Washingtonblade.com, Volume 3, Issue 12, March 22, 2019

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Photo by Jeff Martin


M A R C H 2 2 2 0 1 9 • V O LU M E 0 3 • I S S U E 1 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



HRC and UCLA to host 2020 Democratic presidential forum Event to focus on LGBTQ rights, equality issues By KAREN OCAMB The Human Rights Campaign Foundation will co-host a presidential forum for 2020 Democratic candidates in conjunction with the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs this October. The forum will be dedicated to LGBTQ rights and issues of equality. The forum will feature a succession of candidates sharing and being questioned about their agendas and policy positions before a live audience on Oct. 10, 2019 in UCLA’s historic Royce Hall, which can seat approximately 1,800 people. The event will take place the night before National Coming Out Day, which HRC now oversees. Last year, HRC commemorated the 30th anniversary of NCOD, founded in LA in 1988 by Jean O’Leary and Rob Eichberg. The forum is part of UCLA’s Luskin Lecture Series, which has previously worked with the UCLA LGBTQ Center on other events. UCLA has a long history of associating with LGBTQ people—the late

judge Rand Schrader was openly gay in the early 1970s as a law student. The criteria for candidate participation is akin to other presidential candidate forums and debates for Democratic candidates: at least a one percent showing in three separate national polls or having received contributions from 65,000 different people in 20 different states.

HRC Foundation has hosted two other forums—one in 2004 that included Sen. John Kerry, the eventual nominee; and the Visible Vote ’08 forum in LA on Aug. 9, 2007, broadcast on cable by forum co-host LOGO with Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and a candidacy-ending answer by New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson who told panelist Melissa Etheridge that being gay

was a “choice.” “If any LGBTQ person were to take a cross-country drive from HRC headquarters in Washington, D.C., to UCLA’s campus, their rights and protections under the law would change dozens of times at every city line and state border,” says HRC President Chad Griffin. “Millions of LGBTQ people will have their rights on the ballot in 2020 — but today we are also a powerful voting bloc that will help determine the outcome. We’re excited to partner with UCLA and create an opportunity to hear candidates’ agendas for moving equality forward.” HRC reports that Election Day 2018 exit polling indicated that more than seven million LGBTQ voters — six percent of total turnout — cast ballots, “making the difference in key races from coast to coast.” And elections have results: as promised, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has made it a top priority to pass the Equality Act, a federal LGBTQ civil rights bill, with the new pro-equality majority in the House of Representatives. The bill was introduced with unprecedented support but is expected to stall without changes in the Senate and presidency in 2020.

New bill outlines protections for Calif. trans inmates Housing according to gender identity By STAFF REPORTS An amended bill protecting transgender individuals, SB132 from out San Francisco Democratic Sen. Scott Wiener, was introduced March 18 and is scheduled for legislative action next month. The bill would protect transgender inmates incarcerated in California’s correctional system from the violence that frequently arises when they are housed according to their birth-assigned gender instead of their actual gender identity, “This bill will save lives and will enable trans women serving sentences in California prisons to avoid some of the worst horrors they currently face on the inside,” said Shawn Meerkamper, Senior Staff Attorney, for the Oakland-based Transgender Law Center. “California is falling behind on this

issue, and for our communities’ sake, it desperately needs to catch up.” A spokesperson for the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CAL-CDCR) confirmed to the Los Angeles Blade that often the risk of violence, including sexual violence, leads to trans inmates being placed in isolation, also known as special custody units, “for their own protection.” Removing them from the general population and placing them in limited housing access or solitary confinement curtails access to services like rehabilitative programming, educational programming, religious programming, and work opportunities, all of which has been proven to reduce recidivism and further rehabilitation efforts. The legislation requires: During the initial intake process, CDCR record the individual’s self-reported gender identity, preferred first name, preferred pronouns and honorifics, and preferred gender identity of any officer who may conduct

a lawful body search on the individual. House people according to their gender identity, unless a specifically articulated security concern counsels otherwise, or the individual believes it would be safer to be housed according to their birth gender. All staff and contractors of CDCR to consistently use the gender pronoun, honorific, and preferred name the individual has specified in all verbal and written communications with and regarding that individual. “Transgender people deserve basic dignity, respect, and safety while incarcerated, and we should respect the gender identity of all individuals regardless of their current situation,” Wiener said in a press release. “To house transgender individuals in facilities that do not correspond with their gender identity puts these individuals at great risk of physical assault and sexual victimization, and reduces their access to programming that creates a successful transition from

prison back to their community.” Currently, CAL-CDCR houses incarcerated trans individuals based on their assigned sex at birth, unless they have undergone gender-affirming surgery or have received a medical evaluation and been referred to a classification committee. This leaves many trans inmates stranded and at risk in correctional facilities. The bill says trans inmates who don’t undergo gender-affirming surgery should be housed according to their gender identity – period. “Having Trans people having the autonomy to choose where they want to be housed when they have to do time in a state prison is in a way liberating,” said Bamby Salcedo, President of the LA-based TransLatin Coalition, a co-sponsor of the bill. “It gives people the autonomy to take agency to their own identification and where they can spend their time while incarcerated.” – Karen Ocamb contributed to this report.



California LGBTQ politicos building a pipeline to equality Equality California and LGBT Legislative Caucus hold historic summit By MATHEW FORESTA Equality California and the California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus hosted an historic Leadership Summit on March 15 in Sacramento. More than 175 LGBTQ national, state, and local officials met to network, discuss leadership and policy issues and to encourage building a pipeline to electoral and legislative involvement within the LGBTQ community. California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, the first openly LGBTQ person elected to statewide office, and Rep. Mark Takano, the first LGBTQ person of color elected to Congress, were keynote speakers. “What would Harvey Milk think of this historic gathering? What would he want us to do?” Lara asked poignantly, acknowledging the late San Francisco Supervisor, the first openly gay elected official in California who pushed the importance of coming out and being one’s authentic self. Takano lauded the election of “the gayest Congress in history,” but getting more LGBTQ people elected to office is still of key importance, especially at the local level. “A tremendous amount of services are delivered at the county level. Services that really matter to the LGBT community, health services especially,” Takano told the Los Angeles Blade in a phone interview. “There are parts of our state with HIV transmission rates that are unacceptably high and part of that is that we need decision makers who will allocate resources appropriately for effective outreach.” Takano noted that while transgender people and lesbians attended the summit, they were underrepresented. Takano hopes the summit will lead to LGBTQ officials supporting and mentoring each other and looking at how issues of health, safety, and economic opportunity can be addressed in the LGBTQ community. The summit featured such panels as the rewards of public service, hot policy topics in California and “The Rainbow Ladder: Strategies on Building the Bench of LGBTQ Leaders.” “We want to keep building a pipeline of

Rep. Mark Takano lauded the election of ‘the gayest Congress in history.’ Photo by Tia Gemmell

folks, so that there’s an infrastructure in place for LGBTQ candidates,” said Equality California Managing Director Tony Hoang. Mario Enriquez, Director of Domestic Programs at the Victory Institute, which trains LGBTQ candidates, said viability, a plan to win and success at fundraising are critical in getting an endorsement and hence money from the community-networked Victory Fund. Xóchitl Murillo, Appointments Consultant for the Speaker’s Office of Protocol, gave precise advice for those seeking jobs in government: “Here’s what I say to people when they ask me where to start: apply!” Rick Zbur, Executive Director of Equality California, speculated that half the summit attendees were from communities of color and agreed with Takano that despite positive steps, LGBTQ people are still underrepresented in elected positions. MorXóchitl Murillo, Appointments Consultant for the Speaker’s Office of Protocol, gave precise advice for those seeking jobs in government: “Here’s what I say to people when they ask me where to start: apply!”Rick Zbur, Executive Director of Equality California, speculated that half the summit attendees were from communities of color and agreed with Takano that despite positive steps, LGBTQ people are still underrepresented in elected positions. “We’ve got great allies in the State of California, but there’s nothing like having LGBTQ people

with a seat at the table who can speak to how policies effect members of our community firsthand,” Zbur told the Los Angeles Blade. The summit was designed to facilitate networking, give tools for advocacy, provide a briefing on state and national policy priorities, and provide a space for the LGBTQ Caucus and Equality California to hear from leaders about issues LGBTQ people are dealing with in their communities were the primary goals of the summit, Zbur said. He added that Equality California is committed to the “deeply intersectional” project of advocating for LGBTQ rights, including bills helping transgender prisoners and addressing homelessness. “We fight for all LGBTQ people,” he said. On March 18, out State Sen. Scott Wiener of San Francisco) officially introduced the amended SB 132 that requires that incarcerated transgender individuals be classified and housed based on their gender identity, instead of their birth-assigned gender, which puts them at heightened risk of violence. “The best outcome [for the summit] is that we actually get more people, more LGBTQ, deciding to run for office and seek spots in appointed office,“ Zbur said. “The second one is that we’re engaging all these leaders across the state to be better equipped and more forceful and more prepared advocates to join with us to advocate for LGBTQ priorities at the state and national and local levels.” The summit comes at a time when the

LGBTQ community is facing many struggles. The ban on transgender people serving in the military is set to be implemented in April, hate crimes are on the rise, and there is still a high rate of homelessness amongst LGBTQ youth. Indeed, California Assemblymember Evan Low brought the issue of hate home, calling for a moment of silence for the victims of the massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand where a white supremacist terrorist murdered 50 worshippers at two mosques. Lambda Legal’s Jenny Pizer noted that 1 in 3 federal court nominees have deep histories of anti-LGBTQ attitudes and advocacy. And while much progress has been made in the last decade, the battle for equality is intensifying in several states. “These states are under siege,” Pizer said. “The rest of the country is depending on California to keep on doing this work.” The post-summit tweet-fest was positive. “Over 175 dynamic #LGBTQ elected & appointed officials gathered for the first #CALGBTQSummit. California continues to lead the nation in advancing the cause of equality for our #LGBTQ community & we will continue working to ensure that our state remains a beacon of hope for all!” tweeted Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes. “So proud of the incredible diversity,” tweeted Stonewall Young Democrats President Chris Nikhil Bowen. “We’re bringing the color to public office!” – Karen Ocamb contributed to this story.



