DESPITE MIDTERM VICTORY, INTERNAL FIRING SQUAD TAKES AIM, PAGE 06
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04 • NOVEMBER 30, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
WeHo City Council election filing deadline is Dec. 7 Diverse challengers taking on well-known incumbents By CHRISTOPHER KANE Three City Council seats are on the line in the West Hollywood General Municipal Election to be held on Tuesday, March 5, 2019. Those elected help direct and determine the fate of the creative city and its iconic progressive values. The period to pull nominating papers for the election ends on Dec. 7 at 5 p.m. Anyone interested in running must make an appointment with the City Clerk’s office to collect nomination papers and review requirements. Potential candidates must be aged 18 or older and a WeHo resident registered to vote in the city. The candidate must also collect 20 and 30 signatures from other registered WeHo voters endorsing the nomination. Several well-known figures in the community have announced their plans to run for election or re-election. Incumbent councilmembers John D’Amico, Lauren Meister and Lindsey Horvath are seeking to retain their seats, with fellow councilmembers John Duran and John Heilman lining up with Horvath, as D’Amico
WeHo City Hall could get new council members next year.
and Meister hold a joint fundraiser. The incumbents are being challenged by: James Duke Mason, son of Belinda Carlisle, who serves on the City’s Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board; Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce Executive Director and former LA Pride Board member Marquita Thomas, a member of WeHo’s Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board;
political newcomer Timothy Williams, a writer and podcast producer for Haus of Liontruth. If either Thomas or Williams wins, WeHo City Council would have its first African-American council member since its founding in 1984. Also announcing their intention to run are: actor Shawn Davis Mooney, another political novice; Eric John Schmidt, who
apparently volunteers for local non-profits and, according to WeHoVille, is a proud aficionado of public nudity and sexual exhibitionism; Jack Cline, a drag queen; and Tom Demille, who has previously run for a council seat. West Hollywood has a record of outspokenness and advocacy in areas concerning social justice and civil rights. The City was first formed as a haven for renters, LGBT people, and seniors— communities whose representation in municipal government is still of central importance. But WeHo is also known for its expressive, contentious fights over politics. This election season, which has already started in earnest now, should prove interesting with the possibility of old wounds and old alignments re-emerging among the incumbents and newcomers seek to get attention and wedge themselves into front-runner status. For more information, please call the City of West Hollywood’s City Clerk’s Office at (323) 848-6409. For people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, please call TTY (323) 848-6496. For up-to-date news and events, follow the City of West Hollywood on social media @WeHoCity and sign up for News Updates at www.weho.org/email. - Troy Masters contributed to this story.
California Democratic win solidifies 40th House seat Caucus approves Pelosi, votes down Lee By KAREN OCAMB firstname.lastname@example.org Three weeks after the historic midterm elections, California continued to churn out victories. Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi secured her closed-door caucus vote Nov. 28, with no opposition, to make her historic, triumphant return as House Speaker next year. The final floor vote is on Jan. 3 after the Democrats are sworn in and retake the House majority. Republicans are also expected to elect California Rep. Kevin McCarthy, considered a friend of President Trump, as Minority Leader.
Not all Californians have been successful, however. Longtime LGBT ally Rep. Barbara Lee from the East Bay area was defeated in her bid to make history as the first black female chair of the Democratic caucus by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York. Jeffries, 48, a rising star who is considered a potential future Speaker, won by 123-113 votes, a victory for the “youth movement” challenging the established old guard leadership. The last midterm congressional race was also decided Nov. 28 in Fresno County, with Democrat T.J. Cox finally knocking off incumbent Republican Rep. David Valadao to become the 40th House seat secured by the promised Big Blue Wave. The Washington Post called the Democrat wins— seven seats in California
alone—a vindication for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) “wading into primaries in swing districts caused months of angry grumbling from the left, including a public rebuke from Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez and an onslaught of negative coverage from left-leaning outlets like The Intercept. But the leaders of the party committee cared more about winning the House majority than ruffling feathers, and it’s becoming clearer as the dust settles that their strategy succeeded.” Cox’s win was particularly sweet in California’s 21st Congressional District since he had to be convinced by the DCCC to run against Valadao in the Central Valley, rather than against Rep. Jeff Denham in the Sacramento area. Democratic polling
indicated Denham would face a Republican in a run-off in California’s jungle primary. Instead, Democratic venture capitalist Josh Harder ran against Denham, flipping the seat from red-to-blue. It turns out Orange County is not the only anti-Trump county. Locally, Alex Villanueva, 55, a relatively unknown lieutenant who identified as a Democrat, won his long-shot campaign against incumbent LA County Sheriff Jim McDonnell, a longtime LGBT ally. Villanueva says he has been discriminated against by the department as he tried to advance his career. “No matter how hard I worked, how much schooling I got, every door was shut,” he told the LA Times. “So I figured, well, there’s one door that’s always open, and that’s [the sheriff’s] office. That’s the one job they forgot to safeguard against.”
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06 • NOVEMBER 30, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
A coup in the California Democratic Party? Despite midterm victory, internal firing squad aims at gay chair Eric Bauman By KAREN OCAMB email@example.com In addition to the historic flipping of rock red Republican congressional seats and electing California’s first openly gay statewide official, Democrats virtually decimated the state GOP during the midterm elections. “It’s been decades since California Democrats had this much power at the Capitol,” blared a Nov. 26 Sacramento Bee headline. Democrats, The Bee wrote, “are on pace to control three-fourths of the Assembly — 60 out of 80 seats — a feat that has not been accomplished in 135 years, in 1883. In the Senate, Democrats are likely to grab 29 seats out of 40, which would be the party’s largest advantage since 1962 (except for a brief period in 2012).” But Democrats seem to have a penchant for complicating victories, forming a circular firing squad to kill off or maim someone perceived to have too much power. A rump group of House rebels—considered by some to be the Democratic equivalent of the Republican Freedom Caucus—is challenging establishment Leader Nancy Pelosi in her historic campaign to re-take the gavel as Speaker next year, despite Pelosi’s winning midterm messaging. And in California, a handful of Democratic Party staffers and associates—some of whom were aligned with Kimberly Ellis, Eric Bauman’s 2017 Berniecratic opponent for party chair—have alleged sexual harassment and sexual assault charges against Bauman, forcing him to take a leave of absence while Debra Henshaw Vierra from the outside law firm of Churchwell White investigates the allegations. But given the publicity, the rush to judgment and societal interpretations of gay male gestures and flirtations by today’s #MeToo standards, it is very possible that no matter what the determination of the official investigation, Bauman—one of the key architects of the California midterm success—may not be able to shake the scarlet letter of misconduct. So what happened? Is Bauman the
Eric Bauman at the California Democratic Party Convention Feb. 2018 Photo by Karen Ocamb
political Kevin Spacey or California’s Al Franken or an old-fashioned gay guy who talks sincerely about sexual harassment but hasn’t applied it to his own gay culture flirtations? The story that may bring down a “kingmaker” burst into the open the weekend of Nov. 23-25 during the CDP Executive Board meeting. But it originated before the Nov. 6 elections, according to news accounts. Bauman was leading a statewide get-out-the-vote bus tour when “two young women on the bus reported alcohol was consumed and inappropriate sex talk occurred on Nov. 1,” out David Campos, chair of the San Francisco Democratic Party, told the Associated Press. They were headed for a Nov. 2 event in San Francisco with Leader Pelosi but when
“her campaign team and Campos learned of the incidents aboard the bus,” they told state party officials “that Bauman and the bus should stay away,” Campos told AP. The wire service added that “it appeared Bauman engaged in the misbehavior and did not intervene to stop others from acting inappropriately,” citing Campos as the source. “We felt, and I felt, it was important for us, given we had serious credible allegations, not to have Chair Bauman attend this getout-the-vote event in San Francisco,” said Campos, who first revealed the details to the Bay Area Reporter. On Nov. 28, the Los Angeles Times published interviews with the two young women. Grace Leekley, 21, identified as a temporary worker in the party’s
communications department, who said she did not want to ride on the bus because of Bauman. But she met up with the tour Nov. 1 in Chico and joined the staff for lunch. She sat next to Kate Earley, 21, identified as having started about six weeks earlier as the party’s digital director. “Leekley and Earley said that during the lunch, Bauman shushed the staffers at the table and then asked the women, within earshot of their colleagues, if the two were having an affair. When both women said no, Bauman pressed the issue, they said, telling them he would not mind if they were involved in a sexual relationship so long as it did not affect the workplace,” The Times reported. Described another way—Bauman teasingly asked the two young women
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • NOVEMBER 30, 2018 • 07
CDP Chair Eric Bauman with Michael Andraychak, his husband of more than 30 years Photo by Karen Ocamb
if they were a couple—it was OK if they were, just not at work. And herein lies a problem: Bauman may have thought he was warmly joking around but it was apparently perceived by the two new young staffers as sexual harassment and they felt intimidated. “I felt really embarrassed, almost ashamed, and uncomfortable,” Leekley told The Times. “I’m basically bottom-of-thebarrel staff — and he’s the most powerful man in the party. I didn’t feel comfortable saying anything.” “A party staffer told The Times that he heard Bauman make the comments and said the two women told him afterward they felt deeply uncomfortable. Earley filed a complaint to her supervisor within 30 minutes of the incident and spoke with the human resources department later that day,
she said. Her attorney said the complaint remains unresolved,” The Times reported Nov. 28. “As of the time he took a leave of absence on Monday, Bauman had not seen a formal complaint, according to a source close to the chairman.” As of Nov. 29, CDP spokeperson Mike Roth has not replied to inquires from the Los Angeles Blade about if and when any complaints have been officially filed and by whom. It is not yet known what Earley’s supervisor or the human resources department did with her complaint. But here’s where things get murky. The bus tour incident occurred on Nov. 1 but apparently nothing more was said or done until Nov. 23, the Black Friday after Thanksgiving, when party Vice-Chair Daraka Larimore-Hall suddenly circulated
a “Statement of Charges” to members via email and on social media alleging sexual harassment and sexual assault and a call for Bauman to resign. But he apparently did not confront Bauman directly during the Executive Board meeting. “This past weekend, I learned of multiple serious and credible allegations that Chairman Bauman sexually harassed, and in some cases sexually assaulted, individuals during party functions, and of at least one incident of Chairman Bauman tampering with witnesses. I have spoken directly with two victims, who confirm the allegations, and I spoke to the potential witness whom Chairman Bauman intimidated. I understand there are additional victims as well,” Larimore-Hall wrote. “ I believe the victims. Their stories illustrate a clear and
