Photo by Eric Solis / Courtesy DTLA Proud
A U G U S T 2 3 2 0 1 9 • V O LU M E 0 3 • I S S U E 3 4 • A M E R I C A’ S LG B TQ N E W S S O U R C E • LO S A N G E L E S B L A D E . C O M
02 • AUGUST 23, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Log Cabin Republican Charles Moran defends Trump endorsement Gay Democrat almost apoplectic in TV sparring By KAREN OCAMB firstname.lastname@example.org Log Cabin Republicans spokesperson Charles Moran, a native Angelino, ghostwrote the Aug. 15 Washington Post oped exalting President Donald Trump. Bylined by LCR chair and vice-chair Robert Kabel and Jill Homan, the headline reads: “Trump met his commitments to LGBTQ Americans. He has our endorsement.” Moran, a longtime political consultant, appeared on MSNBC’s “AM Joy” on Aug. 17 with out South Carolinian Jimmy Williams, a former Democratic Senate aide. In the op-ed, Moran compared the 2016 GOP
convention to the 1992 Houston convention with “Pat Buchanan’s hate-filled exhortation against the LGBTQ community” as a “powerful measurement of how far we’ve come.” Trump has helped remove “gay rights as a wedge issue from the old Republican playbook. And since taking office, President Trump has followed through on many of his commitments to the United States, including taking bold actions that benefit the LGBTQ community,” Moran wrote, such as committing to end HIV/AIDS in 10 years and advocating for decriminalizing homosexuality in foreign lands, adding that Trump’s “aggressive negotiations on trade deals have preserved LGBTQ jobs.” “While we do not agree with every policy or platform position presented by the White House or the Republican Party,” such as restrictions on transgender military service,” Moran wrote, “[t]o be treated
equally, fairly and justly under the law is our goal, and we know that “Inclusion Wins” is a mantra we share with the president.” Jimmy Williams was almost apoplectic. “Since Trump became president, he’s done, established, promulgated rules, or met with virulently homophobic leaders in the White House 123 times. Not 100 times, not 23 times, 123 times. In fact, yesterday, the Trump Department of Justice sent an amicus brief to the Supreme Court of the United States saying transgendered Americans don’t have the right to not be discriminated against in the workplace. They did that yesterday!” Williams said. “So I don’t want to hear any BS crap about the fact that the president is stemming AIDS and making homosexuality something great and wonderful, and Dorothy and the rainbow bridge across the world, when here in the States, he has declared war on the LGBTQ community,” said Williams.
Moran snarled back. “Well, I think it’s comical that the extreme left and the mainstream media that is trying to promulgate this Trump Derangement Syndrome of him being the most antiLGBTQ president, when you have people like Bill Clinton who signed the Defense of Marriage Act, who signed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” said Moran. “Even people like President Bush, who pushed a federal ban on gay marriage and tried to eliminate marriage equality. This revisionist history is simply not true.” Williams called out Moran’s “whataboutism,” citing Trump’s changing positions on gay marriage. “So I don’t want to hear any of this crap” about former presidents, said Williams. “This guy is president and he’s a racist, homophobic bigot, and the fact you’re supporting him is just shameful.”
Garden Grove high school students give Nazi salute No indication anyone was punished By KAREN OCAMB email@example.com Southern California’s 47th Congressional District has been reliably Democratic but the district also includes Republican antiLGBTQ areas, such Garden Grove where last year a handful of high school students brazenly saluted Hitler and sang a Nazi marching song during an awards ceremony. According to an eight-second video published by The Daily Beast, about 10 members of the Pacifica High School boys’ water polo team giving the infamous Sieg Heil salute to Adolf Hitler and singing a Nazi marching song. Last March, the OC Weekly reported on Snapchat screenshots of students from Newport Harbor and Costa Mesa High School engaged in a beer pong drinking game, giving the Hitler salute over a red cup display of the Nazi swastika.
Students engaged in the Nazi salute.
Though one student expressed remorse to OC Weekly after the backlash, that student then added: “To us it’s like the “n” word where it doesn’t mean slavery it’s a way to address people and now the holocaust is the new n word and it’s sad but it’s the truth.” The latest incident may indicate that there is a more insidious issue. “It’s not something you’d expect somebody to accidentally know about. There’s some means by which they acquired knowledge about the song and associated Nazi issues,” Peter Simi, a professor on extremism studies
at Chapman University told The Daily Beast. “Are they on websites or web forums or other social media platforms where they’re engaging with others informed on these issues?” Apparently school administrators became aware of the video in March, four months after it was posted, according to a spokesperson for the Garden Grove Unified School district. “While the district cannot comment on student discipline, the school did address this situation with all involved students and families,” the spokesperson told the online
site. “The district adheres to strong policies about harassment and cultural sensitivity, and we condemn all acts of anti-Semitism and hate in all forms. We remain focused on educating students about cultural sensitivity and are committed to holding students accountable, educating them on the consequences of their choices, and the impact these actions have on our schools and community at large.” However, one Pacifica parent told The Daily Beast that the wider community was never apprised of the video, though it has been distributed among the students. Nor is there any indication of punishment or corrective action. “Generally speaking, especially when something like this involves a group, we would think a more meaningful approach would be to use this as a learning opportunity, as an opportunity communitywide to state what our values are,” Rabbi Peter Levi, director of the Anti Defamation League’s Orange County chapter, told the Daily Beast. “This requires investigation and conversation… We’d like to see a more systematic response.”
04 • AUGUST 23, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
HRC’s new leader Alphonso David recruiting more troops ‘We should be focused on winning in 2020’ By KAREN OCAMB firstname.lastname@example.org There is something reminiscent of black gay author James Baldwin in Alphonso David’s intense bearing, though the new president of the Human Rights Campaign is considerably more down-to-earth and welcoming than the deﬁant intellect who scorched racist America in “The Fire Next Time.” For David, it is the ﬁre this time that is fueling his drive for full equality and his ﬁght against the dark amoral forces demolishing democracy through the rapacious black hole that is President Donald Trump. David may be uniquely qualiﬁed to meet the LGBTQ leadership challenge of this historic moment. Born in Silver Spring, Md., in 1970, he was one year old when his family moved to Monrovia, the capital of Liberia founded in 1822 by freed Black American slaves. David’s great uncle was the country’s president and his father was elected the city’s mayor in 1977 while his mother worked in the Liberian Department of Finance. In 1980, David’s world was violently overturned as a military coup assassinated his uncle, imprisoned his father and kept the family under house arrest for 18 months. When his father was released a few years later, he applied for political asylum in the U.S., which was granted because Alphonso had been born in Maryland. “My interest in the law is fairly selfevident,” David told The New Amsterdam News in 2014, “in part because of the war and understanding democracy and understanding how things work.” After graduating from Temple University Law School, David clerked for Clifford Scott Green, the African-American District Court judge who found that there was, indeed, racial discrimination in the Philadelphia Police Department. David then joined a Philadelphia law ﬁrm before moving to Los Angeles for work as a litigation associate at
HRC President Alphonso David Photo via HRC
Blank Rome LLP to help pay off “substantial” student debt. He also got heavily involved in pro bono work, such as helping victims of domestic violence. David was in LA when the Supreme Court issued its watershed ruling in Lawrence v. Texas, decriminalizing homosexuality. That was an inﬂection point, motivating him to give up private practice to join Lambda Legal in 2004. In 2007, David took a job as Special Counselor at the New York State Division of Human Rights, which led to Special Deputy Attorney General for Civil Rights under Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and eventually, in 2015, his historic appointment as the ﬁrst black man and ﬁrst openly gay man to serve as Chief Counsel to Gov. Cuomo. He was dubbed the third most powerful person in New York state government. So why HRC? “We are living in very complex, perilous times,” David tells the Los Angeles Blade in a brief interview at a Hollywood coffee shop. “I have worked in government for
12 years, but I thought, at this moment in time, it was more important for me to serve in this capacity as the head of the Human Rights Campaign to push for change on the national level, to educate people about the challenges that marginalized communities face, and affect change.” David started Aug. 9 and is now on a 10city/state swing to introduce himself to HRC activists and equality allies. But he quickly acts when action is required. Moments after the interview concluded, David was on Twitter producing a thread that excoriated Trump for his inane statement that he has the support of the LGBTQ community, citing the recent reelection endorsement by Log Cabin Republicans. “Every credible LGBTQ organization is mobilizing to defeat Trump, Pence & their anti-LGBTQ extremist allies in 2020,” David tweeted. “Those who claim this administration is pro-LGBTQ are out of touch with facts and reality.” David promises new plan rollouts soon but spoke to a few top priorities. “First, we have to elect pro-equality
candidates on every single level. We’re not only focused on the presidency, we’re focused on Congress. We’re focused on state elections, both Senate and House,” he says, and local elections if HRC should weigh in. “We want to make sure that we are creating environments for people to be realized in the way that they should be realized, that their identities are being respected by government and by the law,” David says. “The electoral work is very, very important.” Second, HRC is focused on making sure that “legislative priorities are being advanced at every single level,” with special attention on the Equality Act “that would protect LGBTQ people from discrimination, ranging from employment to credit.” Third is programmatic work that deserves more awareness and possible expansion such as the All Children, All Families program helping LGBTQ kids in the foster care system. Continues on page 10
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**NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A PURCHASE WILL NOT IMPROVE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING. The Ashley Home Sweet Home Sweepstakes (the “Sweepstakes”) is sponsored by Stoneledge Furniture LLC (“Sponsor”), 755 Ashley Way, Colton, CA 92324 (the “Sweepstakes Address”). Eligible entrants may enter the Sweepstakes from May 17, 2019, at 12:00 a.m Pacific Time (“PT”) through September 8, 2019, at 11:59 p.m. PT (the “Sweepstakes Period”). Entry is limited to legal residents of California. The Sweepstakes is comprised of forty eight (48) random drawings (each a “Drawing”) to determine the Prize winners. The Game Dates, Drawing Closing Dates, and Drawing Dates for the Drawings are set forth in the chart below. The Prize in each Drawing is four (4) Ashley Home Sweet Home seat tickets for winner and three (3) guests for one (1) Los Angeles Dodgers home game played on the designated Game Date corresponding to such Drawing as shown in the chart below. The Sweepstakes is in no way sponsored, administered, executed or produced by any MLB Entity (as defined below). SEE WEBSITE FOR SWEEPSTAKES OFFICIAL RULES (takemeouttotheballgameashleyfurniture.com). ***NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A PURCHASE WILL NOT IMPROVE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING. ELIGIBILITY: Open to legal residents of California, 18 or older residing within 100 miles (determined by Google Maps driving directions) of 19800 Hawthorne Blvd., Torrance, CA 90503 Ashley HomeStore, who are not an employee, contractor, officer, or director of Stoneledge Furniture LLC or Southwestern Furniture of Wisconsin LLC, 755 Ashley Way, Colton, CA 92324, its subsidiary and affiliated entities, and agencies involved in this promotion, or immediate family or household member of such persons. PROMOTION DATES; GAME CARDS; PRIZES; ODDS: Promotion begins 8/30/19 at 9 a.m. PT and ends 9/1/19 at 9 p.m. or sooner if all Game Cards are distributed (“Promotion Period”). 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If due to a printing, production or other error, more than one (1) Winning Game Card is submitted for a prize claim in the Promotion, then the intended prize in this Promotion will be awarded in a random drawing from among all verified and validated prize claims received by Sponsor. One Game Card request per eligible person. If prize is not claimed by 12/1/19 it will be awarded in Second Chance Drawing. For complete Official Rules by which all participants are bound and details of Second Chance Drawing see store. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. *Offer applies only to single-receipt qualifying purchases. Ashley HomeStore does not require a down payment, however, sales tax and delivery charges are due at time of purchase if the purchase is made with your Ashley Advantage™ Credit Card. No interest will be charged on promo purchase and equal monthly payments are required equal to initial promo purchase amount divided equally by the number of months in promo period until promo is paid in full. 