Losangelesblade.com, Volume 3, Issue 21, May 24, 2019

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Mark Takano is just third out gay to chair full congressional committee, PAGE 08








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Wiener’s housing bill shelved Five other LGBT measures head for floor votes By KAREN OCAMB kocamb@losangelesblade.com There was something of a legislative explosion in Sacramento heading to May 17, the deadline for the appropriations committees in both chambers to consider bills with costs attached. The Assembly committee looked at 721 bills to shelve or move to the floor while the Senate dealt with 355 bills. Perhaps the most surprising bill shelved May 16 was SB 50 by out Sen. Scott Wiener of San Francisco. The housing bill would have allowed more density in an effort to impact the housing crisis. It had a wide coalition of support and was endorsed by the Los Angeles Times. But it had strong opposition, too, from groups such as the Coalition to Preserve LA, an AIDS Healthcare Foundation

Out State Sen. Scott Wiener Blade photo by Karen Ocamb

off-shoot, that believe developers would gentrify certain areas and forfeit local government control. Senate Appropriations Chair Anthony Portantino, who represents Pasadena

residents that strongly oppose SB 50, said he feared “unintended consequences” and made SB 50 into a two-year bill to be possibly resurrected in Jan. 2020. Gov. Newsom said he was “disappointed” with the outcome and faced criticism with out Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins, who backed her committee chair. “Short of significantly amending the bill and limiting its applications in large swaths of the state, there was no path to move forward this year,” Atkins said in the statement. Five LGBT bills sponsored by Equality California survived the suspense file hearings while two—AB 650, LGBTQ Mortality Data, authored by Assemblymember Evan Low and AB 758, Strengthening California’s Equal Pay Act, by Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo, were killed in committee. The five headed to the floor for votes are: AB 493: Safe and Supportive Schools Act of 2019 by Asm. Todd Gloria (D-San Diego); AB 307: Homeless Youth Grant Program by Asm. Eloise Gomez Reyes (D-San Bernardino); SB 145: LGBTQ Young People Nondiscrimination

in the Sex Offender Registry by Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco); SB 159: PrEP and PEP Access Expansion by Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and Asm. Todd Gloria (D-San Diego); and SB 132: Transgender Respect, Agency and Dignity Act by Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco). “Each of these bills would advance the health and well-being of LGBTQ Californians, while paving the way for other states to follow in California’s footsteps. We’re grateful to both Committees for their support of these critical policy priorities,” said Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur. Some of the bills still face twisted antiLGBT opposition. SB 145, for example, is cosponsored by LA County District Attorney Jackie Lacey but is described by the antiLGBT Capitol Resource Institute as: “SB 154 actually provides an out for a sex offender that clearly intended to lure a minor for the sole purpose of committing a felony sex act on them, so long as the offender is 10 year or less in age to the minor.”

Newsom forms task force on homelessness Oakland mayor says issue is a ‘humanitarian crisis’ FROM STAFF REPORTS California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a task force on homelessness May 21 as California grapples with a mounting housing crisis that has seen a record number of people without a safe and secure home. The Homeless and Supportive Housing Advisory Task Force will be co-chaired by Sacramento’s Mayor Steinberg and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark RidleyThomas, Newsom told reporters gathered at the Robinson Multi-Service Center, a transitional housing facility in Oakland. He has also proposed increased state spending on homelessness. “This is the humanitarian crisis of our time,” said Oakland Mayor Schaaf introducing Newsom. The number of people experiencing homelessness increased 43% over the last

Gov. Gavin Newsom at news conference May 21, 2019 Screen grab

two years, according to a recent report from the Oakland Housing Authority and Alameda County officials “No Californian can say homelessness is someone else’s problem. It affects us all,” Newsom said. “Homelessness is a matter of statewide concern, but solutions will come from the local level. Mayors, county supervisors and city councils around the state are working hard to reduce homelessness and its underlying causes. We’ll be watching these local and regional solutions closely, to lend a hand and help them scale.” Preliminary results from the 2019 Los Angeles Homeless Count, under the direction of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, (LAHSA), suggest the numbers have “jumped significantly,” according to LAHSA Executive Director Peter Lynn. In 2018, the number of homeless was 52,765. LGBTQ people are a disproportionately large segment of the overall homeless population. “Frequently, homeless LGBTQ persons have great difficulty finding shelters that accept and respect them. LGBTQ individuals experiencing

homelessness are often at a heightened risk of violence, abuse, and exploitation compared with their heterosexual peers. Transgender people are particularly at physical risk due to a lack of acceptance and are often turned away from shelters,” the National Coalition for the Homeless noted in their findings. “I look forward to partnering with California Governor Gavin Newsom, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, and other members of this Task Force to ensure that the State of California steps up its efforts in confronting the defining civic and moral crises of our time,” said LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “It is time for all levels of government to intensify our efforts, and take urgent and swift action to combat homelessness.” The Task Force will consult with local and regional governments around the state to assess best practices and strategies and will deliver at least one annual report to the Governor on the work it performed to guide the creation of joint regional plans to address homelessness, including highlighting best practices and model programs at the local level.



APA hosts ‘Cured’ filmmakers at conference American Psychiatric Association is now headed by an out gay man By KAREN OCAMB kocamb@losangelesblade.com The American Psychiatric Association shocked the purveyors of religious “decency” and morality by removing homosexuality as a mental illness from its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual in 1973. Officially designating homosexuals as “sick” and “perverted” enabled government, businesses and the institutions of society to criminalize, stigmatize, belittle, beat and brand as “evil” and “abnormal” anyone perceived as being this corporal corruption as less-than a human being. And homosexuals internalized the horror, perpetually hiding and inflicting internal wounds of shame. But in the late 1960s, Gay Liberation activists and rational scientists fought back to reclaim the individual personal pride of being gay or lesbian. Those boisterous showy early Gay Pride parades served a personal, public and political purpose. Nonetheless, the merchants of shame continue to peddle the scam of a “cure” for supposed homosexual perversion, despite more and more state governments outlawing the junk science of so-called “conversion therapy.” But now, one of the leaders in the fight for human dignity for LGBT people is the very group that originally gave a justification for the psychological harm—the American Psychiatric Association. As an even clearer sign of the organization’s evolution, the APA’s CEO, Dr. Saul Levin, is gay. And they are now eager to tell the story of that dark time, according to award-winning filmmakers Patrick Sammon and Bennett Singer who screened an excerpt from their in-production documentary “Cured” as part of an APA conference panel May 20 in San Francisco entitled “Community Activism Narratives in Organized Medicine: Homosexuality, Mental Health, Social Justice, and the American Psychiatric Association.” Levin, Sammon and Singer were joined on the panel by Dr. Adrian Jacques H. Ambrose, who is with the Child and Adolescent

Filmmaker Patrick Sammon at APA Conference in San Francisco. Photo courtesy Dr. Jack Drescher

Psychiatry team at Massachusetts General Hospital. “The American Psychiatric Association is a much different organization today than it was before 1973. Certainly that’s evidenced by the fact that it’s led by an openly gay CEO. So there’s a lot of interest within the APA to have this story told,” Sammon tells the Los Angeles Blade, noting the discussions with the APA about the film have been ongoing for more than a year. “In sitting in on the opening plenary and various sessions during the conference, it seemed really clear that the institution, APA, is explicitly dedicated to increasing diversity, the awareness of diversity,” Bennett tells the Los Angeles Blade. “I heard a bunch of leaders talking about wanting to be sure that psychiatrists are trained and mindful of being able to work with diverse populations,” Bennett

continues. “That seems it’s an institutional goal to really be mindful of diversity in all its forms. They seem to be celebrating that their medical director and CEO, Dr. Levin, is an openly gay man and feeling like that is a genuine asset to their mission. And their president, who presided over this year’s conference is an African-American woman who was also really powerful and moving in her passionate remarks about why diversity matters.” Bennett noted that the APA has embraced its history and wants “to shine a spotlight on it to make it clear that psychiatry and the APA have evolved dramatically from the positions that they had held since 1952, which is when the first DSM was published which classified homosexuality as a ‘sociopathic personality disturbance.’ Now they’re looking at that as misguided and destructive.” The documentary “Cured” shows that

dark history and the process of APA’s transformation. The filmmakers intend to enter “Cured” in film festivals with its eventual broadcast on public television. One of their more recent interviews was with Gay Liberation Front co-founder Don Kilhefner who disrupted an APA aversion therapy conference in an October 1970 zap in Los Angeles that was caught on film. “This all is taking place in the shadow of a world where ‘conversion therapy’ is still allowed in so many states where parents can send their minor children to get ‘fixed.’ We’re hopeful that the history of this story can help illuminate the ongoing discussion about ‘conversion therapy’ and the reality that some people still use the same bad science to justify ‘conversion therapy’ today,” says Sammon. “It’s a good opportunity to spotlight the present with this story from the past.”



The California Democrats’ need for unification Will impeachment dominate the debates? By KAREN OCAMB kocamb@losangelesblade.com The eyes of the political universe will be on San Francisco as May slides into June and presidential hopefuls descend on the Moscone Center to tango with delegates at the California Democratic Convention. The nation’s most populous state final matters in the primaries as the biggest catch of 2020’s Super Tuesday next March 3. For months, many politicos feared grassroots activists would bitterly squabble over who would replace Eric Bauman, the first openly gay chair of the California Democratic Party (CDP) who resigned amid allegations of sexual impropriety. But the imperative of replacing Donald Trump has relegated the chair contest to more of an internal matter, enabling delegates to spend May 31 to June 2 debating how to win the presidency and hold the House. Seven candidates are vying for CDP chair, with election results announced on June 2. Bay Area activist Kimberly Ellis, whose dramatically contentious challenge to Bauman in 2017 was a shocker to party stalwarts and Daraka Larimore-Hall, a millennial activist primarily based in Santa Barbara, are the top two contenders. But less flashy longtime union organizer Rusty Hicks, who has a slew of endorsements from numerous LGBT politicos such as Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl and LA County Assessor Jeff Prang, appears to be the candidates many are hoping will restore order and the CDP’s reputation. While that party business is going on in the background—as well as the race for new chairs of the LGBT Caucus—delegates will mostly focus on organizing for the big 2020 races, given the 8.6 million registered Democrats in California. Official CDP endorsements will occur at a second state convention in November in Long Beach. But the San Francisco convention will no doubt also become caught up in impeachment mania. Longtime Democratic strategist House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been trying to tamp down calls for immediate impeachment hearings but