escalating pattern of Chairman Bauman’s horrific and dehumanizing behavior.” Larimore-Hall is not specific about the charges, doesn’t identify the victims and asks for respect for the victims’ privacy rights. In a second letter, he explains that he was approached “by a number of Party staff who confided in me their stories of sexual harassment and assault” by Bauman. He calls them “survivors,” and “young political professionals, many of whom are at the very beginning of their careers.” Obviously, he says, “it is completely unacceptable for Chairman Bauman to remain in office given these credible, corroborated and utterly heart-breaking allegations.” The first note sounds like Leekley and Earley and the party staffer who overheard Bauman talk to the young women at lunch. But when and how did the two turn into a “number of Party Staff” who came forward to share their experiences? This is before Rep. Ro Khanna (D-San Jose) broke the allegations wide open with a tweet on Friday, Nov. 23. “The allegations of sexual assault that @ DarakaKenric is filing against @EricBauman are shocking. CalDems should replace him with @mldauber who is one of the nation’s foremost scholars on sexual harassment & led the Persky recall campaign. We need a bold feminist to lead for 2020.” When Stanford law professor Michele Dauber said thanks but no thanks, others suggested that “a more fitting successor for Bauman would be Kimberly Ellis, who lost the election for party chair by just 62 votes after a contentious race in 2017. Dauber and Khanna agreed that Ellis—who represented the more progressive wing of the Democratic Party—would be well qualified for the role, if she still wants it. Ellis did not immediately respond to a request for comment,” sanjoseinside.com reported Saturday. Were the Party staffers Ellis supporters who Bauman hired to try to create unity after the infamously contentious race for Party chair? Or were they staffers from former chair John Burton’s regime, when Bauman served as party vice-chair? If the latter, why did none of them come forward during that 2009-2017 time period when Burton was more intimidating than Bauman? And while there were rumors about Bauman being Continues on Page 08
08 • NOVEMBER 30, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Bauman accusations roil Democrats after big wins Continued from Page 07
“handsy” at parties, as one gay person told the Los Angeles Blades, there were no official or registered complaints or leaked stories about Bauman during the 17 years he served as Chair of the LA County Democratic Party. Bauman, a registered nurse, started his political career at Stonewall Democratic Club where he grew the club into a political powerhouse helping elect local, state and national candidates. His behind-the-scenes strategic political acumen resulted in senior-level positions in state government, including serving as Senior Advisor and LA Director of office services for Speakers John A. Perez, Toni Atkins and Anthony Rendon; Senior Advisor to Senate Majority Leader Dean Florez; Senior Advisor to Lt. Gov. John Garamendi and when Garamendi served as Insurance Commissioner; Special Assistant to Gov. Gray Davis and Director of Davis’ LA Office. While some politicos complained about his gruff Bronx/Jewish style, he also served as a generous mentor to many and no credible complaint was leaked to the press or filed from a staffer or party-goer during this time. However, during Bauman’s unexpectedly heated race to become the first openly LGBT CDP chair in May 2017, a number of inaccurate accusations from the Ellis camp emerged. The worst was that he had engaged in “inappropriate behavior with 14- and 16-year-old boys,” an old but painful and effective trope used against LGBT people. “What they’re accusing me of is being a child predator! And I lost it. I started crying uncontrollably,” Bauman told the Los Angeles Blade (May 15, 2017). Then Bauman thought: “how many people are accused of things or are victims of abuse and they hide in shame and so it continues?” He fumed in an email. “This is despicable! This is not the Democratic Party! These are Trumpian tactics and it has to stop! I’m a pretty tough guy and I can take the attacks, lies, distortions, and mud that has been slung at me pretty well,” Bauman wrote. “But to accuse me of child abuse, especially of this nature, is beyond the pale and 100% unacceptable.” The Machiavellian rumor was apparently started by a gay Ellis supporter. Ellis denounced the tactic but references to the rumor have shown up in social media responses to the current allegations. It’s
Eric Bauman (on right) at event where Gov. Gray Davis (seated) signed domestic partnership bill Photo by Karen Ocamb
hard to un-ring a bell. Bauman seemed too politically savvy to cross lines of propriety. In Dec. 2011, in an unflattering LA Weekly story calling him the “L.A. Democratic Party Kingmaker,” the author describes Bauman’s arm-twisting as “machine politics at its finest.” To which Bauman replied: “I don’t make promises or ask people to do things in a quid pro quo format. That would be against the law. I’m way too high-profile, way too visible a guy to do that.” The Los Angeles Blade spoke with numerous gay and straight politicos familiar with Bauman and his decadeslong leadership in the Democratic Party. They requested anonymity for fear of being dragged into a controversy that might sully their own name or out of respect for the due-process investigation or not wanting to appear to attack the alleged victims. Two gay men independently said that years ago Bauman said hello with a lingering pat or quick grab of the butt at an event— but neither man considered the touch sexual harassment. They said Bauman never followed up with anything physical or with sexually explicit comments. Several people said they saw him drink but never saw him drunk. Others said he was often flirtatious, would give an unexpected shoulder rub and sometimes made lewd jokes and risqué gestures that made some
people uncomfortable—but never to the degree that he should be reported for sexual harassment. No one ever experienced or witnessed him commit the crime of sexual assault such as grabbing or groping. But there were notes of hesitation, too. “I don’t believe any of it,” one politico told the Los Angeles Blade. “Except Larimore-Hall is too smart to use the term ‘sexual assault’ unless he had something behind it.” “I take seriously any allegation brought forward by anyone who believes they have been caused pain,” Bauman said in a statement that did not include an abject denial. He announced the independent investigation “ensuring these individuals making the charges are treated with respect and free from any concerns of retaliation.” He added that he looks “forward to putting these allegations behind us and moving forward as unified Democrats.” Alex Gallardo-Rooker, another party vice chair, is serving as acting chairwoman during the investigation. The story grabbed national headlines but seemed to disappear as other splashier news moved center stage. And then came the Nov. 28 bombshell, with The Times interviews of 10 party staffers and political activists who claimed Bauman “made crude sexual comments and engaged in unwanted touching or physical intimidation in professional settings.”
“People just didn’t know how to speak up about it,” Allan Acevedo, an activist with California Young Democrats told The Times. “There was a sense of loyalty. Not just to him, but to any advancement that any LGBT person makes in terms of us having representation at the table.” “Eight current party staffers said that, while he was serving as chairman, Bauman would regularly make sexually explicit comments in the workplace to men and women, including remarks about sexual acts, his and other staffers’ genitalia, and being sexually attracted to staff members,” The Times reported, citing some accusers by name. “The eight staff members each said they also experienced or witnessed Bauman engaging in unwanted touching, particularly directed toward male staffers.” The California Democratic Party’s handbook defines prohibited behavior, including sexual harassment and assault, and prohibits the use of alcohol while at work. On Nov. 28, Bauman, 59, said he’s going to rehab. ”I deeply regret if my behavior has caused pain to any of the outstanding individuals with whom I’ve had the privilege to work. I appreciate the courage it took for these individuals to come forward to tell their stories,” Bauman said in a statement. “In the interest of allowing the CDP’s independent investigation to move forward, I do not wish to respond to any of the specific allegations. However, I will use the time I am on leave to immediately seek medical intervention to address serious, ongoing health issues and to begin treatment for what I now realize is an issue with alcohol.” What will the investigation determine? Was this a behind-the-scenes political coup by progressive purists who want to rid the CDP of the old guard? Are the allegations asserted by a new generation with internalized homophobia? Or might Bauman have been blind to his own bad behavior? In any event, there has been a coup—an overthrowing of the old gay cultural attitudes of physical and verbal coziness, which is unacceptable in today’s professional environment. “Leading the California Democratic Party to historic victories has been the honor of a lifetime, and I look forward to continuing this important work upon the conclusion of the investigation and when my health allows,” Bauman said in his statement.
10 • NOVEMBER 30, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Rick Zbur honored for environmental work Personal commitment stems from growing up with contaminated drinking water By KAREN OCAMB firstname.lastname@example.org Many in the LGBT community may be unaware that Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur has another not-so-secret passion: He’s a longtime environmentalist. In fact, he is the immediate past board chair for the California League of Conservation Voters, which honored him on Thursday, Nov. 29, along with Black Women for Wellness and civil rights icon Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers and Equality California board member. The LGBT community first recognized Zbur’s commitment to both LGBT equality and the environment when he ran for Congress in 1996 in the 38th Congressional District. At the time, the young attorney, a graduate of both Yale and Harvard, was a senior partner at Latham & Watkins specializing in the environment, land and resources out of the firm’s Los Angeles office. Though he won the Democratic Party Primary, Zbur narrowly lost in the general election, with a ruckus raised over his campaign when the Human Rights Campaign endorsed the moderate Republican incumbent until essentially being forced by the local SoCal LGBT community to duel-endorse. “My commitment to environmental protection is very personal,” Zbur tells the Los Angeles Blade. “I grew up in a Latino farm community in New Mexico’s Rio Grande valley, the area where my mom Erlinda Chavez and her family have lived for generations. The community obtained their drinking water from unregulated shallow groundwater wells that had been polluted from leaking underground storage tanks and agricultural chemicals. As I was growing up, I saw my grandfather, cousins, aunts and uncles become ill from cancer and kidney disease, which I believe was due to the water they drank all their lives. “For me, environmental protection is about protecting people and the health of our communities,” he continues. “As a parent, I also worry about the world that we will leave our kids if we do not take seriously and address the threat of climate change. Our failure to act
‘My commitment to environmental protection is very personal,’ said Equality California President Rick Zbur. Photo courtesy EQCA
on climate will mean that the world we leave them, our way of life and the opportunities they have will be very different from today.” Zbur believes the LGBT movement and the environmental movement have similar and overlapping goals. “At their core, both movements share the goal of improving the heath and wellbeing of people,” he says. “The LGBTQ community experiences huge disparities in health and well-being compared to the general public. Because of historical and systemic discrimination, LGBTQ people— especially LGBTQ immigrants and people of color—are more likely to be living in poverty, and therefore more likely to be living in lower income communities near pollution sources. As a result, LGBTQ people are more likely to experience exposure to pollution that negatively impacts their health.” The environmental justice movement, meanwhile, has long fought to protect the health of lower-income communities that are often used as dumping grounds for industrial facilities and other pollution
sources—and “has been ringing the alarm bells about the very real threat of climate change for decades,” Zbur says. Though California’s horrendous wildfires and the increasingly severe tropical storms and hurricanes “should be a call to action,” Zbur says, “the Republican Party has been captured by Big Oil, Big Coal and climate deniers, who ignore the clear consensus of climate scientists who agree that we must act urgently to move to a clean energy economy and reduce carbon emissions to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.” As someone involved in politics on a daily basis, Zbur notes that climate change should not be a partisan issue. “But let me be clear: President Trump’s Administration— which recently withdrew from the Paris Climate Accords—and Republican leaders in Congress are the primary obstacles to tackling the urgent threats of climate change. Failure to do so quickly will mean that our kids will face challenges to our way of life that we can’t even imagine,” Zbur says. “Gov. Brown and Gov.-elect Newsom
understand the urgency of this problem and will continue to ensure that California leads on climate. But the climate emergency we are facing requires federal action, and that requires that we replace the current occupant in the White House and the climate change deniers who control the Senate.” Zbur notes the intersectionality of Equality California and the California League of Conservation Voters. “I am very honored to receive CLCV’s environmental leadership award,” Zbur says. “By working to elect environmental champions to office and advance legislation to combat climate change and keep our air, land and water clean, CLCV plays the same role for the environment as Equality California plays for California’s LGBTQ community. They are a crucial partner in our work to create a world that is healthy, just and fully equal for all LGBTQ people.” For more information on California League of Conservation Voters go to http://www. ecovote.org/
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • NOVEMBER 30, 2018 • 11
“I’m trapped in the fire. It’s all around me. I love you.”