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HRC’s Chad Griffin ready to step aside Looking back on seven history-making years atop LGBTQ movement By KAREN OCAMB Donald Trump’s shocking election in 2016 jolted the LGBT community out of its sleepwalking trek toward full equality and first-class citizenship. Like most voters— including apparently Trump himself—LGBT people expected Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to win and progress to continue, building on the freedom to marry and to serve openly in the U.S. armed forces. Chad Griffin wasted no time pivoting, leading the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights lobbying organization, into an historic national partnership with women and other minority groups in the exploding Resistance movement and building political power. HRC spent $26 million targeting specific races and buffeting local organizations, helping generate and galvanize equality voters to flip the House in 2018 and elect LGBT and pro-equality officials. Griffin was ubiquitous, traveling to 23 states, campaigning for 50 candidates in 47 cities and building a locally based LGBTQ voting bloc unlike anything seen since Los Angeles-based David Mixner and ANGLE backed dark-horse Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton for president in 1991, during the Second Wave of AIDS. Ironically, like Bill Clinton, Griffin hales from Hope, Ark., and wound up serving in the Clinton White House press office as the youngest staffer ever at age 19. When Griffin announced he was leaving HRC in 2019 after seven years of service, Hillary Clinton was one of the first to respond. “Even in 1992, when I first met him, it was clear Chad Griffin would do a lot of good in the world. Little did I know! Grateful for his leadership at @HRC in fighting against discrimination and for marriage equality, and mobilizing millions to build a more just, equal America,” Clinton tweeted on Nov. 15, 2018. During this critical time, Griffin has helped build HRC into a political powerhouse, doubling membership from 1.5 million to more than 3 million. The 2018

HRC’s Chad Griffin with federal Prop 8 plaintiffs Paul Kawata and Jeff Zarrillo at the Resist March in LA in 2017 Photo by Karen Ocamb

CNN exit poll pegged the self-identified LGBT voter turnout to be 6 percent, meaning more than 7 million LGBT people voted, making the difference in numerous narrow races around the country. HRC also created an energized infrastructure in such key electoral states as Wisconsin, Arizona, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan with an eye to the 2020 elections. Driven by his personal experience as a young, frightened closeted gay boy lying

awake at night in Hope, Ark., Griffin proudly launched an HRC campaign in the Deep South, including Arkansas, Mississippi, and Alabama, no longer abandoning the region as too inhospitable to fight for LGBT rights. Griffin embraced the intersectionality of LGBT people, creating coalitions with other social and racial justice movements. He also focused on justice and programming for the transgender community and youth of color. Griffin’s latest focus has been on passing

the federal Equality Act, which would amend existing civil rights law to provide protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The bill was introduced on March 13 with bipartisan support from 241 original co-sponsors, as well as backing from more than 105 major businesses operating in all 50 states. HRC organized several intense lobbying days with more than 600 board members and grassroots supporters flying to Washington for their


annual Equality Convention. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Democratic presidential candidate, gave a rousing speech and got a standing ovation. “These days it is challenging to break through” the cacophony of the day, Griffin tells the Blade in a March 18 phone interview. “I think the House leadership has said they intend to have the vote by June, or in early June.” On the larger stage, Griffin says the 2020 elections have become “the most important elections of our lives” given the rollbacks and what’s at stake under this administration. “We need to protect the House, protect the victories we’ve had; we need to make progress in the Senate; and we need to take back the White House – and all three of those are possible, but is going to take a lot of work between now and Election Day, 2020,” he says. “But I do believe that when all the dust settles, come January of 2021, that a new pro-equality president and vicepresident will be sworn in. But there is a hell of a lot of work to do between now and then to insure that that happens.” Griffin is excited by the Democratic primary, including out South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg making the Democratic primary debate stage. “I think it’s historic. I think he is running a very smart campaign that is engaging both LGBTQ people and straight folks alike all across this country,” he says. HRC is teaming up with UCLA to host its own LGBT-focused forum on Oct. 10, an idea he formulated with Gary M. Segura, Dean of the Luskin School of Public Affairs at UCLA. Segura had been an expert witness for Griffin’s American Foundation for Equal Rights when they successfully fought Prop 8 in federal court. During the forum and the primary battles, each candidate will have to “make the case to our community—how they will move the Equality Act forward, how they will protect transgender troops, how they will lead and bring back many of the protections through regulations that we have lost under Donald Trump and Mike Pence.” Meanwhile, Griffin says HRC is holding itself to high standards: transgender employees are 7 percent of the staff; Griffin is the only white gay man at the senior table, with one trans man and the rest women, two of whom are women of color. He also elevated the head of Diversity, Equity, and

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin, March 16, 2019 at HRC’s Equality Convention. Photo credit is Jeff Martin

Inclusion to that senior table. “I understand, like a lot of legacy organizations, we are too slow to move and to catch up with where this country is and we cannot do our jobs unless our staff, volunteers, volunteer leaders, and our programs reflect the broad, diverse community that we are,” Griffin says. “We have prioritized that, not just from a staff perspective but from a volunteer perspective and in our programs – really using a racial equity and justice lens across all of our programs at HRC to ensure that we are truly reaching everyone in our community. And we are consistently checking ourselves, asking ‘where are we falling short, and what more can we do?’ And that is not something that you reach a finish line on. That is something that will always be ongoing for us here, and for other organizations.” While proud of the progress, “we still have a long way to go,” Griffin says. HRC has worked hard in the area of trans justice and wants leaders to do the same.

“Anyone who wants to be president needs to make the case on how they are going to extend protections to transgender people, how they are going to address the epidemic of violence that plagues this country – and quite frankly, the world –and also to be very specific about how they’re going to bring back protections that folks like Betsy DeVos staked their career on undermining,” Griffin says. He points to what happened in North Carolina when Gov. Pat McCrory attacked the rights of trans North Carolinians and visitors – thinking it would excite his base and ensure his re-election. “Instead it did just the opposite,” Griffin notes. “It ensured his defeat. In a year where Donald Trump won the state of North Carolina, the Republican incumbent governor lost because he attacked transgender North Carolinians, and I think that says a lot about the political power of LGBTQ people. And that is something that we all need to continue to invest in and continue to build the political power of


LGBTQ people – that’s how we stop these rollbacks, that’s how we defeat those who choose to come after us. In politics, there have to be consequences and Pat McCrory is an important consequence.” McCrory’s loss is a message. “Democrats running for president or House or Senate need to understand the significance and importance of our voting bloc in order to win elections. We went from 5 percent of the electorate in 2016, to 6 percent in the midterms – one of the only demographic groups that increased our support from the presidential to the midterms – and that’s 7 million voters in this country,” Griffin says. “And that’s just the number of people that answer the question to a stranger, that they’re LGBTQ. There are lots of surveys that show upwards and near 20 percent of millennials that identify as LGBTQ.” Politicians should fear this powerful voting bloc. “If you attack us, we are going to organize, mobilize, and oust you on Election Day,” he says. “But more proactively, it is a voting bloc to be taken seriously, and it’s a voting bloc that you have to talk to, and you have to vocalize your agenda to, if you want to get their votes.” Griffin says he’s proud of HRC’s expansion “across the country and around the world” and building and harnessing the power of LGBTQ and allied voters. But the importance of coalition work has never been more important. “LGBTQ people are as diverse as the fabric of this nation and an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us,” Griffin says. “Today, HRC, in so many places, stands united in coalition across social justice movements -- standing up with immigrants and women, and people of color – and the same is true for many of those organizations. That is something that’s going to need to continue and strengthen over the next months and years.” Griffin says he’s coming home to LA but has not yet decided what is next for him professionally. “But I’m serious when I say that I am not leaving the fight,” Griffin says. “All of us need to find ways that we can engage and do everything in our power to ensure that we have a proequality president in January of 2021, and that will certainly be a priority for me.” The HRC/LA gala is on Sat. March 30 at the Ritz-Carlton/JW Marriott LA Live. For tickets, go to hrc.org.



Stop for a minute. Set aside the latest Trump tweets and the gush of media reaction. How many times can your mouth gape open at the latest scandal? Let your gaze rest instead on this photo of happy people presenting and accepting a check. Why does this matter? Because some people are thinking of others, not just themselves in this era of selfies and flimsy affectations. James Ballard and Colin Dueweke, members of the West Hollywood Aquatics - the world’s first LGBTQ swim team born out of the 1982 Gay Games and known affectionately as WH20 – presented with a check for $40,000.00 to the City at the March 18 city council meeting. The donation is intended to cover the costs of a timing system/scoreboard and disability lifts for the new pool in West Hollywood Park, scheduled to be open in 2020, Craig Sinel, President of the West Hollywood Aquatics, told the Los Angeles Blade. WH20 welcomes everyone, West Hollywood City Councilmembers John Heilman, John D’Amico, Lauren Meister, John Duran, and Lindsey Horvath with WH20’s James Ballard and Colin regardless of age or skill or disability. (See last year’s Dueweke. Los Angeles Blade story on the Logo documentary, Photo courtesy WH20 “Light in the Water,” about the team’s history.) “West Hollywood Aquatics is committed to giving back to the community that we call home and we are thrilled to partner with the City of West Hollywood to ensure that the state-of-the-art facility is fully equipped on the day it opens,” Sinel said. “West Hollywood Aquatics has been participating in the process to build the new pool for many years, and this donation from the team shows the Council and City of West Hollywood residents how excited we are to be moving to our new home,” Sinel added. “This is a project for the entire community and is a win for youth programs, seniors, lap swimmers, masters, and everyone else who loves the water. This is about swimming, water polo, and the entire aquatics community, and we couldn’t be more excited.”

“ALL CONTRACTS, JOBS AND EMPLOYMENT NEWLY ASSIGNED EXCLUSIVELY TO GAY PEOPLE!” – Anti-gay flier targeting lesbian Chicago mayoral candidate Lori Lightfoot, via Chicago Sun-Times March 18.

“The Equality Act will allow women to be harassed by transgender athletes.” - Steve McConkey of Madison, Wisconsin’s 4 Winds Christian Athletics ministry, March 19 via Christian Newswire.

“The Equality Act is legislation that would compromise American civil rights and religious liberty as we know it.” - Former Log Cabin Republicans president Gregory Angelo in the Washington Examiner March 18.

