Losangelesblade.com, Volume 3, Issue 13, March 29, 2019

Page 1

Photo by Aurelia D’Amore Photography


M A R C H 2 9 2 0 1 9 • V O LU M E 0 3 • I S S U E 1 3 • A M E R I C A’ S LG B TQ N E W S S O U R C E • LO S A N G E L E S B L A D E . C O M



2 shot at popular Palm Springs gay nightclub Police say incident not a hate crime By STAFF REPORTS Palm Springs Police are looking for an unidentified male suspect who opened fire in the parking lot of a popular gay nightclub in northern Palm Springs. PSPD uniformed officers responded to a report of shots fired at the Toucans Tiki Lounge in the 2300 Block of N. Palm Canyon at around 1:38 am Sunday morning, March 24, a PSPD spokesperson told the Los Angeles Blade Sunday evening. They found two male victims who had suffered non-life threatening gun shot wounds to their lower extremities. Both men were transported to the nearby Desert Regional Medical Center for treatment. A preliminary investigation revealed there was a fight inside the nightclub that eventually led outside. At that point, a shooting occurred near the parking lot, according to the PSPD. An unidentified suspect fled the location.

Toucans Tiki Lounge patrons assist one of two men wounded in a shooting incident March 24. Photo via Twitter

He is described as a Hispanic Male Adult, approximately 20-30 years old wearing a black hat, black hooded sweatshirt, black sweatpants and had tattoos on his neck. There were several witnesses present who also fled the location prior to the arrival of officers. A person answering the phone Sunday afternoon said the club was open but management would not be commenting nor

issuing a statement at this time. A PSPD spokesperson subsequently told the Los Angeles Blade on Monday that detectives were not investigating the double shooting as a hate crime. Palm Springs Police Lt. William Hutchinson said that investigators still have not determined a motive for the incident. Detectives are in the process of reviewing the club’s surveillance video. There are also posts on social media

that include pictures and video from inside the club, as reported by Burbank, Californiabased Instinct magazine. Hutchinson said they are also continuing to interview witnesses, as well as continuing the search for the alleged assailant. He added that the club’s owner and management team are cooperating fully with investigators. The shooting at Toucans Tiki Lounge comes less than a week after Zelda’s nightclub was closed by the Palm Springs City Council after a fatal shooting in January in which a 21-year old man and a 14-year old were shot, as well. The club is closed for 45 days while a security plan can be devised. The shooting at Zelda’s was “the latest in a string of incidents at the club over several years,” according to the Desert Sun. Police are asking for the public’s help. Anyone who witnessed this incident is asked to contact the Palm Springs Police Department at 760-778-8411. The PSPD spokesperson also noted that Anonymous information can also be provided through Crime Stoppers at 760-341-7867.

2nd death in Ed Buck’s WeHo apartment also ruled meth overdose Timothy Dean would have turned 56 on March 24 By KAREN OCAMB kocamb@losangelesblade.com Timothy Dean’s Jan. 7 death in the West Hollywood apartment of political activist Ed Buck has been ruled an accidental methamphetamine overdose, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. “Sheriff’s homicide investigators are continuing their investigation into the death of Timothy Dean,” Sheriff’s Department spokesperson Nicole Nishida said in a March 25 statement. Buck’s attorney Seymour Amster told the LA Times: “We stand by our position that unfortunately Mr. Dean ingested drugs at a location other than Mr. Buck’s, and he came over intoxicated, and it’s a tragedy.” Dean, 55, a West Hollywood resident, was the second Black male to die of an accidental meth

Timothy Dean Photo screen grab from KTLA

overdose in Buck’s apartment. The coroner reported that in July 2017, Gemmel Moore, 26, also died there of an accidental meth OD. Buck, 64, was present for both deaths. The press has inaccurately written that the coroner’s report released after Moore’s

death noted that the apartment was “littered with drug paraphernalia,” implying it was in plain sight. In fact, the report, which the Los Angeles Blade obtained, says: “Medical evidence: multiple prescription medications were located in a small zippered bag inside the decedent’s backpack that was positioned on the couch in the living room. Multiple syringes with brown residue, scale, lighters, straw with possible white residue, glass pipes with white residue and burn marks, plastic bags with white powdery and a clear plastic bag with crystal-like substance was located in drawers of the tool box rollcabinet in the living room.” The LA district attorney’s office declined to prosecute on four charges against Buck— murder, voluntary manslaughter, and furnishing and possessing drugs. The July 26 Charge Evaluation Worksheet noted that the “admissible evidence is insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that suspect Buck furnished drugs to Gemmel Moore

or that suspect Buck possessed drugs,” according to Deputy DA Craig W. Hum. The evidence may have been inadmissible because, as was also noted, deputies conducted an inadmissible search and seizure—most likely of the tool box roll-cabinet in which the drug paraphernalia was found. LA DA Jackie Lacey issued a public letter on March 12, in which she said she empathized with Moore and Dean’s family and friends; said Buck and his home remain under investigation; and called for the public’s help. But, she added, “When any allegation is considered for possible criminal prosecution, the issue is whether there is clear evidence that a crime has occurred and whether that is sufficient to convince a jury of 12 people of a defendant’s guilt. Prosecutors cannot ethically file charges without such facts in hand.” Dean’s family and friends gathered in West Hollywood on March 24 to commemorate his 56th birthday. – Staff reports contributed to this story



Lesbian parents and sexual orientation — a fresh analysis Children show more expansive perspectives on sexuality By STAFF REPORTS According to researchers at the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, approximately six million children and adults in the U.S. have a LGBT parent. The question of how same-sex parents affect and impact children of those couples is being addressed in a 33-year long ongoing study of offspring from conception to adulthood, (1986-2019+) by the U.S. National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study. (NLLFS) Lead researcher Dr. Nanette Gartrell, M.D—a practicing psychiatrist, former faculty member of Harvard Medical School, and visiting distinguished scholar at the Williams Institute—alongside her coinvestigator researcher Dr. Henny Bos, Ph.D, found that the psychological health of adults is unrelated to the sexual identity of their parents. The NLLFS study has had a 92% retention rate since it began in 1986. The current analysis compared 76 offspring of lesbian parents and 76 demographically matched participants from the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG). But, according to researchers Gartell and Bos, data on the sexual attractions, orientations, and experiences of adults who were born into sexual minority parent families are limited. A fresh analysis of data extrapolated from the ongoing study by NLLFS this past month, however, finds that the 25-year-old children of lesbian parents are more likely than their peers to report same-sex attraction, sexual minority identity and same-sex experiences. “Our 2018 study, [published in the New England Journal of Medicine] revealed that adults who were conceived through donor insemination and raised by lesbian parents are as psychologically healthy as their peers,” said Gartrell.“Our current study suggests that being raised by sexual minority parents may lead to more diverse sexual expression for their adult daughters and sons.” Among the key findings: 31% of female and 73% of male NLLFS offspring reported being only attracted to

Iowa Democratic State Sen. Zach Wahls with his two mothers and younger sister in 2017. Photo courtesy of Wahls via Facebook

the opposite sex, compared to 54% and 91% of NSFG females and males. 54% of female and 33% of male NLLFS offspring reported having a same-sex sexual experience, compared to 38% and 9% of NSFG females and males. 70% of female and nearly 90% of male NLLFS offspring identified as heterosexual or straight, compared to 88% and 98% of NSFG females and males. Among the NLLFS female offspring, the percentage identifying as sexual minorities decreased from 49% to 30% between the ages of 17 and 25. In contrast, the percentage of NLLFS females who had engaged in samesex sexual behavior increased from 15% to 54% in the same period. The percentage of NLLFS male offspring identifying as sexual minorities decreased from 22% to 10% between the ages of 17 and 25, and the percentage reporting same-sex sexual experiences increased from 6% to 33%. “The offspring of sexual minority parents may have more expansive perspectives on sexuality because they were raised by parents who are nonjudgmental about

their exploration of non-heterosexual relationships,” said co-author Bos, “They may also be more attuned to their own same-sex sexual feelings because of the environment in which they were raised.” Iowa freshman Democratic State Senator Zach Wahls, although not a participant in this study, has a personal connection as he and his younger sister were raised by two lesbian mothers. “I don’t think it’s any surprise that people who have one or more LGBTQ parents will be more likely than folks from more traditional and/or conservative backgrounds to explore and/or express a non-traditional gender or sexual expression,” Wahls told the Los Angeles Blade recently. “Given that this is a longitudinal study working with a small sample size, I think it’s harder to extrapolate these data points into a broader conclusion. But generally speaking, I am not especially surprised or at all concerned by these findings. The most important finding is that these now adult-aged children of same-sex couples continue to be healthy,

well-balanced people.” Gartrell came out as a lesbian while attending Stanford University as an undergraduate in the early 1970’s, an era when being homosexual could get a person arrested, condemned as a “sinner” or diagnosed as mentally ill. From the beginning of her career, according to a biographic piece published in 2012 by the UCLA Newsroom, “she started conducting research to counter pervasive beliefs that gay and lesbians were deviant and even downright dangerous.” In her very first study, Gartrell’s research results upended a purported link between homosexuality and deficiencies of the male sex hormone. She found that gay men actually had higher levels of testosterone than straight men. “I wanted to do research that would address stereotypes about LGBT people because the reasons for the laws, the religious prohibitions and the psychiatric diagnoses were stereotypes. There weren’t any appropriate research data to counteract these stereotypes,” she said.



