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04 • MAY 31, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
State audit finds DCFS put kids at risk of harm Two murdered gay children lacked protection FROM STAFF REPORTS A state audit of the Los Angeles County’s Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) found that the agency had exposed at-risk children, especially LGBTQ kids, to serious harm, the Los Angeles Times reported May 22. The audit was prompted by the June 2018 death of Anthony Avalos, a 10-year-old Lancaster boy and 8-year old Gabriel Fernandez of Palmdale, who died in May 2013. Both boys were believed to be gay. The audit was requested last summer by state Senators Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita) and Assemblymember Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale) after a two-month investigation into the
circumstances of Avalos’ death found that DCFS took “considerable actions” to protect the boy, despite 13 reports of abuse against the family. “Seeing and hearing the grotesque and inhumane way these parents treated their children for being gay or being perceived as gay shocked me,” Lara, now California Insurance Commissioner, said last August. “The department has allowed children to remain in unsafe and abusive situations for months longer than necessary because it did not start or complete investigations within required time frames,” the report by the California State Auditor’s Office stated. The audit was aimed at determining “adequate protections in place for LGBTQ youth, who are disproportionately represented among foster youth and who face additional trauma because of having been rejected by their families and others
for their sexual orientation or gender expression,” The Times reported. The Times reported these findings: • The department’s safety and risk assessments, used to decide a child’s immediate safety and need for services, “have often been late and inaccurate, making it difficult to mitigate risks to children’s safety.” • In several instances, “social workers submitted the assessments without having visited the child’s home.” • The department “did not consistently conduct the required home inspections and criminal background checks before placing children with relatives.” • Despite budget increases, more social workers and reduced caseloads, the department “did not always conduct monthly visits in the child’s home to assess the children’s well-being.”
• “Reunification assessments, which document caretakers’ behavioral problems and evaluate risk, were not completed timely in all but one case” that state auditors reviewed. Anthony Avalos’s mother, Heather Barron, and her boyfriend, Kareem Leiva, were arrested last year on charges of murder, child abuse and torture. They are expected for a pretrial hearing in Superior Court in July. Gabriel Fernadez’s mother was given a sentence of life and her boyfriend got the death penalty for the boy’s torture, abuse and murder, allegedly motivated by homophobia. The LA County Board of Supervisors has developed a long-term strategic plan to improve DCFS. (Karen Ocamb contributed to this report)
Rainbow Flag stirs acrimonious debate in East Bay city Dublin resident compares it to the Confederate Flag By STAFF REPORTS A proposal to fly the Rainbow Flag in honor of LGBTQ Pride month from the flagpole in front of City Hall in Dublin, Calif., this June was met with open hostility and discriminatory remarks during the Dublin City Council meeting. The proposal, introduced by Dublin’s first openly gay Council member, Shawn Kumagai, was met with open hostility and discriminatory remarks during the public comments session May 21. “If you agree to fly the Rainbow Flag, can we fly the Confederate flag, the Black Lives
Matter flag, a Communist flag?” asked one resident. Another resident suggested adding “p” to “LGBT,” saying the proposal promotes “sexual decadence” and “immoral destruction” of societies. “The Pride Flag represents ‘the transgenders’ and ‘pedophiles.’” During an interview with the Los Angeles Blade, Kumagai said the idea for his proposal was to be a “positive conversation starter that definitely took a wrong turn.” “This was supposed to be a way to address inclusivity and safe spaces,” Kumagai said. “I am still in dialogue with my colleagues to find a way to move forward. The mayor is committed to bringing the issue back before the council.” Kumagai, a 17-year veteran of the U.S. Navy, said that for him, it is a matter of inclusivity
and especially, safe spaces. “As a gay man and growing up through the marriage equality fight and serving in the military under ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ I know we have some work to do in this area,” he said. Kumagai noted that the council passed a Pride proclamation in a unanimous vote, yet “the dichotomy of this—the sticking point was how do we use the municipal flag pole?” Dublin Mayor David Haubert, who voted against the proposal, also shot down an attempt by Kumagai to affect a compromise— limiting the flag raising to one day on June 1. “Are we San Francisco? The answer is no,” said Haubert during the council meeting. “They’re more progressive and more demonstrative on the national scene and that’s maybe not Dublin.” But, he added, “Not supporting flying the
flag does not mean we don’t support the LGBT community. It means we may have other ways to do it.” Kumagai believes that flying the Rainbow Flag is the same as businesses or other places displaying Pride Flag stickers as a way of letting LGBTQ people know they are welcome. “We’re talking about deliberate government speech that upholds the rights of a community that needs to have a safe place and represents an effort to recognize that there gaps in critical government services which need to be addressed,” Kumagai told the council. Flags are a symbol, he added. What message will be sent to LGBTQ people if there is a feeling that there is no support from their elected officials?
06 • MAY 31, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Actor Michael D. Cohen talks transition — and never keeping secrets Nickelodeon star says, ‘I don’t see myself as coming out right now’ By KAREN OCAMB firstname.lastname@example.org One good aspect of the debate over impeaching Donald Trump: the trolls are so preoccupied flogging their Twitter foes, they’ve missed a story that could have once created a vortex of online cruelty. Instead, Michael D. Cohen, who plays “loveable genius” Schwoz Schwartz on Nickelodeon’s Henry Danger and its spinoff The Adventures of Kid Danger, is featured in a widely shared Time magazine article about his gender transition 20 years ago. Ironically, it’s the convergence of stories about Trump, as well as the development of his one-man show about his transition that moved Cohen to disclose his personal story now. “I don’t see myself as ‘coming out’ right now, Cohen told the Los Angeles Blade in a recent phone interview. “I’m disclosing. I’m sharing my story. But my ‘coming out’ happened almost 20 years ago. I’ve been living my life. This isn’t a coming out and I think that’s an important distinction. “I was never secretive about my having transitioned,” says Cohen. “I transitioned in Toronto back in 2000. I was working as an actor at the time. I told my agent, went through the physical transition, and started auditioning as a man after that. People in the community that I worked with in terms of casting directors—they knew me before and they knew me after. People who were my friends, people who were other actors, everybody in my life, my family, my extended family, everybody knew. It was never a secret. In fact, I auditioned for roles that had trans characters so it was never a secret.” After he moved to Los Angeles and started dealing with Hollywood agents, Cohen says that he was mindful of his intentions on a “continuum of disclosure.” “To me it was a question of when is it
relevant?” Cohen says. “I would have to question my intentions. Am I bringing this up because I’m afraid if they found out or am I bringing this up because it’s relevant? I always wanted to go from the place of relevance. If I was looking for representation or something like that if it was relevant, and it usually was, I would mention it.” One time Cohen was outed because someone knew his story and recommended him for a transgender role. “Keeping something that feels like a secret—it doesn’t feel good,” he says. “It feels like I’m attaching some sort of shame or something to it and I didn’t do that consciously. I was as open as I needed to be.” Cohen has a completely different take on the issue some transgender people face when a straight person claims a trans person is “deceiving” them by not disclosing. Other than some “weird comments on the internet,” Cohen has not had that experience. “For me, and I think a lot of people in transition feel this way, that when you do share that you have a trans history, you feel more deceptive sharing that than you do just being quiet and living your life because I’m living my truth now,” Cohen says. “If I tell you—”Hey, there was a period in my life where I felt like I was living a lie and I want you to see me through that lens of that lie”—it’s encouraging a deception but it’s a deception that’s reversed from what you’re talking about,” he says. “The way you see me now is the truth. That’s where my authentic self lives. Whatever people expect, that’s their business. This is the truth and this is what I’m going to show up in,” Cohen says. “I think that’s confusing for people who don’t understand the nature of gender identity and being assigned a gender identity at birth that does not fit who you are. I think that coming into your truth is living it to the best you can. I’ve had the privilege of being able to live in my authentic self and present of my authentic self. Not everybody has had that privilege or had that access for whatever reason. It makes things extraordinarily difficult for a lot of those people.” Cohen says he’s got a whole checklist for a person he might date and that does not
include someone who might accuse him of deception. Though he hasn’t been highly visible in the LGBT movement, Cohen says he volunteered as a counselor with the Trevor Project’s Lifeline about five years ago, an experience that changed his life. “I’ve just been very passionate about helping youth and focusing on the needs of youth who are dealing with LGBT issues— whether it’s coming out or that they feel like they are miss-assigned in their gender,” he says. “Just having the privilege of be able to work on the Lifeline, that in and of itself was transformative.” Being able to connect with such vulnerable youth, many calling from the Deep South or other deeply religious areas where they can’t be themselves—“to be literally be their lifeline is just the most profound honor and privilege.” And while he emphasized that most of the calls were not dramatic, some were. “They were literally about to kill themselves,” Cohen says. “To be able to speak with them and spend as much time as it took on the phone and help them transform their ideas of what is possible for themselves, there’s nothing like it....It made me grateful for how fortunate I have been and grateful for what I have been given.” Cohen pauses, recalling one kid in particular who called the next day and left a message. “He said, ‘Please tell Michael thank you for saving my life.’ I’m choking up. How do you not get changed from something like that? To touch people and to be touched in that profound way, it’s life changing.” Several events prompted Cohen to disclose his transition, including a longtime plan to do a solo theatrical show, which has been deferred until spring 2020 by the success of his Nickelodeon show, Henry Danger. Another was seeing “more and more push back from the Trump administration against the rights of people with Trans experience, I started to get more and more frustrated with feeling like I didn’t have a voice,” he says. “I’m going to be part of the fight in terms of making this administration see, to the best of my ability with other people obviously in partnership, that what they are doing is
abject discrimination, it is unacceptable, and it is hurting innocent people and rolling back advances that our society has made that is bringing us back to a lesser society instead of a greater one,” Cohen says. “I’m so disturbed about it. My intention is to help people have more room to be truthful in their own expressions.” Cohen understands that can be confusing. “The way that I see myself is: I am male. I am a man. That is my core being. That’s always been there, that I’ve always been male. That feels like the truth in that core being way of truth,” he says. “Transgender, to me, describes the situation that I was in as a kid and partially as an adult, too. It describes the circumstance, it describes the journey, it describes the history, it describes some of the medical issues. It describes things that are more circumstantial. It does not describe my identity, it does not describe who I am in the most core basic way,” Cohen says. “I also understand that there’s a lot of people who feel differently and that really do identify with that word and that word’s so important to them and their identity and I think that’s completely valid and needs to be respected. But for me that does not fit. “To me, I’m in alignment right now so, why would I bring up the fact that there was a huge part of my life that I wasn’t in alignment with myself useless its relevant to that conversation? Then I would say, ‘I’ve had a Transgender experience,’ or ‘I’ve had a Trans journey,’” he says. “I have spent a lot of my life taking labels that were uncomfortable for me that I felt like I had to contort to fit and I’m not willing to do that anymore.” The actor says he may be tied up with production of his Nickelodeon show but is checking to see if he might be free to enjoy LA Pride this year. “I love that we celebrate this annual event and that it’s called ‘Pride’ because it’s the opposite of shame,” Cohen says. “Coming out of shame and fully showing up as who we are, no matter what it is, is so important. I’m
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08 • MAY 31, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Nickelodeon’s Michael D. Cohen talks transition
Michael D. Cohen courtesy Cohen
Continued from page 6
just proud to be aligned with a community of people that is willing to show up and celebrate being who they are. That’s what it’s all about.” To see a video of Cohen’s in-production one-man show, 4 Cubits Make a Man, go to 4cubits.com.
ÂŠ2019 FX Networks LLC. All rights reserved.
10 • MAY 31, 2019
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The Walt Disney Company announced May 20 that a new series of the Rainbow Disney Collection items is available for sale online at its ShopDisney.com website and in select company owned stores. The collection of LGBTQthemed items, which include T-shirts, hats, pins, jewelry, dolls and more featuring rainbow colors along with Disney mascot Mickey Mouse, were released ahead of June Pride month. A spokesperson for the Disney company told the Los Angeles Blade that 10% from all Rainbow Disney Collection item sales made from May 20 until June 30 will be donated to GLSEN, an LGBTQ education organization working to end discrimination, harassment, and bullying based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression in K-12 schools “The Walt Disney Company has been a national leader in supporting LGBTQ youth and a tremendous, longstanding partner in amplifying GLSEN’s message of inclusion and respect for all students,” said Eliza Bayard, Executive Director of GLSEN, in an emailed statement to the Los Angeles Blade. “We are grateful for The Walt Disney Company’s commitment to LGBTQ students, and for their Rainbow Disney collection which provides and fun and vibrant way that LGBTQ young people and all of us to show our pride.” The Disney spokesperson acknowledged that this is the second year for the Rainbow Disney Collection and noted that the entire collection features more than 30 items. To view the collection or to purchase an item, visit shopdisney.com.
“Trump should hold the sales pitch and try issuing a statement honoring June as National Pride Month and the countless of LGBTQ Americans who fought tooth and nail for the level of acceptance our nation sees today.” — GLAAD’s Zeke Stokes on Trump selling a Pride T-shirt, via Twitter
“Criminalizing homosexuality is in direct violation of the UN’s Declaration of Human Rights.” — Richard Grenell, President Trump’s out U.S. Ambassador to Germany, on Twitter May 24.
“Our freedoms are the product of untold sacriﬁce. May we honor, cherish, and teach our history so those memories will always be part of who we are.” — Iconic journalist Dan Rather on Memorial Day.