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Trump’s picks for AIDS council disappoint some fighting the epidemic Critics worried about addressing homophobia, transphobia By CHRIS JOHNSON President Trump’s recently selected choices to the fill the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS are rankling some observers. Critics say the appointments fail to address social determinants of health, including homophobia and transphobia, rely too heavily on the pharmaceutical industry and leave out Republicans with records of fighting HIV/AIDS. The nine members were selected last week — joining co-chairs Carl Schmid and John Wiesman — in the aftermath of Trump announcing in his State of the Union address a pledge to end new HIV infections in the United States by 2030. Scott Schoettes, HIV project director for Lambda Legal, said he’s “glad to see” the posts filled, but had concerns about addressing the social determinants of health and the Trump administration waiting to make the choices until after the plan was unveiled. “I have some concerns that they really came up with their plan, and then chose the people to be on the council sort of after the fact,” Schoettes said. “It seems to be you would want those people in those advisory positions as you develop your plan, and it seems like the people they’ve picked are, so far, reflective of that plan in that it’s very focused on finding everyone, getting them tested, getting them treated and not really thinking much about the social determinant of health or the things that we know drive the epidemic in a significant way in the United States.” Schoettes is a former member of PACHA who was appointed during the Obama administration, but was among six members who resigned in June 2017 over Trump’s perceived inaction on HIV/AIDS. “I’m hopeful that the administration will pay more attention to these individuals than they did to the members while I was serving, but I’m not sure that they will,” Schoettes said. In December 2017, Trump sacked the remaining remembers of PACHA without explanation via letter from FedEx, as first reported by the Washington Blade. It wasn’t until 15 months later that Trump would finally

restaff PACHA with the nine new members. Schoettes said the social determinants PACHA should be able to address include “housing instability and access to care, income insecurity, food insecurity.” “All of those things drive the HIV epidemic in addition to things like homophobia, transphobia, racism, gender inequality,” Schoettes said. “And so, unless you are addressing those other factors, you’re not really going to get at the sort of entrenched people living with HIV and the people that are out there that are not currently diagnosed. Those folks are living in a swirl of other social determinants of health that are preventing them from getting tested, from accessing care and you got to address those things as well as just the biomedical side of it.” The nine new PACHA members come from variety of backgrounds , including the pharmaceutical industry, activism and academia: Gregg Alton, chief patient officer for Gilead Sciences, Inc.; Wendy Holman, CEO and co-founder of Ridgeback Biotherapeutics; Marc Meachem, head of External Affairs North America for ViiV Healthcare; Rafaelé Roberto Narváez, co-founder and director of Health Programs for Latinos Salud; Michael Saag, professor of medicine and associate dean for global health at UAB School of Medicine and director of the University of Alabama at Birmingham Center for AIDS Research; John Sapero, office chief for the HIV prevention program at the Arizona Department of Health Services; Robert Schwartz, head of Dermatology at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School; Justin Smith, a Ph.D. candidate at Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University; and Ada Stewart, lead provider and HIV specialist at Eau Claire (South Carolina) Cooperative Health Centers. Created in 1995, PACHA has provided advice to U.S. presidents on policy and research to promote effective treatment and prevention for HIV — maintaining the goal of finding a cure. Asia Russell, executive director of the New York-based Health GAP, said the appointments demonstrate Trump “doesn’t give a damn” about PACHA being truly diverse, citing in particular the appointments

from the pharmaceutical industry. “His appointment of representatives of pharmaceutical companies that profit directly from government refusal to address price gouging is unethical,” Russell said. Gay Republicans with records of working on HIV/AIDS were also critical of what they perceived as a lack of Republican appointments to PACHA. (Schmid was once a Republican, but told the Blade he’s now a registered independent and has been so for about the last decade.) Jim Driscoll, a Nevada-based HIV/AIDS advocate who supported President Trump in the 2016 election, was among those dissatisfied with the apparent lack of Republicans. “Politically the group is very one sided,” Driscoll said. “Members appear to be chosen more to forestall community blow back than for their ability to aid, advise or influence President Trump.” Driscoll, who served as a PACHA member during the George W. Bush administration and applied for membership in the Trump administration, also said other key groups were absent, such as AIDS patients in treatment, registered nurses and older patients “despite elders being the fastest growing group and too little is being done about AIDS among the elderly.” “Gay Republicans are wondering, who actually won this election?” Driscoll said. “Gays are well represented, except there appear to be zero gay Republicans. The council needs at least two credible gay Republicans who supported Mr. Trump and at least three or four more Trump supporters. I expect that even VP Pence and his evangelical supporters would want this.” Jerri Ann Henry, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans, said she knows Republicans who have been involved with her organization and “unhappy to have been passed over,” and echoed the concerns about no Republicans. “It’s very disappointing for me to see there are, I don’t think, any Republicans on PACHA at all under a Republican administration,” Henry said. “And I think this is one of those committees that most administrations have tried to make overly partisan. That’s not a top criteria that should be used in selecting people, but under a Republican president, it would be great to see some Republicans there, especially the people who have worked in the past under

less friendly administrations to make things like this happen.” Schmid, who in addition to serving as PACHA co-chair is deputy director of the AIDS Institute, said in response to criticisms Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar is responsible for the appointments, but in defense of the appointments said the claims were off base. With respect to addressing the social determinants of health, Schmid said during the PACHA meeting last week — the first meeting after the new appointments were made — those issues were discussed “along with other non-medical issues were highlighted and discussed throughout the meeting.” “Seems people are quick to criticize without knowing the facts,” Schmid said, “And comments such as these ignore the leaders in the community who are members of PACHA and the work they are doing to end HIV in their respective communities.” In response to the lack of Republicans on PACHA, Schmid said people making the criticism do not have their facts correct and “probably should do some more research before making such a claim.” “I tend to think people keep their party affiliation private and it is not my business, it is their private personal matter,” Schmid added. In terms of diversity, Schmid said six out of 11 of the members are gay, including two black gay men and one Latino gay man. Schmid said during the PACHA meeting last week he announced the new appointments were just the first round and more should follow in the aftermath of Trump unveiling a plan to beat HIV/AIDS by 2030. “I listed a number of people we are looking for: More people living with HIV, more women, younger people, trans people, injection drug users, reps of tribal and faith communities, local government, philanthropy, community health centers, people who focus on Hepatitis, STDs, different disciplines and geographic diversity,” Schmid said. The Department of Health & Human Services didn’t respond to the Washington Blade’s request for comment on the criticism of the PACHA choices. Among the first orders of business for the newly appointed PACHA was approving a resolution in support of the Trump administration’s “Ending the HIV Epidemic” plan.

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Buttigieg wows West Hollywood and could wow you, too Mayor Pete creating presidential buzz By KAREN OCAMB It was a powerful day in presidential politics. Frenetic Texan Beto O’Rourke finally announced his bid for the Democratic Party presidential nomination, complete with a Vanity Fair cover by Annie Leibovitz and appearances in Iowa that transfixed the media but created notably mock-able moments. Meanwhile, across the country that March 14, openly gay South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, mesmerized his own packed club in West Hollywood - his calm, smart and charming decency radiating like a Star Trek tractor beam to an audience anxious for inspiration, hope and practical solutions to the degeneration of democracy. The comparison between the two young white guys in the burgeoning field of Democratic presidential hopefuls played out on Fox News Sunday. “To some degree, people talk about you as the bright shiny thing in the field,” anchor Chris Wallace told Buttigieg, teeing up for a reference to the Vanity Fair story. “Now that Beto O’Rourke is in it, as some people in the grassroots say, he is the brighter, shiner thing. How do you combat Beto and like him, were you born to be in this race?” Buttigieg didn’t take the bait. “I think I was born to make myself useful. And I’m not combatting anybody. They’re going to be competitors more than opponents, I think, among the Democrats - and that’s a good thing,” Buttigieg replied. “But I do believe I’m not like the others. I belong to a different generation than most of the others. Mine was the generation that was in high school when mass shootings started being the norm. We’re the generation that’s going to be on the business end of the consequences of climate change. We’re also the generation that’s on track to be the first in American history to make less than our parents if nothing is done to change the trajectory of our economy,” he said, flashing a sense of urgency without neon lights. With the Democratic National Committee having nixed any debates on the Fox News Channel after a New Yorker article suggested Fox was a “propaganda” outlet for Donald Trump, Buttigieg’s appearance seemed

Mayor Pete Buttigieg with Rick Jacobs, former head of Vermont Gov. Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential campaign in California. Photo by Karen Ocamb

appreciated. And Buttigieg seemed comfortable. “I think coming from the industrial Midwest, the place where, unfortunately, my party really lost touch with a lot of voters, especially in 2016—it’s a combination of attributes, not to mention the military service - that I bring to the table, that is simply different from the others and I’m looking forward to competing,” he said, hinting he’ll make an official announcement soon. His “core message,” Buttigieg told Wallace

succinctly: “Generational change, and then liberty, democracy and security.” Buttigieg said the controversial “Green New Deal” is more of a “goal” than a plan - but climate change is real. “We have got to do this. This timetable isn’t being set in Congress. It’s being set by reality. It’s being set by science. And it’s going to hit— those deadlines are going to hit in our climate with or without us so we have to act,” Buttigieg said, adding: “Retro-fitting buildings means a huge amount of jobs for the building trades

in this country. I view that as a good thing.” “I think Pete Buttigieg is a fascinating candidate who can make real noise in this race and really help steer the debate,” Mo Elleithee, former DNC Communications Director, told Wallace afterwards. Buttigieg was also praised by Washington Post opinion columnist and gay MSNBC pundit Jonathan Capehart on AM Joy for his “presidential” response to the horrific March 15 white supremacist shooting in New Zealand that left 50 dead.


