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04 • JUNE 07, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Karine Jean-Pierre protects Kamala Harris MSNBC’s Joy Reid compares commentator to a Wakanda warrior By KAREN OCAMB email@example.com The moment was unexpected and shocking. Animal rights activist Aidan Cook leapt onstage, rushed up to Sen. Kamala Harris, grabbed the microphone from her hand as Harris was addressing MoveOn.org’s Big Ideas Forum in San Francisco on Saturday. Harris remained calm—but Karine JeanPierre, MoveOn’s lesbian chief public affairs officer, quickly sprang into action, placing herself between the protester and Harris. MSNBC host Joy Reid and her guests on Sunday’s AM Joy gushed over Jean-Pierre’s “instinctive” action, comparing her to the ﬁerce Wakanda women warriors in the hit movie “Black Panther.” They also noted that it took security what seemed like a long time to assist the women onstage in protecting Harris, a presidential candidate, suggesting that perhaps the Secret
MoveOn.org’s live stream of the Big Ideas Forum. Image via screengrab
Service should re-think their position of not protecting candidates until they become the nominee or when there is a credible threat, as happened with then-Sen. Barack Obama. California, after all, is where a protester assassinated Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Robert F. Kennedy after he won the California primary in 1968. Reid’s guests suggested that Jean-Pierre
should be hired to provide security guidance. Jean-Pierre appears as a frequent guest on NBC and MSNBC as a political analyst, having served as a deputy campaign manager for Obama, among other political jobs. Harris calmly walked away as her husband, Douglas Emhoff, and a few men ﬁnally grabbed Cook and took him off the stage. The candidate returned shortly thereafter to chants of “Kamala!
Kamala! Kamala!” “It’s all good,” Harris said, before resuming her talk about pay equity for women. “No worries.” Presumably the question of whether Harris is “tough enough” to stand up to Donald Trump has been laid to rest. A visibly frightened Trump, remember, was immediately surrounded by Secret Service men when a protester unsuccessfully tried to rush the stage during a campaign stop in Ohio in 2016. Harris’ husband tweeted reassurances after the experience. “Thx for all the kind notes. We are good. I love @KamalaHarris and would do anything for her,” followed by two “heart” emojis. Screengrabs of Emhoff’s outraged scowling face also went viral as he helped hustle the activist off the stage. CNN reports that the Brooklyn-born husband of Kamala Harris “moved to Southern California in his teens and attended the USC Gould School of Law, launched his own ﬁrm in 2000 before Venable acquired it in 2006. At DLA Piper, Emhoff has continued to focus on business, entertainment and intellectual property law in both California and Washington, DC.” Emhoff has become well known in his own right on social media, tweeting and posting behind-the-scenes photos on Instagram.
Becerra trying to stop ‘Healthcare Refusal Rule’ California Attorney General seeks preliminary injunction By KAREN OCAMB firstname.lastname@example.org California Attorney General Xavier Becerra ﬁled a motion seeking a preliminary injunction blocking the “Healthcare Refusal Rule” issued May 21 by the Department of Health and Human Services while the rule is challenged in court. Becerra ﬁled suit the day the HHS rule was published, arguing that it is unconstitutional, reckless and contradicts California laws that protect patients from discrimination. The rule would allow a “conscience clause” for any individual, entity, or provider—from janitor to medical assistant to doctor—to refuse basic healthcare, including emergency care, based on that employee’s religious or moral objections. That includes any healthcare need
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra ﬁled a motion seeking a preliminary injunction blocking the Healthcare Refusal Rule.
from contraception and abortions to a wide spectrum of heathcare needs for the LGBT community, Becerra and two health experts explained during a June 4 conference call with
reporters. If the court does not grant an injunction, the Healthcare Refusal Rule goes into effect on July 22. The Los Angeles Blade asked if that would also include emergency care for a sick or injured child brought in by a same sex couple, as well as denial of care to transgender individuals. “This is where it gets nasty because you’re talking about people who are supposed to provide healthcare or are employed with an organization that is supposed to provide healthcare so that when a person walks through the door as a patient, they’re not expecting that anything but their condition or care is what’s paramount in the minds of every person who works in that facility,” Becerra says, underscoring that the patients are also likely taxpayers who paid for some of the funding that these providers receive to operate. “Yet, for the LGBT community, as well as for others,” Becerra says, ”you could walk in whether you’re a married couple with a child or whether you’re transgender, and if someone who works
for that provider—and it could be anyone, it’s not just the doctor—says ‘for religious and moral reasons, I’ve decided I cannot offer you services,’ whatever that service might be, that individual as a patient is now being harmed. And that could go across any number of states where that harm could be real. In California—it would be not only real but it would be illegal to do so.” In addition to the harmful denial of care, Becerra says the rule would threatening “billions of dollars in federal funding for California’s public healthcare and other federally-funded programs,” including Medicaid and the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program. Out Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara ﬁled a declaration in support of Becerra’s motion for a preliminary injunction. “Allowing medical providers and facilities, insurers, employers, and others to exercise prejudice against patients is not only deeply offensive, but dangerous to their health. Lara said. “hen it comes to protecting the civil rights of all Californians, we will go all out in ﬁghting this battle.”
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06 • JUNE 07, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Pelosi argues for the ‘I’ word – investigations Though interrupted, most support Speaker at California Democratic Convention By KAREN OCAMB email@example.com California Democrats are beyond excited. In 2020, the Big Blue state will finally matter in the Super Tuesday Democratic primary. In fact, vote-by-mail ballots will be sent out Feb. 3, the same day as the world tunes into the critical Iowa caucuses. With the field-thinning Democratic debates coming up on June 26-27 and the ever-increasing need for money and grassroots support, a number of Democratic presidential hopefuls showed up at the California Democratic Party’s organizing convention in San Francisco on June 1 to win over enthusiastic party activists. But all eyes were focused on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, wondering if the Queen of Political Strategy would buckle under the growing pressure to launch impeachment proceedings against reviled President Donald J. Trump. The atmosphere was electric. A neargiddy Gov. Gavin Newsom promoted California’s preeminence in the progressive movement. “We are nothing less than the progressive answer to a transgressive president,” he said. Out Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins and buoyant out Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara touted their lesbian and gay identities on the first day of LGBT Pride Month and many officials noted Pride through official statements. In her Pride statement, Pelosi noted the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising. “In a moment that would change the world, these proud LGBTQ Americans refused to be silenced or shamed, declaring that they would no longer stand by and have their rights, their dignity and their lives attacked or denied,” Pelosi said. This month, “we recommit ourselves to building a brighter, more just and equal future for all Americans.” But the not-so-subtle theme for the convention was who stands where on impeachment. California rock star Sen. Kamala Harris—who surprisingly was bested in the
Speaker Nancy Pelosi at the California Democratic Convention on June 1.
applause-o-meter by “I’ve got a plan for that” Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren— emerged ebullient but turned very serious. “Democrats, we have a fight on our hands. And it’s a fight for who we are as a people. It’s a fight for the highest ideals or our nation. And Democrats, with this president, it’s a fight for truth itself,” Harris said. “We need to begin impeachment proceedings and we need a new commander in chief,” an especially poignant comment on the eve of the 75th anniversary of D-Day. But the floor belonged to Warren who has probably inspired many of these same progressive activists at Netroots Nation. She embodied the ferocity and courage to fight Trump. Out South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg also wowed the audience with his applause line: “There is no such thing as an honest politics that revolves around the word ‘again,’” managing to tag both Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden. Biden skipped the convention, choosing instead to speak at the Human Rights Campaign gala in Columbus, Ohio. One wonders how Biden would have been treated if the left wing progressives learned
he still supports the Hyde Amendment that prohibits federal funding to any clinic that performs abortions. Impeachment obsessives were clearly disappointed by Pelosi’s predictable restraint. But the mainstream media jumped on about 30 seconds of disruption of Pelosi’s roughly 10-minute speech as if it was a grassroots insurrection. So far, the speaker has refused to begin impeachment hearings, despite tacit encouragement from Special Counsel Robert Mueller for Congress to take up that constitutional responsibility. But Pelosi has another responsibility – to ensure that control of the House remains in Democratic hands and that Trump not escape justice, which could happen if the House proceeds with impeachment and indicts Trump, only to have the Senate acquit him, which would be the likely outcome. Trump could then claim the House pursued a witch-hunt since he was totally exonerated by the Senate – ergo, he should be re-elected, which means he also continues to escape criminal accountability. “I don’t want to see him impeached, I want to see him in prison,” Pelosi said at a private meeting with Democratic leadership,
Politico reported June 5. As long as Trump holds office, the Justice Department cannot or will not charge him with a crime. But a Trump defeat at the ballot box requires an education of the public about how corrupt, unpatriotic and bad Trump has been as president. Though Pelosi has apparently scotched Judiciary Chair Nadler’s two pitches to launch an impeachment inquiry immediately, the Speaker has not disallowed talk of impeachment as the Judiciary, Intelligence and other committees begin hearings on the Mueller report and the obstructionist conduct of Attorney General Barr, among other potential Trump-related high crimes and misdemeanors. Pelosi has seen the nation divided before. In January 1977, a few years after Watergate and President Richard Nixon’s resignation, she was elected CDP Northern California chair as the state debated the anti-gay Briggs Initiative; openly gay San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk was assassinated the next year. In 1981, she was elected CDP
Continues on page 8
08 • JUNE 07, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Democrats talk impeachment vs. investigations
Continued from page 6 chair, just as Republican President Ronald Reagan and his political evangelical cronies came to power. Pelosi won her House seat in 1987, during the formation of ACT UP and the Second Wave of AIDS. A decade later, she witnessed the House’s impeachment of President Bill Clinton, the Senate’s acquittal and the electoral backlash against Republican control of Congress. It is against that backdrop that Pelosi smiled when interrupted by calls for “Impeachment’ from the floor of the convention. “I told you this was like coming home for me,” she joked. But Pelosi knew her audience. It was “the extraordinary leadership at the grassroots level” that helped elect “a transformational class” of seven freshmen in the 2018 elections: Gil Cisneros, TJ Cox, Josh Harder, Katie Hill, Mike Levin, Katie Porter and Harley Rouda—all of whom are up for reelection with the GOP salivating for their defeat in 2020. “Now, we must keep the Blue Wave Rolling. We must defend and expand our majority in
the House of Representatives and win back the U.S. Senate – for the Democrats, for the people,” Pelosi said. “[A]nd we must elect a Democratic president of the United States.” The way to do that is to keep passing important legislation while also holding informative hearings – which could lead to impeachment if the evidence is “insurmountable.” “For expanding freedom in our country, we took historic action to pass the Equality Act – to end discrimination against the LGBTQ community! And next week, we will pass the American Dream and Promise Act – to protect TPS recipients and our patriotic young Dreamers!” she said, which they did on June 5 to much applause. “Our House investigations are breaking through the Trump Administration’s coverup to get the truth for the American people,” Pelosi told the delegates. “We are winning in the courts, with two resounding court victories last week affirming Congress’ subpoenas must be obeyed.” She noted that the Mueller report “lays out 11 instances of possible obstruction of justice” by Trump, among other evidence. “It is our patriotic duty to push back on
the Trump Administration’s undermining of America,” Pelosi said. “In the darkest hours of the American Revolution, Thomas Paine wrote: ‘The times have found us’ – and today they have found us again. We do not place ourselves in the greatness of our Founders – but we do place ourselves in the urgency we face in securing our democracy that they established.” But, Pelosi emphasized, the commitment to hold Trump accountable “isn’t about politics. It isn’t about partisanship – Democrats versus Republicans. It’s about patriotism. It’s about the sanctity of the Constitution. And it’s about the future of our nation,” she said. “We will go where the facts lead us. We will insist on the truth. We will build an ironclad case to act. Because in the United States of America, no one is above the law – not even the president of the United States!” Pelosi said in closing, “We will strive to unify, not divide, our country as we protect and defend it. The times have found us, each and every one of us, to have the courage and the strength to win.” Mayor Pete Buttigieg may have provided the best summary of how conflicted Democrats are over impeachment.
“I think to a lot of people, impeachment means removal from office but it’s really a process and it’s the only process we’ve got left because the DOJ has said you can’t charge a sitting president, and I don’t think it makes a lot of sense to suggest that the president is above the law,” Buttigieg said at a town hall in Fresno on June 3. “Basically it means the only place we can have a procedure, the only place we can have a due process, the only way we can get through the evidence and so forth as long as he is in the Oval Office is in Congress in the form of impeachment proceedings -- which is what I think we’re going to have to do,” he said. “But in order to do that, it better be an air tight process. So I do recognize that while we’re still trying to get information, the investigations are ongoing, there are witnesses that have yet to come before Congress, that there may be some strategic wisdom in following that sequence. I’ll leave that to Congress.” But if he had the vote, Buttigieg said he would vote to impeach. However, “I would also think twice before offering strategic advice to Nancy Pelosi.”
