Losangelesblade.com, Volume 2, Issue 43, December 28, 2018

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D E C E M B E R 2 8 2 0 1 8 • V O LU M E 0 2 • I S S U E 4 3 • A M E R I C A’ S LG B TQ N E W S S O U R C E • LO S A N G E L E S B L A D E . C O M

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Top 10 local news stories of 2018

Kate Kendell announced in 2018 plans to leave the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

Roxsana Hernández, 33, an HIVpositive trans woman from Honduras, died in ICE custody after being taken into custody on May 9.

Emma González became a new face of gun reform after the shooting at her high school in Parkland, Fla.

Photo Courtesy Kendell

Blade File Photo by Michael K. Lavers

Blade File Photo by Karen Ocamb



NO. 8 PROP 10



The year 2018 proved to be a turning point for a number of important leaders in the movement for full LGBT equality. Kate Kendell is leaving the National Center for Lesbian Rights; Jon Davidson left Lambda Legal and is now with Freedom for All Americans; founder Phill Wilson is leaving the Black AIDS Institute; and lesbian feminist icon Ivy Bottini is leaving her beloved West Hollywood to live with her daughter in Florida. On a sad note: Lesbian News founder Jinx Beers died, as did gay liberation chronicler Pat Rocco; Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, who opposed repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” then supported open transgender service members; and the quintessential Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin.

Rates of syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia climbed for the 4th consecutive year, the CDC announced in August, with nearly 2.3 million U.S. cases diagnosed in 2017, the highest number ever. “It is time that President Trump and [Health and Human Services] Secretary [Alex] Azar declare STDs in America a public health crisis,” David Harvey, executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors, told CNN. Meanwhile, Mark S. King says AIDS activists are “divorcing” the International AIDS Conference over IAC’s pick of San Francisco for the 2020 conference as absurd in the Trump era. They suggest speakers and attendees would be harassed, noting that in December, California resident Marco CastroBojorquez was grilled by agents at SFO returning home from speaking at a UNAIDS Conference in Geneva. Activists plan a counter HIV2020 conference in Mexico City July 6-8. (HIV2020.org).

The 2018 elections brought a tsunami of money into California, more than $1 billion per a California Target Book analysis. About $100 million of the $366 million to pass or defeat ballot initiatives went towards Prop. 10, endorsed by the cities of West Hollywood and Los Angeles. The measure would have repealed the controversial Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, “thus allowing counties and cities to adopt rent control ordinances that regulate how much landlords can charge tenants for any type of rental housing,” according to Ballotpedia. Prop 10 opponents outraised supporters by about 3-to-1, led by 5 “predatory landlord” and Realtor/developer PACS that raised a combined $74.82 million and used repetitive and extensive deceptive advertising to defeat the initiative. Big Pharma also contributed $500,000— primarily to defeat Prop 10 sponsor, Michael Weinstein and AIDS Healthcare Foundation. AHF, which started as AIDS Hospice Foundation, believes healthcare and housing are intertwined social justice issues and has rehabbed several SROs to combat homelessness.

Lady Liberty is weeping. President Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy includes plan-less child separation, extreme exemptions and inhumane neglect and treatment of those seeking asylum. A gay ICE official told the Washington Blade ICE follows Obama-era guidelines for transgender detainees. But Roxsana Hernández’s death suggests otherwise. Hernández, 33, an HIV-positive trans woman from Honduras, asked for asylum and was taken into custody on May 9 at the San Ysidro port of entry near San Diego. There, a congressional letter later said, she “endured freezing temperatures and was denied adequate food, water and medical care.” She was later transferred to the Cibola County Correctional Center and transferred again to a local hospital “with symptoms of pneumonia, dehydration and complications associated with HIV” on May 17. Hernández died on May 25. A second autopsy showed she had been beaten and apparently died from “severe complications of dehydration superimposed upon HIV infection.” ICE spokesperson Danielle Bennett said allegations Hernández was “abused in ICE custody” are “false.”

It was a tragic Valentine’s Day for Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. A former student killed 17 students and staff members and injuring 17 others. Three days later, bisexual survivor Emma González, 18, called out those to blame: “Politicians who sit in their gilded House and Senate seats funded by the NRA, telling us nothing could have ever been done to prevent this: We call BS!” She made the same point when the March For Our Lives Tour hit Los Angeles on July 17 and integrated voices of others impacted by gun violence including issues around domestic violence, suicide and police shootings. Ten months later, a Marine veteran with a .45-caliber Glock handgun shot up the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks killing 12 college students, a sheriff’s sergeant, and himself, drawing comparisons to the mass shooting at the gay Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. But most Democratic candidates swore off NRA contributions and the gun lobby started crying bankruptcy by August.

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Lara makes history and California leads the way in rebuking Trump By KAREN OCAMB kocamb@losangelesblade.com

Assemblymember Evan Low pulled his bill outlawing ‘conversion therapy’ this year.

Patricio Manuel made history as the first U.S. professional transgender male boxer to win a match.

State Sen. Ricardo Lara became the first openly LGBT person elected to statewide office in California.

Bisexual Katie Hill defeated Steve Knight in the midterm elections.

Photo Courtesy Low

Photo Courtesy Twitter

Photo Courtesy Lara

Blade File Photo by Karen Ocamb



It’s baaack. Like the endless night of the living dead, the preposterous, unscientific anti-LGBT theory that everyone is born heterosexual and must be forced to conform to straight Christian conventional behavior to be happy and “normal” just keeps coming back and coming back, no matter how many times a legislative stake is driven through its cold dead heart. But this year, Assemblymember Evan Low pulled his bill outlawing “conversion therapy” advertising as consumer fraud because he found evangelicals who still think homosexuality is a sin but strongly disapprove of the psychological abuse inflicted by what Gov. Brown calls junk science that should be relegated to the dustbins of history. Helping the cause is the extraordinary film “Boy Erased” starring Lucas Hedges and Nicole Kidman based on the true story of Garrard Conley and his mother Martha. So in 2019, might evangelicals stop trying to “change” their LGBT kids and accept love as it is?

If 2018 wasn’t already the year of the Trump Titanic and the surging women’s movement, it could be the year of transgender visibility. President Trump’s tweet demanding a ban on transgender military service is widely seen as a political favor for his evangelical base and harmful to national security. Four strong lawsuits are challenging the Trump trans ban, including one from Equality California and the State of California. But the attitude change is bigger than the ban, bigger than the accepted emergence of trans celebrities or news about the epidemic of trans deaths. Biased hearts and minds of everyday people are changing seeing positive stories about trans people. Stories like Patricio Manuel’s sixyear journey from Boyle Heights to the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, California were on Dec. 8, he made history as the first U.S. professional transgender male boxer to win a match when he defeated Mexican super-featherweight Hugo Aguilar in a unanimous decision. People cared.

NO. 3 SEXUAL HARASSMENT While the proudly amoral Trump administration defies conventional norms, the #MeToo movement disrupted the tradition of toxic masculinity and turning a blind eye to claims of sexual harassment. Moguls such as top CBS executive Les Moonves, producer Harvey Weinstein, and once-beloved comedian Bill Cosby faced scrutiny and accountability. Allegations of misconduct also forced Eric Bauman, the out gay chair of the California Democratic Party, to resign as claims against him are being investigated. Bauman apologized for unintentionally harming anyone and excessive drinking, with some construing his inappropriate remarks as stemming from a bygone gay cultural era of sexually tinged flirtation. But others didn’t care: remarks construed by subordinate employees as sexually offensive constitute harassment, period. It remains to be seen if Bauman can make a comeback after almost a lifetime effectively working to advance the Democratic Party.



Ricardo Lara did it! On Nov. 6, 2018, State Sen. Ricardo Lara became the first openly LGBT person elected to statewide office in California, winning the race for Insurance Commissioner by 670,746 votes. At first he seemed like a shoe-in, a popular out Latino who represented the Los Angeles County area residents in the Assembly and the Senate for years. And no one wins anything in California without LA, which turned out 58% of its eligible voters. But he was outspent by Republican-turned-independent Steve Poizner, a former insurance commissioner whose TV ads were ubiquitous. Finally, Lara won 53% to 47%. He now oversees the department responsible for enforcing insurance laws, licenses and regulations. He also investigates fraud, such as that perpetrated by scam artists pitching so-called “conversion therapy.” Gavin Newsom—whose first campaign ad touted his historic backing of marriage equality—was also elected Governor so expect to see his administration flush with LGBT staffers.

What a rebuke! California turned out 64 percent of the state’s almost 19.7 million voters in a Big Blue Wave backlash to President Trump. Democrats won back the House with seven key flipped seats in California, making history by turning the once profoundly anti-LGBT Orange County into pro-equality voters. Bisexual Katie Hill defeated Steve Knight; Harley Rouda beat Dana Rorbacher; Katie Porter ousted Mimi Waters; Gil Cisneros defeated Young Kim for retiring Ed Royce’s seat; and David Levin bested Diane Harkey for retiring Darrell Issa’s seat. Ammar Campa-Najjar came closer than expected but indicted Duncan Hunter is going back to Congress. In farm country, Democrat Josh Harder defeated incumbent Jeff Denham and eventually, incumbent Republican David Valadao conceded to T.J. Cox in the Central Valley. Trump must now deal with new members, as well as Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff, and the multitude of investigations closing in. Buckle up — 2019 promises to be a wild and historic ride.


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Top 10 national news stories of 2018

Emma Gonzalez, who identifies as bi, became a central figure in the gun control debate. Ric Grenell was confirmed as U.S. ambassador to Germany.

Pelosi roars back, courts block military trans ban and more By CHRIS JOHNSON

NO. 10 RIC GRENELL CONFIRMED AS AMBASSADOR After months of Democratic opposition, the U.S. Senate confirmed Richard Grenell this year as U.S. ambassador to Germany, making him the most high-profile openly gay appointee in the Trump administration. Democrats objected to Grenell — who was confirmed by a largely

party line vote of 56-42 — based on comments he made in the past on Twitter about the appearance of women as well as other comments he made downplaying the significance of Russia’s influence in the 2016 election. After his confirmation, controversy continued following comments he made on Twitter instructing Germany to stop doing business in Iran and an interview with Breitbart London in which he said he backs the populist conservative movement in Europe. At year’s end, Grenell denounced MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski — who has an antagonistic relationship with President Trump — over comments she made calling Mike Pompeo Trump’s “butt boy.” Brzezinski later apologized.

