A U G U S T 3 0 2 0 1 9 • V O LU M E 0 3 • I S S U E 3 5 • 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 30, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Straight Pride flops Modesto residents stand up to hate By KAREN OCAMB Modesto residents had every right to be concerned about the Straight Pride rally announced for their city on Aug. 24, regardless of having been denied a city permit. Some associated Straight Pride with white supremacy and founder Don Grundmann invited the Proud Boys, designated a California hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, to the rally. They declined. At least one supporter of the Family Research Council showed up. The Modesto Police Department was braced for any eventuality, city spokesperson Thomas Reeves told the Los Angeles Blade. But when the day came, the dozen or so Straight Pride supporters were overwhelmed
Modesto residents protested the so-called Straight Pride event. Screengrab from TV coverage of Straight Pride event
by about 200 counter-protesters chanting “No Hate, No Fear, Straight Pride is not welcome here!” There were a few scuffles, but the crowd started filtering home by 2:50PM in the 93-degree heat. Before the mid-day rally outside Planned Parenthood, about 50 Straight Pride
supporters attended a private meeting at the Durrer Barn west of Modesto. When the owner discovered the nature of the meeting, he called the police and closed the facility. Meanwhile, a sizable crowd of counterprotesters showed up at Enslen Park, along with mounted police, anticipating the rally would be held there. The event featured several speakers, booths and dancing to build community empowerment. “I wanted to come out here and be peaceful and rally with a bunch of people of the rainbow colors and have a great day,” Michelle Riddle told the Sacramento CBS affiliate. “When people want to come into your own backyard and spread a message that you don’t agree with then you have a right to stand up against that too,” Modesto NAACP member Wendi Burg told Fox 40. “We are rejecting this presence of hate, that we are rejecting the values that this Straight Pride Coalition represents like
white nationalism and homophobia,” Max Reed, a member of the Modesto Non-Violent Collective who helped organize the counterprotest, told Fox40. “This community is standing together to reject this group and what they represent.” Grundmann seemed thrilled to be the center of attention. “Masculinity it’s okay to be a man. femininity, it’s okay to be a woman,” Don Grundmann told the African American Fox40 reporter. “Masculinity, femininity, the natural family of man, woman children, babies, born and unborn western civilization, Caucasians and all people, all of those are basic foundations that are under attack.” By 2:50, the crowd started to dissipate, with Modesto Police declaring the streets clear by 3:16. “We would like to thank them for remaining peaceful, expressing themselves in a respectful manner while embracing our community’s diversity,” the department said in a tweet.
Trans woman attacked in alleged San Luis Obispo hate crime Police working with local LGBTQ organizations on case FROM STAFF REPORTS Prosecutors in the San Luis Obsipo County District Attorney’s Office are reviewing the case of a trans woman assaulted at a local motel to determine whether to lodge hate crime charges against one of the perpetrators. The woman, who has only been identified by the initial “J” by The San Luis Obispo Tribune newspaper in the initial media account of the incident, reported that she was assaulted by a group of men after a verbal altercation became physical. Captain Jeff Smith, the SLO Police Department’s public information officer, told the Los Angeles Blade Monday that a suspect involved in the incident, 25-year-old Fresno resident Dalton Montoya, was cited for misdemeanor battery by responding
The Motel 6 in San Luis Obispo Photo via Facebook
officers and released. According to The Tribune and the SLOPD, the victim was staying at the Super 8 Motel by Wyndom on Monterey Street and was returning to her room when a group of men started making crude remarks about her appearance and gender. They also tried to solicit sex, offering her $200 to
perform sex acts. “I heard someone say ‘tranny,’” she told the Tribune. “I was just minding my own business.” One man became angry and aggressive and she opened the lid on the soda and “splashed” it on him. “He just started punching me and punching me in the face,” J said. A second man half-kicked her while
trying to push the other man off her. J then ran to the lobby and hotel staff eventually called 911. “I literally thought I was going to die,” J told The Tribune. “Some people are saying (online) that I assaulted him first (because of the soda), but I did not assault him — any woman would do that to a man who talked to her like that.” J suffered a concussion and several other injuries requiring a two-day stay in a local hospital. She subsequently received help dealing with the police from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance of the Central Coast. “What makes situations like this better is the collaboration we have with the department,” GALA Executive Director Michelle Call told the Los Angeles Blade in a phone call. She added that representatives from her organization, alongside members of the local trans advocacy group, Tranz Central Coast, met with police detectives to encourage a thorough review of the case.
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04 • AUGUST 30, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Buttigieg thrills LA audience But voters still looking at other candidates By KAREN OCAMB Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg could barely get through five sentences before being interrupted by applause from the packed crowd of about 1,500 people at the Avalon Nightclub in Hollywood Aug. 27. But one question toward the end of the nearly 40-minute grassroots fundraiser asked by an undecided voter prompted laughter, applause and got directly to the point. “I’m completely undecided. So what can you say to convince me to vote for you? What makes you different from all the other candidates?” “Well, the good news is this is the most diverse field of candidates that we’ve ever put forward. There’s just so many of them,” said Buttigieg, 37, who rarely speaks about his competition. “But you’ve got options. Hopefully part of what’s different you can tell just by the issues that I’m speaking to and the way I’m recapturing values for our side of the aisle. I definitely have a different story. This is your only chance to vote for a Maltese American Episcopalian gay millennial president.” And Afghanistan veteran. And moral, married gay millennial. Buttigieg first talked about his husband after hitting the stage. “Every time we’ve come to LA, we find more and more new friends. Chasten and I feel lifted up by the energy that you bring,” the gay presidential candidate said with ease and confidence. Chasten has become a big crowd draw, as well, sometimes appearing solo but most often serving as his husband’s warm up act. In fact, the married gay mayor of South Bend, Ind., has been warming the hearts and pocketbooks of Angelinos since March 14 when he dazzled a packed crowd at a West Hollywood nightclub. They were anxious to see the phenom who so wowed a CNN Town Hall at the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas, that he eclipsed Texan Beto O’Rourke’s Vanity Fair presidential destiny cover. Since then, California has led in the campaign’s fundraising, with LA topping all other regions. But California is not only the nation’s political ATM, it also holds its delegate-rich primary on Super Tuesday March 3—with
Pete Buttigieg at the Avalon Photo by Karen Ocamb
early voting. Buttigieg has surprised establishment donors. “One of the other leading Democratic presidential contenders, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), is a ‘favorite daughter’ who should be far out ahead in contribution totals. Leading California donors have strongly supported her previous successful campaigns for state attorney general and the U.S. Senate. As a detail-driven prosecutor who also is an Asian-African-American woman, she checks the boxes for both head and heart, both Silicon Valley and the big studio boardrooms,” reports Joe Ferullo in his opinion column in The Hill on Aug. 26. “But Buttigieg came on strong in the spring and has not let up. In the second quarter of this year, he topped all candidates in nationwide fundraising, bringing in close to $25 million. A sizable share came from California: Harris raised $3.18 million here, but Buttigieg took in $3.75 million — more than half of that from big-money sources in Silicon Valley and Hollywood.”
Buttigieg works for his money, hitting events in San Jose and San Francisco—and unexpectedly joining a rally by rideshare drivers demanding that Uber and Lyft classify them as employees in the gig economy. “Where I come from gig is another word for job,” said Buttigieg, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Aug. 27. “Which means if you’re working a gig that makes you a worker then you ought to be protected as a worker.” From San Francisco, Buttigieg headed to a private fundraiser in the Hollywood Hills hosted by gay couple Steve Warren and Johnnie Ingram with HBO President Casey Bloys and his husband, Alonzo Wickers, an attorney. The crowd included LGBT African Americans Jordan Fudge, GLAAD Board Member and Partner at Sinai Ventures, “Empire” director Lee Daniels, and “independent thinker” James Jacquet. There were a number of prominent Hollywood lesbians at the reception, as well, including Hollywood casting director Tammy Billick, real estate agent Kathryn
Shafer and actor Meredith Baxter. It’s an important point, considering a widely distributed Aug. 27 Politico story entitled “Why some lesbians don’t want Pete Buttigieg to be president.” Essentially, it’s a story about the difficult divided loyalties of politically minded lesbians who recognize the intelligence and significance of Mayor Pete’s candidacy but really think it’s time for a woman president. “Mayor Pete, he’s a trailblazer,” said political consultant Campbell Spencer, who is drawn though not committed to Kamala Harris. “But I’m one of these women who thinks we are way overdue for having a woman in the White House. That’s a lens through which I’m going to filter my decision.” “As a woman, as a lesbian, as someone who was all in for Hillary Clinton and as someone who was a historic first myself [as out Houston mayor], I would love to see a woman at the top of the ticket,” said LGBTQ Victory Fund CEO Annise Parker, who plans to vote for Buttigieg, the Victory
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • AUGUST 30, 2018 • 05
Victory Fund CEO Anise Parker hugging Mayor Pete Buttieg.
Screen shot Mayor Pete from KABC’s live feed.
