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04 • JUNE 14, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
American support for trans rights increases Trump still pushing incorrect data on trans military service FROM STAFF REPORTS Polling by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) released June 11 shows that 62% of Americans who were surveyed have become more supportive of transgender rights than five years ago. “About three-quarters (76%) of Democrats report they have become more supportive of transgender rights in the last five years, compared to 64% of independents and only 47% of Republicans. Notably, increased support crosses ideological divides within the parties. Conservative Republicans (40%) stand out as the only ideological group with less than half reporting increased support for transgender rights,” PRRI says. Significantly, support for military trans service increased among Republicans by 10 points in the past two years — from 37% in 2017 to 47% in 2019. Despite the polling results, President Donald Trump remains at odds with the American public as his administration faces four separate lawsuits, including one, Stockman v Trump, filed by Equality California and joined by the State of California. Trump recently explained his inaccurate
Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur announces Stockman v Trump lawsuit against the Trans military ban in 2017. Photo courtesy Equality California
position to British talk show host Piers Morgan. “You have to have a standard and you have to stick by that standard,” Trump said. “We have a great military, and I want to keep it that way. And maybe they [Transgender troops] would be phenomenal. I think they probably would be. But again, you have very strict rules and regulations on drugs and prescription drugs and all of these different things.” Incorrectly, Trump decried the costs of gender affirmation surgery for Trans servicemembers that also requires “a significant regimen of drugs for whatever reason.” He implied that the affects would
hinder military readiness and “deployability.” “President Trump’s factually incorrect defense of his transgender military ban… shows ignorance about the realities of military service and regulations, as well as a lack of knowledge of the science and medical research on transgender people,” said Aaron Belkin, Executive Director of the Palm Center at UC/ Santa Barbara. “Trump asserted falsely that active-duty servicemembers cannot take even so much as an aspirin; and he repeated the debunked canards that medical care for transgender servicemembers is unmanageably expensive and that trans troops cannot be held
to the same standards as other troops.” “What’s as crystal clear as it was in August 2017 is that the president doesn’t know the first thing about transgender healthcare or military service,” Rick Zbur, Executive Director of Equality California, told the Los Angeles Blade. “We know that’s true. The American people know that’s true. And now the president’s own Department of Defense has suggested as much. No matter how many increasingly absurd justifications the White House offers for it, the president’s ban on transgender military service remains unpatriotic, unpopular and unconstitutional.”
YouTube CEO apologizes to LGBTQ community for ‘hurtful’ decisions But anti-LGBTQ commenter’s channel remains FROM STAFF REPORTS YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki apologized to the LGBTQ community at a tech conference Monday for decisions that she acknowledged were “very hurtful to the LGBTQ community.” But the offensive conservative channel will remain up. Controversy erupted when YouTube decided that racist anti-LGBTQ attacks against Vox Media’s gay Latino journalist Carlos Maza by rightwing commentator Steven Crowder were “within the guidelines of its community standards.” “I’m really, personally very sorry,”
Wojcicki said at Recode’s annual #CodeCon in Scottsdale, Arizona when pressed by Axios trans journalist Ina Fried, The Verge reported. “YouTube has always been a home of so many LGBTQ creators, and that’s why it was so emotional….As a company we really want to support this community. It’s just from a policy standpoint we need to be consistent. If we took down that content, there would be so much other content that we need to take down.” The issue is context, Wojcicki said, citing rap videos with offensive language as an example. But the issue goes deeper than words, Maza, co-producer and co-host of Vox Media’s Strikethrough channel, told the Los Angeles Blade. For nearly two years, Maza says he’s been subjected to persistent harmful, derisive, homophobic and racist videos from Crowder and hateful comments
from Crowder’s fans. Maza produced and posted a compilation video of the smears that he sent to @ TeamYouTube “support” asserting that Crowder violated the site’s hate-speech policies. After YouTube reviewed the clips, the team told Maza that “while we found language that was clearly hurtful, the videos as posted don’t violate our policies.” YouTube announced a review of its harassment and hate speech policies and said it was demonetizing Crowder’s “Louder with Crowder” channel, which has more than 3.8 million subscribers. Crowder claimed in a follow-up video that his channel never produced revenue because of the nature of its contents. However, he advertises teeshirts that read “Socialism is for F*gs.” “Demonetizing doesn’t work,” Maza tweeted in response to YouTube’s decision.
“Abusers use it as proof they’re being ‘discriminated’ against. Then they make millions off of selling merch, doing speaking gigs, and getting their followers to support them on Patreon. The ad revenue isn’t the problem. It’s the platform.” Wojcicki told Recode that the YouTube team made the correct decision. “Steven Crowder has a lot of videos, and it took some time for us to look at that and understand it in the context of the video because context really, really matters,” The Verge reported. “We looked at a large number of these videos and we decided they were not violative of our harassment policies.” Maza responded to Wojcicki’s comments in a tweet Tuesday evening. “You’ve created a place where queer people have to pay an extra price — tolerating abuse — just to speak up,” he wrote.
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06 • JUNE 14, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Lieu ready for another attempt at federal ban on ‘conversion therapy’ Congressman hosts UCLA panel to denounce debunked practice By AUSTIN MENDOZA Rep. Ted Lieu hosted a roundtable at the UCLA School of Law on June 6 with advocates, mental health experts and survivors of LGBTQ “conversion therapy” to discuss the devastating impact of the fraudulent practice. Lieu intends to reintroduce the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act, legislation he first introduced in 2015, that would enact a blanket federal ban on the harmful commercial promise to “convert” LGBT people into heterosexuals. Lieu was inspired to fight for a “conversion therapy” ban after seeing a documentary on the infamous “Sissy Boy” experiment. As a California State Senator, he described the fraudulent practice as “psychological child abuse” and authored and passed the first prohibition in 2012. That legislation has since served as a model for similar bans in 18 states and numerous municipalities. The Williams Institute estimates that 698,000 LGBT adults in the U.S. have received “conversion therapy,” 350,000 of whom suffered the experience as adolescents. Most medical and psychological professional associations strongly oppose “conversion therapy” as illegitimate. Lieu was optimistic that the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act can garner bipartisan support, pointing to the bipartisan backing for the Equality Act, the LGBT civil rights bill that passed the current Democraticcontrolled House. “Like any other institution, the [Republican-controlled] Senate responds to public sentiment. If people rise up and say this is evil and wrong, [the Senate] could pass it,” he said. Casey Pick, a Senior Research Fellow for Advocacy and Government Affairs at the Trevor Project, noted that of the 18 states where bipartisan bans have been enacted, seven were signed into law by Republican governors. “The Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act, by declaring conversion therapy to be the
From left: Jocelyn Samuels, executive director of the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law; Kate McCobb, ‘conversion therapy’ survivor; U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu; James Guay, marriage and family therapist, ‘conversion therapy’ survivor; Casey Pick, Senior Fellow for Advocacy and Government Affairs at the Trevor Project Photo by Austin Mendoza
harmful and wholly ineffective fraud that it is, elevates the conversation to another level. Most importantly, this bill tells LGBTQ youth across the country that their sexual orientation and gender identity is real and should be protected under the law,” said Pick. “If enacted, this bill would protect thousands of people across the country, and make clear that a person’s protection against this harmful therapy should not depend on where they live,” said Jocelyn Samuels, Executive Director of the Williams Institute at UCLA. But, Samuels noted, there are “increasing threats in the courts.” Protecting the bans “is vitally important.” Additionally, states with bans often carve out exceptions, exclusions for religious or spiritual advisors, leaving an estimated 57,000 LGBTQ youth nationwide vulnerable to “conversion” counseling. “Issues around conversion therapy come up regularly in conversation with youth who
contact us, as often as weekly,” said Pick. “Our records show that in recent years, hundreds of contacts have reached out to the Trevor Project expressing specific concerns about conversion therapy, and related terms have appeared on our text-based platforms with disturbing frequency.” Despite the LGBT progress, “we still receive people who come in seeking services as a result of the barbaric and inhumane treatment that they experienced at the hands of someone practicing conversion therapy,” said Terra Russell Slavin, Director of Policy and Community Building at the Los Angeles LGBT Center. “The trauma is not being LGBT, it’s being rejected and being put through conversion therapy.” Mathew Shurka, Co-Founder of “Born Perfect: Ending Conversion Therapy,” experienced “conversion therapy” from ages 16 to 21, after a licensed professional told his loving father that homosexuality did not exist and was created by the trauma of
being too close to female family members. “They believe that trauma is the source of anything LGBTQ, and that if you can treat the trauma, you can stop the samesex attraction,” Shurka said, noting that the therapist exacerbated his three-year separation from his mother and sisters. “It had a massive impact on my life and relationships with them.” Kate McCobb said her California-licensed psychotherapist “focused immediately on repressed sexual abuse,” though there was none. “First it was about convincing me that I was traumatized, and then about me recovering from my trauma.” Duped, McCobb started dating men. “I was told that if I stopped dating women, my attraction to them would eventually subside. I was also told that all romantic interactions I’d ever had with women were a re-enacting of childhood abuse, and that was the last thing I’d want to do to another person,” she said. McCobb quit the “therapy,” moved to Oregon and worked with the National Center for Lesbian Rights to take legal action against the therapist. “It took me a little while to realize that what I’d gone through was conversion therapy, but once I did, I was angry,” McCobb said. James Guay, a marriage and family therapist, and “conversion therapy” survivor, explained the fraudulence as convincing participants that they’re “actually straight, but haven’t yet reached their heterosexual or cisgender potential,” finding an often fabricated root cause or implanting false memories and conflating gender identity and sexual orientation. “A rejection of self is at the core of what creates these [mental health] problems for people in conversion therapy. When we are taught to limit our natural expression and humanity, it produces all sorts of symptoms,” said Guay. The Center’s Terra Russell Slavin said passage of the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act is essential to the LGBTQ community. “If we are truly, as a community, going to thrive as healthy, equal, and complete,” Slavin said, “conversion therapy” as a recognized practice “needs to stop - and it needs to stop now.”