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12 • MAY 31, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Federal workers plan Pride celebrations, despite Trump’s attacks Pentagon, State Department among agencies holding events By CHRIS JOHNSON Amid continuing news of anti-LGBT attacks from the Trump administration, LGBT federal employees are still making plans to celebrate Pride in June with events at U.S. agencies, including celebrations at the Pentagon and the State Department. In the face of President Trump’s recently implemented transgender military ban, DOD Pride is planning an event for LGBT service members and civilian employees June 12 in the Pentagon courtyard. The official event is set to have as featured speakers Retired Brig. Gen. Wayne Monteith, the Federal Aviation Administration’s associate administrator for Commercial Space Transportation; Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), an Iraq war veteran; and LGBT activist Stuart Milk, the nephew of gay rights pioneer Stuart Milk. Rudy Coots, co-chair of DOD Pride, acknowledged the event will mark the eighth time the Pentagon has hosted an official event recognizing June as Pride month, which began after Congress repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” during the Obama administration. “We’re very excited to be hosting the 8th annual LGBT Pride Month event in the Pentagon on June 12 to honor the significant contributions LGBT service members and DoD civilians make every day to our national security,” Coots said. Coots said DOD Pride was set to invite to the celebration all members of senior defense leadership, including Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan. A Pentagon spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to the Blade’s request to comment on whether Shanahan would attend. Meanwhile, GLIFFA, the affinity group for LGBT foreign service officers, is set to cohost Monday at the State Department an official event to celebrate Pride, according to an invitation obtained by the Blade. The
GLIFAA marches in the 2018 Capital Pride Parade. Blade file photo by Michael Key
event in the Dean Acheson Auditorium will be co-hosted by the State Department Office of Civil Rights and the Native American Foreign Affairs Council. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan is slated to give remarks. Delivering the keynote address will be Rep. Sharice Davids (D-Kansas), a lesbian and one of two House members who were the first female Native Americans elected to Congress. Asked whether Secretary of State Mike Pompeo would attend, a State Department spokesperson said the secretary will be traveling. The date of the event is the same day Trump is set to attend a state dinner in London hosted by Queen Elizabeth II. At the Education Department, LGBTQ & Allied Employees of ED is planning a series of events, according to an invitation obtained by the Blade. Employees are planning to take part in an interagency community service night Monday at the D.C. Center, an interagency Pride social on June 6 at Shaw’s Tavern and the Capital Pride parade on June 8. An event called “Being LGBTQ+: A Panel Discussion and Q&A” is set to take place at the Education Department itself on June 11. An Education Department spokesperson didn’t respond to the Blade’s request to comment on whether Education Secretary Betsy DeVos would attend any of the events, such as the LGBT panel. Under DeVos, the Education Department rolled back protections for transgender students
and won’t take up complaints for kids being denied access to school restrooms consistent with their gender identity. A series of events related to Pride is also planned at the Department of Health & Human Services. The event will take place shortly after HHS announced it would institute a “conscience rule” for health workers to opt out of procedures to which they have religious objections, including gender reassignment surgery for transgender people, and reverse an Obama-era rule barring anti-transgender discrimination in health care. An HHS spokesperson said HHS Headquarters Diversity & Inclusion Division will sponsor three activities for Pride: A video screening of “50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion” on June 12, a luncheon event called “Being An Ally To Special Emphasis Groups” on June 19, and a roundtable event on June 20 to discuss concerns of LGBT employees at HHS. Asked by the Blade whether Secretary of Health & Human Services Alex Azar would attend any of the events, the HHS spokesperson deferred to the Twitter account at @SpoxHHS. Nothing was found there yet, although the account seems to announce the plans on a day-to-day basis. A Justice Department spokesperson didn’t respond to an inquiry on whether the agency will host an event, although DOJ employees told the Blade something is in the works. Last year, an event recognizing
Pride was held in late June, but away from the center of the Justice Department in the Great Hall for the first time in 11 years. Carol Wilkerson, a Small Business Administration spokesperson, was vague about Pride events within her agency, but confirmed they’d happen. “As with all special monthly observance activities, SBA’s Office of Diversity Inclusion and Civil Rights has plans underway to host an event for all SBA employees honoring LGBT Pride Month,” Wilkerson said. A DHS official was similarly vague in response to an inquiry about plans at the Department of Homeland Security, but said plans were underway. “DHS components are in the process of finalizing their plans for LGBT Pride Month,” the DHS official said. “The calendar will be available to employees early next month. Every year throughout the month of June, DHS components hold numerous events and programs for employees in observance of LGBT Pride Month.” The Department of Housing & Urban Development, which under Secretary Ben Carson recently proposed a rule allowing homeless shelters to turn away transgender people, didn’t respond to the Blade’s request for comment on Pride events, nor did the the Treasury Department. The Labor Department didn’t immediately respond to the Blade’s request to comment before deadline. In years past during the Obama era, Cabinet-level officials, such as Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch, would take part in Pride celebrations at federal agencies. President Obama would also hold an annual reception for LGBT leaders at the White House and issue a proclamation designating June as Pride month. In contrast, President Trump declined to issue a Pride proclamation in each of his first two years in office. Eyes will be on Trump yet again this year to see if he’ll change course and recognize Pride. The White House didn’t respond to the Blade’s inquiries about whether Trump was planning a proclamation or reception.
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • MAY 31, 2019 • 13
Wexton seeks to block HUD from gutting trans protections at shelters
Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.) has introduced a bill to block HUD from gutting transgender protections. Blade file photo by Michael Key
Shortly after the Trump administration announced a proposal to gut transgender non-discrimination protections at homeless shelters, Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.) has introduced legislation to block the change from going into effect. The two-page bill from Wexton, which was introduced late last week, has a simple paragraph in the text portion of the legislation. “The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development may not implement, administer, enforce, or in any manner make effective the proposed rule entitled ‘Revised Requirements Under Community Planning and Development Housing Programs,’ published by the Department of Housing and Urban Development in Spring 2019 (Docket No. FR-6152), or any final rule based substantially on such proposed rule,” the bill says. Wexton introduced the legislation one day after OMB published the proposed rule change, which would carve out the Equal Access Rule implemented during the Obama
administration to ban anti-LGBT discrimination and allow homeless shelters to turn away transgender people or deny them housing consistent with their gender identity. HUD seeks to gut transgender protections at homeless shelters despite assurances Secretary of Housing & Urban Development Ben Carson gave Wexton just last week that LGBT non-discrimination rules at the department would remain in place. “I’m not going to say what we will do in the future about anything,” Carson said, “I’m not currently anticipating changing the rule.” Wexton in a statement announcing her legislation referenced Carson’s commitment to her during the committee hearing, saying he has failed to live up to it. “I asked Secretary Carson directly if he was anticipating any changes to HUD’s Equal Access Rule and he said no under oath,” Wexton said. “This change will allow shelters and programs to discriminate against transgender people seeking access to housing.”
A staggering 40 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBT, according to the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles. According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, one in three transgender people reported being homeless in their lifetime and one in eight were homeless in the last year. “This is a cruel attack on a vulnerable population,” Wexton said. “Barring a community already subject to alarmingly high levels of violence and abuse from access to life-saving shelter is dangerous. This administration’s relentless assault on the rights of LGBTQ Americans cannot continue.” It remains to be seen if Wexton’s bill will get a floor vote. Earlier this month, the U.S. House approved the Equality Act, which would amend the Civil Rights of 1964 to ban anti-LGBT discrimination. That legislation would bar discrimination in housing and programs and federally funds, which would also stop HUD from implementing the anti-trans rule change. CHRIS JOHNSON
FRANK DeCARO Panel Discussion / Book Signing Tuesday, June 4th, 7pm 189 Grove Drive, Los Angeles (323) 525-0270 In this collection of essays, the radio and TV personality explores the history of drag and celebrates the groundbreaking artists who changed pop culture around the world. This is a wristbanded event. See bn.com for details.
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14 • MAY 31, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Supreme Court rejects challenge to Pa. school’s pro-trans bathroom policy
Photo via Twitter
Trump selling ‘LGBTQ for Trump’ T-shirts for Pride As Pride month approaches and corporations get in on the Pride action with rainbow-colored products galore, Donald Trump has now unveiled his own Pride merchandise. The shirt, described as an “exclusive equality tee,” features the words “LGBTQ for Trump” written in white font over a rainbow background. The T-shirts are available in sizes S to 3XL and retail for $24. In 2016, Trump vowed that he would “do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology.” However, after taking office the Trump administration wiped any mention of LGBT rights from the White House website. As his days in office ticked by, Trump issued a transgender military ban; the White House ignored World AIDS Day; proposed a budget cut to global HIV programs; and proposed to roll back protections for transgender people in health care. The irony behind Trump selling Pride T-shirts despite attacking LGBTQ rights wasn’t lost on some LGBTQ advocates who took to social media to denounce the product. “Trump should hold the sales pitch and try issuing a statement honoring June as National Pride Month and the countless of LGBTQ Americans who fought tooth and nail for the level of acceptance our nation sees today,” GLAAD Tweeted in response to the news. MARIAH COOPER
The U.S. Supreme Court has announced it won’t hear a case challenging a Pennsylvania school district’s pro-trans bathroom policy, averting a decision that could have had implications on protections for transgender students nationwide. In an order list Tuesday, the Supreme Court indicated it has denied certiorari in the case of Doe v. Boyertown. That means the petition for certiorari — which has been pending before the Supreme Court since November 2018 — obtained fewer than the four votes needed from justices for review. The anti-LGBT legal group Alliance Defending Freedom filed the case against Boyertown Area School District, which initiated a policy in 2016 allowing transgender students to use restrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity. The case was initially filed on behalf of an anonymous student identified by the pseudonym Joel Doe, asserting Boyertown’s policy is a violation of Doe’s privacy, as well as other anonymous students. According to Alliance Defending Freedom, after parents learned about the Boyertown policy, school officials told male students that their alternative was to stop using the boys’ locker room. The harm caused to one of the anonymous students in the complaint, Mary Smith, was having to witness a transgender student wash her hands in the girl’s room — an incident that prompted Smith to complain to Wayne Foley, an assistant principal at her school. “In March 2017, she entered a girls’ bathroom at the high school and saw a male student washing his hands in the sink,” the complaint says. “After immediately experiencing shock, confusion, and embarrassment, she went to report the incident to the school office. She eventually was able to report the incident to Dr. Foley, and during her conversation with him she learned for the first time that the school was permitting members of the opposite sex to use the girls’ bathrooms.” The student behind the complaint later publicly revealed herself contemporaneously with her high school graduation by her true name, Alexis Lightcap. At a time when pro-trans groups are arguing the Fourteenth Amendments and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 ensure transgender kids have access to school restrooms consistent with their gender identity, ADF has taken the opposite approach. The legal firm claims the pro-trans policy violates students’ rights to privacy under the U.S. Constitution and Title IX, which allows for sexsegregated bathroom facilities, meaning transgender students must use the bathroom consistent with their biological sex. The case has had no success in the courts thus far. U.S. District Judge Edward Smith in Pennsylvania, an Obama appointee, refused to grant a preliminary
injunction barring enforcement of the Boyertown policy. A three-judge panel on the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that decision, asserting forcing transgender students to use separate facilities would “publicly brand all transgender students with a scarlet ‘T.’” John Bursch, ADF’s senior counsel and vice president of appellate advocacy, in a statement acknowledged yet another defeat, this time before the Supreme Court, but was hopeful another opportunity for review would come around. “No student’s recognized right to bodily privacy should be made contingent on what other students believe about their own gender,” Bursch said. “Because the 3rd Circuit’s decision made a mess of bodily privacy and Title IX principles, we believe the Supreme Court should have reviewed it. But we hope the court will take up a similar case in the future to bring much needed clarity to how the lower courts should handle violations of well-established student privacy rights.” The Supreme Court has rejected the Boyertown decision shortly after it granted certiorari in the case of Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC, which will determine whether anti-transgender discrimination is a form of sex discrimination under current law, as well as cases seeking to clarify whether federal laws against sex discrimination cover sexual orientation discrimination. Although these cases don’t directly relate to bathroom access, many of the legal principles are the same and bathroom use is likely to come up during the review of the cases. The American Civil Liberties Union has intervened in the case and represents the Pennsylvania Youth Congress, a coalition of LGBT youth leaders and youth organizations seeking to defend Boyertown’s policy. Ria Tabacco Mar, senior staff attorney with the ACLU LGBT & HIV Project, said in a statement the denial of certiorari “is an enormous victory for transgender students across the country.” “Boyertown’s schools chose to be inclusive and welcoming of transgender students in 2016, a decision the courts have affirmed again and again,” Mar said. “This lawsuit sought to reverse that hardwon progress by excluding transgender students from school facilities that other students use. That would have increased the stigma and discrimination that transgender students already face.” Aidan DeStefano, who’s transgender and a recent graduate of Boyertown High, also commended the Supreme Court decision to refuse to hear the case. “By the time I graduated high school, I was using the boys’ bathroom and participating on the boys’ cross country team,” DeStefano said. “I felt like I belonged and had the confidence I needed to continue with my education. I’m glad the Supreme Court is allowing schools like mine to continue supporting transgender students.” CHRIS JOHNSON
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16 • MAY 31, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Trump seeks to roll back Obamacare’s trans health care protections Proposal would eliminate ‘gender identity’ from definition of sex By CHRIS JOHNSON In a surreptitious move on the Friday before Memorial Day — when much of Washington has already vacated town for the weekend — the Trump administration announced a proposed rule to undermine an Obama-era regulation ensuring non-discrimination in health care for transgender people and women who have had abortions. The proposed rule that the Department of Health & Human Services would eliminate asserts discrimination is prohibited under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, which bars sex discrimination in health care. In a statement announcing the proposed rule change, HHS is oblique in describing what it would accomplish and strikes a positive note, asserting it would “maintain vigorous civil rights enforcement on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, age and sex” and save U.S. taxpayers $3.6 billion over the course of five years. “We are committed to full enforcement of civil rights laws before, during and after any rulemaking,” Roger Severino, director of the HHS Office of Civil Rights, said in a statement. “We are also committed to the elimination of regulations that contradict law or raise the costs of healthcare without achieving intended results.” But the devil’s in the details. A look at the language of the 204-page proposed regulation reveals it would eliminate “gender identity” from the definition of sex under Section 1557 of Obamacare, and incorporate laws allowing health care providers to decline to perform abortion into the non-discrimination regulation. The regulation also seeks to roll back protections for individuals seeking health care with limited English proficiency. “The current rule’s provisions were not justified by need, were overly burdensome compared to the benefit provided, and created inconsistent requirements for HHS funded health programs or activities as compared to HHS funded human services programs or
The Trump administration plans to undo a transgender health care rule, triggering protests from activists. Blade file photo by Michael Key
activities,” the rule says. Under the interpretation of the law as proposed by the rule, health care providers and health insurance would be able to deny to transgender people transition-related care, including gender reassignment surgery. Transgender people and women who have had abortions could also be subjected to denial of general health care. Laura Durso, vice president of LGBT research and communications at the Center for American Progress, said in a conference call with reporters the rule would have devastating effects on both women and LGBT people. “Through this rule, the Trump administration is working to undermine part of the Affordable Care Act that bans discrimination in health care and insurance coverage,” Durso said. “It has proposed a rule that will weaken enforcement of the Health Care Rights Law…particularly when it comes to protecting women, LGBTQ patients and people with limited English proficiency. Eliminating the strong, clear rules prohibiting discrimination will lead to confusion, unequal
access, and potential rollbacks of landmark progress.” The proposed rule was made public weeks after the Trump administration unveiled a different “conscience clause” for health care workers to decline to perform procedures, such as gender reassignment surgery or abortions, out of religious objections. A coalition of states with Democratic attorneys general have filed a federal lawsuit in New York City challenging the legitimacy of the rule. Jocelyn Samuels, executive director of the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, said in a conference report the “conscience” rule was more geared toward specific procedures, but the latest roll back was more general. “The conscience rule released a couple of weeks ago was focused on implementation of specific statutes that are very narrowly drawn to authorize religious objections to certain services when they’re offered by certain providers who get certain funding streams,” Samuels said. “And, of course,” Samuels continued, “One of the concerns about that rule was that it expanded authorizations for these denials beyond what was authorized in those very specific statutes, but this rule seems to intend an even broader application of religious exemptions and suggests that religiously affiliated health care providers would be able to opt out of providing any service to any individual that in any way conflicted with their asserted religious beliefs. That, obviously, could result in a huge loophole for application of non-discrimination protections in the world of health care services.” More generally, the Trump administration for some time has steadily rolled back nondiscrimination protections for transgender people in federal regulations. Just this week, the Department of Housing & Urban Development announced a rule gutting a different Obamaera rule ensuring homeless shelters receiving federal funds can’t turn away transgender people. It should be noted the regulation the Trump administration seeks to rescind with respect to Section 1557 of Obamacare was already moot. U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor had enjoined the U.S. government from enforcing the Obama-era rule as a result of a lawsuit
filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. The Trump administration under former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions declined to appeal the decision. But the move from the Trump administration to roll back the underlying rule under its own volition has been expected for some time. For years, transgender advocates have sounded the alarm over reported plans the HHS would rescind the regulation, with Severino in charge of the HHS Office of Civil Rights. As a scholar at the Heritage Foundation, Severino was hostile to transgender rights and supported North Carolina’s anti- trans House Bill 2. The proposed regulation denies discrimination against transgender people is unlawful despite decades of case law interpreting laws barring sex discrimination to apply to cases of anti-trans discrimination. Over nearly two decades, eight federal appeals courts and 35 federal district courts have affirmed anti-transgender discrimination is sex discrimination and unlawful, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality. However, that could change soon. The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to take up the case of Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC involving a transgender worker who was terminated after declaring she’d transition on the job. The case will determine once and for all whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars sex discrimination in employment, applies to cases for transgender workplace protection. The ruling would apply to all federal laws barring sex discrimination, not just employment civil rights laws. The Supreme Court could either affirm decades of case law protecting transgender people, or throw them out with a single ruling. Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center of Transgender Equality, said the upcoming final decision from the Supreme Court heightens the absurdity of the new HHS proposed regulation. “Part of the…cruelty, the dumbness of doing this rule right now, particularly around the transgender issues is that it may be rendered moot by a Supreme Court decision, which we expect to have…certainly in the coming year, but maybe in the coming months,” Keisling said. “So it doesn’t make sense that they did this with the Harris case getting cert to the Supreme Court.”