- Tamara Ferguson, 42, a nurse helping evacuate nearly 70 patients from Paradise, Calif., calling her children to say goodbye before being miraculously rescued from the deadliest fire in state history.
“Anyone uncomfortable with spraying tear gas on children is welcome to join the coalition of the moral and the sane. We can argue about other stuff when we’ve got our country back.” – Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz tweet on the use of chemical agents against asylum seekers at the Mexican border in Tijuana Nov. 25.
“What fun it was to work with Harvey (Milk) on the No on 6 Campaign. He handled Northern California just perfectly and delivered the margins we needed. He was also a strong support when I got Ronald Reagan to come out against No on 6 in the statewide campaign.”
– Politico David Mixner, leader of the 1978 No on 6 campaign, remembering San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk on the 40th anniversary of Milk’s assassination.
Rachel Carson must be rolling in her grave. Fifty-six years after the closeted lesbian marine biologist’s groundbreaking book Silent Spring kicked off the modern environmental movement, the Trump administration is shrugging off a devastating climate report warning of a calamitous future—a future Carson warned about. “Silent Spring is a devastating attack on human carelessness, greed and irresponsibility. It should be read by every American who does not want it to be the epitaph of a world not very far beyond us in time,” wrote Saturday Review in their critique of Carson’s 1962 book. The first volume of the Fourth National Climate Assessment from the US Global Change Research Program—a working group of 1,000 people, including 300 scientists, from 13 federal agencies and outside experts—concluded last year that the changing climate resulted from “human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases.” The second bombshell volume, released stealthily by the Trump administration on Black Friday after Thanksgiving, warns of impending climate catastrophe if action is not taken immediately. The report, tweeted environmental journalist John Upton, shows the US is reacting “too slowly to protect humanity from unimaginable dangers.” Without mitigation, the earth’s rising temperature will dramatically impact ecosystems, agriculture, water, public health/premature death and infrastructure with a cost exceeding $100 billion by 2100. But President Trump doesn’t believe in climate change and White House spokesperson Lindsay Walters noted the 3-year study, started during the Obama administration, is “largely based on the most extreme scenario, which contradicts long-established trends.”
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12 • NOVEMBER 30, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Some fear dire term for Supreme Court Employment discrimination, trans military ban in pipeline By CHRIS JOHNSON A number of anti-LGBT petitions are before the U.S. Supreme Court, although legal experts say adjudication of these cases — if justices agree to take them up — may not be as bad as some observers fear. With one exception, each of the petitions before the court calls for a rollback of LGBT rights or a reversal of decisions from lower courts affirming LGBT rights within those jurisdictions. James Esseks, director of the LGBT project for the American Civil Liberties Union, said the petitions before the court “set up a potentially very consequential term for LGBT people nationwide,” but they may not necessarily lead to harmful decisions. “The petitions are here, by and large, because we have been winning in lower courts, right?” Esseks said. “The lower court, including some conservative lower courts have ruled for LGBT equality in a bunch of different contexts.” The most recently filed LGBT petitions are requests from the U.S. Justice Department calling for a fast-track decision on President Trump’s transgender military ban, insisting justices take up the issue to ensure resolution before their current term ends. Although Trump tweeted in July 2017 he’d ban transgender people from serving in the military “in any capacity,” four courts have issued preliminary injunctions enjoining enforcement of Trump’s ban. It would be a rare move for the Supreme Court to adjudicate at this time. The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals haven’t yet issued their decision on whether the ban should remain in place in the aftermath of Defense Secretary James Mattis’s recommendations affirming Trump’s policy. Esseks said the Supreme Court takes up cases at this stage “once a decade” and “there’s no reason” for justices to take up the cases before federal appeals courts render their decisions at the behest of the Trump administration. “One of the reasons they want the Supreme Court to take the case is they don’t want to produce information in the trial courts,” Esseks said. “They don’t
Some fear that new Justice Brett Kavanaugh will steer the court in an anti-LGBT direction. Blade photo by Michael Key
want to go through that discovery process and explain how and why they got to their decisions. They’re trying to short-circuit the normal process that would allow for full understanding about what was behind this.” Three other petitions before the court are asking for clarification on whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars employment discrimination on the basis of sex, also applies to cases of discrimination against LGBT people in the workforce. As of earlier this week, those petitions were set for consideration in conference scheduled for Friday, but the Supreme Court’s website now indicates those petitions were removed Monday from the docket and will be considered at a later time. One of the petitions was filed by the anti-LGBT legal group Alliance Defending Freedom on behalf of Harris Funeral Homes in Michigan, which terminated the employment of transgender funeral director Aimee Stephens after she told the employer she’d transition on the job. After the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Stephens’s favor, Alliance Defending Freedom filed the petition before the Supreme Court, asking justices to clarify whether Title VII bars workplace discrimination based on gender identity. Two other petitions seek clarification on whether Title VII bars discrimination on the
basis of sexual orientation. One was filed by Altitude Express, which fired now deceased gay skydiver Donald Zarda allegedly because he was gay. The U.S. Second Circuit Court Appeals ruled the termination could be found unlawful under Title VII. The other petition — the only one before the Supreme Court seeking to advance LGBT rights — was filed in the case of Bostock v. Clayton County and seeks reversal of recently established precedent in the Eleventh Circuit that anti-gay discrimination isn’t covered under Title VII. The petition — which risks a Supreme Court ruling affirming anti-gay discrimination is legal — was filed by private attorneys, not LGBT legal groups. Even if the Supreme Court were to take up cases on LGBT workplace rights, Esseks expressed optimism the Supreme Court would ultimately rule in favor of nondiscrimination, pointing to polls showing widespread opposition to anti-LGBT discrimination (and in some cases, belief it’s already unlawful). “These are also cases that are not only in synch with a bunch of lower courts, but completely in synch with the American public,” Esseks said. “Supermajorities of the American public think that it’s wrong and unlawful to fire people because they are LGBT. For the Supreme Court to take those protections away would be really quite a radical act, and so, that all gives me hope about how some of these cases could all come out.” Jocelyn Samuels, executive director of the Williams Institute for the University of California, Los Angeles, said the Supreme Court has already ruled for an expanded view of laws against sex discrimination and the “increasing consensus” of lower courts is sex discrimination covers discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. “I think analytically, and from a core understanding of the conduct intended to prohibit, the cases that find sexual orientation and gender discrimination are prohibited under current law rest on extremely strong grounds, so I would hope that the Supreme Court would understand the power of those arguments and the importance of respecting its own precedent,” Samuels said. Another filing from Alliance Defending Freedom calls on the Supreme Court to undo a Pennsylvania school district’s policy allowing transgender kids to use the restroom consistent with their gender
identity and seeks a reversal of a Third Circuit decision that it is unlawful under Title IX of the Education Amendment of 1972. 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. Another petition is a follow-up to the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case in favor of Jack Phillips, a Colorado baker who refused to sell a custom-made wedding cake to a samesex couple out of religious objections. That ruling, which was based on the facts of the case, fell short of Phillips’s call for the Supreme Court to find a First Amendment right for him to refuse service to same-sex couples for religious reasons. The new petition before the Supreme Court was filed by Texas-based law firm First Liberty on behalf of Aaron and Melissa Kline of Sweetcakes in Gresham, Ore., who were fined $135,000 after refusing to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple. The petition seeks a First Amendment right to refuse service to LGBT people. Additionally, the petition calls for the court to revisit precedent in the case of Employment Division v. Smith, which found states may accommodate acts that would otherwise be unlawful if they’re performed in pursuit of religious beliefs, but aren’t required to do so. Other petitions seeking a religious right to deny service to LGBT people may arrive soon, but aren’t yet before the court. One may be filed by Aloha Bed & Breakfast in Hawaii, which was penalized under state law for refusing to provide accommodations for a lesbian couple. The Hawaii Supreme Court refused to take up the case, which opens the door for the bed and breakfast to file a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court. Another religious freedom petition could come in the case of Fulton v. Philadelphia, which is based on the City of Philadelphia terminating its contract for foster care with Catholic Social Services after discovering the agency denies placement in LGBT homes. The agency is seeking a First Amendment right to maintain its contract despite terms in that agreement not to discriminate against LGBT people. Continues at losangelesblade.com
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14 • NOVEMBER 30, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Meet Chris Pappas Congressman-elect from N.H. readies for office, backs Pelosi for speaker By MICHAEL K. LAVERS New Hampshire Congressman-elect Chris Pappas this week announced he supports Nancy Pelosi’s bid to once again become speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. Pappas spoke with Pelosi on Monday night. Pappas in a statement said “after careful consideration and discussion with many constituents and future colleagues in Congress, I have decided to support Nancy Pelosi for speaker of the House.” “I believe she is best equipped to lead the House at this point in our history,” he said. “My conversations with her convinced me she will lead with fairness and empower the incoming class to play a significant role in the work ahead. We must get down to doing the people’s business quickly, and we should start by reforming the way Washington works, lowering the cost of health care and creating an economy that allows everyone to succeed.” Pappas earlier this month defeated Republican Eddie Edwards in the race to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-N.H.). Pappas, who will represent New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District that includes Manchester, the state’s largest city, will be the first openly gay member of Congress from New Hampshire. Pappas told the Blade on Monday during an interview that he was “still working through” whether he would back Pelosi. “It appears as though she may be the only candidate running,” said Pappas. Democrats regained control of the House in this month’s midterm elections. Pelosi is running unopposed ahead of House Democrats’ leadership vote on Wednesday. “We were sent there to provide checks and balances, to stand up to the Trump administration and leaders of both parties,” Pappas told the Blade. Pappas, 38, was born and raised in Manchester. He was elected to the New Hampshire House of Representatives in 2002. Pappas served two terms as treasurer of Hillsborough County, which includes
New Hampshire Congressman-elect Chris Pappas will be the first openly gay member of Congress from the Granite State. Photo courtesy Pappas for Congress
Manchester. He was elected to the New Hampshire Executive Council, which advises the state’s governor, in 2012. Pappas co-owns the Puritan Backroom, a popular Manchester restaurant. He told the Blade that his work “has prepared me well” for Congress. Two lesbian candidates — Minnesota Congresswoman-elect Angie Craig and Kansas Congresswoman-elect Sharice Davids — and California Congresswomanelect Katie Hill, who is openly bisexual, were elected to Congress this month along with Pappas. Four openly gay men — U.S. Reps. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), Mark Takano (D-Calif.) and Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) — won re-election. U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), who is the first open lesbian elected to the U.S. Senate, defeated Republican state Sen. Leah Vukmir. U.S. Sen.-elect Kyrsten Sinema will be the first openly bisexual person in the U.S. Senate after she defeated U.S. Rep.
Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) in the race to succeed retiring U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake. “We had a number of very compelling candidates running across the country,” Pappas told the Blade when asked about his election to Congress. “They’re from places like Minnesota and Kansas and New Hampshire and California. That shows the LGBT community is being embraced not just on the coasts, not just in big cities.” Pappas also praised the two openly trans women — Gerri Cannon and Lisa Bunker — who were elected to the New Hampshire House this month. “They were great candidates who ran strong campaigns,” said Pappas. “It’s wonderful that they were elected, that they broke down barriers in New Hampshire.” Pappas told the Blade that additional funding for treatment and recovery programs to address the country’s opioid crisis and reducing student loan debt are among his top legislative priorities once
he takes office in January. Pappas also said he supports a government reform bill that Democrats plan to introduce once they retake control of the House. “It’s no accident the first bill out of the gate is going to be a government reform bill that restores our democracy,” said Pappas. “This is going to be a really important piece of legislation to put power back in the hands of the people.” Pappas also said it is “critical” that special counsel Robert Mueller be allowed to finish his investigation into whether President Trump and/or any of his associates had any involvement in Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. “We need to allow him to finish his work and put everything out on the table,” Pappas told the Blade. “The facts are what’s driving the conversation.” Pappas said he will “reserve judgment” on whether Trump should be impeached until Mueller releases his final report.
16 • NOVEMBER 30, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Trans Honduran woman who died in ICE custody was beaten ‘It’s not fair she fled Honduras looking for a better life and instead was killed’ By MICHAEL K. LAVERS The Transgender Law Center this week released the results of an autopsy that shows a transgender Honduran woman with HIV was beaten before she died while in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody. Roxsana Hernández, who was from the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa, was among a group of trans women who were part of a 300-person caravan that traveled to the U.S. border earlier this year. U.S. Customs and Border Protection took Hernández into custody on May 9 when she asked for asylum at the San Ysidro Port of Entry near San Diego. She entered ICE custody four days later and was being housed in a unit for trans detainees at the Cibola County Correctional Center in Milan, N.M., before she died at a hospital on May 25. ICE in a press release notes Hernández was hospitalized with “symptoms of pneumonia, dehydration and complications associated with HIV” on May 17. ICE also said Hernández died from cardiac arrest. The Transgender Law Center, which on Monday announced it plans to file a wrongful death lawsuit in New Mexico with R. Andrew Free, a Nashville-based immigration lawyer, provided the Blade with a copy of a second autopsy report that former Georgia Chief Medical Examiner Kris Sperry performed in Albuquerque, N.M., on June 8. The report notes the second autopsy “disclosed evidence of physical abuse” that includes “deep bruising” on Hernández’s rib cage and “deep contusions extending onto the back.” “The wrists also exhibited extensive regions of deep soft tissue and musculature hemorrhage, again not externally visible, which are typical of handcuff injuries,” reads the report. The report also concludes the cause of death was “most probably severe complications of dehydration superimposed upon HIV infection, with the probable presence of one or more opportunistic infections.” “As the consequence of her immunocompromised condition, Ms. Hernández Rodriguez was susceptible
An LGBTI advocacy group in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, honors Roxsana Hernández, a transgender woman with HIV who died in U.S. ICE custody on May 25. Autopsy results indicate Hernández was beaten before her death. Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers
to the physiologic effects of untreated dehydration, initiated by severe diarrhea and vomiting,” reads the report. “According to observations of other detainees who were with Ms. Hernandez Rodriguez, the diarrhea and vomiting episodes persisted over multiple days with no medical evaluation or treatment, until she was gravely ill.” Transgender Legal Clinic Litigation Director Lynly Egyes on Monday said Hernández’s “death was entirely preventable.” The press release the Transgender Legal Clinic released included a statement from Hernández’s sisters on whose behalf the Black LGBTQIA+ Migrant Project and Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement are also advocating. “Roxsana Hernández was our sister and it was an injustice to have her die the way she did,” they said. “They cut her life short and she was not able to fulfill her dreams. For us, her closest family, it’s been extremely painful to deal with.” Border Patrol has yet to respond to the Blade’s request for comment on the autopsy
report or the planned wrongful death lawsuit. Violence based on gender identity remains pervasive in Honduras, which has one of the world’s highest per capita murder rates. Activists in the Central American country with whom the Blade has spoken have said discrimination and poverty are among the myriad factors that prompt many trans Hondurans and other members of the LGBTI community to migrate to the U.S. President Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy, which has included the separation of migrant children from their parents once they entered the U.S., continues to spark outrage in the U.S. and around the world. Thousands of migrants from Central America who hope to seek asylum in the U.S. arrived in the Mexican city of Tijuana earlier this month. The U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, “everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.” A federal judge in San Francisco last week blocked the Trump administration from implementing a Nov. 9 executive order that sought to prevent
migrants from seeking asylum in the U.S. if they enter the country illegally from Mexico. Border Patrol agents on Sunday used tear gas and rubber bullets against hundreds of migrants who rushed the U.S. border in Tijuana. Trump on Monday threatened to “permanently” close the border if the Mexican government does not deport migrants to their countries of origin. Hernández’s sisters in the Transgender Law Center press release said she left Honduras “with dreams of opening a beauty salon and hopes of helping us out.” They added Hernández fled the country “because here transgender people are discriminated against.” “She left with hopes of living a better life,” said Hernández’s sisters. “It has not been easy for us to accept that she is gone, we were very close. It’s difficult to accept that she was taken from us because of negligence, because of not giving her support and medication that she needed, because they treated her like an animal. It’s not fair. It’s not fair that she fled Honduras looking for a better life and instead she was killed. Now all we have left with is the hope that we can see justice for her.”
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
18 • NOVEMBER 30, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
VOLUME 02 ISSUE 39
Diane Abbitt remembers MECLA and Harvey Milk His push for honesty still inspires people around the world to come out
Attorney Diane Abbitt helped found and has served on the boards of several LGBT organizations, including MECLA, APLA and HRC.
It does not seem possible that the LGBT community is commemorating the 40th anniversary of the death of Harvey Milk on this day, Nov. 27, 2018. So much has changed, so many rights won and yet so many challenges remain. As time passes, fewer and fewer people are left who remember the beginning of the movement as we know it today—the scrappy grassroots Gay Liberation Front organizing social services and eradicate-shame consciousness-raising at the Gay Community Services Center and a group of successful lawyers and business leaders raising money and forming the first gay political action committee to elect pro-gay officials in Los Angeles; and in San Francisco, their spirited political activism included businessman Harvey Milk, who made history winning a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1978. Few remain who remember what that meant to a fledgling community—but Harvey’s assignation still reverberates past the shock of that day. I came out in 1973. Imagine a time when there was no internet, no social media, no television shows that had a gay or lesbian character, no gay Pride parades, no Human Rights Campaign, no Equality California, no Victory Fund, no WEHO, no Williams Institute,
no celebrity-filled black tie fundraisers, no books or courses on the LBGTQ community. Magazines and newsletters were mailed in non-descript brown covers so no one would know its contents. There was no way, except by word of mouth or in bars, for lesbians or gay men to connect, to find community. My first discovery of community was through radical lesbian separatist feminists who thought that men had no place in the movement and that lesbians with male children should give them away. Since I had two very young beautiful sons that I was fighting to keep in my care and custody, this philosophy did not work for me. Then a friend told me that LA NOW (National Organization for Women) was having a Lesbian Mothers meeting. That changed the course of my life and I soon became the first co-chair of LA NOW’s Lesbian and Sexuality Task Force. Meanwhile, gay men were also searching for community. Some discovered it at the Los Angeles Gay Community Services Center, founded in 1969 and headquartered in an old Victorian building on Wilshire Boulevard. They offered social services and held men’s consciousness raising groups offering gay men an alternative to the bathhouse and bar scene. There was also another group called Orion. They were seven gay men led by lawyers Peter Scott and Stephen Lachs, who would become the nation’s first out gay judge. There were all smart, successful and closeted in the outside world. But as their sense of shame dissipated and self-acceptance grew, they wanted to give back to the community and to make it easier and safer for other gay people to live their truth. After much debate, in 1977, they formed the first PAC whose mission was legal protections and full equality, including a seat at the legislative table, for gay people. The goal seemed large and daunting! Even choosing a name was challenging. It had to be non-descript, something an accountant who didn’t know the contributor was gay would not question, and so MECLA (Municipal Elections Committee of Los Angeles) was born. But finding people to contribute was
hard! The MECLA board expanded to 11 and the men began the tedious task of raising money to fund the PAC. Therapist Rob Eichberg had raised money for the Jewish community and the men adopted that model—asking friends to a roundtable luncheon, locking the doors (figuratively speaking), then going around the table asking/telling each person how much they were giving. Eventually Peter realized lesbians should be included and I, along with other non-board members, raised what today we would think of as a small budget. I got so good at raising money, I was elected MECLA’s first female board co-chair. The first year, two candidates to whom MECLA contributed returned the money when they realized the source of the funds would have to be reported in their campaign filing report. As MECLA’s success grew, it became the model for HRC and other political action committees throughout California. At the same time MECLA was getting off the ground, San Francisco was going through its own coming out process. Harvey Milk had moved to San Francisco from New York in 1972 and opened a camera shop in the Castro. The shop became the center of gay political activism as Harvey campaigned three times for a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, in 1973, in 1975, and finally in 1977, when he won. During those four years, he developed his political acumen, built relationships and coalitions and started describing himself as “The Mayor of Castro Street” at a time when the gay vote was starting to be recognized as powerful. Peter Scott, David Mixner and I, among many others in Los Angeles, worked with Supervisor Harvey Milk to defeat Prop 6, the Briggs Initiative, on Nov. 7, 1978—a spectacular success! Twenty days later, Harvey was assassinated. It’s still shocking to remember. But Harvey’s humor and often too-loud leadership brought an awareness of injustices being suffered by the gay community not only in San Francisco but beyond. His hopeful campaign for LGBTQ people to come out still inspires people around the world.