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08 • JUNE 07, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Will Trump’s latest jaw-dropper be a shrug or help Democrats? Commander-in-chief is OK taking oppo research from an adversary By KAREN OCAMB firstname.lastname@example.org “Russia, if you’re listening….,” Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said in a solicitation for campaign help heard around the world. He appeared to have received it, which prompted the two-year investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election to benefit the reality TV star. Special Counsel Robert Mueller accepted the premise of a Justice Department memo that a sitting president cannot be indicted while in office and concluded that while he could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Trump knew that accepting anything of value from a foreign government is against the law, there is sufficient evidence that the Russian government interfered in a “sweeping and systemic fashion” to elect Trump. Evidence of duplicity concocted to conceal the Trump campaign’s desire to get “dirt” on opponent Hillary Clinton at a Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer is apparently insufficient to prove intent and foreknowledge of wrongdoing. But surely, out MSNBC host Rachel Maddow sarcastically opined on June 12, Trump knows now that accepting foreign assistance is illegal. The unvetted assistance could be a Trojan Horse hiding the foreign entity’s agenda of destabilizing the US government, its institutions and creating a useful secret asset. If that was Russia’s intent, mission accomplished. America’s in a constitutional crisis with citizens being constantly told by Trump not to trust the FBI, the media (“Fake News”), or any source of information, other than him and his tweets, which are now considered policy statements. Meanwhile, as of March, the U.S. debt to China is $1.12 trillion, an estimated 28% of the $4.07 trillion held by foreign countries, according to thebalance.com. With Trump’s imposition of punishing tariffs on China—
which are actually hurting the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach—China and Russia have suddenly become close allies. If Trump goes through with his threats of levying tariffs against America’s biggest trading partner, Mexico, the Southern California region recently flipped from red to blue will be economically devastated. But what Maddow was dumb-founded about was ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos’ jaw-dropping interview with Trump in the Oval Office earlier in the day. Stephanopoulos asked if Trump would accept opposition research on his 2020 opponent offered by a foreign government. “I think you might want to listen, there isn’t anything wrong with listening,” Trump said. “If somebody called from a country, Norway, [and said] ‘we have information on your opponent’ — oh, I think I’d want to hear it.” Trump disputed that such information could be construed as interference in the democratic electoral process. “It’s not an interference, they have information—I think I’d take it,” Trump said. “If I thought there was something wrong, I’d go maybe to the FBI -- if I thought there was something wrong.” But, Trump said, everyone does oppo research. “The FBI doesn’t have enough agents to take care of it,” he said. “You don’t call the FBI. You throw somebody out of your office, you do whatever you do.” Stephanopoulos noted that FBI Director Christopher Wray said campaigns should report suspected interference. “I think my view is that if any public official or member of any campaign is contacted by any nation-state or anybody acting on behalf of a nation-state about influencing or interfering with our election, then that is something that the FBI would want to know about,” Wray told a May 7 Senate hearing. “The FBI director is wrong,” Trump scoffed. “Give me a break. Life doesn’t work like that.” The reaction was fast and furious. Some noted that Trump publicly and unabashedly just put a “For Sale” sign on his forehead. Others quipped this was “Russia, if you’re listening,” part two. House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam B. Schiff, former federal prosecutor
who just returned to D.C. from the LA Pride parade to start holding hearings into the Mueller Report, told CNN a change in the campaign laws is needed “to deter the kind of unethical unpatriotic conduct the president engaged in the last campaign and is completely willing to do all over again. He learned nothing.” Schiff isn’t playing. As an assistant U.S. Attorney based in LA back in the day, Schiff prosecuted a case against former FBI agent Richard Miller who was convicted on Schiff’s third attempt in 1990 of “passing secret documents to the Soviet Union in exchange for a promised $65,000 in gold and cash,” according to the LA Times. Schiff said he is running out of patience with the Justice Department and might subpoena the FBI for information. “The FBI has an obligation by the National Security Act to brief us on a recent counterintelligence matter. If there are ongoing counterintelligence investigations involving people around the president, they must inform us,” Schiff told reporters after his Intelligence Committee hearing on the Mueller report. “What Donald Trump said is unAmerican, unpatriotic, and unbelievable,” Rep. Ted Lieu said on MSNBC. Lieu sits on the House Judiciary Committee and was asked if Trump’s admission that he would violate the law would galvanize the movement to hold Impeachment hearings, for which he has already voiced support. The former active duty officer Air Force JAG officer, now a Colonel in the Reserves seemed to back the slow, methodical evidentiary hearing approach advocated by Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “The eyes of the nation tonight must look to Nancy Pelosi,” former Florida Republican Congress member David Jolly told MSNBC anchor Brian Williams, after tweeting that Trump’s comments are an “impeachable moment.” To be sure, the pressure to start impeachment hearings piled on Pelosi as the day and night wore on. And surely, the first question asked at the first Democratic Party debates on June 26 and 27 will pertain to impeachment and the Mueller report, which now even out Fox News anchor Shepard Smith has encouraged his fans to read, noting “10 instances of apparent obstruction of justice.”
“Remember, in his 400-plus page report that everyone in America should read — everyone — Robert Mueller laid out 10 instances of apparent obstruction of justice, criminal obstruction of justice, potentially, by President Trump,” Smith told his audience. “The special counsel did not exonerate the president. Said if they could’ve they would’ve, but they couldn’t so they didn’t.” Of the many reasons Pelosi and others have cited for her cagey methodical approach to exposing Trump’s corruption and criminality is the fact that it is the Speaker’s job to protect the House majority. She is keenly aware that many Democrats are more moderate than the louder progressives, including the newly elected Democrats from the red-flipped-to-blue Southern California region. Many of those areas — such as the closely won district represented by out bisexual Rep. Katie Hill — are also populated with residents who have a profound red respect for the military and the idea of law and order. It would be an ironic twist if they, too, start to consider Trump’s comments un-American, unpatriotic and a disgrace to all the cold warriors who sacrificed to keep Russia and China at bay. But there is another below the radar issue that’s causing concern. Some politics fear that so much attention and money will go to ousting Trump and funding favorite Democratic presidential candidates that funding and volunteers will dry up for those incredibly important California congressional re-election races. Equality California has already endorsed the seven new incumbents and one challenger in 2020 battleground Congressional districts: Rep. Josh Harder (CA-10), Rep. TJ Cox (CA-21), Rep. Katie Hill (CA-25), Rep. Gil Cisneros (CA-39), Rep. Katie Porter (CA-45), Rep. Harley Rouda (CA48), Rep. Mike Levin (CA-49) and Ammar Campa-Najjar (CA-50). “Protecting and expanding our proequality majority in the House is critical
Continues on page 14
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
10 • JUNE 14, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
LA Pride thrills
The positive, non-political parade celebrates LGBTQ life, love By KAREN OCAMB email@example.com Hundreds of rainbow-colored balloons adorned the route down Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood for the Christopher Street West LA Pride Parade on June 9. And none of those balloons looked like Donald Trump. Despite the administration’s middle finger to the LGBT community, LA Pride organizers emphasized community unity and the constitutional right to pursue pride and joy. There are no official numbers of turnout this year – apparently the West Hollywood Sheriff’s station helicopter was otherwise engaged. But to the casual observer, the two-day Festival, featuring headliners Paula Abdul, Todrick Hall, Pabllo Vittar, and Megan Trainor, among others, and the fast-
moving, three hour-plus colorful parade seemed massive. “I would not be anywhere without this community. The love and support you’ve given me leaves me breathless,” Abdul told her fans. Led by CSW Executive Director Madonna Cacciatore and President Estevan Montemayor, LA Pride honored Community Grand Marshal Phill Wilson, Celebrity Grand Marshal Ryan O’Connell, and the LA LGBT Center, celebrating its 50th anniversary, as Organizational Grand Marshal. For the first time, the parade was broadcast and live-streamed by KABC7 and, for apparently the first time, LA Pride consciously included and gave visibility to the disabled community. “It’s so amazing to have disability finally be a part of the conversation. Being gay and disabled, stories like mine don’t often get told so it means a lot to be at the forefront and celebrating with you this year,” said O’Connell, the funny star of the Netflix show “Special,” who has cerebral palsy. LA Mayor Eric Garcetti marched with LAPD
Chief Michel Moore, noting that the police raids against the Black Cat Tavern in Silver Lake were two years before the Stonewall Rebellion and now the police chief is walking in the Pride parade with the mayor. Chief Moore also donned a Disney Pride sticker, as well. But it was no match for the Pride Patch officially authorized by LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva to “honor LGBTQ Pride Month and to raise funds for programs that service homeless youth in the community,” @LASDHQ said in a tweet. A slew of elected officials and political groups such as Stonewall Democratic Club and Equality California participated but the only really political statement, per se, was from TransLatin@ Coalition whose founder, Bamby Salcedo, wore an orange jail jump suit, followed by a makeshift jail cell and a large contingent condemning ICE detention centers and highlighting the deaths of trans women who died in ICE custody. Salcedo’s sign called attention to the nine black trans women have been murdered in 2019. At a news conference before the march, Rep. Adam Schiff, Chair of the House
Intelligence Committee, said: “The march towards full equality for all LGBTQ people has been steady, albeit all too slow. We must keep marching forward for the transgender service member whose courage has been called into question, LGBTQ migrants seeking asylum at our borders...and for so many who are counting on us to speak up.” Watching over the parade was Metropolitan Community Church Founder Rev. Troy Perry, co-founder of Christopher Street West with the late Gay Liberation Front leader Morris Kight and the late homeless advocate, Rev. Bob Humphries. At Perry’s side was his husband and fellow marriage equality advocate Phillip De Blieck. “Pride means everything to me,” Perry told the Los Angeles Blade. “We were the first gay pride parade in the world. New York had a demonstration, nothing wrong with that – but we sued the city and had a parade.” This year, Perry was delighted at the participation of “young people [who ought] to be a part of the struggle and this fight too.” – Austin Mendoza contributed to this story.