T:4.875 in MAY 31, 2019 • 17
Senate confirms judge who argued for Prop 8 to disclose not only the facts concerning his relationship, but also his marriage intentions, for the parties (and the public) were entitled to know whether his waivable conflict was actually a non-waivable conflict mandating his disqualification,” Nielson wrote. Nielson’s attempt to invalidate Walker’s ruling was rejected by U.S. District Judge James Ware, who sided with pro-gay rights groups in maintaining Walker’s sexual orientation shouldn’t invalidate his decision. In his argument in favor of Proposition 8 on its merits, Nielson suggested being gay is a choice by pointing out there is debate about how sexual orientation is defined and disputed the effect of discrimination on gay people, including increased rates of depression and suicide. Upon nomination to become a federal judge, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) queried Nielson in a written questionnaire on various matters, including whether he believes the Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015 was settled law. To that question, Nielson replied simply, “Yes.” But Nelson didn’t indicate a change of mind on gay judges ruling in LGBT cases when, in an apparent reference to his litigation position in the Prop 8 case, he asked whether he believes straight judges can rule impartially in those cases. “I believe the law is clear that no one is required to recuse himself or herself based on status,” Nielson writes. “Where additional facts are involved, recusal issues must be resolved on a case-by-case basis, applying the judicial canons and the federal recusal statute. Under the judicial canons, it would be inappropriate for me to address hypothetical cases that could arise in litigation.” Nielson has also faced criticism for being part of the screening committee at the U.S. Justice Department during the Bush administration, which was found to have taken political affiliation into account for hiring practices. He also worked at the Office of Legal Counsel, which justified the use of torture. Nielson has also been an attorney for the National Rifle Association. Continues at losangelesblade.com
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The U.S. Senate confirmed to the federal bench last week a Trump judicial nominee who not only litigated in favor of California’s Proposition 8, but argued a ruling against the measure should have been invalidated because the judge didn’t disclose he was gay before deciding the case. The Senate confirmed Howard Nielson to a seat on the U.S. District Court in Federal District of Utah by a 51-47 party-line vote as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) presided over the chamber. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) joined Democrats in voting “no” on the nominee. Kristine Lucius, executive vice president for policy and government affairs at The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, condemned the Nielson confirmation in a statement. “By confirming Howard Nielson, the Senate has pushed through another extreme lifetime nominee who will not be fair-minded or impartial.” Lucius said. “Nielson’s reprehensible arguments against LGBTQ equality – including asking to vacate a judgment because the judge was gay – are particularly alarming. In addition, he has litigated against common-sense public safety laws, demonstrated hostility to women’s health care, and argued against educational equity and opportunity.” Nominated by President Trump in September 2017, Nielson’s nomination had stalled for nearly two years in the Senate due to Democratic opposition, although Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) change in rules to ease judicial filibusters allowed the nominee to come to a floor vote. At the time of his nomination, Nielson was a partner at the D.C.-based Cooper & Kirk, PLLC and represented the defendants in Hollingsworth v. Perry, who sought to uphold the measure banning same-sex marriage in California they placed on the ballot in 2008. The U.S. Supreme Court ultimately rejected their claims on the basis they didn’t have standing in court, restoring marriage equality to California. But before that ruling, Nielson filed a motion seeking to vacate U.S. Chief Judge Vaughn Walker’s ruling against Proposition 8 on the basis that he was in same-sex relationship and didn’t disclose that as he adjudicated the case. “Chief Judge Walker thus had a duty
18 • MAY 31, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
VOLUME 03 ISSUE 22
California should not extend bar hours to 4 a.m. Extending last call leads to more violence, drunk driving, other problems
Richard L. Zaldivar is co-chair of the California Alcohol Policy Alliance and Executive Director & Founder, The Wall Las Memorias Project.
California needs more positive spaces for its LGBTQ+ residents—spaces that promote acceptance, solidarity, and health. Yet in a move that would make the Trump administration proud, one of California’s most prominent gay legislators is masking a campaign to deregulate a lethal industry under the guise of helping the LGBTQ+ community. For almost three years now, State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) has been working to extend bar closing times from the 2 a.m. statewide standard to 4 a.m. His third effort is SB 58, which recently passed in May from the Senate to the Assembly. We are finding tremendous grassroots LGBTQ+ opposition to 4 a.m. bars at Pride events this year. SB 58 openly recognizes that the economic windfall will be reaped by the large hotels, convention halls, nightclubs and developers that endorse the bill. As with so many other public health catastrophes, that sort of money chasing leaves the LGBTQ+ community to bear a disproportionate share of the harm. When Gov. Jerry Brown, Jr.
vetoed the last year’s bill he said, “I believe we have enough mischief from midnight to 2 without adding two more hours of mayhem.” There is plenty of harm to go around. Alcohol use kills over 10,600 Californians yearly, or one alcohol-related death per hour. While 159,000 Californians receive treatment for alcohol abuse, that represents less than 15% of the number in need of it. Alcohol use costs the state $35 billion annually, of which $25.8 billion stems directly from binge drinking. And these numbers are rising fast. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) scientists report that rates of alcohol abuse increased nearly 50% in a decade. Far from generating money for the state, early-morning bar times will worsen all of these figures. Research shows that extending last call times is associated with increases in violence, injury, assault, intoxicated driving, and stress on emergency services. This impact has been recognized worldwide. Restricted bar closing hours have been endorsed by the World Health Organization, United States Surgeon General, and CDC among many other U.S. and international public health authorities. When these recommendations are ignored, LGBTQ+ Californians stand to see the worst of it. After all, the purpose of the bill is ultimately to sell more alcohol. Research shows that the LGBTQ+ population suffers from substance use problems at a higher rate than the country as a whole, so if drinking goes up, it will go up proportionally more in the LGBTQ+ community. Aside from the evident long-term threats to health from alcohol-related disease, the shortterm risk of accidental death and injury, and the problems with friends, family and employers, LGBTQ+ individuals face more specific risks. For men, heavy drinking increases the odds of risky sex. Worse, it makes it more likely that someone will fall off their
medication schedule, and 100% of doctors agree: PrEP does not work if you do not take it. Lesbians are far more likely to be heavy drinkers throughout their lives. Young transgender adults, meanwhile, engage in extraordinarily high rates of heavy drinking, and are more likely to be victims of verbal threats and sexual assault the more they drink. LGBTQ individuals run higher rates of depression and suicidal ideation, and tragedy after tragedy has demonstrated alcohol’s ability to turn ideation into action. This is not to say gay bars in particular are a problem. They have been, and remain, an essential part of the LGBTQ+ landscape, creating both safe spaces for young people to grow into their identity and vital links to the history and struggle of the community. However, we should not make the mistake of seeing people driven to bond over drinking because of shared pain and stigma, and assuming alcohol is a cure for those things. Alcohol creates its own forms of pain, one that weighs even more heavily on those already struggling with issues of judgment and representation. With this in mind, it is imperative that leaders in the community such as Sen. Wiener make an effort to envision a growing and vibrant LGBTQ+ culture that does not hinge on increasing the amount of alcohol people drink. We reject SB 58. It serves up money to the alcohol industry over the bodies of LGBTQ+ Californians, bodies those same Americans have fought for fifty years to have respected. The band should not play on to 4 a.m. We have created an LGBTQ+ Caucus of the California Alcohol Policy Alliance to take action against the attack on our community under the guise of saving the gay bar scene. Take action by going to https://bit.ly/2JHrKc1. To join the Caucus and take action at Pride events contact MayraJ@AlcoholJustice.org.
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#JUSTUNITE Your oﬃcial guide to LA Pride 2019 The subliminal beauty of LGBT unity Stonewall 50 demonstrates connectivity By KAREN OCAMB firstname.lastname@example.org
Members of the original Gay Activists Alliance and Gay Liberation Front in NY for the 25th anniversary of Stonewall Photo by Karen Ocamb
Each year since 1970, LGBT people and their allies pause to celebrate the spontaneous uprising at the Stonewall Inn the year before. Like the match struck at the beginning of Mission Impossible, the two nights of unbridled protests by society’s most marginalized on June 28 and June 29, 1969 ignited a ﬂashpoint for the launch of the modern day LGBT movement.
But Stonewall did not happen in a political or cultural vacuum. And it was not the ﬁrst gay rebellion against police raids— the1959 Cooper Do-nuts Riot and the 1966 Compton’s Cafeteria riot, the Feb. 11, 1967 demonstration at the Black Cat Tavern in Silver Lake protesting violent LAPD harassment on New Year’s Eve, for instance, brought out 200 courageous gays
and lesbians who knew what to expect from the armed anti-gay police just months before the hippy Flower Power love fest known as the Summer of Love kicked in. And in August 1968, Lee Glaze, owner and manager of The Patch on Paciﬁc Coast Highway, took the protest to the police. Consider the context of the times. Street and college protests against the ugly Vietnam Continues on page 02
M AY 3 1 2 0 1 9 • A M E R I C A’ S LG B TQ N E W S S O U R C E • LO S A N G E L E S B L A D E . C O M • 0 1
Harry Hay’s 80th birthday in WeHo with Keiko Lane, 17, and Robert Nemchik, who died of AIDS a few months later
Jim Mangia and Jose Sarria
Photo by Karen Ocamb
Photo by Karen Ocamb
Continued from page 01 War were growing, with terriﬁed straight and gay 18 year olds sometimes pretending to be gay to escape military service—though often potentially dying in the jungles of Southeast Asia seemed preferable to the crushing and dangerous stigma of being labeled “homosexual” at home. The world profoundly changed in 1968 and the anti-war protests and counterculture movement became training grounds for resistance, empowering oppressed minorities, including gays and lesbians, to refuse to bow to the daily normalized violent harassment from police and the dominant white conformist society. These moments happened in 1968: Jan 30 – the North Vietnamese Tet Oﬀensive exposes the lies told by President Johnson’s administration that the U.S. is winning the war. For the ﬁrst time, Americans grasp that they cannot automatically trust their president. Feb. 29 - the Kerner Commission studying America’s race riots determines that the country is “moving toward two societies, one black, one white — separate and unequal.” The ﬁrst week in March in Los Angeles – an estimated 15,000 Latino high school students stage a walk out demanding better education. April 4 – Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated in Memphis by white supremacist James Earl Ray, prompting riots in over 100 cities, leaving 39 people dead, 2,600 injured and an untold number emotionally and psychologically devastated. April 23 – students protesting their university’s ties to the military industrial complex take
over ﬁve buildings at prestigious Columbia University, prompting similar takeovers at colleges and universities around the country. May 6 – more than 5,000 students riot in Paris, resulting in sympathy strikes. June 4 – Democratic anti-war presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy is assassinated at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles after winning the California primary. Aug. 5-8 – Republican “law and order” presidential candidate Richard M. Nixon is nominated at the Republican National Convention. It is against this backdrop that “The Blond Darling” Lee Glaze ﬁnally stood up to the noxious under-cover LAPD vice squad. After yet another raid and several arrests, Glaze got on his drag stage and promising to pay for legal bills, rallied his patrons into action. They marched up to a ﬂower shop up the street, bought all the ﬂowers (except pansies, apparently) and took their ﬂower power to the Harbor Division Police Station, demanding bail and the release of those arrested during the raid. The Patch raid and successful protest had profound eﬀects, including inspiring Rev. Troy Perry to found the Metropolitan Community Church—”a church for all of us who are outcasts”—after his boyfriend Tony Valdez was arrested. One year after The Patch raid, Los Angeles reeled from the Manson murders (Aug, 9-10, 1969), more than 500,000 peace and loveseeking, sexually liberated hippies showed up at Max Yasgur’s farm in Bethal, New York for three days of the rock ‘n roll Woodstock Festival (Aug. 15-18), and the Democratic
National Convention in Chicago erupted in a police riot live on TV (Aug. 28) with bleeding antiwar protesters screaming: “The Whole World Is Watching!” But by the end of 1969, a Rolling Stones concert guarded by Hells Angels at Altamont Speedway in California where one man was murdered. Woodstock and the Age of Aquarius seemed over. In the meantime, on July 20, Astronaut Neil Armstrong stepped on the Moon and declared, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” in the Moon landing televised live around the world. And on Nov. 15, the Vietnam Moratorium Committee, organized by then-closeted politico David Mixner and three friends, created the largest antiwar protest in U.S. history when roughly 250,000-500,00 people showed up for a non-violent civil disobedience protest in Washington, D.C. Just four months after Stonewall, a contingent of out and proud radical Gay Liberation demonstrators turned up, too, dancing in pink tutus and veils through the Key Bridge campsite’s food line on Sunday, and transforming into ﬁerce protesters when the action got underway, as witnessed by this reporter. Stonewall took on legendary status in 1970 after demonstrators from New York contacted well-known antiwar gay activist Morris Kight in Los Angeles to commemorate the June 28 uprising with a parade. Radical activists created the Gay Liberation Front and the less-radical, more organized Gay Activists Alliance immediately after Stonewall, with Kight, Don Kilhefner and other members Continues on page 04
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Nina & Me
Joshua Roman Herb Alpert
WALLIS ANNENBERG CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS
Rev. Carl Bean and Paul Kawata
Transsexual Menace Shirley Bushnell (center)
Photo by Karen Ocamb
Photo by Karen Ocamb
Continued from page 02 of the Gay Liberation Front of Los Angeles founding such lasting projects as the LA Gay Community Services Center, the precursor to the Los Angeles LGBT Center of today. While passionate conﬂicts within and between organizations sometimes ruined eﬀorts to provide much needed services to LGBT people—“oppression sickness,” Kight called it—there is an undercurrent of connectivity, of conscious and unconscious awareness in which LGBT people are aware of each other—aware of the need for secrecy when called for, aware of the need for a hug when others declare LGBT person untouchable. LGBT people are still oﬃcially second-class citizens, an unrecognized minority that has created community across numerous boundaries, including internal roadblocks. “It took many years of vomiting up all the ﬁlth I’d been taught about myself, and halfbelieved, before I was able to walk in the earth as though I had a right to be here,” gay author James Baldwin once wrote. It is precisely that shared experience that LGBT people recognize within themselves and each other. That sense of community may be “a useful ﬁction,” as AIDS activist Michael Callen once said, but it a community that also embraces all others. Racism, sexism, xenophobia exit—Jewel Thais-Williams created Catch One Disco in response to the racism at West Hollywood’s Studio One and other discos. But ironically, the LGBT community in many ways exempliﬁes the complex “peace and love” legacy of the Age of Aquarius better than
other minorities. During the AIDS crisis, when government, society, and families disavowed their AIDS-infected and dying loved ones, LGBT people came out and took care of each other, often with help from soulful straight allies. Empathy and inclusivity are at the core of LGBT unity. Mattachine Society founder Harry Hay celebrated his 80th birthday at West Hollywood’s Plummer Park in October 1992 surrounded by his beloved young community from Queer Nation, ACT UP and the Radical Faeries. Non-assimilationists, especially eﬀeminate men, led the way in gender expression. While ideology may yank some LGBT politicos from their community mooring, the respect for those ﬁghting for LGBT freedom and civil rights earns respect and connection regardless of electoral politics. Jim Mangia, now president & CEO of St. John’s Well Child and Family Center, providing healthcare to predominately low-income Latinos, African Americans and transgender folk in South LA, was once the unanimously elected national Secretary of the Reform Party in 1997, with a proven record of working to establish a third party in California and the nation. In 2000, he publically fought anti-LGBT Patrick Buchanan for control of the party. Mangia is also an admirer of early gay Democratic Party icon Jose Sarria, founder of the Imperial Court System and the ﬁrst openly gay candidate who sought public oﬃce when in 1961, he ran for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Perhaps one of the best examples of LGBT unity and connectivity occurred after the LA
Riots in 1992. As Los Angeles burned, much of the attention was on the perceived warfare between the Black and Asian communities. But Rev. Carl Bean called a community meeting at his Unity Fellowship Church in South LA and invited one of LGBT nation’s best known Asian leaders, Paul Kawata, executive director of the National Minority AIDS Council, to demonstrate the unity within the LGBT community. After the meeting, the attendees helped clean up the charred streets of Los Angeles. And prime example of LGBT connectivity and unity is the quieter, constant behind the scenes action of Transsexual Menace Shirley Bushnell who ﬁercely advocated for transgender rights before the Trans Lives Matter movement. Bushnell, with backing from ally lawyers and activists, badgered the LAPD and the LA Sheriﬀ’s Department for better treatment and respect. Her constant activism paved the way for trans activists such as Karina Samala and Mason Davis to secure actual policy changes in law enforcement. It’s 2019 and America is under attack from within. That is our historical context today. LGBT people and other minorities are facing equality rollbacks and brazen injustices that feel as if the pursuit of freedom hasn’t progressed much in the 50 years since Stonewall. But it has, including in the quiet and loud collective insistence on unity whenever the LGBT tribe is attacked. White supremacy will never tear asunder that shared bond of pain and the beautiful connection of an outsider’s love for each other.