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Todd Gloria hoping to make history as San Diego mayor He’d be the first gay and person of color to run America’s 8th largest city By KAREN OCAMB kocamb@losangelesblade.com Compassion can’t be ordered up like a dessert item on a road-stop menu. Compassion is a character trait developed through hard earned experience and the willingness to walk in someone else’s shoes. And compassion, California Assemblymember Todd Gloria believes, is an attribute LGBT people can uniquely bring with them into elected office. In an America fuming over Donald Trump’s divisive toxic masculinity, Gloria stands for the triumph of humanity over smug cruelty and neglect. It’s a practiced philosophy he intends to bring to his hometown of San Diego where he hopes to be elected mayor in 2020. “I’m third generation San Diegan. I know where the city has been and I have a vision for where I’d like to take it. The opportunity to lead my hometown—the second largest city in California and the eighth largest in the nation—is one that I don’t want to pass up,” Gloria tells the Los Angeles Blade by phone from Sacramento. “This is where I believe I can make the most meaningful impact.” There’s a calm excitement in Gloria’s voice, as if he’s mentally transported himself to some San Diego site where, shovel in hand, he’s about to dig a new beginning. “I believe San Diego is at an inflection point where we can build on the things that I did while I was a city council member, city council president and interim mayor in the past,” he says. “We must take on new challenges. We are the eighth largest city in the nation and we have the fourth largest homeless population in the United States! I think we should fix that.” There’s also a housing affordability crisis that’s hurting the middle class “that allowed me to get an education and build a career and a life in my hometown. That’s imperiled at the moment,” he says. “We need to build a world-class public transportation system – that still has not happened but could happen with the right kind of leadership.” He’s offering a new direction “that’s more

Assemblymember Todd Gloria Feb. 2018 in San Diego Photo by Karen Ocamb

reflective of our big city status rather than the small town ways that have often held us back held back in realizing the full potential of our great city.” And, for the city often identified as the birthplace for the infamous anti-immigrant Prop 187, Gloria says: “We are moving toward a new San Diego that is inclusive of all people. A city where everyone can make a life for themself.” Gloria would be the first openly LGBTQ person and the first person of color elected mayor in the eighth largest city, of particular intersectional interest since San Diego is a border city immediately adjacent to Baja California and Tijuana Mexico. “My upbringing as the son of a maid and gardener very much colors my point of view on what we can and should be doing for San Diego,” Gloria says of his mixed Native American, Filipino, Dutch, Puerto Rican heritage. “My parents are incredible people, hard working folks with high school educations who, despite significant

challenges, were able to build a life - buy a home, put their two kids through college.” Gloria officially came out to his parents at 18, though he jokingly says he was never “in” the closet since he and apparently everyone at school knew he was gay. But he survived those difficult times to go on and graduate summa cum laude from the University of San Diego, having majored in history and political science. “My concern is that that story is not as easily replicable today because of the challenges San Diego has not taken head on,” he says. “We had a recent report where there’s 40,000 San Diego young people in their late teens and early 20s who are completely disconnected from the worlds of education and the world of work. Those are young people who are going un-utilized in our economy and that’s a missed potential towards the vision I have of a great city.” Gloria says he wants to “keep that ladder of opportunity in place. I want to rebuild it where it may have been broken. I believe it

because I’ve experienced it and I want others to have that same experience. And right now I think there’s good reason to doubt that that ladder exists. But my goal, my ambition, my vision is to rebuild it – not just for queer kids of color like me but really for every person who is going to work hard in San Diego.” Relatable compassion matters. “Anyone who has grown up LGBT publicly comes out with two qualities,” he says. “One is compassion because what we often experience really allows us to feel other people’s experience and understand and relate to them. When you’ve gone through junior high—it’s a difficult experience so there’s a level of compassion that many of us bring to our work. I certainly feel that.” Second, “there’s also a level of strength,” Gloria says. “If you can get through adolescence, through high school, through the worlds of work and career—it is not always easy. There are often daily challenges about whether you come out to those you’re interacting with—what is the risk involved in



State Sen. Scott Wiener, then-Sen. Ricardo Lara, Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur, then-LGBT Legislative Caucus Chair Assemblymember Evan Low, Caucus Vice-Chair Assemblymember Todd Gloria at at 2018 EQCA event in Los Angeles Photo by Karen Ocamb

that? I think back to my time at the University of San Diego—a Catholic institution in the 1990s—weighing my academic success about who it is to be authentically me.” But that turmoil created a deeper sense of humanity and “a level of personal inner strength that I think you want in your civic leaders so that when times are tough, you know that you’re not going to bend,” Gloria says, “that you have an authenticity, a resolve, a strength that will be used for the benefit of the people that you’re elected to serve. But that’s coupled with a level of compassion that allows you to understand and to perhaps walk a bit in the other person’s shoes. So you can credibly say that you may be one person but you may understand the plight and the lived experiences of, in this case, the 1.4 million people who call San Diego home.” Gloria believes people want to know “that you understand a bit about their lives and consider that when you’re doing your decisionmaking. I think that’s a part of the benefit that being LGBTQ has for those of us that are lucky

enough to serve in elected office.” Along with compassion and strength comes a deep sense of responsibility. At the beginning of February, for instance, Gloria, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, and Equality California teamed up to introduce AB 493: the Safe and Supportive Schools Act of 2019 – a bill that would require California schools to provide annual teacher and staff training on how to support LGBTQ students at school and in their local community. “According to the 2017 National School Climate Survey, 82 percent of LGBTQ students reported hearing anti-LGBTQ remarks in their school; approximately 7 in 10 reported being called names or threatened because of their sexual orientation; and more than one-third of students who identify as LGBTQ reported missing at least one day of school because of feeling unsafe,” EQCA reported in their press release introducing AB 493. “The bullying and name calling I

experienced in school as a young gay kid is still a reality for today’s LGBTQ youth. No child should have to experience that. Students should feel safe, accepted, included, and supported in their school,” Gloria said at a news conference at a San Diego high school. “Equipping educators with resources to better support LGBTQ students will create a safer and more inclusive environment for these students to be successful.” And then there are the most marginalized of the marginalized—LGBTQ kids who wind up in the foster care system. In April 2018, Gloria introduced AB 2119 to demand that the state system connect trans and gender nonconforming youth to gender-affirming care, if and when they ask for it. According to the Williams Institute and other reports, LGBTQ kids are over-represented in the foster care system and are mistreated and abused more than non-LGBTQ kids. On Sept. 14, 2018, Gov. Jerry Brown signed Gloria’s bill. “This is the beginning of a

new and hopeful day for the many foster youth in California. With the signing of this bill, we tell our foster youth that no matter who you are or how you identify, there is a place for you in California,” Gloria said. “We want our future generations to know they have a safe place to grow up and live. At its core, that’s what this bill does -- we empower transgender and gender nonconforming foster youth to live authentically despite their circumstances. I want to thank Governor Brown for signing this bill into law -- an act which I truly believe will save lives.” And it’s that power of compassion, strength and responsibility that Gloria hopes to bring home to San Diego. “I often talk on the campaign trail about this being a mayoral campaign and a hopeful administration that is focused on real people and on real problems,” Gloria says, adding that he carries the voices of LGBT history with him. “Hopefully, I can make our community proud.” For more, visit: http://toddgloria.com/


08 • MARCH 29, 2019

Trans and HIV activist Maria Roman married artist and musician Jason Taylorson at a resplendent ceremony at the 100+-year-old St. John’s Cathedral in downtown Los Angeles on March 23. Metropolitan Community Church Pastor Alejandro Escoto with about 160 overjoyed participants and guests in attendance to witness the uplifting wedding of a trans woman and a cis-gender straight man, the subjects of a documentary-in-progress entitled “TransTale” about their romance. Escoto asked Jason and Maria to look into each other’s eyes as they recited their vows, to “look at the window of the soul of your beloved” and each take the other “just as you are. I shall love and respect you for who you are. I shall trust you and respect your integrity. My faith in you is a result of my abiding love for you. I shall love you through all our years and in all that life may bring.” Escoto also bestowed upon them an Apache blessing: “Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be the shelter for each other. Now you will feel no cold for each of you will be the warmth for the other. Now you are two persons but there is only one life before you. You will go now to your dwelling to enter into your days of your life together. May your days be good and long upon the earth. Blessings to both of you today and ever more.” The wedding ceremony was followed by a reception with lots of good food, music and celebration. – Karen Ocamb