“I write not only to console you and to reassure you, but to ask something of you. I wish to tell you not only that you are loved but also that you are needed. This City very much needs you at a time like this, because you help to demonstrate the values and desires that we all have in common….you are not only exercising a right but also bearing a gift,” Mayor Pete wrote to his Muslim constituents. “And so we are thankful to count you among us.” That quiet depth of character was on display at the free “meet & greet” at Bar Lubitsch on Santa Monica Boulevard. The crowd was already abuzz with Mayor Pete’s appearance on CNN’s Town Hall at the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas. Buttigieg’s answers in WeHo were similar to key questions on CNN and Fox about his age and qualifications. “I have more years of government experience under my belt than the president,” Buttigieg, 37, said on CNN. “That’s a low bar, I know that. I’ve also got more years of executive government experience under my belt than the vice president and more military experience than anybody to walk into that office on day one since George H.W. Bush. So I get that I’m the young guy in the conversation, but I would say experience is what qualifies me to have a seat at this table.” Bettitieg (Boot-edge-edge) raised $600,000 from more than 22,000 donors right after the CNN broadcast. By March 16, he reached 65,000 individual donors, the Democratic National Committee’s credibility bar for the primary debates, starting in June. Buttigieg came out in a South Bend Tribune op-ed in the middle of his 2015 re-election bid. It was a few months after anti-LGBT Indiana Gov. Mike Pence thrust the state into turmoil over the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” - and on the cusp of the Supreme Court’s decision on marriage equality. Buttigieg asked for civility. “If different sides steer clear of name-calling and fear-mongering, we can navigate these issues based on what is best about Indiana: values like respect, decency, and support for families — all families,” he wrote. Buttigieg was re-elected with 80 percent of the vote. He now lives with husband Chasten and their two rescue dogs in the

Mayor Pete Buttigieg in West Hollywood, March 14, 2019 Photo by Karen Ocamb

same neighborhood where he grew up.. Buttigieg’s breakout CNN Town Hall moment was questioning how Pence “could get on board with this presidency.” “How could he allow himself to become the cheerleader of the porn star presidency? Is it that he stopped ... believing in Scripture when he started believing Donald Trump? I don’t know,” Buttigieg said to much laughter. He went further in WeHo. “When I read Scripture, when I go to church, I read about protecting the immigrant, welcoming the stranger, looking out for those who are on the margins of society,” Buttigieg said. “I seek to represent people of every faith and no faith.” And then the zinger. According to the Christian tradition, “when God comes

among us – frankly, priests and politicians don’t look too good in that story,” Buttigieg said. “He’s spending his time with sex workers. Right? He’s spending his time with those on the margins of society. And the Scripture I read is about lifting people up, not about beating them down. So let’s talk about it. I’m sick of the religious right having a monopoly on political religion in this country. Let’s have a religious left.” Out immigration attorney Andrew Reback asked about trans women seeking asylum. Buttigieg said the US should accommodate them “because we are responsible for their safety. And they are coming here because they believe in us, because they believe they are safer here….They are fleeing what we’re


fighting. And that means we need to look at them not as a problem to be handled, but as an asset to this nation and part of the fabric of this country. And we should be lucky to be the place that turn to when they’re in that kind of need.” Out former WeHo City Council candidate Duke Mason asked if Buttigieg ever imagined he could be the first openly gay president. “No,” he said, explaining that he aspired to public office and military service but neither allowed him to be out. “I don’t like admitting this but there was a time in my life where I would have given anything not to be gay,” Buttigieg said to a suddenly still crowd. “If you had given me a pill, I would have taken it. If you had explained how to cut it out of me with a knife, I would have done that, too. And thank God, there is no pill.” (Applause) “I know what it means to question whether your job will be viewed differently because of who you are,” Buttigieg told the Los Angeles Blade, expressing his strong support for the Equality Act. “And it motivates me all the more to make sure that all of us are equal. And I want to fight for anybody who is on the wrong end of discrimination. But as part of a community that’s experienced that directly, it’s something that obviously matters to me a great deal.” Asked about “conversion therapy” in reference to taking a pill to change, Buttigieg told the Los Angeles Blade: “It’s incredibly harmful. The pill is also a metaphor—so is the knife—for the literal or emotional harm that comes to people who are queer, who are gay, who are lesbian, who are trans, who are bi – who are led to believe there’s something wrong with them. Or – what’s just as bad – led to believe they won’t have the same opportunities as everybody else if the live a life that’s true to them,” Buttigieg said. “The best thing in my life – something that has made me a better person – something I believe has moved me closer to God – is my marriage to a man,” Buttigieg continued. “And I thank God that there was no knife and that there was no pill. But far too many people are wondering if they are broken in some way when we need to be making people feel whole. And that sense of belonging, that sense of inclusion, is something that we need to deliver as what I hope will be a powerful counter-argument to what is being offered from the White House today.” For more on Mayor Pete Buttigieg, go to PeteForAmerica.com.



Bolsonaro visits White House, reiterates anti-LGBT views

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro visited the White House on March 19. He reiterated his opposition to LGBTI rights during a press conference with President Trump. Photo by Agência Brasil Fotografias; courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Tuesday reiterated his opposition to LGBTI rights when he spoke alongside President Trump during a press conference in the White House Rose Garden. Bolsonaro, speaking through a translator, stressed his government’s “respect of traditional family values” and opposition to “gender identity.” Bolsonaro in his remarks also praised Trump. “I have always admired the United States of America,” said Bolsonaro. “This admiration has only increased since you took office.” “Brazil does not have a president who is antiAmerican,” he added. Trump said support of Venezuelan National Assembly President Juan Guaidó, who has declared himself the country’s interim president amid a worsening political and economic crisis, is among the issues that he and Bolsonaro discussed. A joint statement that the White House released does not say whether Trump and Bolsonaro discussed LGBTI issues and human rights. “Today, President Donald J. Trump and President Jair Messias Bolsonaro of Brazil committed to building a new partnership between their two countries focused on increasing prosperity, enhancing security, and promoting democracy, freedom and national sovereignty,” reads the statement. Bolsonaro, a former Brazilian Army captain who previously represented Rio de Janeiro in the country’s Congress, last October defeated former São Paulo Mayor Fernando Haddad of former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s Workers’ Party in the second round of the country’s presidential election. Bolsonaro took office on Jan. 1.

Bolsonaro continues to face widespread criticism over his rhetoric against LGBTI Brazilians, women and other underrepresented groups. Bolsonaro during his campaign said his government would defend the “true sense of marriage” between a man and a woman, even though same-sex couples have been able to marry across Brazil since 2013. Bolsonaro after taking office issued an executive order that directed Brazil’s human rights ministry not to consider LGBTI-specific issues. Jean Wyllys, a member of the leftist Party for Socialism and Liberty who is the first openly gay man elected to the Brazilian congress, in January resigned and fled the country because of death threats that he received. Bolsonaro tweeted “great day” after Wyllys made his announcement. Bolsonaro spoke at the White House a week after two former police officers were arrested in connection with the 2018 murder of bisexual Rio Councilwoman Marielle Franco and her driver, Anderson Gomes. Élcio Vieira de Queiroz, one of the former police officers who was arrested, lived in the same condominium complex in Rio’s exclusive Barra da Tijuca neighborhood in which Bolsonaro’s home is located. Brazilian media has published a picture taken last August that shows Bolsonaro with Queiroz. Franco was a vocal critic of military militias that operate in Rio’s most dangerous neighborhoods. Bolsonaro on Monday during an interview with Fox News denied that he had any involvement in Franco’s murder. Felipe Alface in São Paulo contributed to this article. MICHAEL K. LAVERS

LGBT groups condemn attacks at NZ mosques LGBT advocacy groups around the world have condemned last week’s terrorist attack at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, that have left 50 people dead. Express, an LGBT newspaper in Auckland, reported organizers of the Wellington International Pride Parade that was scheduled to take place in Wellington, the country’s capital, on Saturday have postponed the event. “We, like all New Zealanders, are hurting today,” said parade organizers in a Facebook post, according to Express. “We have considered long and hard about asking Wellingtonians to walk alongside us in solidarity with our friends in Christchurch; we don’t want terrorists to win, we don’t want terrorists to dictate how we live our lives.” The 2019 ILGA World Conference is scheduled to begin in Wellington on Saturday. The organization in a tweet said it is “shocked and saddened by the news of what happened in Christchurch.” “All our solidarity goes to the Muslim community in New Zealand and beyond,” said ILGA. Media reports indicate a 28-year-old gunman who was born in Australia killed more than 40 people at a mosque near downtown Christchurch when he opened fire at around 1:40 p.m. local time. Authorities say the gunman — who reportedly live-streamed the attack on Facebook — killed more people at a second Christchurch mosque before police arrested him. Reports indicate 48 people were also injured in what has been described as New Zealand’s worst mass shooting. The gunman has been charged with murder. Media reports indicate police have detained two people in connection with the massacre. “It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack,” said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Friday during a press conference. Ardern said those who planned and carried out the attack have “extremist views that have absolutely no place in New Zealand and in fact have no place in the world.” She added they chose New Zealand “for the very fact that we are none of those things.” “We represent diversity, kindness, compassion, a home for those who share our values, refuge for those who need it,” said Ardern. “Those values I can assure you will not and cannot be shaken by this attack.” President Trump and U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa Scott Brown are among those who have also condemned the attack. “We’re heartbroken over the events in Christchurch today,” said Brown in a tweet. “We stand with our Kiwi friends and neighbors and our prayers are with you.” Friday’s terrorist attack took place against the backdrop of continued anti-Muslim rhetoric from Trump and his supporters, including Fox News host Jeanine Pirro who sparked outrage last week with her suggestion that U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) is un-American because the Somali-born congresswoman wears a hijab. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are among the other world leaders who have sparked criticism in recent weeks with comments that their critics contend target immigrants and other marginalized groups. “We are heartbroken and outraged by this terrorist attack on Muslims in places of worship, and we mourn for the victims and their families,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin on Friday. “Hate violence against Muslims is a global epidemic, fueled by the toxic combination of Islamaphobia and xenophobia that has led to tragedies here in the United States and in nations around the world,” he added. “While in these moments, only the attackers are directly responsible, there is broader climate of hate that encourages and inspires deadly extremism such as this. We call on politicians who traffic in dangerous anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant hate speech, including Donald Trump, to immediately stop the fear-mongering and divisive politics that can have deadly consequences. Now is a time to be united against hate — not engage in the ‘both sides’ rhetoric that only serves to legitimize extremists.”