Photo via the Victory Fund
Fund’s endorsed candidate. “And talking with other women inside the community and not, we understand the importance of Pete’s candidacy — but dammit, we’re half the population. It’s time” for a woman president. The next day, Parker issued a direct fundraising appeal for Buttigieg. “From his plans on protecting the LGBTQ community to improving women’s health to his blueprint for dismantling racist systems, Mayor Pete has ideas that can be enacted as soon as we take the White House back,” Parker writes. “There are so many presidential candidates – many of them historic and exciting in their own right – but Mayor Pete is changing the game for our community and he needs our support. From his daring speech at our National Champagne Brunch that rattled right-wing extremists to his presence in the presidential debates, Mayor Pete has proven time and again that his voice on the national stage is critical.” Buttigieg is one of the 10 candidates who qualified for the Democratic debate on Sept.12. And Buttigieg is good on stage. The
“Conversation with Mayor Pete” at the Avalon was low-dollar ($25) to enable more grassroots attendance and the largely white audience whose ages ranged from young millennial to older 60s-era supporters were thrilled. “I like Mayor Pete because he’s one of the few people who thinks when he opens his mouth,” Simon Miller, 40, accompanying Arthur Seidelman, 80, told the Los Angeles Blade. But the two had not yet committed to a candidate. Buttigieg held another high dollar fundraiser ($250 to $2,800 per person)—a luncheon at the Sunset Towers in West Hollywood on Wednesday, Aug. 28, with West Hollywood Mayor Pro Tem Lindsey Horvath, a longtime friend who introduced him at the gathering in March. Though a campaign insider said the campaign is not focusing on polls since it’s August and polls are fluid—nonetheless, it is instructive to note that Buttigieg remains in the top five among the plethora of candidates. Additionally, the latest Quinnipiac University poll shows all top five candidates would defeat Trump if the election were held today
with Buttigieg holding a 9-point lead, 4940. This is good symbolic news for voters worried he might not be able to beat Trump in a head-to-head matchup. Buttigieg’s prodigious fundraising has enabled him to hire 200 additional staff, 60 of whom he says are “smart, committed, and most importantly, they’re nice” – and they’re on their way to Iowa. Obama’s surprise win in the Iowa primary in 2008 turned momentum around in his campaign. One character trait that may help woo Iowa voters otherwise unwilling to listen to a gay candidate is the sincerity with which Buttigieg talks about his faith. “My faith tradition and any other one that I’ve ever heard of encourages us to seek out leaders with the hearts of servants who walk in humility and decency,” he said. “So don’t let anybody tell you that Christian faith or anything compels you to support or even condone what is going on in the White House today. It’s just not true.” But what many in the Avalon audience discussed later was his candor about being an
awkward 7th grader, a grade his husband taught. “Honestly, most of what I remember from seventh grade is of not being sure if I belong. I had not even begun to figure out what it meant to be gay. I was also just really awkward,” Buttigieg said. “I think belonging is a big part of why we need to stitch back together in this country. I think part of what is leading to the challenges we’ve got with that sort of despair and addiction has to do with the crisis of belonging,” as does racism and the shifting economy, Buttigieg said. “We can build a culture [of decency] on this campaign that will ripple out before the first vote is even cast.” And while the audience shares “a very dim view” of Trump, “we’re not allowing him to dominate our conversation about the future,” Buttigieg said. “Are you ready to build up a sense of hope and belonging and make this country what it could be? You’ve got to spread the word to people who may not know that they have a role, may not know how much power they have in the process. I’m pretty sure that you can help me win the Presidency and I can help you win the era.”
06 • AUGUST 30, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
LAPD says anti-trans DTLA bar incident a potential hate crime Las Perlas owner eventually apologized FROM STAFF REPORTS The forceful removal of a group of transgender women and a gay man from a 6th Street downtown bar and restaurant on Aug. 23 is being investigated as a hate crime, the Los Angeles Police Department confirmed to the Los Angeles Blade. LAPD spokesperson Jay Chaves said detectives are following up on the report of the incident filed by responding officers from the department’s Central Division. Khloe Perez-Rios, the manager of Transgeneros Unidas at Bienestar Human Services, told the Los Angeles Blade that the LAPD Sergeant-Supervisor on scene who took the initial report indicated that he had been through LGBTQ sensitivity training and would file a potential hate-crime incident report based on her statements, the cell phone video she recorded and other witness statements. The incident occurred during the annual DTLA Proud two-day festival held in Pershing Square. Eight LGBTQ Bienestar employees had finished working the opening ceremonies of the event Friday night around 9 p.m. and decided to eat at Las Perlas. Perez-Rios said the group was accosted by a man and a woman, also patrons, sitting adjacent to her group who became aggressively abusive, calling the trans women men and saying they didn’t belong there. Perez-Rios said they asked the couple to please leave them alone but the man slapped one of the trans women and pushed her. The group gathered together for self-protection. Perez-Rios said the bar’s manager and security employees intervened and tried to deescalate the situation. Eventually the straight couple was asked to leave the establishment and were “gently” escorted outside. However, her group was physically and aggressively removed from the bar, which Perez-Rios recorded on her mobile phone video. The video shows Jennifer Bianchi repeatedly screaming, “Don’t touch me like that,” as a security guard forcibly
A screengrab of trans patron being dragged out of Las Perlas.
grabs her, wraps his arm around her, at one point putting his forearm in a position around her neck before slamming her against a wall and throwing her out. Another trans woman who was seated is also seen being grabbed by a security guard in what looks almost like a chokehold as she looks into the camera and says, “What happened?” before also being thrown out. Perez-Rios said that the straight couple fled the scene before the LAPD arrived. But she posted her video on social media, the video went viral and the media jumped on the story. Saturday afternoon, Cedd Moses, founder of Pouring With Heart, the company that owns Las Perlas, issued a statement on the restaurant’s Instagram account, @ lasperlasla, backing his guards. “Last evening, an escalated verbal altercation broke out among two groups of guests at Las Perlas. Our manager on duty
asked both groups to leave, as the safety and security of our patrons and employees is our top priority and we have zero tolerance for this type of behavior in our establishments,” Moses said in a statement. “The guards removed the guests that were not compliant with the manager’s request to leave and did so in accordance with company policy.” Moses called the incident “rare and unfortunate” and said Las Perlas would donate all profits from the weekend to Bienestar. But word of the incident had spread. “Los Angeles is a place where hate against any person, regardless of gender identity, is not tolerated. My office is in communication with @LAPDHQ about the incident at Las Perlas, and will ensure a proper investigation is completed,” tweeted LA Mayor Eric Garcetti. “Whether in public, or inside of a private establishment, all Angelenos deserve the freedom to coexist in harmony. Although
we cannot comment on an ongoing investigation, rest assured the LAPD will thoroughly investigate the incident at Las Perlas,” said a tweet from LAPD HQ. Assistant Chief Girmala, LAPD’s Director, Office of Special Operations added her own tweet: “LAPD is investigating the incident at Las Perlas restaurant in DTLA. Please know that the Department is committed to ensuring the safety of every Angeleno, as well as the right of all to live their true lives in peace, harmony, and free from anxiety or fear.” A demonstration in front of the restaurant Saturday night forced Las Perlas to close as dozens of protesters chanted “No justice, No peace” and “Trans Lives Matter.” Others took to social media posts urging a boycott of the bar Moses eventually apologized to the transgender community and said the security company working at the bar would be replaced. “We are committed to working with the community and we are researching the right partner to help us move forward in the most positive way possible including staff and vendor training,” he wrote in a statement Sunday released on the company’s Facebook and Instagram pages. But is that enough? “Las Perlas will soon open in West Hollywood,” Oscar De La O, the President and CEO of Bienestar, wrote in an email to the Los Angeles Blade, referring to a story in LA Eater. “It is important to continue to educate the community that while steps have been made in the civil rights of the community, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done. That people of color, vulnerable, marginalized, immigrants, women, etc., continue to face violence and discrimination as part of their daily lives.” West Hollywood Mayor John D’Amico says there is no business license application yet filed with the city. LAPD spokesperson Jay Chaves Chaves told the Los Angeles Blade that because there is an active ongoing investigation, the LAPD would have no further comment on the incident. – Karen Ocamb contributed to this report
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • AUGUST 30, 2019 • 07
“I got it. I got it. Why don’t we nuke them?” – President Trump on how to disrupt hurricanes before landfall, according to Axios on Aug. 25.
“As Christians, we are called to act with compassion toward those who suffer from gender dysphoria, which includes standing for the truth and against this harmful ideology that robs people of the abundant life Jesus came to provide.” – Family Research Council president Tony Perkins in a fundraising email to stop the anti-family “transgender revolution.”
“I want to thank everyone who signed that petition [for the Equality Act] because it now has half-a-million signatures, which is ﬁve times the amount that it would need to warrant a response from the White House.” – Taylor Swift accepting MTV’s Video of the Year award Aug. 26 for “You Need to Calm Down,” which closes with a plea to sign the petition.