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Trans Californian denied healthcare based on hospital’s religious views U. S. Catholic Conference of Bishops dictates access to care By STAFF REPORTS Twenty-seven year old Oliver Knight was lying uncomfortably on a gurney in a presurgical holding area on Aug. 30, 2017, forced to wear a pink gown, an IV drip hooked up waiting for the general anesthetic to be administered. He was completely prepped for his life-changing hysterectomy procedure when his surgeon informed him that the hospital’s executive administrators had canceled his surgery. The reason for the surgical cancellation is detailed in a 12-page civil lawsuit filed March 21 in Superior Court for Humboldt County, California, by Knight, a transman, against St. Joseph Hospital, located in Eureka. ACLU Foundation of Northern California’s Elizabeth Gill, who is representing Knight, now 29, told the Los Angeles Blade that the hospital claimed that because Knight is transgender, the surgery conflicted with the hospital’s adherence to Catholic doctrine and beliefs. St. Joseph Hospital is part of the Providence St. Joseph Health Network, a national, Catholic not-for-profit health care ministry - the third largest health care system in the nation, operating 51 hospitals, with over 25,000 physicians. Dignity Health is the largest healthcare provider in California with 31 hospitals. Gill says that Knight being denied healthcare based on the hospital’s religious views—which does not recognize genderaffirming care—is a violation of California’s public accommodations laws governed by California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act. However, she notes, the hospital regularly allows hysterectomies for patients who are not trans. Additionally, Knight’s physician said he and other physicians regularly perform the healthcare procedure, making it clear that that the denial was discriminatory based soley on Knight being trans. Gill says the core issue is the serious

ACLU client Oliver Knight Photo for ACLU of Northern California by Kate Donaldson

opposition to transgender rights by the U. S. Catholic Conference of Bishops, which in turn is conveyed to hospital administrators within the Providence St. Joseph Health Network. Gill also points out this denial of healthcare services is part of the ongoing organized opposition by the Bishop’s Conference to the Equality Act, which was recently reintroduced in Congress. This is legislation that would add protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity to a myriad of existing federal civil rights laws. The Catholic News Agency reported that in a letter to US Senators opposing the recently re-introduced Equality Act, signed by Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville,

chair of the U.S. bishops’ religious liberty committee, among others, decried the dangerous lack of criteria for “gender identity,” which could open the door for abuses in restrooms and locker rooms. “This risk arises not so much from those who experience gender incongruence, but from others who would take malicious advantage of open-door policies in these private spaces,” the bishops said. There is no indication Oliver Knight presented such a risk. The hospital, which is the only healthcare facility serving the Eureka community in a 25mile area, cannot act in such a discriminatory way under California law, Gill says.

“Gender-affirming care is lifesaving and medically necessary,” Gill tells the Los Angeles Blade. “Transgender people are part of our community, our workplaces, and our neighborhoods and they, just like everyone else, deserve to get the healthcare they need.” Knight described his experience on the ACLU blog. “I had an anxiety attack and thought about all the pre-op and mental preparedness I had to go through just to get here. I freaked out and started crying. I was given medication to calm me down,” he wrote. “Fifteen minutes after [being denied surgery], the hospital staff asked me to leave. I still had booties on my feet as a nurse led me outside. I felt humiliated and queasy as I sat on the curb waiting for my roommate to pick me up. “It seems the hospital does not understand how it feels to be treated inhumanely just because your body parts do not match your soul,” he continued. “This surgery was important — it was meant to balance my hormones. The delay disrupted my life. I felt like the hospital’s bigotry had set me back years.” Gill tells the Los Angeles Blade that the hospital is seeking to have the lawsuit dismissed. But that this kind of discrimination can happen in California is very troubling. “The laws are very clear,” she says, that the religious freedom argument cannot be used by public-accommodating hospitals that accept tax-payer money to refuse access to services provided the general public. “At the end of the day, we live in a democracy and we don’t think states should license hospitals that discriminate.” The ACLU Foundations of California and the National Health Law Program are launching the All Care Everywhere campaign to make sure all Californians are aware of the extent to which the Catholic Church operates an extensive network of hospitals that claim a right to refuse services based on religious doctrine. This awareness is critical since Catholic hospitals may be the only healthcare option within hundreds of miles of someone suffering and in need of medical attention. – Karen Ocamb contributed to this story

323-347-7000 959 Seward St Los Angeles, CA 90038 located on the corner of Seward and Romaine in Hollywood



Solmonese named CEO of 2020 Democratic convention

Jussie Smollett has asserted his innocence, despite what Chicago’s mayor and law enforcement officials have said.

Charges dropped against Jussie Smollett Prosecutors in Cook County, Ill., have dropped all charges against “Empire” star Jussie Smollett. On March 14, Smollett was indicted by a grand jury on 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct for filing a false report. He pled not guilty. Smollett was summoned to an emergency court hearing at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday where State Attorney Kim Foxx told him that all charges against him had been dropped and his record expunged. Smollett forfeited his bond and the judge also granted a motion to seal the case from the public. The Office of Cook County State’s Attorney released a statement saying: “After reviewing all of the facts and circumstances of the case, including Mr. Smollett’s volunteer service in the community and agreement to forfeit his bond to the City of Chicago, we believe this outcome is a just disposition and appropriate resolution to this case.” Smollett’s attorneys also released a statement saying: “Jussie was attacked by two people he was unable to identify on January 29th. He was a victim who was vilified and made to appear as a perpetrator as a result of false and inappropriate remarks made to the public causing an inappropriate rush to judgement. Jussie and many others were hurt by these unfair and unwarranted actions. … Jussie is relieved to have this situation behind him and is very much looking forward to getting back to focusing on his family, friends and career.” But Chicago officials assailed Smollett in a news conference Tuesday and in interviews. Mayor Rahm Emmanuel called the dismissal of charges a “whitewashing of justice” and a top prosecutor said Smollett was not the victim of a hate crime. Smollett claimed in January that he was physically and verbally attacked by two men in a homophobic and racist attack. After Chicago police began investigating the case, they claimed that Smollett orchestrated the attack because he was dissatisfied with his salary. Police said Smollett paid $3,500 to brothers Olabinjo (“Ola”) and Abimbola (“Abel”) Osundairo to fake the attack. Police also claimed that Smollett had sent a threatening homophobic and racist letter to himself at the studio where “Empire” is filmed. Smollett did write a check to the brothers for $3,500 but claimed it was for physical training. The letter is also still under investigation by the FBI. Fox had no comment on the latest developments but the “Empire” writers showed their support on Twitter. Smollett’s character Jamal Lyon was cut from the final two episodes of the season due to Smollett’s legal troubles. Smollett spoke publicly about the case for the first time since his “Good Morning America” appearance shortly after his charges were dropped. “I have been truthful and consistent on every single level since day one. I would not be my mother’s son if I was capable of one drop of what I’ve been accused of,” Smollett told reporters. “I want to thank my family, my friends, the incredible people of Chicago and all over the country and the world who have prayed for me, who have supported me.” MARIAH COOPER

Joe Solmonese, a former head of the Human Rights Campaign, has been named chief executive for the 2020 Democratic National Convention Committee in Milwaukee. The pick was made less than three weeks after the Democratic Party announced next year Milwaukee would host the Democratic National Convention, where the Democratic presidential candidate who will challenge President Trump in 2020 will be anointed as the party’s nominee. As chief executive, Solmonese will be charged with overseeing the day-to-day operations for the committee as it prepares for the convention, which will take place July 13-16, 2020. The news of his appointment was first reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Solmonese was head of the Human Rights Campaign from 2005 to 2012. His tenure took place during the end of the George W. Bush administration, when he oversaw efforts to beat back against a Federal Marriage Amendment that would have banned same-sex marriage nationwide, and the beginning of the Obama administration, when he oversaw efforts to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Additionally, Solmonese served as chief executive of EMILY’s List, which supports female candidates who are pro-choice, and transition chair of Planned Parenthood Federation of America after Cecile Richards ended her 12-year tenure last year. Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez said in a statement Solmonese “will be an asset in leading our convention team” and “brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to this role and will be instrumental in ensuring we have a successful event.” “We chose Milwaukee because the city embodies who we are as a party, and under Joe’s leadership, I’m confident those values will be at the forefront as we celebrate our nominee and prepare for the general election,” Perez said. “I am thrilled to have him as a part of the team and look forward to a unifying convention that will put our nominee in the best possible position for victory in November 2020.” Solmonese said in a statement being selected as the chief executive for the convention is “a tremendous honor and I’m prepared to hit the ground running.” “There is no better time than now to be a Democrat and next summer we will showcase the ideals and diversity that make our party, the city of Milwaukee, and our nominee special to the American people,” Solmonese said. CHRIS JOHNSON

Chick-fil-A gave $1.8 million to anti-LGBT groups in 2017 Fast-food chain Chick-fil-A donated $1.8 million to groups with a history of antiLGBTQ discrimination in 2017. In tax filings obtained by Think Progress, Chick-fil-A reportedly donated $1,653,416 to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, which requires its employees to sign a policy that they will maintain “sexual purity” and not engage in “homosexual acts.” The fast-food chain also donated $6,000 to the Paul Anderson Youth Home, a Christian residential home for troubled youth that teaches that same-sex marriage is “rage against Jesus Christ and His values;” and $150,000 to the Salvation Army which is notoriously antiLGBTQ. The donations were also listed on the company’s website with a notice that it would no longer be donating to the Paul Anderson Youth Home. “In 2017, a decision was made by the Chick-fil-A Foundation to no longer donate to the group after a blog post from 2010 surfaced that does not meet Chick-fil-A’s commitment to creating a welcoming environment to all,” Chick-fil-A said in a statement at the time. In 2012, Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy controversially deemed same-sex marriage as “inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say we know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.” Chick-fil-A has denied discrimination toward any group in the past. The company released a statement saying that its donations weren’t made with an anti-LGBTQ agenda in mind. “To suggest our giving was done to support a political or non-inclusive agenda is inaccurate and misleading,” Chick-fil-A said in a statement to CBS News. MARIAH COOPER



Spring has sprung — why not wear a condom? Cardi B spoof says ‘I wrap it like that,’ Okurr?