Washington Blade Photo By Karen Ocamb

NO. 9 PARKLAND STUDENTS FIND THEIR VOICE Bisexual student Emma Gonzalez became a central figure of the gun control movement this year after the school became the latest site of a mass shooting in the United States. When a gunman killed 17 people and wounded others at Stoneman Douglas High School, Gonzalez and other survivors joined activism efforts in favor of gun control in Florida and across the country. During the March for Our Lives rally in Washington D.C., Gonzalez delivered a powerful speech and named the victims of the shooting before holding a moment of silence.

Although Congress didn’t enact significant legislation on gun control, the Florida Legislature approved a bill signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott that raised the age to buy firearms to 21, established a waiting period and background checks and allowed the arming of some teachers.

NO. 8 ANTI-TRANS MEMO EXPOSED AT HHS An explosive report in the New York Times this year exposing a planned memo within the Department of Health & Human Services that would effectively erase transgender people from federal law ignited a massive outcry among transgender rights supporters.

The initiative asserts Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which bars sex discrimination in schools, doesn’t apply to transgender people and calls for government agencies to adopt an explicit and uniform definition of sex “on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable.” That would be consistent with other anti-transgender actions within the Trump administration, such as the transgender military ban and reversal of Obama-era guidance requiring schools to allow transgender kids to use the restroom consistent with their gender identity. The report ignited a firestorm among transgender rights supporters, who took to the streets, demonstrated before the White House and declared #WeWontBeErased on social media.

NO. 7 COURT RULES TITLE VII BARS ANTI-GAY WORKPLACE BIAS The case law finding sexual orientation discrimination amounts to sex discrimination under federal law continued to increase this year when the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling asserting Title VII of the Civil Rights of Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination against gays in the workforce. The Second Circuit in New York City issued the ruling in the case of Zarda v. Altitude Express. The estate of the now-deceased gay skydiver Donald Zarda filed the lawsuit on the basis of allegations Zarda was terminated from his position for


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Top 10 national news stories of 2018 telling a client he was gay. The Second Circuit is the second federal appeals court to find anti-gay discrimination is illegal under federal law. Last year, the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals issued a similar ruling, although the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals didn’t reach the same conclusion. The U.S. Supreme Court may have the final say on the matter. A petition seeking review of the decision is pending before justices, as are petitions in similar cases seeking review over whether Title VII covers anti-gay discrimination and anti-trans discrimination.

NO. 6 MASTERPIECE CAKESHOP RULING The U.S. Supreme Court sidestepped a major decision this year in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, issuing a narrow decision based on the facts of the lawsuit in favor of a Colorado baker sued for refusing to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. In the 7-2 decision written by U.S. Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, the Supreme Court vacated the decision by the Colorado Court of Appeals against baker Jack Phillips on the basis the state commission handling his case displayed a religious bias against him. “When the Colorado Civil Rights Commission considered this case, it did not do so with the religious neutrality that the Constitution requires,” Kennedy writes. But the decision kept in place Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act. Although Phillips sought a

Chad Griffin announced plans to step down as HRC president. Blade Photo By Michael Key

First Amendment right to refuse services to same-sex couples, Kennedy wrote the right of denial should be restricted to clergy and laws against anti-LGBT discrimination are valid.

NO. 5 HRC’S CHAD GRIFFIN STEPS DOWN After six years as head of the nation’s largest LGBT rights group, Chad Griffin announced this year he’d step down as president of the Human Rights Campaign. Griffin made the announcement after a successful $26 million #TurnOut campaign that sought to motivate the estimated 10 million Americans who identify as LGBT and 52 million Americans

who support pro-LGBT policies to vote in the election. Those voters were credited with contributing to the “blue wave” in the 2018 congressional mid-term election. During Griffin’s tenure at the Human Rights Campaign, the Supreme Court issued three decisions advancing same-sex marriage, including the 2015 decision advancing marriage equality nationwide. Griffin spearheaded the lawsuit leading to the Supreme Court’s decision against California’s Proposition 8 in 2013. Other LGBT leaders who stepped down included Kate Kendell at National Center for Lesbian Rights, Gregory Angelo at Log Cabin Republicans, Rachel Tiven at Lambda Legal and Matthew Thorn at OutServe-SLDN.

Brett Kavanaugh won a bitter confirmation fight amid concerns from LGBT advocates he would roll back advances. washington blade photo by michael key

NO. 4 KAVANAUGH WINS CONFIRMATION AFTER BRUTAL FIGHT When President Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh to succeed former U.S. Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court, LGBT rights supporters worried the appointment would lead to a rollback of LGBT rights. Senate Democrats fought hard against him, decrying the Trump administration for refusing to release records during Kavanaugh’s time at the Bush administration, including when

the Bush White House was pushing a Federal Marriage Amendment. The confirmation process heated up when Christine Blasey Ford testified Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in the early 1980s when they were both teenagers. Similar allegations emerged, but Kavanaugh denied he ever sexually assaulted anyone. Despite the charges, the U.S. Senate narrowly voted to confirm Kavanaugh. It remains to be seen what action he’ll take on LGBTrelated cases. Petitions are already pending before the court on Trump’s transgender military ban and the inclusion of LGBT people under civil rights laws.

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Top 10 national news stories of 2018

Rep. Nancy Pelosi is poised to retake the Speaker’s gavel when Congress returns in January. Washington Blade File Photo By Michael Key

Kyrsten Sinema won election in Arizona, making her the first bisexual person elected to the U.S. Senate. WASHINGTON BLADE FILE PHOTO BY MICHAEL KEY

NO. 3 ‘RAINBOW WAVE’ SWEEPS COUNTRY ON ELECTION DAY LGBT candidates running in the 2018 congressional mid-term elections this year broke pink ceilings and made a “blue” wave turn “rainbow.” After Democrats nominated gubernatorial candidates representing all four letters of the LGBT acronym, Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) was elected governor of Colorado, making him the first openly gay person elected governor in the United States. Transgender candidate Christine Hallquist ran a historic campaign

to become governor of Vermont, but came up short on Election Day. Three other transgender candidates — two in New Hampshire and one in Colorado — won election to state legislatures. In another transgender victory, Massachusetts voters rejected at the ballot an attempt to undo non-discrimination protections for transgender people, defying a campaign stoking fears about sexual predators in the bathrooms. Lesbian Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) fended off a Republican challenger and Kyrsten Sinema won election in Arizona, making her the first bisexual person elected to the U.S. Senate. Four non-incumbent openly LGB candidates running for U.S. House seats — Sharice Davids,

Chris Pappas, Katie Hill and Angie Craig — also won, resulting in an expected net gain of two openly LGB lawmakers in the next Congress.

NO. 2 TRANS MILITARY BAN LANDS IN COURTS Litigation against President Trump’s transgender military ban continued to proceed through the courts this year. The Trump administration made renewed requests calling on the courts to lift injunctions against the policy — announced by Trump last year on Twitter — in the wake of a report from Defense Secretary James Mattis affirming the ban. None of the trial courts that issued injunctions against the ban would lift those orders, although two federal appeals courts are currently reviewing whether to take that action. The Justice Department has filed requests calling on the U.S.

Supreme Court to take up the litigation at this time and to issue a stay order allowing the ban to go into effect. It would be unusual for the Supreme Court to take up the case at this stage.

NO. 1 DEMOCRATS WIN HOUSE After two years of President Trump and anti-LGBT policies from his administration, voters across the United States this year elected a Democratic majority in the U.S. House during the congressional mid-terms. In a “blue wave” election year, Democrats picked up 40 seats in the U.S. House, although Republicans ended up with net gain of two seats in the U.S. Senate. Democrats won a majority in the House for the first time since 2008. House Minority Leader Nancy

Pelosi (D-Calif.) has said the Equality Act, comprehensive federal legislation against anti-LGBT discrimination, would be a personal priority in the next Congress. LGBT rights advocates are expecting movement on the Equality Act as well as oversight over the Trump administration’s anti-LGBT policies, which include the transgender military ban, “religious freedom” actions seen to enable anti-LGBT discrimination and the exclusion of LGBT people from the enforcement of federal civil rights laws.

HONORABLE MENTION NO PRIDE PROCLAMATION FROM TRUMP For the second year, President Trump declined to recognize June as Pride month, as the Pentagon celebrated Pride while pushing a ban on trans service members.

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10 • DECEM B E R 2 8 , 2 0 1 8


Top 10 international news stories of 2018

Brazilian President-elect Jair Bolsonaro has sparked fear among many LGBT Brazilians.

Secretary of State MIKE POMPEO acknowledged Pride month in June.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said she “deeply” regrets colonial-era laws criminalizing same-sex relations.

Photo by Agência Brasil Fotografias; courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Blade photo by Michael Key

Photo By Arno Mikkor; Courtesy Of Flickr

NO. 10 KIM DAVIS-BACKED ROMANIA MARRIAGE REFERENDUM FAILS A referendum on whether to define marriage as between a man and a woman in the Romanian constitution’s definition of family failed in October because of insufficient voter turnout. Less than 21 percent of voters participated in the referendum. Kim Davis, a soon-to-be-former Kentucky county clerk who went to jail in 2015 for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, is among those who backed the campaign in support of the proposed amendment. Mihnea Florea, program coordinator of MozaiQ, a Romanian LGBTI advocacy group, is among those who welcomed the referendum results.

NO. 9 BRAZIL’S INCOMING PRESIDENT SPARKS FEAR IN LGBT COMMUNITY The election of Jair Bolsonaro as Brazil’s president has sparked

fear among the country’s LGBTI community. Bolsonaro defeated former São Paulo Mayor Fernando Haddad of former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s Workers’ Party by a 55-45 percent margin in the second round of the country’s presidential election that took place on Oct. 28. Bolsonaro, who has represented Rio de Janeiro in the Brazilian congress for 27 years, will take office on Jan. 1. Bolsonaro has sparked widespread outrage for his comments against the LGBTI community, women, indigenous people, Brazilians of African descent and other underrepresented groups. Bolsonaro has also said he would defend the “true sense of marriage” between a man and a woman once he takes office.

NO. 8 U.S. REMAINS PUBLICLY COMMITTED TO GLOBAL LGBTI RIGHTS The U.S. in 2018 continued to publicly support LGBTI rights abroad, even though its domestic record has continued to spark criticism.