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • JUNE 14, 2019 • 11
LASD Deputies Elizabeth Castro and Aston Guasfall hand out trans flags Photo by Karen Ocamb
Bamby Salcedo, leading the TransLatin@ Coalition contingent against ICE Photo by Karen Ocamb
Lt. Tonia Martinez thanks Sheriff Alex Villanueva for Pride Patch
CSW Executive Director Madonna Cacciatore and President Estevan Montemayor with singer Paula Abdul
Photo by Karen Ocamb
Photo by Chris Tuite
Rep. Adam Schiff
Rev. Troy Perry and husband Phillip De Blink
Photo by Karen Ocamb
Photo by Karen Ocamb
12 • JUNE 14, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Bregeet Kennedy, 58, says: “We’re not going back, we’re going to vote.”
Jorge’s family is letting him be who he wants to be
Photo by Karen Ocamb
Photo by Troy Masters
The Los Angeles LGBT Center, led by CEO Lorri Jean, is celebrating its 50th anniversary Photo by Karen Ocamb
MAC was a major sponsor of LA Pride Photo by Karen Ocamb
Nico Jimenez, 16, says it all
Verizon was a major sponsor of LA Pride
Photo by Karen Ocamb
Photo by Karen Ocamb
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14 • JUNE 07, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Trump’s latest outrage: Will it help Democrats?
Reps. Harley Rouda, Katie Hill, candidate Ammar Campa-Najjar, Reps. Mike Levin, Katie Porter and Gil Cisneros Photo by Karen Ocamb
Continued from page 8 for the LGBTQ community and our allies,” Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur said in a press release. “While the House was passing historic nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ Americans this month, the Trump-
Pence Administration spent the last month attacking LGBTQ healthcare and trying to kick LGBTQ people out of homeless shelters. The choice for pro-equality voters couldn’t be clearer. Each of these seven incumbents has been an invaluable partner in the fight for full, lived LGBTQ equality, and we can’t wait to have Ammar join them in 2021.” Campa-Najjar came so close to defeating
mega-anti-LGBT hater Rep. Duncan Hunter in 2018 there are high hopes for him again. Those hopes increased on June 12 when Hunter’s wife Margaret, who he threw under the bus when they were indicted on multiple felony campaign violations, withdrew her not guilty plea and is expected to testify against her husband. But whichever way the political winds
blow as the Democrats continue to deliberate over what to do with Trump and Trump continues his impervious bluster – the LGBT community will continue to assert itself in the march to June 28, the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion. And maybe, just maybe, another notch will be carved in the collective unconscious for LGBT visibility to survive past Pride Month.
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16 • JUNE 14, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Broadway’s showy awards gala usually has a gay-overlay. But the 73rd Annual Tony Awards show on June 9 oozed rainbow colors commemorating Pride month, from the ﬂoral spectacle displacing the ordinary “red carpet” entrance to New York City’s Radio City Music Hall to The Prom’s live televised lesbian kiss, to Pose star and Tony winner Billy Porter slaying the night in a vibrant suit-skirt made from a Kinky Boots curtain and delivering an extraordinary performance during a CBS commercial break, posted later on YouTube. “For anyone at home who is a latecomer A scene from Verizon’s campaign, ‘It’s never too late for love to call back.’ who is just now tuning in, yes, these are the Tony Awards, and you are, in fact, gay,” gay presenter Ben Platt said, imitating Captain Obvious. For gays of a certain age, the Best Revival of a Play win for The Boys in the Band was goose-bump inspiring. Mart Crowley, 83, a former West Hollywood resident in Laurel Avenue’s historic district, emotionally dedicated the award to the “original cast of nine brave men” in 1968, before Stonewall. But it was a Verizon Pride ad that brought out the tissues. “It’s never too late for love to call back” is the tagline for a series of vignettes featuring four real families who struggled with someone coming out. Verizon partnered with PFLAG to get the story right – the terror of coming out, breaking the news and getting the feared rejection. But this time, there’s a second chance and the families reunite in love and acceptance. It served as a positive reality-check to the over-the-top world where LGBTs are embraced as irreplaceable creators. – Karen Ocamb
“It has long been my privilege to support the HIV/AIDS and the LGBTQ+ communities…. So, to be honored in this way tonight is extremely humbling.” – Veteran actress and LGBT/AIDS icon/ally Judith Light accepting the Tony Award’s Isabelle Stevenson Award for her contributions to humanitarian causes.
“As we also mark LGBTQ Pride Month as well as Gun Violence Prevention Month, we honor the memories of those we lost in Orlando three years ago by acting boldly and decisively to put an end to the hate and bloodshed.” – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on June 12 commemorating the 3rd anniversary of the shooting at the gay night club Pulse in Orlando, Fla.
“What stuck out to me was that we found 39% of respondents said they’d seriously considered suicide in the past year.” - Trevor Project research director Amy Green to Fortune about their new LGBT mental health survey.
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18 • JUNE 14, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Former Log Cabin leader lobbies against Equality Act Angelo says bill ‘includes no reasonable exemptions for religious liberty’ By CHRIS JOHNSON As much of Washington was preparing to celebrate Pride last week, a gay activist who formerly headed Log Cabin Republicans took it upon himself to lobby Senate Republicans on legislation seeking to ban anti-LGBT discrimination known as the Equality Act. But he was lobbying against passage of the bill, not for it. Gregory Angelo, a gay conservative who has advocated for LGBT rights but has also praised President Trump, said in an interview with the Blade the Equality Act isn’t the right vehicle to achieve long-sought LGBT non-discrimination protections under federal law. “The Equality Act includes no reasonable exemptions for religious liberty and actually moves the goalposts so far to the left that it runs counter to the types of legislation that gay Republicans have sought for decades, particularly the Employment NonDiscrimination Act,” Angelo said. As it was introduced in Congress and recently approved by the U.S. House under a new Democratic majority, the Equality Act would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to clarify discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is a form of sex discrimination. As such, the Equality Act would institute the same kind of religious exemption for anti-LGBT discrimination as currently is in place for discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex and national origin. A pastor wouldn’t be penalized for declining to perform a same-sex wedding, nor would churches be penalized as a public accommodation for refusing to admit LGBT parishioners. But it does mean religious affiliated schools would face penalties for refusing to admit LGBT students or terminating the employment of a teacher who entered into a same-sex wedding; Catholic adoption agencies could see their access to federal
Gregory Angelo said the Equality Act isn’t the right vehicle to achieve LGBT non-discrimination protections under federal law. Blade file photo by Michael Key
funds cut for denying child placement into LGBT homes; and Catholic hospitals would be required to perform gender reassignment surgery if they offer similar procedures. Further, the Equality Act would expand the definition of public accommodations under the Civil Rights Act to include retail stores, services such as banks and legal services, and transportation services. Under the Equality Act, Jack Phillips, the Colorado baker who owns Masterpiece Cakeshop, would face penalties under federal law for his refusal to make wedding cakes for samesex couples. On top of all that, the Equality Act would clarify the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a federal law intended to protect religious minorities, wouldn’t be an excuse to engage in anti-LGBT discrimination. Angelo said a few years ago during his time at Log Cabin Republicans, former Rep. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania, who was considered a pro-LGBT Republican, met with the organization to discuss concerns about the narrow religious exemption in the Equality Act and “the many reasons why… the legislation was problematic.” Angelo said he and the board agreed with Dent’s conclusion. During Angelo’s tenure at Log Cabin
Republicans, the organization opposed the Equality Act, calling it a cudgel to beat up vulnerable Republicans instead of a genuine means of advancing LGBT rights. Republicans, Log Cabin said, were damned if they supported the bill and damned if they didn’t. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the group pointed out, criticized former Rep. Bob Dold of Illinois when he became one of the few Republicans to co-sponsor the bill. But there was no real prospect of the Equality Act advancing with Republicans in control of both chambers of Congress. Things have changed now with Democrats in control of the House. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) made passage of the bill a personal goal and the chamber approved the legislation in May just before Pride month and the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. With the Equality Act having momentum, Angelo said he perceived no structured opposition from gay conservatives any longer and took it upon himself to take a stand. The first order of businesses was writing an oped for the Washington Examiner — a piece he echoed when speaking with the Blade. “Throughout my entire career, advocating for LGBT equality, especially during the time that I was advocating among Republicans in