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Pride Nights blossom in stadiums across Los Angeles LGBTQ outreach by sports teams have become a staple in Southern California By CYD ZEIGLER
Over the last decade, Pride Nights in sports have grown from a curiosity in a handful of baseball stadiums to a mainstay of professional sports schedules. With encouragement from some pro-sports league front oﬃces, teams across professional sports are now embracing the hosting of a night covered in rainbow ﬂags and dedicated to embracing the LGBTQ community. It’s a sign of the times, this push for diversity and inclusion. As professional sports teams have more competition for eyeballs and ticket buyers – from the cineplex, phones, e-sports and everything else in between – they are looking for any edge to sell more tickets to a broader range of people.
Los Angeles Dodgers One of the world’s most LGBTQ-inclusive sports entities is the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers held what is believed to be the ﬁrst “LGBT Night” in pro sports in 2000. But it came about under pretty auspicious circumstances. Earlier that season a security guard had kicked a lesbian couple out of Dodger Stadium for kissing one another, after a fan had allegedly complained. When the Dodgers front oﬃce found out, they were mortiﬁed and donated 5,000 tickets to LGBTQ groups. On Sept. 6 of that year, with the lesbian couple sitting behind home plate, the team held “Gay and Lesbian Night at Dodger Stadium.” For the last few years the Dodgers have held the largest LGBT Night in all of sports, selling many thousands of tickets. This year’s LGBT Night is May 31, with Dodgers part-owners and partners Billie Jean King and Ilana Kloss throwing out the game’s ceremonial opening pitch. For the Dodgers, the commitment to the community runs deep. The team has had two players known to be gay: Glenn Burke in the 1970s and Billy Bean in 1989. Today one of the club’s senior vice presidents, Erik Braverman, is one of the highest-proﬁle out LGBTQ people in sports. While most other teams have their Pride Night and have very little presence in the LGBTQ community outside of that, the Dodgers engage in other events like Outsports Pride, being held
in Los Angeles June 6-9, and working closely with LGBTQ organizations like Varsity Gay League, the Greater Los Angeles Softball Association, LA Pride and the Los Angeles LGBT Center.
Los Angeles Sparks Our city’s WNBA team will host its Pride Night on June 27, on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. Far beyond Pride Nights, the Sparks have had a genuine relationship with the LGBTQ community for years. Almost 20 years ago the team embraced a strategy of LGBTQ outreach, even as the WNBA as a league and other teams tried to distance themselves from the community. The Sparks even at times made appearances at lesbian events and establishments in West Hollywood and across L.A.
Hockey in L.A. Thanks in part to the NHL’s relationship with the You Can Play project, the Kings have been engaged with the LGBTQ community for years. While some teams have more broadly deﬁned the NHL’s mandated “Hockey Is For Everyone” nights, recognizing people from various marginalized communities, the Kings have continued to host their Pride Night, with some players wrapping their blades in rainbowcolored Pride Tape to demonstrate their push for acceptance on the ice. The Kings have made it a point to highlight the local LGBTQ hockey team Los Angeles Blades in some of their eﬀorts, including a brief interview with a team member during their 2019 Pride Night broadcast in March. The Anaheim Ducks have also hosted Pride Nights, complete with a rainbow-inspired Ducks T-shirt giveaway.
Two NBA teams Both the Lakers and Clippers are relatively new to LGBTQ outreach. Each of them had a Pride Night last season, with the Lakers scheduling theirs during a preseason game last October. A
unique twist to the night was that every single person entering Staples Center received a Lakers shirt in rainbow colors, thanks to the sponsorship of UCLA Health. The team did a great job splashing the rainbow ﬂag throughout the arena. It in part came about because Riley Buss-Drexel, grandson of former Lakers legendary owner Jerry Buss and part of the team ownership group, is gay and passionate about expanding the team’s outreach to the community. The Clippers held a Pride Night on New Year’s Day this year and featured a panel discussion addressing LGBTQ issues in sports led by Lambda Basketball. The team actually helped organize its ﬁrst Pride Night in 2011, co-hosted by Equality California and Outsports.
Battling ‘Puto’ on the Pitch In no American pro sport is vocal homophobia more present than in soccer. Fans sometimes chant “puto” – a gay slur in Spanish – during matches. Last year they even chanted the slur during the L.A. Galaxy’s Pride Night and some LAFC fans chanted it during the club’s lone playoﬀ match. It’s something that Major League Soccer, as well as LAFC and the Galaxy, have all taken seriously and vowed to eradicate from their stadiums, creating policies and procedures to combat the chants. There have been no public reports of the chant at these club’s home matches during the 2019 season. Yet the Major League Soccer teams in L.A. have a long history of hosting Pride Nights and other LGBTQ outreach. The now-defunct Chivas USA hosted an Equality Night in 2011, complete with a pre-game reception with the NOH8 campaign, also involving Cheer LA, the LA Gay Men’s Chorus and the It Gets Better project. This year both of Los Angeles’ current MLS teams are hosting Pride Nights, with LAFC celebrating on May 24 and the Galaxy on June 2. Of course the Galaxy have the proud history of playing the ﬁrst publicly out athlete in men’s major American pro sports, when Robbie Rogers took to the pitch for the club in 2013. He retired in 2017 and now lives with his husband, Greg Berlanti,
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Grip me, Flip me, Squeeze me, Fill Me. Tired of messy sheets and slippery hands, Aaron and Erin decided to dedicate their time to creating Lube Light. Married and curious, they noticed something missing from the market, something no one had dreamed up before: the perfect lube dispenser with a light that keeps the heat of the moment front and center, or on all fours. Plenty of prototypes and hard work later, they created the world’s ﬁrst illuminated lid system. Let’s keep playtime light, sex fun, and keep things slippery. Lube Light is an after-market personal lubricant bottle that is compatible with both silicone and water-based lubes. When the cap is opened, a hidden LED automatically turns on, directed at your point of application.
Photo courtesy Los Angeles Dodgers
and two kids.
Anaheim Angels In stark contrast to their MLB neighbors to the north, the Anaheim Angels are hosting the club’s ﬁrst-ever Pride Night on June 25. It’s hard to believe a SoCal team like the Angels would take this long to extend an olive branch to the LGBTQ community, but that’s the truth.
Rams and Chargers No NFL team has ever hosted an oﬃcial team game called a “Pride Game” or anything of the sort. That includes both the Rams and Chargers, who just moved to Los Angeles a couple years ago. A big part of that reason is that most NFL teams sell out all of their games anyway; For many sports clubs, if there are no tickets to sell there isn’t a big reason to do a promotional event, and that’s how most of them view Pride Games.
The Rams have, however, made some positive gestures toward the community. They sponsored Venice Pride a couple years ago. Molly Higgins is a publicly out executive in the team’s front oﬃce. And their two male cheerleaders – Quinton Peron and Napoleon Jinnies – are both publicly out. The Rams also famously drafted Michael Sam before moving to L.A. The Chargers have made an eﬀort as well, a couple years ago hosting Chargers viewing parties at the Roosterﬁsh in Venice. Yet with the Chargers having such diﬃculty selling tickets for their home games at StubHub Center, it’s a head-scratcher why the team hasn’t created the league’s ﬁrst-ever Pride Night.
College sports While it’s not as common for college sports teams to host Pride Nights, some of them do. The UCLA softball team, which has been a national top-three team for most of the season and is
chasing a national title, held a three-day Pride Weekend when they played Cal in late March. The ﬁrst 200 fans who wore rainbow colors to the matches got in free.
The Kiss Cam One of the neat developments across many of the Pride Nights in Los Angeles has been the inclusion of same-sex couples on the Kiss Cam. The Dodgers have at times included as many as a half-dozen LGBTQ couples. The Kings and Clippers have also featured same-sex couples to big applause from the crowd. For years the Kiss Cam had been used on occasion to embarrass guys (assumed to be straight) with a kiss. The turn-around by various teams in LA has been an important step.
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LA Pride sees upswing in sponsors after struggles Staﬃng changes lead to cash inﬂux for 49th annual celebration By SAMSON AMORE
After several tumultuous years and struggles to secure funding for its annual Pride Parade and Festival, the Christopher Street West Association Inc. is seeing an upswing in donations this year as it approaches the 50year anniversary of organizing the event. Several changes to the 49th annual festival marked a ﬁrst, including securing new big-box retail sponsors, hiring a dedicated, salaried staﬀ and securing a full broadcast of the parade on KABC/ABC7 News. Christopher Street West Board President Estevan Montemayor said, “we have more sponsors than ever before, and more community partners in the parade than ever before. This festival has expanded in ways the founders couldn’t even imagine 49 years ago.” Montemayor took the post of president in May 2018 after Christopher Street West Association’s previous president, Christopher Classen, was removed due to allegations of self-dealing transactions. Shortly afterwards, Montemayor and the Christopher Street West board hired the Aspen Leadership Group to aid in ﬁnding a full-time executive director and operations manager in October 2017. The Association and Aspen Leadership eventually selected Executive Director Madonna Cacciatore in July 2018. Cacciatore formerly served as the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s special events fundraising director for seven years, and also worked for AIDS Project Los Angeles, bringing an existing network of nonproﬁt contacts and donors to the Christopher Street West Association. So did the Association’s new sponsorship consultant Michael Fereirra, Montemayor said. “One of the things I recognized when I joined the board was to move the organization into the next 50 years, we needed to pivot and have dedicated staﬀ,” said Montemayor. Hiring new talent was crucial, but it also meant the Christopher Street West Association needed to raise more money. “We have other costs now associated with the
organization and we now have employees; we pay beneﬁts and salaries now, which is new,” Montemayor said. “Between all that, the need to raise more funds is important.” This year, telecommunications giant Verizon Wireless Inc. paid Christopher Street West Association $1 million to be the title sponsor of the 49th and 50th annual Pride Parades. The gift was “the single largest contribution we ever received as an organization, (and) that’s pretty incredible,” Montemayor noted. New board member Craig Greiwe brought the connection to Verizon with him when he joined the board’s new class in October 2018 and it proved to be valuable. “It’s really important that new board members and staﬀ brought relationships, without them we wouldn’t be able to execute these agreements,” said Montemayor. Montemayor noted that large brands such as Anheuser Busch Inc.’s Bud Light, Delta, Wells Fargo, and Mac Cosmetics have been with the organization “for decades” and aren’t a stranger to sponsoring the festival. That said, the overall volume of large companies writing larger checks is relatively new. Standard corporate fees for corporate sponsors total roughly $10,000 said Ghiyom Turmel, coordinator of Sawtelle-based game developer Riot Games’ sponsorship of Pride for the second year in a row. “For me, it is important to be a champion for my organization and push Riot to participate in these events because representation matters. It all clicked when I ﬁrst participated at Pride with my previous video game company gear and I had so many gaymers coming up to me, being so happy to see that there were gay people in the industry and that maybe that was a place where they could grow their career without fear of being singled out,” Turmel said. New brands this year that signed up to sponsor the Parade and Festival include Johnson & Johnson, Charles Smith Wines, and Cesar’s Entertainment. Montemayor would not disclose how much each sponsor
contributed, but said they are all presenting sponsors, the second highest sponsorship tier Johnson & Johnson, Cesar’s Entertainment and Mac Cosmetics are co-sponsoring the L.A. Pride opening ceremony, which features a free evening performance by Paula Abdul. Even local sports teams want a piece of the rainbow cake — on May 31 the Los Angeles Dodgers will welcome LGBT fans to Dodger Stadium for an oﬃcial Pride kickoﬀ celebration. The Dodgers “have donated in the last few years,” Montemayor said. KABC ABC7 News signed up to be the weekend’s ﬁrst parade broadcast sponsor and will do pre-parade coverage on June 6 and broadcast live parade coverage on June 7. “The View’s” Raven Symone will be one of the co-hosts of the broadcast. Montemayor said announcing the KABC showing was a big draw for sponsors, partially because of the potential to reach even more people. “There has been a resounding amount of excitement regarding this, it’s an important step for the ﬁnancial side of the organization (and) we’re seeing we’re able to expand our footprint digitally in a way people haven’t imagined before,” Montemayor noted. Not only are event sponsorships key to the Pride Festival’s success,they can also determine the success of the Christopher Street West Association’s following year. Proceeds from Pride fuel other programs, including Platform, a collaboration between CSW and the LA LGBT Center that trains young transgender people to become advocates and lobby elected oﬃcials. A scholarship for Queer Studies majors at USC is funded partially through Pride proceeds, as is CSW’s newly revived community grant program. The program awards queer-friendly nonproﬁts $1,000 to $10,000, “based on proceeds from the festival and parade,” and was stopped a few years ago due to lack of funds, said Montemayor. CSW is ﬁscally sound enough to bring the grant program
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CLOSING CEREMONY JUNE 30, 2019
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‘We have more sponsors than ever before,’ said Christopher Street West Board President Estevan Montemayor. Photo courtesy Christopher Street West
back this year, thanks in part to its robust new sponsorships. Giving back to the West Hollywood and Greater L.A. community remains a motivator
for the CSW’s new director and staﬀ to continue its momentum. “CSW has continued to survive because its story is so poignant,” said Montemayor. “Next
year we will be doing more to raise funds for this organization to make sure it’s successful and always has a net proﬁt every year,” said Montemayor.
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2019 LA PRIDE FESTIVAL + PRIDE ON THE BOULEVARD June 8 â€“ 9 in West Hollywood
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ERIC GARCETTI MAYOR May 31, 2019 Dear Friends, On behalf of the City of Los Angeles, welcome to Pride 2019. Pride is one of our City’s largest events, bringing people together from across L.A. County and beyond to celebrate the heritage and culture of our LGBTQ+ community and its allies. We unite to reaffirm our determination, our dedication, and our resolve. We lift up our voices and ensure we will never be silenced. This year’s Pride marks the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York City, a pivotal moment that helped ignite the LGBTQ+ rights movement across the country and around the world. It was at the Black Cat Tavern in Silver Lake where two gay couples sealed the New Year with a kiss, and were assaulted by the police in retaliation. Angelenos stood up against hate then, and haven’t stopped since. Hate has no place in Los Angeles, and we must take that message to every city across America. We will not tell Angelenos to be patient, or to wait for the respect and the rights that they deserve.
We are proud of every lesbian, gay, trans, bi, queer, intersex, asexual person, and ally who calls L.A. home. On behalf of the City of Los Angeles, I join the Los Angeles Blade in wishing everyone a happy, safe, and meaningful Pride month. In solidarity,
ERIC GARCETTI Mayor
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weho’s pride ride is the free and easy way to get across town during pride weekend! weho.org/pride | weho.org/prideride
LA Pride takes Santa Monica Boulevard A revolution for an event that celebrates one By SUSAN HORNIK
With three days of jubilant programming across multiple stages and performance venues, LA Pride attracts hundreds of thousands of parade spectators and attendees. This year’s #JUSTUNITE theme embraces the idea that the work the LGBTQ community does together is ultimately what will make it stronger and more resilient. Making the event as vibrant and unique each year is always a challenge, but Christopher Street West’s (CSW) new executive director, Madonna Cacciatore passionately endeavors to try. This year, beyond the entertainment staging areas, Madonna has spearheaded a few changes many hope will make the festival more vibrant, interactive and accessible.