The State Department this year criticized anti-LGBTI crackdowns in Tanzania. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in June acknowledged Pride month in a statement. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan is among the U.S. officials who participated in a global LGBTI rights conference that took place in the Vancouver, British Columbia. A new State Department policy that requires partners of foreign mission personnel and employees of international organizations to be married in order to qualify for a diplomatic visa took effect on Oct. 1. Family Research Council President Tony Perkins is among those who took part in a religious freedom conference the State Department held in July.

British island territory, on Feb. 7 signed the Domestic Partnership Act, which allows same-sex couples to enter into domestic partnerships as opposed to get married. The law, which prompted calls to boycott Bermuda’s tourism industry, took effect on June 1. Rankin’s government appealed a Bermuda Supreme Court ruling that found the Domestic Partnership Act unconstitutional. The territory’s top court on Nov. 23 upheld the decision.

prime minister, I deeply regret both the fact that such laws were introduced and the legacy of discrimination, violence and even death that persists today.” Consensual same-sex sexual relations remain criminalized in a number of the Commonwealth’s 53 countries.



British Prime Minister Theresa May on April 17 said she “deeply” regrets colonial-era laws criminalizing consensual samesex relations the U.K. introduced in Commonwealth countries. “I am all too aware that these laws were often put in place by my own country,” she said during a speech at the Commonwealth summit that took place in London. “They were wrong then, and they are wrong now. As the U.K.’s

A referendum on whether same-sex couples should receive marriage rights in Taiwan failed on Nov. 24. Voters by a 67-33 percent margin rejected a question on whether same-sex couples should receive marriage rights through Taiwan’s civil code. Questions on whether marriage in Taiwan should be defined as between a man and a woman and whether same-sex couples should be able to enter into civil unions or domestic partnerships, as opposed to marriages, passed by margins of 72-28 percent and 61-39 percent respectively. Voters by a 66-34 percent margin rejected a question on whether Taiwan’s Gender Equity Act should

Bermuda in June became the first jurisdiction in the world outside the U.S. to rescind marriage rights for same-sex couples. John Rankin, the governor of the



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Historic ruling in India; Brazil elects far-right leader By MICHAEL K. LAVERS

Mariela Castro has spearheaded LGBTI-specific issues in Cuba.

Melani Sofía Rosales Quiñones, a transgender woman from Guatemala City, was beaten, threatened and discriminated against in her country because of her gender identity

Blade photo by Michael Key

Blade photo by Yariel Valdés González

include LGBTI-inclusive school curricula. A question on whether the law should not include LGBTIinclusive school curricula failed by a 67-33 percent. Evan Wolfson, founder of Freedom to Marry, is among those who supported Taiwanese activists before the referendum. The National Organization for Marriage backed marriage opponents. Lawmakers still face a May 2019 deadline to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples under a Taiwan Constitutional Court ruling from two years before.

NO. 4 INTER-AMERICAN COURT ISSUES LANDMARK LGBTI RIGHTS RULING The Inter-American Court of Human Rights on Jan. 9 issued a landmark ruling that recognizes same-sex marriage and transgender rights in the Western Hemisphere. The ruling stems from the Costa Rican government’s request for an advisory opinion on whether it has an obligation to extend property rights to same-sex couples and allow trans people to change their

name and gender marker on identity documents. The Costa Rican government has said it will comply with the ruling, which has bolstered advocacy efforts throughout the Western Hemisphere. Margarette May Macaulay, president of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, on Dec. 5 reiterated her support of marriage rights for same-sex couples during a hearing on the subject over which she presided in D.C. The Chile Supreme Court on the same day issued a ruling that said marriage for same-sex couples is a human right, but the country’s president, Sebastián Piñera, continues to face criticism from advocates over his opposition.

over the fall. The Cuban National Assembly in the coming weeks is expected to give its final approval to the document. A referendum is scheduled to take place in February. The debate over the proposed constitutional changes is taking place nearly 60 years after gay men were among those sent to work camps after the Cuban revolution brought Fidel Castro to power. His niece, Mariela Castro, over the last decade has spearheaded LGBTIspecific issues in the country. Independent activists with whom the Washington Blade speaks insist they continue to face criticism and even arrest for publicly criticizing Mariela Castro and/or the Cuban government.




The waves of migrants who have left Central America in 2018 include people who are fleeing violence and discrimination based on their sexual orientation and gender identity in their homelands. A gay man from Honduras with whom the Blade spoke in Mexico City on July 17 said he fled his homeland earlier this year after a group of

The India Supreme Court on Sept. 6 issued a landmark ruling that decriminalized consensual samesex sexual relations in the country. The unanimous ruling specifically struck down India’s colonial-era sodomy law known as Section 377. LGBTI rights advocates in India and around the world not only celebrated the decision, but

Cuban lawmakers on July 22 approved the draft of a new constitution that would extend marriage rights to same-sex couples. A series of public meetings on the proposed constitution took place across the Communist island

gang members raped and killed his friend in front of him. Other LGBTI migrants from Guatemala with whom the Blade spoke in the Mexican city of Tijuana earlier this month said they hope to seek asylum in the U.S. The migrants — many of whom have traveled to the U.S. border in caravans — still hope to enterthe U.S., despite President Trump’s “zerotolerance” immigration policy that has sparked widespread criticism. The death of Roxsana Hernández, a trans Honduran woman with HIV, in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody on May 25 sparked additional outrage among immigrant rights activists and their supporters.

stressed it will bolster efforts to decriminalize homosexuality in other Commonwealth countries. “We rejoice with all sexual, gender and sex minorities communities in India,” said Ruth Baldacchino and Helen Kennedy, co-secretaries general of ILGA, in a statement. “As of today, a shameful part of an enduring colonial legacy is finally history. We hope that this ruling, which was made possible by the tireless work of many human rights advocates, will have an impact also on other countries around the world where our communities continue to live under the shadow of oppressive criminal laws, especially those that share a common legal heritage with India, as far afield as Africa, the Pacific and Caribbean.” A judge on Trinidad and Tobago’s High Court in April struck down the country’s colonial-era sodomy law. The Kenya High Court early next year is expected to issue a ruling in a case that challenges a portion of the country’s penal code that criminalizes consensual same-sex sexual relations. British Prime Minister Theresa May in April said she “deeply” regrets colonial-era sodomy laws the U.K. introduced in Commonwealth countries.

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Remembering the lives we lost in 2018 Tab Hunter, SpongeBob creator, AIDS activists and others By KATHI WOLFE Many acclaimed LGBTQ people died in 2018 from the worlds of entertainment, sports, advocacy, business and beyond. They include: Dr. Mathilde Krim, a wealthy straight scientist and who was a pioneer in AIDS activism and research, died on Jan. 15 at age 91. She was the founding chairwoman of amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research. In 2000, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. Dennis Peron who led an effort to legalize marijuana for medical purposes in California died on Jan. 27 at age 71 in a San Francisco hospital. Robert Pincus-Witten, a renowned art critic, died on Jan. 28 at 82 after a long illness. John Mahoney, British-born actor, beloved for his portrayal of Martin Crane, the father on the hit TV sitcom “Frasier,” died on Feb. 3 at age 77. He was nominated twice for an Emmy for his role on “Frasier.” Judy Blame, the fashion stylist, died at age 58 from cancer in London on Feb. 20. There was a retrospective of Blame’s work at the ICA in London in 2016. David Ogden Stiers, who played Maj. Charles Emerson Winchester III in the renowned TV show “MASH,” died March 3 at age 75. At age 66, he came out as queer. Barbara Wersba, an acclaimed lesbian author of books for young adults, died at age 85 on Feb. 18 in Englewood, N.J. She was among the first YA authors to write about same-sex relationships. Hubert de Givenchy, the renowned French fashion designer who for decades dressed icons from Jacqueline Kennedy to Grace Kelley to Audrey Hepburn,

died at age 91 on March 10. Steve Elkins, founder and executive director of CAMP Rehoboth in Rehoboth Beach, Del., died at age 67 on March 15. J.D. McClatchy, a Lambda Award-winning-poet, died at age 72 on April 10. He was the author of eight poetry collections and several opera librettos, including “Our Town” for Ned Rorem’s settings of Thornton Wilder’s drama. Jean McFaddin, who planned Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parades, Santaland at Christmas, spring flower shows and July 4th fireworks in Manhattan for 24 years, died on April 18. Richard Peck, a gay author of stories about rape, suicide and other difficult topics for young readers, died on May 27 at age 84. LGBTQ rights activist Connie Kurtz died at age 81 at her home in West Palm Beach, Fla. Kurtz and her wife Ruth Berman were plaintiffs in a lawsuit over domestic partner benefits for New York City school employees. On April 14, David Buckel, a prominent LGBTQ rights lawyer and environmental advocate, age 60, committed suicide by dousing himself with gas and setting himself on fire, in Brooklyn, N.Y. His death was a political act of self-immolation. Robert M. Higdon, a friend of President Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan and fundraising director for the Reagan Presidential Library, died at age 58 on June 19. Dick Leitsch, a pioneering gay rights activist, died at age 83 on June 22 in Manhattan. In 1966, Leitsch led a protest when a bartender at Julius’ in the West

Actor and 1950s heartthrob Tab Hunter died earlier this year.