Five Republicans are planning to challenge Rep. Katie Hill. Photo by Karen Ocamb

featured speakers on Saturday night are Rep. Adam Schiff, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, and impeachment proponent Rep. Maxine Waters, Chair of the House Finance Committee. Pelosi argues that the seven House seats flipped in the midterms are held by more moderate Democrats in red districts and impeachment could be the wedge Trump and the Republican National Committee need to flip those seats back to GOP control. The RNC is already raising money and recruiting challengers in California. “We’re very confident we can get those seats back,” RNC spokesperson Torunn Sinclair told the San Francisco Chronicle. “There are a lot of folks who want to run against the socialist Democrats who were just elected.” Though the filing deadline for the March 3, 2020 is on Dec. 6, several candidates have already jumped in and secured major

backing. GOP businesswoman Young Kim is challenging Rep. Gil Cisneros again in the 39th District in Orange County. Kim was so confident of her win last year—before losing by 7,600 votes—that she went to Washington and posed with other women elected during the midterm elections. She has the backing of House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield. Also being challenged is Rep. Harley Rouda of Laguna Beach in the 48th District. Orange County Supervisor Michelle Steel already has the backing of the conservative Republican Orange County Lincoln Club. Trump named Steele to the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Fred Whitaker, chair of the Republican Party of Orange County, tells the Chronicle that San Juan Capistrano Mayor Brian Maryott will be their likely pick to challenge

Rep. Mike Levin in the 49th District. Five Republicans have announced their challenge to Rep. Katie Porter in the 45th District—but that may take some doing. Law professor Porter has become an Internet sensation with her simple, direct schooling of Trump administration officials, most recently Housing and Urban Development Sec. Ben Carson who confused a real estate owned property term (REO) with Oreo cookies. On May 20, retired Army colonel and Assemblymember Bob Elliott, who represents San Joaquin County’s District 5, announced he had received “new information” from the RNC that prompted him to abandon his race to replace Cathleen Galgiani in the state Senate and instead challenge Josh Harder, the Democrat from Turlock, for the 10th Congressional District, according to Recordnet.com. He didn’t reveal the “new information.” No Republican has yet emerged to take on Rep. TJ Cox, who won a squeaker against Republican Rep. David Valadao by less than 900 votes. Anti-LGBT Rep. Duncan Hunter, who was almost defeated by newcomer Ammar Campa-Najjar in the 50th District, has been indicted on federal campaign corruption charges and faces trial in September. In the meantime, he’s trying to get an advance pardon from Trump for a Navy SEAL accused of killing civilians in Iraq. Hunter told reporters he doesn’t think the Navy will give the SEAL a fair trial, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Rep. Katie Hill, the proud moderate bisexual who defeated anti-LGBT Rep. Steve Knight in the 25th District, was given a leadership role by Speaker Pelosi early on. She already has four GOP challengers and may prove more vulnerable if Democrats take a hard plunge into impeachment. But as Trump flaunts his penchant for authoritarianism, the debate intensifies over how best to uphold the Constitution and the separation of powers. “We’re just getting closer and closer to a point where we have to do something,” Hill told Politico. “Each of us is personally struggling because we see on so many levels ... where he’s committed impeachable offenses.” Politicos everywhere will be looking to California Democrats for direction, clarity and unification, if not a final conclusion.

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Guardian of veterans — and of LGBT rights Mark Takano is just third out gay to chair a full congressional committee By KAREN OCAMB kocamb@losangelesblade.com Mark Takano couldn’t contain himself. Jubilant is too tame a word to describe how he felt that Friday, May 17 when the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Equality Act, banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Takano, the first openly gay man of color elected to Congress, likened it to the day that the Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality. “I remember being at the Supreme Court steps and being interviewed after the decision was handed down and I said, ‘You know, I feel fabulous. I feel every gay word I can think of. It’s a great day to be gay,’” Takano tells the Los Angeles Blade in a recent phone interview. He’s beaming through the telephone. “I feel very similar to that day. It’s a great day to be gay — passing the most comprehensive LGBT civil rights legislation in the history of our country,” Takano says. “Of course I felt fabulous and every gay word I could think of. I didn’t understand how animated that I would become at the press conference.” Takano, co-chair of the Congressional LGBT Caucus, worked with out Rep. David Cicilline, who took the lead on the legislation, “talking to members of our caucus about making sure we refrain from amending the legislation that was very carefully crafted so as not to upset the delicate balance that it was. What we were doing was doing a very, very sensitive thing, which was to open up the Civil Rights Act of 1964. We did so with the cooperation and enthusiasm of the Congressional Black Caucus and we certainly didn’t want to do anything that undermined the sacredness of that important law. There was certainly potential for innocent amendments being introduced that would become poison pills for the legislation.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ranked passage of the Equality Act number five on her list of top 10 legislative priorities. Nonetheless, as someone who remembered

the difficulty in getting the bill a hearing, Takano was somewhat surprised that it sailed through the Education and Labor Committee and Rep. Maxine Waters, chair of the Financial Services Committee, actually waived having a hearing. What Takano took away from the hearings in his committee and the Judiciary Committee was that the opposition was focused not on the validity of LGBT protections but “on things about trans athletes,” he says. “They were raising the specter of people manipulating sporting competitions and gaining unfair advantages through their trans identity. At times, it seemed to me that the Republicans were embarrassed or not even trying to put up an argument.” Takano attributes the less-thanstellar opposition to the overwhelming acceptance by the American public “that LGBT people should have basic protections in the workplace. And they shouldn’t be discriminated against in housing and they should be able to go to school without being bullied.” So on the House floor after defeating the final Republican amendment, “as we saw the ‘yes’ votes put up on the board and when the gavel came down declaring that the bill had passed—with eight Republican votes and no Democratic vote against it—when it passed the 218 mark, there was an unexpected jubilation and joy from members. There was hugging. There were tears coming down. Caroline Maloney of New York hugged and kissed me on the cheek. Our straight allies were so proud of what we had done.” The joy of this civil rights victory was so strong, some ignored House protocol. “Maxine Waters, myself and David Cicilline said I want a picture with you,” Takano says. “We’re not supposed to take pictures on the floor. I’m admitting to a crime. But I said, ‘Take one quickly before the Sergeant of Arms looks.’ We can’t publish it because I would be subject to a fine. But I wanted it for history. Maxine, myself and David took a photo on the floor at that moment, and we captured the vote tally sign behind us.” Takano noted that in addition to the eight Republicans who voted for the Equality Act, 16 Republicans didn’t vote at all. But since this was a bipartisan vote, all the more reason for Mitch McConnell, “The Grim Reaper,” as he calls himself, to bring it to the

Senate for a vote. Takano says the LGBT community should let the importance of this vote sink in that “the people’s House voted to affirm their dignity, our dignity.” But the task is now to move the bill to the Senate. “Public sentiment, the power of the people is what is going to get equality across the finish line,” he says. “What we can do is begin to marshal the power of the people,” because as momentous as passing the Equality Act is, it gets drowned out by the Mueller report,” and the miasma in Washington. “As angry as people are about who’s in the White House, they need to take inspiration from this accomplishment and then use that to build the momentum to get it through the Senate, to affect senate elections,” he says. Takano names vulnerable senators he thinks McConnell is protecting from having to vote on the Equality Act: “Sen. Gardner of Colorado is square one,” he says. “Sen. Collins of Maine would be another. Even Sen. Rubio when you think how mobilized South Florida could be. Sen. McSally from Arizona is another one.” And there are also vulnerable senators in states like North Carolina, there were efforts to pass statewide measures that really were discriminatory against trans people” or try to overturn LGBT equality. “There are many states where I think it would be very, very unwise for the Republican incumbent senator to be antiLGBT, anti-equality,” he says. “And now that it’s passed the House, our activists need to be out in those states, dogging these candidates if they’re running for reelection, asking: will you stand in the way or are you going to lead on LGBT inclusion?” “Inclusion” isn’t just a political buzzword for Takano who uses his family history as inspiration and reminders of the cruel ease of injustice. “My immigrant grandfather and my American-born grandparents were forced into Japanese internment camps during World War II. I use their struggle as motivation to fight for humane immigration reform and be an advocate for justice,” Takano tweeted with a video about his own history for Asian Pacific American History Month. His family fought, too. “Every generation in my family has had people who served in the military. My great uncles served in

World War II as part of the well-known 442nd infantry battalion, with all segregated Japanese-Americans fighting in it. They stepped forward.” Additionally, his brother served in the Army and at age 10, he was aware of a neighbor across the street who served in Vietnam and committed suicide when he returned. And as a teacher in Riverside County—which has the eighth largest population of veterans in the country—he saw many students in ROTC go off to war post-9/11 in Iraq and Afghanistan.” That connection made him keenly aware that the Veterans Administration is “more than healthcare. It’s about education and the GI bill. And it really made me angry to see veterans who were defrauded out of their GI benefits by for-profit colleges,” Takano says. “So I wanted to be on the committee that could start to hold those for- profit colleges accountable. And I care about healthcare. So one of my big responsibilities will be to lead the efforts against privatization by ideological forces that seek privatization of medical care as their ‘reason for being.’ Plus, politically my district has March Reserve Base.” Serving as chair of the Veterans Affairs Committee—the only LGBTQ chair of a full committee and the third LGBTQ chair in the history of the Congress—Takano gets to set agenda priorities, including steering the VA to adapt to serving an anticipated influx of a more diverse population of veterans, including more women, more LGBT vets, and greater numbers of people of color. And Takano is taking hard issues headon. “I’ve declared suicide prevention as my number one priority this Congress,” he says. “And of course I’m interested in knowing how many of our veterans—their LGBTQ status, how it’s affecting their likelihood of coming to crisis. That will be one of the things that I will insist that we look at and that the VA is taking into consideration.” Serving as Chair of the Veterans Affairs Committee also answers a family call to military service that he had to stifle. “I actually did take the ASVAB, (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test) and I did have the thought that I had this secret at the time as an 18 year old,” Takano says. “I was interested in serving. I did have offers from top universities—but it just goes to show you that the kinds of discrimination



Rep. Mark Takano holding the gavel as Chair of the Veterans Affairs Committee Photo courtesy House Creative Services

that occurred in the last several decades is not a good thing for our military. It deprives the military of the best possible people who want to serve.” The experience makes him appreciate

even more the struggle of transgender service members and veterans. “The Williams Institute had an interesting statistic: 135,000 veterans are estimated to be trans. I think that’s amazing. And

we think that 15,500 trans individuals are currently serving in the military,” he says. “So,” Takano concludes, “I’m going to do my utmost as the guardian of veterans— as the chair of the Veterans Affairs

Committee— to make sure that all veterans get healthcare, all veterans get benefits. I’m here to be the guardian.”



“More people have shown up for this Town Hall than any of our previous ones,” Fox News host Chris Wallace said as 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg took the stage in Claremont, New Hampshire. Buttigieg explained why he appeared on Fox: “First, let me be clear: I strongly condemn the voices on Fox and in the media that uncritically amplify hate and the divisive sort of politics that gave rise to this presidency. Their goal is to spread fear and lies, not serve as honest brokers with the American people. “But just because many of these opinion hosts don’t operate in good faith, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t Fox viewers tuning in in good faith. If we unilaterally decide that they shouldn’t hear my or other Democrats’ messages, then we shouldn’t act surprised if they have a distorted view of what we believe and who we are,” Buttigieg continued. “From the beginning of this campaign, I’ve said that I would meet voters where they are. And that means sometimes moving beyond the echo chamber of like-minded voices. Because this primary season is not just about winning the Democratic nomination, or even just winning in 2020—it’s about reclaiming our values and winning an era,” Buttigieg said, receiving a standing ovation at the end of the Town Hall. President Trump ranted on Twitter, to which Fox News anchor Brit Hume replied: “Say this for Buttigieg. He’s willing to be questioned by Chris Wallace, something you’ve barely done since you’ve been president. Oh, and covering candidates of both parties is part of the job of a news channel.”