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Avert the abyss. Welcome the stranger. Descent into fear cannot save us

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

A grim memory flashed through my mind when I saw an early death count from the March 15 terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand: 49 was the same number killed in Orlando’s 2016 Pulse massacre. In this case, the victims were not partiers at a nightclub, but worshippers at prayer. Now as then, they were targets of hate. (The death toll has since risen to 50.) “Hello, brother” were the last words of a man at the door to Al Noor mosque, spoken to the killer just before he opened fire with a semiautomatic rifle. In an instinctive act of decency bracketing the horror, a woman living nearby waved fleeing people into her home. If we are to be saved from our impulse toward barbarism, the welcoming of strangers must be our guidepost. Asked about the growing threat of white nationalism, Trump denied it. Of course he did. This man who has variously excused, inspired, and incited hate violence always deflects responsibility. We are long past any reasonable doubt as to what he represents. The birther in chief and Islamophobe who

fathered the Muslim travel ban continues to campaign on fear and hatred. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern wore hijab on March 16 when she met with terror victims’ families. In contrast, Trump fanatic Jeanine Pirro was suspended by Fox News after questioning whether Rep. Ilhan Omar’s wearing hijab indicated adherence to Sharia law over the Constitution. We must reject racial and religious intolerance, as we reject those who traffic in it. Diversity is our inescapable future and an essential foundation of any national progress. A poisonous double standard lurks at the heart of our public discourse: the treatment of white perpetrators as individuals, and of minority perpetrators as representatives of their demographic group. This persists despite most terrorist acts in this country having been committed by white people. No one thinks to blame me for Dylann Roof’s 2015 murder of nine African Americans in Charleston’s Emanuel A.M.E. Church on account of our both being white. Those victims were at a Bible study class led by their pastor, state Sen. Clementa Pinckney. Like the man who greeted the shooter in Christchurch, they welcomed a stranger. While public policy has a role to play against gun violence, such as with background checks and bans on semiautomatics, the deeper problem is our simultaneous acceptance and indignant denial of white supremacy. It is all too easy to deny the existence of something you take for granted. People who despise the Klan can still engage in redlining, racial profiling, or voter suppression. Will Connolly, the teen who cracked an

egg over Australian Sen. Fraser Anning’s head for his victim blaming after the mosque shootings, pledged to donate most of the GoFundMe money raised for his defense to help the victims. Trump, meanwhile, was busy calling asylum seekers “invaders” and defending Pirro. On March 13, in a Breitbart interview, Trump casually threatened a coup: “I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump—I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough—until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad.” Perhaps Trump really believes that mobs of CPAs and landscape architects on their Harleys would storm government and newspaper offices on his behalf. Here and there, he may be right. But to expect military and police officers en masse to disregard their oaths? That is a fantasy. If his tenure as president is ended, whether by impeachment, 25th Amendment, or election, he will either go peacefully or be removed. The beasts our presidential man-child has unleashed will ultimately devour him. Words come to mind from Georg Büchner’s play Danton’s Death: “He thinks he can keep the wild horses of revolution waiting outside the brothel like patient hacks. But they’ll be strong enough to drag him to the guillotine.” In the event of an overstay by the current White House resident, as with “last night’s trick who won’t go home” (to quote an old friend), it will suffice for the Secret Service to lift him off the floor and deposit him unceremoniously outside the northwest gate. Copyright © 2019 by Richard J. Rosendall. All rights reserved.

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The death of decency When the U.S. president inspires a violent extremist ideology

David Huebner is the gay former U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand and American Samoa under President Obama. Photo courtesy Huebner

It has been a bad week for decency in America. The current occupant of the Oval Office suggested that constitutional oversight was “nonsense” and that his opponents in Congress better wise up or fear for their safety because rogue military, police, and biker gangs are personally loyal to him. We learned that the male head of the agency charged with resettling refugees has maintained weekly spreadsheets tracking the menstrual cycles of underage girls within his agency’s control so that he could delay and ultimately block rape victims, some as young as 12 and some likely raped while in government custody, from terminating the pregnancies. President Trump, who evaded public

service of any sort until he could make it personally profitable, launched another series of attacks on a deceased senator whose life was a study in public service, while the still-sitting senator who promiscuously proclaimed his great friendship with the deceased continued slavishly to serve his dead friend’s attacker and antithesis. We learned from court proceedings that the government continues to argue that it would be “too hard” for it to locate, let alone reunite with their parents, all the children seized during the period when its “zero tolerance” family separation policy was intended to terrorize refugees away from our borders. And, when dozens of Muslim children, women, and men were slaughtered in a white supremacist terrorist attack on one of our closest friends in the community of nations, #45 ignored the sole request made by our friend’s prime minister, which was to express support and sympathy for Muslim communities at that fearful time. Instead, #45 retweeted Breitbart, ranted about the “invasion” of our own country, brushed aside unimpeachable statistics on escalating white supremacist terrorism, launched a vigorous defense of his favorite talk show white nationalists, and proclaimed himself the real victim. Again. None of that is decent, moral, or defensible. And we all know it, right? Then why did most of our government and much of our citizenry just shrug it all off ? I grew up in a working class, small-town,

mostly religious — my grandfather regularly proclaimed that clergy were by definition scoundrels, but the rest of us were herded to church every Sunday by my mother — extended family household which included my immigrant grandparents, who spoke their native tongue at home. Meals tended to be rollicking debates. Until the day my father died, I don’t think I ever agreed with him on a single political issue, starting with arguments over the dinner table when I was a pre-teen. Under the clamor, though, were four consistent, consensus lessons – lead a “decent” life (even if no one’s watching), treat other people with respect (even if you disagree with them), understand that words and actions have consequences (so behave accordingly), and keep learning as long as you keep breathing (because, as my father said, you’re never as smart as you think you are, and other people are rarely as dumb as they seem). When I’m gut-punched by the staggering horror of the slaughter in Christchurch last week – as well as by the now routine obscenities baked into the current era closer to home, such as brutalizing other people’s children in the name of God or Nero, debasing friends (dead or alive) and one’s own character to curry political favor, or demeaning the value, lives, and deaths of other people because they don’t look and pray like you – my first thought is not about legislative action, heightened security, or other cosmetic applications. My first thought is about those four, basic dinner-table lessons, which

unfortunately can’t be legislated. And the adjective that jumps to mind is “indecent.” It is indecent that the president of the United States cannot directly and unequivocally express sympathy for the actual victims of a terrorist attack, and that he instinctively pivots to minimizing evidence of the spread of the malignant ideology of the terrorist. It is indecent that so many religious communities seem to validate my grandfather’s gross slander by defending brutality, debauchery, and corruption when it produces the political access and judicial privilege to impose their alleged beliefs on others. It is indecent that a party that purports to advocate constitutional constraint, limited government, rule of law, and moral rectitude so easily abandons any and all such principles in order to excuse, enable, and advance the obverse in exchange for an extension of minority rule. It is indecent that the person who sits in the office of Jefferson, Lincoln, and FDR has become, whether by blither or design, the inspiration for a violent extremist ideology, and that the government over which he presides is spreading the contagion by denying its existence in exchange for shortterm political gain. And it is grossly indecent that so many of the rest of us have allowed ourselves to shrug that all off. Enough is enough. As a first step forward, it’s time to reclaim our sense of decency.

Queer sex and sci-fi collide in ‘Now Apocalypse’ Gregg Araki takes to STARZ By JOHN PAUL KING

Filmmaker Gregg Araki has skirted the mainstream more than a few times since his early rise in the New Queer Cinema movement of the early ‘90s. The USC film school graduate’s third feature, “The Living End,” was shot – sometimes “guerilla style” – for a mere $20,000. A kind of queer “buddy” movie, it was the story of two HIV-positive gay men who go on a nihilistic road trip after one of them kills a homophobic policeman; purposefully blurring the lines between comedy and drama, it was a groundbreaking cinematic statement about AIDS at the time. Nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, it’s now considered a cult classic. His follow-up to that success was an ambitious series of films – now referred to as the “Teen Apocalypse Trilogy” – which told three separate stories focusing on the lives of dysfunctional adolescents, most of them queer, or at least somewhere on the spectrum. Transgressive in tone and experimental in style, these tales of teen alienation and sexual ambiguity received polarizing reactions from critics and audiences; they were not widely seen, and their flawed reputation has been held against them outside of the director’s solid core of fans. Since then, Araki has more than recovered from that perceived failure. His 2004 “Mysterious Skin” proved his skills as a director while introducing him to a whole new generation of young queer audiences, and a subsequent Cannes Festival prize – his 2010 “Kaboom” won the first-ever Queer Palm award – brought official luster to the “underground prestige” his name already enjoyed. He’s also taken to working in television – including directing episodes of “13 Reasons

Why” and “Riverdale,” which have helped to introduce him, yet again, to a new generation of queer fans, though they may not know his name or history. It’s in this new medium that the director, more than 25 years after he began his controversial trilogy, has returned to the themes that drove it – this time with a decidedly comedic approach – with the selfreferentially titled “Now Apocalypse,” which began its first ten-episode season March 10 on the cable network STARZ. Set in Los Angeles, saturated in a palette that might be described as “blood-and-candycolored,” and filled with unapologetically gratuitous nudity and sex, it’s the kind of edgy, youth-driven show that is sure to stir up a buzz – which has already happened, thanks to the inclusion of former “Teen Wolf” Tyler Posey in the cast, and his highly publicized role as half of a hot-and-heavy same-sex couple. The series focuses on a group of LA twentysomethings, centered around Ulysses (Avan Jogia), a former actor and artist who now believes those pursuits to be irrelevant and spends most of his time smoking pot and going from hook-up to hook-up with random guys; one of these, the elusive Gabriel (Posey), has sparked a growing obsession that may or may not be connected to the strange, hallucinatory premonitions he has begun to experience. Ulyesses’ roommate, Ford (Beau Mirchoff), is his best friend from college, who came to LA to pursue a career in writing; good-natured and optimistic, he’s all beefcake – though to Ulysses’ eternal disappointment, he’s completely straight (as of the first episode, at least). Ford is in a relationship with Severine (Roxane Mesquida), an “astro-biological theorist” who is

much smarter than he is, which causes him a bit of endearing insecurity; rounding out the quartet of friends is Ulysses’ best gal pal and confidant, Carly (Kelli Berglund); a struggling actress, she makes ends meet by granting fetish-y requests to voyeuristic tricks as a videocam girl online – while finding herself growing sexually distant from her own boyfriend, Jethro (Desmond Chiam). These four characters provide a chance for Araki to explore the conflicts and quirks – sexual and otherwise – of post-millennial experience across multiple layers of the LA cultural landscape. Tying them all together is Ulysses, who claims to have a touch of the psychic about him; in the first episode, he serves as an engaging – though possibly unreliable – narrator, offering mysterious visions of a dark, other-worldly presence fast encroaching upon this sunlit, sexuallycharged fantasy of life in the City of Angels. No spoilers here, but the first episode cliffhanger reveal will surely appeal to followers of the theories of David Icke. What makes “Now Apocalypse” both edgy and commercial is the delicious mix of sex and sci-fi that it dwells within; there’s a giddy atmosphere of discovery evoked by this combination of youthful impulses, one that has long been co-opted from exploitation cinema into the canon of subversive, even radical filmmaking. In Araki’s version of it, it’s the sex part of the equation that gets most of the focus, at least for now, and he’s not being precious about it – episode one begins with an explicit-for-TV gay sex scene, right out of the gate, and that’s just the first of many in-yourface sexual moments. Indeed, there’s a joyous quality to the show’s sexual encounters, even though they tend to be frustrating for the