“I am announcing my support for formally launching impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump,” out Rep. Mark Takano said on Aug. 22 in a video posted on his House website. Takano joins the growing ranks among the 235 House Democrats calling for an impeachment inquiry into impeachment. He noted numerous ﬁndings in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the US 2016 election, including that Trump tried to obstruct the investigation, as well as the president’s disregard for the role of Congress in American democracy. “When discussions about impeachment became prominent, I was transparent with you and I expressed my concerns with moving forward with an impeachment inquiry,” Takano said. “I wanted to be sure that sufficient facts had been brought to Mark Takano light so the American people could feel conﬁdent in Congress’ ability to begin impeachment proceedings devoid of any politics that would call into question the inquiry’s legitimacy. “I cannot ignore the call to defend our institutions, to safeguard our democratic norms, and to stand up for our democracy. It would be a dereliction of duty to sit by idly as the president chips away at our democracy, day by day,” Takano said, citing his oath of office. Takano adds his name to 131 other House Democrats — and one former Republican, now independent, Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan—who support the launch of official impeachment inquiry proceedings, including out LGBTQ Reps. David Cicilline of Rhode Island and Mark Pocan of Wisconsin. – Karen Ocamb
Invertigo Dance Theatre:
Photo by Joe Lambie
Formulae & Fairy Tales
SEP 13-14, 2019 / 7:30PM A multi-dimensional story casting Alan Turing into his favorite film, Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
thebroadstage.org 310.434.3200 SANTA MONICA COLLEGE PERFORMING ARTS CENTER
Formulae & Fairy Tales is made possible by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
8/26/19 6:09 PM
08 • AUGUST 30, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Log Cabin leader resigns over Trump endorsement Henry reportedly sidelined by board intent on backing president By CHRIS JOHNSON The executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans has resigned following a controversial decision by the organization’s board to endorse President Trump, the Washington Blade has learned exclusively. Jerri Ann Henry, who was the first woman to lead the LGBT Republican group, formally submitted her resignation Friday and left Monday after discussions with board members characterized as “harsh,” sources familiar with Log Cabin told the Blade. The resignation follows intense criticism of Log Cabin, which announced its support for Trump earlier this month without its members having met with him or having received any explicit commitments in exchange. Sources said Henry’s discontent with Trump and dissatisfaction with Log Cabin’s approach to defending its Trump endorsement in the media were key among her reasons for stepping down. Charles Moran, a Log Cabin spokesperson, confirmed Henry “did tender her resignation,” saying that occurred Monday. “The final date of her employment is undetermined at this time,” Moran added. “The board’s executive committee will proceed with an orderly transition to ensure nothing falls through the cracks.” Moran declined to comment on the circumstances of her departure, saying he “wasn’t on the phone call she had with our board chairman” and “can’t speak to the tenor or tone of the conversation.” “We thank her for her service to our organization and wish her well in the next chapter of her career,” Moran added. Henry’s name was not signed to the op-ed in the Washington Post endorsing Trump, which was signed by Log Cabin board chair Robert Kabel and vice chair Jill Homan.
Jerri Ann Henry has resigned as executive director of Log Cabin Republicans. File photo courtesy of Log Cabin
The op-ed was largely based on the Trump administration’s stated global initiative to decriminalize homosexuality and an HIV/ AIDS plan — both of which have yet to yield any results. Although Henry — a Republican who’s an alumnus from the marriage-equality movement— was hired under a promise to advance pro-LGBT policies within the Republican Party, her voice had been effectively sidelined for about two months. Sources say disagreements about the direction of Log Cabin — with some wanting to pursue pro-LGBT policy goals, while others wanted to support Trump — led to a decision to prohibit Henry from speaking publicly for the group. Henry, the latest to leave Log Cabin after the Trump endorsement, joins former board member Jennifer Horn, who has been public about her resignation, saying she couldn’t look her children in the eye and belong to an organization that supported Trump. Casey Pick, who once worked as programs director for Log Cabin, has repudiated the organization in a Facebook post. Additionally, Robert Turner II, who once led Log Cabin’s D.C. chapter, announced he’d leave Log Cabin in a Facebook message. A less public resignation not previously reported, sources said, was board member Rachel Hoff, who gained notoriety during the 2016 Republican National Convention
for arguing for LGBT inclusion in the Republican Party during the platform drafting process. (The platform ended up reiterating the GOP’s support for a Federal Marriage Amendment and suggested parents should be able to send their kids to “ex-gay” conversion therapy. It was deemed the most anti-LGBT ever at the time by Log Cabin itself .) Hoff didn’t immediately respond Monday night to a request for comment. Henry also didn’t respond to a request for comment. News of Henry’s departure comes just weeks before its “Spirit of Lincoln” reception in D.C. on Sept. 17. In years past, the annual event was both a dinner, usually with highprofile Republican attendees, as well as a reception, but for this year, the event is reduced to simply a reception. Log Cabin’s remaining board members consist mostly of its California contingent, including Charles Moran, who joined the board recently and now serves as Log Cabin’s spokesperson. Following the organization’s endorsement of Trump, it was Moran — not Henry — who went public in the media to explain the endorsement. Sources say the board decided to endorse Trump at this time, flouting its customary practice of waiting to make a decision until the Republican National Convention, because some board members were angry Log Cabin didn’t endorse Trump in 2016.
When those members realized they had the votes to endorse Trump, they rushed to make it happen despite not having the customary commitments for Log Cabin’s support, such as meeting with the presidential candidate up for endorsement, sources said. Moran, however, disputed that account, saying the endorsement “came at the request of our chapter leaders.” “In our bylaws, we are required to survey our chapters to solicit their input,” Moran said. “The result was almost unanimous in support of endorsing President Trump for re-election. We declined to endorse in 2016, so our chapter leaders wanted to make sure their voices were heard clearly and direction taken into consideration for 2020.” Moran added the situation with Trump being an incumbent president played a role in the early endorsement. “This is a reelection campaign and the ramp-up happens earlier for the incumbent, which is completely normal,” Moran said. The influence of U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, who’s the highestranking openly gay person in the Trump administration, was also a factor in the endorsement, especially on the California members of the board, sources said. In addition to the California board members, 11 of the organization’s 42 chapters are in California, according to Log Cabin’s website, so chapters in that state hold considerable sway over the group. Both Moran and Grenell served as delegates from California supporting Trump at the 2016 Republican National Convention. Moran downplayed the influence of Grenell on Log Cabin, but affirmed the organization supports his efforts spearheading the global initiative to decriminalize homosexuality. “Ambassador Grenell remains busy abroad with his portfolio in Berlin, and we wholeheartedly support his efforts leading the international decriminalization efforts, which we have publicized in our meetings and covered on our social media,” Moran said.
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • AUGUST 30, 2018 • 09
Trump admin to Supreme Court: It’s OK to fire workers for being gay By CHRIS JOHNSON With the U.S. Supreme Court poised to issue a major ruling on whether firing workers for being gay, lesbian and bisexual is legal under federal civil rights law, the Trump administration has weighed in with its view: Fire away. In a 34-page brief submitted last week and signed by the U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco, the U.S. Justice Department argues Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars sex discrimination in the workforce, doesn’t apply to cases of anti-gay discrimination. “The question here is not whether Title VII should forbid employment discrimination because of sexual orientation, but whether it already does,” the brief says. “The statute’s plain text makes clear that it does not; discrimination because of ‘sex’ forbids treating members of
The Justice Department under President Donald Trump urged the Supreme Court to rule it’s OK to fire workers for being gay. Photo courtesy of Bigstock
one sex worse than similarly situated members of the other — and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, standing alone, does not result in such treatment.”
A key point of the U.S. solicitor general’s argument is that Congress didn’t intend in 1964 to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation with the passage of Title VII, and subsequently has failed to enact legislation that would do so, such as the Employment NonDiscrimination Act or the Equality Act. “Congress has amended other statutes expressly to cover sexual-orientation discrimination, and it remains free to do the same with Title VII,” the brief says. “But until it does, this Court should enforce the statute as it is written.” Gay rights supporters have argued anti-gay discrimination is a form of sex discrimination because it amounts to discrimination “but for” a worker’s sex, sex stereotyping and associational discrimination, but the Justice Department disputes each of those arguments.
“Even if sexual orientation were a ‘function’ of sex, that would be insufficient, standing alone, to violate Title VII; otherwise, all sex-specific practices, including bathrooms, dress codes and physical fitness standards, would be unlawful,” the brief says. “Likewise misguided is the simplistic observation that sexual-orientation discrimination treats a female employee in a relationship with a woman worse than a male employee in a relationship with a woman. That comparison is logically flawed because it changes both the sex and the sexual orientation of the comparator; the two hypothetical employees are thus not similarly situated.” The brief was filed in the consolidated case of Bostock v. Clayton County and Zarda v. Attitude Express, which seeks clarification on whether sexual-orientation discrimination is a form of sex discrimination under federal law.