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LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • NOVEMBER 30, 2018 • 19
The Harvey Milk you may not know Gay icon a more complicated figure than widely viewed By JOHN DURAN Harvey Milk is a complex subject. After his shocking assassination with San Francisco Mayor George Moscone on Nov. 27, 1978, Harvey was lionized as a martyr for the gay community. But his life was far more complicated. San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk was in office for less than one year. In contrast, John Heilman has been in office for 34 years. So other than his famous “dog poop” law, Harvey is not really remembered for his legislative accomplishments, though he passed the nation’s first anti-discrimination ordinance. Instead, he is remembered for the movement that took a quantum leap forward with the grief over his assassination and the deep injustice reflected in the White Night riots rage over the “manslaughter” verdict given his killer, Supervisor Dan White. Every LGBT person felt there was NO justice for LGBT people. Harvey Milk was out of the closet for a total of eight years from 1970-1978. San Francisco had activists who had been out of the closet fighting for justice a lot longer, such as performer/activist Jose Sarria, Daughters of Bilitis founders Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon or gay Democrat Jim Foster. He was uncomfortable with the Mattachine Society’s public efforts advocating for homosexuals and he wasn’t active with SIR (Society for Individual Rights) during the 1960s when they took on police who used lewd conduct laws to persecute gay men, often through bar raids at “safe” gathering places like the Black Cat Tavern in Silver Lake or the Stonewall Inn in New York. Harvey was a Navy veteran who fought in the Korean War and worked on Republican Barry Goldwater’s conservative presidential campaign in 1964. He had more of a conservative libertarian political philosophy. In fact, it wasn’t LGBT rights that forced Harvey into activism - it was his anger over a $100 deposit for a state sales tax against his Castro Camera store! But his
Harvey Milk was assassinated 40 years ago this week. Photo courtesy the Harvey Milk Foundation
political philosophy changed as the Vietnam War intensified and President Nixon ordered secret bombings in Cambodia. He let his hair grow long and became one of San Francisco’s “flower children.” With his eyes opened to the injustice facing many communities, Harvey became a “chamber of commerce” activist as the president of the Castro Village Association promoting gay businesses and organizing the Castro Street Fair to attract more customers into the Castro. He also became quite a coalition builder, working with the Teamsters on the Coors boycott by pouring out Coors beer in the streets of the Castro. When he decided to become a serious candidate for public office, he cut off his long hair, stopped smoking weed and swore he wouldn’t go to the bathhouses any longer! The self-styled “Mayor of Castro Street” ran unsuccessfully several times and finally won in 1977. I don’t think people remember that Harvey’s push for people to “come out” went so far that he pushed Bill Sipple out of the closet in the San Francisco Chronicle. Sipple, a former Marine, was the bystander
who grabbed Sara Jane Moore’s arm during her attempted assassination of President Gerald Ford in San Francisco. Harvey thought it was important for the American people to see that this hero also happened to be gay. But Sipple wasn’t out to his family, didn’t consent to Harvey’s actions and sued the Chronicle for invading his privacy. Harvey had a reputation for being hyperactive, prone to angry outbursts and being somewhat of a “media hog.” And, like many political people, he was often defined by his enemies, including anti-LGBT legends Anita Bryant and California State Sen. John Briggs. Anita and Christian fundamentalists led by Rev. Jerry Falwell overturned gay rights ordinances in Dade County, St. Paul, Wichita and Eugene in 1978 and California’s anti-gay Prop 6 campaign became the testing ground for Falwell’s “Moral Majority.” We did defeat Prop. 6 and Harvey was a big part of that. But to be fair and accurate— so were David Mixner and Diane Abbitt at MECLA (Metropolitan Elections Committee of Los Angeles). MECLA gets the credit for convincing former Gov. Ronald Reagan to oppose Prop 6—not Harvey Milk!
I remember Harvey as a visionary, a complicated activist with both liberal and libertarian opinions and the first openly gay elected official in California. But historically, Harvey is a touchstone for a time/place where LGBT activism moved out of the shadows and “into the streets” protesting the craven cruelty of American injustice and neglect. Thousands carried the heavy lift after his death—AIDS, LGBTs in the military, marriage equality, and the battle over the LGBT soul. Had Harvey Milk lived, I am sure he would have been in the center of all these fights. But with his temper, manic personality and attention-seeking before the cameras, I am sure he would have made friends and been on several “enemies” lists because that is what happens to people who are in leadership for decades in any community of interest. In truth, I like remembering Harvey as a real, complex political figure rather than historically as the gay martyr who died too soon.
John Duran is the mayor of West Hollywood.
Rapturous and rollicking, Isle of Klezbos rolls into town Joyful music just in time for Hanukkah By SCOTT STIFFLER
Infused with intersecting interests and individual tastes as compelling as the genre that’s been their calling card for two decades, the all-women’s sextet, Isle of Klezbos, is the kugel of klezmer — an appetizing casserole of traditional Ashkenazic Jewish influences, queer perspectives and exceptional musicianship. Don’t know kugel? Google it. As for klezmer, drummer and bandleader Eve Sicular gave us some insight, sure to prove useful when the Isle sets foot on three local venues, Dec. 1-3. “Classic klezmer,” Sicular noted, is a fusion of influences, although, “It’s a misnomer to say klezmer is ‘Jewish Jazz.’” She noted it’s “the celebratory music of Yiddish-speaking Eastern European Jews and their descendants. So that can go in a lot of different directions, in terms of which century one is talking about… There are melodies that are not identical, but are shared variations between, say, a particular set of Yiddish melodies and Greek melodies, Yiddish melodies and Turkish melodies, and
certain dance forms named for regions of Eastern Europe and the Ottoman Empire.” This was, Sicular clarified, prior to the 20th century wave of immigration. Once part of the American melting pot, she recalled, “There was this wonderful way that people could meld whatever was the height of popular fashion, such as swing music, tango, beautiful modal melodies and syncopated dance rhythms… Klezmer music also has ties to liturgical music, but it’s a parallel. For instance, you would have things that would refer to the ornamentation, particularly the cantorial voice.” It was “a real exchange,” she said, likening klezmer to Yiddish “language rhythms; ways people would communicate with irony, but also, a lot of thoughtful questioning… It’s very much an interactive music,” Sicular noted, referencing its presence at weddings. “There are processionals, there are big chair-lifting, rollicking, rambunctious pieces. There are meditative pieces, and pieces designed to evoke sadness and wistfulness… It’s about emotion, but also creating motion. So it’s
really special to play music that elicits that.” Every person in Isle of Klezbos, she said, has “their own way they came to know klezmer.” The daughter and granddaughter of classical pianists/physicians, Sicular “fell in love with the style when I heard it, but I did not grow up knowing it.” The NYC native had a youthful affinity for show tunes, and, later, zydeco, Balkan, and New Orleans Second Line music. “All those things were in klezmer,” she discovered, which (long story short) led her to form the Metropolitan Klezmer octet in 1994, then Isle of Klezbos, in 1998. “I had, over the years, been in all-women’s bands,” Sicular recalled, “and I just thought it would be a really cool thing to do. Our trumpet player, Pam Fleming, was already in Metropolitan Klezmer… and through asking around, I met fantastic people… Debra Kreisberg [clarinet/sax] came in the year after we formed. She and Pam really bonded. They just have this sense, like a melding of the minds. Debra comes from a background with a lot of Latin jazz, and Pam has played many
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L-R: Shoko Nagai, Debra Kreisberg, Melissa Fogarty, Eve Sicular, Pam Fleming and Saskia Lane. Photo by Angela Jimenez
styles, particularly reggae. And they both have a drive to compose, a sense of groove… Saskia [Lane], our bass player, is from Julliard, and Shoko [Nagai], she’s this champion of the keyboard from Japan, then learned accordion when she got to Brooklyn. So it’s not just talented, but innovative, people. If a piece occurs to them, they write it with the band in mind… like a repertory theatre company, you know what’s going to be a role for them.” Swinging, soaring, vocals by Melissa Fogarty give Klezbos its linguistic verve. Accurately assessing the veteran opera singer, who’s been with the band for 10 years, Sicular said Fogarty “has all the jazz chops and can [scat] improvise. She hits everything with clarity and precision, and yet has this wonderful dimension of being able to play with everything.” As for the origin story of the band’s name, Sicular wanted “to have fun with it, definitely queering it in some way — but ‘klezbian’ was already very much in usage.” Then, caught in “that state where you’re either about to fall asleep, or just waking up, I went, ‘klezbian,
klezbos… Isle of Klezbos!’ And we just went with it. This was 1998. We did have people say, ‘Are you sure? Will people book you?’ ” Plenty of people did. The sextet has entertained at parties, colleges, festivals and weddings, collaborated with the Grammynominated Scissor Sisters, served as a house band with Jill Sobule, and was personally requested by Kiki Smith to play at the dedication of her stained glass window, at NYC’s Eldridge Street Synagogue. Still, 20 years later, Sicular noted, “the ‘question’ will come up.” Jewish? Queer? Both? Sicular plays that question, well, playfully. “Rather than say who they are,” she demurred, “I’ll say over that 20 years, we’ve had just as many people who are from a Jewish background as a queer life. But sometimes, it shifts.” (An early-era bass player, for example, joined before she knew her father’s side of the family was Jewish; and more than one member’s time in the group saw her with male and female partners.) For
the rigid scorekeepers among us, Sicular revealed, “We have a small majority queer, and a small majority Jewish. They do overlap, like the Venn diagram.” Connect your own diagram dots Dec. 1-3, when Sicular and associates play three area venues. The first gig, at the Museum of Making Music (5790 Armada Dr.) in Carlsbad, is “probably the most formal of the three,” and officially a Metropolitan Klezmer gig. On Dec. 2, at the Bowers Museum (2002 N Main St.) in Santa Ana, it’s a five-member Klezbos show, part of the museum’s multicultural Winter Solstice Festival. “We’re representing Jewish culture and heritage,” Sicular said, adding, “I’ll give a little demo of what a menorah is.” Finally, on Dec. 3 in Los Angeles, the full Klezbos sextet performs two shows at Genghis Cohen (740 N Fairfax Ave.), which Sicular said is a kindred spirit. “The two wordplays [Cohen, Klezbos] jostle each other. It’s on Fairfax Ave., which is a little analogous to Second Ave., in Manhattan — and Genghis Cohen is an actual Chinese restaurant. So the Jews can nosh!”