“For years, they said Chicago ain’t ready for reform. Well, get ready, because reform is here.”

- Former federal prosecutor Lori Lightfoot sworn in as Chicago’s first openly gay and first black woman mayor, May 20 via Agence France-Presse.

“We must #SayHerName and work together as a community to protect trans people from this deadly and senseless violence.”

– Human Rights Campaign May 20 tweet after news of murders of trans women Muhlaysia Booker in Dallas and Michelle “Tamika” Washington in Philadelphia.

“It’s amazing that we’ve come so far in the United States that Congress can hold a three-and-a-half hour hearing that is largely about preventing the spread of HIV through condomless anal sex between men, and not one person says anything even the slightest bit homophobic or sex negative.” – Journalist Benjamin Ryan on his blog about the May 16 House Committee on Oversight and Reform hearing about the pricing of Truvada as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).


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In historic first, House approves Equality Act Future of bill uncertain in GOP Senate By CHRIS JOHNSON For the first time, a chamber of Congress has approved legislation — with bipartisan support — that would amend the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 to ban discrimination against LGBT people. Under the new Democratic majority elected in the mid-terms, the House approved the legislation by a vote of 236-173 as gay Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) presided over the chamber. At other times during debate, gay Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) and lesbian Rep. Angie Craig (D-Minn.) served as speaker pro tempore. As a majority of votes for the bill became apparent and as the vote was called, Democrats and guests in House gallery applauded and cheered. Among those giving a standing ovation in the gallery were Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, and Sharon McGowan, legal director for Lambda Legal. Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), the senior openly gay member of the House and chief sponsor of the Equality Act, said the legislation would “grant full legal equality to the LGBTQ community here in America” and the vote was “truly historic.” “The American people think it’s time to protect the LGBTQ community,” Cicilline said. “There is nothing more central to the idea of America than the guarantee of equal protection under the law for every single American.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), wearing a rainbow wristband as she spoke on the House floor, invoked both the Founding Fathers and the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in support of the Equality Act. “Fifty years after the LBGTQ Americans took to the streets outside of New York’s Stonewall Inn to fight against harassment and hate, we take pride in the progress we have forged together,” Pelosi said. “Our Founders, in their great wisdom, wrote in our beautiful preamble – wrote of the blessings of liberty, which were to be the birthright of all Americans. To bring our nation closer to the founding promise of liberty and justice for all, we, today, pass the Equality Act and finally, fully end discrimination against LGBTQ Americans.” The Democratic caucus was united in support of the legislation. Eight Republicans

Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) speaks at a press conference for the Equality Act last week. Blade photo by Michael Key

voted for the Equality Act: Reps. Susan Brooks (Ind.), Mario Diaz-Balart (Fla.), Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.), Will Hurd (Texas), John Katko (N.Y.), Tom Reed (N.Y.), Elise Stefanik (N.Y.) and Greg Walden (Ore.). Pocan, holding up a photo of Pelosi swearing him in with his husband at his side, said the Equality Act ensures the LGBT nondiscrimination protections enjoyed under the law in some capacity in 21 states are part of U.S. code. The Equality Act would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fair Housing Act to ban anti-LGBT discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, jury service, education, federal programs and credit. The bill also seeks to update federal law to include sex in the list of protected classes in public accommodation in addition to expanding the definition of public accommodations to include retail stores, banks, transportation services and health care services. Further, the Equality Act would establish that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act — a 1994 law aimed at protecting religious liberty — can’t be used to enable anti-LGBT discrimination. The House approved the Equality Act after a tumultuous 90-minute debate in which

Democrats affirmed support for equality for LGBT people and Republicans stoked dubious and incorrect complaints about children being forced to have gender reassignment surgeries, imposition on women’s privacy and penalties imposed on religious organizations. Leading the charge in stoking fears over the Equality Act was Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), who said the Equality Act violates fundamental principles of America. “This bill harms people in so many ways: Destroying safe spaces for women, undermining women-owned businesses, intimidating the free exercise of conscience,” McClintock said. Drawing on fears of men being able to compete as transgender women in women’s sports under the Equality Act, McClintock said, “Wherever these laws are imposed, biological males have begun to dominate women’s competition.” Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.), an anti-LGBT lawmaker who last week sought to pass an amendment on the House floor banning the U.S. government from paying for transitionrelated care, including gender reassignment surgery for transgender people, lamented nontransgender women having to compete with transgender women in sports. “If we continue down this track, how long will it be before nations recruit men identifying as females to out-medal other countries and ultimately uproot the ancient tradition of the Olympics?” Hartzler said. The House voted to approve the Equality Act after rejecting by a vote of 228-181 a motion to recommit introduced by Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.). The measure ostensibly sought to clarify the legislation can’t be construed to diminish Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which bars sex discrimination and fosters women’s participation in sports. Representing Democrats in opposition to the motion to recommit was Rep. Katie Hill (D-Calif.), a bisexual member of Congress who disparaged Republicans for “having a man tell me what kind of protections I need in sports.” “This is fear-mongering about trans women playing in sports,” Hill said. “Are you kidding me? I don’t know if my colleagues on the other side realize that they met trans people, but they have. They definitely have, and I’ve met many, and this motion reflects nothing more than the prejudice of my colleagues.” Prior to the vote, Rep. Ben McAdams (D-Utah) held with Cicilline a colloquy on the House floor to clarify houses of worship could

continue to restrict entrance to its membership and clergy could refuse to perform same-sex weddings despite the ban on discrimination in public accommodations in the Equality Act. In the event of litigation before the courts, the colloquy would clarify that was intent of lawmakers behind the Equality Act. “HR5 does not, nor could any legislation, supersede the First Amendment,” Cicilline said. “HR5 allows the standard set by prior civil rights law to not interfere with worship and religious practices by religious organizations.” Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), however, said that wasn’t enough in addressing concerns opponents of the Equality Act had on its impact on religious organizations, such as Catholic hospitals or adoption agencies. “None of us, especially myself, have said anything about houses of worship,” Collins said. “We do know that’s the bridge too far. What we are concerned about in the bill is where it says any of these groups or affiliations, Catholic affiliations, Jewish affiliations, who get federal money to do other things, they would come under this, and this is where the RFRA protections is something.” With 241 co-sponsors in the House, there was no doubt when the vote was scheduled on Friday the chamber would approve the legislation. But the bill now heads to the Republican-controlled Senate, where it faces an uphill battle. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has called himself the “grim reaper” of legislation approved by the Democratic-controlled House, controls the chamber. In the miraculous event the Senate approves the Equality Act, the bill would head to the desk of President Trump, who indicated last week via a senior administration official to the Blade he opposes the legislation based on unspecified “poison pills” in the bill. Nonetheless, LGBT rights advocates, who have fought long and hard to pass the Equality Act — an early version of which was first unveiled more than 40 years ago in 1974 — hailed the win in the House as a historic milestone. HRC’s Griffin in a statement said House approval of the Equality Act is “a major milestone for equality and sends a powerful and profound message to LGBTQ people, especially LGBTQ youth.” Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said in a statement the vote was “a proud triumph for the liberty of transgender people nationwide.”


Out mag editor threatens to quit in freelance pay dispute Out magazine editor Phillip Picardi is considering resigning amid a massive pay dispute between Pride Media and its freelance contributors. Freelancers have been awaiting compensation for months. In February, the New York Times reported that more than 40 writers, photographers and editors had not been paid more than $100,000 for their work. Forty-two freelancers wrote an open letter on Medium demanding Pride Media, the company that owns the LGBT publication, to “pay us now.” Contributors also took to social media to air their grievances with Pride Media under the hashtag #OutOwes. The issues arose when Out magazine editorial work was outsourced to independent production company McCarthy LLC and Grand Editorial, a company created by former Out magazine editor Aaron Hicklin, to manage payments. In 2017, Hicklin sold Grand Editorial to McCarthy making the production deal between McCarthy and Pride Media. McCarthy says Pride Media violated its contract resulting in the company owing McCarthy thousands of dollars. Pride Media countered with a lawsuit claiming McCarthy’s owner Evanly Schindler’s criticisms led to a loss in advertisers. Picardi, whose career blossomed under his mentor Anna Wintour, left Condé Nast Inc.’s LGBT publication Them and took over as Out’s editor in August 2018. In January, Picardi stated that he was “unaware of the full extent of this situation” when he took over as editor. “I entered this position unaware of the full extent of this situation but remain optimistic about and committed to its resolution. My team and I stand together in rebuilding this brand on a foundation we can all be proud of,” Picardi wrote in a tweet. According to the Daily Beast, Picardi has threatened to leave his position if freelancers aren’t compensated. “Phillip told Adam [Levin Pride Media CEO] that he couldn’t continue to work for him when he was exploiting queer people for their labor,” a source told the Daily Beast. Wintour reportedly suggested Picardi “hire a lawyer,” according to a source at the Daily Beast. Pride Media recently went through another shakeup when its CEO Nathan Coyle resigned to become head of the Ford modeling agency in April. MARIAH COOPER

Tyler Clementi Act targets anti-LGBT bullying With the goal of seeking to draw attention to anti-LGBT bullying at colleges and universities, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) reintroduced legislation last week seeking to require higher education facilities to adopt policies against harassment. The legislation, called the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act, is named for the gay college

student who died by suicide in 2010 by throwing himself from the George Washington Bridge after he experienced cyberbullying during his first semester at Rutgers University. “No student should have to put their wellbeing, their safety, or their life in jeopardy just to access an education, but sadly we’re seeing students around the country take drastic measures because of bullying and harassment,” Murray said in a statement. The legislation has 21 co-sponsors in the Senate, including lesbian Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), and 47 co-sponsors in the House. “No student should have to live in fear of being who they are,” Baldwin said. “Our schools should not be, and cannot be, places of discrimination, harassment, bullying, intimidation or violence.” Pocan said in a statement the legislation is especially needed in the aftermath of the Trump administration withdrawing protections for transgender students. “No student should be harassed or cyberbullied for who they are, or who they love,” Pocan said in a statement. “Bullying is a real and persistent danger for many LGBTQ students at our colleges and universities, but there is no federal legislation that specifically protects students from being targeted based on sexual orientation or gender identity. According to a statement from Pocan’s office, 1 in 5 college students are victims of cyberbullying and LGBT students are nearly twice as likely to experience harassment as their peers. The legislation seeks to prohibit anti-LGBT bullying by requiring colleges receiving federal aid to establish policies prohibiting harassment based on actual or perceived race, color, national origin, sex (including sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, childbirth and sex stereotypes), disability or religion. The bill requires these schools to include their antiharassment policy in a mandated security report distributed to all students and employees annually and to all prospective students upon request. The legislation also recognizes “cyberbullying,” which is defined as harassment “undertaken through electronic messaging services, commercial mobile services, electronic communications and other technology.” Further, the legislation authorizes a competitive grant program for institutions of higher education to foster programs to prevent student harassment; provide counseling to students who have been harassed or accused of subjecting other students to harassment. Jane Clementi, the mother of Tyler Clementi and CEO of the Tyler Clementi Foundation, said in a statement she welcomed the reintroduction of the legislation. “We believe all institutions of higher education should have policies to keep all their students safe,” Jane Clementi said. “Because every student deserves a positive educational experience in a safe environment free of harassment, bullying or humiliation, where they can learn, study and thrive regardless of their race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or whatever else makes them special and precious; and every parent should have peace of mind that their children will be protected and free of harm while in the schools care.”