AIDS official resigns over group’s acceptance of drug company funds By LOU CHIBBARO JR. Kyle Murphy, the communications director for the national AIDS advocacy group AIDS United, released to a listserv of AIDS activists a letter informing AIDS United’s president and CEO and other officials and staff members that he was resigning from his job because the group accepts large sums of money from pharmaceutical companies. Murphy states in his Aug. 9 letter, a copy of which was obtained by the Washington Blade, that AIDS United is among nearly all of the nation’s AIDS advocacy organizations that for years have worked for the interests of people with HIV/AIDS who accept money from drug companies. He said that although he does not think any of the groups and their leaders have compromised their basic principles and objectives for fighting AIDS, the widespread contributions by the nation’s largest pharmaceutical companies to AIDS organizations gives the appearance of a conflict of interest, even if no compromises
have been made. “This decision was not made lightly, and I hope that all of you will believe that the primary source of my anguish the last several months was the inspiration and kinship that I feel for each of you,” he said in his letter. “I am an AIDS United constituent. I am a gay man. I am also living with HIV,” he wrote. “You are my heroes, and I have been so inspired by each and every one of you, and the call to end this epidemic,” he said. “But when it all is said and done, the mission of our constituents are what matter and we are not serving like we should,” he states in his letter. “Not out of some malevolence. But rather, our collective hearts wrote a check, that our budgets couldn’t cash,” his letter continues. “And so with the best of intentions and the sincere desire to be good partners with our colleagues in both the public and private sector, we have been slowly bought off. And most of us know it. We just aren’t willing to say it,” Murphy says in his letter. As one example of a possible conflict of
interest, Murphy points out how most AIDS organizations and the “vast majority” of the HIV community have become strong supporters of the HIV prevention regimen known as PrEP in which the drug Truvada, manufactured by pharmaceutic giant Gilead Sciences, is widely used and promoted. “This support may or may not have been related to the sizeable donations that Gilead Sciences makes to almost every single HIV service provider, advocacy organization and patient interest group in the country,” Murphy states in his letter. “But the mere fact that this potential and glaring conflict of interest exists, should be enough to give all of us pause,” he wrote. “I cannot say that Gilead Sciences or any other pharmaceutical company has inappropriately influenced any decision that the leadership of AIDS United or any of its many partners have made,” Murphy states in his letter. “But I do know that their status as a contributor is a consideration when we decide how to respond
to questions around drug pricing, PrEP access, and drug safety,” he wrote. “And that alone is enough for me to decide that I can no longer work for an organization that has representatives from these companies on its board,” Murphy stated. William McColl, AIDS United’s Vice President for Policy and Advocacy, sent an email message to the listserv members who received Murphy’s letter, giving what he said was background information on some of the issues raised by Murphy. “We greatly respect Kyle and wish him the best in his future,” McColl said in his message. McColl noted that pharmaceutical company representatives have served on AIDS United’s board “dating back more than 30 years” and currently include representatives from Gilead Sciences and the pharmaceutical company ViiV Healthcare. He said approximately 24 percent of AIDS United’s fiscal year 2018-2019 budgets of more than $16 million are funded by pharmaceutical companies.
10 • AUGUST 30, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Migrants in Ciudad Juarez face violence, long wait to enter U.S. By MICHAEL K. LAVERS CIUDAD JUÁREZ, Mexico — Zuleika, 25, is a transgender woman from El Salvador’s San Vicente department. She had been living at Casa Respetttrans, a shelter for LGBTI migrants in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, run by Respetttrans Chihuahua, a local trans advocacy group, for more than a month when the Blade spoke with her on July 16. Zuleika said her ultimate goal was to receive asylum in the U.S. “The U.S. is a free society,” she told the Blade. Zuleika is among the tens of thousands of migrants who have traveled to Ciudad Juárez in recent months with the hope they will enter the U.S. and receive asylum. El Paso, Texas, which is across the Rio Grande from Ciudad Juárez, remains a flashpoint over President Trump’s hardline immigration policy. Casa Respetttrans opened in its current location in Ciudad Juárez earlier this year. Zuleika was among the 36 migrants — including Leche Merchant, a trans woman from Mexico’s Guerrero state who had been in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody at the Cibola County Correctional Center in Milan, N.M., for two years until July 15 — were living at the shelter when the Blade visited it. Casa Respetttrans Director Grecia Herrera noted Respetttrans Chihuahua is a group that
Zuleika, a transgender woman from El Salvador’s San Vicente department, was living at Casa Respetttrans, a shelter for LGBTI migrants in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, on July 16. Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers
advocates on behalf of trans women. Herrera said the group had to “diversify” because Ciudad Juárez did not have any shelters that specifically served LGBTI migrants. Herrera told the Blade that Respetttrans Chihuahua now provides services to Mexicans of indigenous descent who have been displaced from other parts of the country, people who use drugs and other vulnerable groups. “This space does not only think about the migrant population,” she said. Programa Compañeros is another organization in Ciudad Juárez that provides assistance to LGBTI migrants.
The group, which formed in the 1980s in response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, distributes feminine hygiene products and other items to migrants in the city. Programa Compañeros also works to promote safer sex practices and fights violence against women in Ciudad Juárez. People who use drugs who participate in twice-weekly meetings at Programa Compañeros’ offices are able to eat a hot meal, take a shower and receive medical care. Some of men in the program have either had sex with other men in order to support their drug habit or have been deported from the U.S. Programa Compañeros Director María Elena Ramos on July 16 told the Blade that women and girls who hope to enter the U.S. are frequently forced into prostitution. Ramos said they are also vulnerable to human trafficking. “Their body is their passport to cross all of these invisible borders that exist,” she said. “They are in a very difficult situation and they exchange sex to buy things they need. It is the only option that they have.” The New York Times reported 5,600 asylum seekers in Ciudad Juárez are on waiting lists to enter the U.S. The New York Times also said more than 13,000 migrants have been returned to Ciudad Juárez under the Trump administration’s controversial “remain in Mexico” program that forces them to remain in Mexico as they await the outcome of their asylum cases.
Advocates on both sides of the border with whom the Blade spoke said Ciudad Juárez remains a dangerous city. A travel advisory the State Department issued on April 9 urges Americans to “reconsider travel” to Mexico’s Chihuahua state in which Ciudad Juárez is located because of crime. “Violent crime and gang activity are widespread,” reads the advisory. “While most homicides appear to be targeted assassinations carried out by criminal organizations, turf battles between criminal groups have resulted in violent crime in areas frequented by U.S. citizens. Bystanders have been injured or killed in shooting incidents.” Herrera and Paola Fernández of Detained Migrant Solidarity Committee, an El Pasobased group that works closely with Casa Respetttrans, both said several trans women have been murdered in Ciudad Juárez since the beginning of the year. Imelda Maynard, a lawyer for Catholic Charities of Southern New Mexico, on July 15 told the Blade during an interview at a coffee shop in downtown El Paso that many of her clients in Ciudad Juárez “don’t know who to trust over there” because they are afraid of the Mexican police and kidnappers. Maynard also said some of them have to wait until January for their first hearing before an immigration judge. “There’s no rhyme nor reason to it,” she said.
Texas group advocates for LGBT migrants By MICHAEL K. LAVERS SAN ANTONIO — A Texas-based immigrant advocacy group continues to provide assistance to LGBTI migrants who hope to find refuge in the U.S. Cristian Sánchez of the Refugee and Immigration Center for Education and Legal Serviceson July 18 told the Blade during an interview at his San Antonio office that RAICES last fall sent staffers to Mexico City to meet a “self-formed” group of LGBTI migrants from Central America. Sánchez said RAICES bought the migrants bus tickets to Tijuana, a city on the Mexico-U.S. border, and secured housing
for them once they arrived. “We made the decision to help them the rest of the way because they were suffering some discrimination within the caravan and just felt their needs weren’t really being listened to in the group decisions,” said Sánchez. Sánchez told the Blade he soon found himself running two shelters for LGBTI migrants: One in Playas de Tijuana and a second close to downtown Tijuana. “I basically jumped into it,” said Sánchez. “The next four, five months of my life was running that shelter (in Playas de Tijuana) and another shelter.” Sánchez said the group of LGBTI migrants
who RAICES helped in Tijuana “all made it to the U.S.” and are now “detained” throughout the country, including in Louisiana where Yariel Valdés González, a Blade contributor from Cuba who has asked for asylum in the U.S., remains in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Dozens of trans women remain in ICE custody at the South Texas Detention Complex, a privately run detention center in Pearsall, a town along Interstate 35 that is roughly 60 miles southwest of San Antonio. Sánchez has created what he described to the Blade as a “temporary transition house” in San Antonio for trans women who were
previously in ICE custody at the South Texas Detention Complex. Sánchez said RAICES provides them with a place to sleep, eat, shower and “feel like a human again after a very dehumanizing few months of attention.” “We have clothing and makeup to feel like yourself again, to self-actualize,” he said. Sánchez added many of the trans migrants with whom RAICES works “have been rejected by their families and don’t have a place to go in the U.S.” “The level of violence has pushed them to make this journey and seek asylum, even not knowing what their future is going to hold,” he said.