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10 • JUNE 07, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Are Democrats taking LGBT voters for granted? More action needed to match the words By KAREN OCAMB firstname.lastname@example.org San Francisco is considered one of America’s safest havens for LGBT people to be themselves. But in the early morning of June 2, two unidentified gay young Democrats left a bar near the Moscone Center after a day at the California Democratic Convention and were called homophobic slurs and attacked. The 21 year old, who was beaten until bloody, was taken to the hospital where he was treated and released. San Francisco Police caught the suspect, Griffin Murray, 27, who was cited for two counts of misdemeanor battery and released. The SFPD is investigating the attack as a hate crime. “Homophobia has no place in our communities, not in San Francisco, not anywhere. We stand with these two victims and we look forward to an appropriate response from local authorities that sends a strong signal to the public that this behavior is unacceptable and illegal, for the safety of our entire community,” said Tiffany Woods, newly elected co-chair of the California Democratic Party LGBT Caucus. “I join the CDP LGBTQ Caucus and Democrats everywhere in strongly condemning the violent attack on two Democratic LGBTQ activists in San Francisco on Saturday,” newly-elected CDP Party Chair Rusty Hicks said in a statement to the Bay Area Reporter. “Violence motivated by hate and homophobia is particularly repulsive, and we must all speak out for safer communities and stand with the survivors today.” But while Hicks is considered a strong LGBT ally, his statement is found nowhere else. Additionally, the CDP apparently made no similarly strong statements condemning the epidemic of Black trans murders— seven deaths so far this year. The body of the latest victim, Chynal Lindsey, 26, was found Saturday, June 1, in White Rock Lane, Dallas, according to TransGriot blogger Monica Roberts. Last November, the Human Rights Foundation called the 26 murders of trans women in 2018 a “national epidemic.” Recently, on May 24, a coalition of trans
Black Trans rally at LA City Hall on May 24. Photo by Melanie Chapman via UWC
activists and allies rallied at Los Angeles City Hall to serve as “examples of unyielding resiliency,” said organizer Chela Demuir, Founder and CEO of Unique Woman’s Coalition, who also promoted the National Trans Visibility March in Washington DC on Sept. 28. “The Trump administration announced Friday morning sweeping changes to the rules protecting transgender people from discrimination in health care. Combined with an announcement earlier this week ending gender identity protections in homeless shelters, the administration has now taken steps to exclude transgender people from almost every aspect of public life, including employment, housing, health care, education, prisons, and the military. We are being legally obliterated,” Demuir said. Also being ignored by mainstream Democrats are the human rights violations against trans asylum seekers. Johana “Joa” Medina Leon, 25, an HIV-positive trans asylum seeker from El Salvador, died June 1 in a Texas hospital after being released from the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Trans refugees and asylum seekers are now being held in male ICE detention centers because the sole unit for trans detainees at the Cibola County Correctional Center in New Mexico is past capacity. Trans and LGBT issues were mentioned at Equality California’s Pride and Politics reception kicking off the convention. Reps. Katie Hill, Mark Takano and Eric
Swalwell, a presidential contender, talked to the 1,000 LGBTQ and allied audience about the Equality Act and President Trump’s discriminatory ban on transgender military service, Equality California Communications Director Samuel Garrett-Pate told the Los Angeles Blade. Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara and members of the LGBTQ Caucus also talked about “California’s leadership in the fight for LGBTQ civil rights and the our efforts at the state level to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination and violence — all LGBTQ people, including trans folks, LGBTQ people of color and immigrants and asylum seekers.” Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders was scheduled to appear but a young staffer impolitely said Sanders would be a no-show during the speaking program. Sanders did show at the CDP’s LGBT Caucus, as did Sen. Amy Klobachar, another presidential candidate. Neither was scheduled to appear. “The LGBT Caucus did reach out to Mayor Pete [Buttigieg, out presidential candidate] to come and speak,” Woods tells the Los Angeles Blade. “However, he was unavailable, attending fundraisers in SF. No member of his team asked to come and speak. Very disappointing, as we had several LGBT Caucus members request we reach out to ask us to invite him.” Also surprising: the CDP website only lists support for “federal workplace
protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity” and “nondiscrimination for the LGBT community in all aspects of their lives, including housing, employment, healthcare, family and adoption.” There is no specific support of the Equality Act, passed by the House as #5 on Speaker Pelosi’s Top 10 list of priorities. The Los Angeles Blade also reviewed the CDP’s 195-page packet of proposed resolutions and found “LGBT” (or related) in 11 Resolutions, with two being redundant and one from Stonewall Democratic Club about LGBT asylum seekers. According to newly elected LGBT Caucus Co-Chair Lester F. Aponte, president of Stonewall Democrats, only 10 resolutions are passed at each convention. They included support for the Green New Deal and ending the federal cannabis ban. But no Equality Act. One LGBT resolution “on which former LGBT Co-Chair Evan Minton was very involved” did make the cut, however, Aponte said. Resolution 19-05.142 “relates to proposed partnerships between UC hospitals and Dignity Health, the catholic chain of hospitals that requires its hospitals to apply religious teachings to their care by, for instance, refusing treatments to transgender individuals.” LGBT Democrats have always been reliable as ATMs, volunteers and voters. When will the CDP’s reciprocal actions match their words?
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12 • JUNE 07, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
The world’s largest annual HIV/AIDS fundraiser, a sevenday, 545-mile excursion from San Francisco’s Cow Palace to West Hollywood’s Fairfax High School, kicked off June 2 with an extraordinary Photo courtesy Los Angeles LGBT Center announcement. The roughly 2,200 cyclists raised more than $16.7 million, the most money ever raised for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s HIV/AIDS-related services in the history of the event. The Ride emphasizes that the AIDS epidemic is not over, with a projected 700 people expected to contract HIV in the span of the seven-day trip. Right now, 1.2 million people are HIV-positive in America, with one-in-seven not knowing their status. “The dedication of our riders and roadies—and their generous donors—makes it possible for us to provide vital medical care and services to people living with HIV and to provide prevention tools, including PrEP, to those most at risk of becoming infected,” Center CEO Lorri L. Jean in a press release. “As the Center celebrates our 50th anniversary, we salute everyone who is part of the amazing AIDS/LifeCycle community working tirelessly to end AIDS.” “We will continue to ride until the epidemic is over,”said AIDS/LifeCycle Ride Director Tracy Evans. “And with L.A. Pride taking place during the same weekend, our riders and roadies have more reasons to celebrate their heroic achievements with their families and friends!”
“A reminder that Catholics should not support or attend LGBTQ ‘Pride Month’ events held in June. They promote a culture and encourage activities that are contrary to Catholic faith and morals. They are especially harmful for children.” - Rhode Island bishop Thomas Tobin on Twitter June 1.
“My mom’s a lesbian. I think I turned out ok. And the activities she chooses is to help the homeless and people suffering from mental illness. I admit I’m not perfect but at least I was never a judgmental hypocrite! I’m sure you don’t speak for most Catholics. Have a nice day.” - Guardians of the Galaxy star Dave Bautista in Twitter reply to Bishop Tobin, with a middle-finger emoji.
“A lot of my songs are about love, and I just feel like who you love, how you identify, you should be able to live your life the way you want to live your life with the same rights as everybody else.” – Singer Taylor Swift after her Wango Tango concert in LA, promoting her petition for the Equality Act, via Variety June 2.
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14 • JUNE 07, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
YouTube says abusive anti-LGBT comments don’t violate its rules By SEAN SHEALY Alphabet Inc./Google-owned YouTube has given its logo a rainbow look for Pride month. However, gay journalist Carlos Maza says the image contradicts the anti-LGBT abuse he’s dealing with on the platform. Maza is the co-producer and co-host of Vox media’s Strikethrough channel on YouTube. Maza says that for nearly two years, he’s been subjected to persistent and ongoing derisive videos posted by rightwing commentator Steven Crowder, who has more than 3.8 million subscribers on his own YouTube channel, “Louder with Crowder.” Crowder says his videos are allegedly intended to “debunk” videos posted by Maza, the BBC reported June 5. But Maza
considers Crowder’s language homophobic and says they have inspired others to post homophobic and racist comments. Frustrated, Maza produced a compilation video of the smears to @TeamYouTube “support,” asserting that the clips demonstrate that Crowder violated the video-sharing site’s hate-speech policies. In the compilation, Maza highlighted clips where Crowder labeled him; “a lispy queer, a gay Vox sprite, and a gay Mexican,” according to BBC. Crowder also mocks Maza’s accent in an exaggerated derisive imitation. YouTube reviewed the clips and told the journalist that “while we found language that was clearly hurtful, the videos as posted don’t violate our policies.” The platform added that “Even if a video remains on our site, it doesn’t mean we
endorse/support that viewpoint. There are other aspects of the channel that we’re still evaluating– we’ll be in touch with any further updates.” In an interview with the Los Angeles Blade, Maza pointed out that in addition to the abuse by Crowder, “These videos get millions of views on YouTube. Every time one gets posted, I wake up to a wall of homophobic/racist abuse, especially on Instagram and Twitter.” Asked about YouTube’s claims that the anti-LGBT slurs don’t break its rules, Maza said: “They’re right, their community standards are just a PR prop.” Arguing that YouTube is “exploiting” LGBT people by using rainbow-themed graphics, Maza says anti-LGBT abuse is “going to get so much worse now. YouTube’s just publicly
stated that racist and homophobic abuse doesn’t violate their community standards especially their anti-bullying policies.” British journalist Ben Hunte, the LGBT correspondent for the BBC, wrote: “Many professional LGBT video-makers will be familiar with uploading material online and instantly being tormented by certain audiences, solely because of their sexuality. YouTube’s take on this will disappoint the LGBT community. It will surprise them that hurtful things considered hate speech and punishable by law in real life can simply be labeled ‘debate’ online, and not require any repercussions.”
Continues at losangelesblade.com
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16 • JUNE 07, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
All of Trump’s anti-LGBT actions since last Pride Plus a few welcome moves By CHRIS JOHNSON President Trump acknowledged Pride month via Twitter last week, but his well wishes for the LGBT community fell on skeptical ears following the extensive anti-LGBT actions of his administration. In just the year since last Pride, the tally of antiLGBT actions from the Trump administration dwarf the number of good things that have come from his presidency for the LGBT community. With Pride celebrations underway, the Blade presents a list in no particular order of Trump’s positive and negative actions with direct impact on the LGBT community since 2018’s Pride celebration. (-) 1. Embracing the Masterpiece Cakeshop decision When the U.S. Supreme Court issued a narrow ruling last year in favor of Colorado baker Jack Phillips, many observers saw the decision as limited. After all, justices declined to find the First Amendment right Phillips asserted to refuse to make custom-made wedding cakes for same-sex couples. But the Trump administration fully embraced the decision as a win for “religious freedom.” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the court “rightly concluded” the Colorado Civil Rights Commission “failed to show tolerance and respect” for Phillips’ religious beliefs. Soon after, the Labor Department issued guidance to ensure enforcement of LGBT nondiscrimination rules complied with the ruling’s deference to religious freedom, even though the Trump administration wasn’t required to take that action. (-) 2. White House meeting with Ginni Thomas President Trump continues to meet with antiLGBT activists in the White House, including a recent high-profile discussion with Ginni Thomas, the wife of conservative U.S. Associate Justice Clarence Thomas. The New York Times reported Trump met in January with anti-LGBT activists led by Thomas in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. As Trump was reportedly “listening quietly,” members of the group denounced transgender people serving in the U.S. military. In addition to decrying transgender military service, the anti-LGBT activists said women shouldn’t serve in the military “because they had less muscle mass and lung capacity than men.”
President Trump’s pro-LGBT actions are outweighed by a string of attacks on the community since last year.