Village in New York wouldn’t serve openly gay patrons. Tab Hunter, a 1950s movie star, died on July 8 at age 86. He was closeted until he came out in his 2005 autobiography (written with Eddie Muller) “Tab Hunter Confidential.” Tom Gallagher, the first Foreign Service officer to come out publicly as gay, died on July 8 at age 77. “I don’t want any of you... ever to take for granted what it took for people like Tom Gallagher to pave the way for all of you,” Hillary Clinton said in 2012 on the 20th anniversary of GLIFAA, a State Department LGBT employee organization. Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz, feminist, activist and author died at age 72 on July 10. Gary Beach, an actor who won

a Tony Award for his performance as director Roger De Bris in “The Producers,” died at age 70 on July 17. Charles Hamlen, the founder of Classical Action: Performing Arts Against AIDS, died at age 75 on Aug. 1. He started the group, which later merged with Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, in 1993 five years after his partner died of AIDS in 1988. John Glines, who won a Tony Award as a producer of “Torch Song Trilogy,” in 1983, died on Aug. 8 at age 84. At the Tonys, Glines thanked his lover Lawrence Lane. It’s believed to have been the first time anyone at the Tonys said they were thanking their gay lover, reported the New York Times. Vivian Matalon, who won a Tony Award for directing “Mornings at Seven” in 1980, died at age 88 on Aug. 15. Craig Zadan, who with his producing partner Neil Meron, won the Academy Award for best picture for Chicago in 2003, died on Aug. 21 at age 69. They produced “The Sound of Music” and other live musical revivals for NBC. Rev. Robert Wood, the first American clergy to support marriage equality and to urge churches to welcome gay people died on Aug. 20 at age 95, the Blade reported. Lindsay Kemp, a choreographer and teacher of David Bowie and Kate Bush, died at age 80 on Aug. 24. Kemp and Bowie were lovers for a time. Crime writer Amanda Kyle Williams died at age 61 on Aug. 31. She is the author of the Keye Street series, whose titles include “The Stranger You Seek.” Disability advocate and gay rights activist Janet Weinberg died on Sept. 1 at age 63. She was

a leader at LGBTQ rights groups, including the Gay Men’s Health Crisis Center. Jeanne Ashworth, who won a bronze medal in the 500-meter race at the 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley, Calif., died on Oct. 4 at age 80 at her home in Wilmington, N.Y. She was one of the first women to compete in speedskating in the Olympics. Ruth Gates, an acclaimed coral-reef biologist and marine conservationist died at age 56 from brain cancer on Oct. 25. Gates advocated breeding a “super coral” to resist the impact of climate change. Maria Irene Fornés, a playwright who won eight Obie awards, died at age 88 on Oct. 30. Acclaimed for her experimental theater work, she received an Obie for lifetime achievement in 1982. “She’s not spoken of as an important American playwright, and she should be,” playwright Tony Kushner told the New York Times. Ray Hill, a former Baptist evangelist and ex-convict who became a Houston LGBT rights activist and helped to organize the first gay rights march on Washington died at age 78 on Nov. 24. In the 1980s, he helped to found Omega House for AIDS patients. Hill hosted a radio talk show for prisoners and their families. Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of the cultural phenomenon “SpongeBob SquarePants” died at age 57 on Nov. 26. Hillenburg, who was straight, had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. “SpongeBob,” the animated adventures of a yellow, pineapple-dwelling, sea creature, that airs on Nickelodeon, has a big queer following.

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14 • DECEMBER 28, 2018


2018: near and far, a clash of narratives Restore and replenish yourself for the battles ahead

Richard J. Rosendall is a writer and activist. Reach him at rrosendall@me.com.

The holiday season with its social obligations and reminders of absent friends brings its special tensions. After a hectic day, self-care guides me home. A warm robe, herbal tea, and quiet reflection are restorative. Before heading out earlier I sent an inquiry to the outpost of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Nairobi on behalf of a suffering gay Ugandan. He texted me thanks from the hospital where he was treated for injuries from a police assault during a peaceful protest days before. On Dec. 11, D.C. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton wrote to UN High Commissioner Filippo Grandi in Geneva urging him to investigate the mistreatment of Ugandan LGBT refugees in Kenya. I stopped by her office on Capitol Hill the next day to thank her. In 1964, she went to Mississippi for Freedom Summer to register African-American voters, an effort from which some volunteers never returned. She knows the price of freedom as only veterans of the struggle can. As a standard

courtesy, her letter to Grandi was copied to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, despite the unlikelihood of a sympathetic reception, as illustrated by Pompeo’s insulting visit to Brussels the previous week. “Cast your bread upon the waters,” wrote Ecclesiastes, “for you will find it after many days.... In the morning sow your seed, and at evening withhold not your hand, for you do not know which will prosper, this or that....” A British colleague who also advocates for the displaced Ugandans writes to me about a teenage couple, one of them transgender, who need help. There is anti-gay and antitrans bias among some of the Kenyans working for UNHCR. An American regime that seeks to erase trans people at home will not speak up for a 14-year-old trans girl waiting with her boyfriend outside UNHCR’s office in Nairobi. So my colleague and I do. You have to steel yourself for this kind of work. There are many more in need than you can help. If you begrudge yourself every moment of relaxation, you can damage your own well-being and end up no good to anyone. The world is great and you are small. Make a few ripples where you are, and see where they travel. There will be plenty of opportunities in 2019. The Trump regime has damaged everything from diplomacy to environmental protection to the rule of law to American values. Rapacity has replaced stewardship, fear has replaced inspiration, and spite has replaced cooperation. Migrant children are still dying at our southern border. The GOP still threatens the healthcare of 17 million people. Right-wing ideologues are still packing federal courts. Mark Harris, a homophobic and transphobic minister and Republican candidate for Congress in North Carolina’s

ninth district, hired a convicted felon to help him win. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Dec. 14 signed legislation stripping powers from Tony Evers, the Democrat who beat him. Republicans are branding themselves as cheaters and sore losers. Tyrants consider their assertions the only evidence that matters. Journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered for disputing that, and Trump’s embrace of his murderer despite damning intelligence makes us complicit. A Greek proverb says that a society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they will never sit. Trump’s unconcern for a projected national debt spike because “I won’t be here” confirms his vaunted national greatness as empty sloganeering. We who deplore Trumpism have not only reality on our side, but a more compelling narrative. The importance of narrative was illustrated in 2018 by gifted young filmmaker Ryan Coogler. His epic movie Black Panther conjures the mythical African nation of Wakanda, untouched by colonialism, with advanced technology and children who grow up with an expectation of success. Beautifully designed and cast from across the African diaspora, it soars. Confidence is invigorating. After American voters elected women in record numbers, once-and-future House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s deft Oval Office sparring with Trump gave a bracing preview of the battles ahead. Americans have faced challenges before. If we can only connect with our diverse citizenry we can defeat the nihilist in the White House, on whom Robert Mueller is slowly closing in. Copyright © 2018 by Richard J. Rosendall. All rights reserved.

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D E C EMB ER 2 8 , 2 0 1 8 • 1 7

Pop culture casserole 2018 remix ‘Pose’ pops, Gaga soars, ‘Drag Race’ goes mainstream and Emmys gayer than ever By JOEY DiGUGLIELMO & MARIAH COOPER joeyd@washblade.com mcooper@washblade.com


Broadway, of course, is always gay to some extent but 2018 seemed gayer than ever with revivals of landmark gay-themed works such as Mart Crowley’s “The Boys in the Band,” Tony Kushner’s “Angels in America” and Harvey Fierstein’s “Torch Song Trilogy.” “Boys,” which debuted 50 years ago, made its Broadway debut at the Booth Theatre in late April and ran until early August with an all-gay cast including Matt Bomer, Jim Parsons and Zachary Quinto. It got mixed reviews. “I wish I could report that …. I shuddered and sobbed in sympahy but even trimmed from two acts to an intermission-free 110 minutes, the show left me largely impatient and unmoved,” a New York Times critic wrote. In February, the Royal National Theatre production of “Angels in America,” Kushner’s landmark, two-part AIDS-themed masterpiece, transferred to Broadway for an 18-week engagement at the Neil Simon Theatre with Andrew Garfield and Nathan Lane in the cast. The 25th-anniversary revival won three Tonys out of a record 11 nominations. The Times said the play “courses into your system like a transfusion of new blood … when you hit the streets afterward, every one of your senses is singing.”

Less overall successful was a slimmed-down revival of Harvey Fierstein’s 1980s piece “Torch Song Triology,” a classic about a drag performer looking for love and family. The revival, starring Michael Urie and Mercedes Ruehl got strong reviews but may have been a victim of gay Broadway fatigue after “Boys” and “Angels.” It closes Jan. 6 after weeks of weak ticket sales, the New York Times reports. Oh, and Bette Midler returned to her Tony-winning role in “Hello Dolly!” at the Shubert Theatre July 17-Aug. 25. (JD)

NO. 9 BREAKOUT YEAR FOR TROYE SIVAN Former YouTube star Troye Sivan solidified his status as an A-list pop “legit” pop star this year with the release of his sophomore album “Bloom,” which peaked at no. four on the Billboard 200 sales chart. Lead single “My My My!” became Sivan’s second no. 1 Billboard dance hit, though it only made it to no. 80 on the Hot 100. Sivan performed on Saturday Night Live and made several other high-profile media appearances. He toured the “Bloom” record (he played D.C.’s The Anthem in October) and shot an iconic, gender-bending video for the song “Bloom.” The 23-year-old South Africa native (raised in Australia) headlined

at Capital Pride in June and costarred in the acclaimed conversion therapy drama “Boy Erased.” “A Troye Sivan concert leaves one with two major impressions,” the Blade wrote of his fall tour. “One, it’s amazing the magic he can weave using so little and two, the juxtaposition of his sonic/video/ TV show performances — where he comes off as an androgynous, gay sex-starved coquette gyrating lasciviously — dovetails quite nicely with his stage/interview persona where he’s self deprecating, down to earth, sweet seeming, even anodyne.” Sivan tours Europe and Asia through winter and spring, 2019. (JD)

NO. 8 CELEBS COME OUT IN DROVES Once upon a time coming out was considered a move that could ruin a celebrity’s career. Times have changed and 2018 was the year many celebrities announced their gender identities and sexualities with empowerment. Actress and singer Janelle Monáe told Rolling Stone she identifies as pansexual. Actress Tessa Thompson, who has been rumored to be in a relationship with Monáe, revealed this year that she is bisexual. During a Q&A, a fan asked Paris Jackson if she is bi. “That’s what you guys call it, so I guess, but who needs labels?” Jackson said. This was her first time publicly addressing her

sexuality but she says she’s been out since she was 14. Singer Jason Mraz subtly came out in a poem for Billboard’s “Love Letter to the LGBTQ Community” writing, “We still have a long way to go. But know. I am bi your side. All ways.” He told Billboard he’s had sexual experiences with men and considers his sexuality “two spirit.” Former Disney star Garrett Clayton came out as gay on Instagram after reflecting on filming his upcoming movie “Reach,” which tells the story of a teenager who contemplates suicide as a result of bullying. Clayton opened up that he and his boyfriend have had similar bullying experiences. Panic! at the Disco frontman Brendon Urie shared with Paper that “you could qualify me as pansexual” and said that he is simply attracted to people. Actor Amandla Stenberg, who came out as non-binary and bisexual in 2016, announced they are gay and have “a romantic love for women” in a profile for Wonderland. Rebecca Sugar, “Steven Universe” creator and Silver Spring, Md., native, came out as non-binary. Pop star Rita Ora received backlash for her song “Girls,” which critics argued exploited bisexual and lesbian relationships. Ora revealed that the song mirrored her own experiences and that she has had romantic relationships with women. “Glee” star Kevin Michael McHale came out as gay with the help of Ariana Grande tweeting,

“#NoTearsLeftToCry is gayer than me and I ACCEPT. Ty @ ArianaGrande.” Actor Lee Pace confirmed his sexual orientation by revealing he has dated both men and women. Journalist Ronan Farrow publicly declared he is “part of the LGBT community” while being honored with the Point Courage award for his work covering the #MeToo movement and transgender issues. He stated: ”being a part of the LGBT community — which recognized that reporting I was doing early on and elevated it, and has been such a stalwart source of support through the sexual assault reporting I did involving survivors who felt equally invisible. That has been an incredible source of strength for me.” Other celebrities who came out this year include “Broad City” star Abbi Jacobson (bisexual), actress/singer Alyson Stoner (bisexual), “Gotham” actor Cory Michael Smith (gay) and singer Daya (bisexual). (MC)


“A Star is Born” is a quintessential tragic love story and rags-to-riches film trope that has become one of Hollywood’s favorite movies to crank out to the masses. The 2018 version follows the classic plot of country music superstar Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) who helps rookie singer/songwriter Ally (Lady Gaga) kickstart her career.