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22 • NOVEMBER 30, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Escape hatch New memoir recalls horrors of growing up in Scientology By TERRI SCHLICHENMEYER
Image courtesy Berkley
For most of her young life, Michelle LeClair was a worrier. She had to be: her mother was somewhat of a free spirit who married often and “was gone a lot.” For that, LeClair grew up as the Independent Responsible Child; the one who, as a teen, wanted a job so she could pay for her own car, as she recalls in the new memoir “Perfectly Clear.” And so LeClair’s mother helped her get a job selling L. Ron Hubbard training materials for Sterling Management, an organization run by Scientologists. It didn’t take long before LeClair surprised everyone, herself included, by excelling beyond expectations. Her success and her mother’s influence led the Church to invite LeClair to one-on-one member counseling, ostensibly to determine her “purpose on earth,” but also to lead her deeper inside Scientology. Church members offered her their friendship, but LeClair noticed that she was asked nearly constantly for more money. As her career rose, so did the Church’s requests for donations and soon, she was writing astoundingly frequent five-figure checks to the organization. And it might’ve continued so, if not for one thing. As a teenager, LeClair fooled around once with a female friend, which she had to confess to a fellow Scientologist, information that went into a file. Even after LeClair married and had children, her long-ago fling was flung in her face repeatedly, particularly after she tried to divorce her abusive husband. Scientology has long considered homosexuality repugnant, she was reminded, and that nagged at her enough to make her question this faith in which she’d been raised. She questioned even deeper when she fell in love with a woman named Charly. Halloween is long over. The decorations have been put away. But if you didn’t get scared enough then, “Perfectly Clear” will finish the job perfectly. It starts with the opening pages, in which author Michelle LeClair is arrested for a crime that never happened, fabricated, she says, by Scientology members. It’s a small story compared to what else follows, but its heart-pounding presence in the front of the book takes readers by the scruff and shakes us. That leaves a lingering feeling of alarm that continues to run in and out of the rest of this memoir as LeClair (with Robin Gaby Fisher) lets readers see what she did not. We’re privy to the manipulation she recalls but didn’t notice then, the pressure she felt but dismissed and the dawning fear that she could never get away. That makes for an excellent real-life love story wrapped up in a psychological thriller that’ll also make you pick your jaw off the floor about every third page. ‘PERFECTLY CLEAR’ By Michelle LeClair and Robin Gaby Fisher Berkley $27 289 pages
24 • NOVEMBER 30, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Charles Dickens tale retold ‘A Christmas Carol’ will never be the same By JOHN PAUL KING
Jefferson Mays stars in the Geffen Playhouse world premiere adaption of Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol.’ Directed by Michael Arden. Photo by Chris Whitaker
For most people brought up in western culture for the past century-and-a-half, Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” is a familiar story – even if we haven’t actually read it in years (or at all), we still know it so well that we can usually recite chunks of it by heart. That’s because, since its first publication in 1843, it has been one of the most frequently dramatized pieces of literature in history. The story of Ebenezer Scrooge and his transformation from cold-hearted miser to joyful philanthropist has been told and retold so many times that it has arguably become as much a fixture of Christmas tradition as putting presents under the tree. For many, the holiday season is never complete without revisiting this classic at least once. Many others, however, avoid it at all costs – for them, having to sit through it one more time seems like a fate worse than – to borrow a phrase from Scrooge himself – being boiled in their own pudding and buried with a stake of holly through their heart. If you are in this latter group, you’d be well-advised to make an exception for the new adaptation currently gracing the stage at the Geffen Playhouse – a one-man performance by Tony-winning actor Jefferson Mays that will make you feel like you’re hearing it for the first time. Based on the edited version that Dickens himself used for public readings of the novella during his lifetime, the script (devised by Mays and his wife, Susan Lyons, along with director Michael Arden) covers all its bestknown passages while also making use of its powerfully descriptive prose – so much a part of the story’s detail but usually eschewed in favor of visual representation by most enacted versions. These help to evoke not only the physical environment of the tale’s 19th setting, but also its grim realities – as well as the mindset of the author, ever the social reformer, in the face of the prevailing moral and ethical attitudes of the day. Serving as both narrator and cast, Mays spends 90 riveting minutes conjuring Dickens’ story with as much freshness as if he were making it up himself. He uses the author’s language to create the entire world in which the action takes place, bringing the atmosphere of Victorian London – the sights, the sounds, even the smells – to vivid life within our minds. He transforms himself into each character, making each one distinct and individual enough that there can be no confusion. His remarkable performance would be enough to capture us even on a bare stage under a spotlight – but under Arden’s delicate orchestration, this production complements the actor’s work with the kind of elegantly simple stagecraft that reminds us what a magical experience theater can be. A revolving platform and an ever-shifting array of sets – in conjunction with chiaroscuro lighting, delicate projections and an ingeniously engineered sound design – add layers of concrete reality which enhance the power of the words to transport us into Dickens’ imagination from within our own. Taken together, these elements combine to give us a sparkling vision of this oft-told tale, but it goes even further than that by illuminating the elements within it that have been obscured by so much repetition.
Most strikingly, it reminds us how much of “A Christmas Carol” is a meditation on death. Before the show even begins, an open coffin greets the audience from the stage, as if we were taking our seats for a funeral; this imagery is bookended by a graveyard tableau that closes the evening on a melancholy note – reminding us that, though we may change our future by choice, nothing can change the absolute fact of our mortality. A grim observation, to be sure, but one that underscores Dickens’ heartfelt admonition for us to make each other’s lives brighter, however we may, while we are still here. This theme goes hand in hand, of course, with another aspect of the story that is often overlooked in its obviousness – the fact that Dickens’ beloved Christmas classic is, unapologetically, a ghost story. Arden and company make full use of its spookier elements, setting the mood with gloomy lighting and a low, ominous drone which lingers throughout the opening scenes; the interaction between Scrooge and Marley’s ghost, so often undercut by humor, is a deadly serious affair here, and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is an authentically terrifying apparition; even the gentler spirits of Christmas Past and Present are possessed of an eerie solemnity that never lets Scrooge – or the audience – get too comfortable. Add to these portrayals the sudden noises and other such “jump scares” that the show liberally employs throughout, and this version of “A Christmas Carol” plays almost like a horror movie. Lastly, the production achieves much of its power by treating the story with the immediacy of the hereand-now. We are not merely watching a play – we are part of it. Mays, who frequently breaks the fourth wall and interacts with the audience, is actively telling us a story; the events he describes may be from a time long gone by, but he is delivering them to us in a modern era fraught with social ills – an era which, in many ways, is not so different from the one in which Scrooge and his creator lived. It’s impossible not to hear modern-day attitudes reflected back to us in the nearly two-centuryold words we hear from the stage. This is ultimately why the Geffen’s “Christmas Carol” rises beyond the level of heartwarming holiday tradition. It brings a contemporary relevance to material so well-known as to have become virtually meaningless, allowing us to put ourselves more completely in the shoes of its characters. It mines the emotional core of the story with insight and sincerity, striking deeply resonant chords which allow us to participate in Scrooge’s redemptive journey – and recognize it as our own. For those of us feeling jaded by divisive rhetoric, toxic consumerism, social media artificiality and the me-first narcissism that seems to have gripped our current world in a choke-hold, this dazzling production might be just the Christmas miracle we need. “A Christmas Carol” runs at the Geffen Playhouse (10886 Le Conte Ave.) through Dec. 9. Tickets available at geffenplayhouse.org.