Lori Lightfoot Screenshot via YouTube

Lori Lightfoot makes history in Chicago Lori Lightfoot made history on Monday when she was inaugurated as mayor of Chicago making her the first openly gay, black woman to hold the office. Lightfoot, who was joined by her wife Amy Eshleman and 11-year-old daughter Vivian, delivered her inaugural speech to a crowd at Wintrust Arena. “For years, they’ve said Chicago ain’t ready for reform. Well, get ready, because reform is here,” Lightfoot said. “I campaigned on change. You voted for change. And I plan to deliver change to our government.” Lightfoot also vowed to cut down on the corruption in Chicago. “When public officials cut shady backroom deals, they get rich and the rest of us get the bill. When some people get their property taxes cut in exchange for campaign cash, they get the money and … we get the bill,” she said. “These practices have gone on here for decades. … Stopping it isn’t just in the city’s interest. It’s in the City Council’s own interest,” Lightfoot said. Lightfoot was joined on stage by outgoing mayor Rahm Emanuel, U.S. Sens. Richard J. Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, Rep. Jesús “Chuy” Garcia, Gov. J.B. Pritzker and former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley. MARIAH COOPE



Victory Institute confab draws 300 in Colombia

Lawmakers in Taiwan on May 17, approved a bill that will extend marriage rights to same-sex couples. Photo courtesy of Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline Association

Taiwan lawmakers approve marriage bill Lawmakers in Taiwan late last week approved a bill that extends marriage rights to same-sex couples. “On May 17th, 2019 in Taiwan, Love Won,” tweeted President Tsai Ing-wen after the vote. “We took a big step towards true equality, and made Taiwan a better country.” The vote took place less than seven months after a referendum on whether to extend marriage rights to samesex couples failed. Taiwan’s Constitutional Court in May 2017 ruled the provision of the island’s civil code that does not “allow two persons of the same sex to create a permanent union of intimate and exclusive nature for the committed purpose of managing a life together” is unconstitutional. The landmark ruling also said same-sex couples could legally marry within two years if Taiwanese lawmakers fail to “amend or enact relevant laws” that allow them to do so. Taiwan will become the first country in Asia to allow same-sex couples to marry. MICHAEL K. LAVERS

BOGOTÁ, Colombia — More than 300 activists and elected officials from around Latin America attended an LGBTQ Victory Institute-organized conference that took place in the Colombian capital of Bogotá from May 16-18. Colombian Congressman Mauricio Toro, Venezuelan National Assemblywoman Tamara Adrián, Belizean Sen. Valerie Woods, Antiguan Sen. Akika Lake, Cuban National Assemblyman Luis Ángel Adán Roble, Arizona state Sen. Tony Navarrete and Colorado state Rep. Brianna Titone are among those who attended. Claire Lucas, a prominent Democratic activist in D.C. who was previously a senior advisor at the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Office of Innovation and Development Alliances, and Juan Carlos Archila of Censurados, a group in the Colombian city of Cúcuta that provides assistance to Venezuelans with HIV/AIDS, also participated in the conference. Caribe Afirmativo, an LGBTI advocacy group that is based in northern Colombia, helped organize the conference. “There’s energy and excitement and frustration because the conditions in so many of these Latin American countries that are represented is so hard,” Victory Institute President Annise Parker told the Blade during a May 17 interview. “I am inspired by the bravery of the folks who are standing up in very difficult conditions.” Peruvian Congressman Alberto de Belaunde told the Blade later in the day the conference is “a really important meeting because this is the opportunity to talk to different LGBT politicians from around Latin America.” De Belaunde also noted Latin American countries “are in different stages of the LGBT rights fight.” The conference took place against the backdrop of Costa Rica, Ecuador and other countries’ struggles with how to implement the Inter-American Court of Human Rights’ landmark 2018 ruling that recognizes same-sex marriage and transgender rights in the Western Hemisphere. It also coincides with persistent discrimination and violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity throughout the region. The conference on May 17 opened with a moment of silence that commemorated the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. The Equality Act, which would add sexual orientation and gender identity to federal nondiscrimination laws, passed in the U.S. House of Representatives later in the day. Archila and other Colombia-based activists with whom the Blade spoke at the conference noted Venezuela’s economic and political crisis continues to have a devastating impact on people with HIV/AIDS who live in the country. Adrián — a supporter of Venezuelan National Assembly President Juan Guaidó who the U.S. and dozens of other countries have recognized as the country’s interim president — in 2015 became the first openly trans woman elected to the Venezuelan National Assembly. She told the Blade on May 18 that Venezuelans wait up to eight hours in some parts of the country to fill their cars with gasoline. Adrián also said some parts of the country

that are outside of the Venezuelan capital of Caracas only have electricity for a few hours a day. “Venezuela unfortunately … is melting down as a country,” she said. MICHAEL K. LAVERS

Cuban lawmaker: LGBT activists ‘paid’ to march BOGOTÁ, Colombia — A Cuban lawmaker on Saturday suggested independent activists were “paid” to organize an unsanctioned LGBTI march that took place in Havana last week. “It’s not only religious groups, but also these so-called activists are often times paid to hold this type of event,” said Luis Ángel Adán Roble in response to questions from the Blade during a panel at an LGBTQ Victory Institute conference that is taking place in the Colombian capital of Bogotá. “I am not saying that everyone who went to it were paid or anything.” The National Center for Sexual Education, a group directed by Mariela Castro, the daughter of former Cuban President Raúl Castro, was to have held a march in Havana on May 11 in commemoration of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. CENESEX on May 6 announced the cancellation of the Havana march and another in the city of Camagüey that was to have taken place on Friday. Independent LGBTI activists sharply criticized the decision and announced the unsanctioned march in Havana. State security officials in the days leading up to the unsanctioned march told independent activists not to attend it. They also prevented some of them from leaving their homes in order to attend it and other unsanctioned IDAHOBiT marches that were scheduled to take place elsewhere in the country. This Blade reporter was barred from the country just days before the march. Juana Mora Cedeño and Isbel Díaz Torres were among the independent activists who were detained before the Havana march that Adán said “was not authorized.” “Like for any march in any country in the world, you have to have authorization,” he told the Blade. Maykel González Vivero, publisher of Tremenda Nota, the Blade’s media partner in Cuba, and other independent journalists on the island, along with reporters from international news agencies, reported several people who participated in the march were arrested. Pictures and videos that were posted to social media show men in civilian clothing manhandling some of the detained protesters before they were placed into cars. Adán told the Blade that four people were detained after he said they attacked a police officer. He also criticized independent journalists for “only showing one picture, but not showing videos of these supposed detentions.” Mariela Castro, with whom Adán is closely aligned, continues to insist without proof that opponents of the Cuban government in Miami and elsewhere organized the unsanctioned march. MICHAEL K. LAVERS



Gay men must fight for abortion access Without Roe, officials can again enforce laws against homosexuality By BRIAN GAITHER Abortion should be safe, legal, and available at your local drugstore. But it’s not. For years, accessing abortion has become increasingly difficult; and now the legislature of Alabama has made it absolutely illegal to perform one. Wherever they can, Republicans are working to outlaw sexual agency. And though gay men may not feel the immediacy of the risk to our own bodies, we need to. Attacks on abortion are also attacks on gay men. The debate over abortion has always been, at its core, about whether any of us has the right to make decisions regarding our own sexuality. Moral judgments about the intent of sexual activity, what defines sexual health, and how we choose to live our sexual lives are the prime motivators of all attempts to restrict the constitutional right to abortion. The sort of politicians pretending to “moral authority” on the issue of abortion now are the same who deliberately did nothing while AIDS killed a whole generation of gay men. Such moralizers will always consider sexual intimacy between men to be as objectionable as abortion because the way we share our bodies with one another has nothing to do with “making babies.” Abortion, available without shame, confirms that all sexuality is a valid expression of human dignity whether or not it involves procreation. Our sexual freedom is based on the right to abortion, and we should honor that fact. We cannot have one without the other. What’s happening in Georgia, Alabama, Missouri, and other places is the latest escalation of moralizing legislators’ ongoing war against sexual agency. Legislatures across the country have been passing laws

Norma McCorvey ( Jane Roe) and her lawyer Gloria Allred on the steps of the Supreme Court, 1989. Photo by Lorie Shaull / Courtesy Wikimedia

for years that prescribe limits on when an abortion can be performed, sometimes even before pregnancy is determined. They’ve placed excessive and unnecessary regulations on medical providers who perform abortions. They’ve banned public funding and private insurance coverage for abortion. They’ve mandated shameinducing obligations on those seeking an abortion, such as reviewing ultrasounds and listening to a fetal heartbeat. And they’ve allowed their sympathizers to loiter outside locations where abortion is available for no purpose other than to harass and intimidate those trying to enter. These restrictions on abortion access do more than assert conservative politicians’ medieval notions of sex and sexuality. Their goal is to create the conditions in which a test case emerges that can challenge and ultimately overturn Roe v. Wade at the Supreme Court. As Trump gives them judges they want, they’re pursuing more opportunities to subvert four decades of judicial precedents.

If these efforts culminate in the overturn of Roe, every decision that’s made it possible for gay men to live their sexual lives without fear of prosecution and incarceration will be vulnerable to a similar fate. Roe is the legal basis for the Lawrence v. Texas decision, which decriminalized sodomy, and the Obergefell v. Hodges decision affirming same-sex marriage builds on Lawrence. Without Roe and the other decisions to protect us, public officials can once more enforce criminal statutes against homosexuality (which often remain in state law). Imagine the terror of gay men being arrested for having recorded their mutual love and commitment with the county clerk, then charged and convicted on the evidence of their own marriage. Make no mistake, the moralizers are remorseless about how far they’re willing to go. So great is their determination that, in an effort to catch the attention of the federal courts, lawmakers in both Alabama and Missouri wittingly outlawed abortion even in cases of rape and incest. The Alabama Legislature, going further, provided criminal penalties for doctors who perform abortions that are more severe than the sentences a judge can impose on convicted rapists. Of course it’s outrageous, but we can’t afford to be outraged just in the abstract. To feel the ache in our liberal sensibilities isn’t enough. We have to recognize the extent of the danger and fight to expand access to abortion, because every attack on abortion is targeted also at the bodies and sexual expression of gay men. If we’re unable, or unwilling, to accept that getting an abortion should be as easy as refilling a prescription at our local drugstore, then we’ve failed to understand what we ourselves have at stake.