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Existing cardholders should see their credit card agreement for their applicable terms. Promotional purchases of merchandise will be charged to account when merchandise is delivered. Subject to credit approval. §Subject to credit approval. Minimum monthly payments required. See store for details. ‡‡Previous purchases excluded. Cannot be combined with any other promotion or discount. Discount offers exclude Tempur-Pedic®, Stearns & Foster® and Sealy Posturepedic Hybrid™ mattress sets, floor models, clearance items, sales tax, furniture protection plans, warranty, delivery fee, Manager’s Special pricing, Advertised Special pricing, and 14 Piece Packages and cannot be combined with financing specials. Effective 1/1/2018, all mattress and box springs are subject to a $10.50 per unit CA recycling fee. SEE STORE FOR DETAILS. 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06 • AUGUST 23, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Ex-Mormon father says LDS homophobia responsible for son’s suicide Bullying, ‘worthiness interview’ contributed to teen’s death By KAREN OCAMB email@example.com Starting a new school year is both exhilarating and fraught with anxiety for teenagers consumed with social standing and awkward bodily maturation. And despite considerable progress over the past decade, LGBTQ teens living in religiously conservative regions still face bullying and harassment beyond what their parents can control or comprehend. Straight teens experience the weight and shame of homophobia, too. In an oppressive anti-LGBTQ culture, it’s “almost irrelevant” whether a young person is actually gay or perceived to be gay, Janet Heimlich, founder of the Child-Friendly Faith Project and author of Breaking the Will, tells the Los Angeles Blade. “In that culture, the accusation of being gay is the go-to bullying mechanism. It’s about power. Overpowering another individual. And when child wants to gain that power position over another out of his or her own desperation, it’s a go-to accusation, regardless of how they perceive the child’s sexuality. It may not even enter into it.” Bullying is part of the reason Samuel Bresee, who identified as straight, took his own life five years ago at the age of 14, says his father Brian in a recent hour-long phone interview. The intractable policies and homophobic beliefs practiced and preached by the Church of Latter-day Saints is another. “When you’re raised in a religion like the Mormon Church, it’s all or nothing. There is no middle ground, and truthfully, if you have an opinion that counters what the leaders believe, you can be excommunicated. You live in fear constantly,” Brian Bresee says. “I lost a son to suicide. Sadly, it was because of the Church.” Samuel was a happy, bright, caring teenager when the Bresee family moved to a new neighborhood in Las Vegas. Father and
Brian Bresee and his son Samuel Photo courtesy Bresee
son were outside when they noticed some boys his age playing street hockey nearby. Samuel joined them, making new friends. When it was time for him to go to Boy Scouts at their new Mormon congregation, Samuel invited his non-Mormon friends to tag along. “There was just a glow about him— joy,” Bresee recalls. “I thought ‘this is good.’” The trouble started that evening when Samuel came home and told his father that as soon as they arrived at Boy Scouts, “one of his new friends became terrified and hid behind him,” Bresee says. They soon found out that the 14-year old boys from church were regularly calling his new friend “faggot” at school “to the point where this young man was actually suicidal, before we even moved into the neighborhood.” Samuel stuck by his new friend and asked his family to embrace the troubled teen, which they did. “Sadly, because my son became associated with this young man they were already calling faggot and because this young man
hid behind our son at Boy Scouts, they made our son their new target and they started calling him faggot,” Bresee says. “This is something that got spread to his school and online in online chats.” In the Mormon culture, members are taught from birth “that sodomy and homosexuality was a sin next to murder,” says Bresee. “After my son’s death, I went on an all-out search to try to understand his end of life decision, and what I found is that a child being called faggot was the number one contributor to an end of life decision for a teenager. Being called a whore, a slut for a young girl had the same effect.” Bresee concluded that shame was also internalized through the extremely dangerous and harmful Mormon practice called the “worthiness” interview. “As soon as a child turns 12 years old, every six months or sometimes even more often, they’re called into the Bishop’s office and asked about every sexual question that you could possibly think of. Do you masturbate?
Do you pet? What they ask some of the girls is even worse. There is no limit to what this Bishop can ask children as young as 12 years old about sexual issues,” he says. “There are no boundaries.” Additionally, the Bishop “has the gift of discernment,” which means he supposedly knows if the young person is lying. “Imagine if you are a child at 12, 13, 14 years old, and you’re starting to discover your body, and you’re starting to feel an attraction to the same sex, and this is a sin next to murder. And the Bishop is asking are you having homosexual feelings and maybe you are so now, this child is in great danger of being outed for their sexual preference, long before they’re ready to share that,” Bresee says. “This is proving to be a dangerous mix…. Find me one mental health professional that will say these interviews are not dangerous for children. “And the reality is that LGBT children are in greater danger,” he continues. “And once you’re out in the LDS community, you’re
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • AUGUST 23, 2019 • 07
Samuel Bresee shortly before his suicide. Photo courtesy Bresee family
going to be shunned, you’re going to be ostracized, bullied—exactly as my son was. Extremely dangerous. They do have a high teen suicide rate in Utah as a result.” The CDC consistently ranks Utah in the top three states for suicide among 10 to 17-year-olds; suicide is the leading cause of death in Utah for that age group. But even critics concede that proving a causal relationship to Mormonism has only been anecdotal. “No person who is trained in child development would ever think it’s a healthy thing to put a child in a room with a male Bishop, without any parent present, where that person is asking them sexually inappropriate questions at the age of 8 or 9 of 10 years old,” says Heimlich. “But that’s been going on for decades.” “The Mormon Bishops that do these interviews have absolutely no training,” say Bresee. “They call somebody from the congregation. It could be your neighbor, or your plumber or your attorney neighbor— it could be anybody. This is extremely
dangerous that you have untrained men prodding into the minds of children with no training.” And there’s no way out. “With the LDS Church, you’re taught that this is the only true church, and the only path to salvation,” Bresee says. “So imagine that you’re feeling same-sex attraction, but there is no escape. You can’t just go to another church more accepting of the LGBT community. You’re trapped. So it creates extra pressure and maybe a possible suicide, which is occurring.” “The church has been doing the absolute minimum they have to do publicly as a result of great pressure from within their own communities, simply to save face,” says Heimlich. “But when you have a leadership that has been controlling, oppressing, and emotionally harming people for generations, it takes a very long time to create cultural change.” Additionally, since LDS teaches that the Prophet, as the infallible head of the church,
would never lead the church astray, there can be no backtracking. “They must not be questioned because they do not make mistakes. So it’s ingrained deeply and people are terrified to challenge top leaders,” he says. And the Church is afraid of liability if they admit a mistake. Bresee left the LDS Church but still wrestles with his son’s suicide. For instance, though his son shot himself, he has still not wrestled with how that fits into the larger national discussion about gun regulation. He is still haunted by why his son, with whom he talked about everything, including sex, didn’t come to him. “We talked about all kinds of things together, and that hurt so bad that he didn’t come and ask for help. But I understand why. It’s the same reason that maybe a rape victim doesn’t come and ask for help or a victim of child sexual abuse doesn’t ask for help. The word is ‘embarrassment.’ And especially with being called faggot in a Mormon culture,” Bresee says. His son’s friends concurred. “When you
were 14 years old, if everybody at your church, your peers were calling you faggot and that got spread to your school and online—how are you going to tell your parents that you’re being called faggot?” he says. The friends said they’d be too embarrassed. “One time he did come into my room, and I know he was trying to tell me something,” Bresee says. “I couldn’t see it. I tried to talk to him but it just never quite came out of his mouth.” Bresee is looking at possible legislation to help children better report what he considers religion-based child sexual abuse and the Child-Friendly Faith Project is working to provide those who escape such oppressive indoctrination to find the support they need. On Sept. 7, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. they and hosts The Stop It Foundation are sponsoring a Hike to Protect Every Child and a barbecue at Lone Mountain Regional Park in Los Vegas. See the Facebook events page for more information.
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10 • AUGUST 23, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
New HRC leader on the importance of 2020 Continued from page 4
Another program deserving elevation focuses on historically Black colleges. “When we say ‘LGBTQ,’ I want to make sure that people are not looking at a white male face—that they see the spectrum of our community reflected and they understand that the Human Rights Campaign is representing all interests, not just some,” David says. David is keenly aware that LA is mindful about intersectionality but understands that there are different LGBTQ communities living in silos. “Gay,” for instance, equates with rich, white, straight men in West Hollywood. A similar impression of HRC has followed suit. “That’s part of the challenge,” says David, to change the old perception of HRC as catering only to one segment of the community. “I think we can make that change. With my appointment as the [first Black] president of Human Rights Campaign, I hope that people will see that the organization is really focused on all members of the community.” Alphonso David pauses before having a James Baldwin moment. “I’m not going to put my reputation at risk to run an organization that will not put its money where its mouth is,” he says, believably. “So I’m going to make sure that people understand that when we are pushing the electoral work or the legislative work or litigation—you pick the category—we are representing the interests of the community, and our interests are very different, as a matter of fact. The lesbian community may have very different concerns than the transgender community and we need to make sure that all of those concerns are being represented equally.” David is a data man, very familiar with Brad Sears and the Williams Institute. He intends to use some of their work to inform his own. He is also plugged into the “progressive web of organizations” his predecessor Chad Griffin cultivated, whose leaders he knows well. “How we talk about issues is so important,” David says. “When we say there’s a problem in our community and we use a statistic to highlight that problem and we fail to identify certain communities or classify our language in a way that elevates that issue for a specific community, we’re not presenting
Alphonso David with the bull horn as former HRC President Chad Griffin looks on. Photo courtesy HRC’s Marty Rouse
a comprehensive picture.” He wants to make sure that “we’re able to elevate the plight of the LGBTQ community in the various sectors, utilizing our various relationships, making sure that we are communicating in a very smart, strategic way because it’s not enough to say LGBT kids are homeless. We need to really talk about what actually is informing the homelessness. Why are they homeless? What are the resources that are being provided?” Trump talking about ending AIDS is only a talking point, he notes as an example. The money he’s identified is insufficient and hasn’t been secured. Meanwhile, Trump wants to end the Affordable Care Act that protects pre-existing conditions like HIV/ AIDS, among other disastrous rollbacks. “To now suggest that he’s interested in ending AIDS is laughable, and the Log Cabin Republicans are really divorced from reality, so I don’t want to even give them any additional time or attention.” David intends to navigate the waters of political purity “with due diligence,” he says. “We should be focused on winning in 2020, making sure we have a sound, viable
candidate who can beat Donald Trump,” as well as winning candidates down ballot. HRC will not automatically endorse an incumbent. David also intends on strategizing HRC’s relationship with big corporations. Griffin effectively marshaled Hollywood corporations to threaten boycotts in Georgia and North Carolina when governors threatened to sign anti-trans bathroom bills. But an anti-big corporation sentiment resulted in a second Stonewall 50th anniversary march and presidential candidates Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are successfully bashing corporations as corrupt. David thinks differently. “HRC’s Corporate Equality Index is a really important tool to change work environments,” policies and practices, he says. “They’re a lot more inclusive than they were before. So we’re going to be trying to get more corporations, more companies enlisted in the CEI because that benefits the bottom line for people that are working in companies across this country. I want to use it as a tool to make sure we improve workspaces.”
