J A N U A R Y 1 1 2 0 1 9 • V O LU M E 0 3 • I S S U E 0 2 • 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
02 • JANUARY 11, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Another Black man found dead in Ed Buck’s WeHo apartment Sheriff ’s department pledges full investigation By KAREN OCAMB firstname.lastname@example.org A second Black man was found dead Jan. 7 in the West Hollywood apartment of Ed Buck, once a locally prominent gay political donor. The immediate assumption was that the victim was a young Black man who died of a drug overdose, similar to the accidental overdose death of 26-year-old gay Black escort Gemmel Moore, who died in Buck’s apartment 18 months ago. However, after much confusion and misinformation, Los Angeles County Sheriff ’s Homicide investigators ﬁnally disclosed that the second man is believed to be “a male Black adult, who is approximately 55 years old, if it’s the person we think it is, the person is deﬁnitely in his mid-50s,” Lt. Derrick Alfred told the Los Angeles Blade. Sheriff ’s deputies and paramedics arrived at Buck’s apartment shortly before 1 a.m.
Ed Buck’s apartment complex. Photo by Karen Ocamb
after a 911 call of a person not breathing. Buck had apparently performed CPR on the man and called 911 when he was unsuccessful. The ﬁre department pronounced the man dead at the scene. “We’re not going to comment on the conditions we found at the time until it’s fully investigated,” Alfred said. But “there were no obvious indicators of what may have caused the death. So at this time we don’t know. We won’t know until we hear from the Coroner’s office after they conduct
a post-mortem exam, which would include any toxicology testing that would give us an indication of whether it was drug-related.” However, Alfred told KTLA, “It is suspicious that this has happened twice now.” Buck is cooperating with the LASD, is currently not considered a suspect and is not in custody. “From what I know, it was an old friend who died of an accidental overdose, and unfortunately, we believe that the substance was ingested at some place other than the apartment,” Buck’s attorney,
Seymour Amster, told the Los Angeles Times. “The person came over intoxicated.” The incident prompted outrage, a sizable protest outside Buck’s apartment complex on N. Laurel Ave., and multiple calls for a thorough investigation. “One more time here is a Black person— forget his age—being found dead in this man’s apartment. And his death is not being addressed properly. Our community is not being respected. No one is saying anything to the family. There is no dignity to the lives of these individuals and it’s because they’re Black,” Jeffrey King, executive director of In The Meantime Men told the Los Angeles Blade. Investigators will look into the Gemmel Moore case “to see if there’s any similarities,” Alfred said. “[I]f we learn something new and that has to be looked at a second time, then of course, we’ll take that new information and we will investigate fully.” Anyone with information is asked to call the Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. To make an anonymous tip, go through Crime Stoppers. (See a more extensive report at losangelesblade.com)
Spacey stopped for speeding after court appearance Lawyer argues SnapChat video may show consent By STAFF REPORTS Kevin Spacey appeared in a Nantucket, Mass., courtroom on Jan. 7 to enter a not guilty plea in the case of felony sexual assault that was lodged against him by the Cape and Island District Attorney’s Office. Prosecutors alleged that the actor groped an 18-year-old busboy in the Club Car, a bar on Nantucket Island, in 2016. Nantucket District Court Judge Thomas Barrett agreed to limit the conditions of Spacey, 59, remaining free without bail to a ‘No-Contact’ order in which the actor must stay away from his now 20-year-old alleged victim and his family. The judge also agreed to the Spacey defense team request that all data held by prosecutors, the alleged victim and his
Kevin Spacey appeared in court on Jan. 7. Photo screen grab from live stream
girlfriend be preserved for discovery in the case. Los Angeles-based attorney Alan Jackson argued that such data could be exculpatory evidence. Jackson was referring to the text messages and a Snapchat video
of the alleged incident that Jackson argued could prove that the encounter between Spacey and the young man was consensual. “This is data that we believe is not only potentially exculpatory but likely exculpatory for Mr. Spacey,” Jackson told the judge. The hearing came more than a year after former Boston TV anchor Heather Unruh accused Spacey, the former “House of Cards” star, of sexually assaulting her unidentiﬁed son in the Nantucket bar. Unruh has told reporters that her son didn’t immediately go to police “largely because of embarrassment and fear.” But in court ﬁlings, Spacey’s lawyers argue that the alleged victim misled Spacey when he claimed to be a 23-year-old college student. Additionally, Spacey’s attorney note that the alleged victim “joked about the incident with friends for months.” The case was continued until 11AM on March 4 for a hearing Spacey does not have
to attend, though the judge said he must be available by telephone. The entire Nantucket hearing took less than ﬁfteen minutes. But Spacey was not done with the spotlight. He was pulled over for speeding while leaving Reagan National Airport outside Washington, D.C., after the hearing. He was given a verbal warning, Christina Saull, a spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, told reporters. Apparently the officer who stopped the actor realized it was Spacey after looking at his driver’s license. He also noticed that Spacey was being followed by vehicles full of camera crews. “This incident was unique because he was being followed by people,” Hernandez told the Washington Post, adding that the airport did not provide him a security escort. “The officer determined a verbal warning would suffice and Mr. Spacey continued on his way without any further incident.” – Karen Ocamb contributed to this story
04 • JANUARY 11, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Ricardo Lara makes history Becomes first openly LGBT person elected statewide in California By KAREN OCAMB email@example.com It was windy and pouring the night before Ricardo Lara made history; “Hurricane Sacramento” some called it. But by noon on Jan. 7, the sky had cleared, the air was full of change and somewhere a rainbow beamed over California as the son of Mexican immigrants was sworn in as the 8th Insurance Commissioner and the first LGBT person elected statewide in the state of California. In his remarks, Lara stressed that being gay wasn’t just a reference, one characteristic that happened to be part of his character. Being an out gay Latino is a central fact of his existence, an experiential lens through which he sees the world, understands policy and celebrates symbolism—such as having out gay former District Judge Vaughn Walker, who ruled Prop 8 unconstitutional, preside over his swearing-in on a copy of California’s first Constitution in its original 1849 Spanish translation. The arc of the moral universe felt like it was bending toward justice. “Thank you for insisting that our laws be based on evidence, and not prejudice. Your ruling on marriage equality showed that the wisdom of our Constitution is greater than the sum of our fears,” the new Commissioner told the judge. Lara then opened his inaugural comments by acknowledging the importance of the moment. “A people’s progress is often measured by thresholds crossed. In the nearly 170 years of California’s history, hundreds of men and women have been elected to serve in statewide constitutional office. Until now, not one was openly gay,” Lara said. “I am standing before you, but I am surrounded by the spirit of those bold, unapologetic, and courageous people who protested and ultimately gave their lives so that we could live proudly. Today has been in the making for generations,” the new Commissioner said. “From the thousands sent to concentration camps in Nazi Germany to the uprisings at the
New California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara addresses supporters. Photo by Equality California Communications Director Samuel Garrett-Pate
Black Cat in Los Angeles and the Stonewall Inn in New York to the queer Dreamers paving the way for our immigrant communities. To my LGBTQ+ community, my parents and my family, my great teachers and professors, my extraordinary staff — past and present — and my lifelong support system,” Lara said. “Today we shattered the pink ceiling!” But Lara said he didn’t run for the statewide office to make history. “I ran to make a difference in the lives of millions of Californians.” California’s Department of Insurance, Lara noted, is the largest and most important state consumer protection agency in America. “At a time of historic disparity, when the rich get richer and corporate elite get all the advantages, it is more urgent than ever that government work for all of us,” Lara said. “I have made it my life’s work to ensure Californians can live their lives openly, safely, and affordably. Free of fear, prejudice or injustice.” As the “proud son” of working-class Mexican parents “who – sustained by one dream but no documents – braved a border to pursue a better life,” Lara championed undocumented immigrants, including authoring a bill as state senator in 2015 that extended Medi-Cal to undocumented
children. “After all, I know what it is to live in the shadows. Concealing my own orientation to even my own family and closest friends,” he said. “We are the Department of Fair Deals, the Department of Fresh Starts, the Department of Rebuilding Your Home, the Department of Protecting your Investment, and the Department of the Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow,” said Lara. “In short, we are the Department of Hope, and we have never been more important.” Equality California hosted a reception for about 400 people to celebrate Lara’s life and career as an LGBTQ trailblazer from East LA, said EQCA Communications Director Samuel Garrett-Pate. “There were drag queens throughout the club mingling with guests, the featured cocktail was a ‘Pink Triangle,’” and the food was a spin on LA street vendor classics. Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur congratulated his friend and addressed “identity politics,” which conservatives have disparaged as an “issue.” “’Identity politics’ is not a dirty phrase or a political liability,” Zbur said. “It is, rather, the literal definition of representative democracy to elect leaders who represent all of us and our diverse identities, backgrounds
and stories.” Zbur then celebrated the identities of California’s top elected officials. “Today is for the gay boy in East Los Angeles, the son of immigrants — a factory worker and a seamstress — sharing a king-sized bed with his four siblings and fearing that his parents might be taken away from him one day. [Lara],” he said. “Today is for the young girl whose father told her stories of his small Greek village being invaded by Nazis, who then occupied his modest childhood home. [Lt Gov. Eleni Kounalakis],” Zbur said. “Today is for the boy with dyslexia, struggling to read and write, whose mom works three jobs to support him and his sister. [Gov. Gavin Newsom] “Today is for the daughters of Chinese immigrants in San Francisco and New York [State Controller Betty Yee and Treasurer Fiona Ma], for the sons of Mexican immigrants in Los Angeles and Sacramento [Sec. of State Alex Padilla and Attorney Gen. Xavier Becerra] and for the son of a single mother, a schoolteacher from Panama [Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond].” In fact, California, the most populous state in the union, is now run by minorities with Gov. Gavin Newsom the only white man holding a statewide constitutional office.