Brian Gaither is a co-founder of the Pride Foundation of Maryland. Reach him @ briangaither.

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20 years of fighting HIV/AIDS in Black America We are the generation that can end the epidemic

Phill Wilson is founder of the Black AIDS Institute. Raniyah Copeland is president and CEO of the Black AIDS Institute. Founded in 1999 as the only national HIV/AIDS think tank focused exclusively on Black communities, the Black AIDS Institute’s mission is to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Black communities by engaging and mobilizing traditional Black Leaders, Institutions, and individuals in efforts to confront HIV/AIDS.

Twenty years ago, against a backdrop of increasing awareness of the enormous HIV/ AIDS health disparities between Black and other racial-ethnic communities and the first development of Highly Affective AntiRetroviral Therapy (HAART), a small group of Black activists, people living with HIV/AIDS, and doctors founded the African American AIDS Policy and Training Institute (later to become known as the Black AIDS Institute. BAI was the first national HIV/AIDS think tank in the U.S. focused exclusively on Black people. Its mission was to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Black communities by engaging

and mobilizing Black leaders, institutions, and individuals in efforts to confront HIV. BAI’s founders knew that even with the discovery of new treatments, you could not end the AIDS epidemic in America without ending it in Black communities. BAI’s motto was, and is, “Our people, Our Problem, Our solution.” The organization was formed on three founding principles: • To end the AIDS epidemic, Black communities have to be fully engaged; • To fully engage Black communities, it is imperative to raise the science and treatment literacy in Black communities; • And mobilization is crucial: Knowledge alone is not enough. Black communities must be mobilized to take ownership of the epidemic in our communities. Significant progress has been made in the fight against HIV/AIDS over the last 20 years. AIDS-related deaths are down in all communities, without regard to race, gender, sexual orientation, or geography. But there is still a long way to go. Huge disparities remain based on race, gender identity, and geography. Today, there are approximately 468,800 Black Americans living with HIV. Only 1 in 7 Black Americans are aware they are living with HIV. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, half of Black men who have sex with men are projected to be diagnosed within their lifetime. Black people continue to be by far the most affected racial or ethnic group with a lifetime HIV risk. The Trump administration recently rolled out a plan to end the epidemic by 2030. If the administration is serious about achieving this goal, it must stop actively trading in racism, homophobia, transphobia, and other drivers of HIV. It must also stop undermining existing prevention and treatment efforts. The clear path forward entails policies that are grounded in

science, that address the health disparities that persist, and center leadership from communities most impacted by HIV. BAI will hold the administration accountable. We are gathering and mobilizing leaders across Black America to respond to the administration’s plan and continue a fight that we have been at the forefront of for 20 years. New leadership and a new generation of activists, advocates, and policy makers are needed to meet the new and complex facing efforts to end the epidemic today. BAI is poised to answer that call, in partnership with other leaders, institutions and individuals committed to ending the HV/AIDS epidemic by making sure no one is left behind. BAI understands the role intersectionality must play in any effective effort to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic. It is committed to centering people living with HIV, queer people, trans people, and other marginalized folks in both policy and service delivery strategies to confront HIV/AIDS on national, regional, and local levels. HIV is a disease of intersectionality and syndemics. To end the HIV and AIDS epidemic we must respond to the reasons why Black Americans are not able to access and utilize the amazing tools we have that can end this epidemic. Increasing access to prevention and treatment in high burden areas is a good start, but we won’t achieve full success unless we address the underlying factors driving HIV. In the U.S., these drivers include racism, homophobia and mass incarceration. For example, Black people are incarcerated at five times the rate of white people in this country and HIV rates among incarcerated individuals are three times greater than among the general U.S. population; mass incarceration, like racism, transphobia, and homophobia have deep and complex connections to the HIV

epidemic. The epidemic still rages in Black communities and we have the tools to end it. People living with HIV who take HIV medications as prescribed and maintain an undetectable viral load can live long, healthy lives and have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting the virus to an HIV-negative partner, a concept coined Undetectable=Untransmittable, or U=U. We also have Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for people who are HIV negative. PrEP is a daily pill for HIV-negative people that can prevent HIV by more than 99 percent. There is some hope! While new infections among Black men who have sex with men have remained stagnant—a sign of some of the work that remains. Overall, the rate of new infections among Black Americans decreased by 25 percent among Black heterosexual women and 26 percent among Black heterosexual men but remained stable among Black gay and bisexual men. From the African American HIV University and Black Treatment Advocates Network (BTAN), to the groundbreaking “State of AIDS in Black America” reports and celebrations of Black excellence at the annual Heroes in the Struggle Gala Reception and Awards, BAI has been relentless in its focus on Black communities. We are moving forward to victory toward the day when the epidemic has ended. At the Black AIDS Institute, our team works to ensure Black communities know about the tools we have to end HIV and make sure healthcare providers and institutions are doing the necessary work to provide quality services to Black communities. We will not allow Black people to be left behind. We are the generation that can end the HIV and AIDS epidemic, let us march on till victory is won!

John Waters is never wrong In new book, the ‘filth elder’ has an opinion on just about everything By ED GUNTS

readers gain insights into the maker of “Pink Flamingos” and “Female Trouble” by learning what he’s gone through and how he dealt with it. One of those insights is that Waters can be quite frugal and down to earth. He not only takes the inexpensive BoltBus to New York but also goes to a Laundromat when he spends the summers in Provincetown. (And of course, he hitchhiked across the country and wrote about it in his bestseller, “Carsick.”) In many of his stories, Waters reveals a knack for handling even the most humiliating situations with humor and aplomb. He also says he licks important packages before he puts them in the mail – “to remove any ‘curse’ of show business rejection” – and instructs his staff to do the same. In the LSD chapter, he mentions texting “my boyfriend,” whom he never names. Waters in on a national tour to launch his book, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. West Coast stops include ticketed events at The Green Arcade at the McRoskey Mattress Loft, 1687 Market Street in San Francisco on May 30 at 7 p.m., and Book Soup at The Renberg Theatre (Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Village), 1125 N, McCadden Place in Los Angeles on June 1 at 7 p.m. Waters recently sat down at his home for an interview with the Blade to talk about his book and his life as a filth elder. The interview has been condensed. BLADE: A good alternative title for your book would be “The Influencer,” don’t you think? How To Win Friends and Influence People 2? JOHN WATERS: I’m Norman Vincent Peale, you’re saying?

John Waters has had underwhelming meals in overpriced restaurants – so you don’t have to. He’s been caught in long airport security lines. He’s taken the BoltBus to New York City and been delayed while the driver took a dump in the on-board restroom. He’s had to sit in a doctor’s waiting room with an embarrassing ailment and been barraged with questions from other patients who recognize him and demand to know what he’s got. Now the Baltimore-based filmmaker and writer, who just turned 73, has put all of those experiences and more into a book of opinions and advice, presumably so people won’t have to endure what he has. Called “Mr. Know-It-All: The Tarnished Wisdom of a Filth Elder,” it’s his ninth book, and it came out this week. He’s described it as “my opinion on everything” and “how to avoid respectability at 70 years old.” Readers will discover that “Mr. Know-It-All” isn’t just a book about coping with life’s indignities and humiliations, even though there’s plenty of guidance about that. It’s also part memoir, part celebrity tell-all, and part movie industry guidebook with separate chapters about each of his last seven films, all filmed in Baltimore (“Polyester,” “Hairspray,” “Cry-Baby,” “Serial Mom,” “Pecker,” “Cecil B. Demented” and “A Dirty Shame.”) The book is filled with anecdotes about many of the actors he’s worked with, including Kathleen Turner, Johnny Depp, Tracey Ullman and, of course, Divine. There’s the time Waters turned down Brad Pitt at an audition for “Cry-Baby” because Pitt was too handsome to be cast as Depp’s sidekick – a decision that he thinks makes him perhaps “the only director who ever said no to Brad Pitt.” He remembers that Rikki Lake lost her virginity halfway through “Cry-Baby;” how he called Tab Hunter out of the blue to star in “Polyester,” and how he battled with motion picture censors to let him use the word “Pecker” as a movie title. Other readers may be drawn to his essays about noncinematic subjects, which range from art collecting and Brutalist architecture to Yippie protests, Andy Warhol, and taking LSD at 70. In one chapter, he names the one female he has adored since childhood. In another, he imagines returning to the apartment he lived in during the 1960s – a sign that, in some cases, you can go home again (especially when you still live in the town where you grew up.) “Mr. Know-It-All is here to tell you exactly how to live your life,” he writes early in the book. “I’m never wrong.” Though the title says it’s a book of wisdom, this is not a rehashed litany of someone else’s platitudes. All the advice he offers grows out of his own experiences. As a result,






BLADE: You do give a lot of advice: Come up with a gimmick. Have backup plans. Get at least one other person to believe in you. Sound advice, with a John Waters twist. WATERS: I agree with that totally. BLADE: Why an advice book? WATERS: Well, I always kind of parody things, so I thought an advice book coming from me would be kind of a parody in the first place. I needed that kind of genre to be able to talk about all the things I wanted to talk about. In some ways it’s like “Shock Value” because “Shock Value” ended right before we made “Polyester,” so this has the rest of the movies in it. But I also wrote it from a viewpoint of how to tell young filmmakers how to deal with Hollywood and what happens and all that kind of stuff, and how you fail upward. And then the other subjects I had to put in — about love, about fashion, about art, about

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death, about every possible thing. But to talk about them all, you need a theme that runs through the whole thing, so that’s how I came up with [giving] advice. Do I expect every person to follow my advice? No, but I believe that I gave good advice. It’s not really told ironically. I believe everything I say in it. But I hoped to write a humorous book at the same time. BLADE: Who are you giving advice to? WATERS: I’m giving advice, first of all, to the people that like my work, because they’re hopefully the first people that buy the book. Secondly, even if you don’t know anything about me, I’m giving advice to younger people about how to handle what’s coming, failure and success, in your life if you’ve chosen to be in the arts in any way. So I think I’m trying to give advice to anybody probably younger than me, because older than me are dead, you know. And I tell you how to beat that too. BLADE: You’re not writing just for the hardcore fans? WATERS: No, not at all. If you’re never seen any of my movies, you can still read the book. BLADE: A lot of your fans may be the ‘others’ in society, those who don’t fit in or conform, the people in “Desperate Living” and other movies. WATERS: The people that used to be the ‘others’ in society are often now the leaders. Everybody wants to be the ‘other’ now. They didn’t used to. Even Trump would probably want to be an outsider. Obama thought he was an outsider. Everybody wants to be an outsider, and I want to be an insider. I said that in “Make Trouble,” that it’s more fun to cause trouble from within. Which is what “Hairspray” did. BLADE: But a lot of the others aren’t the ones who would typically be disposed to take advice. WATERS: Maybe from me they might. BLADE: Why should someone follow your advice? WATERS: You don’t have to. I think you could read the book and not follow one bit of it and still enjoy the book. You don’t have to. I don’t expect anybody to, really. BLADE: Your advice grows out of your experiences. It’s not warmed-over Norman Vincent Peale. And because it comes from within, your advice in turn provides insights into you. WATERS: I always thought that is a joke, that book, which I probably never read. But my parents had it and it