About 2019 Pride The City of West Hollywood, the West Hollywood Chamber, and local businesses have all been great partners in inspiring a revitalized LA Pride. There are many new elements this year, including Pride on the Boulevard, a weekend block party and LGBTQ stage, all of which are free to the public. Guests can gather and watch local performers on both Saturday, June 8 and Sunday, June 9 from 12-7 p.m. The block party will be located on Santa Monica Boulevard between San Vicente and Robertson Boulevards. “Our community really spoke to us about wanting free access to LA Pride,” Cacciatore told the Los Angeles Blade. “With the support of our sponsors, businesses, and city and community partners, we were able to make that happen. There will be pedestrian only traﬃc between Robertson and Hancock on Santa Monica Boulevard. The businesses along that part of the street and beyond are excited to activate even bigger this year.” The ticketed portion of Pride gets you inside the festival, where all the music headliners are, along with numerous food vendors like Trejo’s Tacos, Jacko’s Pizza, Farmboy Foods, Fat Dragon, Oatley, Vurger Guyz, Deli Doctor and Middle Feast.
Cacciatore and her team also added Oil Can Harry’s at the Robertson Beer Garden, and The Palms’ lesbian bar in Koontz’ parking lot. The two new beer gardens include historic bar pop-ups, creating spaces that connect important elements and locations within LGBT history to today’s consumer. “There will be no cover charge to get into either bar but you must be 21+.” The Robertson Beer Garden will have a giant Ferris wheel, which is $5 per ride. The parade is bigger and better than ever this year, with more contingents than in recent history, and a live broadcast by the festival’s sponsor, ABC7. VIP Backstage Experience ticket holders will also have new beneﬁts this year, which include viewing the festivities in the CHE | Palihouse |LA Pride Garden, at the Sal Guarriello Veterans Memorial Park near Holloway and Santa Monica Blvd. “Friday night, there will be an oﬃcial opening ceremony with a blessing by a TwoSpirit Tongva leader, which is free,” enthused Cacciatore. “Both stages will be open with programming that includes a vogue ball, DJs, a performance by Todrick Hall, and a one-hour show by Paula Abdul. Verizon will present “5B,” the inspirational documentary about the early years of the AIDS epidemic in San Francisco, which will premiere on the Plaza Stage.” Jewel’s Catch One, named in honor of lesbian activist Jewel Thais-Williams, (check out the Netﬂix documentary on her) will be inside the ticketed festival and will feature programming by Delta Airlines and the Grammy Recording Academy. “It was important to us to bring our 49-year history to Pride this year,” noted Cacciatore, who is in her ﬁrst year as executive director. Cacciatore is especially excited about Pride’s micro experiences, like the Trans Galleria, a collaborative trans community space. “With the leadership of CSW board members Alexandra Magallon and Johanna Padilla, this is an expanded version of last year’s amazing event, which features artwork by artists from
the local transgender community. The art will be for sale and there will be a silent auction. Proceeds go directly to the artists.” Exhibitor Row is also going to be bigger this year, added Cacciatore. “In addition to nonproﬁt tents, education, games, music, and art, we are bringing back LGBTQ-owned small businesses. There will be more than 70 on the boulevard and 20 inside the festival on San Vicente.” CSW Board of Directors member Mistress Cyan is once again curating and programming Erotic City, an adults-only (18+) zone celebrating leather and eroticism and the BDSM community. Held at the West Hollywood Auditorium, Erotic City will feature interactive areas hosted by Sanctuary LAX, Avatar Los Angeles, The SoCal Men’s Bondage Club and C-Men during the day. Participants get the opportunity to watch, learn and experience bondage, ﬂogging, erotic massage and more in a safe environment. There are also vendors with various lines of fetish and BDSM gear ranging from leather harnesses, corsets, ﬂoggers and more. The Bullet Bar will host a Cigar Lounge for those Leathermen and women who enjoy cigar fetish. A cash bar will also be on site. For those who do not want to drink, there is #SIZZLE!, an alcohol free oasis dedicated to promoting and celebrating sober living. With the carnival games theme and alcohol-free bar, expect lots of fun, games and education.
LA Pride’s seasoned vets help Jeﬀ Consoletti, the founder and principal of events production company, JJ|LA, has worked on Pride for 10 years. He pointed out that Pride is as much about history as it is about celebration. “As a younger generation comes into Pride knowing a much more supportive and embracing LGBT experience than the previous decades, ensuring we are paying homage to leaders of yesteryear and the struggles the community has endured will be important,”
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This year, LA Pride Festival goers will have many more options with a free block party located along Santa Monica Boulevard between San Vicente and Robertson Boulevards.
he emphasized. When Consoletti ﬁrst came into CSW, LA! Pride was struggling with corporate sponsorship engagement, lagging ticket sales and a lackluster entertainment program, he acknowledged. “The event was often criticized by city and community leaders for not really showcasing the community positively. Realizing that LA is one of the top markets in the country and one of the most LGBT-friendly cities, especially within West Hollywood, I was determined to change that,” Consoletti stated. “We revamped the guest experience to create a clean, accessible and inviting event with eye-catching design and decor that got guests excited,” the veteran events producer said. “We took a deep dive into the entertainment program, identifying supportive allies and out and proud artists that could help to drive ticket sales and publicity opportunities to the show. As audiences grew, so did corporate engagement. We looked to on board brands that wanted to showcase their support toward the LGBT community rather than billboarding, by encouraging immersive, guest-facing activations that got consumers excited.” LA Pride’s success has been in the numbers, noted Consoletti. “When we ﬁrst took over the show, merely 20,000 guests attended the event over the weekend. Today, we have hit crowds upwards
of 75,000, with more guests simply coming to celebrate in West Hollywood and watch the parade. We’ve grown and sustained a corporate sponsorship program upwards of over $2MM annually,” he enthused. LA Pride is an anchor event, bringing hundreds of thousands of people to the city who spend millions of dollars. The economic impact of the event simply can’t be overstated. The City of West Hollywood continues to refer to a 2015 study that indicates that LA Pride Parade and Festival was responsible for $5,106,900 in direct spending in West Hollywood. But of course, it’s Pride all over Los Angeles and people come here from around the world to celebrate. This year, they are bound to get their money’s worth and so is LA.
Around town If you’re heading to Pride, of course you want to make sure you look amazing, especially if you are looking to meet someone new. “Pride is a day to shine bright and this starts with your hair,” enthused Bleu 52 Salon’s gay owner, Rob Fuentes. “When you look good you will feel good! Always remember, hair is your number one accessory.” So whether you want to style your drag wig, get a sexy, fresh barber cut, bleach and tone, check out the Weho salon. For any attendee,
show your ticket to Fuentes during Pride Week and he will take 20 percent oﬀ all services. People love to bring their pets to Pride, but with the heat, loud noise and crowds, it’s not always the best idea, acknowledged Brian Watson, owner of Weho’s PoshPetCare. “It’s much less stressful for Fido if he is in an air conditioned daycare facility where he can celebrate Pride with other dogs! So while you dance away your day, your dog can play and get pampered with our amazing hot oil spa treatment.” There are lots of special events around town too, like the Sunday party with Paul Presents at Doheny Room West Hollywood, from 3-9 p.m. Also, EVITA Presents Pride Friday at sbe hotspot, Nightingale. The brainchild of legendary queer party promoters Oly Innes and Andres Rigal, EVITA is the destination to celebrate love, unity, and unique individuality with its diverse and inclusive lineups of local and global talent. If you want a break from the festivities, head to Mondrian for a fantastic brunch. Or go hang out by the pool at Skybar; they’ve created a special Pride infusion cocktail, with vodka, lime juice, lemon juice, fresh strawberries, Rekorderlig, strawberry cider, cane sugar and Skittles. At its Third Street location, D’Amore’s Pizza is doing buy one, get one on their delicious free slices for Pride’s Parade day.
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Meet 3 young Angelenos making a diﬀerence Working for social justice and a fully inclusive city By JOHN PAUL KING
A big part of Pride is paying tribute to the leaders, our elders and those who came before, who have dedicated themselves to the struggle for LGBTQ, and rightly so. It’s important to acknowledge that we stand upon the shoulders of giants. But it’s also important to take notice of the young people who are rising among the next generation to take up the ﬁght. Here are three young Angelenos who are making a diﬀerence in the social landscape of LGBTQ L.A., and who are surely among the faces to watch as we continue our march into the future. The eldest is Robert Harrell, 30, a global diversity, equity, and inclusion strategist who has served as the Head of Talent/Talent Consultant at WORLDZ, and of leads diversity and inclusion eﬀorts for LGBT Communities of Color at the Kenneth Roberts Agency. In 2015, he founded the I Love Me Foundation, a national organization that provides resources to LGBT survivors of sexual and domestic trauma. He currently serves as its president and chairman, and serves on several boards including the National Association of Black Journalists - LA Chapter and Venice Pride. “My intention is to always be a liaison for the LGBT communities of color in both my professional and philanthropic eﬀorts,” he says. “To champion for the overlooked, undervalued, and the underserved. To act as a conduit for the voiceless and the forgotten in my community.” Harrell advocates for what he says are the most pressing issues facing our LGBT communities of color — hate crimes, homelessness, and mental health. He is vocal in the outcry over justice for the surging number of murders perpetrated against gay and transgender people of color, and he works to raise awareness about the devastating statistics around homelessness and LGBT youth, who are also disproportionately impacted by incarceration, sexual abuse, sex work and hate crimes.
To address the mental health care needs of LGBT communities of color, he and a team have launched, the #YouGoodMan Initiative, a program through his foundation designed to promote “mental health focus, inner calm and a chance to soul search” for gay men of color. In the fall of 2019, this program will oﬃcially launch to include an empowerment brunch, wellness weekend summit, and mental health workshops. Also mobilized by social inequity is Jose Guevara, 25, an undocumented queer activist from California and a DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipient. Like so many other DACA recipients, his status is in limbo; with a husband who is a U.S. citizen, he’s part of a mixed-status family, as well, and he’s battled cancer four times. Yet he is currently ﬁnishing his commencement from CSULA and an internship through the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, in which he serves as an intern in the Oﬃce of the Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and actively works to further his LGBTQ and immigration advocacy. “Being queer, undocumented, and a cancer patient, I bring all of me to any place I step into,” he says. “In my life, I have had so many ends, and I’ve learned that somehow, someway, you just wake up every morning and keep going. I’ve learned that when you’re ﬁghting for immigrants, you can’t just ﬁght for immigrants. You have to remember queer people are also immigrants, so you have to ﬁght for queer people too. And Queer people also get cancer, so you have to ﬁght for people with illnesses. You have to ﬁght for everyone.” He is also moved by the violence against the trans population. “It breaks my heart to see how they are being killed every day, and other than trans focus groups their killings go without notice. We have failed our trans siblings, they are under constant attacks not only by the administration but by our failure to show up and show out for them… we must do better to help protect them with all our might.” The youngest is Michaè Pulido, 22, a queer,
trans, Latinx community connector, artist, and educator who works as the policy coordinator at the TransLatin@ Coalition, where she is working to change the landscape for transinclusive legislation, statewide and nationally. Navigating this world post-gender, Michaé says she sees the direct impact of a corrupt social, economic, and political system that hurts those that choose to not live abiding by the norm. She says, “My personal mission is to uplift and support the trans, gender nonconforming, intersex community, and those that aren’t given voices and positions of power in our society. Doing this work, and being with TransLatin@, and being trans myself, I’ve seen the really beautiful parts of our community, and the really horrible parts, that people aren’t talking about. Right now is a really diﬃcult time, because Neo-liberalism is convincing a lot of people that trans people have reached equity and equality within our society because we’re seen more in politics, in the media, in other spaces. But realistically, in everyday life, trans people are being murdered because there’s a lack of education about who we are; our community experiences high rates of unemployment and homelessness, and a lack of resources in general. So for me, it’s about working to change laws that disenfranchise our community.” We asked each of these extraordinary young people what they hoped for the future of LGBTQ L.A. Here’s what they said: Harrell: “What I wish most for the future of the LGBTQ communities of Los Angeles is for full equity and inclusion. West Hollywood has been long dubbed the LGBT capital of Los Angeles, yet most programs, clubs, special events, organizations, and resources are not inclusive of the Black, Latino, Armenian, Native American, and trans communities respectively. LGBT communities of color are priced out of aﬀordable housing and special events, they’re not always included in statistical data that could lead to additional resources, and they’re not given same
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City Overflows with Pride, and Glitter. Follow @WeHoCity for alerts where pride surges and community converges.
One City One Pride LGBTQ Arts Festival and LA Pride in West Hollywood
City of West Hollywood California 1984
Photo courtesy Harrell
Photo courtesy Guevara
Photo courtesy Pulido
considerations for job opportunities as their LGBT white counterparts.” Guevara: “I wish to see an aware LGBT community that understands intersectionality, and can have an honest and uncomfortable discourse on how we are all connected by being a part of the LGTBQ community but also diﬀerent – by color, immigration status, ableness – and an understanding of the privilege some of us have. Most importantly,
to use such privilege for change, to walk alongside folks who do not possess it, to create a better and more aware community that uplifts each other to create change.” Pulido: “I hope for a world where our genders don’t matter, how we choose to identify doesn’t dictate our ability to be safe, and ultimately a world where we have access to things like housing and mental health resources, and we don’t have to turn
to drugs as a way to cope. I know, within my lifetime, we’re going to carve out spaces for our community in Los Angeles, we’re already doing it and we’re only going to keep expanding. And for me, as a young person, a lot of my work is informed by trans elders that have been doing it a lot longer than I have, and paved a legacy for the generation that came after them, like me. That’s what I hope to do.”
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#JustUnite at these LA Pride events This year marks the 50th anniversary of the riots that erupted after a NYPD raid of a small Maﬁa-owned ‘bottle club’ bar and dance ﬂoor thatcatered to gay, lesbian, and trans folks along with sex workers in New York City’s West Greenwich Village. In those days it was illegal for LGBTQ people to congregate or associate in public, dance, display public aﬀection, and of course sexual activity was considered a felony in nearly all jurisdictions across the United States including New York. Although the actual spark which instigated the riots in front of the Stonewall Inn is lost in the mists of time forgotten, those riots signiﬁcantly raised the visibility and propelled forward the nascent ‘gay rights’ movement, and again marked a turning point placing the movement at a major crossroads. One year later, on June 28, 1970, gay, lesbian, and trans organizers along with their straight allies staged the Christopher Street Liberation Day and parade. Across the United States in Los Angeles, organizers formed the Christopher Street West Association to stage the West Coast’s rendition. These annual events eventually became known simply as ‘Pride.’ This year in celebration marking Stonewall and for the ﬁrst time, LA Pride and the City of West Hollywood are teaming up to host the ﬁrst-ever “Pride on the Boulevard,” a free block party of entertainment, vendors, exhibitors, non-proﬁt organizations, rides and attractions, beer gardens, and more along Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood (between Robertson and Hancock). This freeto-the-public event will take place on Saturday, June 8 and Sunday, June 9 from 12–7 p.m. Here are a selection of key LA Pride related events:
LGBT Night at the LA Dodgers is tonight from 5:30 PM to 11:30 PM at Dodger Stadium (1000 Elysian Park Avenue). This special event
package includes a ticket to the game plus an exclusive rainbow-themed duﬄe bag. Come as early as 5:30 PM to attend the LA Pride kickoﬀ pre-game party at the Right Field Plaza Bar (until ﬁrst pitch gets thrown at 7:10 PM) and be sure to stay until the bottom of the 9th to watch ﬁreworks on the ﬁeld – courtesy of Denny’s – accompanied by a special music mix created by the one and only DJ Bowie Jane.