Additionally, “I want to enlist corporations directly in our fight for equality. I was privileged enough to write the marriage equality law in New York and I can tell you that we were able to successfully enlist corporate leaders [in their coalition] to change the perspectives of Republican senators in New York,” David says. “We need to do the same thing here. Private companies actually could have a very meaningful and positive role in helping us advance equality.” But the new HRC leader needs a larger army to demonstrate LGBTQ power. “The Human Rights Campaign exists as an infrastructure to actually affect change and I want people to join us because we need every single person,” David says. “We need boots on the ground to make sure that we can affect change on the local level, at the state level and at the federal level. I need everyone to get involved.” Perhaps Alphonso David might cite James Baldwin as he recruits new volunteers to the LGBTQ cause. “The point,” Baldwin once said, “is to get your work done, and your work is to change the world.”
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LOCAL “Obviously he can’t wear my clothes. They’re too expensive, they’re wrong, they’re not made in America. And besides, whatever he’s doing is working. So does anyone need to fuck with it?” – Designer Tom Ford to Vogue on having Mayor Pete Buttigieg reject his styling offer, via NewNowNext.
“West Hollywood is still our paradise. This is our Jerusalem.”
- West Hollywood business owner Larry Block to the Los Angeles Times on the gentrification of California’s iconic gay communities, Aug. 14.
“Stop borrowing dogs.”
- Erika Ettin, an online dating coach told the Washington Post in a story about “dog-fishing,” where men borrow dogs to use as bait on dating-app profiles.
12 • AUGUST 23, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
A full house at the Walt Disney Concert hall bore witness to what can only be described as an unfolding resurrection moment for the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles. Gavin Thrasher, the chorus’ interim director took to the podium, lifted his baton and so began the 300-member GMCLA’s 40th Anniversary concert extravaganza, accompanied by members of the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus, Palm Springs Gay Men’s Chorus and nearly two dozen other LGBT choruses from around the nation. The Choruses also celebrated the 50th anniversary of Stonewall with Thrasher taking the audience on a journey of the era that called for action against homophobia that defined the Chrissy Metz, star of NBC’s ‘This is Us’ and Shoshana Bean, star of Broadway’s ‘Waitress’ join GMCLA at Walt Disney Concert Hall. times. Hundreds of members reenacted the riots. Photo by Troy Masters “We will always gather. You can’t keep us down,” an actor declared the Chorus celebrated in song. In the spirit of that protest and civil right progress, the Chorus also pointed out a special guest who had played an instrumental role the fight for LGBT rights and ending AIDS: David Mixner. The audience of more than 3,000 people joined in a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday” to celebrate Mixner’s 73rd birthday. Executive Director Lou Spisto told the story of the Chorus’ work and community involvement, helping raise more than $100,000 for the night. GMCLA also held its annual Voice Awards, honoring Mixner and his invaluable work in the community. In an emotional, extemporaneous and inspired speech, Mixner urged attendees to pay the movement success forward. “We’ve come along way,” Mixner said. “But we must remember to protect our gains and to help those who have less power. We set the standards and now it falls on our shoulders to help others.” – Troy Masters
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14 • AUGUST 23, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
The bizarre history of Log Cabin’s presidential endorsements Support for Trump’s re-election triggers controversy
pro-gay ticket in U.S. history. “And so they do,” Buchanan surmised.
By CHRIS JOHNSON Perhaps no organization has inspired greater controversy within the LGBT community than the Log Cabin Republicans. The group gets blamed by other queer advocates when GOP administrations attack the community. Meanwhile, straight Republicans are often unwelcoming to the gay Republican group, even hostile. And controversy arrived again last week, as Log Cabin announced its support for Trump’s re-election in 2020 despite widespread anger over his racist tweets, harsh immigration policies, tariffs, general un-presidential demeanor, and, yes, antiLGBT policies. It’s more like white-hot rage. Jaws dropped, fingers wagged, tweets were sent and a former head of the D.C. chapter announced on Facebook he was finished with Log Cabin. How could an LGBT group endorse the same president who announced on Twitter he’d ban transgender people from the military “in any capacity?” A look at Log Cabin’s endorsement history reveals the organization has been anything but consistent in its presidential endorsement decisions, even with respect to the LGBT rights records of the candidates. The only consistency, in fact, is the organization’s commitment to either endorse the Republican presidential candidate or not endorse him. Here’s what has happened since Log Cabin began endorsing candidates in 1992: 1992, George H.W. Bush Endorsement: No In its first known presidential endorsement decision, Log Cabin declined to endorse George H.W. Bush as he sought re-election in 1992. Bush was at the time the target of gay rights protesters for, like Ronald Reagan, not doing enough to address the raging AIDS epidemic. The Blade could find no contemporaneous
Last week’s Log Cabin endorsement of President Trump has landed the group in hot water again. Photo by palinchak / Courtesy Bigstock
record of Log Cabin’s endorsement decision, but a 2004 Chicago Tribune article about Log Cabin indicates in 1992 the organization withheld its endorsement of Bush “because he did not denounce the anti-gay rhetoric at the GOP national convention in Houston.” The year 1992 was when Pat Buchanan took the stage at the Republican National Convention and called for a “culture war... for the soul of America.” While the “Lock Her Up” chant became infamous in 2016, the chant during his speech was “Family Rights Forever! Gay Rights Never!” Among the things Buchanan railed against was “abortion on demand, a litmus test for the Supreme Court, homosexual rights, discrimination against religious schools [and] women in combat.” Buchanan mocked the voice of a gay rights advocate, whom he called a “militant leader of the homosexual rights movement,” and said Clinton-Gore represents the most
1996, Bob Dole Endorsement: Yes In perhaps its most unexpected endorsement decision, Log Cabin supported Bob Dole when he challenged Bill Clinton for the presidency in 1996. Just the year before in 1995, the Dole campaign returned a $1,000 check from the organization, which was given as a result of Dole’s private commitments on AIDS legislation to Log Cabin chief Rich Tafel. When a reporter inquired about the donation, the campaign gave the money back and informed her Dole was in “100 percent disagreement” with Log Cabin. Later, under criticism, Dole expressed regret over giving the money back. “I think if they’d have consulted me, we wouldn’t have done that, wouldn’t have returned it,” Dole said. After the flip-flop, Tafel met again with the Dole campaign, making demands about not tolerating anti-gay rhetoric at the Republican National Convention. Consequently, no such Buchanan-esque language was seen at the 1996 convention. Soon after the agreement, Log Cabin members voted to support Dole at its annual convention in San Diego, marking the first time the group supported a presidential nominee. “Our endorsement reflects both an acknowledgement that the Dole-Kemp ticket has made historic overtures in our direction and it provides us the opportunity to work with this campaign on the issues we care about,” Tafel said at the time. 2000, George W. Bush Endorsement: Yes Given a second opportunity to endorse a Bush, Log Cabin decided to throw its support behind George W. Bush in the 2000 election against Al Gore. According to Log Cabin’s website, the organization initially supported “maverick” John McCain in his challenge to Bush for the Republican nomination. After the primary, Bush reportedly refused to meet with Log Cabin. Things changed, however, after Bush
secured the GOP nod. A group of gay Republicans known as the “Austin 12” met with the candidate at this campaign headquarters. After the conversation, Bush emerged and said he was a “better man” for it. That meeting seemed to indicate a new day had arrived and formed the basis of Log Cabin’s endorsement. The “Austin 12,” led by Charles Francis, included AIDS advocate Carl Schmid, David Catania, Scott Evertz, former Rep. Steve Gunderson and Rebecca Maestri. They asked for a commitment to fight HIV/AIDS and having an openly gay speaker at the Republican National Convention. Bush came through with both requests, launching PEPFAR to fight the international AIDS epidemic and allowing Rep. Jim Kolbe to speak at the convention. But then, things changed yet again. 2004, George W. Bush Endorsement: Hell no Faced with an endless quagmire dragging down the U.S. military following his invasion of Iraq, Bush resorted to an age-old scapegoat to stoke fears to help him win reelection: Gays. Drawing on (unfounded) fears after the Massachusetts Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in the Bay State in 2003, Bush called for passage of a Federal Marriage Amendment and made it a centerpiece of his re-election campaign. Bush, in fact, called for a U.S. constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage nationwide in his 2004 State of the Union address. “Activist judges…have begun redefining marriage by court order, without regard for the will of the people and their elected representatives,” Bush said. “On an issue of such great consequence, the people’s voice must be heard. If judges insist on forcing their arbitrary will upon the people, the only alternative left to the people would be the constitutional process. Our nation must defend the sanctity of marriage.” Support for the Federal Marriage Amendment was a bridge too far for Log
Continues on page 16
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16 • AUGUST 23, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Trying to make sense of Log Cabin’s endorsement criteria Continued from page 14 Cabin, whose board voted 22-2 against endorsing Bush for re-election. “Certain moments in history require that a belief in fairness and equality not be sacrificed in the name of partisan politics; this is one of those moments,” Log Cabin chief Patrick Guerriero said. “The national board’s vote empowers Log Cabin to maintain its integrity while furthering our goal of building a more inclusive Republican Party.” 2008, John McCain Endorsement: Yes With McCain now having a bite at the apple for the Republican presidential nomination, Log Cabin had the choice of a new candidate to endorse for president. McCain was indeed different. The Arizona Republican bucked his party and refused to support the Federal Marriage Amendment on the U.S. Senate floor. But McCain’s stated reason for opposing the Federal Marriage Amendment was federalism grounds. (In 2006, McCain would take the anti-gay position and endorse a state constitutional amendment in Arizona when it came before voters.) “The legal definition of marriage has always been left to the states to decide, in accordance with the prevailing standards of their neighborhoods and communities,” McCain
said. “Certainly, that view has prevailed for many years in my party where we adhere to a rather stricter federalism than has always been the case in the prevailing views among our friends in the Democratic Party.” Log Cabin’s board endorsed McCain by a 12-2 vote after the candidate met with the LGBT group. Patrick Sammon, then-president of Log Cabin, said the candidate “showed courage by bucking his own party leadership and the president” on the Federal Marriage Amendment. “We have honest disagreements with Sen. McCain on a number of gay rights issues, Log Cabin will continue our conversation with him and other Republican leaders about issues affecting gay and lesbian Americans,” Sammon said.
with Romney at a Virginia farmhouse for a brief five-minute meeting. The two gay Republicans appeared to have some vague commitment from Romney on employment non-discrimination protections, although nothing was firm. That was good enough for Log Cabin, whose board endorsed Romney in a 14-1 vote. “Despite our disagreement with Gov. Romney on the issue of marriage, on balance it is clear that in today’s economic climate, concern for the future of our country must be the highest priority,” Cooper said. “We are Republicans, and we agree with Gov. Romney’s vision for America in which success is a virtue, equal opportunity is ensured, and leaders recognize that it is the American people, not government, that build our nation and fuel its prosperity.”