John Waters, pictured here at home in Baltimore, is back with a new book ‘Mr. Know-It-All: The Tarnished Wisdom of a Filth Elder.’ Blade photo by Michael Key

really hasn’t. I mean, high-class problems, some of the things I talk about. But, generally, I can bitch about flying all the time. Bitch about first class, which is really bold. But I get to fly all the time, and I don’t pay for it. But I’m working, you know? So I’m trying to tell people that when bad things happen to them, they can use it and how they can appreciate it and how they can look back on it and it doesn’t mean really anything terrible.

was such a thing then that it became a joke in a way. That same title could apply to this book. BLADE: The other thing about your advice is, you chronicle all the ways you’ve suffered indignities. You’ve had bad dinners at good restaurants. You’ve had bad seats on international flights. You’ve been harassed at the doctor’s office. WATERS: I’m also saying all the wonderful things that happened to me. So basically, there are different kinds of problems. It is a high-class problem to worry about being recognized in a doctor’s office. It’s the one time that it’s really bad to be seen. Although, if you weren’t [famous], you wouldn’t have gotten the appointment. So in the long run, it isn’t bad.





BLADE: Is there one disappointment that tops them all? WATERS: I only regret one thing, smoking cigarettes. It’s the only thing I regret in life. Because I’ll probably die from it. I mean, I don’t have cancer, but I’m just saying that, both my parents died from some form of cancer. They were 90 though. They had a long, good life. So, yes, I regret smoking cigarettes.

BLADE: You bring up all these universal things that anybody can identify with, and you’ve come out on the other side, none the worse for wear from the indignities you’ve suffered. WATERS: Everybody has indignities.

BLADE: You lived through all these indignities, and that’s a sign that others can too. WATERS: The other day in New York somebody yelled at me, a homeless person, ‘You’re still alive?’ Which really made me laugh. I thought, ‘Well, yes I am, are you?’

BLADE: Are you more sensitive to things than others? WATERS: No, I don’t think so. I think I notice them more and it’s more, like, ludicrous, some of the problems that you get from being known.

BLADE: Do bad things happen to you more than most, like Joe Btfsplk in “Li’l Abner?” WATERS: No. I say in the book, not one bad thing has ever happened to me from being famous, in any way. It


BLADE: And then you use it for comic relief. WATERS: Yeah, comic relief. In my own life, even.



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Wigs, nails, and politics at RuPaul’s DragCon There’s no such thing as too much and nothing more powerful than voting By SCOTT STIFFLER

DragCon LA Activism Panel Courtesy of RuPaul’s Drag Race/World of Wonder


What is RuPaul’s DragCon made of? What is RuPaul’s DragCon made of? Heels and nails and progressive panels. Runway sensations and voter registration. That’s what RuPaul’s DragCon is made of. Wait. What? Politics entwined with entertainment, like a lovingly crafted lace front wig? Oh, yes. By Mama Ru’s divine design, those attending May 24-26’s DragCon LA (rupaulsdragcon.com) will arrive to find fabulous freebies from exhibit hall vendors, pink carpet selfie ops, and the chance to meet dozens of “Drag Race” queens — 80+ by our count, including Alaska, Trinity K. Bonet, Detox, Alyssa Edwards, Scarlet Envy, Gia Gunn, Vanessa Vanjie Mateo, Trixie Mattel, Ginger Minj, Sharon Needles, Peppermint, Raja, and Latrice Royale. DragCon attendees will also get a sizable serving of social consciousness that reads for filth our current climate, while providing practical plans of action. And why not? From bold public displays in the days before Stonewall to the latest YouTube tutorial, donning a dress and tucking one’s junk is an inherently political act — more so than ever, perhaps, in a time when haters lambaste your local library’s “Drag Queen Story Hour” and Harford County, Maryland seeks to see bars and restaurants cancel drag shows, rather than be held in contempt of liquor license community standard caveats. If ever there were a time to stand up for our rights, while celebrating our right to express ourselves, it’s now — and DragCon is up to the task, as it has been for quite some time. “RuPaul’s DragCon is committed to getting out the vote,” reads a piece of promo material for the Con’s 2018 iterations, which notes, “in LA, it hosted a panel and voting campaign with Billy Eichner and his Glam Up the Vote effort with Funny or Die. In NYC, SwingLeft.org will have a prominent presence at the convention, including a booth on the floor which will be the place to register to vote and sign up to volunteer.” Producer and director Jon Mallow, as an adviser to Swing Left, moderated a panel discussion at last year’s DragCon NYC. “It was very clear to me,” he recalls, of the panel’s audience and Con attendees in general, “that there are a lot of people who want to be involved in politics or in some form of political opinion-making.” Titled “The Resistance” and taking place shortly before the midterm elections, Mallow’s panel contemplated the role of artist as activist, and served as a primer for fans looking to channel their love drag into tangible forms of activism. “We talked about people going to political marches or canvassing for candidates they care about. It was interesting to see how practically engaged people have become, since the Trump election,” Mallow notes. Seated alongside panelists including Catherine Vaughan (CEO/ Co-founder of the state politics advocacy group Flippable) and New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, Bob The Drag Queen declared the mushroom cloud of malaise lingering from 2016’s presidential election bombshell to be “not insurmountable. It is completely mountable,” he said, challenging those in the audience veer from the tempting paths of apathy and defeatism. NYC-based drag entertainer and activist Marti Gould Cummings, a member of the 2018 “Resistance” panel, will be helming one of the action-oriented panels at this weekend’s DragCon LA. “How to Fight Back: Activate Your Activism” has Cummings as moderator, with panelists Marcus Ferrell (Chief of Staff at the voter registration-minded New Georgia Project and African American Outreach Director for Bernie Sanders 2016), gender fluid social media influencer Brendan Jordan, and out actor Darryl Stephens (“Noah’s Arc”).

The founder and a past president of Hell’s Kitchen Democrats, a Manhattan political club with membership drawn from its namesake neighborhood, Cummings recently made history (or, more accurately, theirstory), by becoming the first drag queen to have a formal, issues-oriented sit-down with a presidential candidate. Held in NYC on May 2 at Elmo Restaurant and Lounge, in the heart of the Chelsea gayborhood, the public event saw Cummings in conversation with U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). “It was really powerful hearing her speak on these issues and listening to her discuss what she has done in the Senate, and what she would do if elected president,” Cummings says. Transgender rights and adoption rights were among the topics, as well as “the importance of fighting for equality for our LGBTQIA community, the importance of people be allowed to serve in the military, and the importance of third gender options on identification.” Regarding their DragCon LA panel, Cummings says, “I hope to be able to discuss the upcoming election and how people can get involved,” calling the Con’s progressive programming ethos “a great way to reach young people who may be voting for the first time, or their first time will be in a few years, and educate them on the issues.” Cummings walks that walk at their own performances, where they always offer “voter registrations and information about what’s happening locally, on the state level, and federally.” Asked about the unsolicited injection of politics, Cummings happily notes, “My audiences tend to welcome it.” Another DragCon LA panel sees 20-year-old Ivy Bryan moderating “The Power of Politics,” at which she appears as an official representative of HeadCount (headcount.org). The youth-centric “non-partisan organization that works with musicians to promote participation in democracy” stages voter registration drives at concerts, and sponsors programs “that translate the power of music into real action.” Their efforts, since 2004, have resulted in the registration of around 500,000 voters. Bryan booked the panel participants, including musical artists Kelz and Hoodprofet, both of whom have worked with HeadCount on voter registration projects. “In our panel,” Bryan says, “we’re looking to explore how influencers are able to make an impact politically, especially within the LGBTQA+ community. We’re going to talk about how anyone can get involved, and urge their fans and friends to get involved.” Having attended the 2018 iterations of DragCon LA and NYC as a HeadCount representative, Bryan recalls, “At both, there was plenty of emphasis on how to get politically involved, specifically with calls to action from the runway,” aka the Main Stage performance area — where LA saw Billy Eichner encouraging “attendees to register to vote at the HeadCount booth,” and NYC saw “RuPaul encouraging fans to contact their legislators.” DragCon has always, Bryan notes, “made an effort to engage attendees politically, and they have a duty to do so, since drag’s origins are political. DragCon looks to encourage their attendees to get involved in whatever capacity they’re able to, and they offer tools for attendees to get involved on-site.” As for what one does with those tools once outside the Con’s inclusive and accepting walls, Bob The Drag Queen’s encouraging words at the 2018 “Resistance” panel will always ring true: “There is no ‘too little.’ There is no ‘too much.’ There’s nothing more powerful than voting.” RuPaul’s DragCon LA takes place May 24-26, at The Los Angeles Convention Center. For information, visit rupaulsdragcon.com.