12 • AUGUST 30, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
VOLUME 03 ISSUE 35
No, Mr. Trump, we are not disloyal Jews are not the ‘other’ in America
Rabbi Denise Eger is founding Rabbi of Congregation Kol Ami, West Hollywood’s Reform Synagogue and a past president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis.
Once again, President Trump uses antiSemitic tropes and dog whistles. Recently, Trump questioned Jewish Americans’ loyalty to this country as if Jews are not Americans. His latest round of insults is deeply offensive. The Jewish community overwhelmingly votes Democratic in the United States. In the 2016 presidential election, 71 percent of Jewish voters cast their ballots for the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton. In 2008, Jews voted 78 percent for Barack Obama. Trump, in comments to the press, suggested that Jews are disloyal because they vote Democratic—disloyal to America, to Israel and yes, to him. It is shocking. The president is trafficking in antiSemitism. It wasn’t enough to bless Nazis marching in the streets of Charlottesville or demand that the Jewish community be grateful to him for his policies toward Israel. Trump’s words and policies are filled
with anti-Semitism, racism, xenophobia, homophobia, and Islamophobia. The anti-Semitic trope that Jews are disloyal is an old one dating back centuries. It became the excuse for stirring up violence against the Jewish community in many places. Whether in 15th century Spain leading to the Inquisition or ancient Rome, or Germany in the mid-20th century, the charge of disloyalty is a serious one. Jews were always seen as “other.” Napoleon’s France was the first time Jews were permitted the rights of citizenship. The Jews exiled from our homeland, the Land of Israel, by the Romans in the year 70 were never seen as native Italians, or Russians or Poles. Jews were “Other.” One of the most vivid examples of the charge of disloyalty was the case of French Army Captain Alfred Dreyfus. He was accused and convicted of treason in 1894 for passing army secrets and weapons to the Germans, even though he maintained his innocence. There was ample evidence that anti-Semitic officers concocted the story and that it was someone else who betrayed the country, not Dreyfus. And yet he was found guilty a second time, in 1899, and sentenced to life on Devil’s Island. His case and his cause became symbolic for all the Jews of France who endured great antiSemitism at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. We, too, must not and cannot let Trump’s trope about Jewish American loyalty slide by. We must assert our position that Jews in America are not “other.” We are proud American citizens who bring our Jewish values to our political outlook. We are not disloyal because we vote. Rather, we are
patriots because we vote our conscience and our values. Our loyalty is not to a party or to person. Our loyalty is to our country, the United States of America, and to our God. Like many groups, the Jewish community has issues that are important to us. We are worried deeply by the attack on immigrants and refugees—having been both in recent memory. We are worried deeply about climate change and the erosion of protections for wildlife and the earth because our religious teachings demand that we care for God’s creation. We are worried deeply about the homeless and the failing safety net in this country because our tradition is to care for the poor, the widow, the orphan and stranger in our midst. Judaism teaches that it is the community that must help the poor and impoverished and sets up a system to do so. We are worried about the security of our elections and the targeting of our free press as our tradition teaches that the word “truth” is one of God’s names. And yes, we are worried that our love for our ancient homeland, Israel, has been jeopardized by Trump and the GOP making it a political football, chipping away at the bipartisan support so necessary for America’s strongest ally because of the shared values that we have with one another. Mr. Trump, the Jewish community will continue to vote, continue to lift up our values and to call out your bigotry whenever it shows. And we will, as a Jewish community, unite more strongly in resisting your political tactics that seek to make Israel and the Jewish people a wedge issue in the upcoming political season.
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LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • AUGUST 30, 2019 • 13
The treachery of gay Republicans Log Cabin endorsement gives cover to a cruel president
Kevin Naff is editor of the Washington Blade. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
What to make of the Log Cabin Republicans’ endorsement of Donald Trump’s re-election bid? The surprise move came in a Washington Post op-ed from Log Cabin chair Robert Kabel and vice chair Jill Homan earlier this month. It came despite Trump’s welldocumented racism and his myriad attacks on the LGBTQ community. It came despite Log Cabin’s own precedent in how it awards endorsements. Traditionally, a candidate had to meet with Log Cabin to win its support, as George W. Bush did in 2000 and Mitt Romney did in 2012. But Trump didn’t meet with Log Cabin. It’s a safe bet Trump has no idea who Kabel
and Homan are or what Log Cabin does. The group has also traditionally withheld its endorsement until after the convention. We don’t even know who Trump’s Democratic opponent will be and just this weekend he picked up a second Republican primary challenger. Yet, Log Cabin rushed its endorsement more than a year before the election. The op-ed was not signed by Log Cabin executive director Jerri Ann Henry, fueling rumors that she has been sidelined by the board. Earlier this week, the rumors were conﬁrmed when she resigned in protest over the endorsement. In their op-ed, Kabel and Homan praised Peter Thiel’s speech at the 2016 GOP convention in which he said from the podium, “I am proud to be gay. I am proud to be a Republican. But most of all, I am proud to be an American.” It was a nice moment, but talk is cheap. Kabel and Homan conveniently ignore the fact that the Republican platform that year contained the most anti-LGBTQ language in history, including support for “exgay” conversion therapy. It was so bad that Log Cabin declined to endorse Trump that year. They praise Trump for his efforts to end HIV/AIDS in 10 years; to push for decriminalization of homosexuality around the world; and his economic record, which they contend has helped create new LGBTQfounded small businesses.
Let’s take a closer look. First, on HIV/ AIDS, it’s a commendable goal but amid the hoopla around “ending HIV,” Trump’s administration has initiated attacks on LGBTQ patients, with HHS proposing a rule that would allow insurers and providers to discriminate against trans patients. HHS has also sought to roll back ACA protections and enable providers and insurers to deny care and coverage to LGBTQ people based on religious or moral beliefs. As for decriminalization, sure, another worthy goal. But, gee, the bar is awfully low if he wins an endorsement for merely asserting that gays shouldn’t be locked up. Finally, on small business, Kabel and Homan again conveniently ignore that the SBA, which won a prestigious award from Harvard University for its creative and inclusive outreach to LGBTQ entrepreneurs under President Obama, deleted LGBTQ-related content from its website after Trump’s inauguration and only restored the information after an outcry. The real problem with the endorsement is that it gives cover to a president, a vice president and an administration that continue to attack LGBTQ Americans. Just last week, the Blade’s intrepid Chris Johnson asked Trump a question about his efforts to roll back LGBTQ protections. Trump ignored the substance of the question and
instead pivoted to brag about his Log Cabin endorsement. He predictably had trouble recalling the name of the group that had endorsed him. And Trump’s language during the exchange was telling as he deliberately avoided using the word “gay” or the “LGBTQ” acronym. Instead, he said he’s “done very well with that community.” Then, just three days after the exchange with Johnson at the White House, Trump’s Justice Department submitted a voluntary 34-page brief to the Supreme Court arguing that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 doesn’t apply to cases of anti-gay discrimination. As the Blade reported, with only 21 states having laws barring sexual orientation discrimination, the 2020 high court ruling on the extent of protections under federal law will have a broad impact on gay, lesbian and bisexual workers. There’s simply no legitimate rationale for an LGBTQ organization — even a Republican one — to endorse Trump. It is the ultimate in white privilege that Kabel and Homan can ignore children in cages, immigrant deaths in U.S. custody, racist Tweets, the trans military ban and so many other attacks and affronts and back Trump in 2020. Rewarding Trump’s cruel record with praise will only inspire more attacks. What a heartless stunt from a soulless and increasingly irrelevant organization.
LOVE &/OR FEAR will feature an array of diverse artists. Photo courtesy Freewaves
LOVE &/OR FEAR takes gender expression to the streets A large-scale public performance event not to be missed By JOHN PAUL KING
If we’re being honest, most of us who actually live in Los Angeles avoid Hollywood Boulevard at all costs. Unless there’s something going on there we absolutely have to do, we will be going nowhere near those throngs of tourists and unlicensed costumed characters, thank you very much. On the night of Saturday, Sept. 7, there’s something happening there that warrants making an exception. Unfolding on the sidewalks of Hollywood Boulevard will be “LOVE &/OR FEAR: A Celebration of Genders” – an unprecedented, large-scale public performance event that speaks to all varieties of gender expression through the power of art. The second in an annual series of public art events mounted by L.A. artist collective Dis... Miss, LOVE &/OR FEAR is an inclusive event where all individuals can enjoy an evening in a fearless public space without sexual aggression, privacy invasion, or bodily offense. During the event, audiences are invited to join the artists as they sashay, strut, gallant, tour, parade, march, dance and circulate over two blocks in the heart of this
historic and legendary city. This take-it-to-the-streets art experience is presented by Freewaves, a non-profit that’s devoted to (among other art-related missions) the promotion of cultural engagement through art. The organization’s Executive Director, Anne Bray, has been working in the field of media arts since the mid ’70s as an administrator, artist and teacher. She’s among the group of artists behind Dis… Miss, and she’s the organizer of LOVE &/OR FEAR. She tells the Blade that the genesis of the event – and of Dis… Miss itself – was sparked long ago within the Freewaves community of artists as they sought to discover the intersections between the concerns that informed each of their work. “The question is,” she says, “‘Can we find our differences and commonalities and put together forms that allow the audience to see the range that’s happening out there?’ We’ve changed our format almost annually, but that is the through-line.” “There’s a commonality of all the groups that we’re working with of being pretty marginalized by the mainstream,” she adds.