They also said the Supreme Court ruling for marriage equality is “harming the fabric of the United States” and sexual assault isn’t pervasive in the military, according to the New York Times. (-) 3. Coming out against the Equality Act In the same week the U.S. House voted to approve the Equality Act, legislation that would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to ban antiLGBT discrimination, Trump came out against the bill. In an exclusive statement to the Blade, a senior administration official said Trump opposes the Equality Act based on unspecified “poison pill” amendments to the legislation. “The Trump administration absolutely opposes discrimination of any kind and supports the equal treatment of all; however, this bill in its current form is filled with poison pills that threaten to undermine parental and conscience rights,” the official said via email. (+) 4. AIDS advisory council restaffed One year after firing all members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS without explanation as first reported by the Blade, Trump restaffed the advisory body with 11 new appointees. Carl Schmid, deputy director of the AIDS Institute, and John Wiesman, secretary of health in Washington State, were named as co-chairs for the advisory council. Months later, the Department of Health & Human Services named nine additional members to PACHA from a variety of professions, including the pharmaceutical industry, activism and academia. (-) 5. Trans military ban implemented
After the U.S. Supreme Court essentially green lighted Trump’s ban on transgender people in the military, the Defense Department implemented the policy in April. Denying the transgender ban is, in fact, a ban, the policy prohibits anyone who has undergone gender reassignment surgery from enlisting in the military and requires anyone who identifies as transgender to serve in their biological sex (which would be a small number of transgender people.) Although transgender people who were already serving openly won an exemption, individuals who are diagnosed in the future with gender dysphoria or obtain transition-related care would be discharged. (-) 6. Brief against trans protections under Title VII In a brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court not to take up a case seeking clarification on whether anti-trans discrimination is a form of sex discrimination under federal law, the Trump administration asserted the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals wrongly decided transgender people have protections under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. “The court of appeals’ conclusion that genderidentity discrimination categorically constitutes sex discrimination under Title VII is incorrect,” the filing says. “As discussed above, the ordinary meaning of ‘sex’ does not refer to gender identity… The court’s position effectively broadens the scope of that term beyond its ordinary meaning. Its conclusion should be rejected for that reason alone.” (-) 7. List of anti-LGBT appointments grows
The U.S. Senate continues to confirm Trump’s appointments, many of whom have long antiLGBT records. The latest will reportedly be former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who once said homosexual acts are “against nature and are harmful to society,” for a position at the Department of Homeland Security Other confirmations include U.S. District Judge Howard Nielson of Utah, who as an attorney argued a gay judge shouldn’t be able to decide the case against California’s Proposition 8, and U.S. District Judge Chad Readler of Ohio, who as acting assistant U.S. attorney general penned his name to briefs in favor of the transgender military ban and against LGBT protections under Title VII. (+) 8. But a few are from the LGBT community A handful of Trump’s appointments are from the LGBT community. Among them is former Log Cabin Republicans executive director R. Clarke Cooper, whom Trump appointed to a senior position at the State Department for politicalmilitary affairs. The Senate confirmed Cooper in April. Other new LGBT appointments are Mary Rowland, a lesbian with ties to the LGBT group Lambda Legal whom Trump named to a federal judgeship in Illinois; and Patrick Bumatay, a gay federal prosecutor whom Trump named for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. Both nominations are pending before the Senate. (-) 9. Draconian anti-trans memo leaked An explosive report in the New York Times last year exposed a planned memo within the Department of Health & Human Services that would effectively erase transgender people from federal law, igniting a massive outcry among transgender rights supporters. The proposal reportedly asserts Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which bars sex discrimination in schools, doesn’t apply to transgender people and calls for government agencies to adopt an explicit and uniform definition of sex “on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable.” A dispute about one’s sex, the New York Times reported, would have to be clarified using genetic testing. (-) 10. Anti-trans ‘conscience rule’ is final The memo as described by the Times never came tolight, butmonthslaterHHS did implement an anti-trans “conscience rule” allowing health care providers to opt out of procedures over which they have religious objections, including abortions or gender reassignment surgery. This list is long and continues at losangelesblade.com
Cutting Edge Gay/Bi Men’s Health Research Shares New Findings By Morgan Wright Last week, initial ﬁndings were published from the ﬁrst study of its kind, researching gay and bisexual men (GBM) who’ve had prostate cancer. The study, referred to as Restore #1, was the culmination of half a decade of careful design, research, and execution. Published in Archives of Sexual Behavior, this study describes the effects of prostate cancer treatment on GBM’s sexual behavior and urinary functioning. Make no mistake, this is a huge advancement for our community. Never before has there been a study about the speciﬁc experience of GBM undergoing prostate cancer treatment. It was the ﬁrst study of this kind to receive federal funding and found examples of how disparities in health research negatively impact GBM. The findings of this study were a call to action. Two-thirds of guys described their sexual functioning as “fair” to “poor” after treatment. This is part of a bigger issue because good sexual functioning is predictive of long-term mental and physical health. The fact that many men reported erectile difﬁculties and that multiple men cited this as a reason for not using condoms should also be of concern to those working in the ﬁeld of HIV and STI prevention. Restore #1 also found that over half of guys reported problems with urine during sex. This is a huge problem that hasn’t been explicitly addressed in research until now. In fact, compared to the previously published ﬁndings for straight prostate cancer survivors, GBM were found to have worse urinary function and worse hormonal function than their straight counterparts. This study also was the ﬁrst ever to describe common problems with bottoming for guys who’ve had prostate cancer treatment. A surprising result of the Restore #1 study was discovering that for many guys, a loss of role-in-sex identity occurs after prostate cancer treatment. The study suggests that rather than tops becoming bottoms or vice versa, the more common outcome is that they have less anal sex altogether. There were also encouraging results as the team looked at their data. Maybe most interestingly, the study shatters the stereotype of older men no longer being sexual since almost all participants in the Restore #1 study reported some recent sexual activity, either alone or with a partner.
Are you a gay or bisexual man who has been diagnosed with prostate cancer? Join the ﬁrst study on prostate cancer rehabilitation designed for and by our community.
The overall picture is that sexual recovery is a major problem for GBM post-treatment for prostate cancer. Only 11% of participants described their sexual functioning as “good” or “excellent” which means conventional treatment is failing almost nine out of every ten men. To pick up where this research left off, the study team has already begun collecting data for Restore #2. The new work is taking lessons learned from #1 and building a sexual and urinary functioning rehabilitation program. They hope to evaluate this new sexual recovery program by conducting a randomly controlled trial. The goal is a new standard of recovery for GBM who have had prostate cancer treatment. The Restore #2 study is entirely online and is enrolling 400 guys from across the nation. If you would like to participate or know someone who might, you can contact the Restore #2 team at the University of Minnesota by calling 612-568-8860 or sending an email to email@example.com.
You can contact us by calling 612-568-8860 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Restore Study is a National Institutes of Health- funded study through the University of Minnesota. Reach out through email (email@example.com) or phone number (612-568-8860)
Visit restorestudy.umn.edu to learn more and take the eligibility survey Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 612-568-8860 NIH grant #1RO1CA218657-01
18 • JUNE 07, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Trump recognizes Pride month in tweet Pledges to fight for decriminalization of homosexuality abroad By CHRIS JOHNSON For the first time in three years in office, President Trump recognized June as LGBT Pride Month in a series tweets last week, referencing his administration’s international initiative to decriminalize homosexuality. “As we celebrate LGBT Pride Month and recognize the outstanding contributions LGBT people have made to our great Nation, let us also stand in solidarity with the many LGBT people who live in dozens of countries worldwide that punish, imprison or even executive individuals on the basis of sexual orientation,” Trump wrote. “My administration has launched a global campaign to decriminalize homosexuality and invite all nations to join us in this effort!” The initiative Trump references is the international campaign launched by U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, the highest-ranking openly gay person in the Trump administration. Grenell launched the initiative with an eye toward Iran, where homosexuality is punishable by death. Previously, Trump seemed unaware of the international initiative. Asked by reporters about it in the Oval Office, Trump replied, ““I don’t know which report you’re talking about. We have many reports.” The White House didn’t respond to the Blade’s request for background information on the tweet. The Blade has also placed a request with Grenell seeking comment. Trump has become the first Republican president in history to recognize LGBT Pride month. In years past, former President Barack Obama would issue a proclamation recognizing June as Pride month, continuing a tradition started by former President Bill Clinton. The White House has yet to issue a proclamation recognizing June as Pride month, although proclamations were issued for National Caribbean-American Heritage Month, Great Outdoors Month, African-American Music Appreciation Month and National Ocean Month. Trump’s tweet of support comes in stark contrast to recent actions taken by his administration against the community. Recent news items include a proposed
President Donald Trump has recognized June as Pride month for the first time. Photo by palinchak / courtesy bigstock
rule gutting transgender protections at homeless shelters, a proposal seeking to abolish transgender non-discrimination protections in health care and a report the administration is poised to issue a rule allowing adoption agencies to refuse to place children with same-sex couples. The anti-LGBT attacks have also included a transgender military ban, policy initiatives prioritizing “religious freedom” over LGBT rights and legal briefs from the Justice Department asserting LGBT people aren’t covered under civil rights laws. White House counselor Kellyanne Conway defended Trump’s record on LGBT rights when asked to square his Pride Month tweets with his ban on transgender recruits in the military, according to a White House press corps pool report. Many LGBT rights advocates weren’t
impressed with Trump’s recognition of Pride month, saying his administration’s actions demonstrate his true feelings. Among them was Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, who called the tweet “gross hypocrisy, with an emphasis on gross.” “You can’t celebrate Pride and constantly undermine our rights — including attacking #TransHealth, discharging #TransTroops, refusing to protect LGBTQ youth, and cozying up to dictators who brutalize & marginalize LGBTQ people,” Griffin said. Trump also recognized Pride month shortly after coming out against the Equality Act, comprehensive legislation that would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ban to anti-LGBT discrimination. A senior administration official cited unspecified
“poison pills” to the Blade in explaining Trump’s opposition to the measure. Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), who’s gay and chief sponsor of the Equality Act, said in a succinct statement Trump must follow up his tweet with support for the legislation. “Nice Tweet,” Cicilline said, “Now, how about telling Mitch McConnell to bring up the Equality Act?” During his 2016 presidential campaign, Trump during a campaign rally waved an upside-down Pride flag inscribed with “LGBTQ for Trump.” Not mentioned by Trump is the 50th anniversary this year of the Stonewall riots, the historic LGBT rights event upon which Pride is based. Pride celebrations have been held each year to recognize Stonewall, starting with New York City’s Christopher Street Liberation Day Parade in 1970.
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20 • JUNE 07, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Blade contributor seeking asylum accuses U.S. of human rights violation Assails treatment at Louisiana jail: ‘The conditions are bad’ By MICHAEL K. LAVERS A Blade contributor from Cuba who is seeking asylum in the U.S. contends the conditions in the Louisiana jail in which he is being held amount to human rights violations. Yariel Valdés González first described the conditions at Bossier Parish Medium Security Facility in Plain Dealing, La., during an emotional telephone call he made to the Blade on May 3 after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement transferred him from the Tallahatchee County Correctional Facility, a privately run prison in Tutwiler, Miss. “The conditions are bad,” said Valdés on May 31 during another telephone interview from Louisiana. Valdés told the Blade “there is no privacy” and he is sleeping on a “thin mattress.” “It’s like a prison, not an immigration center,” he said. But Valdés on May 31 told the Blade he does have access to hot and cold water. The high temperature in Plain Dealing, which is located north of Shreveport in northwestern Louisiana on Monday was 92 degrees. Valdés told the Blade on Tuesday during another telephone call the air conditioning at the jail is functioning. Valdés, 28, legally entered the U.S. on March 27 through the Calexico West Port of Entry between Calexico, Calif., and Mexicali, Mexico. ICE transferred him to Mississippi a few days later. Valdés is originally from Cuba’s Villa Clara province. He graduated from Universidad Central Marta Abreu de las Villas in 2014 with a degree in journalism. Valdés in a letter that outlines the reasons why he is requesting asylum says he worked for Vanguardia, a newspaper published by the Cuban Communist Party in Villa Clara, while he earned his degree. Valdés says he began to contribute to independent media
Yariel Valdés González, right, interviews a Mexican migrant at a lesbian-run shelter in Mexicali, Mexico, on Jan. 27. Valdés, who is from Cuba, has asked for asylum in the U.S. Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers
outlets in 2015. Valdés writes he signed a letter against the “censorship and harassment” of independent media outlets in 2016. He says the Cuban Communist Party began to harass him and his “life became hell.” Valdés in his letter writes Vanguardia docked him a month’s pay and left him “without work” after current Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel, who was the country’s vice president at the time, told the newspaper’s management to “control that public demonstration by some journalists who questioned the authority of the Cuban government.” Valdés also claims the Union of Young Communists, a branch of the Cuban Communist Party that publishes the Juventud Rebelde newspaper, also expelled him and he was fired from the state-run radio and television stations for which he had been an announcer. Valdés was a contributor for Tremenda Nota, the Blade’s media partner on the Communist island, when the Cuban government in August 2018 summoned him to a meeting after a university in Colombia and the International Center for Journalists in D.C. invited him to participate in a program for Cuban journalists. Valdés in his letter writes he soon realized Cuban officials had prevented him from leaving the country
in order to attend the workshop. Valdés writes Maykel González Vivero, publisher of Tremenda Nota, and several of his colleagues, asked the Cuban government to “evaluate my situation.” Valdés says he was eventually allowed to leave the country because he said he was going to visit his father who lives in Mexico. Valdés says he traveled to Colombia and attended the program for Cuban journalists. He arrived in Mexico last fall and became a Blade contributor. The State Department’s 2018 human rights report notes the Cuban government “does not recognize independent journalism.” A report that Freedom House released in 2017 notesCuba “has the most repressive media environment in the Americas.” Access to Tremenda Nota’s website in Cuba has been blocked since Feb. 23. Authorities on May 8 arrested Luz Escobar, a reporter who contributes to 14ymedio, an independent website founded by Yoani Sánchez, a prominent critic of the Cuban government, as she tried to interview displaced survivors of a freak tornado that tore through parts of Havana in January. The Cuban government on the same day did not allow this reporter into the countryahead of an unsanctioned LGBTI march that took place in Havana on May 11.
“If I return to the island, I fear that they will initiate a process that deprives me of my elementary rights as a human right because in Cuba, in the name of national security, atrocities are committed and the established laws are shamelessly violated,” writes Valdés in his letter. Valdés has told the Blade a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officer has determined his asylum claim is valid. Valdés had his first appearance before an immigration judge on May 23. He has told the Blade his second hearing is scheduled to take place on June 13, but Valdés said he does not know when ICE will release him on parole. Valdés says he plans to pursue his case from his aunt’s home near Miami. “I don’t know anything,” he told the Blade on May 31, referring to when ICE may release him from custody. Valdés remains in ICE custody amid continued outrage over the Trump administration’s overall immigration policy. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in August 2018 condemned the separation of migrant children from their parents after they entered the U.S. Johana “Joa” Medina Leon, a 25-yearold transgender woman from El Salvador, died in a Texas hospital on June 1 after ICE released her from the Otero County Processing Center in Chaparral, N.M. The Southern Poverty Law Center and the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana last week filed a federal lawsuit against the Trump administration over the denial of parole to hundreds of asylum seekers who are in ICE custody in Louisiana and Alabama. A press release the two organizations issued on May 30 notes the New Orleans ICE Field Office, which oversees the facility in which Valdés is currently detained, granted parole in only two of the 130 asylum cases it heard in 2018. The press release also notes the lawsuit “calls attention to the impact of the dehumanizing treatment — especially the excessive use of solitary confinement and inadequate health care — received daily in immigration prisons, many of which are operated for profit.” Continues at losangelesblade.com
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22 • JUNE 07, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
VOLUME 03 ISSUE 23
50 years after Stonewall, Trans people still just want to exist Visibility march planned for September in D.C.