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Tyler Posey and Avan Jogia. Photo courtesy ‘Now Apocalypse’

characters involved; when things actually do come together for them (pun intended), it’s downright celebratory. Even so, there’s a darkness in the show that comes from more than just the foreboding word choices of its title. When Ulysses tells Carly his unsettling visions suggest a world “teetering on the brink of total annihilation,” she tells him, “Well, that’s every fucking day now in this tragic shit show era we’re living in.” That line alone makes it clear; we may be at the beginning of a sci-fi scenario that will likely embrace its own ridiculousness, but it’s a stand-in for the circumstances we face in our own real world. Fortunately, Araki populates his pseudodystopian allegorical fiction with a collection

of fresh, attractive, sexually-and-ethnically diverse people who just might inspire the hope of endurance in the face of whatever strange, reptilian threat may be coming our way. There’s a spirit of rebellion to them that comes, perhaps, from their sexual adventurousness and fluidity – stripped of shaming, it becomes a self-actualizing path to claiming personal power long suppressed by our current cultural influences. In a way, “Now Apocalypse” harks back to Araki’s first breakthrough – and not just in the recurring end-of-days theme that has woven through much of his work. The characters in “The Living End” chose to turn their backs on social restrictions and taboos in the face of an impending doom which they were powerless

to prevent. That impulse, transformed by time and experience into a means of triumph, has come full circle with this new project, and has been reborn within a young generation who may not have faced all the old demons, but must be prepared to fight against new ones, nonetheless. It remains to be seen whether the show can retain the heady sense of off-thewall excitement its first installments have promised; given the confidence with which STARZ is promoting it, odds are good that it will live up to expectations. Either way, with his deft and savvy injection of inclusive, sexpositive storytelling into the mainstream culture, Gregg Araki has pushed one step further in the filmmaking journey he started all those years ago.

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Trans lives of color explored in new documentary series Intersecting identities is just the beginning By JOHN PAUL KING

Trans model Dezjorn is streaming in ‘America in Transition’ on Revry. Photo courtesy of Revry

In honor of Trans Day of Visibility, which is observed internationally on March 31, the LGBTQ streaming service, Revry, will debut the award-winning, Sundance-backed documentary series “America In Transition,” a four-part exploration of the community, family and social issues of trans people of color across the United States. Created by Puerto Rican transgender filmmaker, educator and community organizer André Pérez, the show devotes each of its four episodes to exploring one person’s story in depth – tackling intersectional issues such as HIV criminalization, living as trans in the south, family acceptance, trans exclusion from the military and immigrant detention. Pérez, who founded the Transgender Oral History Project in 2008, was inspired by his own experiences coming of age in North Carolina and starting his transition as a youth in rural Vermont, where he had many questions and nobody – either role models of community support organizations – to turn to for answers. He has spent years traveling around the country, interviewing hundreds of trans people in an effort to help trans stories be told. In his show, he profiles four such subjects through character-driven storytelling which highlights issues of importance to trans people in marginalized communities. One episode features Nina, who fell in love with another trans woman in the United States after growing up misunderstood in her native India; now facing the threat of deportation, Nina and her love continue to fight for space to live and flourish when no place feels safe. In another installment, we meet Dezjorn, a family man, model and advocate who drew national attention for bringing a trans presence into mainstream modeling while still hiding his gender identity from his mom; now they are trying to understand one another before it’s too late. Yet another offers us a look at Tiommi Luckett, whose worst fears came true when she became the victim of a sexual assault within her own home; she struggles to reconnect with the bold, adventurous woman she’s always been against a backdrop of self-imposed isolation. Lastly, there’s Z, who became the marine he always wanted to be after being rejected by his family and his church rejected him; now an unlikely activist whose life is being upended yet again by the proposed trans military ban, the show follows him in his search for love and belonging amidst rising political tensions. Each of the four segments is handled with the kind of sensitivity and candor likely only possible when trans material is approached by a trans director. Pérez captures the dignity of his subjects, along with their resilience, humor, and – most of all – humanity, as he documents their efforts to overcome the obstacles, political, personal and cultural, that each of them face. What comes across strongest, perhaps, is the sense of community that seems to tie together not only the individuals within each story, but the stories themselves. Yet each story is as unique as the trans person at its center. Pérez told Los Angeles Blade, “Part of what I’m interested in doing with ‘America in Transition’ is breaking down the notions of any one ‘typical,’ ‘normal,’ or ‘general’ experience of being trans. We come from every racial, cultural, and socioeconomic group, and our experiences are shaped by those intersecting identities.” “Think of the series,” he said, “as intimate portraits of trans people on journeys to heal, forge family and find love.” He went on to talk about the show “as a good example of the power of documentary to go more in-depth than the news typically can, by exploring issues over a longer period of time.” “Also,” he continued, “my experiences as a trans person of color shaped my approach as to which stories to tell, how to tell them, and my goals for the series.” Though the show is debuting on a platform mostly viewed by LGBTQ+ audiences, Pérez is not interested in only reaching sympathetic viewers. “I absolutely want to go beyond preaching to the choir,” he told the Blade. “In order to accomplish this, ‘America in Transition’ offered over 50 screenings alongside workshops, lectures and discussions in community groups and colleges in over 13 states. We have gone out of our way to engage partners such as faith institutions in the south because we want to activate allies and support people challenging transphobia in spaces where our stories can make an impact.” “This work is hard and costly,” he added. “We’re seeking funding to deepen it, but it’s the only way we can shift the culture.” In addition to the Transgender Oral History Project, Pérez has created traveling multimedia historical exhibit about transgender activism, presented workshops about storytelling and the transgender community, and helped to launch El Rescate and co-found Project Fierce Chicago, both grassroots transitional housing programs for LGBTQ youth. He has served as director and senior producer for I Live for Trans Education, a grassroots multimedia curriculum where he worked with a team of 20 transgender community members at varying skill levels to create four documentary shorts and accompanying interactive activities. He has sat on the Board of Out at the Chicago History Museum and the Community Advisory Board of the Civil Rights Agenda; his work has been honored by the Trans 100, the Museum of Transgender History and Art, the Association of Independent Radio, and the International Independent Film Awards. With “America In Transition,” Pérez explores about how our environments shape who we are. It’s a show he believes “will complicate notions of social change in underrepresented communities,” but that “this is a crucial moment to help people understand how trans realities differ based on identity, geography and social context.” “The world is changing for the white, upper-middle class people we see on mainstream television,” he says, “but trans people of color, immigrants, and working-class families face a different world. ‘America In Transition’ focuses on relationships as it explores where, when, and how change happens in a complex individual, a diverse community, and a divided nation.” Asked if he had any added message for the trans community, Pérez added this: “For all of the trans folks out there, we love you and we need you to be everything that you are. For my LGB fam, I hope we can work together to make our community a place that honors and respects us all. Please watch the show on March 29th, share, and think about how you can support trans people in your workplace, organization or institution. If you want to bring a screening, speaker, or workshop, reach out to us at www.americaintransition.org.”



Story of ‘Us’ New thriller is sleek and scary update on American Dream gone awry By BRIAN T. CARNEY

LUPITA NYONG’O and WINSTON DUKE in ‘Us.’ Photo courtesy Universal

Two years ago, writer/director Jordan Peele leapt into to international prominence with his first film, “Get Out.” Peele’s dazzling blend of satire and horror won a well-deserved Oscar for Best Original Screenplay and the movie was also nominated for Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor (Daniel Kaluuya). “Us,” his second film, is a chilling nightmare version of the American Dream that will certainly join the pantheon of great horror movies. With flawless timing and the pitch-perfect manipulation of comedy and terror, Peele puts a contemporary spin on classic horror movie tropes and turns a funhouse mirror on middle-class mores. It opens today (Friday, March 22) nationwide. As the movie opens, Adelaide Wilson (an impeccable Lupita Nyong’o) is bringing her family to her childhood home for a summer vacation, despite a growing sense of unease fueled by dim memories of a traumatic incident from her past. After a tense day at the beach with the family of her old friend Kitty Tyler (Elisabeth Moss), Adelaide’s fears materialize when a mysterious yet somehow familiar family suddenly appears outside her house. To say anything further about the plot might spoil the terrific roller coaster ride that Peele and company have created. Peele’s work as writer and director is flawless. There’s not an extra word or a wasted shot and every detail is meticulously planned. With its careful focus on masks, mirrors and reflections, the movie is also a visual delight. Thanks to his seamless collaboration with cinematographer Mike Gioulakis, editor Nicholas Monsour and especially composer Michael Abels, Peele ratchets up the tension until a breath-taking final revelation and a closing image that is somehow both deeply disturbing and very funny. The entire cast is terrific. Nyong’o is thrilling as a woman confronting her own past and the monsters that threaten her family. Moss is wonderful as the shallow friend whose vanity and unmet ambitions become a fascinating part of Peele’s thoughtful commentary. Winston Duke is delightfully goofy as Gabe Wilson. He provides crucial comic relief, as does Tim Heidecker as Kitty’s husband Josh. Shahadi Wright Joseph and Evan Alex turn in fine performances as the brave Wilson children.