2012, Mitt Romney Endorsement: Yes In 2012, the Republican Party fielded former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney to challenge Barack Obama in his bid for re-election. The choice presented a dilemma for Log Cabin. Romney was governor of Massachusetts when the state court legalized same-sex marriage and fought tooth-andnail against the ruling. Like Bush, Romney called for a Federal Marriage Amendment to ban gay nuptials. R. Clarke Cooper, then-president of Log Cabin, and former Rep. Jim Kolbe met
2016, Donald Trump Endorsement: No In 2016, political pundits saw Trump waving an upside-down rainbow Pride flag at a Colorado rally and concluded he was the most pro-gay Republican candidate in history. In some respects, that’s right. Trump had in his private capacity as a businessperson attended a same-sex wedding and donated to HIV/AIDS groups. In his 2016 speech at the Republican National Convention, Trump in the aftermath of the Pulse nightclub shooting pledged to “protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of
a hateful foreign ideology.” But calling him a pro-gay candidate ignores his LGBT policy record. Moreover, Trump’s campaign was based on animus toward minority groups — whether it be Muslims or immigrants. Through an organizational statement, Log Cabin concluded Trump was “perhaps the most pro-LGBT presidential nominee in the history of the Republican Party,” but that wasn’t enough and withheld its endorsement. “Log Cabin Republicans have long emphasized that we are not a single-issue organization, nor are our members singleissue voters,” the statement said. “Even if we were, rhetoric alone regarding LGBT issues does not equate to doctrine.” What it boils down to is Trump — unlike McCain or Romney — refused to meet with Log Cabin, which was a criterion for the organization’s support. Still, Log Cabin did express concern with Trump’s policy on LGBT issues. “As Mr. Trump spoke positively about the LGBT community in the United States, he concurrently surrounded himself with senior advisors with a record of opposing LGBT equality and committed himself to supporting legislation such as the so-called ‘First Amendment Defense Act’ that Log Cabin Republicans opposes.” Continues at losangelesblade.com
Trump: ‘I’ve done very well’ with LGBT community President touts Log Cabin’s re-election endorsement
asked Trump a question while on pool duty at the White House. The exchange follows:
FROM STAFF REPORTS President Trump for the first time on Tuesday acknowledged last week’s endorsement of his 2020 campaign by the Log Cabin Republicans. The Washington Blade’s Chris Johnson
President Trump said, ‘I’ve done really very well with that community, as you know,’ when asked about his administration’s attacks on LGBT Americans. Photo by plainchak/Courtesy Bigstock
Washington Blade: Mr. President, your administration has been taking steps to make it easier to discriminate against LGBT people in the workforce. Are you OK with those actions? President Trump: Well, you know, I just got an award, or an endorsement yesterday from the exact group. You saw that? They gave me the endorsement yesterday. I’ve
done very well with that community and some of my biggest supporters are of that community, and I talk to them a lot about it. I think I’ve done really very well with that community, as you know, Peter Thiel and so many others, they’re — they’re with me all the way, and I just got a big endorsement from the Log Cabin group. The Blade asked a follow up question that went unanswered: “But what about those actions?”
18 • AUGUST 23, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Trump admin. to high court: It’s OK to fire trans workers
Gavin Grimm was a sophomore at Gloucester County High School in 2015 when he filed a federal lawsuit against the district’s policy that prohibited students from using bathrooms and locker rooms that did not correspond with their ‘biological gender.’
Va. school district appeals ruling in Grimm case A Virginia school district this week appealed a federal judge’s ruling in favor of a transgender man who challenged its bathroom policy. The Gloucester County School Board filed its appeal less than two weeks after U.S. District Court Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia ruled in favor of Gavin Grimm. Grimm was a sophomore at Gloucester County High School in 2015 when he filed a federal lawsuit against the district’s policy that prohibited students from using bathrooms and locker rooms that did not correspond with their “biological gender.” Allen on Aug. 9 ruled the district discriminated against Grimm when it enacted the policy. The U.S. Supreme Court was scheduled to hear oral arguments in the case in 2017. The justices remanded it to the 4th Circuit after President Trump rescinded guidance to public schools that said Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 requires them to allow trans students to use restrooms based on their gender identity. “The school board has announced an appeal, showing that despite having another loss under their belt, their priority lies with discriminating against trans students,” said Grimm on Monday in a tweet. “That’s no surprise to us and we won’t quit fighting until the end. Thanks to everyone for your continued support.” MICHAEL K. LAVERS
Defying massive case law, the Trump administration urged the Supreme Court late last week to issue a ruling that federal civil rights law doesn’t cover discrimination based on gender identity, therefore firing workers for being transgender is perfectly legal. In a 54-page brief signed by U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco, the U.S. Justice Department argues Congress didn’t intend to include transgender people when it passed Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars discrimination on the basis of sex in employment. “As it stands, Title VII prohibits treating an individual less favorably than similarly situated individuals of the opposite sex,” the brief says. “It simply does not speak to discrimination because of an individual’s gender identity or a disconnect between an individual’s gender identity and the individual’s sex.” As evidence that Congress didn’t intend Title VII to include transgender people, the briefs to the failure of lawmakers to approve legislation that would explicitly change federal civil rights law to include LGBT people, such as the Employment NonDiscrimination Act or the Equality Act. “It has specifically addressed gender-identity discrimination in multiple other statutes, listing ‘gender identity’ separately from and in addition to ‘sex’ or ‘gender,’” the brief says. “Many states have done the same. Yet in the face of (until recently) uniform circuit precedent construing ‘sex’ in Title VII not to encompass transgender status, Congress has consistently declined similarly to expand that statute — even while amending Title VII in other respects.” The Trump administration filed the brief because the U.S. government is a party in the case before the Supreme Court, EEOC v. Harris Funeral Homes. The Supreme Court agreed to take up the transgender rights case along with two consolidated cases on gay rights, Bostock v. Clayton County and Zarda v. Altitude Express. The latter two will determine whether discrimination against gay, lesbian and bisexual workers is a form of sex discrimination. The Justice Department has an opportunity to weigh in on those cases with a friendof-the-court brief, which is due Aug. 23. It’s likely the Trump administration will take the opportunity to file a brief and, based on the litigation position it assumed in the Zarda case when it was before the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals, declare anti-gay discrimination is also lawful. The litigation in the Harris case was initiated by Aimee Stephens, a transgender employee who was terminated from her job as a director at the Michigan-based funeral home after she announced on the job she’d transition. CHRIS JOHNSON
Rapinoe thinks her dad voted for Trump U.S. women’s soccer team co-captain Megan Rapinoe thinks her father cast his ballot for Donald Trump in the 2016 election. In an interview with the Guardian, Rapinoe opened up about her difficulties having conservative family members. She also shared that her parents are avid watchers of Fox News. “I’m very similar to how they are, even though I think my dad voted for Trump and I’ll say: ‘I don’t get it. How are you simultaneously as proud as punch of me, and watching Fox News all the time, [who are doing] takedowns of your daughter?’ That’s why I’m like: ‘You guys need to go to therapy,’” Rapinoe told the Guardian. Rapinoe added that she thinks her parents should be “really progressive,” based on their beliefs in equality and their support of Rapinoe and her twin sister, who is also a lesbian. “I’m always saying: ‘You guys should really be Democrats!’ But they’re not, so what’s happening?” Rapinoe says. During the World Cup championship, Rapinoe found herself in the midst of a feud with Trump when she stated she would not visit the White House. Trump replied by saying Rapinoe should win the World Cup before commenting about a White House visit. Trump has also been critical of Rapinoe’s protests of the National Anthem during soccer games. MARIAH COOPER
20 • AUGUST 23, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
VOLUME 03 ISSUE 34
Training gives trans, non-binary students dignity, peace of mind Bathroom issues still prevent full authenticity
Maria Quezada is a mother of two and grandmother of four who lives in Boyle Heights. She, at various times through their lives, has had custody of all four of her grandchildren, but currently is raising Lance and his younger brother.
My eldest grandson loved to play basketball. As a family, his siblings and I loved to watch him run up and down the court giving the game his all. Unfortunately, in his senior year of high school, Lance left the sport he loved so much. He wasn’t physically injured or taken off the team due to bad grades. He decided to walk away because as a young transgender man, he was the subject of taunting, bullying and harassment from his teammates, and even his coach, every time he went into his high school locker room. As a boy, it made sense to us that he would use the boy’s locker room. It’s where he felt
safest and most comfortable. But like too many other transgender youth across the country, Lance was forced to use the locker room with his former female teammates — denying him the dignity, respect and sense of security that every child deserves in school. It took a toll on Lance, and he finally made the heartbreaking decision that it was better to give up his passion than to be subjected to taunts and embarrassment any longer. Even after California Gov. Jerry Brown signed the School Success and Opportunity Act in 2013, which required schools to allow students to use the bathrooms or locker rooms consistent with their gender identity, I learned from Lance that his high school wasn’t doing a good job accommodating students like him. During his senior year, the school did provide a separate all-gender bathroom, but it was kept locked and Lance was required to go into the office and ask for a key. “It was embarrassing, Grandma. And the looks they would give you — I didn’t want to use it” Lance said to me. So he kept using the boy’s bathroom, but for his safety, I asked his brother to accompany Lance. It was devastating to find out how many students like Lance have the same experiences. In fact, 70 percent of transgender people who participated in a survey commissioned by UCLA’s Williams Institute said they have been denied access to the bathroom, verbally harassed or even physically attacked.
Too often, conversations about civil rights for transgender people are focused on how policies might affect everyone around them. Treating people fairly and equally harms no one, but denying transgender people access to facilities that match their gender identity robs them of the dignity, respect and safety we all deserve. Recently, I learned about a program called Everybody Changes, which trains employees working at Southern California pools, gyms and public locker rooms to make sure these facilities are safe, accessible and inclusive for the transgender and nonbinary people who use them. The program goes over topics like using proper names and pronouns, as well as the consequences of anti-trans discrimination and misgendering. A program like this would have meant the world for Lance. It would have meant the adults and teachers charged with caring for our children would have had the tools and training they needed to provide a safe and supportive space for all young people — including those who are transgender. It would have spared me the agonizing morning ritual of reminding Lance’s younger brother to make sure he was never alone when his older brother needed to use the bathroom — all the while worrying what might happen to him if he was. It would have meant another small but important step forward for Lance on his journey to living as his authentic self. And it would have given him the chance to pursue the sport he loved so much.