18 • DECEM B E R 2 8 , 2 0 1 8

Along the way, the pair fall in love while struggling with addiction and navigating fame. The film gave the co-leads monumental firsts in their careers. For Gaga, it’s her first lead role in a major motion picture. Meanwhile, Cooper made his directorial debut. Lady Gaga also became an unexpected meme for repeating a variation of the quote “There can be 100 people in a room and 99 of them don’t believe in you, but all it takes is one and it just changes your whole life,” in reference to Cooper, numerous times during the film’s press fun. Despite it being the fourth remake following the original 1937 version, the 1954 musical starring Judy Garland, the 1976 rock musical led by Barbra Streisand and a 2013 Bollywood version, audiences and critics alike proved they were far from tired of the tale.“A Star is Born,” Lady Gaga, Cooper and Sam Elliot have all earned nominations ranging from the Golden Globes to the SAG Awards. The film’s soundtrack is also nominated for a Grammy Award. It’s unclear if the movie will snatch any trophies but “A Star is Born” is already a winner for capturing attention yet again. (MC)

NO. 6 ‘POSE’ DRAMATIZES LATE ‘80S BALL CULTURE “Pose,” Ryan Murphy’s latest television project, was co-created with Brad Falchuk and Steven Canals and made history with the largest cast of transgender characters in a fictional TV show. The groundbreaking series focuses on the black and Latinx ball culture and the luxury yuppie Trump era in New York City in the late ‘80s. Blanca Rodriguez-Evangelista (Mj Rodriguez) decides to leave the House of Abundance and become the founder and mother of the House of Evangelista. Blanca gathers


November and has grossed nearly $600 million worldwide. At about $50 million, it had the highest budget of any of the aforementioned movies. A Blade review called it “full of exuberant energy and good-natured high spirits” and said it’s “an impossible film not to get caught up in.” (JD)


‘Pose’ is another hit from TV titan Ryan Murphy. Photo courtesy FX

together her makeshift group to try to compete with the legendary House of Abundance. However, balls aren’t their only worry as their family confronts the looming AIDS epidemic, finds and loses love and faces the everyday struggles of being transgender or gay. Out actor Billy Porter portrays Pray Tell, the ball emcee and Blanca’s best friend. His role earned him a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor/ Television Series Drama. The series also was praised for adding transgender talent behind the camera. Transgender activist Janet Mock penned scripts, along with transgender write Our Lady J, for a few episodes and served as director. Silas Howard, a transgender activist, writer and director, also directed an episode. “Pose” will continue into 2019 as the show was green-lit for a second season. (MC)

NO. 5 BIG YEAR FOR GAY MOVIES Gay-themed movies are released every year but they’re getting a little bit more mainstream with increasingly A-list budgets. This year was especially strong. “Love, Simon,” a teen dramedy, opened in March and told of Simon Spier, a closeted gay high school student forced to balance friends, family and a blackmailer threatening to out him. It made back more than three times what it cost to make with worldwide grosses totaling about $66 million. It has a 92 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. “The Miseducation of Cameron Post” opened in the U.S. in August and told of the title character caught in a same-sex “encounter,” who gets shipped off to “conversion” therapy camp

where she discovers solidarity with her fellow enrollees. It stands at 86 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes and tells its story with “wit, compassion and an affecting overall generosity of spirit,” according to an aggregate review. “Boy Erased” took a more serious glimpse at “conversion” therapy with a biographical adaptation of Garrard Conley’s 2016 memoir of the same name. Starring Lucas Hedges, Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe, it opened in the U.S. in November to strong reviews and is up for two Golden Globe Awards. A Blade review praised the strong cast for carrying the film. It’s 80 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. And “Bohemian Rhapsody” depicts British rock band Queen with its late flamboyant lead singer Freddie Mercury who was gay (or perhaps bi; Mercury never officially came out). Long delayed, it finally debuted in the U.S. in

“A Fantastic Woman,” a 2017 Chilean drama, tells of Marina (Daniela Vega), a young trans woman in Santiago, Chile who experiences abuse and harrassment following the sudden death of her boyfriend Orlando, an older man who had recently moved in with her. This Sony Pictures Classics release could have been one of the 2017 year in review stories — it won two major awards at the Berlin International Film Festival — but it went on to even greater acclaim this year winning the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, the first Chilean film to win this category. Openly trans star Daniela Vega became the first trans person to present at the Oscars at the Academy’s 90th annual ceremony on March 4. It holds at 94 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. An aggregate review said it handles “its timely, sensitive subject matter with care.” (JD)

NO. 3 BIGGEST YEAR IN “RUPAUL’S DRAG RACE” HERSTORY “RuPaul’s Drag Race” is a veteran in reality TV. The show premiered in 2009, but the drag competition show has only recently gained mainstream attention with its switch from airing on Logo to VH1.


“RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 3” brought back seasoned queens from seasons’ past including Trixie Mattel (season seven), Shangela (season two and three), BenDeLaCreme (season six), Kennedy Davenport (season seven), among others. DeLa appeared to be the girl to beat as she won challenge after challenge. For “All Stars,” Ru required the lip-sync winner to send one of their own home. As DeLa kept slaying the competition, she eventually eliminated herself because she couldn’t take the pressure of sending her sisters home. After her departure, Shangela became a fan favorite with many viewers believing she would win. However, Trixie won the title causing an uproar on social media from Shangela fans who wanted their fave to say “Halleloo” to the crown. Season 10 ushered in 13 new queens and one returning queen. Eureka was welcomed back to compete after being removed from the show in season nine due to an injury. The final four came down to Aquaria, Eureka, Kameron Michaels and Asia O’Hara. The final lip-sync featured a poorly constructed butterfly release from O’Hara that earned her the boot. Aquaria, the self-proclaimed “bitch from New York City,” was crowned the winner after being a consistent judge favorite “turning looks” for the mini, maxi and runway challenges. Her win didn’t come as too much of a surprise but it was herstory-making. Aquaria became the youngest queen to ever win the competition at 21 years old. The fierce competition made season 10 the most viewed season in the show’s history. The show won five Emmys this year out of 12 nominations. A “Holi-slay Spectacular” aired Dec. 7 to mixed reviews. “All Stars” season four began Dec. 14 and will continue into the new year. Season 11 has been announced but no premiere date is set. (MC)

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Adam Rippon performs in PyeongChang at the 2018 Winter Olympics. This layback spin is rare for male skaters. Screen capture via NBC broadcast

NO. 2 THE GAYEST EMMYS EVER The 2018 Emmy Awards may have been the gayest Emmys in the history of the award show. The ceremony opened with a dance number featuring out “Saturday Night Live” cast member Kate McKinnon, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” star Tituss Burgess and RuPaul. The rest of the night was filled with LGBT wins and appearances. Ryan Murphy’s “The Assassination of Gianni Versace” won Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series, Movie or Dramatic Special and Darren Criss’ portrayal of spree killer Andrew Cunanan earned him a win for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or a Movie. Australian comedian Hannah Gadbys, who received critical acclaim for her Netflix special “Nanette,” made an appearance

to present the award Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series. “RuPaul’s Drag Race” secured its fifth Emmy win this year with Outstanding Reality Competition Series. RuPaul, Michelle Visage, Ross Matthews and Carson Kressley all accepted the award on stage where Ru delivered his signature phrase, “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else? Can I get an amen up in here? Now let the music play” to the star-studded Emmys crowd. The “Queer Eye” cast continued its pop culture reign with Bobby Berk, Karamo Brown, Tan France, Antoni Porowski and Jonathan Van Ness all appearing as presenters. The Fab Five has been traveling around the Atlanta area to upgrade the lives of men and women on everything from grooming and fashion to personal development. The series released two seasons in just six months but already won

the Emmy’s top reality show honor, and the show’s first Emmy, for Best Structured Reality Program. (MC)

NO. 1 ADAM RIPPON, AMERICA’S SWEETHEART Figure skating is, of course, Adam Rippon’s initial claim to fame but in 2018, he became much more than that. Rippon’s skating career was highly uneven. He was the 2016 U.S. national champion but until this year, had never previously qualified for the Olympics and never placed higher than sixth at the World Championships. It was controversial that he even made the Olympic team after coming in fourth at nationals. But skating officials decided Rippon was a stronger candidate for the team than Ross Miner who came in second at

nationals. Rippon, Vincent Zhou and Nathan Chen went on to compete in Peyongchang, South Korea coming in 10th, sixth and fifth respectively. Chen and Rippon took home bronze medals (along with several other U.S. skaters) in the team event which incorporates all skating disciplines. That made Rippon the first openly gay Olympic athlete to win at medal at the Winter Olympics. He and freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy were the gay toast of the Olympics. Rippon especially stayed in the headlines for refusing to meet with Vice President Mike Pence because of his anti-gay views and his spacey, ditzy on-camera interviews with NBC’s Andrea Joyce, the best straightwoman to Rippon’s antics as one could have imagined. That cemented Rippon’s status as the gay celebrity du jour and he went on to several high profile media appearances, magazine covers and a win on season 26 of “Dancing With the Stars.” Oh, and yeah, there was that harness he wore to the Oscars and the nude photo spread in ESPN Magazine. Rippon, now retired from competitive skating at 29, is a judge on “Dancing with the Stars: Juniors” and guest on the “Will & Grace” reboot. Rippon has been praised for being “unabashedly nelly, effeminate, bawdy and obviously gay in a way we’ve been asked to cover up,” as writer Alxander Chee wrote. (JD)

HONORABLE MENTION KATHY GRIFFIN MAKES LEMONADE Kathy Griffin attends White House Correspondents’ Association dinner as guest of the Blade. In April, the Washington Blade invited Griffin to its table to thank her for her LGBT advocacy work over the years. At the dinner, Griffin had a run-in with Deputy White House Press Secretary Hogan Gidley in which she told him, “Suck my dick.” The exchange garnered international media attention and Griffin landed on multiple talk shows after the dinner.