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The idea for “Anna and the Apocalypse” was sparked when Scottish film student Ryan McHenry watched Disney’s “High School Musical” and felt the only thing that could make it better would be if Zac Efron had been eaten by zombies. It took several years, but that cheeky observation eventually developed into an equally cheeky movie. Unfortunately, McHenry didn’t live long enough to see it come to fruition; he died in 2015 from bone cancer, at only 27 years old. At the time of his passing, the young McHenry had already joined forces with friend Naysun AlaeCarew to turn the idea into a short film (“Zombie Musical”), which had won them a BAFTA in 2011 and secured them the backing for a feature-length version. He had mostly completed the screenplay, and the film’s development was well underway when, faced with his grim prognosis, he gave the blessing to Alae-Carew, and the rest of the team they had assembled, to see the project through without him. The result of their subsequent labor of love was completed last year and enjoyed a well-received round of festival screenings. Now, it’s finally getting a wide theatrical release – just in time for the holidays. The timing is appropriate, because not only does “Anna and the Apocalypse” pit singing-anddancing teenagers against a ravenous zombie horde, it sets the whole unlikely mashup at Christmastime. At the center of the scenario is the title character (Ella Young), a high school senior who yearns to escape the limitations of her smalltown life. As her school convenes for its Holiday Talent Show, a mysterious plague turns most of the town into ravenous zombies, and she is forced to band together with a small group of friends in order to fight for survival as they attempt to find their loved ones and escape the carnage. McHenry’s script, which was completed by Alan MacDonald, gleefully embraces the tropes and clichés of both the genres it sends up; its first third is mostly exposition (peppered with musical numbers, of course, set to catchy original songs by composers Roddy Hart and Tommy Reilly), introducing us to the characters and their relationships before derailing the standard coming-of-age comedy they inhabit with an invasion of undead monsters that turn it into a gruesome horror movie. From there, the usual obstacles these teens might encounter while trying to navigate high school life – peer pressure, mean girls, pimples – are replaced by the more pressing problems presented by trying to escape a swarm of flesh-eating zombies. The stakes are considerably higher, but the story arcs are, amusingly enough, pretty much the same. Added into the mix, and refreshingly so, are strong currents of female and LGBTQ empowerment. Anna is a fiercely independent, strong-minded girl; she proves more than a
match for those – human or zombie – who would bend her to their will. Another teen, Steph (Sarah Swire, who also choreographed the film’s dance numbers), is a lesbian with a passion for social justice who channels the strength she’s gained from a lifetime of bullying – and being ghosted by her own parents – into doing battle with the zombie horde. The movie scores major points by allowing these two characters to be the most heroic of the bunch. Given the bittersweet history behind “Anna and the Apocalypse,” it would be nice to report that it’s a quirky delight – and in some respects, it is. There’s an absurd, tongue-in cheek tone to the entire piece that is hard not to appreciate, and its slyly subversive social commentary keeps it from ever seeming like a gimmicky exploitation film. It’s also burdened with an earnestness that runs a little deeper than mere emulation of the fresh-faced high school musicals it ostensibly parodies; while it’s not a bad thing for a movie to take its characters seriously, in this case it undermines the edginess that “Anna” works hard to achieve. At the same time, the “horror” half of this oddball mashup – while suitably gory – is treated with a much heavier comedic hand than the “teen musical” element; the result is that, for all its arch attitude, the film ultimately leans more toward the sentimental than it does to the satirical. Indeed, it’s almost sweet – unironically so – and its characters, while engaging enough, are a bit too broadly drawn to earn the emotional connection it seems to ask of us. All of this may be by design, of course. Director John McPhail, who stepped in to take the helm after McHenry’s untimely passing, puts the whole thing together with enough of a sure hand that it seems certain the finished film is exactly as it was intended to be. Even so, what “Anna and the Apocalypse” seems to be missing is “camp.” Its very premise cries out for the kind of intentionally ludicrous, over-the-top treatment that made classics out of so many horror comedies of the past. It may not be that kind of movie – but it feels like it wants to be, and doesn’t quite know how. There are other quibbles; the “musical” conceit is largely dropped once the zombies show up, save for a couple of numbers and a climactic musical confrontation in the high school auditorium, and important details of one of the film’s key relationships are withheld until revealing them feels like a cheat. Nevertheless, it’s an entertaining enough romp, uneven or not, with an endearing sense of humor and a talented cast – and it certainly deserves credit for presenting the kind of strong, capable female and queer characters we need more of from our movies. It may not be the movie it could have been – but it’s worth enjoying for the movie it is.
Girl power saves the day in ‘Anna and the Apocalypse’ An entertaining but uneven romp By JOHN PAUL KING
Ella Hunt stars in the Christmas zombie musical ‘Anna and the Apocalypse.’ Photo courtesy Orion Pictures
26 • NOVEMBER 30, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Hating Harriet ‘Little House’ actress MacGregor played villain of Walnut Grove By JOEY DiGUGLIELMO
Katherine Macgregor as Mrs. Oleson, the villain fans loved to hate on ‘Little House on the Prairie.’ Photo courtesy NBC
When actress Alison Arngrim, best known as Nellie Oleson on “Little House on the Prairie” (1974-1983) came to Washington to do a book signing at (where else?) Nellie’s Sports Bar in 2011, I went to meet her and interviewed her for the Blade in advance of her appearance. She was everything I’d hoped for and more. “Little House” was one of my favorite childhood TV shows and the outrageous Oleson family — father Nells (Richard Bull), mother Harriet (Katherine MacGregor), daughter Nellie and son Willie (Jonathan Gilbert; real-life brother to series star Melissa Gilbert) — were my favorites. The Ingalls family the show was centered on were just too loving, sickening and saccharine for me, even as a kid. The Olesons brought comedy relief, bitchiness and flair to the show — they were just the counterflavor the long-running series needed. You always knew which of the towns folk would be in any given “Little House” episode as they were credited only in the episodes in which they appeared after Mary, Laura and Carrie ran through the field (God, why did they never reshoot that opening over eight friggin’ years?). I always waited to eagerly to see if Harriet and Nellie would be in the episode at hand. So it was with sadness but also happy memories that I heard last week the Katherine MacGregor died at age 93. Harriet and Nellie had places in the hearts of many gay men who love female villains. They’re cut from the same cloth as Pat Carroll’s Ursula, Margaret Hamilton’s Wicked Witch of the West, Glenn Close’s Marquise de Merteuil and scores of others. When my nieces and nephews were very young, they were baffled by my affinity for these types. It’s never been so much that they’re evil — they’re just so much more fabulous, larger than life and colorful than the anodyne protagnonists. Arngrim’s memoir “Confessions of a Prairie Bitch” is a hoot and should be required reading if you’re a “Little House” fan. We had such a fun time chatting for the Blade, I decided to see if I could track down MacGregor as well. I’d heard from Arngrim that MacGregor would sometimes do Oleson family sketches for fans and wanted to write to her and request one. I thought a hand-drawn sketch would be a fun “Little House” memento. I got MacGregor’s Los Angeles address and packaged up a few sheets out of a sketch tablet, some black Sharpies, a nice stiff self-addressed and stamped return folder and a fan letter. I wanted to make it as easy as possible for Miss MacGregor so all she’d have to do would be open it up, draw her sketch, slip it in the mail and be done with it. I heard back from her a short time later. I did not get my sketch but what I got back was even better — a signed photo and a four-page (!) handwritten letter. I was flabbergasted that she would take the time to write at such length and her letter is priceless. Initially, however, Miss MacGregor was not pleased. She found the large package I sent all this in cumbersome, unwieldy and difficult to open and sent my paper, pens and envelope back (hell, I wouldn’t have cared if she’d kept them). “I do have a suggestion,” she wrote. “If you write to other celebrities, DO NOT send your request in such a gigantic envelope that fits NO mailbox at all!! And for me at any rate was almost impossible to open.” Naturally I heard Harriet’s voice in my head saying all this and felt dutifully chided. From this and other parts of her letter, you could just tell there was a lot of Harriet in Katherine — I’m not saying Katherine was a huge bitch in real life, but the easily exasperated, crusty exterior was there. Arngrim would say as much in her book as well. Melissa Gilbert wrote on Instagram of how “loving and nurturing she was with the younger cast.” A funny snapshot of the real Katherine is her appearance on a heroes vs. villains episode of “Family Feud” from the early ‘80s. It’s on DVD and gives you a feel for how she carried herself out of character. The crux of the letter itself, however, was warm. She reminisced about “Little House” cast members who’d died, sent me a picture of her dog, told me about her aches and pains and shared a vaguely cryptic note I was left to interpret: “Just to let you know — I have written my own memoir telling the TRUTH about my career and life. I didn’t have to MAKE IT UP or make up anyone else’s life as some do when they write their memoirs.” Hmmmm. She also declined my request for a Blade interview. Some may argue Harriet was a one-note role played shrilly and broadly. About 10 years ago, on a whim, I dove into “Little House” season five and couldn’t really stomach it. There seemed no nuance and I didn’t like the storyline of the whole town being forced out of Walnut Grove. But just about a month ago I gave season six a try and am discovering again why I loved the show so much. Nobody ever talks about it, but there were a few moments throughout the series when Harriet exhibited humanity and depth. She has a lovely scene in the season six episode “The Preacher Takes a Wife,” when she and a former fiance reconnect. Sure, 99 percent of the time, she was Walnut Grove’s version of Miss Gulch, but when tragedy hit, Harriet could rise to the occasion. Actor Dean Butler (Almanzo) gave an insightful comment in one of the DVD season six extras — “Little House” is not literal; it’s a child’s (i.e. Laura’s) perspective. That clicked for me and I appreciated MacGregor and Arngrim’s work even more. But MacGregor deserved more. She was never nominated for an Emmy, never got any industry recognition and never did any further acting after “Little House.” Betty White, Carol Burnett and Lucille Ball were all wonderful, of course, but there are so many female comedians on hit ‘70s and ‘80s shows who got next to nothing — MacGregor, Polly Holliday (Flo on “Alice”) or Nell Carter (“Gimme a Break!”) and many others. Thankfully their work lives on via DVD. And what great work it was.
DECEMBER 14 HOLIDAY GIVING ADVERTISE CALL 310.230.5266
28 • NOVEMBER 30, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Billy oﬀers up gift giving ideas and other tidbits Can de Havilland get Ryan Murphy to the Supreme Court? By BILLY MASTERS
Olivia de Havilland, 102, wants to take the cake and Ryan Murphy all the way to the Supreme Court.