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LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • AUGUST 23, 2019 • 21
To be a public charge We must all stand on the right side of history
Jose Guevara-Johnson is a community organizer and a DACA recipient. He’s pictured here with his husband. (Photo courtesy Guevara-Johson)
My name is Jose Guevara-Johson. I am a migrant from El Salvador who came to the U.S. to reunite with my family at the age of 10. At the age of 15, I discovered two things that changed my life. The ﬁrst was my sexuality; the second, my diagnosis with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. I have relapsed ﬁve times, but each time my family, including my husband, and my resiliency have kept me here. Despite that, I have been an intern for the California Faculty Association, a Congressional Hispanic Caucus alumnus, where I interned in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office, and I’m one class away from my bachelor’s in Political Science from California State University, Los Angeles. Most importantly, I am an unapologetically
undocumented husband. My husband is a U.S. citizen and he is sponsoring me to become a resident. He’s from a small town in North Carolina and even if he wanted to move to El Salvador, my birth country does not recognize our marriage nor will I have the ability to get my life-saving treatments. We are trying to adjust to my legal migration but we believe the Trump administration’s new public charge rules denying public assistance to lawful permanent residents are an attack on people of color, folks with disabilities, the poor, and on LGBT individuals that will further tear families apart. Public charge rules have a dark history as a tool for racial exclusion. The rules began in 1882, ﬁve months before Chinese immigrants were barred from entering the United States. The Immigration Act was the ﬁrst federal policy to bar a person likely to become a public charge, which also gave immigration officials the broad discretion to determine what “public charge” meant. There are reports that when immigrants from Eastern Europeans countries arrived in Ellis Island they had to have $25 in cash and a ticket to their ﬁnal destination. Many were Jewish and when they failed to meet the requirements, they were deported. During the Great Depression, the law was utilized to stigmatize and deport people of color, including the mass expulsion of Mexicans, while those with European roots relied heavily on public relief. Going through the process of adjusting my immigration status, our family must prove
that our income is 125% above the poverty line. I have to do medical tests, ﬁngerprints, a waiver for unlawful presence and travel to my country of birth for an interview—where our future will be dictated by an immigration agent even though I have already done much of this to obtain and maintain my status as DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipient. Currently, the public charge is deﬁned by immigration services as the primary dependence likelihood of relying on cash-aid for income support or long-term care paid for by the government. They rely on multiple factors speciﬁed in the Immigration and Nationality Act, including taking into account “affidavit of supports,” a legal contract by a sponsor indicating that they will ﬁnancially support the immigrant who will not become primarily dependent on the government. They also consider if an immigrant has used welfare or supplemental security income. The use of publicly funded healthcare, nutrition, and housing programs are not currently considered negative factors. However, starting Oct.15, the administration will consider some of these when making the decision to approve individuals seeking to adjust their status. The new public charge rules will now include the use of Medicaid, the Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program and Section 8, and any state or local cash assistance programs as grounds for refuse residency. They will also assess the proﬁciency of speaking English as positive and the lack of it as a negative. They also added the size of
family, education, skills, and age. A medical condition is a negative factor and the ability to pay private insurance a positive. An important positive factor is having a household income of at least 250% of the federal poverty level. All these changes target the poor, unable bodies, people of color, LGBT+, women and children. In short, anyone that belongs to the most marginalized communities is likely to be excluded. The administration has been clear that this is an exclusion of low-income families. Ken Cuccinelli, acting Director of the Citizenship and Immigration Service, edited the famous Emma Lazarus poem on the Statue of Liberty to: “Give me your tired, your poor who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge,” adding that the poem only referred to people “coming from Europe.” The simple question is this: which America do you want to live in? The rule changes are not about legality—they are xenophobic. This is systematic exclusion. Do you want to wait until your friends, neighbors and family are in the place I and many others are in today? Or 10 to 20 years from now, will you be able to say you stood up against this? Will you say: I voted this administration out; I stood on the side of humanity, dignity, and the common values that human beings are not measured on an arbitrary political scale with family members going through hell to stay together? I can only hope that as LGTB+ folks we stand on the right side of history.
Proud at night: The weekend long festival begins on Fri. Aug 23 and runs through Sun. Aug. 25. Photo by Eric Solis/DTLA Proud
2019 DTLA Proud Festival a prelude to year-round presence Event proceeds will help build new community center By SCOTT STIFFLER
The memory of Pride Month lingers, but now it’s time to create some new affectionate recollections—and DTLA (Downtown Los Angeles) Proud has a wellspring of synaptic stimulation for the taking, when that booster of “the diverse LGBTQ population that lives, works and plays in LA’s fastest-growing gayborhood” throws its annual community festival, featuring a slew of fabulous new offerings. “We really believe in the four pillars of spreading optimism, growing the community, celebrating everyone’s story, and expanding our definition of diversity,” says DTLA Proud Board of Directors President Oliver Alpuche, of the four-year-old non-profit organization’s mission statement. “Everything we do has those filters in it, whether we’re planning events or visualizing our community center.” More on August 23-25’s 2019 DTLA Proud Festival a bit later, dear reader—but first, the skinny on Proud’s bid to widen its presence past that annual outdoor gathering, by establishing a permanent brick and mortar presence in Downtown Los Angeles. “In order to fulfill our mission,” says Alpuche,
“we need to be active 365 days a year. So we set out to start building the infrastructure of how we become an organization that is represented year-round.” The answer comes in the form of their upcoming Community Center, which friends and supporters caught a glimpse of, during DTLA Proud’s August 5 Gala, via renderings of the space they’re currently bidding for. Construction is set to begin next year. Once open, the Center plans to offer an all-ages cafe featuring a transitional youth job training program and a queer library, 20 co-working office spaces for LGBTQ+ non-profit start-ups, a conference room and theater, a community room and artist studios, a rooftop events space, a drop-in center, and LGBTQ+ services including career counseling, testing, senior support, and financial advisement. Alpuche says DTLA Proud is still in the stages of engagement with the very community their Community Center will serve, to establish “what the programming looks like, and how LGBTQ non-profits will showcase their services. We’re seeking input, to create a space where everyone is welcome. We bring
events [and services] that will benefit the community.” Circling back to their recent Gala, talk turned to one something almost as important as a multi-faceted Community Center: fashion. “We had a really spectacular pink carpet at the space at the Otuim, notes DTLA Proud Board of Directors Vice President Eric Solis, “and we really encouraged our attendees to ‘dress to express.’ We wanted our gala to be more of an atmosphere that is free, expressive, and inclusive.” “People put so much effort into their outfits, and breaking the norms of what ‘cocktail attire’ means. It was so great to see people having fun with it—sequins, kimonos, drag. We saw really fun, bright colors, that you wouldn’t see at your typical gala event,” says Alpuche, pointing readers toward the event’s social media footprint. “A picture says 1,000 words,” he notes, “and you’ll see that on the Facebook page, where we posted all f them.” And when it comes to social media photo ops, you haven’t seen anything yet. What they’ll post after this year’s Festival will make it seem as if you were there—and if you were
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Main Stage entertainment at the DTLA Proud Festival is anything but a drag, especially when the talent is in drag. Photo courtesy of DTLA Proud
there, and aren’t the shy type, you just might see yourself in one of the post-event postings. “We evolve every year,” says Alpuche, of the Festival. “We look at what the feeling in the air is, and ask how we can support our community… We’re also introducing The Marketplace,” he says, of the custom-built shopping experience featuring 20 queer entrepreneurs (such as Stuzo Clothing and The Giving Keys), whose custom-built stores are meant to elevate their brands and showcase their businesses to the community. “The same goes,” says Alpuche, for the debut of The Artist Alley, an art walk highlighting the work of 20 local queer artists. This year, notes Alpuche, the Festival will have “a history monument, because it is the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, so we decided to crate a history/heritage monument, and a mural that will be painted throughout [the Festival].” In partnership with the One National Gay and Lesbian Archives, DTLA Proud, promises the monument will be “an amazing tribute to LA’s queer history, dating back 10 years before Stonewall.” “If we don’t know the past,” says Alpuche,
“we don’t know where we need to go!” Of what you’ll find on the Main Stage, Alpuche notes, “We’re excited to announce we have a 100 percent queer talent lineup.” On Saturday, the rainbow-hued roster includes the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence (2:10 PM), the Trans Chorus of Los Angeles (2:30 PM), June Clivas and the Ditty Boys (5 PM), and Kimora Blac (6 PM). At 7:20 PM, it’s this article’s very own Oliver Alpuche and Eric Solis, speaking on behalf of the Proud Board of Directors. On Sunday, you’ll find, among many others, Cheer LA (12:45 PM), Trans Hour of Power (5 PM), The Pansy Craze Peepshow (6:30 PM), and Miss Shalae (9 PM). To accommodate this sprawling event, Solis notes, “We are doing a street closure of Hill Street. That goes to show we are growing out of the [past] boundaries, and further into the city.” And for those who want to join DTLA Proud as they continue to grow? New members are always welcome, said Alpuche, noting they are “a 100 percent volunteer board. We’re small, but mighty. We’re also looking for new Board [of Directors] members, and we’ll have
advisory board members coming online, who will help with specific committees. And we’d love as much of the community to get involved through our annual forums, where we get a pulse on what people want to see. We truly listen to them. If there’s someone who is willing to create something for the community, we will be supportive of that.” The expanded Festival footprint, active recruitment of more volunteers and board members, and a Community Center that will serve as its year-round calling card came about because, Alpuche notes, “One of the things we realized this year, is, we’re not going to wait for a seat at the table. We’re going to go to our own.” The fourth annual DTLA Proud Festival happens Fri.-Sun., Aug. 23-25, in Pershing Square. The alcohol-free, free Friday event (4-10 p.m.) features Drag Queen Story Time, a Gaymers Lounge, and a Main Stage packed with local talent. Alcohol is available for purchase at the 12-10 PM, 21+ events on Sat. and Sun. Tickets are $10 per day. All proceeds will help build the DTLA Proud Community Center.
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24 • AUGUST 23, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
OUT & ABOUT
Utopian Queers of Burning Man Whatever your brand of an ultimate world, you will ﬁnd yourself in the desert FROM STAFF REPORTS
Jose Caballer Photo Courtesy Caballer
David Jensen Photo Courtesy Jensen
Franco Cefalo Photo Courtesy Cefalo
Richard Radiance Photo Courtesy Radiance
“Most men and women lead lives at the worst so painful, at the best so monotonous, poor and limited that the urge to escape, the longing to transcend themselves if only for a few moments, is and has always been one of the principal appetites of the soul.” ― Aldous Huxley, The Doors of Perception/ Heaven and Hell For many people, hearing the words “Burning Man” conjures up a dusty interlude somewhere in the desert near Black Rock, Nev. And yet, each year, thousands of people from around the world come together to build, live and demolish a diverse town. Black Rock City is unlike any other place in the world, with employees and citizens who build an exquisite, commerce-free place in just one week. Whether you are a virgin burner or a veteran, Burning Man is a cathartic, life changing experience. The Los Angeles Blade talked to attendees about their participation. Jose Caballer “That ﬁrst burn was a journey of discovery,” reminisced queer-ish graphic design expert Jose Caballer, who co-founded Node Republik, one of the many wildly creative camps with Jesse Grushack. “I had brought with me pillows, shade, costumes, a little tribal drum, jewelry— all that symbolized where I was in my journey. “That Tuesday on a playa journey, I was gifted the keys to the doors of perception. I accepted and proceeded to take a journey of initiation.” Where the burlap shade structure Caballer built became a ﬁlter for the rays of sunlight, the drum became a bridge to his Caribbean ancestry and taught him how to play. “And that the center was the ﬁre, the heart and the edges was the conversation, the community. I played with campmates at Mardi Gras as if I was channeling the spirit of Tito Puente. I went to a talk on Sacred Geometry at Red Lighting, to yoga and meditation. I danced, skated, pillow fought and attended a nonsexual nudity workshop that I stumbled on at a physics talk. It was an explosion of new ideas, new ways of being and a world I knew existed but didn’t even know I was looking for.” David Jensen “It’s a challenge just to go,” noted ﬁve-time attendee David Jensen, who is part of The Pink Fuzzy Monkeys camp, an art camp with activities every afternoon, like Titty Twister and Homo Hoe Down. “One plans for months, you don’t just show up! And that’s both a blessing and a challenge.” Jensen says the queer community is a key element/foundation to Burning Man. “I feel