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Top local Arts & Entertainment stories of 2018

Nick Robinson and Keiynan Lonsdale in ‘Love, Simon’

The cast of ‘Dear Evan Hansen,’ starring Ben Levi Ross (center).

Screenshot via YouTube

(Photo by Matthew Murphy, courtesy Center Theatre Group

Picking the 10 most significant Arts & Entertainment events from the course of an entire year in the life of a city is a daunting enough task as it is. When you’re trying to do it for a city as rich with culture and creativity as Los Angeles, it becomes nearly impossible. With that in mind, based on our own coverage throughout 2018, the Los Angeles Blade has compiled the following list of highlights from a year full of the kind of dazzling experiences that make it a joy to be an Angeleno. In alphabetical order: Buy/Sell/Date: This onewoman show by Tony-winning playwright/performer Sarah Jones – which ran first at the Geffen, and was later revived at the LGBT Center’s Renberg

Theater – allowed audiences to marvel as she stepped into the shoes multiple characters to explore the experiences of women working in the sex industry. While not strictly LGBT-related in its focus, Jones’ masterful play covered a wide scope of issues relevant to anyone conditioned to think of themselves as sexual beings – all while preserving the full humanity of voices seldom heard in the theater. Considering Matthew Shepard: For Pride month, renowned choral composer/ conductor Craig Hella Johnson brought his 2012 oratorio to LA’s Ford Theatre in a pair of performances featuring his Grammy-winning ensemble, Conspirare. Contemplating the ordeal and legacy of Matthew

Shepard, the full-length concert piece was a powerful experience which united audiences for a tearful – yet ultimately uplifting – catharsis. Selections from the oratorio were later performed at the interment of Shepard’s ashes in Washington’s National Cathedral. Dear Evan Hansen: Los Angeles plays host to many touring Broadway musicals every year, but 2018’s mustsee standout was this smash hit about a teen with severe social anxiety who achieves social media popularity by fabricating a friendship with a classmate that has committed suicide. Moving, funny, and thought-provoking, with a memorable pop-fueled song score by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, it’s the kind of new-era

musical theatre experience that has revitalized the genre by appealing to the interests of a younger generation of fans. Tickets were hard to come by – but for those who had the dedication (and the funds) to pursue them, it was an evening of theatre well worth the effort. Dirty Looks: On Location: For the entire month of July, Los Angeles’ historic queer spaces were returned to life for this series of one-night-only film screenings and installation events, from a tribute to LA’s first-ever gay film festival to a recreation of iconic LA cruise bar Cuffs. Ambitious and provocative, this multi-media exploration was curated by On Location, an organization founded by Bradford Nordeen in 2012 that strives to reconnect

a modern generation of LGBT people with a communal heritage that has been largely obscured by its own traditionally underground nature. Dos Coros Una Voz!: To launch their 40th anniversary season, the Los Angeles Gay Men’s Chorus mounted an extravagant joint concert presentation in collaboration with Mexico City’s own Gay Men’s Chorus, Coro Gay Ciudad de México. This massive onenight only performance at Glendale’s Alex Theatre united the two singing groups for a show of solidarity which was essentially a thumb to the nose in the direction of the Trump administration’s antiLatino rhetoric and draconian immigration policies. As if to underline the political subtext


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A compelling OutFest, ‘Evan Hansen’ and ‘Love, Simon’ proved highlights By JOHN PAUL KING

Taylor Mac performed Dec. 14 and 15 at UCLA’s Center for Art of Performance.

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

Photo courtesy Taylor Mac

Photo courtesy Sarah Jones

of the event, several members of the Mexican chorus were temporarily detained by Homeland Security at the airport in Houston on their way to LA. Icons of Style – A Century of Fashion Photography: In a city full of world-class art museums, there is never a shortage of great exhibitions to be seen, but our pick for 2018 was the Getty Center’s exhaustive decade-by-decade display of works capturing the ever-shifting cultural currents of the last 100 years. Featuring iconic images from Edward Strachen to Lillian Bassman to Bruce Weber and beyond, it was a breathtaking retrospective that sought to explore why some of these photographs “transcend their commercial character to

function as works of art, while others do not.” Love, Simon: It might seem a stretch to name a widely released film as a cultural event for a specific city – but LA is the city of movies, after all, and this sweet, John Hughes-esque teen romance about a boy whose email correspondence with a samesex secret admirer leads him on a journey toward coming out to his family and friends was arguably the biggest cultural milestone of the year for LGBT representation. As the first gay story told in a mainstream movie from a major studio, this winning comedy by out producer/director Greg Berlanti was a major step forward in normalizing LGBT narratives on the screen.

Outfest 2018: Speaking of movies, July’s Outfest is an annual highlight for fans of LGBT filmmaking, and this year’s festival was exceptional enough to earn a place on this list. The 2018 roster was more diverse than ever, showcasing works by and about queer women, trans people, and people of color in its lineup. Along with documentaries like “Man Made” and “Transmilitary,” outstanding narratives like “We the Animals” and “1985,” dozens of short subjects, television shows, and web series, it also offered up the LA premieres of Matt Tyrnauer’s “Studio 54” documentary and the Sundance-winning teen conversion camp movie, “The Miseducation of Cameron

Post” – making it one of the best and brightest festivals in the 35-year history of Outfest. Rotterdam: Arts events don’t have to be big to be important, and this offering from Los Feliz’ small Skylight Theatre was proof of that. A production of English playwright John Brittain’s play about a lesbian couple thrown into doubt about their future when one of the women comes out as trans, this crisp and entertaining show charted the treacherous territory of personal gender politics with a disarming lightness of touch. It was a reminder of how much quality stagecraft exists within our talented LA community – and of how small, independent theatre leads the way in providing artistic expression

for queer voices. Taylor Mac’s Holiday Sauce: Rounding out our list is this boundary-pushing extravaganza by Taylor Mac – a gender-bending playwright and performance artist who identifies with the personal pronoun, “judy,” and whose status as a lauded theatre artist guarantees the significance of anything judy does. Created as an “antidote” for the traditional holiday experience, this work-in-progress show reframed familiar traditions, reworked popular carols, and lampooned seasonal rituals in a “deconstruction” of “the patriarchy of spirituality.” Thanks to Mac’s outrageous theatrical style, it was also a hell of a lot of fun. And so was 2018 in Arts.

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Adam and Adam, meet New Year’s Eve

Birdland Theater is the legendary jazz club’s new downstairs venue. Photo courtesy Birdland

Let’s face it: Avoiding a disastrous New Year’s Eve can be a task more daunting than escaping the Titanic, as it fills with deadly torrents of twitchy, James Camerondirected water. But do it right, and you’ll end up with a sweet memory that lasts as long as Rose’s lifespan. Choose unwisely, and you’ll find yourself whiteknuckling the countdown to midnight, like Jack, just prior to his drama queen bob into icy oblivion. We’re not going to let that happen. To that end, here’s a fabulous foursome of New Year’s Eve geographic locations, and their destination events. First though, let’s answer a nagging question: Why the decades-old movie reference, to begin a roundup about starting next year on a high note? Because it’s history, baby — just like 2018 will be, so very soon. Now follow our finger, and count backwards, slowly, from four:


Randy Garner, Public Relations Manager for the Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism, made the case for a visit — not just as the sand seeps to the bottom of 2018’s hourglass, but any old time. Palm Springs, he noted, “has the largest

collection of gay resorts in the world.” There are17 of them, including Inndulge Palm Springs, The Hacienda at Warm Sands, Santiago Resort, and Triangle Inn Palm Springs (a clothing-optional resort). Also, it’s safe, or a least gayfriendly, to make a religion out of talking politics, while there: “We are happy,” Garner said, “to be the first city in the nation to have an all-LGBTQ city council.” What progressive agenda they’ll push through next year remains to be seen — but on Dec. 31, it’s a sure thing Palm Springs will have its share of pretty pink planks worth adding to your platform. At Saguaro Palm Springs, their “Drag Me To 2019” New Year’s Eve Disco Gala has Miss Rusty Waters presiding over a lineup of live entertainment that’s as fun to gorge on as the complimentary, buffet-style appetizers. Over at Chill Bar Palm Springs, “RuPaul’s Drag Race” alum, and HIV-positive Filipino-American artist/activist Ongina emcees, with DJ Gary Stewart. Tips for the Chill GoGo Boys are a no-brainer, as this is a free event (they do suggest “pre-ordering your champagne, to ensure your favorite brand is available when the clock strikes midnight”). For details, check out visitgaypalmsprings.com.


On Broadway, the beat goes on at “The Cher Show” — but the Go-Go’s-infused “Head Over Heels” will close on Jan. 6. See it now, or your first exposure will be somebody’s spirited, but comparatively lacking, high school production. And that would be cheating yourself. So much more than a jukebox musical (nothing sinister about that, given the music), it’s Jeff Whitty’s original book, adapted by James Magruder, that give this production its spine. A bevy of broadly drawn royal court characters and their (mostly) loyal subjects find themselves on a hero’s journey toward redefined gender roles and same-sex awakenings, often at the same time. Most of the folks on deck are much more forward-thinking than the 16th century source material would suggest (it’s based on James Shirley’s “The Arcadia”). And why not? The show earns its fairy tale ending, and prods us to ponder what this modern life would be like if the casual acceptance of preferred pronouns presented here had a few good centuries with which to further percolate. Queer-positive content notwithstanding, it’s still worth the trip to see Bonnie Milligan’s beautifully

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At home or elsewhere, start 2019 right By SCOTT STIFFLER

Circus of earthly delights: Puerto Vallarta’s White Party happens Dec. 28-Jan. 1. Photo courtesy of White Party Entertainment

calibrated comedic turn as a privileged princess/ older sister. She’s a standout, and not just because of her frequent time spent on stage. On the other end of that scale, a few brief put plot-pivotal scenes are all Peppermint needs, to leave a lasting impression (and make Broadway history, as the first transgender woman to create a principal role). Scoop up some of the last seats, at headoverheelsthemusical.com.