3rd Annual LA Pride Night at Universal Studios Hollywood is tonight from 9:00 PM to 2:00 AM at Universal Studios Hollywood (100 Universal Studios, Universal City, CA). Now in its third year, LA Pride teams up with Universal Studios Hollywood to celebrate LA Pride Week 2019 with an open community invitation to the whole LGBTQIA family. It’s your chance to take over the whole park for one amazing night...PRIDE IS UNIVERSAL!
2019 Trans Brunch is today from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM at Flaming Saddles (8811 Santa Monica Boulevard). LA Pride celebrates community and togetherness at the 2nd Annual Trans Brunch. Our trans family comes together for great food and drink to kick oﬀ LA Pride Week 2019. This is a very special invitation only event. FEM(ME): Fueling the Female Force Within is today from 6:30 PM to 11:00 PM at Palihouse (8465 Holloway Drive). FEM(ME) is a celebration of the female force within each and every one of us, regardless of gender or how we identify. Everyone is welcome to join in this must-attend event, ﬁlled with special guests, live performances and DJ’s, a documentary screening, a comedy show, and so much more. Rosanna Arquette, Naomi Grossman, Joely Fisher, Robin Tran, Mona Shaikh, Suzanne Westenhoefer, Mortasay, Njomza, Tanya Brown, Jen Kober, Mikalah Gordon, Lisa Pittman, Courtney Allen, Lindsay
Coryne, Fisher & Thames, Madison Malone. The Alexis Arquette Family Foundation joins with LA Pride in presenting the Women Who Lead Award.. West Hollywood Mayor’s Reception is today from 3:30 PM to 6:30 PM at SoHo House (9200 Sunset Boulevard). Join Mayor John D’Amico and the entire city of West Hollywood government for a robust soiree in support and celebration of LA Pride. It’s a great chance to mix and mingle with city oﬃcials and the board of Christopher Street West and its many sponsors.
LA Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Garden Party is today from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM at Wattle’s Mansion (1824 N. Curson Avenue). Join Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and members of the City Council and for a festive event that welcomes the full diversity of our community and allies to a meet and greet with our Mayor. It’s a lively event in the beautiful grounds and gardens at the foot of Runyon Canyon, replete with music, entertainment, great food and drinks.
2019 LA Pride Opening Ceremony in West Hollywood is tonight from 6:00 PM to 12:00 AM at West Hollywood Park (San Vicente Blvd.). Want to get LA Pride Weekend in West Hollywood started early? Then head on over to West Hollywood Park for a FREE night of entertainment, programming, and festivities presented by our proud partners at Johnson & Johnson before the LA Pride Festival opens its doors the next day. Paula Abdul will kick it oﬀ just right. And it’s all free of charge. Dyke March is tonight from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM at Sal Guarriello Veterans Memorial (8447 Santa Monica Blvd). A City event featuring speakers, entertainment and a march/rally which marks the start of LA Pride weekend. Pop-ups include a protest sign-making
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June 1 - 30
A month-long series of events in Santa Monica to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community, individuality, empowerment, inclusivity and acceptance.
LA Pride Parade 2018 Photo by Chris Tuite
workshop by JP (all supplies included) and the One City One Pride interactive poetry pop-up Everyone Deserves (A) Love (Poem). You are welcome to bring your motorcycle at kickstart Pride. It’s free event.
JUNE 8 - 9
2019 Pride on the Boulevard in West Hollywood is all weekend and all over West Hollywood. Throughout LA Pride Weekend 2019 (presented by Verizon), there will be exhibitors, local artist performances, DJ’s, beer gardens, rides and attractions, a health and wellness fair, and so much more dotted along Santa Monica Boulevard (between Robertson and Hancock) in the fabulous City of West Hollywood. 2019 LA Pride Festival in West Hollywood
is today from 12:00 PM to 1:00 AM at West Hollywood Park). Enjoy got a diverse group of LGBTQ+ and allied performers taking the stage at the 2019 LA Pride Festival in West Hollywood, presented by Verizon. GRAMMY® Award-winning global superstar Meghan Trainor and British electronic pop trio Years & Years will headline this year’s festival on Saturday, June 8 and Sunday, June 9 — joined by GRAMMY® Award winner Ashanti, plusAmara La Negra, Dej Loaf, Greyson Chance, MNEK, Pabllo Vittar, Ah-Mer-Ah-Su, and more! See John Paul King’s overview of the entertainment on page xxx.
2019 LA Pride Parade is today from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM along Santa Monica Boulevard
from Fairfax to Doheny in West Hollywood. The annual LA Pride Parade #JUSTUNITE at one of the largest outdoor events in Los Angeles and one of the greatest Pride celebrations in the world. Join hundreds of contingents and hundreds of thousands of spectators in celebration of our right to love and live. Be sure to arrive early to get a great spot along the parade route, but you might just decide to catch it on the telly. For the ﬁrst time ever ABC7 Los Angeles is proud to become the broadcast partner for the L.A. Pride Parade, bringing the annual event in West Hollywood to television and the world. Phill Wilson will be the community grand marshal, and the Los Angeles LGBT Center will be the organizational grand marshal.
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LO S A NG EL ES DO D G E RS WIS H THE LGBT CO M M UN I T Y
H AP P Y P R ID E ! We embrace the LGBT Community of Los Angeles as an integral part of the Dodgers Community and are proud to host the official 2019 LA PRIDE kickoff party tonight at Dodger Stadium! Enjoy your Pride Week and make plans to come to a game soon! dodgers.com/tickets
Meghan Trainor, Years & Years top list of LA Pride performers Paula Abdul continues her comeback with appearance By JOHN PAUL KING
One of the great joys of Pride is the ongoing schedule of fabulous performing artists turning it up for the celebrating crowds throughout the weekend. This year will continue in that long tradition, with a diverse group of LGBTQ+ and allied musicians, dancers and DJs providing a variety of great entertainment to suit any taste. The festival headliners, as announced in March, are Grammy Award-winning global superstar Meghan Trainor and British electronic pop trio Years & Years. Both concerts will be held at the Park Stage, June 8 and 9, respectively. Singer, songwriter, and multiinstrumentalist Trainor ﬁrst made history in 2014 with her diamond-certiﬁed smash single “All About That Bass,” which became one of the best-selling singles of all time. Her 2015 ﬁrst album “Title” debuted at number one in six countries, and was followed in 2016 by “Thank You,” which debuted at number three on the Billboard 200. Inﬂuenced by music from the ‘50s and ‘60s, her retro-infused songs are known for their lyrics that express a contemporary female perspective, focusing on issues like body image and empowerment. In 2018, through a love letter published in Billboard, Trainor said, “To the entire LGBTQ+ community, I love you with all of my heart, I appreciate you endlessly, and I support you with all that I have and believe in. I am there for you as you have been for me.” British synth-pop band Years & Years hails from London, where they were founded in 2010 and went through some reconﬁguration before making a splash with several singles culminating in their ﬁrst album, “Communion,” which debuted at number one on the U.K. chart in 2015. There have been two other albums since then, and a devoted legion of fans are now dedicated to the band and members Olly Alexander, Mikey Goldsworthy and Emre Türkmen. Lead vocalist Alexander has simultaneously emerged as a culturally important new voice and a once-in-ageneration frontman. His brave, unwavering
and inspiring open-mindedness has helped a generation start important discussions around mental health and LGBTQ+ issues. Years & Years push boundaries by challenging notions of identity and sexuality in a way that is new to pop music, and totally their own. Besides the two headlining acts, the legendary Paula Abdul will be highlighting Pride’s oﬃcial “Opening Ceremony,” which takes place Friday night June 7, from 8-11 p.m. For anyone who wants to get Pride Weekend started early, this free kick-oﬀ celebration at West Hollywood Park will feature a nonstop line-up of entertainment including a special 60-minute concert by the one and only Abdul. The former Laker Girl rose to fame choreographing music videos for Janet Jackson before her 1988 debut studio album “Forever Your Girl” yielded a slew of hit singles (including the now-iconic “Opposites Attract,” which earned her the Grammy for Best Music Video) and became one of the most successful album debuts up to that time. She has gone on to a spectacular career choreographing for videos, ﬁlms and television, with two Emmy awards and an MTV Video Music Award to go along with her Grammy, and gained a whole new generation of fans from her work as a judge on reality competition shows like “American Idol” and “So You Think You Can Dance.” Her high-energy performance is a perfect way to get your Pride experience started oﬀ right. The rest of the weekend oﬀers plenty of other opportunities to get your groove on. On Saturday, the Park Stage will host a variety of acts. Among them are: Cupcakke, the Chicago rapper who uses her songs as a platform to advocate for LGBTQ rights and encourage female empowerment. New York Indie pop band The Drums, whose reverb-heavy surf rock sound has powered them through a succession of increasingly popular albums, including “Brutalism,” their ﬁfth and most recent. Ah-Mer-Ah-Su, the Oakland-based transfeminine musical artist who celebrates
the experience of black trans lives while critiquing “the white gaze of Blackness at the intersection of trans womanhood,” in the words of queer news outlet them.us. Shaun Ross, widely known as the ﬁrst male African-American model with albinism, whose training with the Alvin Ailey School led to a career in the fashion industry modeling for the likes of Alexander McQueen and Givenchy, and who has danced in music videos for Katy Perry, Beyoncé, and Lana Del Rey, among many others. Saturday on the Plaza Stage also includes a varied slate of talent, including: Christian Castro, the Mexican pop singer who has won accolades and awards while gathering an international army of fans. Grammy nominee Asiahn, the Charlestonraised and Los Angeles-based songstress who brings an empowered female perspective, positive mindset, and a whole lot of raw attitude to simmering throwback R&B tracks with soul to spare. Brazilian drag queen and singer-songwriter Pabllo Vittar, whose viral videos have led to two albums (so far) full of music described by the New York Times as “unoﬃcial anthems for Brazil’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.” Among the performers Sunday at the Park Stage are: Greyson Chance, the American singer, songwriter, and pianist whose April 2010 performance of Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi” at a sixth-grade music festival went viral on YouTube, who has since gone on to success as an adult music artist with two albums to date. British singer and Grammy-winning songwriter MNEK, who’s worked with musicians ranging from Becky Hill and A*M*E to Christina Aguilera and Madonna in addition to performing his own compositions. Sunday’s oﬀerings at the Plaza Stage include: Grammy-winner Ashanti, who in addition to her multi-platinum recording career maintains an active schedule as an advocate
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and philanthropist around such issues as family violence, anti-LGBTQ bullying and discrimination, and cancer research. RuPaul’s Drag Race veteran and fan favorite Miss Vanjie, who went from ﬁrst-episode elimination in her ﬁrst appearance on the show to international name recognition and a burgeoning singing and dancing career. Sir Babygirl, a pop singer and performer who wrote and recorded her debut album, “Crush On Me” over the course of three years in her bedroom studio; she identiﬁes as nonbinary and bisexual and makes music that she hopes will speak to the queer experience. This is only a partial listing of performers. There are additional acts scheduled for the Park and Plaza Stages throughout the weekend, as well as continual entertainment slated for the Pride on the Boulevard Stage, with last-minute additions still being announced. Be sure and visit the LA Pride website to ﬁnd a complete listing of all the artists who will gather in the spirit of the festival’s 2019 theme – #JustUnite.
Meghan Trainor, Paula Abdul and Years & Years are slated for Pride performances.
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22 • MAY 31, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Abortion should be legal, safe, rare and a woman’s choice Let’s hope reasonable men and women stand up to be counted in 2020
Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBT rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.
Roe v. Wade is the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision establishing a woman’s legal right to an abortion. In a 7-2 decision the Court ruled a woman’s right to choose an abortion was protected by the privacy rights guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Forty-six years later the fight to overturn Roe goes on. In 1973, I was working for Rep. Bella S. Abzug (D-N.Y.), a leader in the women’s movement, a feminist and strong
supporter of choice, a woman’s right to control her own healthcare and her own body. She celebrated Roe v. Wade victory with staff. While my mother was a quiet feminist it was during the time I worked for Bella I made my lifelong commitment to fighting for women’s equality. It is both frightening and infuriating that we are constantly re-litigating the issue of choice. We have a president who believes not only should we overturn Roe v. Wade but is appointing judges to the Supreme Court who may actually do it. He is encouraging people like those in the Alabama Legislature who recently passed what is considered the most restrictive abortion law in the United States. It makes it a crime for doctors to perform abortions at any stage of a pregnancy, unless a woman’s life is threatened or there is a lethal fetal anomaly. Under the new law, doctors in the state face felony jail time up to 99 years if convicted. The law they passed was so restrictive even our disgusting president said it went too far and one of the most ardent anti-choice people in the country, Rev. Pat Robertson, said it was not the law to take to the Supreme Court even with the new right-wing justices. Eight states, including Alabama, have passed laws limiting abortions in their
state just this year. According to the New York Times “Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi and Ohio stopped short of outright bans, instead passing so-called heartbeat bills that effectively prohibit abortions after six to eight weeks of pregnancy, when doctors can usually start detecting a fetal heartbeat. Utah and Arkansas voted to limit the procedure to the middle of the second trimester. Most other states follow the standard set by the Supreme Court’s Roe decision in 1973, which says abortion is legal until the fetus reaches viability, usually at 24 to 28 weeks. The latest bans are not yet in effect (Kentucky’s was blocked by a judge), and all are expected to face lengthy court battles — indeed, their proponents are hoping they will reach the Supreme Court.” We have moved so far away from a separation of church and state that Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D), who will sign the next anti-choice bill, can get away with saying “his views come from his religion, and though they may ostracize him nationally, they’re pretty natural in his home state. That’s the way I was raised. That’s what my Catholic Christian faith requires.” It is time all politicians are reminded they didn’t swear on the Constitution to uphold the Bible, but rather on a Bible to uphold the
Constitution. What is just as disturbing about the people fighting Roe v. Wade in the name of saving the life of a baby are often the same ones who would happily disregard the needs of that baby once it is born. They are often the ones who oppose guaranteed healthcare for that child, appropriately funded childcare and education programs, and even guaranteeing that child a decent home. They are willing to tell a woman or even a young girl, maybe as young as 12, who was raped that she has to carry that rapist’s child to term and then when the baby is born say to her ‘well we did our job’ now it’s your problem to care for that child. They are willing to tell a girl who was raped by her father or brother that she has to carry that child to term. In 2018, a poll by NBC/WSJ on Roe v. Wade found “those supporting the ruling include 88 percent of Democrats, 76 percent of independents and a majority — 52 percent — of Republicans.” Roe v. Wade has once again moved to the front of the political agenda and we can only hope women who believe they have the right to control their own body and their own healthcare, and the men who support them, will stand up and be counted at the ballot box in 2020.