COMPLETELY accepted and supported...it doesn’t matter who you are there, as long as you’re kind, empathetic, and live your life in a non-judgmental and accepting way.” The queer business entrepreneur is intrigued by this year’s theme: Metamorphosis. “Meta= next chapter. Being that I am about to create my latest startup, it’s the perfect place for me to get inspired.” Back in 2004, co-founder Larry Harvey wrote the Ten Principles as a guideline for regional groups who meet year-round, which illustrate Burning Man’s values that have evolved since the event ﬁrst was held. This is why Jensen has not been happy with the “trustafarians” culture. “These are rich 24 year olds that try to have private camps. All that nonsense is not part of the Principles, which celebrate the communal nature and kindness that abounds.” Franco Cefalo With everyone dressed in ﬂamboyant, colorful and sexy burner wear, ﬁnding the Burning Man “Gayborhood” can be a challenge. “Nevertheless, LGBTQ folks are everywhere and pretty indistinguishable from any other burner,” quipped Franco Cefalo, who has attended for 13 years. Cefalo has stayed at a variety of camps, including The French Quarter, (looks like New Orleans) and Kostume Kult (gives away costumes). “And I’ve run my own camp for a few years. This time, our camp 3DBJ, has a ‘Baywatch’ theme, with two art cars that look like jet skis and one that is a lifeguard stand.” Cefalo, who has been with men and women, loves visiting the many LGBTQ-themed camps. “I participate in the Naked Pub Crawl every year, which stops at a number of gay camps along the route. I’m a wrangler, so I have a megaphone to alert people when it’s time to move on to the next pub. It’s fun.” Every camp has its own ﬂavor and personality. “The sexy-themed camps are obvious, but my favorites are ones like Celestial Bodies, which is a welcoming space for people to gather, regardless of identity or orientation. It’s a lovely, friendly vibe,” Cefalo added. While the Burning Man experiment is ever changing in pursuit of improvements and inclusiveness, “I can’t imagine what the LGBTQ community would want that is any more inclusive than this place,” emphasized Cefalo. “The one thing I’d like to see more of are women-based camps.” Richard Radiance While Richard Radiance loves the Burning Continues on page 28
FRANK BRUNI IN CONVERSATION WITH SARAH SMARSH Sun, Dec 8 | Royce Hall
AIN GORDON 217 Boxes of Dr. Henry Anonymous Fri, Oct 11 & Sat, Oct 12 | Freud Playhouse
Orange is the New Blackâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s
LEA DELARIA In Concert
Sat, Jan 18 | The Theatre at Ace Hotel
CELEBRATING LGBTQ+ ARTISTS
JOHN CAMERON MITCHELL The Origin Of Love Tour Sat, Apr 11 | The Theatre at Ace Hotel
ANTHONY DE MARE
Liaisons 2020: Re-imagining Sondheim From The Piano Sat, Apr 25 | Royce Hall
TICKETS ON SALE NOW
DAVID SEDARIS Sun, May 10 | Royce Hall
cap.ucla.edu | 310-825-2101 @cap_ucla | #capucla
26 • AUGUST 23, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Season of ‘Witch’ to open at Geffen A fiendishly funny new play by Jen Silverman By JOHN PAUL KING
“Witch,” which opens at the Geffen this month, is a fiendishly funny new play by Jen Silverman, inspired by classic play “The Witch of Edmonton.” Emmy nominee and Golden Globe winner Maura Tierney (“ER,” “The Affair”) stars as Elizabeth Banks, a woman who has been labeled a “witch” and cast out by the quiet village of Edmonton. When a charming devil comes to town, looking to bargain for the souls of its residents in exchange for their darkest wishes, he assumes that Elizabeth will be the easiest to target, but it turns out her soul is not so readily bought. An inventive retelling of Rowley, Dekker and Ford’s Jacobean drama, Silverman’s take is a sharp, subversive fable that debates how much our souls are worth when hope is hard to come by. It also serves as platform to explore themes that resonate with contemporary feminist and LGBT experience. The cast also features Brian George (“Three Seasons,” “Stuff Happens”) as Sir Arthur Banks, Ruy Iskandar (“Macbeth,” “The Tempest”) as Frank Thorney, Evan Jonigkeit (“Sweetbitter,” “The Snow Geese”) as Scratch, Vella Lovell (“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” “The Big Sick”) as Winnifred, and Will Von Vogt (“Significant Other,” “Angels in America”) who replaces previously announced in the role of Cuddy Banks, an LGBTQ character who is obsessed with Morris Dancing. “Witch,” directed by Marti Lyons (“How to Defend Yourself,” “Boticelli in the Fire”), marks the first Geffen production to launch the 2019/2020 season, which is the second season to be programmed by Artistic Director Matt Shakman. The play was originally commissioned by and premiered at Writers Theatre (Michael Halberstam, Artistic Director; Kathryn M. Lipuma, Executive Director). It’s not a first effort from Silverman, who is a New York-based writer. Her prior work includes “The Roommate,” “Collective Rage: A Play in Five Betties,” “Dangerous House,” and “The Moors,” and has been produced in important venues throughout the country such as Actor’s Theatre of Louisville, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, and Yale Repertory Theatre. Random House recently published her first book, a collection of interlinked stories called “The Island Dwellers, and her first novel is forthcoming in 2021. She also writes for television and film – most recently on Netflix’s revival of “Tales of the City.” The Blade spoke with the playwright about her show’s 500-year-old roots. Los Angeles Blade: What led you to Jacobean drama as a platform for the issues you wanted to explore? Jen Silverman: “I’d been interested in “The Witch of Edmonton” for a long time. The original play is so disarming and subversive; it’s unlike any of the other witch plays I’ve read from that time period. The idea of engaging with that text felt like an invitation to explore a subversive, shape-shifting structure, but populate it with contemporary questions.” Blade: How much of the play is meant to be a direct reflection of our contemporary society? Was there a specific modern event or cultural conversation that inspired you to write it? Silverman: “The play is entirely contemporary. To me the joy of an adaptation – or a riff, maybe I wouldn’t even call this an adaptation – is choosing a different shaped window through which we can look at what’s happening right now.” Blade: Does the play call attention to the intersectionality between feminist and LGBT concerns? Silverman: “I’m a little wary of prefacing any play with a political agenda – which is not to say that I don’t value politics in art. As a queer woman, I bring a specific lens to my work. And I am fascinated by power dynamics, and the many kinds of power and disempowerment that can exist simultaneously within a relationship - or a culture. But when it comes to theatre, I’m interested in a political vocabulary that is complex, contradictory, and built on questions instead of answers.”
‘Witch’ follows the exploits of a charming devil character and a woman labeled a witch who is cast out of her town. Photos Courtesy Geffen
Blade: The press release calls the play “fiendishly funny.” Is that how you would describe it? Silverman: “I think of the play as a dark comedy, with increasing emphasis on the dark. I find comedy a unique vehicle for examining what is raw and painful and dangerous. It lets us go places where we might not otherwise safely go.” Blade: We’re not asking you to interpret your own work for us, but what are some of the points you hope audiences will take away with them from the show? Silverman: “I hope audiences enjoy themselves. And hopefully that some of the questions of the play stick with them… and maybe even that, by turning these questions over, they uncover a workable set of answers. And then they save the world. Somebody, please save the world.” Previews for “Witch” are currently underway, so you can still get an early look at this intriguing show before it officially opens on Aug. 29. For tickets, schedule, and more info, visit the Geffen’s website at geffenplayhouse.org.
OUT & ABOUT
28 • AUGUST 23, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Continued from page 24
Libby Higgins Photo Courtesy Higgins
Anthony Drew Photo Courtesy Drew
Boots Photo Courtesy Boots
Man principle that encourages the individual to discover, exercise and rely on his or her inner resources, he feels the organization could help more people with limited incomes to attend. “This is a for-proﬁt, beautiful festival with a lovely bunch of subcultures attached to it, and a deeply spiritual history. But even church is a business. So is Burning Man. If I could change anything, I would make it cheaper, and make it easier for broke LGBTQIA kids to get out there. I would trade 20 European millionaires to give a couple of gay boys from South Central an opportunity to take a bike ride on the deep playa.” Radiance, who is bisexual, took his ﬁrst experience at camp Wasabi Kisses as an opportunity to try on a new gender expression and identity. “I wore dresses and drag almost the whole week, and used they/them pronouns. My camp was extremely accommodating, and so were many people I met. It help me answer some questions I had about my own masculinity and gender identity.” Libby Higgins With so much happening at every hour of the day, sometimes it’s a bit hard to ﬁnd the LGBTQ happenings. Bisexual production coordinator Libby Higgins has been to Burning Man twice, staying with the camps, Whiskey and Dust and Black Rock Bakery. “While I didn’t search too hard, I found the LGBTQ culture to not be readily evident. My impression was that it seemed to be limited to speciﬁc camps, bringing like- minded people That said, there are so many ‘scenes’ on the playa that it’s impossible to experience them all!” she enthused. Higgins continued: “Burning Man culture is so inclusive that to me it’s impossible for it to feel exclusionary. But I felt like the visibility just isn’t there. I thought I read the guide closely, but couldn’t recall seeing many LGBTQ-speciﬁc events.” When she comes back again, Higgins would like to see improved accessibility for people of color and improved visibility for LGBTQ people. Anthony Drew Anthony Drew had a “mesmerizing and awe inspiring” experience with his ﬁrst Burn last year, staying with Poly Paradise, one of the biggest camps, based out of Phoenix. “It was about 17 years in the making! I felt like I was at an adult playground—you can have fun in so many diﬀerent ways, be it singing, dancing, roller skating, telling people to fuck oﬀ, walking away from a conversation mid sentence and not looking back! These are things you cannot get away with in the default world!” Drew enjoyed the fact that people were so
open and loving there. “I made friends with this giant straight biker dude that I thought was going to kill me but just wanted to greet me with a hug. We had a beer everyday, he was my neighbor. He gave me my playa name, mamabear! It’s fun for so many reasons.” Drew will deﬁnitely be back next year. “While Black Rock City may be de-commodiﬁed, getting there is not (tickets, ﬂights, supplies, etc.) so every other year seems reasonable to attend. Besides, no one should have that much fun annually!” Boots (Playa Name) This will be Boots’ eighth year at Burning Man. The most special moments she has experienced happened during the building of her camp’s infrastructure. “Setting up our large goedesic dome, our shade structures, our kitchen, our shower, etc. was amazing. Radical self-reliance and communal eﬀort are two of the principles, and physically building a camp requires and expresses both of those initiatives,” she said. Boots has felt empowered working with a team of women and non-binary people. “To build that without the assistance of cis-men, who are generally the dominant ones society associates with the ability to do manual labor, is incredible.” It can be diﬃcult to be at a non-LGBTQ-speciﬁc camp the way that it can be diﬃcult to attend your heterosexual cousin’s wedding, where every other guest appears to be heterosexual, acknowledged Boots. “The experience of being the only queer at a camp can be alienating for some, which is why I think Camp Beaverton provides an important space on the playa. This is a place where queer and non-binary people can come be around other queer women and non-binary folk.” Boots has never felt unsafe as a result of her sexual orientation or aﬃliation with Camp Beaverton. “There are many more camps for queer men than there are for queer women in the gayborhood, but this is also consistent with cities outside of burning man, where gay men tend to geographically cluster more than lesbians do.” Boots would like to see the Burning Man organization increase the number of LGBTQ people at the event, by oﬀering more low-income tickets. “When folks pass through the gate, they enter a city that utilizes a gift economy,” she noted. “However, getting there requires quite a bit of participating in the capitalist economy. It generally costs thousands of dollars, between the ticket price and all the food and gear it takes to sustain yourself on the playa,” she stated. “Making the event more aﬀordable to demographics who are screwed over in the default world by the gender/sexuality/racial wage gap, would be immensely helpful.