C. Chela Demuir is executive director of the Unique Women’s Coalition.
Fifty years after Stonewall and we’re still having confrontations. We were simply trying to exist then—and that’s all we want to do today: Exist! Then, they were fighting the police. Today, many of us are still fighting the police, our families and our government. Sure, some things have changed in some places and many gay and lesbian people are able to live out their dream life. Trans people, however, still deal with a barrage of elements that keep sectors of our community in a time warp as if we were back in the 1969 Stonewall era. Yes, we’ve had some strides along the way. Trans people now have visibility and status on a level once only dreamed about. Some have been able to thrive in society. We have Trans professionals and homemakers, police officers, scientists, filmmakers, actors, entertainers—the gamut. We have our own Translebrities visible to the entire world. We’re able to see images of people that look like us, that identify like us on the cover of national magazines like Time, Elle and Sports Illustrated. There are Trans characters on TV or your mobile device screen at any given time. That’s absolutely light years ahead of the Stonewall era when you had to wear at least three articles of clothing of your born gender or police could arrest you for being in “disguise.”
Today, Trans youth get to come into a world of ample and easily obtainable knowledge and, in some cases, access resources to assist in a healthier and informed transition. We’re able to commit and achieve higher education goals or become entrepreneurs, teachers, parents and even politicians. But being Trans isn’t all rainbows and sunshine. It can be hard as hell to be Trans capitalized as a reminder of the hard journey, sometimes starting from the moment we realize “there’s something extra special about me.” I come from a generation of Trans women who had to be stealth to be safe. If you were discovered to be other than as you presented, you’d be in danger. Many times we’d hear of Trans girls being beaten up when exposed; some moved to another neighborhood to save their lives. In 2019, the Trans community in Los Angeles is so liberated and empowered that the majority of us don’t live in confinement. We’re living in our full colorful glory. Everyone should feel free to be who they are. What alarms me is that despite the powerful visibility and advancement our community makes, we’re still being killed at alarming rates. In 2018, 24 Trans women were killed; 18 were Black. This is June 2019, Pride month and we’ve already lost seven Trans women under 30 to violence. As a younger Black Trans woman coming up, I was afraid of not being able to get to age 35 because, historically, not many made it that far. We didn’t think about growing old since that didn’t seem to be in our grasp. The killing of Trans women says to the world we are not valuable, we are not worth life. In most of these scenarios, the killer is someone who’s had some personal time with us, who may have even said, “I love you.” What’s even sadder is that not only did we lose a life but no one seems to be upset or outraged about this epidemic of Trans murders except Trans people. We can’t even seem to depend on our lesbian and gay allies. They can be shady as
hell to us even though we’ve been the faces and battering ram for many causes that served their interest. It’s been 50 years since Stonewall and Trans people don’t even have 50 percent of the privilege Trans people fought so hard to give their LGB siblings. There was nothing pre-planned about Stonewall that June 28, 1969. Those protesters were fed up. Enough was enough. Lesbian, gay and Trans people became fed up together— and they turned that anger into action. That’s exactly what we need today. Trans Black women are the highest number noted on the Transgender Day of Remembrance list each year, we’re already fed up. But Trans people aren’t killing each other; we’re left to bury our own. We don’t have all the answers. But answers could come from a collective effort to change what the end of this story looks like. We can all find a way to contribute—and that’s where we can start, together. Non-Trans people have to join us—not standing behind us, but beside us. We have to have the conversations about toxic femininity and toxic masculinity and what it does to perpetuate hate. Our government wants to erase our existence. A military ban is already in place; proper healthcare is at risk; equal pay and the choice to work with dignity seem like dreams. But we demand the basic right to EXIST! Trans people from across the nation are organizing the first ever National Trans Visibility March in Washington, D.C. at the Capitol on Sept. 27 and 28 to stand in solidarity to demand our right to exist and call for the dismantling of the social structures that oppress us. If the Stonewall movement means anything to you, understand that we are at that point in time once again where we have to join together in unity like our lives depend on it. This call to action needs allies locally and nationally. For more information visit theuwc.org and transmarchondc.org.
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24 • JUNE 07, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Pregnant with purpose ‘Gay men are men’
Michael Kearns is a longtime activist and actor and currently works with the QueerWise theatrical troupe. (Photo by Ira Margolin)
As a gay man trudging into the 21st century, on the verge of turning 70 years old, I look around and attempt to prioritize my causes. When I was in my 40s, someone said of my many-pronged weapon of mass activism, “He’s a walking telethon.” In preparation for our QueerWise theatrical troupe’s Gay Pride show, The Woman In Me, our largest and most diverse group—seven lesbians, ﬁve gay men, one sexually ﬂuid woman, one transman, one transwoman, two of whom are new Black female members and two Caucasian women under 30-years old)—has chosen to explore one of the hottest button issues facing queers today: abortion. We couldn’t have chosen a more sprawling subject than “women” which encompasses, perhaps at the top of the list, the tangled issue that is consuming American politics: “abortion.” That’s because—even if you were a member of the same party, the same religion, the same gender, the same
book club, and the same bowling league— somewhere in the discussion of abortion, you’ll disagree. That’s called nuance. To see women possibly stripped of the right to control their bodies is the most pressing human rights concern that I must immediately confront. As fairly intelligent beings with concern for a future beyond our own existence, it is incumbent upon us to look at everything we’re told through the prism of a funhouse mirror: Nothing is as it appears to be. Sure, we can travel from state to state (including, I’m embarrassed to say, Missouri, the one I was born in) and parse the number of trimesters and some of the contingencies dictated by religiosity that justify toying with a woman’s right to choose, but look at the Bigger Picture and what emerges is as horrifying as anything I can conceive. It becomes impossible not to link two momentous events of the 20th century: Stonewall, celebrating its 50th year anniversary this year, and Roe v. Wade, the 1973 clear-sighted ruling of the Supreme Court that protects a pregnant woman’s liberty to choose whether or not to have an abortion. Now some forces are attempting to rob America of its gorgeous colors, its landscapes peopled with variegated ﬂesh tones that comprise a map of what’s human here, stomping out its ﬂourishes and ﬂares of sensuality; wiping out a culture of ballet schools in mini-malls and LGBTQ choruses in almost every state in the union. Butch it up, they say, put America back in the saddle again, where brutality triumphs over
sensuality and the NRA is the Forever Prom King. If you tease out their twisted reasons to end a woman’s right to choose, you cannot help but also see the not-so-subtle foreshadowing of exercising power over the bodies of queer people, not only gay men, who are often rightly or wrongly labeled as sexually promiscuous, immoral, stains on society. These laws of morality ignited Stonewall and the women’s movement, and, fueled by the skewed engine of religiosity not legality, have been ﬂouted from the pulpits of multiple denominations, forever uniting women and queers in their pursuits of happiness. Not so fast, my darlings. Oh, no. Because while we were shaking our booties to Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” on dance ﬂoors from Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine and our sistahs were cheering the impassioned articulations of Gloria Steinem at rallies, parades, and demonstrations across this country, the indestructible thread of misogyny that exists in men did not exclude gay men. We often forget, as a very smart therapist once said to me, “Gay men are men.” And that maleness carries so much toxicity, lingering in the body, even when the brain knows it is crippling the soul. In similar ways that so many young girls were taught to fear, or even hate their bodies, so were we. If they were impregnated, there was no way to abort so their lives were essentially branded “over.” If a gay man’s body was engaged in sex for any reason other than procreation, he literally or ﬁguratively was headed for the
hoosegow. And while the AIDS crisis may have subdued the sexual revolution, many gay men, to the absolute horror (not to mention severe judgment) of their brethren, took certain matters involving their own bodies into their own hands. They refused to take AZT, refused to wear condoms, refused anti-retrovirals altogether, did not believe in Louise Hay or Marianne Williamson and continued to used recreational drugs. Their bodies, not yours. Were there whispers of government intervention? You bet your ass there were. I distinctly remember a day in October of 1992 when a nurse came to deliver the morphine drip for my lover, Philip, like a neon sign that death was inching closer. To emphasize that point, she showed me how to “speed up” the drip if I thought it “was necessary at any time.” We looked into each other’s eyes and beyond, sharing some dark moment that was as beautiful as it was bitter. She was a lesbian with a spirit of generosity I learned from and hold close to this day. Being part of QueerWise has pushed my spiritual boundaries, forcing me to discover more of myself with a greater degree of certainty and freedom. So has my 24-year old daughter Katherine, one of the most enlightened and spiritual beings I have ever met. And I have several women friends and colleagues (including the women of QueerWise and the “women in the men” of QueerWise) who guide me in these areas that go oh so deep and connect in ways that are— well, yes—divine. And today, approaching 70, I am grateful for such wisdom and choice.
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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.
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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
June 1 - 30
A month-long series of events in Santa Monica to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community, individuality, empowerment, inclusivity and acceptance.
FATHERâ€™S DAY WEEKEND. We got the daddies. Pride on the Port of Los Angeles Saturday , June 15 , 11am - 10 pm on the Los Angeles Waterfront
The ‘unity’ in community is Pride Why are you proud to be out? By SAMSON AMORE
Los Angeles’ LA Pride Parade is the oldest in the nation, and, some might say, the most diverse, drawing spectators from all corners of the earth, all ends of the gender, sexuality, race, nationality, wealth and age spectrum. The event is designed to attract a diverse audience and bystanders this year will no doubt notice a cross-section of LA represented in those marching and proclaiming their pride. It’s a time of celebration, interpersonal connection, and most of all, remembrance of the trailblazing civil rights activists that came before. But Pride can have complex emotional connections for some local queer residents. Most residents interviewed expressed mixed feelings regarding the corporate influence at Pride, and noted that the brands that are so quick to dye their logos rainbow and proclaim allyship are largely silent regarding queer issues during the remaining 11 months of the year. Some residents are skeptical of the costs of entering the Pride Festival in West Hollywood, which have been rising over the last few years. Still, Pride and the entire month of June remain an essential cultural touchstone and important community event for those who celebrate it and those on the periphery who come to witness. “To me, Pride Month means unity and solidarity, and that the community is here to stay and we won’t be taken advantage of,” said local resident Amy Osiason. NAME: Norman Nguyen AGE: 22 PRONOUNS: He/him GENDER AND/OR SEXUAL IDENTITY: Gay, cis male
Why are you proud to be out? “I didn’t have the luxury of ever being ‘in.’ I am hypervisible. You can smell the queer from a mile away and that used to be the worst. My existence as a very feminine male was questioned every day growing up, and it’s beautiful to know that my childhood shame has evolved into wisdom and confidence straight people could only imagine having in their late 50’s. I’m beautiful, I’m loud, and I’m stupid (and) to me, that’s hot.” What does Pride Month (and pride in LA) mean to you, and why is it important to the community? “I’m a gay Gemini. My birthday is on June 9 and always falls on Pride Week, so it’s nice seeing people be their fullest and most authentic self when I’m celebrating my own self. Pride is about being extra, it’s about realizing who you are and what values you have. Pride is both reflective and expressive, both inward and outward. I always
equate that duality with being a Gemini. The world is at balance during Pride.” Is there anything about Pride you wish would change? “We need to make it less about the money. Businesses need to do better jobs at donating their profits during Pride Month and cities should stop charging $50 to get into a festival. If you’re a business and you want to capitalize on Pride, hire a diverse group of queer people to handle your storytelling, branding, and marketing. If you have queer talent, make sure they’re getting paid properly. But let’s keep the angry homophobic protestors though because I love a good photo opportunity…” What’s your best/most memorable Pride experience, if you’ve attended? “At my first Pride in San Francisco, I was drunk on Svedka and saw Daniel Franzese, who played Damien from ‘Mean Girls,’ on a parade float. I was flailing and screaming, ‘she doesn’t even go here!’ He made eye contact with me and said, ‘But you go here!’ It pierced my heart in such a transcendental way no one could ever understand. Seventh grade me died. I bump into him at conventions and comedy shows now. He’s really sweet.” NAME: Jay Broom AGE: 22 PRONOUNS: They/them GENDER AND/OR SEXUAL IDENTITY: Pansexual,
Why are you proud to be out? “I am proud to be out because it feels incredibly liberating. As a non-binary actor being out also means that I get to work toward better representation through my roles.” What does Pride Month (and pride in LA) mean to you, and why is it important to the community? “Pride month is a demonstration of solidarity for the queer community. It acts as a reminder that we are here, we are active, we are loved, and we are ready to affect change.” Is there anything about Pride you wish would change? “I think Pride has become increasingly commodified. While some major corporations do provide year-round support for queer institutions I worry that many simply use this month as an opportunity to earn social currency and profit off of performed solidarity. I wish there was a way to curtail that without losing visibility.” What’s your best/most memorable Pride experience, if you’ve attended? “I lived in the Bay Area for a while and there truly isn’t anything like the San Francisco Pride Parade. Joyous, campy, grand, and utterly spectacular.” NAME: Kylie Kiyomi Obermeyer AGE: 23 PRONOUNS: She/her
32 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • JUNE 07 2019
Kylie Kiyomi Obermeyer GENDER AND/OR SEXUAL IDENTITY: Queer, cis female
Why are you proud to be out? “I am proud to accept this part of myself without any hangups, to be open to all romantic/sexual possibilities for myself. I’m also proud to be a part of a community like the Angel City Derby league where, despite the majority of people being some kind of gay, everyone is truly welcomed and included.” What does Pride Month (and pride in LA) mean to you, and why is it important to the community? “Pride for me is about celebrating love in all of its many forms, appreciating the opportunity to freely be yourself, and wearing lots of ridiculous outfits. Pride is important because it reminds people that they are surrounded by others who accept them regardless of their sexuality. It’s a chance to spread extra love and positivity within the LGBT+ community, as well as hopefully reflect on what we can do to better support others—whether they feel comfortable voguing on a sparkly rainbow float in assless chaps or not.” Is there anything about Pride you wish would change? “While ideally no one would ever have to be afraid to be openly gay, I wish that there wasn’t so much pressure to be out. No one should have to feel ashamed or like they’re a bad gay person for not wanting to publicize their gayness. People inhabit a million different contexts, many of which make being gay more complicated to navigate. We should respect people’s decisions to prioritize different aspects of their identity, whatever that looks like for them. Also, it’s funny and kinda cool to see gay grocery store floats in parades, but we should remain critical of the fact that lots of companies capitalize off of Pride as a hollow PR move.” What’s your best/most memorable Pride experience, if you’ve attended? “Going to the dyke march with my girlfriend last year was really heartwarming. I usually take for granted feeling comfortable being my freaky gay self in public pretty much 24/7; walking down Santa Monica Boulevard with everyone, it really hit me how grateful I am
to exist in this time and place. Also skating in the Long Beach pride parade a few weekends ago with my Angel City Derby pals! Good and goofy vibes all around.” NAME: Callie Vaught AGE: 25 PRONOUNS: She/her GENDER AND/OR SEXUAL IDENTITY: Queer, cis female
Why are you proud to be out? “I am proud to be out because I feel that queerness is an integral part of my identity. Culture that surrounds queerness has been extremely influential in my formative years and continues to shape who I am today.” What does Pride Month (and pride in LA) mean to you, and why is it important to the community? “For me, Pride is primarily about fostering community. Community is so important to humanity as a whole but as marginalized bodies, we sometimes need support in ways others haven’t. Whether that’s in queer family and friends, our community supports us in ways that sometimes our biological families don’t.” Is there anything about Pride you wish would change? “I think that Pride has become apart of this corporate consumer monster that seems to rear its ugly head every June. Teslas painted in rainbows, rainbow colored Apple watches, and clothing lines fashioned in rainbow attire are all things that I’ve seen at Pride lately. Overall I think Pride could be more consciousness of the big brands that they endorse by putting queer folks first. I have also always felt that Pride culture is extremely cis white male dominated. As a whole, I think this is something we can all work on by putting QTPOC folx first and having hard conversations with ourselves about spaces we take up as white folks. What does it look like for white marginalized bodies to prioritize QTPOC bodies, especially in spaces like Pride? What does it look like for white folks to show up in ally ship at Pride as well as in other ways? I think these are dialogues
JUNE 07 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • 33
that need to be had.” What’s your best/most memorable Pride experience, if you’ve attended? “I think the most memorable Pride experience is last year’s Los Angeles pride where I skated with Angel City Derby. Being new to LA, I hardly knew anyone so it was really nice to be welcomed into the Derby community.” NAME: Amy Osiason AGE: 27 PRONOUNS: She/her GENDER AND/OR SEXUAL IDENTITY: Butch, androgynous.