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06 • JANUARY 11, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Trump tries to douse Gavin Newsom’s California Dreamin’ New governor gets down to work fast By KAREN OCAMB firstname.lastname@example.org That didn’t take long. Two days after Gavin Newsom was sworn in as the 40th Governor of California in a ceremony stolen by his wandering 2-year old son Dutch, crotchety old President Trump threatened to cut off FEMA relief to California’s firefighters and wildfire victims, already hit by the government shutdown. “Billions of dollars are sent to the State of California for Forest fires that, with proper Forest Management, would never happen. Unless they get their act together, which is unlikely, I have ordered FEMA to send no more money. It is a disgraceful situation in lives & money!,” Trump tweeted Jan. 9 morning. Most of California’s forests are under federal jurisdiction. This is a far cry from the kumbaya moment Nov. 17, 2018 when Trump joined Gov. Brown, Lt. Gov. Newsom, and Republican leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy for a tour of the devastation wrought by the Camp and Woosely wild fires, the worst fires in the California’s history. McCarthy later issued a press release saying: The message from the President to all Californians during the trip was clear when he said: ‘Anything we can do, you know we’re here.’” McCarthy did not immediately condemn Trump’s threat to stop FEMA funding. Newsom took to twitter to snap back. “Disasters and recovery are no time for politics. I’m already taking action to modernize and manage our forests and emergency responses. The people of CA -folks in Paradise -- should not be victims to partisan bickering,” the new governor said in the first of three tweets. “Mr. President -- Just yesterday, @ OregonGovBrown, @GovInslee, and I sent a letter asking the federal government to work with us in taking on these unprecedented wildfires. We have been put in office by the voters to get things done, not to play games with lives,” read Newsom’s tweets. “Pres. Trump’s go-to is governing by fear and division. We can secure our border AND achieve comprehensive immigration reform--without wasting tax payer $ to build
Gavin Newsom with his family after being sworn in as governor on Jan. 7.
a pointless wall. Hundreds of thousands of fed workers are waiting on a paycheck. End the games. Open our government.” In his inauguration speech, Newsom promised “bold” action informed by principled morality—such as then-San Francisco Mayor Newsom first exemplified in 2004. That notion – that we’re all in this together – is a powerful one. It’s also how I was raised. Some of you may know that I lost my father just before Christmas. He was a judge. Justice Bill Newsom. For him, ‘Justice’ was more than a title. It was in his bones. He believed to his core that all people should be treated fairly and with respect. That’s always been a bedrock ‘California value’ to me,” said Newsom. “So 15 years ago, when I was a new mayor and I heard politicians in Washington sneering at ‘California values’ and attacking our LGBT community, I remembered what my father taught me: ‘It’s never the wrong time to do the right thing.’ And that’s what we did. In San Francisco, Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin, two women who had been in
love for nearly 50 years, had the courage to stand up and say those two powerful words: I do. Thousands more followed in their footsteps. It took a long time, but love won,” the new governor said. “Just like fifteen years ago, this is a time for courage. We will stand up for what’s right, and we will defend our people. My pledge to every Californian is this: no matter what comes at us, I will have your back!” That goes for anyone seeking equality and sanctuary. “If we do this right, the progress we make will never be unmade,” Newsom said. “As Cesar Chavez said, ‘You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore.’” Interestingly, standing up for LGBT people and marriage equality in the same year Karl Rove placed anti-gay marriage initiatives on ballots in 11 states to ensure George W. Bush’s re-election in 2004 resulted in a massive backlash against Newson. Prominent Democrats would fly into Los Angeles and refuse to meet or have their picture taken
with the principled young upstart. But Newsom boldly persisted, first as mayor and now, within days of his inauguration, he seems to be having the last word. And they are stirring words. “Every dream depends on the dreamers. It is up to us to renew the California Dream for a new generation. And now more than ever, it is up to us to defend it,” Newsom said, sounding Kennedy-esque. “But let me be clear: We will be bold. We will aim high and we will work like hell to get there. Here in California, we will prove that people of good faith, and firm will can still come together to achieve big things. We will offer an alternative to the corruption and incompetence in the White House. Our government will be progressive, principled, and always on the side of the people,” he continued. “This will take courage. That’s a word that means different things to different people. To me, courage means doing what is right even when it is hard,” Newsom said. “That will be the mission of our Administration. We will be a ‘California for all.’”
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08 • JANUARY 04, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
California LGBT Legislative Caucus elects new leaders Low says Caucus will build on historic gains By KAREN OCAMB email@example.com And then there were seven. On Monday, the California Legislative LGBT lost a prominent member with the historic swearing-in of State Sen. Ricardo Lara as Insurance Commissioner, the first openly gay person elected statewide to a constitutional office in California. But the loss was a motivator: two days later, the Caucus unanimously elected San Francisco’s prolific Sen. Scott Wiener to serve as the new Chair and Assemblymember Todd Gloria from San Diego to serve as Vice Chair. Their mission is to build on their accomplishments, as well as help mentor the next LGBT legislative generation. “I am honored and humbled to serve as Chair of the LGBT Caucus and I am grateful to my colleagues for placing this trust in me and in Caucus Vice Chair Todd Gloria. For nearly 30 years, I have dedicated myself to the LGBT community, and this work is deeply personal for me. I want to thank Assemblymember Evan Low for his extraordinary leadership of the LGBT Caucus for the past two years. Under Evan’s leadership, the Caucus has made huge strides,” said Wiener said in a press release. “We’ve made significant progress in California as an LGBT community, with strong civil rights protections and more and more openly LGBT elected officials,” Wiener continued. “Yet, despite those advances, our community continues to face major challenges around discrimination, violence, lack of healthcare access, housing instability, and economic insecurity. Transgender Californians continue to experience extreme violence, poverty, unemployment, and incarceration; LGBT people disproportionately experience homelessness; LGBT young people are committing suicide at alarming rates; too many people continue to become infected with and die from HIV; LGBT seniors have far too little support; and our federal government is literally trying to erase us. Yet, I am optimistic about the future, given our pro-LGBT Governor and Legislature. I look forward to working with all of my colleagues - both LGBT and allies - to ensure California
LGBT Caucus 2018: Top: Susan Eggman, Todd Gloria, Toni Atkins, Ricardo Lara, Scott Wiener; Bottom: Cathleen Galgiani, Evan Low, Sabrina Cervantes Photo courtesy LGBT Caucus
remains a beacon of hope for our entire community, here and around the world.” “We are lucky to have these outstanding champions fighting for us in Sacramento,” said Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur, who also thanked Low for his service. “Under the leadership of Assemblymember Evan Low, the Legislative LGBT Caucus has continued to break ground, making progress inside the Capitol and for all Californians,” said Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon. “I congratulate Senator Scott Wiener and Assemblymember Todd Gloria for taking on the challenge of continuing those gains as Caucus Chair and Vice-Chair, respectively.” The past two years under the ubiquitous outgoing Chair Evan Low have been extraordinary for the 17-year old, allLGBT Caucus, especially considering the religious-right anti-gay knuckle-draggers in the Republican-dominated Legislature that lesbian and gay legislators had to fight against after Sheila Kuehl’s historic election in 1994. Jonah Markowitz’s 2016
documentary film Political Animals shows what Kuehl, Carole Migden, Jackie Goldberg and Christine Kehoe had to endure before Gray Davis was elected governor in 1998 and the tide against LGBT dignity and equality started to fundamentally change. Now the California Legislature has a super-Democratic majority and a superprogressive governor, Gavin Newsom. “We have the most openly LGBT legislators than any other legislature in the nation,” Low told the Los Angeles Blade in an extensive interview. “We want to build on that. It’s something that we care very deeply about. And these are not just legislators who come from the coastal communities but from the Central Valley and Stockton and we have the youngest Latina LGBT legislator in Sabrina Cervantes.” Low says the LGBT Caucus is “very excited” but “we have much work to be done. That’s why we’re going to focus on a very robust legislative package in the LGBT Caucus and also recognizing that we have
such a key champion in Gavin Newsom who made history by putting the stake in for us on marriage equality (in 2004). So the stars are aligned and we’re so excited for 2019.” Low notes that the LGBT Caucus will look at a number of areas, “making sure our LGBT seniors retire and age with dignity in areas of housing and access to healthcare services,” for instance. Low says there is special focus on the transgender community to make sure trans people are recognized. They will build off of “SB 396, for example, by Sen. Lara on the Transgender Work Opportunity Act. And SB 310, the Name and Dignity Act, by Sen. Atkins. And the Gender Recognition Act recognizing gender non-binary individuals,” Low says. “There are lots of the things we want to partner on working with Trans Can Work insuring we have an inclusive workplace and laws and we will continue to do many of these different things.” Low is mindful of California’s position as a beacon of light during these difficult
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • JANUARY 04, 2019 • 09
At Equality California reception for Ricardo Lara Jan. 7, 2018: Todd Gloria, Cathleen Galgiani, Ricardo Lara, Scott Wiener, Evan Low, EQCA Executive Director Rick Zbur Photo courtesy San Garrett-Pate, EQCA
times. “We’re excited by the progress we’ve had, in particular, given where the Trump administration is, we feel that in the absence of leadership – and in fact, in response to the attacks from the Trump administration—the state of California needs to be the blue print for other states to pass similar legislation.” Low notes that, contrary to the antiLGBT disparaging comments made in the past, “now some Republicans are voting in support of our legislation. We had bipartisan support of a travel ban to states that discriminate; on the Chechnya Resolution calling on Chechnya to recognize the importance of the LGBT community; bipartisan support on “conversion therapy” as a fraudulent practice. And this is what I think is so transformative—why it’s so important to get openly LGBT people to be in these key positions to change the hearts and minds of everyday Californians. We want to demonstrate that this is not partisan and that love transcends partisanship.” In addition to introducing new laws, the LGBT
Caucus also intends to exercise an oversight function to ensure the laws are enforced. “While we can talk about the legislative successes and what’s being signed—for example when the governor signed my bill ensuring LGBT training in law enforcement and in the academies and POST training— we can’t just wipe our hands clean and say everything’s done. Fine and dandy,” Low says. “We need to do the necessary followups with the police departments, police chiefs, training academy to making sure what that looks like and that it’s adequate.” Additionally, the LGBT Caucus hopes to re-introduce bills vetoed by Gov. Brow, such as legislation for LGBT training in schools by Tony Thurmond who is now the Superintendent of Public Instruction. And, Low says, speeding up his already fast delivery, “what we’re so excited about is that this is not just a project for the LGBT Legislative Caucus but we’re also having straight allies asking to champion and play a key role in some of these areas.”