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Trump’s HIV efforts face obstacles in Miss. JACKSON, Miss. — President Trump’s plan to end HIV in the U.S. is sound in its twin goals, experts agree: to get everyone positive on antiretroviral meds and get everyone at risk on PrEP, but is underfunded and faces especially thorny obstacles for gay black men and trans women in the deep south, The New York Times reports. More than half of new HIV infections in the country each year now occur in the South, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and often in rural areas, the Times reports. Many of the newly infected are young black men. Nationally, gay and bisexual black men face a 50 percent lifetime risk of HIV infection. The epidemic cannot be halted, experts say, unless those men can be found, educated about the disease, convinced to protect themselves and their sexual partners, and helped to do so, the Times reports. More than 80 percent of all new infections are transmitted by people who don’t know they are infected or who are not on medication, according to the CDC. “People want us to jump to being San Francisco right away, and we’re just not there,” said Dr. Thomas Dobbs, chief of the Mississippi state health department, the Times reports. About a third of gay black men in Jackson are infected, he said. Outside Jackson, doctors trained to treat HIV patients are rare. When Dobbs practiced in Hattiesburg, in the southeastern part of the state, he said, some patients drove almost four hours to see him, the Times reports. Wages in Mississippi are so low that many full-time workers could be on Medicaid. But the state legislature rejected Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

Conversion therapy ban expected to pass in Colo. COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — A ban on conversion therapy for anyone under 18 appears poised to pass through the Colorado Legislature and be signed into law by Gov. Jared Polis, the first openly gay governor elected in the U.S., the Colorado Gazette reports. Such “therapy” seeks to convert a gay or bisexual into being straight through psychological or spiritual interventions or both. It has been rejected “by every mainstream medical and mental health organization for decades,” HRC says. House Bill 1129 would ban licensed mental health therapists from providing such treatment to youths. The bill was approved by the Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee on a 3-2 vote Monday and sent to the full Senate for what’s expected to be its final vote and a trip to Polis’ office, the Gazette reports. Former Attorney General Cynthia Coffman testified that Colorado youth have a high suicide rate, noting that in February alone, the Safe to Tell program took 345 calls about suicide and suicidal ideation among school children statewide, the Gazette reports. Stephen Black of the Truth & Liberty Coalition, which promotes Christianity, said he was gay for eight years but has been “free of LGBT chaos” for 35 years. “No one is born gay. They can change and be free of sexual sin,” said Black, of Colorado Springs, according to the Gazette.

Univ. of Kansas expands trans health care LAWRENCE, Kan. — The University of Kansas is expanding care for transgender students at its health center so students no longer have to leave campus to seek hormone therapy, the Associated Press reports. Transgender students will now be able to start and continue hormone therapy through the university’s student health center, Watkins Health Services, the Kansas City Star reported. The university’s student health insurance plan will cover the services performed at the health center, said Doug Dechairo, director for Watkins Health Services. The center will also coordinate treatment with counseling staff, the AP reports. The center’s health care offerings were very limited for transgender students, who often could only get prescriptions for medication filled. Students had to leave the Lawrence campus in order to get evaluations and lab work needed to begin the gender transition process. Some were forced to take buses or find rides to Kansas City for doctor’s appointments, said Noah Ries, president of the university’s Student Senate, according to the AP.

Join Us!

Anita May Rosenstein Campus Grand Opening Community Celebration Sunday, April 7 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. • 12 p.m. Ribbon Cutting

Tours • Entertainment • Refreshments Updates and RSVP at lalgbtcenter.org/opening

Los Angeles LGBT Center Anita May Rosenstein Campus 1118 N. McCadden Place Los Angeles, CA 90038 Street parking, where available. Strongly encouraged to use public transportation or a ride share service.



It’s Leather Pride time in Los Angeles. Visit LosAngelesLeatherPride.com for details. Photo courtesy LA Leather Pride

MAR 22

LA Fashion Week Fall / Winter 2019, Fri. Mar 22 @ 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM at LA Fashion Week Headquarters (7080 Hollywood Boulevard). Now a permanent feature on the international fashion week circuit, alongside London, Paris, Milan, New York, and Tokyo, LA Fashion Week is the largest apparel and design event in California. The event showcases awardwinning designers from all over the world, introducing the new season’s collections twice a year to media, buyers, industry elite and affluent clientèle. The show is a leader in edgy streetwear, red carpet looks, and contemporary and is filled with world class designers, artists, stylists, celebrities, & innovators from around the globe to celebrate the hottest new trends. FREE.

MAR 23

ACLU 100 Experience in Los Angeles, Sat. Mar. 23 @ 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM at Grand Park (200 North Grand Avenue). A multi-city tour of the fight for your rights and freedoms as seen through the legal lens of the ACLU. This groundbreaking interactive walkthrough event of immersive exhibits will introduce you to leading civil rights figures and historic activists, old and new. The event aims to educate on how to reduce prison populations, protect immigrants, and ensure everyone’s constitutional right to vote and how to take action. The days events include: from 11:00 AM to 11:45 AM meet the Resizters and #Resizt the hate with a live performance by San Diego-based musicians; 11:55 AM - 12:40 PM brings Moisture Boys; 12:50 PM - 1:30 PM presents Rebel Rampage, resisting oppression with tunes from the rebels; 4:00 PM - 4:15 PM features speakers Pamela Adlon and Melissa Goodman of ACLU SoCal; and much more. FREE.

MAR 24

Women Who Rock, Sun. Mar. 24 @ 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM at Hotel Figueroa (939 South Figueroa Street). Hotel Figueroa celebrates history, legacy, and ongoing support and intersectional feminism with a panel discussion in conjunction with Evelyn McDonnell’s new book, ‘Women Who Rock’, published by Black Dog & Leventhal. Panelists include Loyola Marymount

University professor and author, Evelyn McDonnell, Riot Grrrl co-founder and musician, Allison Wolfe, and Los Angeles punk legend and feminist activist, Alice Bag. Panel will be moderated by Feminist Magazine on KPFK radio 90.7 FM’s Valecia Phillips and KSPC DJ Radio Realness will spin. FREE.

MAR 26

DIVERCity, Conversations on Identities & Community in Leather, Tue. Mar. 26 @ 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM at Fiesta Hall Conference Center at Plummer Park (1200 North Vista). The FoundNation and Los Angeles Leather Coalition team up to bring back last year’s popular D.I.V.E.R.City LA event, a moderated interactive conversation with a panel of speakers who will share their experiences of inclusion and exclusion within Leather along with some best practices and tools towards embracing diversity and encouraging representation. The panel will be followed by facilitated activities of self discovery and community building to create healing, understanding and bonding. FREE.

MAR 28

Crystal Queer: Loving Women, Thu. Mar. 28 @ 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM at The Village at Ed Gould Plaza (Los Angeles LGBT Center, 1125 North McCadden) In honor of Women’s History Month, Brittany Ashley and the Los Angeles Women’s Network present Crystal Queer: Loving Women. Enjoy short films about women, relationships, and love, followed by an intimate Q&A with the filmmakers moderated by Brittany Ashley and Fawzia Mirza. You will see Whale Hello There (Directed by Chantel Houston and Written by Amanda Holland) In this queer, comedic short about Internet dating, Anna and Beca meet for the first time at a party after texting for weeks and it’s awkward AF; Misdirection: (Directed and Written by Carly Usdin) A college freshman falls in love with close-up magic as an escape from her unrequited crush on her roommate and obsessivecompulsive disorder; Foxy Trot: (Directed and Written by Lisa Donato) A married lesbian couple unexpectedly face their relationship issues when they take ballroom dance lessons. There You Are (Directed by Lisa Donato) A trans woman must dress like a boy to say goodbye to her dying grandmother in Texas. FREE.

30th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles, Thu. Mar. 28 @ 5:30 PM to 11:00 PM at The Beverly Hilton Hotel (9876 Wilshire Boulevard). The GLAAD Media Awards recognize and honor media for their fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the LGBTQ community and the issues that affect their lives. They also fund GLAAD’s work to amplify stories from the LGBTQ community that build support for equality. This year’s event has drawn a great deal of attention because it will honor Jay Z and Beyonce. Voted Best Red Carpet Event by the readers of this paper. SELLS OUT QUICKLY. See glaad.org for ticket info.

MAR 30

2019 HRC Los Angeles Dinner, Sat. Mar. 30 @ 5:30 to 10:00 PM at JW Marriott LA Live (900 West Olympic Boulevard). HRC Los Angeles’ Annual Gala Dinner and Auction brings together more than 1,000 HRC members, friends, family, and allies for an evening of celebration and inspiration in the greater Los Angeles area. Featuring a cocktail reception, an extensive silent auction, an elegant dinner, live entertainment, and thought-provoking speakers and guests, the event attracts some of the nation’s top figures in politics and entertainment. To purchase tickets and learn more about the Dinner, visit www.HRCLADinner.com. Los Angeles Leather Contest 2019, Sat. Mar. 30 @ 6:00 PM to 11:00 PM at Pico Union Project (1153 Valencia Street). LA Leather has a new home and XXPLORE is a new and unique setting for its combined LA title contests. This year’s contest includes not just Mr. LA Leather contestants, but also folks running for Ms. LA Leather and LA Bootblack. Come together with your chosen family to celebrate our leather traditions in a whole new way. Tickets available at losangelesleatherpride.com.

E-mail calendar items to tmasters@losangelesblade.com two weeks prior to your event. Space is limited so priority is given to LGBT-specific events or those with LGBT participants. Recurring events must be re-submitted each time.



PaleyFest brings the fans to the stars and back again Hollywood is abuzz with celebrity and big budget streaming By SUSAN HORNIK

HOLLYWOOD, CA – MARCH 17 (L-R): Judge Ross Mathews, Judge Michelle Visage, Host/EP RuPaul, Moderator Aisha Tyler, and Judge Carson Kressley at PaleyFest LA 2019 honoring “RuPaul’s Drag Race”, at the Dolby Theatre on March 17, 2019 in Hollywood, California. © Michael Bulbenko for The Paley Center for Media