Are you a boy whose visions of buff, anthropomorphic sugar-plums dancing in your head are occasionally interrupted by equally vivid dreams of running away and joining the circus? If so, rest easy, find your tribe in sunny, sexy, Puerto Vallarta. Dec. 28-Jan. 1, White Party Entertainment will offer all manner of largely shirtless celebrations, taking place at the Almar Resort and its Mantamar Beach Club. Anil Patel, Director of Operations for White Party Entertainment, promises their Dec. 30 themed event will bring sexiness back to

the circus. No baggy clown costumes here, folks, only glitter, muscle, skin, and, of course, sand. “What’s so great thing about being in Puerto Vallarta,” Patel said, “is that the parties, the dance floor, are literally on the beach. The water is just spectacular, there’s amazing music, and fireworks at the main event. It’s a tropical getaway like no other, a true destination event.” And why stop when the clock has run out? Sunday and Monday’s after-hours “Climaxxx” parties rage on until 10 AM, and the Jan. 1 pool party is sponsored by Scruff — and for those who miss festivities this time around, White Party events return to that same sunny beach in 2019, in May (for Pride), Presidents’ Day Weekend, and Thanksgiving. More info at jeffreysanker.com.


Beef up that final countdown by getting your protein fix, bookended with some buns, hon, at Hamburger Mary’s WeHo. The serendipitously named Wendy Ho hosts their star-studded New Year celebration, with a 10 PM drag show, and countdown to midnight. Visit hamburgermarys.

com/weho to make your (strongly suggested) reservations. And if a staycation’s not in the cards, head to Las Vegas, where their Hamburger Mary’s, a cheeky staff member assured us, has “plenty of drag, honey.” Marilyn Monroe might have staked her claim on BFF status with diamonds, but Redline bar is suing for temporary custody — with a “Dripping in Diamonds” theme for New Year’s Eve. Busy, busty, basically brilliant drag queen Marta Beatchu hosts and performs, alongside the Diamond Boys dancers, at this dance party event. Expect DJ Josh Peace to spin “house, some Spanish, and top 40s,” said Redline owner Oliver Alpuche. “He really gets you going, to dance the night away.” There’s no cover — and cover your complimentary champagne for that midnight toast (during, and slightly after, the confetti drop). On Jan. 1, the place is closed, so the staff can recharge and ready for 2019 — a year in which, Alpuche said, Redline will do its part to “stand up, and demand change. You’ll see us supporting the community, by giving space for meetings, getting information out, and becoming aware. That’s how you create change.” Be part of the change, and never miss a good party, by keeping an eye on redlinedtla.com.

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‘The Favourite’ ‘Crazy, Rich’ movies of the year Gaga and Rupert wowed, ‘conversion’ therapy got skewered By BRIAN T. CARNEY

Rupert Everett in ‘The Happy Prince.’ Photo courtesy Sony Pictures Classics

As the Golden Globe nominations richly demonstrate, 2018 was a great year for LGBT cinema. At the top of the list is Yorgos Lanthimos’ stunning “The Favourite,” a bawdy romp through English history. Olivia Colman is Queen Anne and Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone are two ladies vying for her affection — and a share of her power. The Golden Globe slate also includes “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” about a lesbian grifter and her gay sidekick; “Bohemian Rhapsody” with Rami Malek as Queen lead singer Freddie Mercury; “Crazy Rich Asians;” Lady Gaga’s incredible performance in “A Star Is Born” and two movies that will open on Dec, 25: “If Beale Street Could Talk,” written and directed by “Moonlight’s” Barry Jenkins from the novel by James Baldwin; and, “Vice,” the Dick Cheney biopic featuring Alison Pill as his openly lesbian daughter Mary. There’s also the controversial Belgian film “Girl” about a trans ballerina that stars a male actor in the lead. Two excellent movies focused on the harmful practice of conversion therapy: the Golden Globe nominee “Boy Erased” and the Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner “The Miseducation of Cameron Post.”

Four interesting movies turned their focus to the younger LGBT generation. Known primarily for his innovative and inclusive programming for the CW network, Greg Berlanti directed “Love, Simon,” a moving rom-com about a closeted high-school student. The inventive “Every Day” explored the complex relationship between a high school girl and a pansexual entity who inhabits a different human body (male or female) every day; “Skeleton Twins” director Craig Johnson helmed the quirky high school comingout comedy “Alex Strangelove.” Claire Danes and Jim Parsons starred in trans director Jake Howard’s “A Kid Like Jake” about a Brooklyn couple with a gender nonconforming child. Other notable LGBT releases included “Colette” about the infamous French author; “The Happy Prince,” Rupert Everett’s unconventional biopic about the convention-shattering gay author Oscar Wilde; the searing coming-of-age story “We The Animals;” “Lez Bomb,” a comedy about a closeted lesbian who decides to come out to her family on Thanksgiving; the adoption dramedy “Instant Family;” “Lizzie,” a retelling of the Lizzie Borden case with a lesbian twist; “Hearts Beat Loud” a moving drama about a record

store owner (Nick Offerman) and his lesbian daughter who’s about to leave for college (out actress Kiersey Clemons); and, the sensuous “Mary Queen of Scots” with passionate performances by Saiorse Ronan and Margot Robbie and a crucial gay plot twist. Some of the great LGBT documentaries released in 2018 included “McQueen” (designer Alexander McQueen), “Love Cecil” (costume designer Cecil Beaton), “The Gospel According to André” (designer and journalist André Leon Talley), “Whitney” (singer Whitney Houston), “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” (Fred Rogers and friends, including the black gay opera singer Françoise Clemmons who played Officer Clemmons on “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood”), “Far From the Tree” (the ground-breaking research and personal history of Andrew Solomon), “Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood” (Hollywood pimp Scotty Bowers) and “Dark Money” (a look at the dire impact of the Citizens United ruling on American politics, expertly directed by trans filmmaker Kimberley Reed). And with that, it’s all over except for the awards shows. The Golden Globes will be awarded on Jan. 6 and the Academy Awards will be presented Feb. 24.

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Best page turners of 2018 ‘Berlin 1936,’ time-bending ‘Tin Man’ among year’s strongest fiction By TERRI SCHLICHENMEYER

The year’s best books often came in unexpected places. Here are some highlights. FICTION Just about every person alive grew up feeling sorry for poor little Cinderella. In “All the Ever Afters” by Danielle Teller, we see the classic story from the POV of Agnes, the evil-not-evil stepmother. This novel is an eye-opener: there are always two sides to a story and both could be correct. Another two-sides-to-the-tale tale is “The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein” by Kiersten White, a novel of the woman who loved Victor Frankenstein. Or did she? Without him, she’d be homeless, broke and hungry. With him, she would always fear his temper and the horrible things she was discovering about him. It’s a dark-and-stormy kind of book, perfect for anyone who wants winter chills of a different sort. A lot of mini-stories make up “Berlin 1936” by Oliver Hilmes, translated from the German by Jefferson Chase. It’s a multi-level tale of Nazis, gypsies, homosexuals and secrets in the infancy of the Third Reich, told in a conglomerate, slice-of-life sort of way that will make you forget that it’s all fiction. Every year, it seems, scientists claim that humans will achieve immortality within a few decades. That’s a curse in “How to Stop Time” by Matt Haig. In 1598, a man named Tom fell in love with a woman named Rose. They had a daughter and then Rose fell

ill and died; Tom, however, survived because he’s an “alba.” Tom is more than 400 years old and there are two things he wants: to feel as normal as he did in 1598, and to find his daughter, who is also an alba. Romancy? Yes, but also part sci-fi, part history, a little drama, and a whole lot of wonderful. To round out the fiction list, there’s “Tin Man: A Novel” by Sarah Winman. It’s also the story of Ellis, who lost his wife and his best friend, the former to a car accident and the latter to AIDS. Ellis misses Annie because she opened his world; he misses Michael because Michael pushed him to do things he would have never tried. But there were so many things Ellis never knew about Michael, until he finds Michael’s journal. Emotional, dramatic, also romantic, here’s a book that’ll make you curl up in your chair, stricken, for an hour after you’ve finished it. NONFICTION For anyone who’s ever wondered how that guy on TV does those illusion tricks, “Here is Real Magic” by Nate Staniforth is a book for you. Staniforth always wanted to be a magician but he wanted to do it big. Little coin tricks were old-school so, in this book, he goes on a journey to find out of magic is real or not. Hint: this isn’t a magic book. Read it and you’ll be left with answers you weren’t even asking for. You may never see “The Language of Kindness” by Christie Watson on any other best of list and that’s too

bad. Watson is a nurse, and this is a book about being ill, care-giving, living and dying. Beware that some of the stories are a bit gruesome, but this is a lovely book for anyone alive. And not that there’s a theme here or anything, but you’ll also want to read “Natural Causes” by Barbara Ehrenreich, a book about the things we do to avoid dying. It’s informative, funny, wry and intelligent. Hint: rant, rail, avoid sweets, eat kale, do all you want, but you’re going to die someday anyhow. There’s a ton of surprising gratitude inside “The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row” by Anthony Ray Hardin with Lara Love Hardin. The reason is that Anthony Hardin was put on death row for a crime he didn’t commit. First surprise: it took 30 years for him to be exonerated. Second surprise: this book holds a whole lot less anger than you’d think it would, and a whole lot of uplifting. Of all the books on this list, it’s the one you’ll never regret reading. And finally, rounding up the nonfiction list, there’s “West Like Lightning: The Brief, Legendary Ride of the Pony Express” by Jim DeFelice. History fans will love this book because DeFelice focuses on the Pony Express but doesn’t ignore other major players in the Civil War era. Readers who like tales of little-known life will love this book, too, as will anyone who loves a good oater. Bonus: it’s one of those easy to browse books that will pull you in tight.