“That brings people together, right there.” “We’ve been showing artists of all colors and pushing a feminist agenda since we were founded in 1989,” she continues, “and I’ve been curious about how we can care about feminists – which is, to me, an appreciation of women – and at the same time not care about what someone else’s gender is. To me that is an enigma, or an illogical question, but it keeps taunting me to find more answers.” The link between feminist and queer issues has long struck her as clear. “Twenty years ago,” she says, “I did a program where we had one ‘gay’ video and one feminist video and we just cut back and forth between the two of them. It was very interesting how they wove together. The interests – about the body, about acceptance, about power, about speaking up – were very parallel.” The shared space between those interests is what Dis… Miss aims to create within its large, interactive public events. “When I did our event last year in L.A. State Historic Park [“Ain’t I A Womxn?”], it was like, ‘What if we all get in one public space together, and we just see each other?’ It’s
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LOVE &/ OR FEAR: A Celebration of Genders takes place from 8-11 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 7. Photo courtesy Freewaves
this thing of familiarity, how it breeds more understanding. I was extremely happy with that event, it had an openness and a variety that I really appreciated.” For this year’s follow-up, Bray chose to change the setting from a large, open public park to an iconic, crowded urban center. “I wanted to challenge us to do a similar event in a more difficult situation,” she says. “And Hollywood Boulevard is one of the more difficult situations in this city.” The difficulties she refers to are not due to the complications of holding such a gathering on a major city street; since they won’t be blocking traffic on the Boulevard – only one block of a small side street will be closed off during the event – setting things up with the city was not that much of a hassle. The obstacles, she says, are more cultural. “It’s a very ‘gendered’ street,” she explains. “There are a lot of stores that are peddling a very binary image – from Disney Princesses to shoe stores. It’s binary and it’s mainstream. I
am trying to walk down that space between the ‘two’ with this group of people.” Holding performances in such a public setting has its risks, Bray points out. “There’s a vulnerability to these artists, both physically and psychically,” she says. “We want to be as careful as possible that we’re protecting them, and presenting them in a positive way, and supporting them while they’re being vulnerable.” To that end, event organizers are providing ample security along the venue throughout the evening, and they have declared the event to be a “Sexual Harassment-Free Zone,” with signage to be prominently posted announcing it as such. They’re also providing self-defense classes on the venue’s main stage at 8 and 10 p.m. Among the evening’s other planned experiences are a “Rage Room” Limousine, Lesbian Karaoke, and a fashion show featuring models in paper gowns in a crosswalk at Whitley and Hollywood. Reach L.A. will be voguing in the street, and renowned photographer Austin Young will set up a studio to take street portraits
of gender-fluid individuals. All this is in addition to the featured work by 20 celebrated local artists – including bauhaus.photo, Catherine Bell, Reanne Estrada, the Fingerjoint, Arshia Haq in collaboration with Cassils, Young Joon Kwak, Thinh Nguyen, Ni Santas, Dakota Noot, and Yozmit. #SNATCHPOWER (The Uhuruverse, Davia Spain, SondriaWRITES and Jordi Phi) will perform for the evening’s finale at 10:30 p.m. With so many participating artists, working in such a concentrated space in so public a manner, LOVE &/OR FEAR is bound to be a lively evening, full of surprises. There’s an element of Guerilla theatre to it, the excitement of catching people when they’re not expecting it. “That’s my favorite thing,” beams Anne Bray. “I love it. That, to me, is what public art is.” LOVE &/ OR FEAR: A Celebration of Genders takes place from 8-11 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 7, from 6500-6600 Hollywood Blvd. Admission is free. For a complete list of artists, schedule, and more information, visit freewaves.org.
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16 • AUGUST 30, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Fasten your seat belts: Airhostess Pam Ann poised to be an LA woman Expect turbulence, always with a smile By SCOTT STIFFLER
Pam Ann Photo by Marco Ovando
If people racked up frequent flyer miles every time they made another person laugh, Pam Ann could cash in for a trip to the moon and back, and still have credit left to spend the rest of her life traveling the world in top-tier accommodations. “Putting me in economy, with those inbreds,” she says in defiance, to her inferior superior, in an infamous video. “What the f**ck did you do to secure first class?... Listen closely bitch, first class is my territory.” And so it goes, for the gay-friendly, gutter-mouth alter ego of Melbourneborn comedian-writer-producer Caroline Reid. Aussie airhostess Pam Ann has flown 23,005 trips over the past two decades, touring the world 12 times. This jet-setting jokester with an affinity for coke, cock, and initiating passengers into the MileHigh Club delights audiences with ribald tales of what goes on in those winged hunks of flying metal, observations about the current cultural climate, and a series of videos that insert her into iconic films, including “Superman,” “Titanic” and “The Sound of Music.” Much more than the sum of those muchloved parodies, it’s Pam’s acerbic wit, impossibly high standards, low tolerance for human folly, and predilection for backdoor lovin’ that have endeared her to queer audiences, making her a regular at Bear Week in Provincetown, and on gaythemed Atlantis cruises. On Sept. 7, Pam Ann brings her latest show to LA’s lavender-friendly Montalbán theatre. “I’m thrilled to be flying back to North America,” says Pam Ann, in a press release for “Pam Ann Returns,” the apt title of her current tour. “So much has gone down since my last time there. I’ve been super busy painting the MAX off my Boeing 737’s. Notre Dame is now known as Notre Vuitton and as of this week, I’m the official nanny to Megs and Harry’s bundle of joy. I hate kids but this little bugger is a First Class Royal so I will make an acceptance.” The Los Angeles Blade recently spoke with Pam Ann conduit Reid, who recalls, “I was in Provincetown recently, and [in the audience, there were] all these families, and it just freaked me out. It was OK, but it’s a tough thing,” she says. With gay audiences, Reid notes, “They know your vibe and your comedy, so you can have this confidence that they’re going to be with you. But if there are families, you think, ‘Oh, god, they’ve got kids with them.’
” Showing a vulnerability Pam Ann would never put on display, Reid admits, “With [families], there’s this barrier that goes up. You’re only human. It’s weird.” But all’s well that ends well, notes Reid, who recalls, upon spying a dad, daughter, and son in the audience of that Ptown gig, “I almost shut down a little bit. That, or you go harder.” So, of course, Pam got hard. “And they really enjoyed it. A lot of these people come, and they want to be entertained… If there weren’t any gay people in the audience, that’s OK. But it’s kind of my comfort zone. It’s like a big hug, like, now we can really get the party started.” The party is in full effect at her upcoming LA gig, which offers a turbulent flight of fancy built around a “Mary Poppins” aesthetic. “Her take on the world of airlines and aircrew may require a spoonful of sugar, a Xanax, and some Mary Poppers, but Pam Ann is sure to delight in the most hysterically fucked up way!” promises the press release—and if you think that’s hyperbole, you’re supercalifragilistically, extra queeny, just plain wrong. “Pan Ann is going to be in the original ‘Mary Poppins’ movie,” notes Reid, who was poised to shoot the parody video when she spoke with us. “The show will have a Mary Poppins premise, but with a Pam Ann edge. We’ll use it as a theme, and the show itself will be improvised. The comedy will be very much in tune with what’s going on in LA, and it’s very interactive.” Of the character, Reid says, “I’d say she is the voice of flight attendants. She says what she thinks to everybody [passengers, especially]. Pam is quite ferocious, a little bit cruel. That’s what Madonna called her [Madge deemed her, “cruelly funny”]. She’s very wink and nod. It’s not mean, although the character is very elitist in a way, and only flies first class. She’s a girl who started off at the regional airports, and climbed her way from economy to first class— and she doesn’t want to go back there. So she resonates.” Sat., Sept. 7 at The Montalbán (1615 Vine St.). First class seating ($100) includes a meet and greet with Pam Ann. General admission economy seating ($49) is also available. For tickets and additional information, visit vossevents.com. For more info: pamann.com, Twitter.com/ pamannairbitch and Facebook.com/ pamannairhostess.
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • AUGUST 30, 2019 • 17
Truth transcends trans stereotypes in dazzling ‘Dope Queens’ Everything about debut production is top-notch By JOHN PAUL KING
‘Dope Queens’ introduces us to Goldie (Donzell Lewis), Blake (Michael Antosy), and Angel (Malaya).