Last year Low pulled a key “conversion therapy” bill announcing that in his tour around the state to garner support, he discovered some evangelical Christians who—while they still believed homosexuality is sinful—disavowed the harmful junk science practice. Low says he’s been meeting regularly to engage these Christians. “Kevin Mennoia is the former president of the National Evangelical Association and he agreed with this notion of not only saying that ‘conversion therapy’ is anti-Christian but is also harmful. He penned an op-ed In the Orange County Register to state that,” Low says. “That’s very transformative. It is my hope that we can work with them and convene to say that they can be part of this process to join us in lock step to denounce ‘conversion therapy’ and to celebrate our basic humanity.” Low says he is not fixed on a date to re-introduce that bill. “We’re still in that legislative process,” he says. “But given my deep engagement on this issue, you can
image that I’ll be very passionate about trying to get some type of partnership that will come up into legislative format. Hoping within the next couple of months.” Low is very firm on one point: “We will not shy away and we take these obligations very seriously that’s why we want to convey that we are convened back and ready to go.” Interestingly, shortly after the LGBT Caucus issued their press release about the change in leadership, Assemblymember Todd Gloria’s office announced that the new LGBT Caucus Vice Chair is also now running to be Mayor of the City of San Diego. “It’s clear that San Diego needs strong, experienced, and progressive leadership in the Mayor’s Office – leadership that has the courage to take our city beyond business as usual and solve the long-standing problems that have faced our city. That’s why I’m running for Mayor,” Gloria said in the press release. “San Diego may be America’s Finest City, but we should strive to be more than just fine. We should dare to be great.”
QUOTES “Now is the time to fight even harder for diversity, safety, and equity. There is no other way!”
– Out EEOC Commissioner Chai Feldblum after being denied a third term by Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee, via Washington Blade.
“Sinema looking more like Senator Madonna than the Senator Barbie Doll she advertised when she ran for election in 2018.”
– RNC member Bruce Ash on Facebook about bisexual U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema elected by “dumb ass people” in Arizona.
“The D.C. Court of Appeals made an error when it lifted one of the injunctions that protect transgender members of our military.”
- Retired officers Lt General Claudia Kennedy, Rear Admiral John Hutson, Major General Gale Pollock and Brigadier General Clara Adams-Ender in a joint statement reported by Reuters Jan. 8.
10 • JANUARY 11, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
TV host Ellen DeGeneres fawned over comic Kevin Hart on her Jan. 4 show announcing that she had absolved him of past homophobia — for which he had supposedly apologized — and essentially begged him to reconsider his withdrawal as host of the Feb. 24 Oscars. “I believe in forgiveness. I believe in second chances. And I believe in @ KevinHart4real,” DeGeneres tweeted. But others were not so forgiving of Hart’s hurtful jokes, including one resurrected from 10 years ago when the comic joked about beating up his son if he showed signs of being gay. And there was a backlash against Ellen for her presumption that she speaks for all LGBT people. CNN Tonight’s Don Lemon did Kevin Hart appears on the Ellen Show on Jan. 4. Photo screen grab an emotional segment about Kevin Hart’s Ellen interview. Lemon, who is gay, criticized Hart for not apologizing and for portraying himself as a victim—explaining the pain such “jokes” cause to little Black boys and girls being beaten by their fathers right. Lemon also urged Hart to become an LGBT ally. Hart apologized again on his Straight From The Hart SiriusXM radio show and briefly lauded the fight for equality but said he didn’t like being forced into being an ally. “I don ‘t like the forcing,” Deadline reported Hart said. “I don’t like, like Don Lemon goes on CNN, and he’s like, ‘You can fix this, become an ally.’ It’s not my dream.” – Karen Ocamb
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12 • JANUARY 11, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Rainbow wave comes ashore Meet the gay, lesbian, bi members of the 116th Congress By STAFF REPORTS A historic number of openly gay and bisexual lawmakers were sworn in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate at the start of the 116th Congress last week. Ten LGB lawmakers will serve in the House and Senate during the 116th Congress. Eight will serve in the House and two will serve in the Senate. That’s a net gain of two from the 115th Congress. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) swore in seven LGB members to the U.S. House in her role as presiding officer of the chamber. The seven members consisted of three lawmakers who have previously served in Congress — Reps. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), Mark Takano (D-Calif.) and Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) — and four freshmen lawmakers — Reps. Katie Hill (D-Calif.), Angie Craig (D-Minn.), Chris Pappas (D-N.H.) and Sharice Davids (D-Kansas). Another openly gay member of the House — Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) — was present at the official swearing-in ceremony in the House Chamber, but didn’t attend the subsequent photo opportunity. In the U.S. Senate on the same day, Vice President Mike Pence in his role as president of the Senate swore in two LGB U.S. senators — Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.). (Chris Johnson, Karen Ocamb, Michael K. Lavers and Kevin Naff contributed to this report.)
Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) became the most senior openly gay member of the U.S. House as Democrats took the majority last week, with outgoing Rep. Jared Polis leaving to become governor of Colorado. Cicilline told the Blade in a recent exclusive interview that he’s “very proud” the chamber will have a net gain of two out LGB members in the 116th Congress and talked about the Equality Act. “It’s a great privilege to be a part of that group,” Cicilline told the Blade. “I think this year will be an opportunity for us to finally move forward on the Equality Act, which I think is the single most important piece of legislation to our community in terms of, once and for all, prohibiting discrimination against members of the LGBT community as a matter of federal law. And so, I’m honored to be the senior most member and really excited about the new colleagues that are joining this caucus.”
Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.) holds a unique distinction as chair of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs. He wrote an exclusive op-ed for the Blade last month about the need for improved care for veterans. “Women veterans, LGBTQ veterans, and minority veterans all face unique challenges when attempting to receive VA services and care, and resolving these challenges requires innovative solutions,” he wrote. “Increased diversity means that there must be an inclusive approach to benefits and care that the VA provides.”
Blade photo by Michael Key
Blade photo by Michael Key
Continues on Page 14
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14 • JANUARY 11, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Scenes from congressional swearing-in Continued from Page 12
Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) won election to his fourth term in November. In a summer interview with the Blade while pursuing an unsuccessful campaign for New York attorney general, he pledged to take on Donald Trump. “The Trump administration has families like mine in the crosshairs, and you better believe I’m going to use every tool I have fight back and to get on offense,” Maloney said, adding, “I’m sick of the Democratic Party playing defense.”
In addition to being a former mixed martial arts fighter, Rep. Sharice Davids (D-Kansas) earned her law degree from Cornell University and worked as a White House Fellow during the Obama-Trump transition.