the New York State Senate to pass marriage equality in the run up to the Supreme Court’s DOMA decision in 2013, and in the run up to the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision in 2015, my message and the message of gay conservative advocates around the country was the same: Passage of marriage equality would be no threat to you, your family, not your faith,” Angelo said. “And what the Equality Act does is make liars out of the lot of us.” Writing this Washington Examiner piece at a time when 30 states have either no or incomplete protections against LGBT discrimination, Angelo said he was resoundingly criticized, even hectored. One social media troll, Angelo said, told him he should kill himself. But Angelo also said he received some positive response. Subsequently, Angelo took to social media to gather signatures of other gay conservatives for a letter in opposition to the legislation. The list of more than 100 people includes Chad Felix Greene, a writer for the Federalist, former GOProud board chair Chris Barron, and David Lampo, a gay Republican who supported President Trump in the 2016 election. Angelo then delivered the missive on Friday to a legislative aide to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). The two, Angelo said, had a “very encouraging conversation” in McConnell’s Capitol Hill office. “At this juncture, I’m not going to talk about personal conversations that I’ve had with Senate leadership, but I will share that I most definitely did not leave that meeting disappointed,” Angelo said. McConnell’s office didn’t respond to a request to confirm the meeting took place, nor if any commitments were made. A McConnell spokesperson previously said the Equality Act isn’t on the legislative agenda for the Republican-controlled Senate. Angelo said he was aware he was arguing against LGBT rights during Pride month, a time when the LGBT community seeks to draw attention to the continued absence of federal non-discrimination protections for LGBT people, but that did “not at all” give him pause. Continues at losangelesblade.com
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20 • JUNE 14, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Beto O’Rourke has unveiled his 2020 LGBT agenda. Photo by Gage Skidmore via Flickr
O’Rourke unveils LGBT policy proposal Democratic 2020 hopeful Beto O’Rourke made a bid for LGBT support Wednesday with a policy plan that seeks to advance LGBT rights and takes shots at the Trump administration’s attempts to undermine them. After more than two years of reversals on LGBT rights under President Trump, O’Rourke proposes a way forward that emphasizes both use of executive authority and a call for legislative action. “LGBTQ+ Americans have made incredible progress over the past decade, thanks in large part to the tireless efforts of activists and advocates — but too many LGBTQ+ people still lack protection under many states’ laws and the current administration is encouraging rather than stamping out discrimination,” O’Rourke said in a statement. “We must ensure all Americans are treated equally no matter who they are or who they love.” The plan breaks down the O’Rourke proposal to advance LGBT rights into three categories: Executive authority, calls for legislative action and strengthening LGBT rights globally. Through executive action, O’Rourke pledges to reverse Trump’s transgender military ban; assert laws barring sex discrimination cover anti-LGBT discrimination and undo reversals to Obamacare regulations ensuring transgender people have access to transition-related care, including gender reassignment surgery. Taking special note of ongoing violence against transgender people, particularly transgender women of color, O’Rourke says he’ll direct the Justice Department to investigate crimes against transgender people and ensure law enforcement agencies have adequate training “related to implicit bias, use of force and accurately reporting the gender of victims.” O’Rourke also proposes through executive action tasking the Federal Trade Commission with tackling false advertising that promotes widely discredited conversion therapy; creating an interagency task force on LGBT non-discrimination; and adding LGBT questions to the U.S. Census. Under the section devoted to his legislative agenda, O’Rourke highlights the Equality Act to prohibit antiLGBT discrimination, ensuring LGBT people have access to health care through a universal health care system and LGBT-inclusive reform of the criminal justice system. Finally, in the section devoted to international LGBT rights, O’Rourke pledges to improve the process for LGBT asylum seekers, secure a global treaty explicitly protecting LGBT people from persecution and reestablish the U.S. special envoy for LGBT rights abroad. The proposal is consistent with O’Rourke’s tenure as a member of Congress, when he supported LGBT rights during each of his three terms representing Texas’ 16th congressional district, as well as his remarks at a recent town hall in Alexandria, Va., where he spoke in favor of the Equality Act. O’Rourke is competing for the Democratic nomination to challenge President Trump in the 2020 election amid a sea of other Democrats who have pledged to advance LGBT rights, including former Vice President Joseph Biden, who pledged to make the Equality Act his No. 1 priority, and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), who similarly unveiled a comprehensive LGBT plan. CHRIS JOHNSON
Actress Indya Moore seen here in a screenshot was shoved by a Trump supporter.
‘Pose’s’ Indya Moore has altercation with Trump supporter “Pose” star Indya Moore ended up in a physical altercation with a Trump supporter holding a “Re-elect Donald Trump, Keep America Great, 2020” sign across from Trump Tower in New York City on Friday. Dion Cini was holding the sign during a demonstration with other Trump supporters. In a video that captures the conflict, Moore is seen stepping on Cini’s sign. Cini tries to take the sign away from Moore and shoves the transgender actress a couple of times. A couple of other people intervene to stop Cini’s attempts before police end the scuffle. “Well, you guys aren’t fans of our show, and we don’t want you to be fans of our show,” Moore can be heard saying to Cini. The police tell Moore, “You could’ve died for Trump. He could’ve stabbed you.” Moore seemed to address the situation later on Twitter writing, “Thank you for loving my community, fighting for us, supporting us fight for ourselves and others who are experiencing an increase of oppression and violence under this current administration.” MARIAH COOPER
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22 • JUNE 14, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Report highlights status of LGBT rights in U.S. territories Lambda Legal and the Movement Advancement Project on Tuesday released a new report that documents the status of LGBT rights in five U.S. territories. The report ranks Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands on a variety of issues that include relationship recognition, nondiscrimination laws and whether transgender people can change the gender on their identity documents. The report also ranks the territories on health care and criminal justice policies. Same-sex couples can legally marry in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. Puerto Rico has the highest ranking of the five territories with a 21.75 out of a possible 40.5 points. The U.S. commonwealth bans employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Puerto Rico’s hate crimes and anti-bullying laws are also LGBT-inclusive and trans people can legally change the gender on their birth certificates and other ID documents. The report places Puerto Rico in the “high” category along with 17 states and D.C., even though activists with whom the Blade has spoken maintain LGBT Puerto Ricans became even more vulnerable to violence and discrimination after Hurricane Maria devastated the island in 2017. The report also ranks the Virgin Islands, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and American Samoa in the “low” category. Guam has an overall tally of seven out of 40.5 points. The island bans employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Guam’s antibullying laws also cover LGBT students. The Virgin Islands has an overall tally of 5.5 out of 40.5 points. The territory allows second-parent adoption for same-sex couples. The Virgin Islands’ hate crimes and anti-bullying laws include sexual orientation and gender identity. The territory also bans discrimination against LGBT government employees. American Samoa has an overall tally of 1.5 out of 40.5 points. The Northern Mariana Islands, which has an overall tally of .5 out of 40.5 points, bans discrimination against government employees based on sexual orientation. “There is progress happening in territories and there is fertile ground for more progress to happen,” MAP Policy Research Director Naomi Goldberg told the Blade on June 7 during a telephone interview. “There is an investment that we need to be making to further that progress on the ground by helping folks on the ground.” The report states more than 3.5 million people live in the five territories, with the vast majority of them living in Puerto Rico. It also notes Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands are part of the federal court system. “The political status and the relationship within the U.S. filters into any constitutional case about rights in the territories,” Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, a staff attorney for Lambda Legal, told the Blade last week during a telephone interview. “The judges are mindful of that.” This ambiguity came into sharp focus during the fight to secure marriage rights for same-sex couples throughout the U.S. Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands both fall under the jurisdiction of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The 9th Circuit in October 2014 struck down same-sex marriage bans in Idaho and Nevada. The first samesex couple legally married in Guam on June 9, 2015, after a federal judge struck down the island’s law that defined marriage as between a man and a woman. The government of the Northern Mariana Islands only allowed same-sex couples to marry after the U.S. Supreme Court on June 26, 2015, issued its ruling in the Obergefell case. Then-Virgin Islands Gov. Kenneth Mapp on July 9, 2015, signed an executive order that required officials to allow same-sex couples to legally marry. Gays and lesbians have been able to tie the knot in Puerto Rico since July 17, 2015. U.S. District Court Judge Juan Pérez-Giménez on March 8, 2016, said the ruling in the Obergefell case does not apply to Puerto Rico because it is not a state, even though the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals previously declared the island’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional. The 1st Circuit and a federal judge later upheld their previous decisions. MICHAEL K. LAVERS