Marin Austin is communications director for the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

Spring has sprung; the magpies are singing, and the cats are whining, where does that leave us? We’re not far off. During the springtime, much of the animal kingdom shares a universal urge to get it on. And human beings are not immune. Scientists agree that our bodies recognize the longer days, warmer weather, (and shorter shorts). “Sunlight … has an association with serotonin, a key neurotransmitter in the ability to experience pleasure,” says psychiatrist and instructor at Harvard Medical School, Ashwini Nadkarni, M.D., Springtime (or anytime) sex without selflove and self-care puts you and your partner or partners at risk. I don’t want to scare you with statistics—but according to UNAIDS, almost 37 million people in the world were living with HIV or AIDS in 2018. Condoms can greatly reduce your risk of getting HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. The earliest known condoms date back to 17th century England. The English used animal membranes to try and prevent pregnancy. The first condom (as we know it) was invented in the 1800s by Charles Goodyear. By 1850, several companies were mass producing rubbers in the United States. Today, protective barriers have evolved greatly into an ultra-thin, barely-there layer

that acts as a barrier between two people during intercourse and sexual foreplay. Condoms can greatly reduce the risk of pregnancy, HIV transmission and sexually transmitted diseases that are transmitted through bodily fluids. And regardless of how many times you may swipe right, condoms, when used properly, remain a safe, highly effective means of prevention for which other interventions, like pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP, offer no preventive protection other than from HIV. Condoms are also cheap and often readily available compared to other prevention tools and you don’t need a prescription for them. And because condoms are both inexpensive and effective in their mission, groups like AIDS Healthcare and many other nonprofit organizations routinely offer condoms to the public for FREE! Last year, AHF gave out over 66 million free condoms across the globe and provided and administered over 4.6 million free HIV tests worldwide. Prevention methods like PrEP certainly have a place in the community, but one best determined and decided upon by an individual in consultation with his or her physician or medical provider. But for cheap and easy (we mean the condoms—not you!) HIV and STD prevention delivered community-wide, AHF has been leading a ‘back to basics’ charge over the past few years, revisiting and reigniting an appreciation of and passion for the basics in prevention, testing, treatment and care. And what could be more basic than the condom? Millions of gay, bi- and MSM men (as well as their straight counterparts) successfully used and relied on this workhorse prevention tool in the 1980s and ‘90s before the arrival of any lifesaving antiretroviral treatment on the scene. And millions more gay, bi-, MSM and straight men continue to use condoms for effective prevention today. And in an innovative effort to keep the focus on condoms as effective, economic HIV and STD prevention, AHF created

International Condom Day (ICD), observed each year on Feb. 13 (creatively tied to Valentine’s Day—after Punxsutawney Phil checks his shadow on Groundhog Day yet before the first robins of spring start singing), a holiday that has now grown into a worldwide phenomenon. Now, as part of International Condom Day, AHF produces a lighthearted and humorous parody song and music video each year promoting condom use and safer sex riffing on an entertainer or singer and their song of the moment. In 2013, AHF’s first Condom Day song took shape as a parody of Macklemore’s wildly popular song ‘Thrift Shop’ playing off both AHF’s own award-winning ‘Out of Closet’ thrift shop chain and the fact that many of AHF’s thrift stores also offer free, easily accessible HIV testing. This past year, AHF hit a new milestone— and over 850,000 YouTube views and counting! — with its 2018 International Condom Day song: a terrific send up of the Cardi-B anthem ‘I Like it (Like That).’ AHF’s ‘I Wrap it Like That’ delivers sensible safer sex messaging, including on condom use, in wickedly clever lyrics, music and video that even Cardi-B and the baddest of Bad Bunnies could learn from and enjoy. Okurr? AHF has been around for 30+ years. We have over one million+ lives in our care today and operate in 43 countries, providing services including lifesaving medical care, antiretroviral treatment and advocacy regardless of ability to pay. So, head on over to www.useacondom. com to learn how you can get free condoms. (Psssst, we have multiple sizes! But for those of you needing a larger size, the helpful 30-second AHF video ‘Will it Fit?’ offers a new, eye-opening perspective to s t r e t c h your imagination about the humble, helpful quietly heroic condom). NOTE: to view the 3 AHF condom videos cited above, please visit aidshealth.org https://www.aidshealth.org/media/videos/ and scroll to the very bottom of the page to ‘Featured Videos.’

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Getting to ‘I Do’ takes a lot of planning — and a village The ultimate Los Angeles experiences are plentiful By SUSAN HORNIK

In the landmark Supreme Court ruling that extended the right of same-sex couples to marry, Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the 5-4 majority declared same-sex love equal, protected by the same laws and worthy of the traditions of honor, dignity and status as have existed nearly since time began. “No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right,” he wrote. With those words not only were the hopes and dreams of millions of LGBTQ people lifted, whole new industries and traditions were born. Our community has wasted no time and spared no dimes celebrating, taking the traditions of wedding celebrations to even loftier heights. But every Bride-Bride or Groom-Groom pairing faces the same anxiety laden choices Bride-Groom pairings have always navigated: how to do it right. Los Angeles Blade’s Susan Hornik spoke to some of Los Angeles’ most seasoned planners who have extensive experience helping samesex couples acheive wedding bliss and has come up with some great suggestions for making your LA style wedding vows ring.

Advice From Wedding Planners Let’s face it, it’s expensive to get married, especially in the City of Angels. Nevertheless, there are some wonderful wedding planners that can work within your budget. These fantastic experts create a one-stop shopping experience, anticipating all the happy couple needs to make their special day blissful. “To make sure everything goes perfectly, plan your wedding a year out, as dates for locations fill up quickly,” enthused gay events planner, Randy Fuhrman, who has been in the business for over four decades. “Create Pinterest pages of what you like— everything from flowers, food, cakes, colors, and style of your upcoming wedding, so when you meet with an caterer/event planner, you can show them what you are thinking,” Fuhrman said. Hiring the perfect event planner for your wedding is important so that you can relax and enjoy the experience of your wedding, he added. “The right company will relieve you of the stress of dealing with trying to find all the vendors and also managing them. My motto is ‘We Create So You Can Celebrate,’ as we want couples to be the honored guests at their wedding.” Over the years, Fuhrman has had some fun event planning wedding experiences, at places like Greystone Mansion and Saddlerock Ranch, and some unique themes, like the one where everything was themed around bears. “There was also a wedding at the Frank Sinatra House in Palm Springs. I hired a Frank Sinatra look-alike and he walked all the guests through the house and told the history of the estate. He also performed, as he sounded just

like the singer!” Event planner Natalie Sofer offers invaluable advice to the many couples she works with. “Listen to each other. Discover what you both want before visiting with a wedding planner,” she emphasized. “Couples who communicate their dreams and ideas with each other, discovering what you each want, will be far more likely to stay together.” Sofer, an LGBT ally and advocate (she was nominated for 2019 Best Ally by the readers of the Los Angeles Blade), specializes in creating amazing weddings for the LGBT community, working with a variety of budgets. The veteran planner recommends that couples have an idea of the guest count and budget in mind that they would like to spend. “As a planner, I guide my couples in planning and designing a wedding that is the right fit for them and what they want—whether it be intimate and lovely or going for the fabulous,” she enthused. Sofer loves seeing when couples are creative and express themselves and what they want. “And for those who just want me to plan every detail, I am more than happy to design and plan the wedding of their dreams. My goal is to give each couple what they want and what is important to them.” One of Sofer’s favorite LGBT weddings included a Gatsby theme at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. “We were completely traditional to the time, from the décor, the programs as old 1920s newspapers and the clothes. We wanted each guest to take a step back in time to the

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Whether you’re beginning a new life together or renewing your vows, you’ll discover that Sarasota County provides the perfect backdrop for your wedding or honeymoon love story. WeddingsSarasota.com