Blade photo by Michael Key
Blade photo by Michael Key
Rep. Chris Pappas (D-N.H.) is the first openly gay member of Congress from New Hampshire. Pappas told the Blade in an exclusive interview after his win that additional funding for treatment and recovery programs to address the country’s opioid crisis and reducing student loan debt are among his top legislative priorities. Pappas also said it is “critical” that special counsel Robert Mueller be allowed to finish his investigation into whether President Trump and/or any of his associates had any involvement in Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. “We need to allow him to finish his work and put everything out on the table,” Pappas told the Blade. “The facts are what’s driving the conversation.” Pappas said he will “reserve judgment” on whether Trump should be impeached until Mueller releases his final report.
Rep. Angie Craig (D-Minn.) unseated an anti-LGBT lawmaker, making her the first openly gay mother in Congress. Annise Parker, CEO of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, said Craig’s victory means Minnesota “chose an authentic, solutions-oriented business leader to replace a divisive anti-LGBTQ demagogue – sending a powerful message to all incumbent legislators who attack LGBTQ people and other communities in hopes of political gain.”
Blade photo by Michael Key
Blade photo by Michael Key
Continues on Page 16
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16 • JANUARY 11, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Meet the LGB members of the new Congress Continued from Page 14
Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) comfortably won re-election to a second term in November after a campaign in which the Koch brothers and other anti-LGBT figures donated millions to unseat her. Fighting Wisconsin’s opioid crisis is among her priorities. Baldwin told the Blade in an interview last year that her late mother was an addict. “I remember what it was like to come home from school and not be able to get into the house. I’d pound on the door, but my mother wouldn’t answer. She’d be passed out inside. My mother had a drug abuse problem. She struggled with addiction to prescription drugs her whole life. I had to grow up fast. Very fast. So when I see the opioid crisis that is wrecking so many Wisconsin families, all I can tell you is—I’ve been there. I know how hard this fight is. I know the stigma that comes with drug abuse and mental illness,” she said in a video.
Rep. Katie Hill (D-Calif.) served as executive director of People Assisting the Homeless and grew the organization from a local non-profit to the state’s largest non-profit provider of housing for the homeless. Hill granted the Blade an exclusive interview during the height of her campaign to unseat longtime anti-LGBT Rep. Steve Knight. She told the Blade, “We’ve known for a long time that we have to put some kind of check on [President Trump] and we’ve got to work toward getting him out as quickly as possible.” She also addressed her distinction as the chamber’s only out bisexual. Hill always felt “incredibly accepted by my family” but finds that a lot of people have difficulty wrapping their heads around bisexuality. “Like, OK, you might be a woman and like other women, you might be a man and like other men but when there’s both involved, it just kind of confuses people sometimes…especially when you’re in a committed relationship. And so I feel like part of this campaign has really been kind of an educational process and I think that’s a big part of why representation is so important.”
Blade photo by Michael Key
Blade photo by Michael Key
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema served three terms in the House and won a tight race to succeed retiring Sen. Jeff Flake in Arizona. She becomes the Senate’s first openly bisexual member. Last year, she spoke to the Blade during the campaign and talked about her upbringing. “Growing up, we were like every other working family until my dad lost his job and we lost our home. We ended up living in an abandoned gas station for nearly three years. But I worked hard, got an education, and got my shot at the American dream. I’m focused on making sure every Arizonan gets his or her shot just like I did,” Sinema told the Blade.
Representing Wisconsin’s 2nd congressional district since 2013, Rep. Mark Pocan serves the same constituents that lesbian Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) represented for 14 years before she won election to the upper chamber of Congress. In 2017, he was elected co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. The Blade was granted exclusive access to Pocan to shadow him for a day on the job just months into his first term. In April 2013, he told the Blade that one of the main issues of concern for him is LGBT youth homelessness. That issue hits close to home; Pocan says an LGBT constituency group in Wisconsin informed him that about 400 people in Milwaukee who are homeless identify as LGBT youth.
Blade photo by Michael Key
Blade photo by Michael Key
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18 • JANUARY 11, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
VOLUME 03 ISSUE 02
Mrs. Maisel inspires us to keep on resisting Award-winning show remains relatable despite 1950s setting
Kathi Wolfe, a writer and a poet, is a regular contributor to the Blade.
“Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand,” Mark Twain said. The U.S. Supreme Court may limit LGBTQ rights over “religious freedom” concerns and is likely to scale back women’s reproductive rights. The transgressive power of humor is needed now more than ever. You might not think that comedy’s resistance against hypocrisy and sexism could be found in a TV show set in 1959 in the Mad Men era. But, you’d be wrong. Once again, I’m turning to “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” the Emmy and Golden Globewinning Amazon TV show set in mid-20th century Manhattan, for the ass-kicking wit needed to resist intolerance and sexism. The series, now in its second season, continues laughter’s wicked, incisive, spirit-saving assault. Rachel Brosnahan just won a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a TV series, musical or comedy for her spot-on portrayal of the larger-than-life, Joan Rivers-like fabulous Mrs. (Miriam, a.k.a. “Midge”) Maisel. Our time differs in many ways from the 1950s. Thankfully, women today can own property, have credit cards and not lose their jobs when they become pregnant. Yet, because some things from the ‘50s such as sexism and prejudice toward gender non-
Photo courtesy Amazon
conforming people resonate all too well in our #MeToo moment, “Mrs. Maisel” is relatable. In case you missed season one set in 1958, the show is created by Amy ShermanPalladino (of the “Gilmore Girls”). Mrs. Maisel is a Jewish housewife and mother who’s so funny that she delivers zingers at her wedding reception. Yet, she’s content to keep her hair impeccably coiffed and to make fantastic brisket. She and her cute husband Joel live in an apartment that would have made Jackie Kennedy envious. Her picture-perfect marriage falls apart when Joel tries out stand-up comedy at the Gaslight, a Greenwich Village comedy club, and bombs with a bit he stole from Bob Newhart. Then, he has an affair with his secretary. Midge, unhinged, goes to the Gaslight and drunkenly performs a stand-
up routine. Most of us would literally and figuratively fall on our faces if we pulled this stunt. But, it’s all good for Midge. Her impromptu comedy routine kills and she morphs into Mrs. Maisel, the talented, attractive, energetic “girl” comic, struggling to break into the comedy world. Susie, the butch, gender non-conforming, “Gaslight” manager (brilliantly played by Emmywinning Alex Borstein), leaves the club to become Midge’s manager. In its second season, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” with the rapid-fire wit and fast (sometime dizzying) pace of an Old Hollywood screwball comedy, moves from Paris to Manhattan to the Catskills. Paris never looked better – not even in “Funny Face” or in “An American in Paris.” There hasn’t been so much going on in the Catskills since “Dirty Dancing.” The scenes with Midge at her day job — handling calls with breakneck speed at the switchboard at B. Altman, the resplendent department store – are as campy as any fab musical! And, let’s not forget the hats. “Mrs. Maisel” isn’t all camp. Though the show’s a comedy, it’s aware of issues of class, sexism and privilege. Midge’s mother Rose goes to Paris because her husband Abe pays no attention to what she wants or needs. “What are you, the lost Gabor sister,” Susie, who grew up poor, asks Midge when she goes on about her privileged life. Mrs. Maisel fights to be taken seriously as a comic at a time when women aren’t respected as comedians. Lenny Bruce supports her. “Tell me that men won’t think I’m funny because I don’t look like a dump truck?” she says. “Why do we have to pretend to be sorry, when we have nothing to be sorry about?” Mrs. Maisel asks. You know Mrs. Maisel, even through her comedy is lacerating, won’t be able to take down sexism. Yet, watching “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” gives the hope you need to keep resisting.
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LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • JANUARY 11, 2019 • 19
LGBT refugees more vulnerable in Trump’s America I’m from Congo and San Francisco has been ‘a living hell’ By JUNIOR NSAMIA MAYEMA Since Donald Trump became president, I have never seen so much hate being meted out against immigrants, let alone LGBT refugees and asylum seekers like me. I am from the Democratic Republic of Congo and ﬂed my homeland to escape homophobia. I made my way to South Africa, but experienced additional mistreatment because of my race and gender identity. This mistreatment included a police officer who broke my wrist. I came to the U.S. on Nov. 20, 2014. I was working on ﬁghting housing and employment discrimination. Some of the people who I met were very friendly and welcoming. After Trump’s election in 2016, internalized hatred of LGBT immigrants and refugees became a reality. I lost my job simply because I am a gay immigrant. I could see
the different treatment of LGBT Americans, I have been forced out of housing, harassed at school, treated like a social outcast everywhere I go. I ﬁled a discrimination case pending with California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing on the basis of immigration status that was ultimately dismissed because I believe the very people who were discriminating against me contacted the DFEH and probably told them that I am a black tranny immigrant who has no rights in Trump’s America. I have been a target of police surveillance for months. It has been a living hell in a safe haven. Most of my harassers happen to be mostly gay men or transgender women. I think it is because my gender transcends the male and female gender binary. Homonationalism — the abandonment of intersectional activism that leaves the door open to racism, xenophobia, capitalism and the promotion of one’s own interests — is real and I see it everyday. The last time that I went to socialize in a gay-friendly environment I was verbally attacked at a bar in the Castro simply because I was talking to a handsome gay American man. I tried to defend myself
and then those gay men threatened to call the police on me and then took me by the throat and escorted me outside. I was walking past the same area the next day and I saw them laughing at me and saying that I am not allowed to socialize in that area again. The reason why I am writing this is because we as LGBT people shouldn’t be ﬁghting against each other or hating each other because that is what our homophobic enemies want from us. They want to divide us in order to conquer us. In my experience, most LGBT Americans who I have met treated me like an outsider, an outcast, an enemy, an alien who must go back to where I came from. I don’t know where this intense hatred is coming from. We say we support human rights and equality, and those rights are not only American. They are universal and of course LGBT people are universal. Some are tolerated in their countries but some are persecuted. This is why we are seeking asylum because simply living openly in our countries means death and the communities of our countries in Canada, America or Western Europe come
with their homophobia attached to them, so there is no place for us among them. Let’s stop bringing each other down and let’s focus on the real enemies. We cannot claim to be human rights advocates while being racists at the same time. We need to change our inside before changing the outside, engage in transformational activism as they call it. Let’s be the change we want to see in the world like Obama said. We are brothers and sisters of the same international community, which is the LGBT community. We just happen to be born in other countries with inherited homophobia. This is why we are seeking security and safety in order to pursue our fundamental human rights to life, freedom and the pursuit of happiness. I hope our LGBT American brothers and sisters can allow us to have that second chance since our countries of origin continue to fail us.