Botswana court decriminalizes homosexuality Botswana’s High Court this week issued a ruling that decriminalized consensual same-sex sexual relations in the African country. The Associated Press reported the court unanimously ruled sections of the Batswana penal code that criminalized homosexuality with up to seven years in prison were unconstitutional. Activists were inside the courtroom when the three judges issued their ruling. “It has taken a long time for our community to be where it is,” said Anna Mmolai-Chalmers, chief executive officer of Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LeGaBiBo), a Batswana LGBTI advocacy group, in a press release. “This incredibly life-changing decision, although it does not right all the wrongs done to individual members of the LGBT community, is a step towards restoring our dignity as human beings.” Advocacy groups in the U.S. and around the world also praised the ruling. “Today’s historic decision by Botswana’s High Court puts an end to a law that discriminated against and violated the most fundamental human rights of an entire group of people,” said Human Rights Campaign Director of Global Partnerships Jean Freedberg in a statement. Richard Grenell, the openly gay U.S. ambassador to Germany who has been tapped to lead a Trump administration initiative that urges countries to decriminalize consensual same-sex sexual relations, also praised the ruling. “The U.N. Declaration of Human Rights is clear that criminalizing homosexuality is in direct violation of U.N. principles,” tweeted Grenell after the court announced its decision. “This is good news.” The Botswana High Court issued its ruling less than a month after Kenya’s High Court upheld the constitutionality of the country’s colonial-era sodomy law. Angola, Mozambiqueand São Tomé and Principe are among the African countries that have decriminalized consensual same-sex sexual relations in recent years. “For far too long, people entering same-sex relationships in Botswana were discriminated against by the very same laws that are supposed to protect them,” said Amnesty International Deputy Director for Southern Africa Muleya Mwananyanda on Tuesday. “This court decision marks an exciting new era of acceptance, which should inspire other African countries to follow suit.” MICHAEL K. LAVERS
Puerto Rico House approves ‘religious freedom’ bill The Puerto Rico House of Representatives this week approved a religious freedom bill that critics contend would allow discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. El Nuevo Día, a Puerto Rican newspaper, reported Rep. María Milagros Charbonier of the New Progressive Party, a pro-statehood party that Gov. Ricardo Rosselló chairs, said the bill “is not a discriminatory law.” “It protects against discrimination,” said Charbonier. Rosselló in April announced the introduction of the religious freedom bill. San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, who is running for governor, in a tweet described the measure’s passage as “shameful.” U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) also criticized the bill. “Religious freedom cannot be used as an excuse to discriminate against the LGBTQ+ community,” tweeted Warren. “Everyone deserves to live and love freely — no exceptions.” The religious freedom bill’s passage coincides with the release of a new report from Lambda Legal and the Movement Advancement Project that indicates Puerto Rico has made the most progress on LGBT rights than four other U.S. territories surveyed. Activists in Puerto Rico with whom the Washington Blade has spoken maintain LGBT Puerto Ricans are even more vulnerable to discrimination and violence since Hurricane Maria devastated the island on Sept. 20, 2017. MICHAEL K. LAVERS
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24 • JUNE 14, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
VOLUME 03 ISSUE 24
Proud to keep Judy Garland’s legacy alive Still an icon, 50 years after her death
Kathi Wolfe, a writer and a poet, is a regular contributor to the Blade.
A few years ago on Christmas Eve, my family and I watched “Meet Me in St. Louis,” the vibrant, charming 1944 musical starring Judy Garland, on TV. “Play it again!” my four-year-old cousin said as the movie ended. Pointing to Garland, she said, “I want to hear the Happy Lady again!” I’ve been thinking about Garland recently. I’m wishing her happy birthday as I write! (She was born on June 10, 1922.) Later this month, I’ll raise a glass in her honor on the day of her death. (Garland died on June 22, 1969.) There have been many stars and popular entertainers. But few have been as beloved or legendary as Garland. Fifty years after her death, she remains iconic, especially to the queer community. Even in the age of Lady Gaga, Garland is still on the radar. Rufus Wainwright has recreated Garland’s fabulous 1961 Carnegie Hall concert “Judy.” A biopic starring Renee Zellweger about Garland’s last days, will be released in September. Whether you’re eight or 80, queer or straight, you’ve likely been bewitched by “The Wizard of Oz” or shed tears over “A Star is Born.” When I was a kid, my Dad would wake me up to watch Garland talk to Jack Paar on TV. “She’s the greatest there’s ever been,” my father would say, “you can’t stop
Photo by Richard Avedon/Courtesy Wikimedia
watching her even when she’s just talking.” Knowing what we know about Garland’s personal problems – from bad marriages to illnesses to struggles with drug addiction – it can be too easy to see her only as a tragic figure, to forget how incredibly talented she was and how much she accomplished in her short life. “Judy had a prescription drug problem. She worked for years but had nothing to show for it in her 40s,” John Fricke, author of the “The Wonderful World of Oz: An Illustrated History of the American Classic,” told me in a phone interview.
But as her daughter Lorna Luff has said, tragic things happened to her mom, but her mother wasn’t a tragedy, Fricke said. In addition to making records and performing on TV, Garland made 34 films. Her Emmy-nominated TV series “The Judy Garland Show” ran from 1963-1964. She received two Grammy Awards for her album “Judy at Carnegie Hall” and a special Tony Award for her long-running concert at the Palace Theatre in New York. She was awarded a special Academy Juvenile Award, nominated for the Best Actress Oscar for “A Star is Born” and nominated for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for “Judgment at Nuremberg.” “Across the four decades of her career, Judy Garland enjoyed astounding levels of accomplishment in every entertainment medium,” Fricke writes in his invaluable book “Judy: A Legendary Film Career.” “These achievements have since proved to be joyously timeless,” he adds. Though Garland is renowned for her performances in concerts and movie musicals, she is also a talented dramatic actress. Recently, I watched “The Clock,” released in 1945 near the end of World War II, starring Garland and Robert Walker. It’s the story of how Joe (Walker), a soldier on leave from the war, and Alice (Garland), an office worker, accidentally meet, fall in love and marry in New York. There’s no singing. Yet, I found myself totally believing Garland was Alice, the young woman who must send her husband back to the war. Garland was a great comedian and clown, Fricke said. Lucille Ball told him that Garland was the funniest woman in Hollywood. “‘She made me look like a mortician,’ Lucy said,” Fricke recalled. “I am incredibly grateful to the gay community for keeping my mom’s legacy alive,” Lorna Luff, an adviser to the Stonewall Inn Gives Back Initiative, told NPR. In this season of Pride, we are proud, Judy, to help keep your legacy alive and to have you as part of our history.
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26 • JUNE 14, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
A corporate breakup worthy of YouTube Company prizes homophobic speech over its LGBTQ users By BRIAN GAITHER God bless the marketer who discovered that Pride season, lying halfway between one Christmas and the next, on the calendar between Easter and Halloween, had the potential to be a retail bonanza. Want rainbow-soled Adidas to match your rainbow-banded Apple watch? You’re in luck! Looking for Listerine in a rainbow bottle? Aisle Six. Need a rainbow tee for the parade? Find it at Target. Wherever a brand can put a rainbow in June, even on its logo, it’ll do it; and isn’t it wonderful? Duh! Heart-eyes emoji. Rainbow ﬂag emoji. To ﬁnd ourselves at the center of the country’s consumer culture, if only for a month, is an unrivaled sign of affirmation. It’s almost as satisfying as seeing a queer couple in a print ad for IKEA or a TV commercial with gay dads feeding their son Campbell’s soup. After decades of struggling to be visible and to gain social acceptance, we’ve now been rewarded with an explosion of rainbows in banks, shops, restaurants,
and online proﬁles. It feels like progress, and it is. In America you know you’ve arrived when you’ve caught the attention of the marketers. But it’s important to remember that behind the rainbow packaging and the market-tested ads are corporations built to serve the bottom line. Their marketing teams, whose job it is to convince us to spend money, have compiled reams of data about the websites we’ve visited, the products we’ve purchased, the restaurants we’ve frequented, and the vacations we’ve taken. They’ve convened focus groups in order to align their sales pitches to our motivations, hopes, and ambitions. They’ve selected actors for their ads who look the way we want and scripted them to sound like us. By the time Pride arrives they know us as well as we know ourselves, and they’re there for us with all manner of goods and services purpose-built for our demographic. Of course we know what they’re doing, and it’s all good. We love the attention. They love the revenue. For those few weeks between Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, even as our rainbow-mongering summer ﬂings are already ﬂirting with Thanksgiving, it’s OK for us to pretend it’s a real relationship. However, we must remain mindful
during Pride month that the beneﬁts of widespread visibility coming from corporate investments in LGBTQ marketing are often matched by the consequences of decisions some companies continue to make as political, or even merely economic, actors. We understood this when we dumped Chick-ﬁl-A, with its tasty waffle fries, after learning its proﬁts went to support causes antagonistic to LGBTQ equality. And when the CEO of Barilla Pasta simply expressed he wasn’t ready for same-sex marriage, we ditched that carb until the company came around. But this year, what are we to do about YouTube who’s been cheating on us with a homophobe? Last week, in response to an ongoing controversy between Carlos Maza, the openly gay producer of Vox’s video series Strikethrough, and conservative YouTube personality, Steven Crowder, the company’s management effectively ratiﬁed the use of YouTube’s platform as a vehicle for propagating homophobic speech and anti-gay slurs. In a public statement, the company wrote of its policies on harassment and hate speech, “To be clear, using racial, homophobic, or sexist epithets on their own would not necessarily violate either of these policies.”