Matt Bomer wants to connect in ‘Papi Chulo’ LA backdrop and unlikely friendship save lackluster ending By JOHN PAUL KING

Matt Bomer and Alejandro Patiño in ‘Papi Chulo.’ Photo courtesy of Bankside Films and Blue Fox Entertainment



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Given the number of films that are shot on location in Los Angeles, there’s an entire cinematic sub-genre of movies that can be called “quintessentially LA.” That might seem an overstatement, made from a standpoint of bias by someone who lives, loves and works here. After all, these movies are obviously widely varied in terms of content, theme, tone, or any other aspect that might otherwise connect them, beyond the commonality of their setting. But as any Angeleno will tell you, the location itself exerts such a palpable influence over what ends up on the screen that movies made in their city are as unmistakably bound together as if they were all telling different parts of the same story. In a way, of course, they are. Los Angeles — despite the annoyingly persistent notion in popular imagination that it’s a place without character, culture or depth — is one of the world’s great cities, and, like all such places, it possesses an intangible presence that affects everything taking place within its borders; it becomes an immutable condition of the script, a universe unto itself reflected by all the characters who inhabit it. Whether you’re watching self-delusional film star Norma Desmond in “Sunset Boulevard,” perma-stoned surfer Jeff Spicoli in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” or the two transgender sex workers of “Tangerine,” you know the City of Angels is in their DNA. This is great for the locals; we relish movies that reflect our city back to us, we recognize all the sights and we feel as if we know all the characters. For those that live outside our sunny little bubble on the Left Coast, however, one has to wonder if such films sometimes feel like a look into an alien and not-veryrelatable world. Take, for instance, “Papi Chulo,” a new film set for release in June that stars Matt Bomer as a TV weatherman who strikes up an unlikely relationship with a Mexican day laborer. Written and directed by John Butler, it centers on an affluent gay semi-celebrity who pretends to be someone else when recognized and a middle-aged migrant worker with limited English who is savvy enough to hold his own at a swanky party in the Hollywood Hills — two people who might easily turn up in an Angeleno’s everyday life without being given a second thought, but who, for most everyone else, might seem not only unfamiliar but implausible. In the film, Bomer’s character, Sean, is struggling with his newly-single status. He spends lonely nights in his elegant but empty house, listening to coyotes howl in the distance and leaving yet another unanswered voicemail on his former partner’s phone. Placed on leave by his TV station after an on-air breakdown in which his usual upbeat demeanor temporarily crumbles into tears, he sets about trying to remove the traces of his ex from his home, and hires a worker named Ernesto (Alejandro Patiño) in front of his neighborhood hardware store to help him paint his deck. Attempting to strike up a friendship, Sean starts opening up about himself and prods Ernesto to do the same despite the language gap between them. Before long, their work arrangement progresses to paid outings like boating in Echo Park and hiking in Runyon Canyon; Ernesto’s friends and family begin to tease him about the nature of his relationship with this new employer — and he begins to think they may be right. There’s a lot packed into the situation described by that brief synopsis. The bringing together of these two characters from different worlds invites reflection on class, ethnicity and cultural attitudes toward sexuality. There’s lots of room for social satire about such contemporary pressure points as accidental racism, hipster gentrification, economic disparity and white entitlement; yet as Sean reaches across all divides for a connection that can help him mend his broken heart, the story is able to open up into an exploration of the healing power of kindness and empathy. For the first two-thirds, “Papi Chulo” works well on all those fronts. As the bromance between its two lead characters blossoms, they develop a precarious chemistry together that is both surprising and delightful. It’s a gentle comedy, but they give you laugh-out-loud moments that catch you off guard, and you find yourself more engaged by their uncertain, nebulously defined relationship than you think you should be.

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Summer movie mayhem Elton biopic, Disney remakes and (of course) superheroes By BRIAN T. CARNEY

Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth in ‘Men in Black International.’ Photo by Giles Kyete for Sony Pictures Entertainment


For more information, visit LAFC.com

The summer 2019 movie season gets off to an exciting start today (May 24) with “Booksmart.” Directed by Olivia Wilde, the wildly original teen comedy stars Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever as best friends (one straight, one lesbian). On the eve of their high school graduation, the academic superstars realize they should have partied more and studied less. On May 31, get out your feather boas and platform shoes for the highly anticipated opening of “Rocketman,” a musical fantasy about gay superstar Elton John. The film is directed by Dexter Fletcher, who took over at the helm of “Bohemian Rhapsody” after Bryan Singer was fired, and stars Taron Egerton as the legendary performer and Jamie Bell as Bernie Taupin. In “Papi Chulo” (slated for a June 7 release), out actor Matt Bomer plays a lonely TV weatherman who develops up an unexpected friendship with a middle-aged Latino migrant worker after having an on-air meltdown and losing his boyfriend. Helmed by out director Nisha Ganatra (the delicious “Chutney Popcorn”), “Late Night” stars Emma Thompson and Mindy Kaling (who also wrote the screenplay). Thompson’s a grumpy comic whose long-running talk show is slipping in the ratings; Kaling’s the new head writer who’s brought in to save the show (June 7). Thompson is also featured as a spy boss in “Men in Black: International.” Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson, who developed their playful banter as Thor and Valkyrie, take over the popular franchise on June 14. Who can resist the tagline “More Shaft than you can handle!”? Richard Roundtree recreates his iconic role in “Shaft” when he leads three generations of his family in a search for justice (June 14). Quentin Tarantino turns his lens on the infamous Manson family in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” (July 26). The blood-soaked cast includes Margot Robbie (Sharon Tate), Dakota Fanning (Squeaky Fromme), Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt and the late Luke Perry in his final movie appearance. Winner of the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival for writer/director Paul Downs Colaizzo, “Brittany Runs a Marathon” stars Jillian Bell (“Rough Night”) as an unemployed 30-something who runs into a delightfully diverse group of people and reclaims her life when she decides to train for the New York City marathon (expected Aug. 23). While Disney executives figure out how to spend the record-breaking box office receipts from “Avengers: Endgame,” the studio is playing it safe this summer with remakes and sequels of classic animated movies. With Will Smith as the Genie, “Aladdin” takes a live-action magic carpet ride into theaters on May 24. “Toy Story 4” opens June 21. With a star-studded voice cast including Beyoncé, James Earl Jones, Donald Glover and John Oliver, the CGI remake of “The Lion King” roars into theaters July 19. Also on the family-friendly front, there’s “The Secret Life of Pets 2,” (June 7) and The Angry Birds Movie 2” (Aug. 16). On the CGI front, fans can return to the new and improved Marvel Cinematic Universe with the X-Men saga “Dark Phoenix” starring Sophie Turner (June 6) and “Spider-Man: Far From Home” with Tom Holland and Zendaya (July 2). “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” brings the mighty monster back to the screen on May 30. His esteemed co-stars include Mothra, Rodan, the three-headed King Ghidorah, Millie Bobby Brown, Charles Dance, Vera Farmiga, Bradley Whitford, Kyle Chandler, Sally Hawkins, Aisha Hinds, CCH Pounder, David Strathairn and, of course, Ken Watanabe. Other notable opening include: • Camp goddess Elizabeth Banks in “Brightburn” about a mysterious child from another planet (May 24) • Jim Jarmusch’s hipster zombie comedy “The Dead Don’t Die” with Bill Murrray, Adam Driver, Tilda Swinton, Selena Gomez, Steve Buscemi and Tom Waits (June 14) • Daisy Ridley as Ophelia in a retelling of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.” Clive Own, Naomi Watts and George MacKay play the royal family of Denmark. (June 28) • And finally, the long-delayed release of “Where’d You Go, Bernadette?” directed by indie auteur Richard Linklater and starring Cate Blanchett (Aug. 16)



Mayor Pete’s headed to Provincetown for July 4 Plus, how did Shawn Mendes’ underwear end up in John Mayer’s room? By BILLY MASTERS

Mayor Pete plans to hold a fundraiser in P-town during the packed July 4 holiday. Blade file photo by Michael key

“Yes, I admit I was stalking Lou Pearlman into the bathroom!” - Ashley Parker Angel on how he met Pearlman and got cast on “Making the Band.” He also was cast in Lou’s private shower videos, but we’ll get to that. I recently told you that presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg planned to make a stop in Provincetown this summer. I can now confirm that he’ll be turning up during the busiest weekend - Fourth of July! His free rally will take place on July 5 at Town Hall (there will be a high-priced fundraiser afterward). Since this is one of the biggest gay party weekends in the world with an assortment of scantily clad men of all ages, please be aware that a thong is not appropriate attire for any political rally on Cape Cod that does not include a member of the Kennedy family. The Chinese parent company of Grindr has agreed to sell the popular gay hook-up app after the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investments deemed it a “national security risk,” which says more about the Trump administration than anything in the Mueller Report! CNN reports that Kunlun Tech has agreed to sell the app by June 30, 2020. “Until then, the firm says Grindr will not transmit any sensitive information to China, though it is not clear how that will be enforced.” I don’t know about anyone else, but I won’t be cruising Grindr when I’m at Panda Express. I did finally watch “The Boy Band Con.” The Lou Pearlman documentary was produced by Lance Bass for YouTube. Without a doubt, there is an interesting, almost compelling, story there - but it’s not in this documentary. It’s unfortunate because obviously the powers-that-be snagged some great interviews and got access to lots of footage and songs. But either you know how to construct and tell a story, or you don’t. Last week, John Mayer was on SiriusXM with Andy Cohen and shared a “clickbait story,” meaning it’s so salacious, people will click on it. He provided the headline: “How Shawn Mendes’ underwear ended up in John Mayer’s hotel room.” Yes, I’d click on that - but I’d also know it would end up being some innocuous anecdote. One day, Mayer was in the studio with Mendes. Shawn asked Mayer, “Hey, man, do you think you could, like, Postmates underwear? Can I Postmates underwear? I’m out of underwear.” Since I’m not of the iAnything persuasion, I had to look up “Postmates.” Be that as it may, Mayer said he’d be happy to ask his assistant to go shopping for undies. The assistant came back with a dozen pairs of various size medium boxer briefs in a bag (not a CK in the bunch). They finished up in the studio, and Shawn left — sans undies. So Mayer brought the underwear back to his hotel room. The end. What I got out of this story is that nobody wants to be in possession of underwear John Mayer was anywhere near - even underwear still in its package. Speaking of packages, we hear that Chris Hemsworth is gearing up to play a stripper in an upcoming $40 million flick for Paramount. “Down Under Cover” will find Hemsworth and Tiffany Haddish playing police detectives who team up to crack a string of casino heists. The main suspects are a group of Aussie male strippers, kinda like “Thunder From Down Under.” So, naturally, Hemsworth has to go undercover as a stripper. Is it just me, or does this sound like a gender-bending take on “Miss Congeniality?” Not that I’m complaining. The film was announced last week at the Cannes Film Festival and will begin shooting in February. One of the best things I saw last year was “A Very English Scandal,” a three-part miniseries from the BBC (you can watch it on Amazon). I urge you to check it out, not only for the outstanding performances by everyone (especially Hugh Grant and Ben Whishaw, who won a Golden Globe), but also for the crackerjack true story, which was riveting. Much of the credit goes to director Stephen Frears and writer Russell T Davies, who also brought us “Queer as Folk” as well as pivotal work on “Doctor Who” and “Torchwood.” Which leads us to our “Ask Billy” question from Thom in Baltimore: “What is this new show that Russell Tovey is in? He said it had graphic gay sex, so I don’t want to miss it.” Tovey is in a new BBC series called “Years and Years.” written by Russell T Davies (HBO will run it at a later date). The first episode takes place in the near future, after Brexit and during Donald Trump’s second term (God forbid). What Tovey said was, “Everything has to be shown because, otherwise, if you don’t show diversity, if you don’t show gay sex, if you don’t show men in love, or women in love, or whatever, then how the hell do you normalize it?” I note he didn’t mention that the show also features a sex robot! As to the gay sex scene in question, it comes toward the end of the first episode and, well, check it out on BillyMasters.com. When robots are worried about the size of their packages, it’s definitely time to end yet another column. With May Sweeps over, everything hits an inevitable lull. So it’s the perfect time to check outwww.BillyMasters.com - the site that never disappoints. If you have a question for me, send it along to Billy@BillyMasters.com and I promise to get back to you before I run the inevitable scandalous photos from Buttigieg’s Ptown rally! Until next time, remember, one man’s filth is another man’s bible.