Junior Nsamia Myaema is a California-based Blade contributor.
After Globes, all eyes on Oscar ‘Bohemian Rhapsody,’ ‘The Favourite,’ ‘Boy Erased’ just a few of the year’s best By JOHN PAUL KING
It’s more than a week into the New Year already, and for movie fans, that means the season is upon us – awards season, that is. Though some organizations start handing out their prizes in early December, the presentation of the Golden Globes – which took place last Sunday – is the first of the big, glitzy ceremonies we expect from a Hollywood awards show. The telecast of this year’s affair was watched by 18.6 million people, a little down (2 percent) from last year but a much smaller decline in viewership than those experienced by the Oscars and other awards in recent years. The Globes are a big enough event in their own right, of course, but they are also a signal that the year’s Oscar race has kicked off in earnest. The Globes are considered the first real barometer for which films stand the best chance of grabbing Academy gold, and even though the winners aren’t guaranteed to win an Oscar, too, they are almost assured to be front runners. The Globes split the categories for most of the big awards – Best Picture, Actor, Actress, etc. – into two divisions, “Drama” and “Musical or Comedy.” This makes handicapping the Oscars a tricky endeavor, since the Academy doesn’t make the same distinction; it means – in the performing categories, anyway – only half the number of nominees make the cut, and it’s happened before that even Globe winners get shut out from the final ballot. Even so, it’s impossible to resist speculation about what the Golden Globes presage for the Oscars. This year’s Globes reflected the increase of onscreen LGBT inclusion in 2018 by including what seemed like a record number of nominations for movies with queer narratives and characters. The surprise winner in the Best Picture Drama category was “Bohemian Rhapsody,”
a blockbuster biopic of Freddie Mercury – played by Rami Malek, who also won Best Actor in a Drama – in which the singer’s sexuality is a chief point of focus. The winner for Best Picture, Comedy or Musical was “Green Book,” about the relationship between real-life black musician Don Shirley and his white driver in the segregated South of the early 1960s; Shirley was gay, although the film barely touches on his sexuality, and again the actor who played him –Mahershala Ali – won the Globe in the supporting category. Another winner, Olivia Colman as Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical for “The Favourite,” also played a queer character. Besides the three winners, a total of five other performers were nominated for playing LGBT characters in films – and since the Globes also celebrate television, the tally is even higher. For queer roles on the small screen, actors Darren Criss (“The Assassination of Gianni Versace”) and Ben Whishaw (“A Very English Scandal”) won as Best Actor and Supporting Actor, respectively, in a Limited Series or Movie Made for Television. Whishaw – the only one of the winners who publicly identifies as LGBT in real life – even dedicated his award to Norman Scott, whom he portrayed in the show, and called him a “queer hero.” There was also a wide showing in the nonacting categories for LGBT-centric narratives. On the film side, besides “Rhapsody” and “The Favourite,” others on the slate include “Boy Erased” and “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” In addition, movies like “A Star Is Born” and “Crazy Rich Asians,” both of which were mainstream hits and included queer characters in supporting roles, were heavily represented among the nominations. In terms of Oscar, this means there are a lot of potential nominees in the running that could allow the Academy to promote and
reward inclusion and support for the LGBT community – something for which many will be watching closely, in light of the Kevin Hart controversy – a debacle that may still be ongoing, considering reports that the Academy’s leadership may still be open to reinstating the comedian as this year’s host. There are good odds that some of these will make the cut. The surest bet is probably on “The Favourite,” Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos’ bawdy and quirky tale of behindthe-scenes lesbian intrigue in the 18th-century court of Queen Anne. It’s one of the year’s most-lauded films, and with up to 10 slots open in the Best Picture category, it seems certain to earn a nomination there; almost as probable are nods for Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay, and odds are good it will snag nominations in several technical and design categories, also. The film’s three stars are likely shoo-ins; two of them, Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz, are former winners and Oscar favorites, and have both been nominated in the Supporting Actress category for most of the major awards so far; as for Olivia Colman, she may be lesswell known – at least in the U.S. – than her co-stars, but she has been taking a hefty share of wins for her turn as the childish and petulant Queen Anne. All three actresses will almost certainly be nominated; Stone and Weisz would be competing against each other in the same category, potentially canceling each other out and making a win improbable, but Colman stands a stronger-than-average chance of being named Best Actress – especially after her win at the Golden Globes. She has heavy competition, however. “A Star is Born” features the breakthrough screen performance of Lady Gaga, who was an early favorite in the Oscar race – though her loss to Glenn Close’s work in “The Wife” at the Golden Globes, seen by many as an
2 0 • V O LU M E 0 3 • I S S U E 0 2 • 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 • J A N U A R Y 1 1 2 0 1 9
Lady Gaga’s voluminous Valentino gown with a train that stretched several feet was an homage to Judy Garland’s decidedly more reserved 1954 Golden Globes dress by Jean Louis.
Rami Malek stars as Freddie Mercury in ‘Bohemian Rhapsody.’
William Ngo, Troye Sivan, Britton Sear, and Garrard Conley in ‘Boy Erased.’
Photo courtesy Lady Gaga
Photo by Bryan Singer
Photo courtesy Boy Erased
upset, may not bode well for her chances. The Bradley Cooper-directed remake is another almost-sure Best Picture nominee, and will probably get nods for its screenplay, for Cooper (as both director and leading actor), and for Sam Elliott (Best Supporting Actor), as well. Still, with Gaga facing off not only against Colman’s formidable performance but sentimental preference for Close (she’s been nominated six times without winning, and Oscar loves to reward beloved stars who are seen as long-overdue), this film’s (and Gaga’s) easiest shot at a victory is a Best Original Song award for “Shallow.” The third “big” LGBT title in the running is “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which survived a troubled production history – and accusations of “straight-washing” when early previews seemed to indicate an erasure of Mercury’s queer identity – to earn the biggest boxoffice take of any LGBT movie to date. While critical response to the film has been mixed, at best, it has proven to be highly popular with audiences, and Malek’s performance as Mercury has garnered nearly universal acclaim. Since he took home a Golden Globe, he could be poised to grab an Oscar as well – though previous winner Christian Bale, who also scored at the Globes for his performance as Dick Cheney in “Vice,” probably has the edge. As for the movie itself, it may snag a few other nominations, including for Best Picture – but even with a Golden Globe win under its belt, a win there is probably a long shot. “Can You Ever Forgive Me?,” a true-life drama about a literary lesbian con artist and her gay
accomplice, is also on the buzz list; leading actress Melissa McCarthy, and her supporting co-star, Richard E. Grant, have been predicted as nominees in their respective categories (both were nominated for Globes). With the aforementioned three-way competition in the Best Actress race, it seems improbable that McCarthy could win – particularly considering that Oscar has a history of denying victory to comedic actors in dramatic roles. As for Grant’s chances in the Supporting Actor category, he will probably have to face off against Mahershala Ali and Timothée Chalamet. Ali won the Globe, so he has a strong chance. Chalamet, the acclaimed young star of last year’s “Call Me By Your Name” has a huge LGBT fan base that will be rooting for him, even though the teenaged meth addict he plays in “Beautiful Boy” is straight; he lost out on last year’s Best Actor prize, and the Academy has a history of “making up” for past oversights by bestowing awards in subsequent years – making many Oscar pundits place him as the odds-on favorite to win this one. Either way, Grant’s “Can You Ever Forgive Me” performance is a very dark horse. “Boy Erased,” the film adaptation of Garrard Conley’s memoir about his experiences in a Christian “conversion camp” for gay teens, was anticipated early on as a strong contender for this year’s awards season, but it hasn’t made much of a showing so far; its young star, Lucas Hedges, snagged a Globe nomination, and has a fighting chance of repeating that feat at the Oscars. Of all the films likely to be contenders this year, this one has the most LGBT-centric
focus, and of all the actors in the running for playing queer characters, Hedges is the only one who has publicly identified as anything other than straight (though he stopped short of putting a label on his sexuality, saying he sees it as “existing on a spectrum”). A win for him would send a powerful message of inclusion – but even if he makes the cut in a field limited to only five contenders, his status as a first-time nominee, coupled with the acting pyrotechnics displayed by probable Best Actor front-runners Malek and Bale, make his chances slim. While those are the biggest – and most probable – contenders for Oscar gold when the Academy Awards are presented on Feb. 24, there are a host of other possibilities. Acclaimed indie films like “We the Animals” or “The Miseducation of Cameron Post” could always earn a surprise nomination in such categories as Screenplay or Cinematography, and there will almost surely be LGBT recipients among the evening’s many winners. It’s also true that it’s still early in the race – until the Oscar nominations are announced on Jan. 22, it’s all just speculation as to who will even be competing, and the other awards ceremonies upcoming before the Academy presentation (especially the SAG Awards on Jan. 27) will no doubt provide further hints to the way Oscar voters will lean. No matter how it all plays out, it seems certain that the 91st Academy Awards will have a host of LGBT-friendly nominees on its slate; whether or not any of them actually end up as winners is something that remains to be seen.