Oh, really? Well, then we need to be clear about something too. Content is at the heart of YouTube’s business model; and by its own admission keeping homophobic content on the site is important to the company’s business. Although YouTube’s LGBTQ creators have criticized the decision, LGBTQ employees of its parent company, Google, have opposed it, and activists in San Francisco want to ban Google from this year’s Pride Parade, the company still feels some homophobic content is only just “potentially offensive” and might be “valuable speech” depending on the context. Right now, the company is setting the terms of our relationship, and it’s not interested in what we think. If it continues to care about its homophobic content more than it cares about us, we should get ready for what might be a really messy end-ofsummer break-up. Don’t worry, though. It’s not about us. It’s about YouTube.
Brian Gaither (@briangaither) is a gay activist and writer who lives in Maryland.
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Pop star for a new era Out singer Kim Petras teases album release; preps headlining tour By JOEY DiGUGLIELMO
German-born, L.A.-based pop princess Kim Petras, 26, is famous for a string of viral hits and videos such as “Heartbeat,” “I Don’t Want It At All,” “Faded” and “Heart to Break” that have been streamed on Spotify more than 16 million times. Her manager, Larry Rudolph, has bona fide pop cred having managed the careers of Britney Spears, Miley Crus and 5th Harmony. She was one of four young artists chosen for Spotify’s Rise program in 2017 for emerging pop “superstars,” which sent her song to No. 1 on the company’s Global Viral Chart. She claims about 140 million streams on all platforms worldwide. “Much of her frothy approach harks back to the era of ‘Dynasty’ shoulder pads and Cyndi Lauper quirks, bolstered by Ms. Petras’ fullthroated vocals and ultrabright melodies,” a 2018 New York Times profile noted. In 2004, at age 12, she was among the youngest trans youth in her native Germany to get hormone therapy paid for by national health care. She had fully transitioned by age 16. In a heated spate of new music — she’s released 10 cuts so far this year — she brings her “Broken Tour” to the Fonda Theatre June 24-25. She spoke to the Blade by phone two weeks ago from her Los Angeles apartment. WASHINGTON BLADE: Tell us about your tour. How long will your set be, how is it shaping up, what we can we expect, all that. KIM PETRAS: I just started rehearsals. I just got back from a writing trip to Hawaii, which was cool, that was a really cool project. So I’m going into rehearsals. I finally get to make the stage the way I want it to be, so that’s really exciting. And I can make my set as long or as short as I want to make it. So I’m picking all the faves and a few songs people don’t even know. I’m definitely going to do some new songs. But yeah, it’s a mix of everything. I love really kind of making each section of my show its own little chapter and a moment of its own so it’s going to have costume changes, different scenarios, different lighting, but I don’t want to spoil it too much. But yeah, it’s definitely going to be good. All the favorites
and a little more. BLADE: Will you have a band with you? PETRAS: Yeah, my whole crew. … We get along really well. BLADE: I noticed it wraps in Germany in September. Did you purposefully save Germany for the end? PETRAS: I want to stay in Cologne for a little bit. I haven’t been there in over a year, which is the city I was born and raised in. I’ve lived in L.A. for about seven years now, so I go back like once a year but not much more, so I’ll take some time to see my family at the end of the run. Everyone else can go home and I’ll hang out with my family for a little bit, then head back to the U.S. BLADE: Most of the dates are sold out. Will you be adding more dates or bumping up to larger venues or is all that set? PETRAS: Unfortunately it’s set. After that I go back to writing a bunch more stuff. I’m really prioritizing being in the studio drafting as much new stuff as possible. But I’ll be back touring really soon. I don’t think it’s enough the U.S. tour I’m doing this year, but I’m so excited it’s sold out. Most of it sold out in presales like in five minutes, so it’s pretty nuts. I’m really excited. BLADE: I saw you on the Troye Sivan tour last year. Your pitch was so dead on all through your set. Do you just have really good ears and lungs or did you have to work on that? PETRAS: Thank you so much for saying that. I feel like I worked on it every day, just vocal strength. I have those days where I don’t speak at all, where I’m on vocal rest ‘cause yeah, most of my first songs, I wrote them so high because I was a songwriter for a long time and I didn’t realize when you write a song, then you have to sing it every night and that’s really difficult. So I had to quit smoking (laughs) and had to start learning vocal technique really well to be able to do it. BLADE: I know you idolize Madonna.
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Do you think she deserved the drubbing she got recently for her pitchy Eurovision performance? PETRAS: I absolutely have not seen that performance so I can’t really talk for it, but I think Madonna is like my absolute favorite and I just think she’s like a performer before anything else. I think with her, it’s like about a statement or provoking a thought. BLADE: Did you get to hang out much or get to know Troye Sivan on tour? PETRAS: We hung out after shows. His boyfriend is really cool, I really love his boyfriend. His whole team, like his mom was on the tour, it was so sweet, just really cool energy. It was like being friends on this little tour, but it was so much fun. I had a blast. His crowd is so cute and massive so it’s really fun and I feel like I gained a lot of fans. I’m really thankful for Troye having me on that tour and I really loved it. I was sad when it was over. BLADE: You play a lot of Pride dates but it seems like you’re trying to make your music as mainstream and accessible as possible. Do you sort of downplay being trans to perhaps reach a wider audience or not really? PETRAS: Um, not really. I don’t have to do anything. I’m my own label, I come up with everything, I’m in charge of everything. I did feel like I wanted to downplay it at the beginning because I didn’t want anybody to say or imply that I was using being transgender to be successful as an artist. That’s like not my interest at all and I wanted to prove to everyone that I can have popular music without anybody knowing my story at all, because I think that gender is pretty irrelevant and I know that it’s become the leading story if I talk about it. I’ve had a lot of experience in my past, my first documentary was like when I was 12 years old, and I went on to do a bunch of documentaries about being transgender. My goal was normalizing it and making people feel that you can be a normal transgender person and have a really happy life. But yeah, I just didn’t want anybody to feel that I used my story to become successful because I know people say shit like that and
Kim Petras ‘Broken Tour’ June 24-25 Fonda Theatre Both nights sold out Check stubhub.com for tickets 7 p.m. fillmoresilverspring.com kimpetras.com/#tour
Kim Petras says she’s put the hard work in to build a fan base that means her first solo headlining tour is sold out in most markets. Photo by Thom Kerr
it’s really rude. It sucks that people are like that but in general I don’t talk about it as much because I’ve already done that. I put out a song on Spotify, nobody knew who I was, it wasn’t my face on the cover and it went to the top of the viral chart on Spotify like right away, so that gave me a kick start and it had nothing to do with my story. BLADE: Your videos have lots of cool special effects. Are they hard to finance? PETRAS: Yeah, for sure. I always have these crazy ideas. But I put my own money that I make from shows and doing big events, I put it right back into my music, right into my tour, right into my videos. Anything I earn, I put it right back into my creativity and my artistry. It is a struggle sometimes but I’m very happy with the way things came out so far, thank God. It keeps growing and getting better. BLADE: There’s no real business model to
follow to do what you’re doing. How do you know how much to spend when and on what? PETRAS: Yeah, for sure. I get great advice. My manager Larry Rudolph … he has a lot of experience so I can always call him and ask him about things like that but how I got started and how I got on Spotify was just trial and error and trying to figure it out, spending too much on one thing and not being able to do another and I feel like I’m just figuring out what’s important at the end of the day is to get the most music, the most content out there. That’s my priority, being one step better each time I do something. BLADE: What was your toughest or longest video to shoot? PETRAS: Definitely “Heart to Break.” It was really amazing because we got two days, which doesn’t ever happen that anybody can afford two days. It all gets crammed into one, so definitely that was such a blast. I don’t think
A M E R I C A’ S
any of the videos were hard. They’re definitely exhausting because you’re like waking up at 5 a.m. and finishing up at 3 a.m. and it’s like a whole thing, but I always love it. I always feel super alive when I do days like that. I just pull through and have no sleep. I don’t know why but I really get off on that type of thing. BLADE: Do you feel albums are obsolete? PETRAS: I don’t. The way a new artist is breaking is just completely different than it was. I look up to a lot of people who drop a lot of music constantly and I want to be one of those people. But I love a good album and I listen to a lot of albums and I can’t wait to have my own. I can’t spill the tea on that just yet, but I do think people still want albums and want to buy the work and I think it’s great that people still want that.