You only need to watch an episode of “Pose” to recognize there has been a sea change in the way the trans experience is portrayed. Transgender characters have typically been a rarity, and usually they have been presented as caricatures that reinforce the transphobic prejudices of our culture. Even artists with the best of intentions have often lacked the sensitivity or understanding to “get it right.” All that is changing, gradually but unmistakably. As the public conversation on trans issues intensifies, we have finally begun to see narratives that strive to elevate their trans characters instead of reducing them to the level of a hurtful stereotype. It may be painfully slow, but it’s progress, nonetheless. In that context, is it really a good idea for playwright/director Grafton Doyle to offer up a new dark comedy called “Dope Queens” featuring drug-using transgender prostitutes as two of its three characters? The answer is a resounding “yes.” Taking place over the course of a single night in a grimy SRO (Single Room Occupant) apartment in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district, “Dope Queens” introduces us first to Goldie (Donzell Lewis) and Blake (Michael Antosy), a young black trans woman and her “trade” lover; both earn a living selling their bodies on the streets, and Blake is struggling with a meth addiction, but they have dreams of saving their money and finding a better life together. The arrival of Angel (Malaya), another trans sex worker they both knew in jail, is a mixed blessing; while it means one more person to help pay the bills, it also dredges up a complicated history – along with some uncomfortable secrets that each of the trio carries underneath their street-hardened shells. Yes, it’s funny, and yes, it’s also outrageous. The comedy springs from the absurdity of the world in which these characters dwell – but it’s a very real world, and Doyle’s play is not really trying to make you laugh. The playwright is not interested in political correctness, nor is he after the kind of romanticized glow that emanates from shows like “Pose” or the new “Tales of the City.” His streetwalking heroines are survivors in a hard-scrabble life on the fringes, fierce in the original sense of the word, and they are here to remind us that for a disproportionate percentage of trans people – especially trans people of color – the potentially deadly life of a sex worker is still a daily reality which offers little opportunity for escape. It’s a point that comes across clearly, even through the laughter. “Dope Queens” doesn’t content itself with merely offering a strong social message, though; it goes deeper than that. Its character descriptions seem like prime examples of those hurtful stereotypes mentioned above, but Doyle cuts through the tropes of each characters’ surface to explore the person inside – not as trans or cis or gay or fluid or any of that, but as human. Through their stories and revelations, the play contemplates the intersections between personal and cultural pressure, the marginalization of “the other” through institutionalized trans- and homophobia, the deadly cycles of addiction and violence, and the paradox of a criminal justice system in which “revolving door” incarceration is an accepted way of life for an entire segment of the population. On paper, that sounds like cliché, propaganda, or both; through the complexities revealed by first-hand experience of this premiere production at the Hudson Theatre, it’s powerful stuff. It’s the cast, of course, that has to deliver that power to an audience, and the three actors rise to that challenge by infusing their roles with an authenticity that dissolves any notion of stereotyping from the first moment they appear on stage. Lewis is bold and bossy as Goldie, but brings a little-girl quality to the mix that informs both the character’s vulnerability and bravado. Malaya’s Angel is the perfect counterpoint, an icy-hot embodiment of dangerous beauty who is clearly the “alpha” in the group no matter where on the gender spectrum any of them may be. Antosy, as Blake, may have the biggest challenge of the three, walking the line between not-very-convincing street thug and tragic “lost child” with a privilege afforded by his entitled past; he not only pulls it off, he offers a heart-rending portrait of a person battling with the army of demons he has set against himself, making the necessary leaps from psychotic delirium to razor-sharp introspection not only harrowing but believable. It’s a towering performance, but no more so than those of his fellow performers; together they embody the spirit of a true ensemble cast, each lifting the others to greater heights as they give unforgettable performances of their own. Everything else about this debut production of “Dope Queens” is equally top-notch – from the faux-cartoonish thrift-store chic of Tom Buderwitz’ scenic design, to the seamless integration of Cricket S. Myers’ soundscape of ambient noises and oldiesstation rock, to the subtle orchestrations of Andrew Schmedake’s lighting. As for Doyle the director, also being the playwright has worked to his advantage – something many theatre professionals might say is rare – by allowing him the deep insight needed to guide his cast through the electric blend of absurdist comedy and kitchen-sink realism he has created, as well as the sure instincts required to shape the pacing and emotional build of the piece into a well-crafted, absorbing piece of theatre. There’s a feeling when watching this new play that you are witnessing the birth of something great. It might be the familiar echoes you can perceive in the script. Doyle’s characters evoke an unmistakable Tennessee Williams flavor, and their words spark with the biting intelligence of Edward Albee. There’s a sense that this play has adopted the classic structures and themes used by these iconic playwrights of the past, giving us the fragile and broken denizens of a squalid world who are struggling to preserve for themselves their version of a crumbling American Dream. Whether intentional or not, these traces of influence lend a pedigree to Doyle’s piece that it wears comfortably, even as it subverts and transcends them to find a unique voice of its own. Doyle wrote “Dope Queens” as part of his development of a film version of the same story, a work which is still in progress. Given the obvious talent and vision he brings to the project, if that movie ever sees the light of day it will be well worth seeing – but don’t wait for it. The play stands on its own merits as a complete and cohesive work of art, and it deserves – no, demands – to be seen. Los Angeles theatre scene is notoriously full of outstanding productions being performed for half-empty houses; it’s up to you to make sure this is not one of them. “Dope Queens” continues on the mainstage at the Hudson Theatre through Sunday Sept. 22.
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Lady Gaga and Elton John Popup Concert on the Sunset Strip
City of West Hollywood California 1984
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • AUGUST 30, 2019 • 19
Billy Porter’s nudity clause ‘These bitches wrote a script where I show my ass!’ By BILLY MASTERS
Billy Porter starred in a recent episode of ‘Pose’ that featured a nude sex scene.
“My nerves are frayed, I’m gonna take a Valium and watch it.” — Billy Porter on his “Pose” sex scene. Another year, another season of “Dancing with the Stars.” As in recent years, the term “stars” is being used loosely. I certainly consider James Van Der Beek, Christie Brinkley and Mary Wilson stars. And I suppose one or two of the others are notables in their fields. But the bulk of the lineup is what I like to refer to as a “bunch of nobodies.” One name is getting lots of attention - former White House press secretary Sean Spicer. Political figures are nothing new to DWTS. But this one has drawn the ire of an unlikely person — host Tom Bergeron. It is unusual for Bergeron to voice an opinion about a contestant, and unheard of for him to criticize his own network. But Tom did both. In a lengthy statement, while acknowledging that he has no say in the show’s casting, he discussed a lunch meeting he had with the executive producer regarding the direction of the show. He hoped that DWTS “would be a joyful respite from our exhausting political climate and free of inevitably divisive bookings from ANY political affiliations. I left that lunch convinced we were in agreement. Subsequently (and rather obviously), a decision was made to, as we often say in Hollywood, ‘go in a different direction.’” Elsewhere on ABC, we got the heavily promoted “Bachelor” lesbian relationship. For those of you who don’t watch “Bachelor in Paradise,” alums from the franchise are thrown together on a secluded resort, ostensibly in hopes of finding romance. If they are unsuccessful in making a connection, they’re booted off - after creating havoc. This year, we have Demi - a cast-off from Colton’s season who claims to have recently experimented with lesbianism. Although she made a connection with mega-hot Derek on the show, she also harbored feelings for her hometown lady-love. She voiced these concerns to Chris Harrison. In the past, anyone in such a conflict would simply leave “Paradise.” But suddenly, as if a gift from the gods, Demi’s lesbian lover almost immediately materialized in “Paradise” - in a way that I’m sure was not intended to appear planned. The two women reunited with the most non-sexual, awkward kisses ever, went public to the rest of the cast, and everyone applauded Demi for her bravery...with the exception of Derek, who awkwardly shook hands with his female replacement. You probably expected the ladies would leave “Paradise” happily ever after. But, surprise, Harrison said they could stay and explore their relationship on-camera. Presumably, more drama will ensue. While Billy Porter has had a great year, it hasn’t been without some ups and downs. When he got the script for a recently aired episode of “Pose,” Porter was shocked to learn he’d be doing a love scene - with nudity! He always knew it was a possibility. “Listen, listen to me. I got that contract and that contract said, ‘Nudity Clause,’ and I literally sat and went, ‘Child, they don’t want to see my black ass.’ And I signed it, never thinking in a million years that anybody would call me on it. These bitches wrote a script where I show my ass!” Still, he took it not only in stride, but as a major stride forward. “I have spent my entire career not being the object of anyone’s affection. They cut our dicks off. So to be turning 50 on September 21, and having a very loving, connected sex scene is sort of blowing my mind.” You can check out the scene on BillyMasters.com. Since I’m in Fort Lauderdale this week, I was able to see the world premiere of “Pray the Gay Away,” starring the Zakar Twins (based on their best-selling book). The boys previously made it into this column last August, when they accused a photographer of sexual assault. Alas, that storyline didn’t make it into this show, which is billed as “A true life coming out comedy.” You know how Jerry Seinfeld surrounded himself with a talented cast of actors on “Seinfeld?” The Zakars have done the same thing - and for the same reason. Vince Kelley all but steals the show as their mother, knocking the fourth wall down with aplomb and reacting on the spot to mishaps (like singing during his entrance, saying, “That was supposed to be my sound cue”). Close behind Vince in the scene-stealing category was Jeffrey James Fox, who plays numerous roles - most of which require nudity. It is rare to find someone you’d want to see naked who not only can act but also is funny. Fox is one such person. Cory Shorter made it clear he was the star of every scene he was in, while Zachary James Morgan held up the rear...literally. As to the Zakar Twins, one must admire them. They’ve taken virtually nothing and developed a following based on...well, virtually nothing. If you want to see them nude, save your money - that doesn’t happen here. If you expect some mildly incestuous twin action, you’ll also be disappointed (for that, check out BillyMasters.com). If anything, the boys come off decidedly asexual. In spite of them, the show is entertaining. So, even with all these caveats, I recommend going. And you may get the chance to see it since the show is touring. Keep up with the boys and their travails at ZakarTwins.com. When the Zakar Twins are more famous than most of the people on “Dancing with the Stars,” it’s definitely time for me to end yet another column. To keep up with the latest dish, check out www.BillyMasters.com. If you’ve got a question for me, send it to Billy@BillyMasters.com and I promise to get back to you before Miley turns up on “Bachelor in Paradise.” Until next time, remember, one man’s filth is another man’s bible.