J A N U A R Y 1 1 2 0 1 9 • V O LU M E 0 3 • I S S U E 0 2 • 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 • 2 1
22 • JANUARY 11, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
The LGBTs of the Golden Globes On stage was just a glimpse of our visibility By SUSAN HORNIK
Brad Simpson and Ryan Murphy with the cast of Versace. Photo courtesy Brad Simpson via Facebook
The Hollywood Foreign Press’ annual mega awards, the 76th annual Golden Globes, showcased numerous LGBTQthemed television series like “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story,” “Pose,” and Amazon’s “A Very English Scandal.” Theatrical queer biopics like “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Green Book,” “Can You Ever Forgive Me?,” “The Favourite,” and “Boy Erased” were also highlighted. Los Angeles Blade went behind the scenes to bring you the most memorable gay moments surrounding the awards event.
Onstage/Backstage When picking up his award for Best Limited Series, Brad Simpson, executive producer on “Versace” and “Pose,” was one of the very few people who chose to address what is happening in politics. “Those forces of hate and fear are still with us. They tell us that we should be scared of people who are different than us. They tell us we should put walls around ourselves. As artists, we must fight back by representing those who are not represented and by providing a space for people -- for new voices to tell stories that haven’t been told. As human beings, we should resist in the streets, resist at the ballot box, and practice love and empathy in our everyday lives. Our show is a period piece, but those forces are not historical. They’re here. They’re with us. And we must resist.” In his acceptance speech for Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Limited Series, Ben Whishaw spoke about Norman Scott, the man he portrayed in Amazon’s “A Very English Scandal.” “He’s a true queer hero and icon and Norman this is for you,” said Whishaw, who is gay and also stars in “Mary Poppins Returns.” Back in the pressroom, Whishaw was asked about fellow Golden Globe winner, Darren Criss. Recently, the “Versace” star said that he no longer wants to play queer characters because he didn’t want to take a part away from a gay actor. Responded Whishaw: “Actors can embody and portray anything, and we shouldn’t be defined only by what we are. I think there was a time when we didn’t know anything about actors. They were very mysterious, but now we know everything.” He added: “On the other hand, I think there needs to be greater equality. I would like to see more gay actors playing straight roles. I’d like to see all sorts of things. You know, it should be an even playing field for everybody. That would be my ideal. I don’t know how far we are away from that, but that’s where we should be, I think.” Olivia Colman, who won Best Actress in a Motion Picture for her lesbian role in “The Favourite,” was asked about how she felt about love scenes. “Love scenes with a woman is much easier because kissing a man made me feel I was cheating on my husband. Kissing a woman is better. That sounds naughty!” she quipped.
HBO After-Party Gay events designer, Billy Butchkavitz always does an exquisite job in creating the decor for HBO’s parties. For the Globes this time, he used a color palette which incorporated chartreuse and white, with a Danish design aesthetic
reflecting the late 1950s/early 1960s. The veteran designer custom made everything for the event, from the carpet and textiles to furniture and the dance floor.
Gifting Suites Lots of gay celebs attended the GBK luxury gift lounge, where they were gifted a plethora of WEN Hair and Body Care products by celebrity hairstylist Chaz Dean, who was on hand to give personal styling tips. The nominees and other guests got to “test drive” the Kahuna Chair which offers the best 4D massage chair with an anti-aging mask on the market. Another highlight at the suite was PROSPEK, computer glasses which alleviates eye strain and protects eyes from long term screen use. The talent attending were excited to be gifted a stay with Fit Farm, a premiere fitness retreat in Nashville, Comfitude blankets, Go Donut stands for tablets and smartphones, Knot Standard menswear, Warthers Cutlery. And Seraph Design clothing gifted “Pose” cast members a variety of cool fashion items. GBK Productions always partners with charities for their events to help raise awareness and this time was no exception with the Stan Lee Foundation and Peace 4 Animals on-site to talk to the talent and press about their organizations. California Live, on NBC, partnered with GBK this year to gift Woolsey Firefighter Kristina Dee Kepner a Golden Globes experience for her dedication fighting the fires in California for six days straight. At the Secret Room, there were a number of spectacular items being gifted to celebs, like ShoreBags, which specializes in designing and decorating eco-friendly cotton canvas bags and accessories for people on the go. Gay celebs received vacations from American Luxury Tours, offering seven nights in Hawaii and two nights at La Estancia La Jolla Hotel with breakfast and massages and adult items from Lelo and Wet. Other companies attending included Anne Neilson Home, who gifted candles and notebooks, Thomas George Estates winery, lantern speakers from Nuvelon and lovely teas and juices from Bare Nature. Celebrity athletes loved plant-based Frozen Desserts and the Sun Soaker portable solar panel, which harnesses sunlight to charge phones and other devices. A product that would do well on “Shark Tank” was Buckle Me Baby car seat coats, which look adorable while making sure kids are safely secured. Another item for gay parents is Silver Stork, which sends a variety of necessities to your home. Last but not least, Dandy Blend gifted coffee made from dandelion root, A20 Water/Think Alkaline provided home and travel purifiers to celebrities and Camouflage Cellulite Body Liner showcased their shape-wear.
Golden Globe Beauty Tip Celebrity makeup artist, Molly Greenwald created Constance Wu’s flawless look by using a variety of Shiseido products, like the ControlledChaos MascaraInk. “Constance had a vision immediately upon trying on the ethereal Custom Vera Wang nude gown. She knew she desired a cascading romantic braid with an essence of woodland fairy. I wanted to keep the make up clean and healthy with glowing skin, fluffy lashes and a flushed pout.”
A visually stunning and surreal pageant that grapples with the meaning of life, the mystery of death, time, destruction and reconstruction.
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24 • JANUARY 11, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
‘Trans Figured’ is a fraught journey toward survival, hope Brian Belovitch crafts a memorable memoir By SCOTT STIFFLER
The title delivers on its promise, and so much more: “Trans Figured: My Journey from Boy to Girl to Woman to Man,” by Brian Belovitch, chronicles the highs and lows of a “gender outlier and his dramatic journey through the jungle of gender identity.” Born into a working class, first-generation family in Fall River, MA, Belovitch writes with heart, honesty, and grit, about life as a queer teenager, a transgender woman named Tish (and, later, Natalia Gervais), an HIV-positive gay man, and an addict transformed by sobriety. The Blade recently spoke with him, in advance of two area appearances, on Jan. 15 and 17. Why did you decide to write this book now? I started it way back when, in the ’80s, and had shopped it around, and no one was interested in anything trans back then. In fact, there was not a good reception at all. It was very negative. So it tells you a little bit about how the times have changed. And I wanted to write it because, it’s a message of — I know it has a lot to do with gender and identity, but it’s also a message of survival and hope. I also wanted to make sure it was my version of the story, and not someone else’s. What did you discover, during the writing process? I was very surprised at how much more respect I have for myself, as someone who struggled through difficult circumstances. It gave me a renewed sense of confidence. It was cathartic in many ways, but painful, obviously, to revisit some of the things.