Every celebration should be worthy of the couple. In Sarasota County, it could be at The Hyatt Regency Sarasota, with grand ballrooms just minutes from downtown, amongst green canopies of tall palm trees, magnificent live oaks and coastal mangroves, or best of all, along whitewashed shores featuring turquoise waters and stunning sunsets. Sarasota County has the perfect backdrop for a destination wedding. Featuring 35 miles of coastline, outstanding amenities including waterfront resorts and cozy private rental homes, and easy access to the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, there’s nothing Sarasota can’t accommodate. The Ringling Museum property offers several unique venues. The Museum of Art Courtyard provides a magnificent and romantic setting surrounded by ancient Greek, Roman and Baroque statues and accommodates up to 400 guests, while the Ca’ d’Zan Terrace and Bayfront, located along the Bayfront Promenade, is illuminated when the sun and stars set over Sarasota Bay. Hammocked between Sarasota’s humming streets and Sarasota Bay, harmony and serenity are found at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. Couples often wed under the ancient, sprawling banyan trees or a sophisticated gazebo overlooking the inlet. Others choose to dine and dance at the Mansion or the Great Room by the bay. Siesta Beach catapulted into international stardom when awarded TripAdvisors’ Travelers’ Choice Award for Best Beach in North America and Dr. Beach named it the “#1 Beach in America.” Couples will not regret sinking their toes into Siesta’s satin-sewn crystal sand. After saying their “I do’s” on

the beach couples can take a short drive to several reception locations such as Michael’s On East, a local fine-dining establishment, or The Chart House, waterfront dining with impeccable service. Further down the coast is the 30-acre archeological estate, Historic Spanish Point. Reconstructed to its 1890’s glory, Mary’s Chapel seats 40 people in wooden pews. Those wishing to wed under the Florida sun are drawn to the neo-classic Pergola and Sunken Gardens sitting on the water, accompanied by the White Cottage with enough space for both parties have their own suites to prepare for the big day As you begin to plan your day, your way, note that venue permission and permits may be necessary for your destination wedding, so be sure to plan accordingly. Marriage licenses are needed and may be obtained at the Clerk of the Court Circuit Court, Marriage License Division of Sarasota County. There is a waiting period of three days after issuance, except for non-Florida residents. Start your wedding off right and reach out to Visit Sarasota County. We can help recommend vendors, secure room blocks and provide welcome bags and destination information for wedding guests, including TAG-approved and LGBTQ friendly hotels. Our goal is to help you save time and effort, so you can focus on what’s truly important! And, if you’re interested in sending your guests home, but hanging around for your honeymoon, consider this: Sarasota was recently ranked the #1 Affordable Honeymoon Spots in the US by Livability, and Travel Channel recently included Sarasota as a Top Florida Beach Honeymoon Destination!

The Greystone Mansion, also known as the Doheny Mansion, is a Tudor Revival mansion on a landscaped estate with distinctive formal English gardens, located in Beverly Hills, and one of the most desirable locations in Los Angeles for a formal wedding. Photo and decor by Randy Fuhrman

Continued from page 16 roaring ‘20s. The couple and I worked very closely on planning each and every detail, from beginning to end.” Another same sex wedding Sofer produced were for two fabulous gentleman that love the luxury life. “Every part of the wedding— which took place at the AT&T building in DTLA—expressed their unique elegant taste and their commitment to wow their guests. Keeping wedding costs down gets easier when you have a planner who has numerous connections. “A good organizer gets discounts and extra perks for their clients,” acknowledged seasoned wedding planner, Jennifer Robyn Laskey. “Many hotels and restaurants that aren’t booked every weekend offer me special deals that I can offer couples.” For a lesbian couple’s wedding, Laskey, who

calls herself a “venue/event matchmaker,” suggested a Sunday night at Hollywood’s Madera restaurant. “It was easier to give them a better price at Madera, as Sunday night is a slower time.”

Work some magic on your marriage-phobic spouse to be

If your partner starts dragging his heels about getting hitched, check out Michael Cardenas, a gay brujo at Olde Ways, who offers magical services and witch- made products. Love and marriage spells are the most common request Cardenas gets. “Most of the time when faced with this situation, you either need a Marriage Spell (when you’re almost to the finish line and want to ensure a proposal and successful life together) or the Commanding Love Spell, for the extremely stubborn situations.” Some couples need help letting go of the

past and cutting cords to fear and negativity, in which case, Cardenas suggests the Love Uncrossing spell. “I can create something for just about any scenario.” When properly done, spellwork can create permanent change, which is why it’s important to take it seriously, Cardenas said, “We are working with real energy that can influence people’s lives in a very tangible way. I work the old school way, by first petitioning the spirits and setting out offerings, asking them to intercede on behalf of my clients. I confirm with divination, whether or not these have been received and the spirits agree to the work.” He added: “This is what I believe helps me to have a high success rate with marriage spells and has helped me stay in business for as long as I have been.” For our favorite LA wedding venues, visit losangelesblade.com.

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Let Four Points Los Angeles Westside be the perfect choice of wedding venues in Los Angeles for you. We’ve recently completed renovations to our entire hotel so you and your guests can enjoy freshly remodeled accommodations and event spaces throughout your celebration. Four Points by Sheraton LA Westside is committed to making your dreams come true - with seemingly limitless venue options and an extraordinary staff it’s easy to impress your guests and make your day a memorable one from start to finish. Our wedding services provide for the trendy to the traditional, the extravagant to the tastefully modest. We’ll be there to ensure that everything goes well along the way. The Four Points by Sheraton LA Westside Hotel has 196 spacious guest rooms and features intimate and distinctive locations for Los Angeles weddings or social gatherings of all sizes. Wedding Room Blocks We are also happy to host your out of town guests, allowing you and your friends & family to celebrate into the night, before retiring to one of our comfortable guest rooms. At A Glance Number of Guest Rooms: 196 Number of Meeting Spaces: 4 Largest Indoor Meeting Space: 2,173 square feet

Tammy Shaklee says it’s never too late to find love. Photo courtesy H4M Matchmaking

This matchmaker can help you find The One ‘There’s someone for everyone’ By SUSAN HORNIK

Finding the right person that is going to love you for who you are—the good and the not so good—can be a wondrous and yet elusive thing. What does it take to find that magic in a bottle, that one person that changes everything by bringing you long lasting, romantic love? As difficult as it is to meet someone, relationship expert Tammy Shaklee realized dating in the LGBTQ community was even more challenging due to the lack of matchmakers. “As a straight ally, I was stunned when I couldn’t refer a gay friend to the same matchmaker who introduced me to my husband,” acknowledged Shaklee, president of H4M Matchmaking. “It never occurred to me that certified matchmakers did not serve LGBT singles.

After extensive research and focus group interviews, I designed and launched a matchmaking company to serve gay and lesbian singles from coast to coast in the U.S.” H4M is exclusively designed for the LGBTQ niche, and only provides same-sex matching. “We are even a national resource for other matchmakers who may take an occasional gay or lesbian client, as we may collaborate and match our clients to each other, if compatible,” she enthused. Shaklee and her team have been successfully introducing thousands of gay singles seeking long-term committed relationships since 2012. An LGBTQ ally and advocate, Shaklee well understands the challenges singles face when looking for a suitable mate, and has great advice for any prospective client. “A personal matchmaker is ideal for a

shy or more introverted single,” she noted. “We get to know our clients personally, and then represent them in setting them up with a compatible match. There is no need to complete a profile, or put a photo out there, as our introduction service does all of the work. We prepare each single with talking points and details to help enjoy a quality first date.” To draw romantic love in, Shaklee recommends people work on themselves emotionally and mentally, so that they are ready for a relationship. “There’s nothing sexier than to meet a person who is happy within, and who is authentic and genuine in wanting to know more about you. I encourage our clients to be healthy, happy,

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Just two miles from the “happiest place on earth” is one of the most desirable wedding venues in all of Orange County. THE RANCH Events Center sits five floors above the critically acclaimed THE RANCH Restaurant & Saloon in Anaheim. Featuring 20,000+ square feet of ceremony and reception space, the Events Center boasts five private dining rooms, Chef’s show Kitchen, outdoor terrace, two exquisitely-designed Suites, and a gorgeous Saloon. With rooms to accommodate up to 300+ seated guests, THE RANCH is perfect for any occasion and any dining experience from rehearsal dinners and engagement parties, to intimate ceremonies and grand receptions. There are endless options for your picture perfect moments, including expansive views of the city and Disneyland Resort Fireworks. If you’re looking for a unique venue for a bachelor or bachelorette party, look no further! The Saloon is like nothing you’ve seen before. Custom built and impeccably maintained, it features a state-of-the-art Meyer sound system, a custom-made dance floor, and an exclusive selection of whiskey and hand-crafted cocktails. Executive Chef & Certified Sommelier, Michael Rossi, creates private dining menus that pair beautifully with a robust selection of unique and popular wines from an award-winning 10,000+ bottle wine cellar. Inspired by seasonal harvests at their local heirloom Farm in the Santa Ana Mountains, Chef Rossi continues to gain culinary attention for his dishes that artfully reflect the farm-to-table heart of THE RANCH concept. Alongside his brother, Pastry Chef Dave Rossi showcases delectable desserts with modern flair and nostalgic whimsy - from Butterscotch Pots de Crème to New York Style Cheesecake, your wedding guests will enjoy every aspect of their meal.