24 • MAY 31, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
DeCaro’s ‘Drag’ deftly weaves past and present Tracing the art form, from ancient Greece to Bugs Bunny to Lady Bunny By SCOTT STIFFLER
Image courtesy of Universe Publishing
If you were stranded on a desert island and had just one book to read—and that book was “Drag: Combing Through the Big Wigs of Show Business”— your stay could be longer than that of Gilligan, the other six castaways, and that guy from “Cast Away” put together—and you’d never lose your appetite for the candid interviews, fabulous factoids, and keen insights assembled by writer, performer, and Sirius XM Satellite Radio host Frank DeCaro, who does his thing with all the dot-connecting intensity of a dogged anthropologist. At 144 pages worth of lovingly crafted layouts, 100 story-unto-themselves photos (some of them from the queens’ personal collections), and contributions by the likes of Lypsinka, Bianca Del Rio, Hedda Lettuce, Harvey Fierstein, and Wesley Snipes, DeCaro’s “Drag” is, as the foreword by Bruce Vilanch fittingly puts it, “a living, pulsing documentation of some of the most brilliant subculture artists in America’s cultural history.” “I’m ‘Drag Hag #1.’ I’ve been a fan of drag since I was a kid,” DeCaro says, “and have followed the careers of many of the most important players of the 20th century, whose ‘work clothes’ were those of the opposite sex.” Work on the project began “almost five years ago,” he says, “and I kind of shaped it in a way that was encyclopedic, but also lighthearted.” “Encyclopedic” is right. DeCaro originally pitched his dizzyingly comprehensive tome as “Dragapedia Americana.” The name might not have stuck, but the ethos remains firmly intact. Drag, it seems, is everywhere today—but, as DeCaro notes, it’s been here “since man first walked the Earth... in heels.” And so it goes with “Drag,” which draws a chronologically sound (albeit not-so-straight) line from ancient Greece to Shakespeare to Kabuki theater to the vaudeville and nightclub circuits to 1970s variety shows to NYC’s gritty Pyramid Club to the works of Charleses Busch, Ludlam, and Pierce to Bugs Bunny to Lady Bunny to Madea—and ends up in a world where a little show called “RuPaul’s Drag Race” has seen the art form embraced as it has been so many times before, but now, finally allows the men behind the makeup to exist as both person and persona. “We cannot give enough credit to ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ for what it’s managed to do,” DeCaro says, “for the ‘normalization,’ if you will, of drag. It’s gotten it in front of people, yes, but it’s done it in a way that’s more profound. RuPaul has shown that drag performers can have families. They can have relationships with their parents, their siblings, lovers, bosses. They can have truthful lives, as much as anyone else can, and I think that’s the most revolutionary, or ‘RuVolutionary’ thing about ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race.’ ” It wasn’t always that way. “Although in many towns a man could be arrested for impersonating a woman,” the tome recalls, “most every city had at least one club that featured cross-dressers and managed to get away with it.” Club management might have found a way around strict community standards, but the performing artists weren’t so lucky.
“There are many stories in the book,” DeCaro says, “about how dangerous it was to be a drag queen, how you had to keep your drag in a trash bag and sneak it into where you were going to play, and make sure you were dressed as a man when you left.” As for the slow and steady progress toward mass acceptance, mass media brought drag into America’s living rooms (see Chapter 6’s ode to Milton Berle), but cross-dressing as practiced by “Uncle Miltie” (“TV’s first drag superstar… heterosexual by almost all accounts,” DeCaro notes), “was pure comedy.” Berle was a standalone superstar in his own right, whereas some of TV’s true drag queens “were not allowed to be whole people. They had to have no sexuality,” DeCaro recalls. “They had to whip their wig off at the end, to make sure you weren’t too titillated, or faked out completely. You had to know, ‘Yes, this is a man. Cool your jets.’” But now, DeCaro proudly points out, “we can see two drag queens have an affair on television, with Miss Vanjie and Brooke-Lynn Hytes [Season 11,”RuPaul’s Drag Race”]. Nobody’s ever seen that before.” And it’s here that DeCaro manages to pull off a particularly nimble act of public education-meets-popculture-appreciation, by putting the personal struggles and artistic integrity of 20th century drag performers into the wheelhouses of contemporary audiences—who can name the winner of every “Drag Race” season, but don’t necessarily know somebody like Jim Bailey, who, DeCaro notes, “was as good of a female impersonator as anyone will ever be, but he had to call himself a ‘gender illusionist’ and he ‘dated’ Lucie Arnez back in the day. He had to do the Liberace approach, where there was no truth to the offstage life. It had to be made palatable and safe. So that, to me, is a real cautionary tale.” Fans of all ages were eating up those tales, and more, when DeCaro moderated a May 26 panel at RuPaul’s DragCon LA, in which James St. James, Leslie Jordan, Drew Droege, and Coco Peru discussed drag past and present, with no small amount of attention focused on the ongoing quest for authentic portrayals. In the audience were, DeCaro notes, “actual drag performers who’ve been doing their glorious thing for ages—Larry ‘Hot Chocolate’ Edwards, the best Tina Turner impersonator in the business, Dolores DeLuce, a cisgender woman who’d performed with The Cockettes, and the beautiful Reba Areba, Miss Best in Drag 2018.” Alongside those who were spring chickens when The Cockettes first took to the stage, young fans in attendance, DeCaro says, “were hungry to hear about the oppression performers faced back in the day, and how they managed to overcome it. They wanted to know how we got to a place where drag is truly mainstream.” Continues at losangelesblade.com DRAG: Combing Through the Big Wigs of Show Business By Frank DeCaro Foreword by Bruce Vilanch Hardcover/ 144 pages $27.50 U.S. / ISBN: 978-0-8478-6235-1 Universe Publishing / Release date: May 2019
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26 • MAY 31, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Of cowboy drag, cruising, and cocaine At 83, Gerald Busby reflects on pre-HIV New York By SCOTT STIFFLER
Gerald Busby in cowboy drag, ready to cruise at the Spike and the Eagle’s Nest. Photo by Joanna Ney
“It denoted seriousness of commitment to being gay and being masculine, as well as being decisive about what kind of sex you were after,” recalls Gerald Busby, of the “cowboy drag” he donned to make it past the doors, and into the darkened corners, of NYC’s Spike and Eagle’s Nest, during the early 1970s and beyond. The Tyler, Texas native was well-equipped to present himself in the manner of Marlborough Man machismo, having grown up in a world where boots, broad-rimmed hats, and jeans became faded and frayed— the result of hard, manual labor as practiced by strong, straight, good Christian heads of households. So appropriate, then, that when their gay sons spread their wings in places like San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York City, they sought to subvert, and fetishize, the clothing of their youth. Comparing strict adherence to the standard-issue components of cowboy drag to “cults of religious fundamentalism and Barbie dollism,” Busby recalls the “alignment of costume and behavior in the ’60s and ’70s” sent its signal of masculinity via the display of “unmistakable symbols of sexual preference, such as blue or red handkerchiefs in left or right rear pockets of jeans, to indicate top or bottom.” Like a deer hunter dressed in camouflage, ready to bag his buck, Busby blended in well, having “worn Levi 501s, with metal buttons, all my life.” He knew exactly “what size to buy that would, when properly broken in through countless washings to produce fading, conform enticingly to my ass and crotch, without revealing the precise shape and size of either.” And if there was little elbowroom for one’s ass and balls within those tight Levis, there was even less room for, Busby notes, “humor, in these bastions of gay masculinity.” In the bars, on the streets, and at the piers, “seriousness and masculinity were the same thing. That opaque perspective on masculinity was also a mockery of drag queens and effeminate men. They weren’t really men.” Uninhibited sexual behavior, back then, as it is and ever shall be, was buoyed by alcohol and marijuana, Busby notes, until the paradigmshifting time when “cocaine became universally available and stylish.” Busby, 83—an HIV+, four-decade resident of Manhattan’s legendary Chelsea Hotel, who was a protégé of composer/critic Virgil Thomson and wrote the score for the Robert Altman film, “3 Women”—paid a price for bringing this new, white powdery (and, later, rock) accessory into his bedroom (and life, for that matter). “The gay men stylized drugs,” Busby says, “and the age of unabashed decadence proceeded to a calamitous end with the AIDS epidemic.” At the time, Busby’s cocaine use came to “adversely affect” his predilection for bondage. “It isn’t easy to tie knots,” he notes, “when you’re stoned.” Busby recalls the increasing drug use within the leather and denim community “was distinctly affected. The deep subjectivity of drugs penetrated the obsessive objectivity of gay/masculine costuming.” Sunday brunches, Busby recalls, “were diluted by overnight drugging at the Mineshaft.” Today, sober, in good general health, and still in demand as a composer of works both past and present (his 1975 commissioned score for the Paul Taylor Dance Company’s “Runes” was just presented by Parsons Dance, at Chelsea’s Joyce Theater), Busby says he’s replaced sex with Reiki, and sexual conquest with the chaste company of young gay artists. These friends and colleagues, he observes, “mostly don’t dress up for sex,” but do for special social occasions, like gay marriages. In this case, “their purpose in dressing up is to show their good taste, more than to attract another man for some designated sexual experience. That doesn’t mean there aren’t costume fetishists still thrilling to the aesthetic delights of clothes that dictate and support certain sexual behavior,” Busby says, with bemusement and approval, noting the pleasures to be found by “discovering that someone you’re attracted to shares your sexual fixations.”
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30 • MAY 31, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Despite flaws, ‘Rocketman’ takes off An appropriately entertaining and dazzling biopic By JOHN PAUL KING
Taron Egerton as Elton John in ‘Rocketman.’ Photo courtesy of Paramount
As if to establish the appropriate flourish right from the top, “Rocketman,” Dexter Fletcher’s brassy big-screen fantasia on the breakthrough years of Elton John’s career, immediately sets a cheeky tone by giving its lead character an explosive, bravura entrance, clad horns-to-toe in a shimmering devil costume and already fully formed into the superstar whose razzle-dazzle image we know so well. This will be no glossy docudrama that merely dramatizes the “facts” of a famous life, it seems to be telling us, but rather a surreal look back at that life taken through an impressionistic mélange of music and memory. Screenwriter Lee Hall has adapted John’s early biography into a long flashback, told from the perspective of the singer’s recollections while undergoing treatment for substance abuse at the height of his career. As he tells his story to a roomful of fellow patients, he mingles memory with music to take us on a hazy tour of his past; the factual details blur into a wash of color and movement, and ghosts of the past and present mingle in song-and-dance fantasies set to his own iconic compositions. It’s an approach that makes all the difference. Even the best film biographies often falter as they try to take an entire, complex, real human life and distill it into an approximately two-hour narrative that ties everything up into an easily digestible package. Only an exceptionally gifted writer can accomplish such a feat without conflating, oversimplifying, and resorting to the kind of pat, clichéd dialogue that never rings true even when delivered by the finest actors in the business. Hall’s solution, realized with style and vision by Fletcher’s skilled direction, is to abandon any semblance of objective reality in favor of interpreting the facts through the prism of Elton’s fantastical imagination. There’s no need to be concerned about maintaining an accurate chronology; the narrative bounces between periods of the singer’s life at will, underscoring connections between the formative experiences of his life and revealing the emotional threads that chart his path from precocious childhood to selfindulgent superstardom and beyond. This conveniently eliminates the potential for quibbling over anachronisms – such as where and when Elton is wearing each outlandish costume, lovingly re-created by Julian Day from the singer’s wardrobe over the years — that are always problematic for fans seeking accuracy in depictions of their idols’ lives. More importantly, though, it allows for the conceit of presenting Elton’s life as a quasi-musical. Powered by the eloquent melodies and lyrics of John’s iconic songbook with longtime writing partner Bernie Taupin, the flights of fancy it permits lift us from the frustrating mess that is real life and into a realm where even the most complex, painful experiences become coherent and beautiful. Fletcher draws from the iconography of classic Hollywood and the edgy flash of modern music video to create visual poetry; from the infectious youthful energy that explodes from “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” to the melancholy candor expressed through “Tiny Dancer,” he matches song to mood in a way that gets to the emotional heart of Elton’s story and delivers moments of pure cinema that stick with us long after the credits have rolled. Unfortunately, the film is unable to completely escape the pitfalls of its genre. The tired tropes of the “rock-and-
roll bio” still manage to insert themselves throughout, and characters (such as Elton’s parents, or his first manager and lover John Reid) are unfavorably rendered into antagonists for the sake of dramatic conflict. Since most of what we see is presented through the filter of a drug-addled, mental state, this latter point might be forgiven; still, in a film that ultimately espouses forgiveness and taking responsibility for one’s own behavior as keys to finding a path to selfactualization, turning real people into little more than villains strikes one as a particularly disappointing cop-out. Still, it’s not enough to overshadow the good things about Fletcher’s movie, which benefits not only from his own colorful imagination but from the superb work of his performers. Taron Egerton’s honestly drawn Elton captures both the unrepentant boyishness and the diva-esque petulance that characterize the pop icon’s persona, and finds the humanity that gives us a leading character worth loving. Jamie Bell portrays Taupin with exactly the right easy-going, grounded energy needed to illuminate why these two men – whose partnership yielded some of the greatest songs of the era and is the reason the story of Elton John is really the story of them both – were such a perfect artistic match. The chemistry between the two players allows this relationship to serve as the movie’s “love story,” a refreshingly platonic one far more significant than any minor romance that might have been explored. The talent extends into the supporting cast. Richard Madden, as Reid, may be limited by the broad strokes with which is character is written, but he makes the most of his screen time, providing subtle dimensions that somehow keep him from being completely unlikable; likewise, the oddly cast Bryce Dallas Howard avoids turning Elton’s mother into an unfeeling monster. Smaller turns by Gemma Jones, Tate Donovan, and Charlie Rowe also make deep impressions. Finally, many audiences will be concerned about the handling of sexuality in a film about an openly gay pop star. In Lee’s deft screenplay, Elton’s sexuality is clearly established, but it does not define him, nor does it control his journey. While some will doubtless see this as an avoidance or a cheat, it’s a refreshing sign of progress that a film can be made about a gay character that doesn’t have to be about a struggle toward acceptance. As an added sign of diminishing taboo, the much-publicized sex scenes between Egerton and Madden, though comparatively tame, are handled with a satisfying authenticity that speaks volumes about the film’s intentions to represent with honor. With a movie like “Rocketman,” there is great temptation to nitpick. It deals with a beloved real-world figure, and one who’s still very much alive, at that; it necessarily invites debate about the portrayal of queer people in our popular entertainment, a hot button issue that ensures a wide range of audience reaction; perhaps most dangerously, it takes a bold and unorthodox artistic avenue to tell its story, something that is often met with distaste by a public looking for something more concrete and accessible. To be sure, sometimes it falls short of its ambition; but considering all that could have been wrong with it, it succeeds beyond reasonable expectation not only to offer a balanced and enlightening portrayal of its central character, but to entertain and dazzle us as well. For a movie about Elton John, nothing could be more appropriate.
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32 • MAY 31, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
96 Hours at Stonewall 50 and WorldPride NYC Guide to the supersized LGBTQ celebrations By DAN ALLEN
Little could that feisty handful of Stonewall queens and dykes have known on that balmy early morning of June 28, 1969 that they’d be launching a powerful movement, one that half a century later would bring together more than three million queer folk from across the planet to commemorate their courage—and honor our collective progress—in the place where it all began. As might be expected, New York City is pulling out all the stops and rolling out the red carpet for what will be the first-ever WorldPride on American shores. Should you be headed there (and it’s definitely not too late to add yourself to the mix), here’s our ultimate four-day itinerary for hitting the key highlights of Stonewall 50 and WorldPride NYC.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 26
7 p.m: Let the Pride begin Whirl into WorldPride at the star-studded Opening Ceremony and concert hosted by longtime ally Whoopi Goldberg, and headlined by Cyndi Lauper and Chaka Khan. Confirmed too for the kick-off (held at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center) are “Pose’s Billy Porter, singers Daya and Ciara, and a cavalcade of queer luminaries and local officials.
THURSDAY, JUNE 27
1 p.m.: Ssshhh... Pride in session Pop into the beautiful Beaux-Arts flagship of the New York Public Library for Love and Resistance: Stonewall at 50, showcasing the photojournalism of Kay Tobin Lahusen and Diana Davies, who documented LGBTQ life and activism in New York City from 1965 to 1975. While you’re here, be sure to also take a peek at another NYPL show celebrating one of New York’s earliest gay heroes, “Walt Whitman: America’s Poet.” 4 p.m.: Post-Stonewall art Head down to SoHo and Greenwich Village to explore the impact of Stonewall on key artists and their work at the groundbreaking show “Art After Stonewall.” The always-fantastic Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art hosts the first half of the exhibition, which focuses on the 1970s, and includes works from artists like Nan Goldin, Tim Miller, Catherine Opie and Andy Warhol. The show’s second half, a few blocks north at NYU’s Grey Art Gallery, highlights pieces from the 1980s. 6 p.m.: Tour and toast Directly across from the site of the 1969 Stonewall uprising, Christopher Park is the starting point for a 90-minute walking tour by experts from the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project. After hitting several important queer heritage stops in the neighborhood, the tour wraps up with a toast at Julius’ Bar, where a revolutionary pre-Stonewall gay “sip in” took place in 1966. 7:30 p.m: Anniversary rally Mark the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots at this rally featuring community activists, organizers and politicians addressing the importance of this milestone moment in our history. The rally kicks off at 6 p.m. at Christopher Street and Waverly Place.