Why are you proud to be out? “I’m proud to be out because my my queer visibility in a public space makes others feel safer and more welcomed. Representation matters to a lot of people. I work as a queer/androgynous model on the weekends and enjoy being seen for who I am.” What does Pride Month (and pride in LA) mean to you, and why is it important to the community? “Pride Month means to me personally that the community is here to stay and we won’t be taken advantage of. It means unity and solidarity. It means having people to rely on during hard times, and a family to be there for when others are struggling.” Is there anything about Pride you wish would change? “One aspect of Pride i’d like to change is corporate greed. I think many large corporations could be giving more to charity during pride month than they currently are, and as a result companies make a large profit off our community without giving enough back.” What’s your best/most memorable Pride experience, if you’ve attended? “ I would have to say my most memorable pride was 2018 LA Pride. I rode my motorcycle in a pride parade for the first time surrounded by other lesbians and queer people. I felt very seen, and very loved and surrounded by friends and people who understood me.”
AIDS/LifeCycle produces personal pride Contributing money and sweat creates a unique community BY KAREN OCAMB email@example.com
Excitement as the riders leave Cow Palace in San Francisco on June 2 Photo courtesy AIDS/LifeCycle
The California AIDS/LifeCycle started in 1994 as the California AIDS Ride, a unique opportunity to contribute to the fight against HIV/AIDS. The 7-day, 545-mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles was also a daring challenge that required a huge commitment of time, resources, training and a willingness to endure pain climbing “quad buster” hills and long stretches of isolation in ever-changing weather – symbolic of the suffering of the dying. In those early days, before the miracle of the triple-cocktail treatment, whole groups of gay friends were decimated by the incurable disease. Riders wore photos of their lost loved ones, in whose memory they rode, attached
to their skin-tight tops or taped to their handle bars. Cascading streams of tears were replenished by constant reminders to Hydrate! At night, as thousands of riders decamped into a makeshift tent city, strangers become friends and bonded over loss and love and anger and laughter and promises to do something more. Ordinary people became activists.
This year, the June 2 – June 8 annual fundraiser for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Los Angeles LGBT Center raised more than $16.7 million from 2,200 cyclists who know the AIDS crisis is still not over, especially among women and young people of color. And the fight and the bonding continue.
34 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • JUNE 07 2019
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2019 LA Pride Opening Ceremony in West Hollywood is tonight from 6:00 PM to 12:00 PM at West Hollywood Park (Santa Monica Boulevard at San Vicente). 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 into highgear and will be joined by fabulous surprise guests (rumor is that Madonna is planning to crash, but that’s just a rumor). It’s free and fantastic and you will never forget. Crash it with the Dyke March! DYKE MARCH is tonight from 6:00 PM beginning at Sal Guariello Veterans Memorial Park (8447 Santa Monica Blvd). This City of West Hollywood Arts Division event, part of One City One Pride, features speakers, entertainment, a march and rally that marks the absolute most official of all the official kick-starts for LA Pride weekend. Pop-ups include a protest sign-making workshop by JP (all supplies included) and the One City One Pride interactive poetry pop-up Everyone Deserves (A) Love (Poem). Get your engine started on Route 66. Dive in Pool Party with Billy Francesca (with DJ Josh Peace + DJ Ben Castro) is tonight from 12:00 PM to 6:00 PM at the Standard Hotel (8300 Sunset Blvd). Get set and get wet for LA Pride. It’s a show of the shows at the hottest and sexiest pool party in LA. Let’s Start LA Pride Weekend Off Right!
JUNE 8 - JUNE 9
2019 Pride on the Boulevard in West Hollywood, All day on Santa Monica Boulevard. Check out the map in this issue for details. 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. It’s free and will be an amazing experience for merchants and minglers alike. FREE.
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! There’s just so much more to this event. We suggest going online to LAPride.org to get details and get your wristbands early.
It Gets Better – A Poolside Pride Celebration is today from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM at The Standard Hotel (8300 Sunset Blvd). The It Gets Better Project and The Standard, Hollywood invite you to celebrate LA Pride with on Saturday, June 8 at the 4th annual It Gets Better: A Poolside Pride Celebration, hosted by Patrick Starr. Help us celebrate Pride, have fun and make a difference in the lives of LGBTQ+ youth. Help how LGBTQ+ youth around the world that it does, indeed, get better.. Guests will enjoy activations with sponsors including Showtime and MeUndies, complimentary specialty cocktails hosted by Tito’s Handmade Vodka, VIP giveaway bags and more. Event is 21+. Proceeds support the mission of the It Gets Better Project — to uplift, empower and connect LGBTQ+ youth around the globe. Guests must be with the purchaser of the ticket to enter event (tickets range from $65$275 and can be purchased HERE). You must bring a valid form of ID.
2019 LA Pride Parade in West Hollywood is today from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM along Santa Monica Boulevard between Fairfax and Doheny. The annual LA Pride Parade – telling this year’s #JUSTUNITE story – returns to Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood on Sunday, June 9th. This is one of the highlight events of LA Pride Week 2019 and definitely should not be missed. Be sure to arrive early to get a great spot along the parade route! About TV Coverage: 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. The
parade coverage will be hosted by Eyewitness News anchors Ellen Leyva and Brandi Hitt, and they will be joined by Raven-Symone, star and executive producer of Disney Channel’s “Raven’s Home.” They will be joined by Eyewitness News reporter Veronica Miracle and OTRC entertainment host Karl Schmid along the parade route, which goes 1.5 miles down Santa Monica Boulevard, from Crescent Heights Boulevard to Doheny Drive. “We’re proud to bring the LA Pride Parade celebration to viewers across Southern California,” said Cheryl Fair, president and general manager of ABC7. “Our collaboration with LA Pride is a commitment to reflecting and serving the diverse communities that represent our audience.” The two-hour broadcast will air live on Sunday, June 9, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Phill Wilson will be the community grand marshal, and the Los Angeles LGBT Center will be the organizational grand marshal “I am honored to be a part of this year’s Pride celebration,” Wilson said. “The LGBTQI community has come a long way in the last 50 years. It has not been without heartache, pain, sacrifice and growth. I am humbled to be among such a powerful and diverse group of grand marshals. Together we represent how much stronger we are when we celebrate all of what we are.”
Trans Pride L.A. 2019 is tonight from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM and Sat. June 16 from 12:00 PM to 6:00 PM at the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s The Village at Ed Gould Plaza (1125 N. McCaden Place). The Los Angeles LGBT is set to hosts Trans Pride LA 2019, one of the oldest and largest trans celebrations in the country. The festivities this year will take place at two of the Center’s facilities in Hollywood: The Village at Ed Gould Plaza, located at 1125 N. McCadden Place, and at the Center’s new Anita May Rosenstein Campus, located directly across the street. Trans Pride LA 2019 is happening on Friday, June 14, 7–10 p.m. and Saturday, June 15, from noon–9:30 p.m. Admission to the twoday annual gathering is free.