THE RANCH Events Center team is excited to help you plan your special day! To schedule a private tour, please call 714.817.4207. 1025 East Ball Road | Anaheim, CA 92805 714.817.4200 | theranch.com

Continued from page 20 and safe. Living a well-balanced and wellrounded life is attractive to others.” Prioritizing “self-care, fitness, health, and enjoy passions, hobbies, and interests” makes one an eligible single. Having an open heart and mind in meeting others will lead to eventually meeting a compatible partner,” she said. After a personal Skype interview and criminal background check, Shaklee tells each compatible match about each other, then manages every detail of the first and second date, complete with a live verbal feedback call the morning following the introduction. “We are completely offline and discreet and provide more traditional introductions,

courting, and dating for eligible gay singles,” she said, adding that the company also provides unlimited dating coaching for all of their matchmaking clients. Shaklee has had her own happy luck with a matchmaker, and was introduced to her husband 13 years ago. “We’ve been married ten years; each of us had been married before, no kids,” Shaklee said candidly. “We are compatible in lifestyle, work drive and ambition, and personality. We share the same qualities and values. Ultimately, we respect each other’s needs and celebrate each other’s gifts and contributions to the relationship. We mutually respect and support each other as needed. We enjoy some independence, but know we’re partners for life.” Utilizing skills honed in her previous career

as a broadcast journalist, Shaklee’s reporter objective instincts, acute listening skills, and same-sex proprietary methodology, provide the ideal foundation for identifying true compatibility. Her unique process focuses on traditional introductions and dating for LGBTQ singles who are interested achieving relationship success. When not actively pairing her clients, Shaklee is a regular relationship contributor to several LGBTQ media outlets and mainstream publications. She is currently working on the completion of her first book. “I truly believe the world needs more love. Each one of us deserves love, however that looks and feels like to each individual. H4M recently expanded its services to transgender singles, and I’m proud to now match the spectrum of LGBTQ.”

2 2 • V O LU M E 0 3 • I S S U E 1 3 • A M E R I C A’ S LG B TQ N E W S S O U R C E • LO S A N G E L E S B L A D E . C O M • M A R C H 2 9 2 0 1 9

VISIT OUR TASTING ROOM AT THE BREWERY, 1920 COLORADO AVE, SANTA MONICA Looking for a fun and unique space to hold your bachelor, bachelorette, or pre-wedding party? Santa Monica Brew Works is a great unique space to celebrate. Santa Monica Brew Works is Santa Monica’s first and only brewery. Inspired by our love of beer and the City of Santa Monica, we brew great tasting, easy drinking craft beer for people everywhere who live or dream the “beach brewed” lifestyle. Our Tasting Room holds over 200 people and serves 20+ exciting beer styles brewed onsite. Every beer lover can find something to drink from our extensive beer menu. And we always have a great food truck onsite. We take reservations for groups of 15+. Email us at reservations@ santamonicabrewworks.com with your request. General questions can be emailed to info@ santamonicabrewworks.com And you can always call us at 310-828-7629. Tasting Room hours are Monday-Thursday 6pm-11pm; Friday 6pm-midnight; Saturday noonmidnight; and Sunday noon-8pm. Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram @santamonicabrewworks



Showbiz legend dishes up ‘My Life on a Diet’ at the Wallis Renee Taylor, 86, is a woman with a storied past and a few memories to share By JOHN PAUL KING

Renee Taylor stars in her one-woman show, ‘My Life on a Diet.’ Photo Courtesy Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts

If you wanted to have a conversation today with a real-life version of the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, it would probably be a lot like talking with Renée Taylor. Now most widely known for her role as Fran Drescher’s mother on “The Nanny,” the 86-year-old comedian, actress and writer has lived a career that spans back much further, to her days as a stand-up in the New York club scene of the early 1960s. Just like Mrs. Maisel, she was an attractive young Jewish woman breaking into a male-dominated profession. She even knew Lenny Bruce. It was a heady time and place, and a lot of young up-andcomers were earning their stripes. Consider, for instance, the case of a young singer named Barbra Streisand, who was working as an opening act at the now-legendary club Bon Soir when Taylor was first hired there. “I just thought she was extraordinary, even then,” Taylor says of her former co-worker. “She was seventeen, and she was extraordinary, and I thought she couldn’t get better. But she has.” While she may not have achieved the level of superstardom that Ms. Streisand would later enjoy, Taylor certainly has had no reason to complain. Alongside her success in comedy, she’s had a long history as an actress. She’s spent six decades sharing the stage and screen – and rubbing elbows with – the biggest names and talents in the business, from Jerry Lewis and Mel Brooks to Tyler Perry and Adam Sandler, and she’s still going strong. She’s even got a recurring role as the voice of Linda Belcher’s mother on the long-running animated sitcom, “Bob’s Burgers.” Not surprisingly, a woman with such a storied past has quite a few memories to share and quite a few stories to tell; her current project, “My Life on a Diet,” is a one-woman stage performance, based on her own 1986 book, in which she does exactly that – but with a unique twist. “Nora Ephron, whose show I was in, she said she remembered her life by what she was wearing, and what everybody else was wearing,” Taylor explains. “I remember what everybody was eating, and what I was eating.” “I’ve always been on a diet,” she continues. “I’ve been on just about every diet I talk about in the show – the Scarsdale, the Last Chance, the South Hampton – all of them. And I always asked people, ‘What diet are you on?’” In the play, that’s the thread she uses to ties her life story – and the springboard that gives her the opportunity to reminisce about some of her famous friends. “Whenever I met a movie star,” she says, “I’d ask, ‘What do you eat?’ I’d think, whatever they were eating, that’s what made them look that beautiful, so I asked – Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly, all of them – what they were eating.” “Then I ate like them, and I thought I would look like them,” she chuckles, “but I didn’t quite.” When asked which diet she liked the best, Taylor says, wryly, “I was on the Vogue ‘champagne diet,’ which I loved – because they said you could have two glasses of champagne before each meal.” “But,” she adds, “it had to be expensive champagne, because the cheap champagne had more calories. So, I became a $200 a day Cristal drunk. And that was my addiction.” Ever the comedienne, she’s making a joke; but there’s a truth in it that reflects some of the deeper threads she weaves

together with the celebrity anecdotes and showbiz war stories that make up her show. “I have an obsessive personality,” she says, matter-of-factly. “I was obsessed about being famous, I was obsessed about love – and I was obsessed about food and weight loss.” “Gradually, when you feel your feelings, you lose your obsessions,” she goes on. “When you’re eating, you’re just repressing all your feelings – so you figure out that you’re not really hungry for food, you’re hungry for love, for approval, for acceptance. And then, I think, you don’t eat as much.” She doesn’t just apply these observations to eating. Though it’s not covered in the show, she mentions her old friend Joan Rivers – with whom she worked in the early days of both their careers, and with whom she once took a ferry ride to Fire Island “to meet guys” before realizing they were definitely “in the wrong place.” Rivers, famously, had a fondness for plastic surgery. “Joan was pretty,” she says. “I thought she was fine when she started out, but she just kept fixing herself. Talk about being obsessed with not being good enough – I know a lot of people who just keep doing these things, and I just want to tell them, ‘Go back three noses.’” “My Life on a Diet” debuted off-Broadway last year, the culmination of a project Taylor initiated with her husband, Joseph Bologna – also a successful comedian, actor, and writer, whom she met while working at the Improv and married – on TV’s “Merv Griffin Show,” no less – in 1965. The two went on to enjoy their most personal and satisfying successes as a couple, together creating 22 plays, four film screenplays and nine TV movies and series. They got an Oscar nomination for their screenplay, “Lovers and Other Strangers,” and won an Emmy for writing “Acts of Love and Other Comedies” in 1973. “My Life on a Diet” was their final collaboration. They wrote it together, and Joe directed it before passing away on August 13, 2017. Now, after its successful off-Broadway run, Taylor is taking it on a nationwide tour – partly to preserve the memory of her late husband. “I love going to new places, meeting new people,” she says, “and it’s like I’m bringing Joe to them.” “There’s a lot of Joe in the play,” she adds, wistfully. “It’s like I’m with him every night. I talk to him when I’m in the wings. Sometimes, he talks a lot to me, gives me directions. I tell him, ‘just kiss me, don’t talk.’” With that touching – and intimate – revelation, Taylor the showbiz icon perhaps becomes more like Taylor the oldfashioned grandmother figure. That side of her personality also comes out when she’s asked what she thinks of comedy today. “It’s a confusing time, so I think people are confused about what’s funny, and what’s politically correct, and all that,” she says. “The thing that I don’t understand is why people don’t think it’s more important to be funny than to be dirty. It’s easy to be dirty, to use four-letter words in your act – you don’t even get laughs with them anymore, they’re just used to shock.” And what about her old friend, Lenny Bruce? “He was shocking with his language,” she proclaims, “but he was funny!” The Los Angeles premiere of “My Life on a Diet” runs in the Lovelace Studio Theater at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, April 5 – April 14. For tickets and more information, go to thewallis.org.