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investments by philanthropic organizations. Panelists include Megan Garvey, managing editor of Southern California Public Radio/KPCC; Nicco Mele, director of the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, author of the book “The End of Big: How The Internet Makes David the New Goliath,” and Nieman Foundation for Journalism board member; and Emily Ramshaw, editor-in-chief of The Texas Tribune. For details, visit hammer.ucla.edu.

RuPaul’s DragCon Los Angeles 2019 is today and tomorrow from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. at Los Angeles Convention Center (1201 S. Figueroa).Three days of art, pop culture and all things drag. Join your squirrel friends in discussions that range from political resistance to fabulous makeovers. RuPaul’s DragCon has something for everyone with panels, photo ops, meet and greets, merch, shopping and much more. You will meet your favorite queens from RuPaul’s Drag Race and, of course, you will shop for exclusive merch till you drop. At a time when America is in a political tailspin, RuPaul’s DragCon offers a haven for those of us burning to make a change or at least some new makeup. Up to $300 per ticket on Eventbrite. RuPaul’s DragCon: World of Queens is tonight from 8-10 p.m.at the Theater at Ace Hotel DTLA (929 South Broadway). If you love “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and you have invested in Drag Con, how could you possibly miss this. Travel the globe with stops at the favorite countries of Detox, Kameron Michaels, Aquaria, Eureka, Manila Luzon, Asia O’Hara, Naomi Smalls and Bob the Drag Queen. It’s around the world in 80 wigs as these cray queens give you their cultural take on the world as they see it. Paris may never be the same. Forget London and Berlin. Take a high-heel walk through Egypt. You never know where this event might take you, but to get just go to the Ace Hotel. Tickets at VossEvents.com


SUNDAY, MAY 26 Drag Queen of the Year is tonight from 7-11:30 p.m. at Ricardo Montalban Theater (1615 Vine St.). Who is the best drag performer in the whole wide world? Now’s your chance to find out—at the first ever Drag Queen of the Year Pageant Competition Award Contest Competition. Promoters say that “millions of the best drag performers from around the world will apply, but only a select few will compete—carefully chosen by a mysterious group of anonymous Drag Elders.” We’re skeptical but it sounds fun. “Judged upon the criteria of presence, energy, nuance, integrity, and stunningness, this is a pageant for everyone—drag queens, drag Kings, trans artists, hyper queens, bio queens, AFAB queens— from first time queens to established pageant powerhouses,” the promise. Oh, and a “cash prize of $10,000 (via PayPal).” Founder, Chairperson, and Pageant Director Alaska Thunderfuck, this allages event will feature celebrity guest judges, charity auction items and lifetime achievement awards. Tickets available at ci.ovationtix.com.

MONDAY, MAY 27 Memorial Day BBQ and Beer Bust is today from 3-8 p.m. at The Eagle LA (4219 Santa Monica Blvd.). We smell some big, hot weenie roasting and the sound of beer guzzling at the legendary East Hollywood hangout. It’s

LGBT Night at Dodger Stadium will feature ceremonial first pitches by Dodger Owners Billie Jean King and Ilana Kloss. See May 31.

your day off, so why not enjoy “L.A.’s premier leather bar,” its big bears and bondage-geared big daddies. Love a gay porn on the TV? Lube samples in the bathroom? Cash-only drinks served in plastic cups? Parties with names like “Meat Rack?” Think manly mayhem inside and roasted weenies outside (on the famous patio). Our pick for Memorial Day fun. No cover.

TUESDAY, MAY 28 The Rise of Nonprofit Journalism is tonight from 7-9:30 p.m. at the Hammer Museum (10899 Wilshire Blvd.). Shaniqua McClendon, political director for Crooked Media will moderate a panel discussion on the rapidly expanding ecosystem of nonprofit journalism, ranging from local and national platforms to major

“Halston” (Landmark Nuart Theatre, 11272 Santa Monica Boulevard) —Making its LA premiere, this eagerly-awaited documentary film by acclaimed filmmaker Frédéric Tcheng (“Dior and I”) captures the epic sweep of the life and times of America’s first superstar designer. Roy Halston Frowick created an empire and personified the dramatic social and sexual revolution of the last century. Tcheng expertly weaves together rare archival footage and intimate interviews with Halston’s friends, family and collaborators (such as Liza Minnelli), framing them with scripted scenes featuring a young archivist diving into the Halston company records. The viewer is taken behind the headlines and into the thrilling struggle between Halston’s artistic legacy and the pressures of big business. Runs through June 6, with a Q&A session featuring the filmmaker during opening weekend. Info and tickets at landmarktheatres.com. Los Angeles Dodgers LGBT Night is tonight from 6:10-9:10 p.m. at Dodger Stadium (1000 Vin Scully Ave.). Join Los Angeles Blade and LA Pride in celebration with the Dodgers for the teams 7th annual LGBT Night (presented by Blue Shield of California), an event that has become the official kick-off to LA Pride. This special event ticket package includes your ticket to the game along with an exclusive LGBT Night duffle bag. LGBT Night at Dodger Stadium will feature ceremonial first pitches by Dodger Owners Billie Jean King and Ilana Kloss. King and Kloss co-founded the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative, which addresses inclusion and diversity issues in the workplace. The couple also are founding board members of the Elton John AIDS Foundation and both serve on the executive committee of the Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF). Founded by King in 1974, WSF works to advance the lives of girls and women through sports and physical activity and has awarded more than $80 million in educational and cash grants since its inception. King and Kloss also have been longtime owners in World TeamTennis at both the league and team levels. You won’t be able to avoid the Kiss Cam, just sayin’. Tickets available at dodger.com/ lapride, mlb.com or online at losangelesblade.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.


“A Million Moments of Pride” officially kicked off this past Saturday, May 18 and Sunday May 19, celebrating Long Beach’s commitment to the LGBTQ+ community and the 50th anniversary of Stonewall. The downtown Long Beach event, which was full of live music, community activations, food and drinks from local eateries accomplished it’s goal of remaining inclusive and promoting an environment that is free of prejudice and welcoming of everyone. Many kids were in attendance at both the parade and the festival which marked its 36th year as a destination for people of all ages to celebrate and mingle with each other as they kicked off SoCal’s first Pride of the season. On Sunday, attendees were treated to 141 entries of parade marchers or float riders kicking off a nice and sunny day of festivities and while the rain would come much later just before the official closing of the parade, attendees were not detoured away or discouraged in any fashion to celebrate Long Beach’s tribute to 50 years of the Stonewall riots for equality and justice for our community. Aids Healthcare Foundation, a yearly supporter of the event, had an expanded presence at the festival filled with well over a dozen employees and volunteers. Miguel Stevens-Ortiz, Associate Director of Quality and Operations for the Public Health Division for the organization and frequent visitor of the festival, explained why this celebration in particular hold special meaning in his heart. “ 12 years ago, my now husband, Ru Stevens-Ortiz, and educator for LA Unified School District, asked me to be his boyfriend. We now are the proud parents of 11 year old triplets and every year we march with them in the parade, here at Long Beach, “ Ortiz added. A Million Moments of Pride, definitely.

Long Beach Pride in Pictures Hundreds of thousands turn out for SoCal’s official Pride Season kick-off and other milestones By ROMAN NAVARETTE




NYC law limits drug testing for employees

New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio permitted both marijuana bills to become law without his signature. Blade file photo by Michael Key

NEW YORK — Lawmakers have successfully passed a pair of municipal bills limiting situations where those seeking employment or on probation may be drug tested for past cannabis exposure. Democratic Mayor Bill DeBlasio permitted both bills to become law absent his signature. Bill No. 1427 states, “The department of probation shall not require individuals to submit to marijuana testing unless a determination is made, based on an individuals’ history and circumstances, that abstinence from marijuana is necessary to otherwise lead an otherwise lawabiding life.” The new law takes immediate effect. Bill No. 1445 states, “[I]t shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice for an employer, labor organization, employment agency, or agent thereof to require a prospective employee to submit to testing for the presence of any tetrahydrocannabinols or marijuana in such prospective employee’s system as a condition of employment.” Exceptions to the new law include those employees seeking certain safety sensitive positions — such as police officers or commercial drivers — or those positions regulated by federal drug testing guidelines. The law takes effect in one year.

Cannabis retailers not linked to elevated crime rates

SEATTLE —The establishment of licensed cannabis retailers is not associated with negative impacts on local crime rates, adolescent use, or home values, according to a literature review published by Leafly.com. Researchers at the website, in partnership with the Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies at Humboldt State University, identified 42 papers specific to the community impact of cannabis storefronts. They reported: “Crime near licensed dispensaries has generally stayed flat or decreased, teen cannabis use in legal states has fallen since legalization, and property values near cannabis outlets generally are not affected or, in some cases, experience a greater value increase than comparable properties not near a cannabis outlet. ... Despite the fears of those who want to ban cannabis stores, the published research finds that legal retailers are safe, responsible neighbors.” Authors acknowledged that false claims surrounding dispensaries continue to persist despite ample evidence to the contrary. The prevalence of such claims has led to local bans on the establishment of licensed retail facilities in many states. Specifically, in California, 75 percent of localities impose bans on the establishment

of cannabis storefronts, while 65 percent of cities and counties in Colorado impose similar prohibitions.

Licensed medical cannabis sales begin in Arkansas

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Qualified patients now have limited access to medical cannabis products, after the state’s first licensed dispensaries began making sales last week. Voters initially approved medical cannabis access by passing a statewide initiative in November 2016. Under the law, qualified patients may obtain both herbal preparations of cannabis and infused cannabis products from state-licensed dispensaries. Products must be derived from plants harvested by one of five state-licensed cultivators. To date, only one cultivator is operational. Two additional cultivators are expecting to harvest their initial crops this summer. Nearly 12,000 patients are licensed in the state to participate in the medical cannabis access program. Arkansas is one of 33 states that legally permit medical cannabis access.

N.J. lawmakers may put legalization before voters

TRENTON, N.J. — The Senate President indicated last week that lawmakers will likely let voters decide in 2020 on whether to legalize the adult use of marijuana. Sen. Sweeney acknowledged last week that lawmakers are at an impasse regarding pending legislation to tax and regulate the adult use marijuana market. As a result, he says that they will likely place an initiative question before voters next November. Assembly and Senate lawmakers were initially expected to decide on the issue in March. However, plans for a Senate floor vote were pulled after it became apparent that the measure lacked majority support in the legislature’s upper house. Lawmakers are still anticipated to move forward with votes later this year on legislative efforts to greatly expand the state’s medical cannabis access program and to facilitate the expungement of past, low-level cannabis convictions. According to a February poll conducted by Monmouth University, 62 percent of New Jerseyans believe that the possession and use of marijuana should be legal, and 74 percent support the expungement of past marijuana convictions. Cannabis Culture news in the Blade is provided in partnership with NORML. For more information, visit norml.org.

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2019 LA PRIDE FESTIVAL + PRIDE ON THE BOULEVARD June 8 – 9 in West Hollywood





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