JUNE 8 - JUNE 9
2019 LA Pride Festival in West Hollywood is Saturday and Sunday from 12:00 PM to 1:00 AM at West Hollywood Park (enter at San Vicente and Santa Monica Boulevard). LA Pride has a diverse group of LGBTQ+ and allied performers taking the stage at the 2019 LA Pride Festival in West Hollywood, presented by Verizon. GRAMMY® Awardwinning global superstar Meghan Trainor and British electronic pop trio Years & Years will
38 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • JUNE 07 2019
2019 LA PRIDE FESTIVAL + PRIDE ON THE BOULEVARD June 8 – 9 in West Hollywood
MEGHAN TRAINOR YEARS & YEARS
ASHANTI CRISTIAN CASTRO PABLLO VITTAR THE DRUMS AMARA LA NEGRA CUPCAKKE GREYSON CHANCE MNEK DEJ LOAF ASIAHN THE VERONICAS KODIE SHANE MISS VANJIE
AH�MER�AH�SU SHAUN ROSS SATEEN SARO SIR BABYGIRL VINCINT MARI AMBAR
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YOU DID IT! THANKS TO THE EFFORTS OF THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY & OUR ALLIES, WE MADE HISTORY BY PASSING
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Unity is a force that takes Pride to new heights Meet the Grand Marshals of LA Pride 2019 By JOHN PAUL KING
Pride has come a long way in the fifty years since Stonewall. While it will forever be linked to the activist spirit that sparked the Gay Liberation Movement after that historic night, it has grown to become as much a party as a protest, a celebration of LGBTQ identity in all its myriad, diverse forms. There’s a lot to take in at a Pride Festival; from booths operated by merchants and organizations dedicated to serving LGBTQ people, to exciting entertainment options, to a sampling of the best food and drink the local community has to offer, it’s a colorful whirlwind of a weekend with something for everyone to enjoy. For many, though, the highlight will always be the Pride Parade. Blending both the activist and celebratory aspects of Pride, it’s a spectacle that allows the many faces of our queer community to join together and present the full expression of our identity while carrying a message of equality to the world at large. This year’s parade looks to be a particularly triumphant event, and not just because it marks the half-century milestone of a seminal event in our history. With L.A. Pride’s 2019 theme of #JustUnite, it’s also an opportunity to come together in a show of solidarity and, and to acknowledge that not only do we stand upon the shoulders of giants, but that we are stronger together than we are divided. In honor of those cornerstone principles, this year’s Pride Parade will be presided over by three Grand Marshal who represent the spirit of inclusion and work, each in their way, to lift up the entirely of the LGBTQ community. The Organizational Grand Marshal for 2019 is The Organizational Grand Marshal, the Los Angeles LGBT Center, has a history which dates back as far as Pride itself, having supported the LGBTQ community in Los Angeles since 1969. As it celebrates its 50th anniversary, it currently provides services and programs for more LGBTQ people than any other organization in the world, and it remains dedicated to building a world where LGBTQ people thrive as healthy, equal and complete members of society. Their passion for equality and inclusion embodies this year’s #JustUnite theme, and they look forward to continuing their ever-growing efforts to connect LGBTQ people with opportunities for health care, housing, legal assistance and cultural enrichment, while also cultivating the future of activism and advocacy in our community. Chief Executive Officer Lorri L. Jean says, “For the Center, pride has always been something of a shorthand for certain values—dignity, resilience, power and joy—that bind us together as a community and proud, equal members of
the larger society. Motivated by those values, 50 years ago, a small group of volunteers banded together to offer services here in Los Angeles. Since then, the Center has been a continuous beacon for the sense of community pride that we celebrate on Sunday.” She adds, “I would be remiss, however, if I didn’t also say that pride has also been a call to action for us, a sense of duty to translate that pride into hardwon advances for our community. The battles have been many and fierce—whether it has been challenging the government’s criminal indifference during the early years of the AIDS epidemic, struggling to win marriage equality, or fighting to stop the senseless murders of transgender women that are happening at this very moment all over the country. Our pride has been—and will continue to be—both an expression of love and a weapon of resistance, and we are honored to celebrate with those who have shared in that historic march toward full equality.” Standing as the Community Grand Marshal is Phill Wilson, an LA-based activist whose career began after he and his partner were diagnosed with AIDS in the early 1980s. Since becoming an Angeleno, Wilson has served as the director of Policy and Planning for the AIDS Project, AIDS coordinator for Los Angeles, co-chair of the Los Angeles HIV Health Commission, and a member of the HRSA AIDS Advisory Committee. In 1999, he founded the Black AIDS Institute, and he was appointed to President Obama’s Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS. As the founder of the Black AIDS Institute and prominent African American HIV/ AIDS activist, he has dedicated himself to the effort toward ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic and bringing the community closer to health equity. Wilson says, “I’m particularly excited this year, given that it’s a major commemoration of the original Stonewall revolt in New York City. I think there is so much happening in our community, and
while we are facing huge challenges and adversity we are also making tremendous progress, so it is an exciting time to both remember and to celebrate our LGBTQ community.” Discussing what Pride means to him, he adds, “I think about Pride both generically, but also in my case, I think about all the parts of me. As Pat Parker said, the sign of a revolution is when I can take all of me into any room, when I don’t have to leave my gay self when I go into black spaces and I don’t have to leave my black self when I go into gay spaces, and I think about Pride in that fashion. Relative to the community, while we may not have achieved true inclusivity, I think that we strive for it, that we lean on our better angels and we understand, even when we fall short, that we are better as an inclusive community that we are when we attempt to shut others out.” Rounding out the trio is Celebrity Grand Marshal Ryan O’Connell, an actor, writer and producer wo served all three of those functions in “Special,” an eight-episode short-form series on Netflix which debuted in April to widespread acclaim and popularity. Loosely based on O’Connell’s own upbringing and experience as a gay man navigating the world with cerebral palsy, it’s a show that exemplifies inclusivity – not to mention a sexpositive, celebratory attitude toward queerness – while making audiences think, feel, and laugh. His television work also includes serving as an Executive Story Editor on NBC’s revival of “Will & Grace” and on the writing staff of MTV’s “Awkward.” In addition, he is the author of “I’m Special: And Other Lies We Tell Ourselves,” a part-memoir, partmanifesto published in 2015, he’s served as the Editor of Thought Catalog, and he’s contributed to Vice, BuzzFeed, and numerous other publications. In a statement, O’Connell says, “I’m honored to be one of The Grand Marshals at LA Pride. My hope is that every young LGBTQ+ person is proud of who they are
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and that they dream about who they can be. Can’t wait to live, laugh, love with you all as we celebrate who we are and celebrate the brave shoulders that we all stand on.” CSW Board President Estevan Montemayor says, “We are thrilled to have Ryan as our Celebrity Grand Marshal. He has broken much needed new ground on ensuring that all LGBTQ+ people are represented in entertainment and media. We know, living here in Southern California, that inclusive imagery can change hearts and minds across the country and around the globe. Ryan represents the very best in harnessing creative talents to effect positive and meaningful change.” Sunday’s Pride Parade will make history also as the KABC, Southern California’s most-watched television station, becomes Pride’s exclusive television and digital broadcast partner, ensuring that all Angelenos will be able to watch the festivities along with the crowds that line the
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parade route along Santa Monica Boulevard. Featuring pre-parade coverage throughout Eyewitness News on Sunday morning, the station will also present a two-hour live broadcast of the parade itself from 11am1pm. The latter will be co-hosted by KABC’s Ellen Leyva and Brandi Hitt, joined by RavenSymoné, the star and executive producer of Disney Channel’s “Raven’s Home” and a proud member of the LGBTQ community. Also joining the ABC7 team along the parade route will be Eyewitness News reporter Veronica Miracle and OTRC entertainment host, Karl Schmid. A pre-parade preview show will also air Saturday, June 8 at 6:30 p.m. Joining the three Grand Marshals in celebrating Pride in the parade will be a long list of contingents representing the many facets of the LGBTQI and allied community. A complete listing is available at www.lapride. org, but among them are AIDS Healthcare Foundation, GetPrEPLA, Equality California,The Los Angeles Gay Men’s Chorus, The American
Institute of Bisexuality, Congressman Adam Schiff, PFLAG of Los Angeles, the City of West Hollywood, The Trevor Project, The Stonewall Democratic Club, Trans Latin@ Coalition, Outsports, the Trans Chorus of Los Angeles, the West Hollywood Cheerleaders, and of course, the Los Angeles Blade. The Pride Parade will march from 11am-2pm along Santa Monica Boulevard between Fairfax and Doheny in West Hollywood. Festival organizers recommend arriving early in order to get a great spot along the parade route, and suggest considering the use of public transportation or rideshare services in order to avoid the difficulties of parking in West Hollywood. The parade is free to attend, but admission to the Festival grounds (at West Hollywood Park, 647 N. San Vicente Boulevard) proper requires tickets, which may be purchased in advance. To buy them, and for more information about the parade and its participants, please visit www.lapride.org.
Merchants of Pride LA Blade’s list of unique offerings, from gummies to fabulous bouquets By SUSAN HORNIK
Chicago. LGBTQ+ owned Magnolia and Vine is donating 25 percent of proceeds to the Human Rights Campaign for the month of June. Whether you’re heading out for parade festivities or just enjoying time with your crew, this brand supports all types of love. MedMen is excited to partner with Equality California, the largest statewide LGBTQ civil rights organization, by donating 15% of all limited-edition Pride product proceeds generated at all its California stores to advance LGBTQ equality for the month of June. Participating products include: Lowell – Sativa pack and sativa single; Kiva – Drag Queen Camino; Mr. Moxey’s Mints – rainbow tin; THC Design – Flower 8th with rainbow sticker; Kush Queen – Rainbow bath bomb, relax 1:1; DomPen -3 pack vape and Dosist – DP50/DP200 Arouse.
If you don’t want to deal with the massive crowds from LA Pride events, there are still many ways to celebrate Pride around town. Los Angeles is chock full of dynamic brands, glam hotels, lovely restaurants and hot nightclubs all of which strongly support the LGBTQ community. The Los Angeles Blade put together an alternative list of ways you can celebrate and still be part of the action. AT PRIDE This year, Verizon is the title sponsor of LA Pride, and will host the U.S. premiere of “5B,” a documentary that showcases the inspirational story of everyday heroes who took extraordinary action to comfort, protect and care for the patients of the first HIV/AIDS ward unit in the United States at San Francisco General Hospital. WHERE TO STAY Hotel Indigo Los Angeles Downtown is launching a lineup of dedicated and festive offerings as part of its ‘Summer of Love’ campaign in support of the LGBTQ+ community from June-August 2019. The hotel has been committed to supporting the vibrant local community and sharing its neighborhood’s eclectic past and present with guests since opening in 2016. With city-wide LGBTQ+ celebrations beginning with Pride Month in June and culminating with downtown’s own DTLA Proud Festival in August, Hotel Indigo Los Angeles Downtown’s “Summer of Love” campaign will run all season long. While the West Hollywood neighborhood is widely associated as the Los Angeles hub for all things LGBTQ+ and has been the location of the LA Pride Festival each June since the early 1980s, downtown LA has been gaining momentum as a popular alternative for Pride celebrations and beyond. The Hotel is celebrating the LGBTQ+ community with a series of “Summer of Love” offerings which include a monthly “Practice for Pride” yoga class, a “Walk in Our Shoes,” an LGBTQ+ walking tour, and weekly “Sungay” brunch offered in the hotel’s signature restaurant, Metropole Kitchen. Andaz West Hollywood, centrally located on Los Angeles’ sunset strip, has a LA PRIDE WEEK Eat. Drink. Stay package, valid June 2–9, which offers guests a $100 food and beverage credit valid at all of the hotel’s dining outlets, a room category upgrade, and a 2 p.m. late check out. To book the Eat. Drink. Stay package, use promotion code: 100EAZ. LA Pride has a list
Kiva’s Drag Queen Camino Gummy Bears Photo courtesy MedMen
of other great packages around WeHo if the Andaz is packed. THE PRODUCTS FLOOM has teamed up with Diversity Role Models, an organization whose vision is “a world where everyone embraces diversity,” to design PRIDE themed bouquets. FLOOM’s cut of the profits will be donated to them. This year’s Pride Collection will be available in London, New York, LA, San Francisco, and
FOOD & BEVERAGES If you want to have a relaxing meal away from the intensity of Pride, head around the corner to WeHo Bistro, at the corner of La Cienega & Holloway. “Our restaurant is a delicious oasis of food and nourishing refreshments, with a restorative deep house vibe,” noted owner Jeff Douek. “We offer a quieter elegance; a place to recharge the body and the stomach before continuing the party. The bistro is bursting with gay elegance on this gay pride high holiday. SO BOOK EARLY,” added Douek. The new Rocco’s Restaurant WeHo will be the home for Pride week. DJ’s,live entertainment, great food and drinks.
Continues at losangelesblade.com
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LA Pride kicks into high-gear with a week of events
The entire board of LA Pride, some sponsors, including the Los Angeles Blade, and other community members took the field at Dodger Stadium to welcome Dodger fans to Pride night.
Dodgers owner Billie Jean King and her wife Ilana Kloss on the big screen.
The famous left field patio turned into a rainbow nightclub full of LGBT fans.
Photo by Troy Masters
Photo by Troy Masters
Ricky and Dion flew in from Sydney, Australia just to attend LA Pride Night at Universal Studios Hollywood and they are now proud Hogwarts graduates.
Verizon and LA Pride presented a Vegas-style drag extravaganza in the courtyard.
Photo by Troy Masters
About 1,500 people took Universal Studios Hollywood over for the theme park’s largest ever private event.
Photo by Madonna Cacciatore
Photo by Troy Masters
A special screening of the Elton John biopic was a surprise event even for this pair, (L) Tracy Paaso and (R) CSW Executive Director Madonna Cacciatore. Photo by Troy Masters
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323-347-7000 959 Seward St Los Angeles, CA 90038 located on the corner of Seward and Romaine in Hollywood
LA Pride kicks into high-gear with a week of events
LA Pride celebrated the Trans community with a luncheon at Flaming Saddles on June 1. Photos provided by LA Pride
FEM(ME), held at PaliHouse on June 2, was LA Pride’s first-ever celebration of the female force within each and every one of us, regardless of gender or how we identify and this year featured the Alexis Arquette Family Foundation and LA Pride awards to Bamby Salcedo, Diana Limon and Mariana Marroquin, L. Frank and Dr. Astrid Heger. It was also a birthday celebration for Christopher Street West Executive Director Madonna Cacciatore.
Estevan Montemayor speaks to a crowd of dozens who attended the West Hollywood Mayor’s Kick-off party at SoHo House for LA Pride as Mayor John D’Amico, John Giles and One Archive Foundation Executive Director, Jennifer Gregg look on. Photo by Jon Viscott for LA Pride
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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 thank the LGBT community of Los Angeles for supporting the official 2019 LA PRIDE kickoff party at Dodger Stadium! Enjoy your Pride Week and make plans to come to another game soon! dodgers.com/tickets
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QUEERY 20 QUESTIONS FOR MAER ROSHAN
Photo Courtesy Roshan
By TROY MASTERS
It was our conversation about his cover story on Liz Smith, the doyenne of New York City’s salacious celebrity gossip world, for Outweek magazine in 1989 that tipped me off that Maer Roshan was a force to be reckoned with, someone who really cared about the quality of his work, getting it right and being mindful of the spirit of what he wanted to accomplish. He was clearly a strategic editorial thinker. It was a risky gambit he was trying to pull off, featuring a closeted lesbian in a magazine famous for exposing the secret lives of closeted people who were doing social and political harm to the community. Smith had been a favorite all-caps target of the magazine’s gossip hitman, Michelangelo Signorile. I was astonished that he had the charm to pull a high-profile subject into an arena where she knew she would be forced to answer her critics and draw even more ACT-UP style rage if her answers — or his questions — were not precise. It was the very apex of the AIDS crisis and the people Smith covered wielded enormous influence and cultural power. Fast forward one year and I found myself looking for an editor to launch a new weekly magazine for New York’s gay and lesbian community and I remembered Maer’s gambit with the Smith cover story. I remembered that he had been an editor at Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine and had worked as a newspaper reporter in Key West. He was young, understood the power of being brash and had a sensibility about him I wanted to engage. Maer took the lead editorial role and went about creating a kind of weekly newsmagazine for gay and lesbian New Yorkers that had never been tried before, one part activist, one part fabulous, one part celebrity and fashion obsessed and yet deeply tuned into the science and policy concerns of the AIDS crisis. The New York Times featured the magazine on the front page of the paper under the headline “Gay Press enters the mainstream.” Maer worked hard to develop his unique blend and went on to launch several major editorial products. He launched Talk with Vanity Fair editor Tina Brown. He created Radar, his own magazine that was one of the first to successfully go digital only. He later became editor of New York Magazine and recently took the helm of Los Angeles Magazine where he now serves as editor in chief.