Continues at losangelesblade.com
30 • JUNE 14, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
The ‘State of Pride’ is strong New YouTube doc takes viewers on a U.S. road trip By CHRISTOPHER CAPPIELLO
D.C.’s 2018 Pride headliner, South-African born Australian singer, actor, and activist Troye Sivan, is featured in ‘State of Pride.’ Blade file photo by Michael Key
“I decided to take a road trip to big cities and small towns,” says activist and influencer Raymond Braun, describing the genesis of “State of Pride,” the new YouTube documentary directed by Oscar-winning filmmakers Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman that premiered on opening night of the 2019 SXSW, just in time for Pride season. The engaging and emotional feature-length documentary follows the articulate and appealing Braun to several Pride festivals across the country with the aim of finding out what Pride means to individual LGBTQ people 50 years after Stonewall. The film is book-ended with stops at the Washington, D.C. Pride, with visits to wildly different Pride events in Tuscaloosa, Ala., San Francisco, and Salt Lake City in between. What emerges is a diverse portrait of moving individuals for whom Pride holds great meaning in different ways. For those of us in huge metropolitan areas like Los Angeles, with highly visible and widely accepted LGBTQ communities, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that people in many smaller communities across the country still struggle for visibility and still take great risks – personally and professionally – to be out, loud and proud. Among the more moving parts of the film are scenes where Braun visits with trans women of color in Alabama, who speak of the lack of visibility and respect they receive even within the LGBTQ community. The Tuscaloosa Pride festival that Braun visits is only the small city’s third such event. After we get to know several local LGBTQ people, it is surprisingly moving to watch these now familiar friends gather for the small but meaningful festival. Among the people Braun follows in San Francisco is Jackie Thornhill, a young trans woman attending her first Pride event. The film’s focus on Jackie helps remind us that, even in the largest cities with the longest history of LGBTQ activism, there are always people taking those first frightening and thrilling steps out. The Salt Lake City sequence focuses on Carson Tueller, a young gay man who uses a wheelchair following a spinal cord injury from a freak gymnastics accident. Tueller comes from a devout Mormon family, and his relatives have varied levels of acceptance of his sexuality. His request that they join him in the SLC Pride Parade is one of the more dramatic parts of the film. Tueller’s inclusion in the film also brings up the subject of the visibility of people with disabilities in the LGBTQ community, as the voluble Carson speaks openly about other people’s propensity to desexualize those with disabilities. Braun, a cum laude graduate of Stanford who is the former head of YouTube’s LGBTQ outreach, is a passionate and enthusiastic guide, simultaneously embracing the joy of Pride and the serious social and political issues that many LGBTQ people still confront. A native of a small, rural town in northwest Ohio, Braun easily relates to those who feel marginalized or set apart from any larger community. And he is equally at home bantering with a gloriously jaded old drag queen in San Francisco. With Epstein and Friedman directing, the film has an impressive pedigree. The pair directed two Oscar-winning documentaries in the 1980s, “The Times of Harvey Milk” and “Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt.” They are also responsible for the Emmy-winning “Celluloid Closet.” (You can check out YouTube clips of Epstein’s acceptance speech at the 1985 Oscars, where he courageously thanked his “partner in life” on the worldwide broadcast.) “State of Pride” was developed and produced by Portal A, a digital studio. The film can be seen for free on YouTube. With its cross-country scope, and spotlight on people of color and trans folk, “State of Pride” is illuminating even as it entertains. The film also pays respect to the history of the movement, and the importance of recognizing how far we’ve come since Stonewall 50 years ago. “Pride is both a party and protest,” declares Oakland activist and advocate Kin Folkz, the Community Grand Marshal of San Francisco’s Pride Parade. In the D.C. sequence, Braun catches up with that city’s 2018 Pride headliner, South-African born Australian singer, actor, and activist Troye Sivan for a backstage interview. After a playful performance in front of the gushing Pride gathering, Sivan turns reflective in the interview, recognizing that, in terms of Pride, “people have been doing this a long time. We owe it to our elders that we get to be here today.”
32 • JUNE 14, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Davyd Whaley Foundation preserves late artist’s legacy Filling an unmet need in the L.A. art community By JOHN PAUL KING
Davyd Whaley Foundation manager Anitra Kyees, director Nick Brown and founder Norman Buckley. Photo courtesy Davyd Whaley Foundation
As a boy growing up in the Appalachians, Davyd Whaley dreamed of becoming an artist. With little access to the resources required to pursue that future, however, and immersed as he was in a cultural surrounding that had little or no tolerance for such impulses from a “sensitive” young man like him, it seemed like an impossible path for him to take. On the advice of a respected family friend, he enlisted in the Navy after high school, going on to a four-year tour of duty, business college, and a lucrative career as an electrical engineer. It was a dream deferred, not lost. Still a young man, Whaley was able to retire early, thanks to good financial management. Then, while spending time in New York with his then-partner (later husband), television director Norman Buckley, he started taking classes at the Art Students’ League; encouraged by his teachers to paint full time, he finally returned to the track from which his life had been diverted all those years before. Whaley went on to become a respected member of the L.A. art community. He was a resident artist at the Santa Fe Art Colony in DTLA and a member of the Los Angeles Art Association, splitting his time between being a full-time studio artist and teaching art classes. He also devoted himself to a deeply held belief in service, turning his gifts and resources toward helping others; he taught art to the underprivileged, counseled grieving families in hospitals, and taught terminally ill and war-scarred children to paint. In 2012, he was named Volunteer of the Year by the LA County Board of Supervisors. Then, on Oct. 15, 2014, he took his own life. “It was very sudden,” says Buckley. “He suffered for many years with mental illness, it had gotten better and worse over the years. It got better for a very long period of time, between 2008 and 2013. He had really thrown himself into painting full time, and his career really took off.” Whaley’s passing came just as his artistic reputation was beginning to spread into the larger art world. At the time of his death he was largely unknown outside of his own circle, but in the years since, Buckley says his paintings have become sought after by collectors from around the world. “I’ve sold most of his work,” he says, with a just a hint of sadness tempered by pride. “There’s hardly anything left.” The loss of his husband was a tragedy that hit Buckley hard. “I think that one has a real choice when confronted with that kind of loss,” he says. “One response is to just go into self-pity and a tailspin, and the other is to try and find a proactive way to try and deal with the loss.” “I really grappled with what meaning there was in the relationship, and how he had really inspired me,” he continues. “I was looking for a way that I could do two things. One was to promote Davyd’s legacy as a painter, because I think his work speaks for itself. But I also wanted to do something that I knew would have meaning for him. With the success of his career at the end of his life, he made an enormous amount of money, and I felt the need to do something with it that would be something he would do.” The solution was to create the Davyd Whaley Foundation, founded by Buckley in 2016 to serve what he perceived as “an unmet need within the L.A. art community” to provide support for artists to just do the work they wanted to do. “A lot of grants are built around some particular project, or some set of criteria,” he says. “I just wanted to do something that would give the artists a block of money and they could decide what they wanted to do with it, they could decide how it would help them in their particular practice.” With the help of now-Foundation Manager Anitra Kyees, Buckley built a nonprofit organization that provides grants for deserving artists (“I have nothing to do with that part of it, we have an independent jury that comes in and evaluates the applications,” he stresses) and has steadily grown over the last three years. “I think that the best part of my relationship with Davyd was the way he inspired me,” Buckley says. “This endeavor has given me a way to feel his energy around me, supporting me in finding a way to serve others.” “We’ve been able to keep it really small,” he beams. “We have a very low overhead, so that most of the money that funnels through the foundation goes straight into the pockets of artists.” Continues at losangelesblade.com
34 • JUNE 14, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Presenting ‘Patsy’ Immigration, mothering and queer identity themes in out novelist’s sophomore tome By JOEY DiGUGLIELMO
Nicole Dennis-Benn Summer Salons: The Good Immigrant Tuesday, June 18 6 p.m. Grand Park, performance lawn 200 North Grand Ave. Los Angeles (between Grand Ave. and Hill Streets) grandparkla.org pen.org nicoledennisbenn.com
Author Nicole Dennis-Benn says she’s inspired to write the kinds of books she could never ﬁnd as a young reader. Photo by Jason Berger