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Troye, Olly, Haley light up ’18 pop music landscape Queer artists increasingly mainstream with many high-profile releases By THOM MURPHY This has been a year filled with comebacks and breaks from extended hiatuses in the pop music world. But instead of returning to more of the same, this year artists have made surprising choices. Kylie Minogue’s “Golden” had a country sound, Scissor Sisters frontman Jake Shears came out with his first full-length solo record and Cher released an entire album of ABBA covers. Legendary singer Barbra Streisand released her politically charged, though somewhat disappointing, “Walls,” and Christina Aguilera was back with her first new album in six years. And Robyn ended an eight year gap with the release of her album “Honey.” Additionally, a new generation of pop performers continues to thrive. Janelle Monáe, Ariana Grande, Hayley Kiyoko, Charlie Puth, Troye Sivan, Years & Years and Shawn Mendes have all come out with solid new albums. Monáe, Years & Years’ Olly Alexander, Kiyoko and Sivan have been forward with their queerness. The following albums are some of the best albums released by queer artists this year and they leave us with (relatively) high expectations for the year to come. We could make it a solid 10 if we opened it up to straight acts but, ehhh, they get enough mainstream attention so we’ll just go with six here. 6. Panic! At The Disco ‘Pray For The Wicked’ Panic! At The Disco frontman Brendon Urie’s official coming out coincided with the release of the new album. Though the album is nothing revolutionary, it is an excellent pop punk record, a genre that Urie, along with groups like Fall Out Boy and Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, has helped to perfect. The album hearkens back to some of the best Panic! At The Disco records, though Urie has taken a decisively pop turn. “Pray For The Wicked” hit the Billboard No. 1 spot, right on the heels of the 2016 No. 1 “Death Of A Bachelor.” The songs “Hey Look Ma, I Made It” and “Dancing’s Not A Crime” stand out in particular. Despite the decline of good pop punk music in recent years, Urie has made it clear he plans to stick around and that the genre still has room to expand. 5. Years & Years ‘Palo Santo’ “Palo Santo” is Years & Years’ sophomore album and a sign that the group is continuing to develop in provocative ways. Queer frontman Olly Alexander has considerable musical and thematic range. Much like Janelle Monáe’s “Dirty Computer,” “Palo Santo” is set in a quasi-dystopian future that does not shy away

of their 2012 “Magic Hour,” Shears has ventured out, moving to New Orleans and making his Broadway debut in “Kinky Boots.” The album features much of the fun, quirky, eccentric qualities one expects from a Scissor Sisters record, but with a more diverse array of music influences. Shears regularly mixes blues, country and pop in his refreshing instrumentations. The pervasive influence of artists like Elton John and Queen are felt throughout, but Shears remains convincingly original. “Creep City” and “Sad Song Backwards” are among the most enjoyable tracks on the album.

Janelle Monáe ‘Dirty Computer’ from politics. The accompanying visual album illustrates this nicely, if not strangely. The production value is superb and the album has a good overall flow. This is definitely a group to keep on the radar and the album as a whole is excellent, beyond just the catchy lead single “If You’re Over Me,” which had success on the Billboard Official U.K. Singles Chart. 4. Hayley Kiyoko ‘Expectations’ Hayley Kiyoko’s “Expectations” was one of the most exciting album releases of the year. Kiyoko, a lesbian, made a big splash with her debut album “Expectations,” which landed at the Billboard No. 12 spot. It is very smart dance pop record and less redundant than others in the genre. This is perhaps because of the variety on the album. Lead single “Sleepover” has strong R&B feel that Kiyoko pulls off quite well. And “Feelings” is solid dance pop track. But “What I Need,” featuring Kehlani, is perhaps the most memorable of the new record. We have good reason to look forward to the next iteration of Kiyoko’s sound. 3. Jake Shears ‘Jake Shears’ Scissor Sisters frontman Jake Shears came out with his first full solo album, titled eponymously. Following the hiatus of Scissor Sisters after the release

2. Troye Sivan ‘Bloom’ Troye Sivan was finally out with his new album “Bloom” following after his widely successful 2015 debut, “Blue Neighbourhood.” And in comparison to “Blue Neighbourhood,” “Bloom” is slightly underwhelming. For the most part, Sivan is relying on the same formula. “Bloom” is more of a part two to “Blue Neighbourhood” than a new chapter. The only song to go against the trend is “Animal,” which takes a quasi-psychedelic, Frank Ocean-esque turn — and with great success. Singles “My! My! My!,” “Bloom” and “Dance to This” are extremely catchy dance tunes and Sivan seems very much in his element, awkward dancing and all. Though it explores little new territory, Sivan remains reliably good and the most prominent young gay artist in the pop music world and that is a very good thing. 1. Janelle Monáe ‘Dirty Computer’ Janelle Monáe’s “Dirty Computer” is one of the best conceived and best executed albums of the year. Her fully fleshed out dystopian world is smart, fresh and thematically substantial in a way rarely seen in pop music (with notable exceptions like Lady Gaga). And she uses this dystopian universe as a means of talking about politics, race and sexuality — and often in very bold ways, as in her “PYNK” music video, a celebration of the female body. But it’s not just the concepts that count. Songs such as “Make Me Feel,” where one feels the inspiration of Michael Jackson and Prince, and “Crazy, Classic, Life” are both catchy and musically innovative. Building on the success of her previous albums “The ArchAndroid” (2010) and “The Electric Lady” (2013), “Dirty Computer” and its accompanying visual album (or “emotion picture,” as she calls it) make for a seamless third chapter. It’s clear Monáe understands the importance not only of an overarching concept but also of each individual track.

30 • DECEM B E R 2 8 , 2 0 1 8


Billy looks to turn back time with a year-in-review Not everything was about Agent Orange By BILLY MASTERS

“Get ready for some pounding. Some of us could see 8 inches or more. That’s too much - even for me.” – Virginia Beach weatherman Blaine Stewart prepared residents for a blizzard in early 2018 with this Tweet. It shocked even moi. I can’t believe it’s almost a year since Mariah complained about not having hot tea on “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve”. Thank God she didn’t complain about Dick not being there – by now, he’s colder than her tea! Yeah, obviously it’s our year in review. And while I typically wouldn’t go to the death topic so early, I’m still mourning the loss of Bob Smith. For those who don’t know, Bob was the first openly gay comedian to appear on “The Tonight Show”. As a writer, his work will live on. While his body betrayed him as he fought ALS, his mind was as sharp as ever. We still exchanged emails till the end, and he was a faithful reader of this column and one of my champions. Thank you, Bob, for opening the door for so many of us. You are missed… and remembered. Was anyone surprised when Garrett Clayton came out? Hands? No one. Then Jaden Smith said that Tyler, The Creator is not only his best friend, but his boyfriend. Correction, his “motherfucking boyfriend”. Tyler denies it. A bit of history was made this year when a trans woman was crowned Miss Spain. This made Angela Ponce the first trans woman in the Miss Universe Pageant. And speaking of firsts, Daniel Hall and Vincent Franchino became the first same-sex active-duty soldiers to get married at West Point. Congrats to all. I would need a full column to really go over all the details of the Colton Haynes and Jeff Leatham marriage. In fact, I’m exhausted before I even start recounting it. So, let’s just encapsulate. Boy meets boy. Boy proposes to boy. Boy marries boy. Boy records a song called “Man It Sucks”. Boy files for divorce from other boy. Boy flies to Vancouver to surprise boy on boy’s birthday. Boy and boy are back together. Did you follow that? Good. When I started this column over two decades ago, no one talked of gays having children – unless one was referencing the age gap. Now, Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka are going on family vacations with Elton John and David Furnish. Lance Bass and Michael Turchin are talking about having kids, but I think that’s just to

2018 was Cher-ubiquitous from the get go. And she’s still retiring.

get an invite from Elton. When asked if he was going to have another kid with Jeremiah Brent, Nate Berkus said, “I’ve been trying and I just can’t get pregnant.” Thus ends another spirited round of “Who’s the bottom?” Tom Daley and Dustin Lance Black just had a kid – so I guess that ties in the old and new definition of gays and children. In fact, we’re about to tie in the topic of bottoms. There is a photo which is purportedly Tom Daley nude and on all fours (and I’d bet what’s left of my reputation that it’s real). Then stills from a sex tape

circulated which allegedly show Daley bottoming for a buff bald bloke (side note – it was pointed out to me that alliteration is an early sign of dementia). Now, I’m not willing to bet what’s left of Tom’s reputation on it, but I will say the photos look real to me. To settle the matter, I’ll simply post them on BillyMasters.com and you can decide for yourself. Going over all the stories, I have to say this was the Year of Cher. Believe it or not, all of these things happened in 2018 – she performed at Sydney Mardi Gras, the musical about her life opened in Chicago, she appeared in “Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again”, she released a CD of ABBA covers, “The Cher Show” opened on Broadway, and she got the Kennedy Center Honor. That’s a lot of work for someone who’s barely awake a couple of hours a day! And it sounds like 2019 is gonna be just as busy. She’s allegedly working on a second compilation of ABBA songs and has signed a deal to write her autobiography. And if that’s not enough, try this on for size – if the musical about her wins a Tony Award (and that’s a big “if”), she would join the hallowed halls of EGOT winners. Of course, I’m known for nudes. The most notorious one of this year happens to be a drawing – of Batman’s penis! And since he’s a superhero, he obviously has a superpower – the ability to make his penis disappear (probably into Robin). In “Batman: Damned #1”, the Bat penis was front and center in the print edition. But, for reasons unrevealed, someone used an eraser for the digital edition. One of the biggest hits of 2018 was “Black Panther”. So imagine everyone’s surprise when someone from the film turned out to have a past doing gay porn. Now, don’t get excited – it’s not one of the stars. But Shumba Patrick Mutukwa was a border tribe warrior in the film. More importantly, he was the dialect coach since he was born in Zambia. Then the “Zambian Observer” reported that Mutukwa is “actually a p*rn star in America who makes a living out of making p*rn0graph! material.” And, as I said when I initially reported this, clearly a 12-year-old girl is writing for the “Zambian Observer”. Here’s one of our little-known rules of thumb – if it’s good enough for the “Zambian Observer”, it’s good enough for BillyMasters.com. You’re welcome.

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