Gossip doesn’t take a holiday - even on Thanksgiving. While your beloved Billy was nibbling on assorted legs and thighs, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade featured two women kissing. And? I mean, it’s 2018...there must have been more to it than just that. Nope, apparently that was it. People online were going berserk after a same-sex smooch between two female cast members from the Broadway musical “The Prom,” a show about a group of actors saving a high school prom after the PTA threatens to cancel the event if a lesbian couple attends (I haven’t seen it yet, but I hear it’s great). When the ladies locked lips on live TV, life imitated art and a few vocal people expressed their outrage. One Tweet tickled me. “Millions of small children just watched two girls kiss and had their innocence broken this morning.” Two things: 1) I’d be shocked if the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade had one million total viewers, let alone millions of children, and b) Are kids really shocked by two girls kissing? In a story that will put the tingle back in your loins, my pal John Wesley Shipp has winched his considerable assets back into tights to once again play “The Flash.” “Billy,” I can almost hear you crying, “Doesn’t he play the father of ‘The Flash’?” Oh, how soon they forget. Back when James Van Der Beek barely had his ﬁrst pubes, Shipp was the eponymous “Flash” for CBS. Yes, now he plays the father. But in the ‘90s, our superheroes were much hunkier. For the ﬁfth annual “Arrowverse” crossover, “Elseworld” will feature characters from “The Flash,” “Arrow” and “Supergirl” in a CW spectacular. The event takes place over three nights, December 9-11, introduces Batwoman and Lois Lane, and features Shipp in tights for the ﬁrst time since 1990. Well, there was that night I spent with him in Toledo back in 2011...but that’s another story. Someone else used to tight clothing is Jeﬀ Rohrer, who was a Dallas Cowboy from 1982-1989. The former linebacker not only came out as gay, but married his partner of two years, Joshua Ross (facialist on “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills”). Jeﬀ is the ﬁrst member of the NFL to be in a “known same-sex marriage.” He told The New York Times, “If I had told the Dallas Cowboys in the 1980s that I was gay, I would have been cut immediately. It was a diﬀerent world back then, people didn’t want to hear that.” You’ll recall that 102-year-old Olivia de Havilland is fuming at Ryan Murphy and FX Networks over how she was portrayed in “Feud.” Despite a lower court ruling with the network, Livvy wants to take the case to the Supreme Court. FX is trying to block her, saying that her case is unworthy of the highest court in the land. Her lawyers think otherwise. “Like the Colorado baker whose First Amendment rights allowed him to refuse to design a cake that expressed a message he did not believe, Miss de Havilland has a right to prevent false words being put into her mouth in a docudrama, just as with any other form of publications.” I hate anyone comparing Olivia to a homophobic baker, but if it gets her in front of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, I’ll allow it. Remember Danny Roberts from “The Real World: New Orleans?” Way back in 2000, he was dating someone in the military whose face was blurred - back then you could be drummed out of the service for being gay. We hadn’t heard much about Danny in recent years - except for an erect nude photo of dubious veracity which you can still ﬁnd on our website. Roberts recently slipped back into the spotlight via an interview with “Entertainment Weekly”, where he revealed three things: 1) he’s living in NYC, 2) he’s adopted a two-year-old girl, 3) he’s HIVpositive. Apparently he found out his HIV status in 2011 after passing out and waking up in a pool of blood. While he doesn’t go into detail about the passing out or pool of blood, he says this about his status: “The last thing I ever want is pity. I just want people to know and be aware. I knew so little myself so I get it.” Brace yourselves. It’s time for “Billy’s Holiday Gift Giving Suggestions.” Each week between now and Christmas, I’m going to share items that I think would make great gifts for people on your list - both naughty and nice. To kick things oﬀ, we turn to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Each year, this organization releases a special Broadway Legends ornament. In the past, these have all been legendary ladies. This year, BC/EFA kinda breaks with tradition by featuring Harvey Fierstein. Of course, he’s in his “Hairspray” regalia, so he still ﬁts in. Not only is it gorgeous, but it helps raise money for this great charity. You can pick up one (or a dozen) at BroadwayCares.org. Continues at losangelesblade.com
30 • NOVEMBER 30, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Getting naked for Charles Dickens. See Dec. 8. Photo courtesy Naked Girls Reading
LGBTQ Public Charge Comment Party is today from 6-7:30 p.m. at Trans Wellness Center (3055 Wilshire Blvd.). On Oct. 10 2018, the Trump Administration proposed a changes to health laws that put the health and well-being of immigrant communities at risk, including LGBTQ immigrants. The changes instill fear and discourage immigrant communities from seeking programs that support their basic needs. Learn more about how the proposed Public Charge Rule directly affects our communities and how you can join other LGBTQ advocates in fighting back. Food and drinks are free. Presented by California LGBTQ Health & Human Services Network. RSVP is required at Eventbrite.com.
Asian Pacific Islander AIDS Activists Talk Stories about Resisting the Plague is today from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at APAIT (3050 Wilshire Blvd.). AIDS is not just a disease, but it is also a movement. At the epidemic’s onset in the 1980s, mystery and misinformation surrounded the disease even before it was named. A group of Asian & Pacific Islander (API) gay men and lesbians in Los Angeles came together at that time to provide support for those who were sick and dying in their own community. They became social workers, caregivers, nurses, researchers, and advocates for APIs living with HIV. APAIT is bringing these early AIDS activists together for a community storytelling session. Listen to how they continue to fight AIDS with courage, humor, creativity and a lot of sexiness. For details, search Eventbrite.com. Unidos: 26º evento anual del Día Mundial del SIDA is today from 5:30-9 p.m. at Bienestar Human Services (1827 South Hope St.). Únase a nosotros para Unidos, nuestro 26º evento anual del Día Mundial del SIDA. El tema de este año es: “Celebrando la vida Unidos.” Nuestro evento incluirá actuaciones y presentaciones de varios invitados especiales, incluye el México de Colores, compañía de danza inspirada en el folklore mexicano, con temática gay; Omar y Argelia, popular programa de Univision en K-Love 107.5 - Los Angeles; y GMCLA. GRATUITO. Trae tantos amigos y familiares como quieras. Póngase en contacto con nosotros al (866) 5906411 o bienestar.org para obtener más información.
25th Annual Noche de las Memorias is today from 5-6:30 p.m. at The Wall Las Memorias (5619 Monte Vista St.). Commemorating loved ones who have died from HIV/AIDS and kicking-off the 25th anniversary of the Wall Las Memorias, this ceremony is an evening of reflection filled with music, inspirational speakers, remembrance and prayer. The Wall Las Memorias Project will kick-off the year-long 25th anniversary celebration in a special candle-lighting ceremony. The event is free. Search Facebook for details.
25 Years of Hope - World AIDS Sunday is today from 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m. at Hollywood United Methodist Church (6817 Franklin Ave.). The Bell Tower’s Red Ribbons of Hope has stood for 25 years, commemorating the many lives lost over the year as the HIV crisis raged in Los Angeles and beyond. Enjoy a short catered luncheon, featuring a program on the hope that the Bell Tower and the red ribbons have offered to our community and learn more about the importance of continuing to work for a cure for HIV/AIDS. For more information, visit hollywoodumc.org/25years. TABOO: Depression. Homosexuality. Body Shaming. Dating is today from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at Iranian Jewish Federation (1317 North Crescent Heights Blvd). Explore difficult topics that are often taboo in the Persian Jewish Community. TABOO hopes to start chipping away at the barriers to a healthier community by challenging traditional thinking. Organizers encourage you to bring your children and your parents to help make a historic change in the community. Seminars include “Mental Health, Body Image, LGBTQ+ (with Rabbi David Wolpe, Arya Marvazy, MSOB & Amanda Maddahi) and Dating.” Kosher brunch will be served. RSVP: firstname.lastname@example.org. Hanukkah Begins with One Community, Many Stories: Identity is today from 4-6 p.m. at Beth Chayim Chadashim (6090 West Pico). This Hanukkah event is a communal experience through creative writing, personal storytelling and performance, focusing on the theme of existing as one community, even with our differences of Jewish practice, belief and identification, lifting up diverse voices within the community and bringing together all who attend. At the start of the event, a
theater dybbuk facilitator will lead participants through a 30-minute writing workshop in which the group will compose personal essays and short stories. Michael Kass, Sabrina Hill Weisz, Nick Green, Max Bergmanis and Rebecca Rasmussen are featured performers. For details, visit bcc-la.org/one-community-many-stories.
90 Days is tonight from 7-9 p.m. at Harold & Belle’s (2920 West Jefferson Blvd.). Join the Black AIDS Institute, A Clinic For Us, Walgreens and Full Frequency Media for a special film screening of “90 Days,” a riveting story of love, integrity and compassion that explores a beautiful couple’s relationship and how stigma, disclosure and courage impact their life-altering decision after 90 days of dating. The events include a reception and discussion about how to increase use of PREP as prevention in black communities. The evening will be hosted by actress Vanessa Williams with a panel discussion moderated by Phill Wilson, Black AIDS Institute; and will include Nathan Hale Williams, writer/co-director of “90 Days;” Leo Moore, MD, MSHPM, associate medical director, division of HIV and STD programs, LA County department of public health; Gina Brown, community organizer, Southern AIDS Coalition; and Gerald Garth, editor-in -chief, Chill Magazine. Free. For more information, visit blackaids.org/blog/event.
Naked Girls Reading “A Christmas Carol” is tonight from 8:30-10 p.m. at Bar Lubitsch (7702 Santa Monica Blvd.). The “World’s Most Provocative Literary Salon” according to the Toronto Globe and Mail. Since its launch in 2009, a simple concept has spread to more than 20 international cities: a group of stunning ladies choose an interesting topic, take the stage and read naked about it to an audience. Too good to be true? Nope. Totally true. $25 at the door. For details, search Eventbrite.
E-mail calendar items to email@example.com two weeks prior to your event. Space is limited so priority is given to LGBT-specific events or those with LGBT participants. Recurring events must be re-submitted each time.
FREEDOM TO FLOURISH New All-Electric Townhomes with an Abundance of Indoor/Outdoor Space to Grow Starting from the Mid $400,000s • Up to 1,912 Sq. Ft. • Brokers Welcome • LiveGreenPicoRivera.com All renderings, floor plans, and maps are concepts and are not intended to be an actual depiction of the buildings, fencing, walkways, driveways or landscaping. Walls, windows, porches and decks vary per elevation and lot location. In a continuing effort to meet consumer expectations, City Ventures reserves the right to modify prices, floor plans, specifications, options and amenities without notice or obligation. Square footages shown are approximate. Agents must accompany and register their client(s) on their first visit to the community in order to be eligible for any referral fee. Please see your Sales Manager for details. ©2018 City Ventures. All rights reserved. BRE LIC # 01979736.
Losangelesblade.com, Volume 2, Issue 39, November 30, 2018