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queery MAER ROSHAN How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell? Out since I was 17. The hardest person to tell was my grandmother, who was an Orthodox Jew from Long Island. She knew that I had become editor of a magazine called NYQ, but didn’t know what kind of magazine it was, She stopped at a newsstand with a bunch of her friends to find a copy and received a rather unwelcome surprise. But she was cool and took it in stride. Who’s your LGBT hero? Larry Kramer accomplished heroic things at a time of dire crisis for this community. I also grew up loving writers like Tennessee Williams and Gore Vidal and Truman Capote—smart, funny talented people who were the most visible gay role models for me when I was growing up. What’s Los Angeles’ best nightspot, past or present? Currently the Tower Bar at the Sunset Tower, though I would have loved to be part of the Sunset strip music scene in the 70s. Describe your dream wedding. A tasteful City Hall ceremony with Shawn Mendes. What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about? Freedom of the press. Especially at a time when the media is under attack, it’s vital that we support the important and sometimes dangerous work that journalists perform in a free society. What historical outcome would you change? Well, obviously World War I and II, 9/11 and other mass genocides. And Nov. 8, 2016 will always live in infamy for me. What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime? I will always love the 80s and early 90s, clubs like Area, Palladium and people like Madonna, Chakha Khan, Wham and Ecstasy. I may not remember every moment but I remember the energy and creativity and the egalitarian spirit of that time, when different ages and genders and races and sexualities all mixed and partied together. Life was way more fun before bottle service and the internet. On what do you insist? Honesty.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet? A mean tweet about Ivanka Trump’s Buckingham palace outfit and a Facebook post promoting the gay issue of LA magazine. If your life were a movie, what would the title be? Girl Interrupted (Laughs) If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do? At this point I am really happy that I am gay. But it would be fun to use that technology on Mitch McConnell and Steve King and every cowardly politician who has made life difficult for LGBT people. Maybe we can even turn Lindsay Graham straight. What do you believe in beyond the physical world? Grace. What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders? Develop better relationships with allies across all movements that advance human rights, fairness and increased prosperity for all. We’re all in this together. What would you walk across hot coals for? A cure for people, and their loved ones, who are suffering from addiction. I’ve seen first hand the pain that it’s brought to my friends and my family. What stereotypes about LGBT people annoy you most? That we all dress well and have impeccable design sense. You should see me right now! What’s your favorite LGBT movie? “Top Gun” What’s the most overrated social custom? Bathing. :) What trophy or prize do you most covet? A Golden Globe. What do you wish you’d known at 18? Don’t date actors. Or mimes. Why Los Angeles? Because it’s the most exciting and creative city in America right now filled with endless possibilities, cute boys and sunny weather. What else does one need?
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Frank DeCaro offers a peek into LA drag history An excerpt from groundbreaking new book ‘DRAG’ By FRANK DECARO
California has been called the Left Coast, the Best Coast, the Land of Fruits and Nuts, and the hottest hotbed of drag in America, and it’s all kind of true, give or take a pair of size-14 sling-backs, an economy-sized bottle of Coppertone, and a three-picture—all of them Photoshopped—deal with a major studio. From the glitteringly subversive, sex-positive hedonism of San Francisco’s hippest clubs, to the packed-to-the-rafters, if-you-shave-it-they-will-come alternative performance spaces of sunny Los Angeles, the Golden State is an almost too drag-a-licious destination. And, it has been that way, up and down the coast, since at least the early 20th century. Los Angeles “gurls,” to quote Katy Perry, “don’t mind sand in their stilettos.” As long as they look fierce, they’ll draw a crowd, especially if they’ve appeared on RuPaul’s Drag Race. The Entertainment Capital of the World is a smorgasbord of drag, feeding its creativity to—and being nourished by—the movie and TV industries. “You have club queens, comedy queens, theater queens, and even Tupperware queens here. You name it, we got it,” says Oscar Quintero, who, as his alter ego Kay Sedia, writes and performs in Chico’s Angels, a Latinx-flavored spoof of Charlie’s Angels, and sells plastic storage containers on the side. The town that, for ages, played host to An Evening at La Cage, a popular female impersonators show that drew a Hollywood clientele, continues to boast a vibrant drag scene from the girls of drag bingo at Hamburger Mary’s to the talk show Hey Qween!, a hilarious web series hosted by Big Gay Sketch Show alum Jonny McGovern and his largely fabulous cohost Lady Red Couture. Unique to Los Angeles is the fact that some of the funniest drag is performed by men who aren’t even drag queens. Crazed character actors—Tom Lenk of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and internet sensation (and Off-Broadway darling) Drew Droege among them—frequently don thrift-store attire and spout filth while playing a cracked version of The Match Game for charity at the city’s LGBTQ center. The Snatch Game has nothing on them. Others peddle their sequined papayas on a tiny stage in the basement of a Mexican restaurant called Casita Del Campo in Silver Lake. The Cavern Club Celebrity Theater—presided over by Mr. Dan, a man who was known as Gina Lotriman when he was co-hosting the legendary L.A. drag party Dragstrip 66 in the 1990s—is home to some of the most inventive drag productions in Los Angeles. These shows really put the camp in Campo. The chiquitito showplace has played host to all manner of drag over the years from a make-believe morning show presided over by a faux Juliette Lewis and Bette Midler (Chris Pudlo and Craig Taggart) to various 1980s-style extravaganzas featuring Love Connie (John Cantwell), a hairy gal whom one critic alliteratively described as a “hirsute high-kicking heroine.” Meanwhile, in a revivified downtown Los Angeles, the horror-drag of the partygiving duo the Boulet Brothers is helping to make the city a drag-lover’s paradise like no other. “I don’t really have enough objectivity to comment on the L.A. drag scene as a whole,” says Sam Pancake, a character actor whose drag antics as a very drunk Lucille Ball, an extra hot-to-trot Rue McClanahan, and a supremely pottymouthed Lisa Whelchel have made him a local favorite. “But I do know that it is high-heeling on full-speed ahead and it’s only growing and getting better, bigger, brighter, and more fantastic and creative. Dare I say it’s a Golden Age?” Dare, dare!
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Hollywood Fringe fragments lean lavender By SCOTT STIFFLER
“Dandy Darkly’s All Aboard!” rolls into town, as part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival. Photo by Atticus Stevenson
UNITING THE WORLD’S CITY THROUGH THE WORLD’S GAME. LAFC PRIDE
For more information, visit LAFC.com
Prevailing wisdom advises us never to take candy from a stranger, or accept a ride in that van with the tinted windows—but come mid-June, there are sweet rewards to be had by those who yield to temptation, when confronted by all manner of unfamiliar faces trying to pack your butt into their seat, so to speak. “I’ve seen fellow artists use music, puppets, acrobatics, all sorts of artistry to engage that one potential audience member with a pitch to see their show,” says the wildly watchable, utterly unique creation that is Dandy Darkly, of guerilla marketing efforts from Fringe Festival artists. “Beyond all the rehearsals, writing, outfits, music, and performances, you gotta hustle,” says rural north Georgia-born, Brooklyn-based Dandy, of the “egobruising affair” required for passersby to take that all-important promotional postcard or flyer, then transition from interested party to ticket-buying patron of the arts. And Dandy has earned his share of converts, in the street and on the stage. Armed with an alternately sissified and menacing performance persona, and a preternatural ability to create spoken word material that cuts to the bone, the alliteration-loving, Gothic Southern storyteller has been playing to soldout houses, and garnering accolades, at Fringe festivals throughout the world for years—most recently, premiering “Dandy Darkly’s All Aboard!” at the 2018 Edinburgh Fringe. (The show landed on theatre journal The Stage’s list of top shows from over 3,000 productions, and just won Critics’ Choice Best Show at the Orlando Fringe.) Now, Dandy brings “All Aboard!” to June 13-30’s Hollywood Fringe Festival (HFF; hollywoodfringe.org). The annual, self-identified “uncensored, open-access, community-derived event celebrating freedom of expression and collaboration in the performing arts community” is set to “infiltrate” Hollywood’s theaters, parks, clubs, churches, restaurants, “and other unexpected places.” And in a crowded field of distinct voices and unique performances, Dandy’s latest collection of macabre tales is one that merits attention—and attendance. “The show is really special to me,” Dandy says, “and I’m so proud that people are taking a chance on something that, I feel, truly represents the FRINGE.” The worldwide movement began in Edinburgh in 1947 when, Dandy recalls, “eight theatre companies arrived to a festival and were told there was no space for their work.” Undaunted, he notes, they performed nonetheless, on ‘the fringe’ of the festival,” and gave rise to a scrappy, defiant, do-it-yourself ethos that takes pride in “pushing boundaries of social commentary and offering an outsider point of view, as compared to the sometimes safer works found in larger, betterfunded venues.” It’s not just about “dressing in a fussy frock,” Dandy says. “There’s a powerful message to ‘Dandy Darkly’s All Aboard!’ — and, likewise, so many amazing performers on the circuit. It’s a delicate dance, you know, remaining true to the avant-garde ideals of the Fringe movement, while keeping audiences entertained. I work hard to keep Dandy as outsider as possible, even sometimes to the detriment of derrières through the door.” It’s worth noting that Dandy’s rebel spirit, and use of the horror genre as vehicle for truth-telling, was there from birth: His debut came in October 2010, during a variety show in the upstairs cabaret space of NYC’s Stonewall Inn. Since then, he’s been spreading his wings worldwide, while launching many of his works at Horse Trade Theater Group’s UNDER St. Marks basement theater space, in NYC’s East Village. “Part of my personal mission,” the writer/performer notes, “is incorporating an element of social and cultural commentary via my elaborate, bawdy tales.” Dandy’s third solo show (“Trigger Happy!”) explored gun violence “alongside emotional triggering, for example.” With “All Aboard!,” he aspired to create an even more ambitious canvas of contemporary issues, including “American consumerism, the South’s history of racial violence, transphobia, identity politics, and the emboldening of the radical Right”—via, he notes, a series of interwoven narratives charting the consequences experienced by those who survive a horrific Halloween night train disaster. Continues at losangelesblade.com
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After Stonewall clones, closets and codes What we put in our literal closet can liberate us from the figurative one By SCOTT STIFFLER
A work by Bill Costa, from the Leslie-Lohman collection. Registrar Branden Wallace traces the images of purity (white linen, smooth body) to the advent of AIDS and HIV. Photo courtesy of the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art
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Late June’s 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots is making this Pride month a particularly reflective one. But like a newly minted AARP member flipping through their high school yearbook, the modern gay rights movement’s “Big five-oh” moment brings, with its flood of memories, certain hard questions—not the least of which is: What possessed you to wear that? “I have, fortunately, no photos publicly available of me during my ’70s platform shoes and glitter rock period,” says Joseph Hawkins, director of the ONE National Gay and Lesbian Library and Archives at the USC Libraries, who spoke with the Blade about how the things we put in our literal closet can liberate us from the figurative one (or keep us there). “When I look at pictures of people back in the [pre-Stonewall] 1960s,” says the USC Professor of Anthropology and Gender Studies, “there was an assimilationist viewpoint, where you wanted to look like a good citizen. I think of people marching in front of the White House, where they’re dressed in their Sunday best.” “When the consequences of being an out homosexual were damaging to one’s life and career, there had to be codes to letting people know who you were,” observes registrar Branden Wallace, of NYC’s Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art. Fashion, Wallace notes, “is a way to express one’s identity, specifically, for the time after Stonewall, when you had this bursting, where queer culture could actually be visible. They took their cues from things that were going on socially, and the trends in fashion, and also developed their own.” By the late ’60s, Hawkins recalls, “there was a lot of crossover [between the counterculture and gays]—ripped Hawaiian shirts, and ripped jeans. But later, that gave way that whole ‘clone’ thing, which came as a response to the term ‘sissy.’ Even within the gay community, a sissy would be ‘too’ effeminate. In the clone movement, the gay men were going to out-butch straight men.” There was very little “humor, in these bastions of gay masculinity… 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,” recalled Gerald Busby, in a recent Blade article (“Of cowboy drag, cruising, and cocaine”) about the “cowboy” look he donned to make it past the doors of NYC’s Spike and Eagle’s Nest, during the early 1970s. “It denoted seriousness of commitment to being gay and being masculine, as well as being decisive about what kind of sex you were after,” Busby noted, of the “alignment of costume and behavior… unmistakable symbols of sexual preference, such as blue or red handkerchiefs in left or right rear pockets of jeans, to indicate top or bottom.” This exaggerated working class “clone” look, whether denim, lumberjack, or leather, Hawkins observes, was, in its own way, a “liberation ideology. Part of what allowed the sexual revolution to occur was this idea that masculinity could be a gay phenomenon. That’s what fed the ‘clone’ thing. It was a response to the idea that gay men couldn’t be masculine.” Of his above-mentioned platform shoes ’70s look, Hawkins notes he paired it with skin-tight jeans, shoulder-length hair, and “an old saddle bag I carried. I don’t remember being ‘coded,’ though.” Working in an Office of Economic Opportunity program at the time, Hawkins recalls going on a field trip to Washington, D.C., when “a guy in my group turned to me and said, ‘Oh, girl, if you’re gonna sell that merchandize, you have to advertise.’ There were certain things you wanted to do to look gay, for people to know you were gay. You could walk down the street and catch someone’s glance. That was a different kind of coding.” In the decades after Stonewall, Wallace notes, cloning reared a new head, and coding morphed with the mainstream, to the point of merger. Sporting a well-groomed, muscled, manicured look and clingy shirts meant to showcase a sculpted gym body, the “Chelsea Boy” aesthetic ruled the late 1990s and early 2000s.