Dancing for ‘Queen’ Janet Jackson Tyce Diorio reflects on his time with the icon as she prepares for Rock Hall induction By KEVIN NAFF

Tyce Diorio returns this summer to Fox’s ‘So You Think You Can Dance.’ Photo courtesy Diorio

Janet Jackson has made innumerable contributions to popular culture, from chart-topping music to pioneering videos to memorable film roles. She’s a bestselling author, a philanthropist and outspoken advocate for racial, gender and LGBTQ equality. She’s a fashion icon, a sitcom star and award-winning writer. But perhaps the work for which she will be best remembered is as a dancer. From strutting alongside Paula Abdul in 1986’s breakthrough “Nasty” to her oft-imitated solo performance in “Pleasure Principal” to the militaristic “Rhythm Nation” to the mid-tempo grooves with Jennifer Lopez in “That’s the Way Love Goes” and beyond, Jackson has created some of the most iconic dance moves in modern music. And so, as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame belatedly prepares to induct Jackson on March 29, it seems fitting to talk to one of her best-known dancers, Tyce Diorio, about her legacy and her importance to the dance world. Diorio first came to Jackson’s attention after he auditioned and was booked for her “If” video, the second single from 1993’s “janet.” album. He said mastering Jackson’s intricate choreography can be like solving a math problem. “Every part of the choreography of ‘If’ is a masterpiece,” Diorio said in an interview with the Blade. “[Choreographer] Tina Landon is such an expert at building a piece of work around an artist, she did it so well. You know good choreography when it’s still being done 25 years later. It feels so good to do even still today, it’s still relevant.” After the “janet.” album, Diorio auditioned and was hired for the follow-up project, “The Velvet Rope,” accompanying Jackson on a hit world tour and appearing in more videos, including the No. 1 smash single “Together Again.” He describes that period of his career as life changing, performing all over the world and on major award shows. “‘Velvet Rope’ was a masterpiece album,” Diorio said. “The tone and message were so brave and so individualized and personal but also resonated with us on the tour. And she really pushed the envelope creatively as artists should do.” He described the tight bond that developed among the dancers and the close involvement Jackson had in all areas of production, from the dancers’ hairstyles to their moves. “We had tattoos, piercings, different colored hair, no one was doing all that on the music scene. Janet has always been one of those artists that was groundbreaking,” he said. “It’s so rare that an artist is so involved in a project from the makeup and hair to the choreography, she was involved in every portion of it.” Also on “The Velvet Rope” tour was the upstart group NSYNC, which Jackson featured as her opening act for part of the tour. So Diorio knew the group’s lead singer, Justin Timberlake, who would later share the stage with Jackson during her infamous Super Bowl performance.

“When NSYNC started as opening act they were very friendly and fun,” Diorio said. “We all had a nice rapport.” Reflecting on the Super Bowl controversy, Diorio says, “things happen.” “I thought the Super Bowl performance was fantastic and so well designed in terms of the set and choreography and the way Janet performed with the dancers,” he said. “So for me in terms of the controversy I don’t have any thoughts on that. What happened was an unfortunate situation that just happened and we all move on from it.” Agreed. Jackson is known for letting her dancers share the spotlight and many have gone on to tremendous success on their own, from Abdul and Lopez to Jenna Dewan and Diorio, who won an Emmy Award for his work on “So You Think You Can Dance.” Diorio is in production on his 16th season as a judge on the hit show now, which will air this summer on Fox. The LAbased dancer/choreographer, who’s gay, also recently finished shooting a film in Europe called “High Strung.” Diorio has danced and choreographed for a number of major pop stars, going on tour with Paula Abdul when he was just 19. Later, he appeared in Ricky Martin’s video for hit song “Livin’ La Vida Loca” and danced in Jennifer Lopez’s debut tour. But it’s his work with Jackson that remains “transcendent.” “When I took the stage with her it was an otherworldly experience. You can’t explain it fully. There are no words. It’s transcendent. You feel like you’re in another space and time, it’s such a journey.” It’s difficult to put into words the experience of performing on stage in front of 20,000 screaming fans — the adrenalin rush and the stamina required to pull it off night after night — and the feeling when the tour ends. “When the tours were over it was bittersweet but I go back to my life and that’s magical too,” Diorio says. “I feel lucky in my life whether I’m in front of millions of people or not. That’s the challenge in our business, separating those moments from the rest. It’s like a chapter in one’s life. All good things come to an end.” Last year, Diorio received an unexpected call from Jackson’s team, inviting him along with many of her previous tour dancers to a reunion in L.A. and a blockbuster performance of “Rhythm Nation” at the Hollywood Bowl. The performance — part of her “State of the World Tour” — can be found on YouTube. In it, dancers from all of her previous tours take the stage to recreate those iconic moves. Then Jackson took time to introduce each dancer to the audience. “Which artist would do something like this? There’s no one else who could pull this off,” Diorio recalls. “It was magical, we were all blown away. Being on the stage, we came together so seamlessly. We all knew each other, we were so inspired and motivated, an awe-inspiring moment. It only happens once. One for the books.” Continues at losangelesblade.com


Needless to say, the bridge between Broadway and Music Row is well traveled. Sara Bareilles and Brendon Urie are only the most recent examples of pop artists who have gone on to work successfully in the world of musical theater. But Ben Platt is one of the rarer examples of someone taking the opposite direction — from Broadway to a pop album. His debut album “Sing To Me Instead” attempts to bring together these two very different worlds. The 25-year-old openly gay Platt made his Broadway debut in “The Book of Mormon” as Elder Cunningham. He later starred as Evan Hansen in “Dear Evan Hansen” on Broadway, for which he won a Grammy (Best Musical Theatre Album) and a Tony (Best Actor in a Musical). Add to that the role of Benji Applebaum in the “Pitch Perfect” movie franchise. Platt sits right at the happy junction of Broadway songwriting and gay pop performers. Gay pop artists are still something of a rarity, though their presence has been steading growing with performers like Troye Sivan, Years & Years, Jake Shears and Sam Smith. Yet Platt finds himself in the even smaller company of out singers who use gender-specific pronouns for their love interests. The album opens with Platt accompanied by a slightly out-of-tune upright piano, singing the somber tune “Bad Habit.” He sings in a clear, powerful baritone, resorting to falsetto in the final choruses. The reason for his extraordinary Broadway success becomes quickly apparent. And while no doubt he is an excellent singer, he has an incredible ability to communicate emotionally with the listener. Saying so seems banal, but Platt pushes this communication far beyond the regular boundaries of pop music. So far four music videos have been released to promote the album, for singles “Ease My Mind,” “Bad Habit,” “Grow As We Go” and “Temporary Love.” The video for “Ease My Mind” centers on the break up of a gay relationship, a theme Platt touches on in a number of the new tracks. It is a beautiful song, which could almost be categorized as gospel, complete with a blues organ and vocal humming. It may be the best song on the album. The videos already have almost five million views combined, a good start for a debut album release. The single “Grow As You Go” is another great track, with an acoustic sound. One can’t help but be reminded of recent tracks such as Family of the Year’s “Hero.” And the lyrics are especially touching: “If to change is what you need/you can change right next to me.” Platt is one of the rare artists whose lyrics are completely absorbing. The album has much in common with Sara Bareilles’ 2007 album “Little Voice” with its piano-driven uptempo songs and numerous ballads, though “Sing To Me Instead” is lacking an equally chart-ready single like Bareilles’ “Love Song.” Platt’s “Temporary Love” is perhaps the closest thing to a typical pop single on the album, a well-produced song about proving one’s love to a partner. It’s catchy, uptempo and soulful. And though decidedly baritone, Platt makes good use of his range and his falsetto has plaintive, breathy quality to it. Some of the best tracks are saved for the tail end of the album. “Share Your Address” has a charmingly theatrical quality and it’s almost hard it to picture it off-stage. “In Case You Don’t Live Forever” is one of the best songs on the album. Like Platt’s other songs, it is perfectly paced and has the remarkable yet rare capacity to take the listener on an emotional journey. The story-driven songs are both compelling and catchy. Like songs from most contemporary Broadway, Platt appeals to the most universal human stories. And unlike so much of pop music, the relatability of his music does not come at the expense of their quality. If anything, he is lacking somewhat in the charisma one associates with a typical pop artist. But what he lacks in charisma, he makes up abundantly elsewhere.


Broadway wunderkind Debut album from Ben Platt is emotional, well paced By THOM MURPHY

Ben Platt has conquered Broadway. His vocal abilities are on solid display on is debut pop album. Photo courtesy Atlantic Records



The Off Sunset Festival, LA’s Leather Street Fair, is back for its seventh year on Sunday, March 31 only.


