garbage bag or travel size carry-on limit person) or you don’t have to bring anything at all - there’s always plenty! Donations through Eventbrite.com. Toy Box Party 23! - LGBTQ Toy Drive – Sun. Nov. 25 @ 4:00 PM at Kimpton La Peer Hotel (627 La Peer Drive). Join sponsors US Bank and HBO for the 23rd Annual Toy Box Party at La Peer Hotel in West Hollywood. Over the years they’ve given thousands of toys to less fortunate kids in Los Angeles living with or affected by HIV/AIDS. Please bring an unwrapped toy and they’ll give you a free cocktail! Put on your Holiday best and come out for the biggest toy drive in the Los Angeles LGBTQ+ community! The “Ambassador Elves” council includes Elton John and David Furnish, Ryan Murphy and David Miller, Simon Halls and Matt Bomer, Dustin Lance Black and Tom Daley, and many other luminaries who need your help to make the holidays brighter. For more information visit the event’s Facebook page.
LA officially lights up for Christmas in Grand Park. See Nov. 26.
LA County Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony is today at 5 p.m. at Grand Park (200 N. Grand Ave.). The holiday season is on. Usher in this festive time of year with the official lighting of LA County’s Christmas tree in Grand Park. Come enjoy chamber music, performances, holiday cheer and hot chocolate for all in one of DTLA’s most beautiful community spaces. Arrive early for free Starbucks coffee and hot chocolate, while supplies last. Grab your coworkers, friends and family and celebrate
the light and love of the holidays. For more information on this free event, visit musiccenter.org/treelighting.
Designing Women Drag Show Fundraiser is tonight at 8 p.m. at West Elm DTLA (928 Suite A S. Broadway). DTLA PROUD is taking over West Elm’s newest location in downtown Los Angeles to raise funds on Giving Tuesday for the DTLA PROUD Community Center capital campaign. DJ Josh Peace will keep the festive vibes flowing while our drag mistress of ceremonies, Ongina, with Kimora Blac, Misty Violet, Beverly Luxe and Meatball sleigh the night away. Tito’s hosted bar and light bites provided. Admission is $20 per person, and 100% of ticket sales will go towards building the DTLA PROUD Community Center. Get your tickets at Eventbrite.com.
Yass! You’re Amazing: Comedian Daniel Franzese Live is tonight at 8 p.m. at Irvine Spectrum Center (670 Irvine Center Dr., Irvine). Sure, it’s a drive, but it’s sure to be worth it to see the man who stole our hearts as the lovable Damian in the classic “Mean Girls.” He’s also appeared in TV shows like HBO’s “Looking,” and Freeform’s “Recovery Road,” along with movies like “Bully,” and “I Spit On Your Grave.” Now come and see him as you’ve never seen him before, with a no-holds-barred hot microphone! A wellknown proponent and speaker for the LGBT Community and thought leader for body positivity, his upbeat, high energy stand-up comedy act captures his amazing and quirky life in the entertainment industry, as well as hilarious stories about his Italian parents from Brooklyn, his bilingual dog, and his fear of Pompeii. ickets are available on Eventbrite.com.
Henry & Glenn Forever Toy Party! is today at 6 p.m. at La Luz De Jesus Gallery (4633 Hollywood Blvd.). Join La Luz de Jesus Gallery, Soap Plant and Wacko from 6-9 p.m. for a very special Henry & Glenn Toy Party. Celebrate the classic Igloo Tornado and Tom Neely “Henry & Glenn Forever” comic (featuring metal icons Henry Rollins and Glenn Danzig as caring “roommates” and Satanists) at this special event featuring exclusive, new and limited toy collaborations from Tom Neely with special guest Kalaka Toys, along with Pretty in Plastic, Yesterdays.co, and Rocom. There will also be other wonderful Henry & Glenn gifts that make great stocking stuffers as well as a Free Henry & Glenn Artwork giveaway to one lucky customer. For more information, check out the event’s Facebook page.
E-mail calendar items to firstname.lastname@example.org two weeks prior to your event. Space is limited so priority is given to LGBT-specific events or those with LGBT participants. Recurring events must be re-submitted each time.
Performances By Jussie Smollett AlunaGeorge Lion Babe Hosted By Montana Tucker Event Chair Frank Gatson Choreographers Chris Grant JaQuel Knight Tricia Miranda Jason Samuels Smith Co-Chairs Brandon Anthony Lance Bass Legendary Damon Eve Victoria Justice Chloe Lukasiak Gilles Marini Serayah Larsen Thompson
On Saturday, December 1, 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! To purchase tickets, please visit:
DANCE2CURE CHALLENGE CONSULTANT Jason Seto To Benefit amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research
LA Blade 111918 D2C full.indd 1
To purchase tickets visit:
www.amfar.org/Dance2Cure 11/20/18 8:52 AM
MEET MICHAEL KEY Photo Editor
When I came out in high school in the mid-90s there were few positive representations of LGBT life to be found in the media, but I found a copy of the Washington Blade at my local library in Fairfax, Va. I was very excited as soon as I started reading the paper as a closeted teenager in high school. Here was a paper that represented a community that I knew had to exist, but I hadn’t yet found. The Washington Blade helped me to come out in my senior year.
Michael Key reporting on LGBT life in Havana.
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I couldn’t imagine back then that I would be working now as an adult at the nation’s oldest and most respected LGBT newspaper capturing the movement in photos. I have had the privilege to cover the Obama years: the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the dismantling of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the sweeping Supreme Court ruling granting marriage equality. Today, I cover the news in photographs from the Trump White House and the many protests countering the policies of the current administration as well as other events of interest to the LGBT community. The Blade changed my life and I am privileged to bring the news to a new generation of movers and shakers.
YOUR TAX-DEDUCTIBLE DONATION SUPPORTS THE WORK OF THE BLADE FOUNDATION, A 501(C)3 DEDICATED TO FUNDING ENTERPRISE JOURNALISM PROJECTS ON LGBTQ ISSUES.