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64 • JUNE 07, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Directing ‘Rocketman’ Elton John musical biopic helmed by ‘Rhapsody’ vet Dexter Fletcher By BRIAN T. CARNEY
Director Dexter Fletcher (right) on the set of ‘Rocketman’ with Matthew Illesley and Taron Egerton, who both play Elton John in the movie. Photo courtesy Paramount
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“Rocketman” director Dexter Fletcher says his new movie is “a magical musical retelling of Elton John’s formative years.” This vision of the ﬁlm guided Fletcher through many script revisions and long days on the set and resulted in an unusual cinematic experience that reimagines the Hollywood musical and the traditional biopic and that is both visually stunning and deeply moving. Fletcher, whose work as actor and director stretches back to an appearance in Alan Parker’s kiddie gangster movie “Bugsy Malone” (1976), says that his involvement in “Rocketman” was a matter of “being in the right place at the right time.” If it does well — it opened in third place in the U.S. last weekend and got largely strong reviews — it could be an interesting comeuppance for Fletcher, whose name was taboo at award season earlier this year. He took over for a ﬁred Bryan Singer on “Bohemian Rhapsody,” but Singer’s name stayed in the credits as per Directors Guild guidelines. It won four Oscars. In 2015, Fletcher (who’s straight) directed “Eddie the Eagle,” which starred Taron Egerton and was produced by his old friend Matthew Vaughn. Fletcher also knew that Vaughn was working with Egerton and Elton John on “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” (2017). “Then,” Fletcher says, “I heard on the grapevine that Matthew was thinking about Taron playing Elton and I just thought it was a genius idea. I knew Taron, I knew the kind of person he was and I knew that he could sing. And having been around for 50 years, I knew something about Elton’s life. When Matthew said come talk about it, I was ready.” When the director met with David Furnish, Elton John’s husband and a “Rocketman” producer, and screenwriter Lee Hall (“Billy Elliott”) to discuss the script, he had a revelation. “The movie should be a full-out musical.” Fletcher realized he could “use the songs to keep the ﬁlm and storytelling moving seamlessly and to create something that would genuinely explode oﬀ the screen.” Instead of restricting the songs to onstage performances, Elton John’s music would be used to tell his life story from his lonely childhood as Reginald Dwight, a musical prodigy from a broken home in 1950’s London, through his rise to international stardom as superstar Elton John to his life-saving stint in rehab in 1990. “I took the musical element and upped it by 50, 60, 70 percent,” Fletcher says. “It was a very holistic journey. It was all inspired by the script that Lee wrote and the stories that Elton told him.” Fletcher’s work on the script started by adding “The Bitch Is Back” as an opening number. Set in the London suburb where Reggie Dwight (Matthew Illesley plays Young Reggie) grew up, the brilliant choreography by Adam Murray and the stunning cinematography by George Richmond establish the blurring of reality and fantasy that will take place throughout the movie. The scene is a traditional English suburb in the 1950s, but Fletcher notes, “everything is a bit too perfect. The neighbors are all very cheery and everybody’s waving to Reggie but he sings about being a bitch. Then you have the older Elton in his devil costume in the middle of it all trying to stop it, close it down.” “I knew that dramatically, Elton considered himself to be a bitch and a bad person and he thought he’s always been that person,” Fletcher says. “It takes his journey through rehab to realize he was just a boy who wanted a hug.” Then Fletcher added the song “I Want Love” as a quartet for Reggie and his troubled family. “I got to that moment in the story and I knew I needed to hear the inner voices of these characters,” Dexter says. “That’s what the music gives us. All of the artiﬁce and all of the masks that we wear in day-to-day life fall away. The characters can sing what’s in their hearts. They all just sing about what they need, what they want. They’re family, but families don’t always work. They all want love, but they’re just all in the wrong place. There are no villains.” Fletcher’s most audacious alteration to the script was perhaps the astounding “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting.” The sequence starts with Older Reggie (Kit Connor) playing piano in a London pub. He sneaks out of the pub and into a fabulous “funfair”; in a time-honored theatrical trick, Older Reggie is transformed into Elton John (Egerton) in the middle of the number. Continues at losangelesblade.com
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66 • JUNE 07, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Gay ole’ San Francisco Out actor Murray Bartlett relishes another role in the Bay Area By BRIAN T. CARNEY
Charlie Barnett and Murray Bartlett in ‘Tales of the City.’ Photo by Alison Cohn Rosa, courtesy Netflix
OUR JUNE BOOK OF THE MONTH
Out Australian actor Murray Bartlett really did leave his heart in San Francisco. Starting in 2014, he starred in the short-lived HBO series “Looking,” which was set in the Golden Gate City. Bartlett played Dom Basaluzzo, a restaurateur who hung out with his friends Patrick (Jonathan Groff) and Agustin (Frankie J. Alvarez). Now he’s starring as Michel “Mouse” Tolliver in the Netflix limited series “Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City,” premiering today. The series is also set in San Francisco, which Bartlett says is one of the most gorgeous cities in the world. “Tales of the City” started life as a newspaper serial by Maupin in 1974. The serial was later picked up by the San Francisco Chronicle and then published as a novel in 1978. In the intervening years, Maupin added eight books to the series; the ninth and final novel, “The Days of Anna Madrigal,” was published in 2014. The wildly popular novels have been adapted into a variety of forms. The first three books were turned into three separate television series by PBS and Showtime. Jake Shears and John Garden of the rock band Scissor Sisters turned “Tales of the City” into a stage musical with a book by Jeff Whitty (“Avenue Q” and “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”). Working with a new libretto by Maupin, out composer Jake Heggie wrote “Anna Madrigal Remembers” for mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade and the choir Chanticleer. In addition, Maupin, a talented raconteur, has performed excerpts from the books with symphony orchestras and LGBT choruses. Finally, as part of the “Letter Live” series, Ian McKellen performed “Dear Mama,” the coming-out letter that “Mouse” writes to his fundamentalist mother from his hospital bed. As Bartlett explains, the new Netflix series picks up two decades after the previous “Tales of the City” miniseries and Mouse’s life has changed. “Michael is HIV-positive and he went through the AIDS crisis at its height,” Bartlett says. “He thought he was going to die and he lost a lot of friends. He was deeply affected by that; it was a transformative time.” Despite his status as a long-term survivor, Bartlett says Michael has retained his natural charm and buoyancy. “He’s got a very boyish spirit and that’s one of the things I love about him as a character,” the actor says. “He’s older and wiser and he’s definitely walked through fire, but he’s still managed to retain this beautiful kind of optimism.” Michael has also acquired a much younger boyfriend named Ben (Charlie Barnett). For fans of the books, Bartlett warns that the character of Ben in the series is somewhat different than the character in the books. “The show is not strictly based on the books, but it is definitely inspired by them,” Bartlett says. When the series opens, Michael and Ben are six months into their relationship. “The honeymoon isn’t over,” Bartlett says, “but they’re at a point in their relationship where they’re starting to look at some issues and notice their different ages. They have this deep love, but Michael is quite a bit older than Ben. We see a lot of intergenerational issues come up between them.” The new series kicks off — and these issues get highlighted — when Michael’s friend Mary Ann Singleton (Laura Linney) suddenly returns to San Francisco. She’s reunited with her ex-husband Brian (Paul Gross) and her adopted daughter Shawna (Ellen Page), as well as Anna Madrigal (Olympia Dukakis), who gently presides over the lives of the residents of the legendary apartment house at 28 Barbary Lane. Despite the pressure of playing such an iconic role, Bartlett did not do a lot of preparation before rehearsals started. “I didn’t go back and watch the previous shows. I did read the books and try to get the essence of Mouse off the page and let Armistead hand him to me. I thought I could come to him fresh and keep the essential boyishness of the character.” Since the character of Mouse is somewhat autobiographical, Bartlett admits he feels a special duty to be faithful to Armistead Maupin and his vision. “There’s a sense of responsibility,” he says, “but a wonderful sense of responsibility. I had first met Armistead on the set of ‘Looking. It’s always a joy being around him. I adore him and his books and he’s a kind of personification of his books. He’s an incredibly compassionate, loving, wonderful man with a deep understanding of human beings and what it is to be human.” Continues at losangelesblade.com
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68 • JUNE 07, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Real to Reel on Hollywood Boulevard The Hollywood Museum celebrates LGBT contributions to ﬁlm By SUSAN HORNIK
LA City Councilman for the 13th District, Mitch O’Farrell goes all out for the 7TH ANNUAL REAL to REEL Portrayals and Perceptions of LGBTQs in Hollywood. Photo by Troy Masters and courtesy Mitch O’Farrell
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To its credit, The Hollywood Museum has always welcomed the opportunity to showcase fascinating exhibitions that showcase the magic and history of Tinsel Town. Their latest annual exhibit illustrates the artistic expression and extraordinary signiﬁcance of LGBT culture and its impact in show business. The Museum, which is located in the historic Max Factor building, has been presenting the “Real to Reel: Portrayals and Perceptions of LGBTs in Hollywood” for the past seven years. “There are so many stories to be told and we enjoy sharing them from every aspect of entertainment,” Donelle Dadigan, the Museum’s president and founder, told the Los Angeles Blade. “The LGBTQ community has been such an integral part of the entertainment industry, both on and oﬀ camera. We are proud to share this journey spanning more than a 100 years.” In 2020, LA Pride will be celebrating 50 years with the Parade’s original route, starting on Hollywood Boulevard, near the Museum. With 150 props, photos, iconic imagery and costumes from LGBTQ-friendly television shows and ﬁlms like: “Grace and Frankie,” “Cruising,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Orange is the New Black,” “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” and “Cabaret,” Dadigan had numerous rainbow-inspired items to choose from. “It has been very much a collaborative eﬀort,” noted Dadigan. “For the last six years, we have teamed with our LA City Councilmember, Mitch O’Farrell’s oﬃce to organize this massive undertaking. A wish list was created and we organized, planned and then pursued each of our individual contacts in an attempt to achieve the goal of collecting items that represent all areas of the LGBTQ history.” Added O’Farrell: “Donelle is an ally, an equality champion, and a great partner in the 13th District...The annual Reel to Real exhibit provides a unique perspective on how the LGBTQ experience has been portrayed in Hollywood, from early stereotypes to modern representations. It is expertly curated with a collection not seen anywhere else, and celebrates the unrivaled contributions our community has made to the entertainment industry. I am honored to cohost the celebration at the museum to kick oﬀ Pride month.” The exhibit also includes historic LGBT moments with Rev. Troy Perry, including the Black Cat riots (1967), and on display - the infamous sign that once hung at the entrance of West Hollywood’s Barney’s Beanery. This year, numerous celebrities will be at the event, including “Grace and Frankie’s” Lily Tomlin who will be getting the Trail Blazer award. Fran Drescher will also be in attendance, with outﬁts from her show, “Happily Divorced.” part of the exhibit. Restaurateur/reality star Lisa Vanderpump (“Bravo’s “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” and “Vanderpump Rules,”) is being honored with the Hollywood Legacy award. “In celebration of June National Pride Month, I am honored to be receiving this award,” said Vanderpump. “I’ve always been a supporter and ally of the LGBTQ community and recognize that the struggle for equal rights in all corners of the corner of the globe is ongoing.” She continued: “I feel it is a responsibility for all people, gay or straight, to stand up for these rights. Love is a precious human emotion and we must never give in to hate or bigotry; always remembering that who you love should not be judged by others.” Tyler Henry, who stars on the E! Entertainment reality series, “Hollywood Medium” will be honored with the Hollywood Future award. “Being honored is really special for me; I have hoped to bring awareness around spirituality and mediumship through Hollywood since the start of my show.” Kevin Spirtas, who recently received an Emmy Award for the Outstanding Digital Daytime Drama, “After Forever,” is thrilled that clothing from the Amazon Prime web series is part of the exhibit. “It is an absolute honor that “After Forever” is included in this historic exhibit that celebrates stories and characters from the LGBTQ community...Which in turn sheds light and education, if you will, acknowledging that we are all the same and that love is love is love, no matter what your sexual orientation may be.” Continues at losangelesblade.com
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Losangelesblade.com, Volume 3, Issue 23, June 7, 2019