FRIDAY, JUNE 28
11 a.m.: Memoria Mapplethorpe In honor of both the 50 years since Stonewall and the 30 years since the passing of iconic gay artist Robert Mapplethorpe, the Guggenheim Museum hosts “Implicit Tensions,” showcasing the museum’s vast and varied collection of Mapplethorpe holdings.
Photo by Thomas Locke Hobbs / Courtesy Creative Commons
2 p.m.: Queer art now The Brooklyn Museum gets in on the WorldPride action with “Nobody Promised
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • MAY 31, 2019 • 33
You Tomorrow: Art 50 Years After Stonewall,” a survey of LGBTQ art today including 28 artists born after 1969, whose works grapple with the unique conditions of our political time, and question how moments become monuments. 5 p.m.: Hear the queer After its wildly successful debut last year, queer music festival LadyLand expands to two evenings of live and unrestrained WorldPride performances at the Brooklyn Mirage. Friday’s lineup features GLAAD Award-winning DJ/musician Honey Dijon, Russian feminist punkers Pussy Riot, and “RuPaul’s Drag Race” finalist Yvie Oddly. 11 p.m.: Pride by night Special parties and club nights will, of course, be plentiful around the city throughout WorldPride week, but Friday is shaping up as the most action-packed night of revelry of all, including WorldPride editions of men-of-color party Mr. Noir, global circuit party Forever Tel Aviv and Madrid-based bear party Dies3l.
SATURDAY, JUNE 29
2 p.m.: Raise the rooftop One of NYC Pride weekend’s most eagerly anticipated soirees, the fabulous VIP Rooftop Party moves this year to Chelsea’s The Park, with its glorious views overlooking the High Line. 4 p.m: Met in secret Gender and sexuality historian Andrew Lear leads the saucy and captivating Gay Secrets Tour of the Met Museum, from ancient Greek statues to Picasso’s Gertrude Stein, and a plethora of unexpected delights in between. While you’re here, be sure to also check out the Met’s current show “Camp: Notes on Fashion,” which explores the origins of the camp aesthetic.
Photo by Thomas Locke Hobbs / Courtesy Creative Commons
7 p.m.: Isle of Pride Having evolved from NYC Pride’s long-running Dance on the Pier, Pride Island at Hudson River Park’s Pier 97 now spans two Pride weekend evenings, with stellar DJ and performance lineups both nights. Tickets for Saturday’s edition—headlined by the incomparable Grace Jones—are already sold out, but are being hawked (albeit at a premium) on StubHub and Craigslist. Sunday’s Pride Island headliner is yet to be announced, but is expected to be huge, à la Madonna or Gaga.
SUNDAY, JUNE 30
12 p.m.: The main event First held on the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall riots in 1970, this 50th Pride March—which kicks off at noon at 26th Street and Fifth Avenue—will serve as a monumental testament to the expansion and enduring legacy of the global LGBTQ rights movement. 7 p.m.: The big finish Margaret Cho hosts the truly phenomenal WorldPride Closing Ceremony, to be held smack in Times Square, and will include performances by Melissa Etheridge, Jake Shears, MNEK and the cast of the lesbian-themed Broadway hit “The Prom.” The event’s free tickets are already sold out, but “Tier 1 Experience” tickets at $150 a pop are still available, and will guarantee rapid entry.
Despite the massive global influx of queer folk expected for Stonewall 50 and WorldPride NYC, a fairly wide selection of hotel rooms is still available for Pride weekend. Our pick: the WorldPride Experience package from W Hotels, which includes the once-in-a-lifetime chance to walk with the W’s float in Sunday’s WorldPride March, plus swag bags and custom Pride garments. To qualify for the package, just book a three-night stay (including June 30) at any of the four NYC-area W properties.
Photo by Véronique Mergaux / Courtesy Creative Commons
34 • MAY 31, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Vanderpump faces backlash And Trump hawks T-shirts to the LGBTQ community By BILLY MASTERS
Lisa Vanderpump’s tweet about Erika Jayne was deemed transphobic by some. Photo by kathclick / courtesy bigstock
“Welcome to Spice World. Spice girls, spice boys, everyone is welcome. We want every single one of you to feel special tonight. Like a king or a queen, we celebrate you. But I got to say, there are a lot of queens here tonight!” - Ginger Spice greets the audience at the Spice Girls tour kick-off in Dublin. Many people reportedly couldn’t hear her due to a sound issue, but it’s not like the mikes were on for most of the show anyway. Gay Pride Month hasn’t even begun, but it’s already making news. The local ABC affiliate in Los Angeles (KABC) has inked a deal to televise the LA Pride Parade for the first time ever. In fact, it is a three-year deal. Raven-Symoné will host alongside local anchors for a two-hour live broadcast on June 9. Community ally Lisa Vanderpump is facing some heat. On a recent episode of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” Vanderpump was taking a lie detector test (I don’t watch, so I don’t know why). When they strapped her in, she said, “Just don’t ask me if Erika’s tucking or something like that, because there are some things I can’t lie about.” The comment was aimed at fellow “Housewife” Erika Jayne - who has never identified as transgender. Candis Cayne jumped in saying, “Oh come on @lisavanderpump joking about @erikajayne “tucking” Ugly Trans jokes marginalizing our community are not acceptable. Being an ally doesn’t give you a free pass To make transphobic remarks. Do better.” Vanderpump quickly apologized. “It was not my intention to belittle the trans community with my poor choice of words directed towards Erika. I have nothing but respect and love for trans people around the world, as I have been a staunch supporter, provided employment, offered emotional support and championed LGBTQ issues.” Most applauded her addressing the issue immediately. Our president seems to be getting into the spirit of Pride month. While I don’t expect any official proclamation (why should this year be any different than the last two), his campaign has issued a special “LGBTQ for TRUMP” T-shirt which is being sold for $24. “Show your pride and your support for Trump with this exclusive equality tee,” says the official website. While some are applauding this as a step in the right direction, others feel it’s simply exploitative and a way to grab some pink dollars. GLAAD issued a statement saying that while the campaign is commemorating the 50th anniversary of Pride Month, “the Trump Administration is the most anti-LGBTQ in recent memory, issuing more than 108 attacks on LGBTQ Americans, in policy and rhetoric, since taking office.” The dating app Hinge has seen a 30 percent increase in gay users over the past month. Why? Because that is the app where Pete Buttigieg met husband Chasten. “We’re proud of all of the relationships we’ve helped set up - including Mayor Pete and Chasten!” says Hinge founder and CEO Justin McLeod. Meanwhile, Buttigieg continues to assert that he’s got the right stuff to go up against the incumbent. “I don’t have a problem standing up to somebody who was working on season seven of ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ when I was packing my bags for Afghanistan,” he told the Washington Post. That may be so, but I’d like to point out that Omarosa was on that season. She may have given Pete a run for his money. Meanwhile on the West Coast, Aaron Schock continues to make headlines, which is impressive since he isn’t even in office. The disgraced former congressman is rumored to have moved to the West Hollywood area and repeatedly pops up in places one wouldn’t typically expect someone so vehemently “not gay.” Like, for instance, the pool at the swanky Standard Hotel, which, I hasten to add, is a hot spot for gays and straights alike. The photos snapped showed Schock in the company of a hot Speedo-wearing sidekick who was reportedly on Scruff at the time. I’m sure Aaron is happy that the official trailer from the upcoming “Downton Abbey” flick just dropped. You’ll remember, Schock went to great lengths to give his former congressional office the “Downton” touch. How it was paid for, alas, is one of the reasons he resigned. Our “Ask Billy” question comes from Stephen in San Francisco: “I know lots of people hate him, but I think Austin Armacost is so dreamy. I’ve always heard he has a small dick. Then he posted a nude photo and it looks pretty big. So, you have to find out – is the pic photoshopped or is it really that big?” For those who don’t know, Austin Armacost is a model of some minor note. More notable is his appearance on a handful of reality television shows, including the short-lived “The A-List: New York,” where we learned he had a minor tryst with Reichen Lehmkuhl (you’d think that would put the question of size to rest). Later, he was on “Celebrity Big Brother UK.” Most of his risqué shoots have focused on his derrière, which is certainly his largest asset. But what of the elusive flip side? The photo in question was posted on Austin’s website, but photos can be easily doctored. Less easy to fudge is video, and we’ve gotten our hands on some footage where Austin shakes his moneymaker proving it’s either real or held on with Super Glue. See for yourself on BillyMasters.com. When Austin is bigger than Erika Jayne, it’s definitely time to end another column. For the big things, check out www.BillyMasters.com - the site that is proud 24/7. If you have a question, send it along to Billy@BillyMasters.com and I promise to get back to you before Fox News televises a gay pride parade! So, until next time, remember, one man’s filth is another man’s bible.
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36 • MAY 31, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
‘My Gay Eye’ chronicles much more than beefcake Historic images explore influence of Tom of Finland on our culture By ROMAN NAVARRETTE
‘My Gay Eye’ includes works by more than 120 artists and writers.
If you are gay man, 30 years old or older, chances are you have heard of or seen iconic images from Tom of Finland that feature erotic and artistic portraits of men together and solo in what are easily some of the most sexual and beautiful pieces ever to come out of the gay community. If you haven’t taken a look at these works of art do yourself a favor and Google them now or better yet, visit the Tom of Finland Foundation for a tour and a history lesson at one of LA’s hidden gems of the gay community tucked away in the historic neighborhood of Echo Park, just blocks away from your favorite eateries on Sunset Boulvevard. In 1984, the non-profit Tom of Finland foundation was established by Durk Dehner and his friend Touko Laaksonen a.k.a. Tom of Finland. As Tom had established worldwide recognition as the expert in homoerotic art, the Foundation’s original purpose was to preserve his “library” of work. Soon after Tom and Durk found themselves with a larger purpose and now, after 35 years, the Foundation still educates the public on just why erotic art is important to overall health and sexuality. The Foundation is a non-profit organization supported by donations from the public and various fund-raising events throughout Los Angeles during the year. During LA Pride weekend, the Foundation will join forces in the well-known “Erotic City” tent within the festival to reach out to a larger demographic of festival goers, including the younger generation who might not be as familiar with some of the iconic images and background of the Foundation as it promotes its 400page, special edition of “My Gay Eye” containing works by more than 120 artists and writers from around the world, as well as a large selection of work from Tom himself. More than just a collection of beefcake images, the book features essays and pieces of history that help to build a bridge between the continents of Europe and America and the twin cities of Berlin and Los Angeles. This collection which will be on hand to purchase, is an in depth exploration of the history and influence of Tom of Finland within the gay community. Rinaldo Hopf, editor of the book, gives the community a sense of the culture and art that has been shown at the Foundation. Hopf an important figure of German gay art, was Resident Artist at The Tom of Finland Foundation in Los Angeles in 2017, and brings to life, the collection from over the years, in “My Gay Eye.” “It starts with Tom’s work process: the collages he did with found images from newspapers and magazines and preparatory sketches. Durk Dehner came up with the idea to feature examples of all the techniques Tom used, from taking his own reference photos, to pen and ink drawings, to the absolutely finished masterworks,” Hopf notes. After you pick up your copy of My Gay Eye, on Saturday, inside Erotic City, head over to a special event at the Tom of Finland Foundation house in Echo Park: RUBÉN ESPARZA “Piss + Blood & Spunk: Seminal Works 1993-2019.” Ruben Esparza combines the skills of a multimedia artist and the insight of a gifted curator to synergize intensely cross-referential artworks. This exhibition of 20 of Ruben Esparza’s most potent pieces includes a survey of the artists, art influencers and scenesters who frequent TOM House, and who Esparza has photographed in a collection of Polaroids. Opening night events include performances and happenings by Oscar David Alvarez, FleshPiece, Ridge Gallagher, Jon Vaz Gar, Jordan Michael Green, Jamison Karon, Marval A Rex, and Sheree Rose. TOM House is at 1421 Laveta Terrace in LA, 213-250-1685 or TomOfFinlandFoundation.org.
38 • MAY 31, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Md. guv signs bill permitting ‘medible’ products
Gov. Larry Hogan signed legislation into law permitting qualified patients to access cannabis-infused edible products. Photo by Marrh2 / courtesy wikimedia
ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Republican Gov. Larry Hogan has signed legislation into law permitting qualified patients to access cannabis-infused edible products from state-licensed facilities. House Bill 17 permits dispensaries for the first time to sell “edible cannabis products.” Separate provisions in the law permit academic institutions and research facilities seeking to conduct research on the “medical use, properties, or composition of cannabis” to obtain source materials from a state-licensed cannabis dispensary. Federal regulations currently provide only a single source of cannabis for clinical research purposes, the University of Mississippi. However, clinicians wishing to conduct FDA-approved clinical trials on cannabis have long complained that federally-provided samples are of inferior quality. Recently published studies have reported samples contain far lower levels of both THC and CBD than do commercially available cannabis, and that federally grown cannabis strains are genetically similar to traditional hemp plants.
Mass. grants initial approval to social use spaces
anxiety in subjects with a history of heroin use, according to clinical data published in The American Journal of Psychiatry. Investigators at The Mount Sinai Health System in New York City assessed the effects of CBD versus placebo in 42 drugabstinent participants with a history of heroin use. In contrast to placebo, CBD dosing of either 400mg or 800mg “significantly reduced both the craving and anxiety induced by drug cues … in the acute term. CBD also showed significant protracted effects on these measures seven days after the final short-term exposure.” Researchers concluded, “CBD’s potential to reduce cue-induced craving and anxiety provides a strong basis for further investigation of this phytocannabinoid as a treatment option for opioid use disorder.” In observational studies, patients with legal access to cannabis typically reduce or eliminate their use of opioids. In clinical models, CBD administration has been shown to reduce cravings for tobacco. CBD dosing has also been associated with reduced cravings for methamphetamine in preclinical models.
Texas lawmakers advance medical cannabis bill
CBD reduces heroin cravings: study
AUSTIN, Texas — House and Senate lawmakers have approved legislation, House Bill 3703, to expand the state’s low-THC medical access program. The bill’s language must be finalized in conference committee prior to being sent to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott. The measure expands the pool of patients eligible for low-THC therapy to include those diagnosed with: all epilepsy and seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis, spasticity, terminal cancer, incurable neurological disorders (e.g., Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease), autism, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). It also eliminates existing requirements that patients receive approval from a second physician prior to becoming eligible for the state’s access program. Under existing law, patients diagnosed with intractable epilepsy may register to obtain low-THC (no more than 0.5 percent THC) oils produced by state-licensed manufacturers.
NEW YORK — The administration of oral CBD reduces cue-induced cravings and
Cannabis Culture news in the Blade is provided in partnership with NORML. Visit norml. org for more information.
BOSTON — Members of the state’s Cannabis Control Commission have decided to advance plans to regulate social marijuana use facilities. Regulators voted 3 to 2 in favor of the proposal, which seeks to establish a pilot program in up to a dozen selfselected cities throughout the state. However, implementing the plan will require additional legislative action from lawmakers. To date, only Alaska has enacted statewide regulations governing onsite marijuana consumption sites. Similar legislation to establish “marijuana hospitality spaces” is before the governor of Colorado. Earlier this month, city officials in Las Vegas approved a municipal ordinance to license on-site consumption spaces.
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Losangelesblade.com, Volume 3, Issue 22, May 31, 2019