As one of the media sponsors of the PaleyFest LA, Los Angeles Blade would like to tell our readers about the many fantastic television panels at the always sold out festival. If you have a favorite show at the festival, which takes place at Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre, you are in for a treat—observing a q and a with the cast and creators always unveils a delightful surprise or two, with lots of fun stories and delightful banter. Some highlights so far: RuPaul, celebrity judges (Michelle Visage, Carson Kressley and Ross Mathews) and the executive producers of VH1’s “RuPaul’s Drag Race” talked about what it takes for the show to still be successful after 11 television seasons. The popular drag reality series show has brought forth an awareness and greater acceptance of the LGBTQ community. “We’re all so similar,” Ru said. “That’s another important part of the show is that you get to see how the struggle of a Tammie Brown is not that different from a Michelle Visage.” Ru continued: “We really do need to see a reflection of what a global universe looks like. Our show is that example. Not only what it looks like, but how to integrate and behave with one another...I think the Muslim kid who’s on there (season 11’s Mercedes Iman Diamond) does explain her viewpoint. She’s a little timid about it, at first.” At “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” panel, moderator Patton Oswalt asked the cast and producers (Rachel Brosnahan, Amy Sherman-Palladino, Daniel Palladino, Tony Shalhoub, Alex Borstein, Michael Zegen, Marin Hinkle, Kevin Pollak and Caroline Aaron) what they would want their characters to do for their third season, given it’s a 1950s period piece about stand-up comedy. “It might be fun to see Susie bang Elvis,” Alex Borstein, who plays Midge’s manager Susie, quipped. “Young, firm Elvis. I think that would be nice.” Borstein’s character may be gay but has not come out on the show yet. Brosnahan added she would like to see Midge “react to the rebirth of the feminist movement. I don’t think Midge is a feminist at this point. If someone would say the word to Midge, she would say, ‘I don’t burn my bras.’ I would like her to bump up against the loud and proud. I’d also like to see her drop acid.” Season one of “Maisel” won a whopping eight Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Comedy Series, Best Actress for Brosnahan and Supporting Actress for Borstein. Brosnahan also won Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy at the Golden Globes. The cast (Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, Sam Waterston, Martin Sheen, Ethan Embry, Baron Vaughn and June Diane Raphael) and co-creators of the Netflix comedy, “Grace and Frankie” kept fans in stitches throughout their lively panel. Sheen and Waterston were asked about what it’s like to portray a gay couple. “The fact that it’s Sam makes it possible and easy,” Sheen enthused. Added Waterston: “Martin brings joy with him every morning, so things that would normally be difficult are just infinitely easy to do.” Former “9 to 5” co-star, Dolly Parton is interested in coming on the series, but there’s nothing set in stone yet. Fonda said it depends on “the time and her schedule. She wants to, but she’s busy.” Upcoming Paley highlights include NBC’s “Parks and Recreation: 10th Anniversary Reunion” (March 21 at 7:30 p.m.); AMC’s “The Walking Dead” (March 22 at 7:30 p.m.); CBS’s “Hawaii Five-0,” “MacGyver,” and “Magnum P.I.” (March 23 at 2 p.m.); FX’s “Pose” (March 23 at 7 p.m.); and CBS All Access’ “Star Trek: Discovery” (March 24 at 2 p.m.). The festival will also feature a revamped “The Twilight Zone,” from executive producers Jordan Peele and Simon Kinberg (March 24 at 2 p.m.). But even if you can’t be there, fear not! Paley now has a live streaming service you can subscribe to.



Tyler Posey plays gay and more dish Lance Bass produces doc on Lou Pearlman By BILLY MASTERS

Tyler Posey will soon be everywhere. Photo courtesy Tyler Posey

“We don’t rape someone that’s raped; why do we kill someone that’s killed?” — Gov. Gavin Newsom on his decision to put a moratorium on executions in California. I’m terribly disappointed in Felicity Huffman when it comes to this whole college admissions scandal. Frankly, I expected more from her. But since I’m capable of having two contradictory thoughts at the same time, I must also admit that I feel bad for her. Yes, she did something wrong. But how can you lump in Huffman’s $15K payment to bump up her daughter’s SAT scores with parents who paid half a MILLION dollars to get their daughters into college? I have absolutely no respect for Lori Loughlin and designer Mossimo Giannulli and that was even before this scandal broke. But really, Feds? You send a SWAT team to Felicity’s house at dawn in bulletproof vests to bring her in like she’s El Chapo, while Loughlin blithely flies in from her latest/last Hallmark set in Canada? Oh, the humanity! I’m rooting for Felicity to just pay a fine and be done with this. But Loughlin and Moss should be locked up and forced to watch “When Calls the Heart” on an endless loop. A couple of weeks ago, we heard lurid allegations about Michael Jackson (all of which I believed). This week, crazy R. Kelly was in the hot seat. Speaking of seats, one of his exes said something that caught my eye. Lisa Van Allen said: “He likes dildos. I know he likes fingers in the butt with him on all fours.” She added, “He does like penetration.” Now, is it just me or does this sound strikingly similar to one of the allegations against MJ? We got a double dose of Jussie Smollett last week. I must confess, I found the return of “Empire” as entertaining as ever, and Jussie’s new music outstanding (if somewhat derivative). Alas, practically no one was watching. The ratings drop and Smollett’s issues could lead to FOX cancel the show. Meanwhile, Jussie was at the Cook County courthouse, where he plead not guilty. I guess this means a plea deal ain’t happening. On the positive side, the judge ruled cameras will be allowed in the courtroom. So, if “Empire” is cancelled, Jussie still has a TV gig. Lance Bass produced a documentary called “The Boy Band Con: The Lou Pearlman Story.” The doc features many members of bands led by the shamed, jailed, and now deceased impresario. But one name is conspicuously absent. For years it’s been rumored that Nick Carter got the lion’s share of “attention” from Lou. He skipped this project, so we won’t hear his story. We’ll have to settle for Ashley Parker Angel from “O-Town,” who is best known for long, luxurious footage filmed in the shower - kinda like that previously virginal bachelor. We’re told Lou had all the unedited footage squirreled away for his own “use.” There is a Carter who is in the flick - Aaron Carter. It’s said that Lou focused on him once Nick started growing pubes. And, of course, Aaron ain’t one to turn down publicity. In fact, he posted a photo of himself recently with the following caption: “I think I look fucking great!” If Aaron thinks he looks so freaking good, I’ve got a job for him - “The Magic Mike Musical” is currently holding auditions for men 18-30 “in excellent physical shape.” They are accepting video submissions that include “a brief pop/rock song not longer than one minute in length that shows off range” (sorry, Aaron) and “a brief contemporary or hip-hop dance clip no longer than two minutes in length that shows off athleticism, technique, and any specialty skills (gymnastics, tumbling, etc.). No nudity.” To think I was about to volunteer my services to screen the videos. You had me, then you lost me. We have two stories about unwanted oral attention. The first comes from Andrew Rannells’ memoirs, where he talks about an encounter with a priest. “He hugged me tightly. I felt safe and heard and understood. Then, with unexpected force, he kissed me. On the lips. He muscled his tongue into my mouth and held the back of my head still. Then he released me and made the sign of the cross on my forehead. He smiled.” I don’t want to question Rannells’ veracity, but this entire episode sounds strikingly similar to a scene in “The Thorn Birds.” Not to be outdone, Tyler Posey is enjoying Starz’s “Now Apocalypse.” Once again, he’s batting for our team. “I was excited to play a gay character, because I’m really comfortable with my sexuality.” How comfortable? “As soon as I committed to the project, I was all in. I’m shoving my tongue down some dude’s throat, and I don’t know how much else I can say, but we jerked off in the alley in the first episode. Bring it on.” Until next time, remember, one man’s filth is another man’s bible.



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Cannabis Culture Provided by NORML

Rep. Ed Perlmutter is a sponsor of the SAFE Banking Act.

25 House members back marijuana banking act More than one-quarter of U.S. House members have signed on to newly introduced legislation to facilitate greater access to banking for statelicensed cannabis operators. The 2019 version of the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act was introduced last Thursday and now has 113 co-sponsors — the most ever for a marijuana law reform bill. Under federal law, banks and other financial institutions are discouraged from entering into relationships with marijuana-specific businesses. This has led to the industry operating on a largely ‘cash-only’ basis. Last month, members of the U.S. House, Consumer Protection and Financial Institution Subcommittee heard testimony in favor of federal banking reform. NORML submitted testimony to the Committee, opining: “In short, no industry can operate safely, transparently, or effectively without access to banks or other financial institutions and it is self-evident that this industry, and those consumers that are served by it, will remain severely hampered without better access to credit and financing. Ultimately, Congress must amend federal policy so that these growing numbers of state-compliant businesses, and those millions of Americans who patronize them, are no longer subject to policies that needlessly place them in harm’s way.” The SAFE Banking Act is one of several marijuana-related bills introduced in Congress in recent days. Other legislation includes The Ending Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2019, The Marijuana Justice Act, The Next Step Act, and The Marijuana Data Collection Act of 2019.

Cannabinoids associated with anti-cancer activity STOKE-ON-KENT, U.K. — The administration of cannabidiol (CBD) is associated with anti-cancer responses in human subjects, according to a pair of recently published case studies. In the first study, British investigators reported on the use of CBD in an 81-year-old lung cancer patient following his decision to decline chemotherapy treatment. Authors reported that the patients’ tumor size was reduced following the use of CBD extracts. They concluded: “[T]he data presented here indicate that CBD may have had a role in the striking response in a patient with histologically proven adenocarcinoma of the lung as a result of self-administration of CBD oil for a month and

in the absence of any other identifiable lifestyle, drug or dietary changes. Further work is needed both in vitro and in vivo to better evaluate the various mechanisms of action of CBD on malignant cells, and its potential application in the treatment of not only lung cancer but also other malignancies.” In the second study, Brazilian investigators described the use of CBD in two 38-year-old patients with brain cancer. Their use of CBD in additional to traditional anti-cancer treatment was associated with a “significant improvement” in clinical outcomes and a lack of disease progression for two years. Authors concluded, “These observations are of particular interest because the pharmacology of cannabinoids appears to be distinct from existing oncology medications and may offer a unique and possibly synergistic option for future glioma treatment.” A 2017 study assessing the concurrent use of CBD and Temozolomide (TMZ) in 21 patients with glioma reported that subjects provided CBD lived, on average, 45 percent longer than those treated with TMZ only. Although cannabinoids have well-established anti-cancer activity in preclinical models, scientists have generally failed to assess these properties in controlled, clinical trials.

S. Dakota guv vetoes hemp licensing bill PIERRE, S.D. — Republican Gov. Kristi Noem has vetoed legislation, House Bill 1191, which sought to comport state law with newly enacted provisions of the 2018 Farm Act. The measure sought to permit state regulators to license farmers to commercially cultivate industrial hemp and sought to regulate certain products derived from hemp, including CBDinfused extracts. In December, Congress enacted legislation descheduling hemp and hempderived cannabinoids from the federal Controlled Substances Act and making states the primary regulators of the plant. Gov. Noem stated in her veto: “Our state is not yet ready for industrial hemp. ... [T]his bill supports a national effort to legalize marijuana for recreational use.” Members of the House voted to successfully override the governor’s veto, but Senators failed to obtain the two-thirds majority necessary. Noem received an ‘F’ grade in NORML’s 2019 Governors Scorecard. (Cannabis Culture news in the Blade is provided in partnership with NORML. For more information, contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at paul@norml.org.)


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