MAPS & GUIDES I EVENTS I BARS & RESTAURANTS
30 • AUGUST 23, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Meet me at the Formosa, again Iconic eatery takes diners back to Hollywood’s Golden Age By JOHN PAUL KING
The iconic Formosa Café has begun yet another exciting new chapter. Photo by John Paul King
Anyone who has lived in Los Angeles for more than a decade would surely be able to tell you why, when the Formosa Cafe reopened at the end of June, it was a very big deal. Nestled within easy lunching distance of Hollywood, West Hollywood, and even Beverly Hills, its lush and vaguely exotic exterior has been beckoning passers-by for decades. Founded by prize-fighter Jimmy Bernstein in 1925 inside a retired Red Car trolley in 1925 near what was then the United Artists studio lot, it became known as a hot spot for Hollywood’s most chic-and-famous faces, a reputation it maintained through most of its long and storied existence. Bogie and Bacall, Liz Taylor, John Wayne, Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Rock Hudson, River Phoenix, Johnny Depp - these are just a few of the names on a list of celebrity patrons that reads like a “Who’s Who” of Hollywood history. Gangster Bugsy Siegel even had a private office set up in the back room during one of the shadier periods of the Formosa’s past life. The hipness of its Hollywood heyday was long gone, however, by 2015, when then-owner Vince Jung made an effort to rebrand the vintage eatery for a new era by ripping out the original interiors and replacing them with a more contemporary all-grey environment. It didn’t work; patrons were underwhelmed with the change, and they missed the old-school Chinese restaurant décor that had always been integral to the Formosa’s iconic vibe. When the restaurant unceremoniously closed its doors in December of 2016, it may have been unannounced, but was not necessarily unexpected. The Formosa has always been a survivor, though, and with its much-anticipated re-launch, the Cafe has begun yet another new chapter by drawing on its strongest capitol – its status both monument to and part of the mythic Golden Age of Hollywood. To that end, its resurrection has been orchestrated (by Bobby Green of The 1933 Group, responsible for the recent rebirth of several other vintage Los Angeles spaces) to immerse visitors right in the middle of that mythic age and make them feel a part of it Stepping into the new Formosa, you are first struck with the overwhelming impression you’ve walked into a deep red fever dream of mid-Century faux-Asian exotica – and that’s exactly the desired effect, of course. Rescued from storage, restored and expanded, all the Café’s classic elements have returned in their garish glory, along with a few additions; included now is a new area in which the long-beloved Yee Mee Loo Bar (an L.A. classic that closed in 1989) has been lovingly restored, complete with an exhibition of ephemera documenting and celebrating the Asian-American contribution to Hollywood history. The original trolley section, from which the rest of the Café was expanded in 1939, has also been restored and returned to full public use; as the restaurant’s website proudly points out, it has been confirmed as the oldest surviving Red Car in existence, dating back to 1904. Every corner and cranny is packed with artifacts, from the nearly 250 vintage headshots (all original) adorning the walls, to the collection of Elvis-shaped liquor decanters owned by The King himself, to Bugsy Siegel’s no-longer-secret floor safe. Surrounding it all is the meticulously recreated custom wallpaper, décor, signage, furnishings, and everything else you’ve remembered (or imagined) about the Cafe’s legendary
past. It’s an overstimulating visual landscape, loud as the echoing cacophony of excited voices filling the space thanks to the building’s complicated acoustics. Yet as “too much” as the whole thing seems, in fact it’s “just right.” You might be overwhelmed, at first, but you are sure to be walking the entire restaurant before your visit is over, soaking in the atmosphere and delving into the details of each piece of history proudly displayed throughout. Sure, it’s all a little over the top, but it’s also a little thrilling; like the copious neon that surrounds the Formosa’s bars, its glare beckons you, invites you to make yourself comfortable and stay awhile. Once you do, you can choose from an array of evocatively named cocktails (the Bijou, the Blood and Sand, the Ghost of Sam Goldwyn) while you peruse the refreshingly compact menu to select your evening’s meal choices. The offerings are entirely new creations by chef David Kuo (of Mar Vista’s Little Fatty Taiwanese restaurant), described on the Formosa’s website as “a retrospective of Formosa’s culinary evolution since the 1920s” designed to give patrons “another way to connect to a part of L.A.’s gastronomic history.” These are re-imagined renditions of traditional Chinese restaurant staples – hearty, traditional, and basic – but like the Cafe’s atmosphere, these dishes are all about the details, and they are anything but ordinary. There are familiar classics – egg rolls and pot stickers, fried rice, Chinese chicken salad – but there are also choices for the more adventurous, like “Squid Ink Xiao Long Bao ‘XLB’ soup dumplings” and “General Tso Cauliflower.” There are vegan and vegetarian recipes (you’re still in 2019, after all, even if you are surrounded by 1939), various levels of “spicy,” and everything is rendered with special touches; almost every dish contains an ingredient you wouldn’t expect – toasted coconut, cilantro, pickled Fresno chiles – and is served up freshly prepared, ensuring that, even without the historysteeped environment, your meal would still be far more memorable than a trip to Panda Express. From the familystyle selection made by our party, the star attraction was the Walnut Shrimp – exquisitely battered and glazed, with honey aioli, candied walnuts, sesame seeds, and shaved radish as a colorful complement – but everything was delicious, so don’t be afraid to choose something off the beaten path. The food, satisfying as it may be, has never been the main attraction at the Formosa, though. Its identity is defined by its proximity to legend; functioning as a threshold space where the world of fame and glamour intersected with the everyday life of the city around it, it has always been a place for those in love with Hollywood – the romance of it, the excitement and the bravado and the wildness of it, the idealized vision of a dream factory reflecting back its own image. While it’s well documented that the Formosa has been frequented by famous guests over its decades-long tenure, far more of its customers have always been fans and tourists, hoping to catch a glimpse of a favorite star or sit in a booth where once they sat. The new Formosa has cannily embraced that core essence of its longevity, and the result is an electric, almost giddy experience that – at least in the month-and-a-half since its unveiling – has drawn crowds from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. every single day. It’s pure showmanship – but then, isn’t that what Hollywood is all about?
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32 • AUGUST 23, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
TV catch-up time Staggering release of content means you may have missed some good shows By BRIAN T. CARNEY
Zendaya in ‘Euphoria.’ Photo courtesy HBO
The Prince and Sir Cedrick with their daughter Nia in ‘The Bravest Night.’ Photo courtesy Hulu
Yvonne Strahovski and Elisabeth Moss in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale.’ Photo by Sophie Giraud, courtesy Hulu
New television releases were fast and furious this summer, especially during Pride month. Before the fall season is underway, here’s a quick guide to some of the LGBT programming you may have missed. “Euphoria” is firmly grounded in the old and the new. The style and content are ripped from the Internet’s most lurid headlines, but the feeling hearkens back to the teenage alienation movies of James Dean and John Hughes. High school junior Rue Bennet (the stellar Zendaya) is the spiritual granddaughter of Tennessee Williams’ Brick Pollack, searching for the “click” that will make the outside world fade away. She’s part of the generation that was born after the 9-11 bombings and is growing up with the ubiquitous presence of social media, the ready availability of powerful drugs and dizzying new possibilities for the expression of sexuality and gender. But while the premise is promising, the execution is flawed and the new eight-episode series from HBO lacks momentum. The acting is terrific, but the writing is uneven. The verdict: although “Euphoria” has already been picked up for a second season, there’s not a lot of reason to spend time with the first. Given the intensity of each episode, binge-watching is not recommended. Under the watchful eye of creator Tanya Saracho, season two of “Vida” on STARZ lives up to the award-winning standards of the inaugural season. Passionate, stylish and intelligent, the series offers powerful representations of Latinx culture and a rich celebration of complex Latinx women. Lyn and Emma Hernandez (Melissa Barrera and Mishel Prada) are coming to terms with the death of their mother Vida and the revelation that she had a “lesbian husband” named Eddy (played by non-binary actor Ser Anzoategui) and that her businesses were on the verge of bankruptcy. The verdict: The acting is superb and the writing is sharp. The nuanced exploration of female empowerment and sexuality is fascinating and powerful. Binge-watching recommended. On a more family-friendly note, “The Bravest Knight” is dropping new episodes on Hulu. Based on the book by Daniel Errico, the charming animated series weaves together the youthful exploits of Sir Cedric and his Prince with the training of their daughter Nia, a “Not-Yet-Knight.” The voice cast (led by out actor T.R. Knight) is terrific, the animation is colorful and lively and the show presents issues of diversity in an age-appropriate and matter-of-fact manner. The verdict: each bite-size episode is the perfect treat for the entire family. Netflix is streaming both classic and new versions of stories from Armistead Maupin’s iconic “Tales of the City” series. The classic episodes, based on the first three books in the nine-book series, were originally shown on Showtime. The new Netflix episodes are an awkward attempt to update Maupin’s story, creating contemporary plotlines (and new backstories) for Maupin’s beloved characters. The stories center on the residents of an apartment building at 28 Barbary Lane in San Francisco owned by Anna Madrigal (Olympia Dukakis). Over time, her tenants include Mary Ann Singleton (Laura Linney), Brian Hawkins (Paul Gross) and Michael “Mouse” Tolliver (Murray Bartlett in the new version). Given the excellence of these actors and the richness of Maupin’s characters, there are scenes in the new version that sparkle, especially those that feature Mary Ann. In both the Showtime and Netflix episodes, Laura Linney is luminous as the lovable but prickly Mary Ann, giving a brave transparent performance. It’s the perfect marriage of actor and character. Unfortunately, most of the new material is leaden and the rest of the cast seems adrift. The verdict: like the botched release of New Coke in 1985, it’s best to stick with the classic version and pretend that the new version never existed. Finally, Hulu is dropping new episodes of season three of “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Based on the best-selling dystopian novel by Margaret Atwood, the popular series has proven to be an eerie mirror of contemporary political life in the United States. In the near future, environmental disasters have rendered most women infertile. A theocratic coup has overthrown the government of the United States and established a brutal regime called Gilead; fertile women are forced to become Handmaidens, surrogate mothers for the powerful Commanders and their wives. Season three follows immediately in the wake of season two and continues to explore the growth of the resistance, the psychological toll of living under the totalitarian regime in Gilead and the lingering impact of the past on the present. The strong ensemble cast continues their flawless work. The writing is outstanding and the cinematography is stunning. The verdict: Fans of “The Handmaid’s Tale” will not be disappointed by the developments of season three and can now anticipate the publication of “The Testaments,” Atwood’s follow-up to the original novel. New fans may want to start with season one to savor all of the details in this great series. Binge-watching is not recommended. The emotional and intellectual impact of each episode can be overwhelming.