Grit, glamour, aspirations, addiction: “Trans Figured” chronicles the ever-evolving life of Brian Belovitch. Cover design by Rain Saukas
Did the book change your perception of yourself, past or present? When you’re a young person trying to find your way in the world, the way people perceive you is how you form your own ideas about yourself. The idea is, you’re going to grow up, be successful, fall in love, and make money. I really believed that becoming another gender, and living the American dream of being married to a handsome man, was going to solve all my problems. I had such high expectations of fitting in, like everyone else. But it didn’t work out that way. At this stage of my life, it doesn’t really matter to me as much. But perception, back then, meant everything to me… Validation, I guess, is a better word than perception. We live in a culture that validates external achievements. It validates beauty, education, intelligence, and conformity. I mean, look at the state of the world. Don’t get me started on that… I can only be the best person I can be, and try to effect change. Why did you transition, back to Brian? By making myself this beautiful, exotic creature, there was a certain sense of excitement that came from that. I had gone as far as I could possibly go in creating this identity that I thought was going to bring me all the happiness in the world — and what actually happened was the exact opposite. It didn’t bring me love, success, calm, peace, and satisfaction. What it
did bring me was a lot of rejection, a lot of ridicule, a lot of obstacles. I didn’t fit into the straight world, I didn’t fit into the gay world… I was objectified. I felt like I was a sex object… and it was the beginning of the AIDS crisis, and I had tested HIV positive. What did you get from being high, and what did you replace it with when you got sober? The high gave me a false sense of confidence. It made me feel powerful, invincible. It made me feel like I could do anything I wanted, and I didn’t have to think about consequences. When I was using crack and freebasing cocaine, my whole life became about chasing that all day. Giving that up, in a way, is like transitioning. As a sober person, I started to really understand, or find my own truth, about things I really liked to do. I’ve been sober now for over 32 years… Slowly, you start to fill it [intoxicants] with things that are more meaningful to you. I started writing, and went back to acting in plays. I was lucky enough to get some work with the Ridiculous Theatrical Company. But it’s not just one thing you can replace that with. You have to take a look at yourself and find out, what are the things you want to do with your life. As an HIV survivor, I had to work very hard in my sobriety to keep my health insurance because I had to keep a roof over my head, to keep my doctor’s appointments, my head above water in the area of employment. When you’re taking care of yourself in that way, it builds confidence…. The [contemporary] high for me is calm and peace and stability. I love stability. I treasure stability and sanity more than anything. That’s what replaced the high — and, also, being of service and helping others has been a huge, huge gift. How do you identify now? People keep forcing me to come up with one. But for convenience, I would probably be a cisgender gay male of trans experience. I’m never going to not be trans. I’m not trying to erase my trans history. It was a great thing. I had a blast. There were some aspects of it that were really fantastic. But as with anything else, you gotta take the good and the bad, and come up with some sort of decision. A documentary (“i’m going to make you love me”) by Karen Bernstein is expected to be released later this year. There’s also talk of a narrative feature film. “Imagine,” Belovitch speculated, “the brouhaha over who’s going to play a transgender character who becomes cisgender.” “Trans Figured: My Journey from Boy to Girl to Woman to Man,” by Brian Belovitch, is available at skyhorsepublishing.com. Belovitch will do a reading, sign books, and conduct a Q&A, at LA’s Book Soup [8818 Sunset Blvd] on Tues., Jan. 15, and at Dog Eared Books, in San Francisco [489 Castro St.], on Thurs., Jan. 17. Author info at brianbelovitch.com.
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26 • JANUARY 11, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
‘Vice’ compelling but ultimately falls short Dick Cheney satirical biopic explores complicated lesbian family relationship By BRIAN T. CARNEY
Amy Adams and Christian Bale as Lynne and Dick Cheney in ‘Vice.’ Photo courtesy Annapurna Pictures
Surprisingly, one of the pivotal characters in “Vice,” writer/director Adam McKay’s satiric new biopic about former Vice President Dick Cheney is Mary Cheney, Cheney’s openly lesbian daughter. Although Alison Pill does not get a lot of screen time, McKay cannily uses the character to help shape the audience’s reaction to Dick and the rest of the Cheney family. After years of working on slapstick comedies with his buddy Will Ferrell (“Talladega Nights,” “The Anchorman”), Adam McKay became a “serious” director with the 2015 release of “The Big Short,” a dark satire about the collapse of the U.S. housing bubble. One of the reasons for the movie’s success was McKay’s clever use of narrative devices to explain the complex financial transactions that drive the plot. Most notably, celebrities suddenly appear to talk about what’s going on in the movie. Margot Robbie, for example, discusses mortgage-backed securities and subprime loans from the luxurious comfort of her bubble bath. McKay and Charles Randolph won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for the clever script. These delightful cameos provided necessary exposition, but also provided comic relief and offered a fresh perspective on the shady deals that were making the financiers rich. In “Vice,” McKay has an even more ambitious agenda — to not only examine how Dick Cheney cynically changed the American political landscape but to explore Dick Cheney’s life as a devoted family man. To expose Cheney’s Machiavellian side, McKay expands on the narrative devices he used in “The Big Short.” In a wonderfully surrealistic restaurant scene, a waiter played by Alfred Molina joyfully explains to Cheney and his giddy colleagues the various shady legal strategies they can use to justify torture and other questionable tactics. In another stunning sequence, Lynne and Dick Cheney suddenly start speaking in Shakespearean blank verse, modern-day versions of the Macbeths plotting their rise to power. To humanize the deeply conservative Cheney, McKay brings Mary Cheney into play. When a young Mary comes out to her parents, they have very different reactions. Lynne worries what the political fallout of the situation will be, but Dick unconditionally embraces and supports his daughter. The theme continues when Cheney and George W. Bush are discussing Cheney’s possible role as vice president. Cheney reminds Bush that he has a lesbian daughter and makes it clear that he will not come out against gay marriage. Bush agrees, and he also agrees to Cheney’s expanded role in running the White House and the country. Finally, gay marriage again becomes an issue when Liz, the other Cheney daughter, is running for office. She’s behind in the polls and her conservative supporters are encouraging her to come out against gay marriage to bolster her base. With Lynne’s enthusiastic support, Liz does so, creating a dilemma for her father and causing great pain for her sister. Despite his skillful writing and astute direction, McKay does not fully succeed in his ambitious scheme to both satirize and humanize Dick Cheney. It may be an impossible task. On the plus side, Alison Pill and Lily Rabe turn in fine performances as Mary and Liz Cheney. They quickly create memorable characters in their few brief scenes, but McKay seems more interested in them as symbols than real people. This is emphasized by the fact that Mary’s wife Heather Poe-Cheney (Melissa K. Marks) is seen in several scenes, but is never identified and has no lines. Amy Adams turns in a dazzling performance as Lynne Cheney. She is truly the Lady Macbeth behind Dick’s rise to power. She is charming, ruthless, ambitious and very smart, fueled in fascinating ways by both her deep love for her husband and her profound belief in the ideals that shaped this country. Steve Carell and Sam Rockwell are also outstanding as Donald Rumsfeld and George W. Bush. Carell is very funny as the cocky defense secretary, but also brings a surprising decency and dignity to the man who starts out as Cheney’s mentor but is tossed aside when he becomes a political liability. Rockwell is both amusing and terrifying as the unwitting pawn in Cheney’s horrible schemes. Unfortunately, McKay is less successful in his work with Christian Bale as Dick Cheney. Bale, who just won a Golden Globe for his work here, rarely shows what’s going on in the vice president’s heart or mind. It’s not clear if Bale is overplaying Cheney’s unshakable façade or if he’s just buried beneath pounds of make-up and prosthetics, but his performance falls short of the mark. Likewise, McKay falls short of his fascinating attempt to both satirize and humanize Cheney. It’s hard to humanize a man who seems to have no inner life and it’s probably impossible to mock a monster like Cheney. There is no ironic vantage point to view the terrible events of 9-11 from and it’s hard to find sustained humor or humanity in the man who started the pointless war in Afghanistan and who helped to lay the foundations for the Trump presidency. There are some great performances and fine moments in “Vice,” but it’s hard to laugh at Dick Cheney for long, even if he loves his lesbian daughter.