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Author Nicole Dennis-Benn got the kind of media attention and interest with her 2016 novel “Here Comes the Sun,” most ﬁrst-time authors can only dream of — she won a Lambda Literary Award, was a ﬁnalist for several other literary prizes, got reviewed in the New York Times (which named it one of its “notable books of the year”) and other high-proﬁle outlets. Her sophomore eﬀort “Patsy” was released last week and is already generating buzz with more media love from the Times, Oprah’s magazine, NPR and more. “Patsy” is the story of the title character, an undocumented Jamaican queer immigrant in New York and the daughter she left behind, Tru. Going back and forth between Brooklyn and Jamaica, Dennis-Benn, herself Jamaican and a lesbian, covers her characters’ lives over a decade. The 37-year-old writer will be Scripps Presents/PEN’s “Summer Salons: The Good Immigrant” event with authors Jade Chang and Dani Fernandez on Tuesday, June 18 to discuss the new anthology “The Good Immigrant: 26 Writers Reﬂect on America.” Details at pen.org/events. Dennis-Benn spoke to the Blade by phone on May 31. Her comments have been slightly edited for length. WASHINGTON BLADE: Your ﬁrst book got the kind of industry attention most authors only dream of. How did you manage that? NICOLE DENNIS-BENN: When I started my debut novel, I had no idea all the work that went into getting a book out there to readers. I used to think it just appears on the bookshelf. I wasn’t one of those readers in college and grad school looking at the New York Times or the Washington Post for the next book I wanted to read. So I was really shocked as a ﬁrst-time writer. My agent, she worked really hard at putting my book in the eyes of publishers and also really doubled down when it came out. She said, “This is a debut novel, we have to have a big splash,” so she and her team worked extra hard and I was really happy that they loved it enough to want to really invest in it. But there’s really a machine behind all that publicity. BLADE: Did you have to ﬁght to get “Patsy” published or was it much easier after the ﬁrst book was successful? DENNIS-BENN: It was easy after that, for sure. I had some anxiety writing as a woman of color and my story is about a Jamaican woman wth a queer identity as well as an immigrant … but it’s a relief to know there’s a place for my books. I can’t say the same for many other writers who are women of color or LGBT writers, but at the same time I’m happy that they’re being published somewhere. BLADE: How has your publisher Liveright been to work with? Any wrangling over ﬁnal edit? DENNIS-BENN: It was a good relationship and that’s deﬁnitely something I was relieved about. I didn’t have to ﬁght them on anything. I used patois, a Jamaican dialect, in the dialogue and I was really happy that the editor and also the copy editors were able to work with me on maintaining that. I think it was really a good match. BLADE: Is there some autobiography woven into the ﬁction? DENNIS-BENN: I would say it’s like 80 percent ﬁction and 20 percent autobiographical. Patsy comes to America and wants more for herself but then realizes there are issues here just like anywhere else. Unlike myself, Patsy is not educated or documented, so she immediately meets that wall, no pun intended. She actually gets trapped and she’s not able to move upward ﬁnancially. She has no social security at all, so of course, taking Patsy on that journey, took a lot more imagination and also talking to folks, like my father for example, who came here undocumented and has worked his way through the system before marrying an American citizen and getting his papers. Continues at losangeles blade.com
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36 • JUNE 14, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Paula dazzles at Pride, despite not singing By BILLY MASTERS
Paula Abdul performed at LA Pride but didn’t actually sing. Photo courtesy Christopher Street West
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“Give me the old lady, the black lady, or the gay guy — Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, or Pete Buttigieg. We’ve had the old white men over and over again. I’m tired of them. I’m gonna tell you, if Biden gets a boyfriend, he has my vote!” — Wanda Sykes on the Democratic presidential candidates while promoting her fabulous Netﬂix special, “Not Normal”. Here we are, in the midst of Gay Pride Month, and what’s our ﬁrst story about? A Straight Pride Parade — in my native Boston. Oh, the shame. Don’t they already have a Straight Pride Parade in Boston? The Saint Patrick’s Day Parade! Oops, they’ve let the gays into that one, too. In the broadest sense, I don’t have a problem with the idea of Straight Pride. I enjoy both straight and gay men, as long as they enjoy me. But the way this is being couched — as if straight people are an “oppressed majority” (their words) — makes me feel it borders on homophobic. Unless, of course, members of the LGBT community are welcomed to join in, just like our straight allies are invited and encouraged to join in our Pride parades. If not, it’s beginning to smell a lot like Charlottesville. A Providence, R.I. Catholic bishop is urging parishioners to avoid anything related to Pride Month because it would be “harmful for children.” “They [meaning us LGBT folk] promote a culture and encourage activities that are contrary to Catholic faith and morals,” Tweeted Bishop Thomas Tobin. In case anyone is interested, Providence is a short one-hour drive from Boston. Why am I bringing that up? Although Boston has no gay adult establishments, Providence has quite a few gay male sex and strip clubs. On the other hand, Boston has plenty of Catholic churches. Then we had Donald Trump attacking “Washed up psycho @BetteMidler.” Certainly Bette is anything but “washed up,” but the Divine Miss M did step in it by Tweeting mis-information in the form of that long-debunked quote that Trump once said he would run as a Republican because “they’re the dumbest group of voters in the country.” To Midler’s credit, she deleted the post once she learned the quote was fake, and she did apologize. First Bette apologized; then the NYPD apologized. For what? For the Stonewall raid! New York police commissioner James P. O’Neill issued this statement: “I think it would be irresponsible to go through World Pride month and not to speak of the events at the Stonewall Inn in June of 1969. I do know what happened should not have happened. The actions taken by the NYPD were wrong, plain and simple. The actions and the laws were discriminatory and oppressive, and for that, I apologize. I vow to the LGBTQ community that this would never happen in the NYPD in 2019. We have, and we do, embrace all New Yorkers.” LA Pride kicked oﬀ with a spectacular free concert on the fairgrounds headlined by Paula Abdul. Anyone who thought this would be some quick hit-and-run appearance doesn’t know Paula. She was onstage for well over an hour. She performed every hit, she told stories, she brought folks onstage to dance, she had amazing videos and dynamic dancers who tossed her around as if she were a rag doll. The only thing she didn’t do was sing - which is ironic because at certain times, she had TWO microphones! She’d struggle to be heard speaking, but when a song started, suddenly the vocals were crystal clear. Ultimately it didn’t really matter. Like Britney, who goes to hear Paula sing? She put on a great show, as you can see from clips on BillyMasters.com. BTW, this was a good chance for Abdul to try out the act in advance of her Vegas residency. She’ll be going into the Flamingo on Aug. 13. I have two tips for Paula - get a coach to work on the monologues about your life and perhaps sing a little. You’ll recall allegations that Kevin Spacey got an underage busboy drunk at a bar in Nantucket and groped him. Spacey is petitioning to dismiss the charges because the lad’s cell phone (which had texts detailing the encounter) has been tampered with. The boy’s mom allegedly erased some texts describing her son’s “frat boy activities.” Spacey’s mouthpiece claims that the family “went to great lengths to remove text messages that he believes did not ﬁt his narrative.” A decision on the motion will be announced July 8. Continues at losangelesblade.com
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38 • JUNE 14, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Colo. guv signs marijuana reform measures
Gov. Jared Polis has signed multiple bills amending the state’s marijuana laws. Blade file photo by Michael Key
DENVER — Democratic Gov. Jared Polis has signed multiple bills into law amending the state’s marijuana laws. House Bill 1234 establishes regulations for the delivery of cannabis products from state-licensed retailers. Under the plan, deliveries are limited to one per day per household, and are only permitted in municipalities that explicitly allow for such activities. Deliveries to college campuses are prohibited. The delivery of medical cannabis products will begin on Jan. 2, 2020, while the delivery of retail cannabis products will begin on Jan. 2, 2021. House Bill 1230 establishes regulations for the licensing of “marijuana hospitality spaces.” Under the measure, licensed dispensaries and retailers could apply for on-site consumption permits. Hotels, restaurants and other private business would also be permitted to apply for similar licensing. At indoor facilities, marijuana smoking will be permitted unless prohibited by local rules. The new law takes effect on January 1, 2020. Colorado is only the second state to regulate social use marijuana spaces. House Bill 1263 reduces criminal penalties for the possession of large quantities of cannabis. It amends penalties for the possession of over six ounces of marijuana and/or three ounces of marijuana concentrate from a level 4 felony to level 1 misdemeanor. It also mandates that police may not arrest a defendant for violations involving the possession of between one and two ounces of cannabis. The measure further reduces penalties for the low-level possession of other controlled substances from felonies to misdemeanors. The new penalties take effect on March 1, 2020.
Illinois poised to become 11th state to legalize adult pot SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — House and Senate lawmakers have advanced legislation to the governor legalizing the adult use of cannabis and regulating its commercial production and retail sale. Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzer is anticipated to sign the measure into law imminently. Under the proposal, Illinois residents who are 21 or older may legally possess up to 30 grams of cannabis, while those visiting from out-of-state may legally possess half that amount. Those patients enrolled in the state’s medical cannabis access program will be permitted for the first time to legally home cultivate up to five marijuana plants. Non-patients face civil fines of no more than $200 for growing personal use quantities of cannabis. Under current law, minor marijuana cultivation offenses are punishable by up to one-year in prison and a $2,500 fine. The bill also facilitates the expedited expungement of low-level minor convictions, while also establishing a process to vacate more serious offenses. Under the plan, licensed medical dispensaries will have the first opportunity to engage in adult-use marijuana sales. New applicants will be able to access low-interest loans in order to defray start-up costs. Once signed, the new law takes effect on Jan. 1, 2020. Illinois will become the 11th state to legalize adult use marijuana possession. It is only the second state to legalize marijuana use via legislative action (rather than by voter initiative) and it is the first state to legislatively regulate cannabis sales.
N.J. to expand number of licensed dispensaries TRENTON, N.J. — Representatives of the state Department of Health announced this week that regulators intend to license up to 108 additional medical cannabis facilities over the coming months. Up to half of the new facilities will operate as dispensaries while others will operate as cultivators and manufacturers. Prior to this week’s announcement, regulators had capped the total number of available dispensaries in the state to no more than twelve. The agency acknowledged in a statement, “Due to the growing patient population served by the Medicinal Marijuana Program over the course of the 2018 and 2019, and the projected future expansion outlined in the Department’s Biennial Report, the Department has determined that additional ATCs are necessary to meet the needs of the population of qualified patients.” Over 47,500 patients are registered to access medical marijuana under the state’s program. Separate legislation (Assembly Bill 10) to further amend and expand the state’s medical cannabis law is expected to be advanced to the Governor next week. Cannabis Culture news in the Blade is provided in partnership with NORML. For more information, visit norml.org.
Losangelesblade.com, Volume 3, Issue 24, June 14, 2019