HRC Los Angeles’ Annual Gala Dinner and Auction is today from 5:30-10 p.m. at the JW Marriott Los Angeles (900 West Olympic Blvd.). Bringing together more than 1,000 HRC members, friends, family and allies for an evening of celebration and inspiration in the greater Los Angeles area, this event features 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. This year presidential candidate Cory Booker will be present to wow the crowd and you’ll hear remarks from Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin who is leaving the organization. Visit HRCLADinner.com for more information.


DTLA LGBTQ Heritage Tour and Brunch is today from noon-5 p.m. at Redline (131 6th St.). Hit the streets and wind your way through the richest and most vibrant lesbian, Gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) history and culture the City of Angels has to offer. From the gay-friendly Native Americans who first settled here to LA’s first gay porn theater that opened in the 1880s to the grand hotels and bathhouses that sated the secret desires of the Hollywood elite. Then we travel back to Redline for a delicious brunch and mimosas. You’ll see why DTLA is so proud of its LGBTQ+ diversity. Tickets available at airbnb.com. Broadway West Launch Benefit Concert is tonight from 7-9:30 p.m. at a secret location in Los Angeles (search eventbrite). After more than three years in the making, Broadway West is officially launching. The nonprofit dedicated to activating and revitalizing the historic theaters in Downtown Los Angeles by bringing Broadway to the West Coast and to Downtown Los Angeles. Enjoy a night of special and unforgettable musical performances, food, drinks and a special presentation about the exciting Inaugural 2019-2020 Broadway West season, starting with a one-woman musical spectacular, ‘PATTI at the Palace.’ Cost is $50. Search eventbrite for much information. TOM House Open House is today from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. at Tom of Finland Foundation (1421 Laveta Terrace).

This historic Los Angeles home was not only where the artist lived and worked over the last decade of his life, but also the nexus of the gay biker counterculture — in some ways, a setting where the artist’s work could come to life. Enjoy it live and see if you can live up to the expectations expressed in the world’s most iconic gay art. Enjoy beverages and bites. Donation required. Seventh Annual Off Sunset Festival is today from noon-7 p.m. at Off Sunset Festival (4219 Sunset Blvd.). LA’s Leather Street Fair is back for its seventh year. Off Sunset Festival, the Los Angeles Leather Street Fair closes out a week of events for Los Angeles Leather Pride. This 21-and-over only festival is not for the faint of heart who are afraid of a little wild love, great DJs and bands, great food trucks, outstanding drinks and cold beers, a little craft appreciation, loads of leather good and a lot of hot flesh. Yes, be naked on Sunset. Tickets are $15 online at offsunetfestival.com. Trans Day of Visibility: Lunch and a Movie is today from noon-3:30 p.m. at The Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Village at Ed Gould Plaza (1125 N. McCadden Pl,). Join the LA LGBT Center and GLSEN LA for a Trans Lounge Trans Day of Visibility and celebration of community with a screening of the triumphant and soul-affirming documentary “In the Turn” (2012). “In the Turn” documents the story of Crystal, a 10 year-old trans girl struggling to be her authentic self in rural Canada. After discovering a queer roller derby association, her mother writes a message to the organization which raises money to sponsor Crystal to come to the U.S. and find inspiration and community while taking part in a junior roller derby camp. Free. Search eventbrite for details.


Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is tonight from 7:30-9:30 p.m. at The Music Center Performing Arts Center of Los Angeles (135 North Grand Ave.). Power and grace. Tenderness and strength. Precision and passion. For 60 years, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has embodied these complexities and contradictions of the human condition with dance performances that uplift and transform, making the company one of the world’s most beloved. Offering an homage to traditional modern dance techniques blended with the new, the Ailey

company will perform three different programs of mixed repertory with classic Ailey works and contemporary masterworks. Each program will culminate with the soulful American masterpiece “Revelations.” Tickets available at musiccenter.org.


GMCLA Presents Turn Back Time: The Best of GMCLA is tonight from 8-10 p.m. at Alex Theater (216 North Brand Ave.. They’re back! For its 40th Anniversary Spring show, GMCLA is going through the archives and pulling out some favorite songs that the Chorus has performed over the decades. Whether you’ve been in the audience for years or discovered the Chorus recently, you’ll want to join them as they turn back time to highlight some hits from GMCLA’s first 40 years! Cher may or may not perform. Tickets available at the door. Please make a donation. Visit gmcla.org for more information.


Anita May Rosenstein Campus Grand Opening Community Celebration is today from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. at Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Anita May Rosenstein Campus (1118 N. McCadden Pl.). Expanding across nearly one full city block in the heart of Hollywood, the Anita May Rosenstein Campus stands as a beacon of hope for the LGBT community in Los Angeles and beyond. The Campus is the product of more than a decade of dreams and hard work, a public gathering place that brings the generations together to celebrate and learn from one another. It will provide expanded employment and educational opportunities for LGBT youth and seniors and offer them safe, affordable housing in a community built on the pillars of pride, strength, and love. 12 p.m. ribbon Cutting. Tickets available at eventbrite.com. Donations requested.

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.

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.



Cannabis Culture Provided by NORML

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt Photo courtesy Stitt’s office

Okla. guv signs medical marijuana measure OKLAHOMA CITY — Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt has signed legislation, HB 2612, clarifying regulations and patient protections specific to the medical use of cannabis. A majority of voters last June approved a statewide initiative authorizing the plant’s use, cultivation, and dispensing. The new legislation codifies the regulatory bureau, the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority, within the State Department of Health, establishes a registry for qualified patients and their caregivers, and establishes a revolving fund to address oversight matters. It strengthens patient protections by explicitly stipulating that registered cannabis consumers may not be denied public assistance, access to firearms, or employment solely based upon their patient status. It further states, “No employer may refuse to hire, discipline, discharge or otherwise penalize an applicant or employee solely on the basis of a positive test for marijuana components or metabolites.” The bill seeks to facilitate standards for banks who wish to partner with medical cannabis businesses, and prohibits local governments from enacting “guidelines which restrict or interfere with the rights of a licensed patient or caregiver to possess, purchase, cultivate or transport medical marijuana.” Members of the House voted 93 to 5 in favor of the legislation. Senate members voted in favor of the bill by a margin of 43 to 5. The new law takes effect 90 days following the adjournment of the 2019 legislative session. An estimated 55,000 Oklahomans are registered with the state to access medical cannabis.

Cannabis use linked to reduced BMI EAST LANSING, Mich. — The use of cannabis over time is inversely related to obesity, according to data published in the International Journal of Epidemiology. A team of Michigan State University researchers assessed the relationship between cannabis use and body mass index (BMI) over time in a nationally representative sample of 33,000 subjects. Investigators reported that cannabis-using subgroups exhibited “appreciably attenuated BMI gain” over the trial period as compared to nonusers and quitters, “with the largest attenuation seen in the ‘persistent use’ group.” They concluded: “This new prospective study builds from anecdotes, pre-clinical studies and cross-sectional evidence on inverse associations linking cannabis use and obesity and shows an inverse cannabis– BMI increase association. Confirmatory studies with rigorous cannabis and BMI assays will be needed.”

Several prior population-based studies, such as those here, here, and here, have similarly reported an inverse relationship between cannabis use and obesity.

Fla. repeals medical cannabis smoking ban TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis last week signed legislation, Senate Bill 182, repealing the state’s blanket ban on the inhalation of herbal forms of medical cannabis. Upon taking office, DeSantis demanded lawmakers rescind the ban, which he said was contrary to the provisions of the 2016 voter-initiated medical cannabis access law. The new law took immediate effect. Under the law, qualified patients are permitted to possess up to four ounces of herbal cannabis if a recommending physician opines “that the benefits of smoking marijuana for medical use outweigh the risks for the qualified patient. Lawmakers had previously banned the act of smoking medical cannabis or possessing herbal cannabis flowers, except in instances where they are contained “in a sealed, tamper-proof receptacle for vaping” in 2017.

N.M. approves decriminalization bill ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — House and Senate lawmakers have approved legislation, Senate Bill 323, decriminalizing minor marijuana possession offenses. The proposal now awaits action from Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. The bill reduces first-time penalties for the possession of up to one-half ounce of cannabis from a criminal misdemeanor -- punishable by up to 15 days in jail -- to a ‘penalty assessment,’ punishable by a $50 fine. Subsequent offenses, or in situations where the defendant possesses greater amounts of marijuana, will remain punishable by the possibility of jail time. Police in New Mexico made over 3,600 marijuana possession arrests in 2016. If signed into law, the reduced penalties take effect on July 1, 2019. Twenty-one states have either legalized or decriminalized the adult possession and use of cannabis. Broader legislation that sought to legalize the possession of marijuana by adults and regulate its commercial production and sale passed the House, but stalled in the Senate Finance Committee because the Chair failed to call the bill for a vote. Nonetheless, the Governor has announced that she will add the issue to the agenda of the 2020 legislative session. (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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