28 • JANUARY 11, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Ellen absolves Kevin Hart of homophobia And Madonna returns as a Stonewall ‘ambassador’ By BILLY MASTERS
Billy says, ‘If you aren’t tall enough to get on Space Mountain, you can’t host the Oscars.’ Photo from Kevin Hart’s Facebook page
“I think she just has really tiny hands!” - Pete Davidson at his New Year’s Eve show at Chevalier Auditorium in Medford, Mass., while discussing Ariana Grande’s quip about him having a “big dick.” Welcome to 2019 - officially. And to kick it off, we’re reporting on the Golden Globes, even though I’m not there. I know you count on me to be your eyes and ears everywhere, but I had pressing business elsewhere. I did send my minions to report back to me and, well, even they were bored. Some quick quips: I don’t know who looked more annoyed to be there, Billy Porter or Johnny Galecki; every once in a while, you think Sam Neill is dead, then, poof, there he is; much like Keith Urban, I wouldn’t let anyone near me with a flu shot; Dick Van Dyke had firmer footing than Michael Douglas; Christian Bale, comedy genius; and is there anyone more breathtaking than my pal Justin Hartley? It’s important to note that these awards are less about who won than who was snubbed. That’s all. If the Golden Globes taught us anything, it’s that not just anyone can host. The Oscars may be more than a month away, but they are still host-less. So, Ellen DeGeneres decided to flex her considerable power to strong-arm Kevin Hart back into the job and strong-arm the viewing audience into accepting him. Apparently, Ellen and Kevin are good friends, and she thinks his past homophobic rants should not preclude him from the job. In what was presented as a spontaneous interview on her show, Ellen asked Hart about the controversy and why he stepped down. He then rambled on and on about...well, really, about nothing. She then allegedly surprised him by saying that she spoke up on his behalf to The Academy. I don’t know who she spoke to at the Academy - it may very well have been a receptionist, or even a temp. “We want him to host, whatever we can do, we would be thrilled, and he should host,” said whomever answers the phone at the Academy. This pissed off many people - specifically gay people. Who was Ellen to speak on behalf of the gay community? Don Lemon said he doesn’t think Hart should be allowed to host. Lemon said Hart’s past “jokes” actually do represent the views of many black fathers of gay children. “That is a joke to Kevin. But the truth is, that is a reality for many little boys in the United States. Somewhere, a black dad is beating his black son.” Lemon added, “Apologizing and moving on does not make the world a better place for people who are gay or people who are transgender. Being an ally does.” Let me say I don’t have a dog in this fight. I really don’t have any strong feelings about Kevin Hart - although I stand by my earlier statement that if you aren’t tall enough to get on Space Mountain, you can’t host the Oscars. Beyond that, I have no idea in the heart of Hart if he is homophobic or not. What I do know is that comics will say anything for a laugh - and I suspect Hart’s core audience would laugh at homophobic comments. The real question is, can people evolve? I suppose they do. Politicians do. People like Obama and Clinton changed their stance on gay marriage as their view “evolved” (although, like comics, I think politicians play to their audience). Ultimately, I believe in the free market. If the Academy wants Hart to host and he wants to host, he should host. And if people don’t like him, believe he is homophobic, or don’t buy his apology, they should not watch the Oscars. Kevin solved the problem for us - he (again) took himself out of the running to host...for now. Madonna made a surprise appearance at NYC’s Stonewall Inn on New Year’s Eve. Perhaps it wasn’t a complete surprise - the day before, the Inn posted on Instagram, “We are insanely proud to announce Madonna is a Stonewall Ambassador supporting Stonewall Day + the 50th anniversary of Stonewall!” On the night, Madonna resembled the fun, kicky Material Girl we all grew up loving. She had a crazy bow in her hair and lots of clunky, dangling jewelry. She donned glasses to read her lengthy remarks about how the Stonewall Inn is the birthplace of Pride. And then she sang an acoustic version of “Like a Prayer” with her son David playing guitar, which almost made you long for the days Madonna showed off her guitar skills. You can see the video on BillyMasters.com. I was terribly sad to hear about Derek Keeling’s passing. You may remember this talented (and gorgeous) man from the reality show to find stars for the Broadway revival of “Grease.” In addition to “Grease,” he also toured in “All Shook Up”, “Million Dollar Quartet”, and “Happy Days: The Musical.” Rest in peace. We ran long and it’s late, so we’ll quickly remind you to check out www.BillyMasters. com - the site that welcomes gays and straights alike. If you have a question, dash it off to Billy@BillyMasters.com and I promise to get back to you before someone from the Academy asks me to host the Oscars! So, until next time, remember, one man’s filth is another man’s bible.
30 • JANUARY 11, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
See the show, be the show Out-of-towners tout interactive opportunities By SCOTT STIFFLER
Music to your ears: Billy Stritch and Jim Caruso bring “Cast Party” to LA. Photo by Christopher Boudewyns
Two of Manhattan’s hottest acts have booked flights to Los Angeles, with no signs of cooling their jets. So don’t sweat the pressure, cabin or otherwise. Because these interactive shows intend to take you along for the ride — deep into, and well beyond, uncharted territory.
“Show Up, Kids!” If you’re the kind of person who flinches at the thought of being put on the spot, Peter Michael Marino will put you at ease. The title of the endlessly inventive comedian’s improv show, “Show Up,” was inspired by a determination to acknowledge his own social anxiety, while remaining productive. He’s done just that for over two years now, not only showing up at every NYC “Show Up” show, but taking it on the road, while bucking the cocooning instinct in favor of industry necessities, such as busking and attending parties. On stage, Marino’s honesty about his own anxiety puts you at ease, and pays dividends when it comes to getting quality audience participation content, culled via a breezy, no-pressure conversation, during which he extracts nuggets from the answers to questions, such as: Anything special happen today? Any love life disasters? Any traumatic childhood memories? Then, in a deft parody of a one-man show, Marino makes those suggestions come to life, while deputized audience members act as sound technicians and stage managers, suddenly imbued with the ability to bend the narrative to their will. That neat conceit, it turns out, plays exceedingly well when the reigns of power are turned over to those ages 3-10. “Show Up, Kids!” is his interactive, family-appropriate version, in which Marino plays a friend of beloved children’s entertainer Silly Sally, who steps up when the main attraction is a no-show (“Because that’s what friends are for,” he explains, only to launch into a Dionne Warwick number likely unfamiliar to those born a few mere years ago). “They give me not only suggestions for what the plot elements are going to be,” Marino said, “but they also provide things during the actual improv. While I’m doing it, I’ll say, something like, ‘and then the dog opened the door, and outside was…’ And one kid, I think he was about eight years old, said, ‘a herd of murdering cats.’ What I think what a normal person would do, would be, bring them into the house. I take their suggestions literally, so I had them attack me, and I went to dog heaven.” Yes, kids certainly do say the darndest things — but what has Marino learned about how they think? Despite the occasional suggestion of murder, Marino noted, “Kids are very much interested in harmony and peace. They don’t usually use those words, but conflict resolution seems to be something they enjoy.” Invoking the original adult version of his show, Marino observed, “Our generation would like to take the bad road and see what happens. But these kids seem so much more optimistic. Someone saw the show a couple of weeks ago and noted that all the kids in their row were leaning on the seat in front of them, very interested in what was going to happen next in the story… When they’re in control of something, their attention span seems a lot longer.”
Although there are some differences according to geographic location (the Scotland crowd likes “veterinarian,” while NYC goes for “lawyer”), Marino noted some giggleinducing suggestions are loved the world over: “Poop and vomit,” he said, sounding more comforted than weary. “I get a lot of ‘poop’ and ‘vomit.’ ” “Show Up, Kids!” makes its West Coast premiere at Complex Hollywood (6468 Santa Monica Boulevard), Jan. 12-20. Visit showuptheshow.com/kids for tickets and info.
“Jim Caruso’s Cast Party” Mere steps from Times Square, a Monday night destination event at Birdland Jazz Club beckons Broadway marquee names, amateur crooners, and even vaudevillian talent, all brought together by the entertainer’s ultimate quest: stage time, in front of a supportive crowd. Hosted by the witty and wonderful vocalist Jim Caruso, with worldclass support from longtime friend, pianist/arranger Billy Stritch (both of whom shared the stage during the tizzyinducing 2008 run of “Liza’s at the Palace”), “Jim Caruso’s Cast Party” is Manhattan’s hottest, song-centric open mic. “This is our fourth trip to LA, to play Vitello’s,” Caruso said, “which is a fantastic jazz venue in the Valley. The food is great, the service, the sound and lights are great. And we have had a blast there.” Those wanting to belt one out should, Caruso said, “bring sheet music in the correct key, for a fun, upbeat tune. We have Billy at the piano. His wheelhouse is the Great American Songbook, to be sure, but he is very wellversed as a jazz pianist, and certainly knows the Broadway scene. He can play anything, and has to. ‘Cast Party’ can go from Sondheim to Nat King Cole within seconds.” Given the vibe differs depending on who shows up on any given night, Caruso noted, “It’s unpredictable, spontaneous. Ann Campton Holloway called it ‘come what mayhem.’ ” Whether it’s their home base in NYC or on the road in places like Palm Springs, Pittsburgh, Austin, Chicago, or Miami, Caruso noted, “We get jazz musicians, movie stars, and, crazy acts… It’s hopefuls, and has-beens, and everyone in-between.” As for the non-professionals who show up with sheet music, “We get to meet people when they’re about to do what they love to do. They really show themselves to us, and it reminds us of the beauty that people can create on their own, with no special effects. It’s a piano and a microphone.” In the past, LA gigs have seen the likes of Jane Monheit (“a regular,” Caruso noted), Megan Hilty, Jeffrey Osborne, Cybill Shepherd, Jo Anne Worley, and Carol Channing. “The magician, Michael Carbonaro,” Caruso recalled, “once came in naked, in just a towel, and created masks on his face, with shaving cream. It was the darndest thing I’ve seen in my life, and I will never get over it.” These little magical moments, Caruso proudly noted, happen at “Cast Party” with astonishing regularity. “I don’t know why or how,” he said, “but I don’t question it anymore.” “Cast Party” is at Vitello’s (4249 Tujunga Ave., Studio City), 7:30 PM, on Wed. and Thurs., Jan. 16 and 17. For info, call 818-769-0905. Venue info at vitellosrestaurant.com. Artist info at jim-caruso.com and billystritch.com.
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Losangelesblade.com, Volume 3, Issue 2, January 11, 2019