34 • AUGUST 23, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Lemon faces lawsuit after alleged barroom encounter CNN anchor denies tawdry claim by man who offered to buy a drink By BILLY MASTERS
CNN’s Don Lemon is facing a lawsuit for alleged bad behavior at a Sag Harbor bar. Photo by kathclick / Courtesy Bigstock
“I don’t know if you noticed or not, but there’s a bit of an age difference between the two of us. But on this cruise, nobody gives a shit.” — Katharine McPhee’s quip about her marriage to David Foster while performing on the inaugural VACAYA cruise to Provincetown. The second night, she had a message to critics - “Go fuck yourself.” Message received. Tom Brady is known for being pretty fit and not particularly bright. In the September issue of “Men’s Health,” he reveals his disappointment when one of his sons showed no interest in sports. “When Benny came along, I thought he’d be just like Jack [his older son]. So I was like, “C’mon, let’s do this.’ And he was like, ‘Nope.’ And I was like, ‘What? No, do this!’” That gives you an idea of the scintillating banter going on in the Brady household. “And Gisele kept saying to me, ‘Would you effing understand that your son is different?’ It was hard for me. I was like, ‘What do you mean? He’s a boy; he should just do all these things that I do.’ The reality is that Benny just likes different things. And it’s great because now I just have to go do what he wants to do. When we do that, we have the best time. He’s like, ‘OMG, Dad, you’re so funny.’” Yeah, that Tom Brady is a laugh riot! What’s not funny is sexual assault. But in the current climate where career-ending accusations come fast and furious, where does due process fit in? Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty? Case in point: Don Lemon. According to reports, he was in Sag Harbor last July and had an encounter with bartender Dustin Hice, who is suing for unspecified damages stemming from emotional pain and loss of earnings. Hice was working at a bar called Murf’s. According to his statement, Hice “tried to get Mr. Lemon’s attention and offered to buy Mr. Lemon a drink.” Don apparently declined. Later, Hice claims that Lemon “put his hand down the front of his own shorts, and vigorously rubbed his genitalia, removed his hand and shoved his index and middle finger in Plaintiff’s moustache and under Plaintiff’s nose.” He then asked Hice, “Do you like pussy or dick?” The “attack” has left Mr. Hice with “feelings of shame, humiliation, anxiety, anger, and guilt.” Reports allege that Hice asked Lemon for $1.5 million not to file the suit. Lemon (again) declined. Hice then posted a photo standing in front of CNN headquarters with the caption, “touring the #CNN center today...or as #Trump would say, ‘the home of Fake News’ lol.” As for the network, CNN is standing by Don Lemon, stating, “The plaintiff in this lawsuit has previously displayed a pattern of contempt for CNN on his social media accounts. This claim follows his unsuccessful threats and demands for an exorbitant amount of money from Don Lemon. Don categorically denies these claims and this matter does not merit any further comment at this time.” This leads into yet another Fayewatch which, of course, is connected with Dunaway’s disastrous Boston run of the play “Tea at Five.” This story isn’t about Faye being fired; it’s about Faye firing her assistant. According to documents filed in Manhattan Supreme Court, Michael Rocha began working as Faye’s personal assistant on April 5 and was paid $1,500/week. He would do her shopping, remind her to take her meds, plan her schedule, and get her to places on time — so now we know who to blame. He claims that Faye called him “a little homosexual boy” and referred to people around her as “little gay people.” We don’t have to take his word for it - the little one recorded Faye making the offensive comments. He went to the general manager and production’s lawyer. In short order he was fired, being told that Faye “is not comfortable with you anymore.” He is suing for unspecified damages. Faye Dunaway - the gift that keeps on giving. During my latest trip to Provincetown, I spent some time at the Ptown Art House with my pals, Well-Strung. Unlike previous years when they’ve been in town for the whole season, this was a one-week run. The show was kinda like their greatest hits, which was OK with me. My favorite boys playing all my favorites. What’s not to like? Also at the Art House was the luminous Liz Callaway - who has seemingly stopped time. Beyond the brilliant sheen of her voice, there is a winsome, urgent quality that draws you in. And then there’s her brilliant way of connecting with lyrics and touching your soul. All in all, it may have been one of the most perfect shows I’ve seen in eons. Catch her whenever you have the chance and check out PtownArtHouse.com for other concerts and events. This week, I had more stories than I could include in print. Happily, you can read all the latest dish at www.BillyMasters.com - the site that’ll have you coming back for seconds. We didn’t have room for an “Ask Billy” question, but you can ask me anything you want. Just send an e-mail to Billy@BillyMasters.com and I promise to get back to you before Faye plays Ptown. So, until next time, remember, one man’s filth is another man’s bible.
36 • AUGUST 23, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Madonna Bar on Saturday August 31 is this year’s last chance to dance to non-stop Madonna music all night long. See Aug. 31.
SUN AUG 25
City of West Hollywood Women’s Equality Day Commemoration 2019 is today from 2:00 PM to 6:00 at City Council Chambers (625 North San Vicente). Join the City of West Hollywood and its Women’s Advisory Board to commemorate the historic 99th anniversary of women winning the vote in the United States and to fight for women’s equal rights. The event will feature a panel followed by a screening of The Great American Lie, the third documentary film from director Jennifer Siebel Newsom ( Miss Representation, The Mask You Live In) and The Representation Project. The film explores social and economic immobility and inequity in the U.S. and the role of gendered values on American society. This is a free event. Farmer’s Market Celebrates the 80s is from 2:00 PM to 7:00 PM today at Farmer’s Market at The Grove (63333 West 3rd Street). DJ’s spinning of your favorite 80s tunes while you nosh on your favorite Farmer’s Market treats. While you are there you will enjoy an extravaganza of all things Farmer’s Market times all things 80’s divided by all things Grove. It’s one of LA’s most fun neighborhood events, with DJ Ricky spinning 80’s tunes on the West Patio, Arts and crafts, a Photo Booth, 80’s Karaoke, and a performance by The Radio Rebels. Just show up. It’s free.
TUE AUG 27 Nasty Fruit is today from 10:00 PM to 1:00 AM at Redline Bar (131 East 6th Street). At Redline, DJ’s like Shockrocker69 aren’t just DJ’s and drag artists are not just drag queens; they are curators. And this week, the curators have something ridiculously nasty in store. It involves two of LA’s leading curators, MJ Brown aka Miss Barbie-Q and Kai Hazelwood, of performance and nightlife will join forces to produce NASTY FRUIT, Mimi Tempestt, Tolliver, Puzzi Niggr, and Good Trouble Makers. There is no cover but you better be nasty.
WED AUG 28
of Culture and Entertainment, Out Magazine; Brandon I. Brooks, managing editor at the Los Angeles Sentinel and L.A. Watts Times; and Lilly Workneh, editor-in-chief of Blavity News, discuss the future of black journalism and its impact on the city of Los Angeles. Moderated by Tony Cox, associate chair and professor of journalism at Cal State Los Angeles. Presented in partnership with the J.L. Edmonds Project. Open to the public and free.
Street Food Cinema West Hollywood: Outdoor Flicks, Food & Music is today from 8:30 PM to 11:30 PM at Poinsettia Park (7341 Willoughby Ave). Your favorite movies, tasty food from SoCal’s best mobile eateries and a beautiful night under the Los Angeles sky. You’ll be hard pressed to find a better way to spend a summer evening with friends. Whether you’re surfing in Malibu, grabbing a bite in Pasadena, or hiking the hills in one of our amazing parks, without a doubt… Los Angeles is the place to be. It’s the entertainment capital of the world and a paradise of sun, beach and good times. Just like our vast metropolis, Street Food Cinema has developed 12 different locations to provide moviegoers with more chances to catch their favorite flick on the big screen. Come early and catch top local bands and see if you’re lucky enough to get chosen for our nightly audience game. And, of course, we all know some of the tastiest eats comes from a food truck so we’re curating the best of the best to fill your belly, mind and soul as the sun sets and the movie beings. Tickets on site or at goldstar.com
The Taste Los Angeles is today from 7:30 PM to 10:30 PM through Sept 1 at Paramount Studios (5555 Melrose Avenue). This Labor Day weekend, join the Los Angeles Times, at Paramount Studios for 3 evenings of amazing food, wine, spirits and chef experiences, plus unique culinary pop-ups and collaborations. Dozens of hand-picked local restaurants each evening will showcase our city’s rich and diverse culinary scene by serving you their best. Sip, savor, and celebrate Southern California’s most inspired food and drink. 21 and over only. Your $115 ticket is all-inclusive and is good for unlimited food, beer, wine & spirits tastings, plus all stage activities.
THU AUG 29
SAT AUG 31
Los Angeles: State of the Black Press will be held today from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM at the California African American Museum (600 State Drive, Exposition Park). For over a century, the black press in Los Angeles has played a significant role in galvanizing African American communities around important issues. In the early 20th century, Jefferson Lewis Edmonds, editor of The Liberator, highlighted and championed self-determination and social responsibility through journalism. In the 21st century, amplifying communities of color has become vital both locally and globally. Tre’vell Anderson, president of the LA chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists and Director
FRI AUG 30
MADONNA BAR is today from 9:00 PM at Busby’s East (5364 Wilshire Boulevard). It’s the last party of the year and you can join the dance floor, get into the groove like a virgin Zephyr in the sky. It’s a Madonnathon you won’t want to miss. Madonna is rumored but not confirmed to attend. All your fantasy will come true, just let the music take you there like a prayer and strike a pose. OK, go. The event is free. E-mail calendar items to email@example.com two weeks prior to your event. Space is limited so priority is given to LGBT-specific events or those with LGBT participants. Recurring events must be re-submitted each time.
38 • AUGUST 23, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Most Americans say marijuana should be legal: poll LOS ANGELES — Nearly two-thirds of Americans believe that marijuana ought to be legalized nationwide, according to polling data compiled by Investor’s Business Daily and TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence. Overall, 63 percent of respondents backed legalization – a percentage that is consistent with other recent polls. Seventy-five percent of selfidentified Democrats endorsed legalization, as did a majority (66 percent) of Independent voters. A majority of Republicans did not support legalization. Nearly one in four Americans said that, “they or someone in their home had consumed cannabis for medical or recreational purposes over the past halfyear.” Self-reported use was highest among those ages 25 to 44.
Youth marijuana use declining: report The self-reported use of marijuana by teenagers continues to decline nationally, according to federal data reported by the United States Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Commenting on the data, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said, “Regulation and education is a more effective and a more preferable tool to discourage youth use and access than is criminalization.” “A pragmatic regulatory framework that allows for the legal, licensed commercial production and retail sale of marijuana to adults but restricts its use among young people – coupled with a legal environment that fosters open, honest dialogue between parents and children about cannabis’ potential harms – best reduces the risks associated with the plant’s use or abuse. By contrast, advocating for the marijuana’s continued criminalization only compounds them.” The agency’s 2018 report finds that past-year marijuana use by those ages 12 to 17 has fallen consistently since 2002, from 15.8 percent to 12.5 percent. Since 2012, when Colorado and Washington became the first states to regulate adult use access, past-year youth use has fallen eight percent. By contrast, self-reported cannabis use by older Americans has risen during this same time period. The federal data also reports a consistent yearover-year decline in the prevalence of so-called “marijuana use disorder” among teens – a finding that is consistent with other studies. Separate evaluations of marijuana use patterns specifically in cannabis legalization states show little if any change in cannabis use or access by teenagers. Data published online in JAMA Pediatrics in July reported that states with “recreational marijuana laws were associated with an eight percent decrease in the odds of marijuana use and a nine percent
decrease in the odds of frequent marijuana use” among teens.
American Bar Assoc. backs overturning marijuana prohibition The American Bar Association (ABA) has passed a resolution in support of ending federal marijuana prohibition and removing the substance from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). In language that does not mince words, the proposal reads: “FURTHER RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association urges Congress to enact legislation to remove marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act.” Commenting on the passage of the resolution, NORML Legal Counsel Keith Stroup said, “As a young lawyer, I started NORML in 1970 because the legal case needed to be made that the criminalization of marijuana was wrong, and activist lawyers have always played a key role in the expansion of the NORML network across the country. The approval of this recent motion by the ABA, which calls for marijuana to be removed from the Controlled Substances Act altogether, is welcome vindication of the efforts of NORML and all the attorneys who fought against this unjust prohibition for the past fifty years.” There are various pieces of legislation pending in Congress that would remove marijuana from the CSA, including a bill that was recently introduced by the House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler entitled “The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement Act.”
Legal cannabis sales in Washington displacing illegal market OLYMPIA, Wash. — Adult-use cannabis retailers in Washington sold an estimated 26 metric tons of cannabis and cannabis-infused products between July 1, 2016 and July 1, 2017, according to a report by the RAND Corporation. The report, prepared for the Washington State Liquor and Control Board, determined that licensed retail sales doubled from the prior year. Nearly 70 percent of all cannabis sales were for marijuana flower. Comparing market sales data with self-reported data on marijuana use, authors estimated, “In the third year after implementing a regulatory system for cannabis, between 40 percent and 60 percent of THC obtained by state residents was likely purchased in Washington’s state-licensed stores.” Marijuana not obtained via retail sales presumably “came through the illicit market or from those authorized to grow for medicinal purposes.” Cannabis Culture news in the Blade is provided in partnership with NORML. For more information, visit norml.org.
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