20 • AUGUST 30, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
1 in 7 Americans uses CBD products: poll PRINCETON, N.J. — An estimated one in seven U.S. adults acknowledges using CBD-infused products, according to national polling data compiled by Gallup. Fourteen percent of Americans say that they utilize CBD. Use is most prevalent among those between the ages of 18 to 29. Those consuming CBD products were most likely to report using them for pain (40 percent), anxiety (20 percent), or insomnia (11 percent). In December, Congress enacted legislation removing industrial hemp (defined as cannabis containing less than 0.3 percent THC) and products containing cannabinoids derived from hemp from the federal Controlled Substances Act. However, regulators at the US Food and Drug Administration have taken the position that such products cannot legally be marketed as either medicines, food additives, or health supplements. The agency has established a working group to address the issue, but has cautioned that regulations may not be forthcoming for some time.
DEA promises progress on federal cultivation applications The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has once again pledged to take action to better facilitate clinical cannabis research. According to the agency’s filing in the Federal Register, the DEA “intends to promulgate regulations” to evaluate several dozen applications before it from private entities that wish to cultivate cannabis for FDA-approved research. However, this is not the first time the agency has made such a promise. In 2016, the DEA similarly announced the adoption of new rules to expand to supply of research-grade cannabis, but failed to take any further action. “For the past three years, the DEA has failed to take any steps to follow through on its promise to facilitate clinical cannabis research, and today’s announcement makes it clear that this foot-dragging will continue,” NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri said. “According to the DEA’s filing, the agency has yet to even evaluate even one of the dozens of applications before it – many of which have been pending for more than two years, nor do they provide any timetable regarding when or if they ever will. In an era where public and scientific interest in the
cannabis plant, particularly with regard to its therapeutic properties, has never been greater, and where patients in a majority of states are already using cannabis in compliance with state law, it is inexcusable that the DEA continues to take this ‘head-inthe-sand’ approach to this rapidly changing cultural and legal landscape.” In June, one of the applicants seeking a DEA cultivation license – the Scottsdale Research Institute – filed a petition in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia seeking a writ of mandamus to order the DEA to comply with its 2016 policy, arguing that the agency has engaged in unreasonable delays. On July 29, the Appellate Court ordered the DEA to provide a written response to the filing within 30 days. Since 1968, only the University of Mississippi has been federally licensed to engage in the growing of cannabis for FDA-approved clinical research. Scientists familiar with the product have consistently said that it is of inferior quality and fails to accurately reflect the types of marijuana varieties commercially available in legal states. Further, the University only provides scientists with the option to access herbal cigarette formulations of the plant, not concentrates, edibles, or extracts. Strains high in the compound cannabidiol (CBD) – a chemical of particular interest to many scientists – are also not currently available from the University.
Ill. guv signs medical cannabis expansion law SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzer signed legislation into law expanding the pool of qualifying patients eligible for medical cannabis therapy. Senate Bill 2023, which took effect upon signing, permits physicians to recommend medical cannabis for patients diagnosed with autism, chronic pain, irritable bowel syndrome, migraine, osteoarthritis, ulcerative colitis, and several other conditions. It also permits physician assistants and registered nurses to issue cannabis recommendations. The governor also signed separate legislation into law (SB 455 aka Ashley’s Law) mandating school districts to permit “a school nurse ... to administer a medical cannabis infused product to a student who is a registered qualifying patient while on school premises.” The new law takes effect on Jan. 1, 2020. Cannabis Culture news in the Blade is provided in partnership with NORML. For more information, visit norml.org.
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • AUGUST 30, 2019 • 21
Gal pal fling Slowish novel ‘Going Dutch’ is middling gay character study By TERRI SCHLICHENMEYER
Author James Gregor Photo courtesy Simon & Schuster
BOOKS This one or that one? Pick A or B, your choice. Have one or the other, eitheror, you have to decide because you can’t have everything. And don’t reach for it quick or, as in the new novel “Going Dutch” by James Gregor, someone’s going to get hurt. Richard Turner hated online dating. Tinder, Grindr, OKCupid, they were all filled with the same kinds of interests and in-search-of’s from the same hot guys. Blah-blah-blah. As for Richard, he wanted love. He wanted happily ever after with a man of his dreams. He also wanted to finish his grad-school paper, but not too quickly: his entire life was made possible by fellowship money that kept him financially afloat. Without it, he’d actually have to get a job so, in the meantime, he had single dates with single men and met with his academic advisor to discuss the work he wasn’t doing. At least there was movement on that first part: he’d met Blake, who was incredible, but who didn’t seem so into Richard. On to the next swipe. And on that second part, well, Richard’s advisor advised him to talk to Anne, a classmate who was also a rising star in academia. Richard knew Anne, but only in passing and she seemed nice enough, if not a little weird. As it turned out, she really knew how to write, though — so much so, that she basically wrote Richard’s paper for him. She was smart, well-traveled and she also knew how to make Richard feel wanted. It didn’t take long for them to have sex. That was weird, too, because Richard was gay. But he liked Anne, he liked spending time with her and he appreciated her generosity. She seemed to genuinely care about him. He started thinking about moving in with her. And then he met Blake again at a party. Blake. Single, hot, and wanting Richard now. “Going Dutch” is a tight novel — tight, as if it’s been sucking lemons all day. It’s hard to imagine any two more unlikeable characters than Richard and Anne, as they have endless, banal conversations about their respective classwork and other mundane things. One could argue that this inanity is perhaps the point of the story, but it goes on way too long. When you’re in the midst of it, in fact, you’ll understand completely why author James Gregor’s two characters can’t find true love. Enter Blake, who is a great distraction but who’s not very fleshed-out on the page. Even so, he’s a nice burr under the story’s saddle, adding a bit of desperately needed interest to what ends up something like wet firecrackers: a little spark and a sputter, doused by overly wordy narrative. And so this tale progresses to a squirmy-uncomfortable big culmination scene that, alas, even Blake’s presence can’t fix. This book, filled with small talk and small actions, may appeal to habitual people-watchers but just remember that “Going Dutch” is sleepy. If you want a novel with any serious action in it, in other words, skip this one. ‘Going Dutch’ By James Gregor Simon & Schuster $26.99 352 pages
22 • AUGUST 30, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
It’s ‘Brittany’ bitch Playwright fought to direct debut feature By BRIAN T. CARNEY
JILLIAN BELL and MICAH STOCK in ‘Brittany Runs a Marathon.’ Photo courtesy Amazon Studios
For out playwright and filmmaker Paul Downs Colaizzo, the race to his first movie “Brittany Runs a Marathon” ran through New York and Washington before crossing the finish line at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. The film was inspired by his friendship with Brittany O’Neill. The two met when they were undergraduates at the Tisch School for the Arts at New York University. They fell out of touch after graduation but reconnected a few years later. “She needed a roommate and I needed a place to live so I moved in with her,” Colaizzo says. Their relationship proved to be stronger than ever, which was especially important for Colaizzo who had recently come out. “It was the kind of friendship where we could talk about anything. We were able to examine our lives in very real ways and be very vulnerable because we weren’t afraid of judgement from each other,” he says. “Real Brittany is the funniest person I know — always has been. She had a way of making everything into a hilarious joke,” Colaizzo says. “But her life was also dysfunctional. She was neglecting her student loans and drinking on weeknights. She decided to make a change.” Brittany started running and decided to enter the New York City Marathon. Colaizzo decided to write a screenplay about his friend’s experience. “I finished a draft before Brittany even ran her marathon,” he says. “I was writing my hopes and dreams for her.” Colaizzo makes it clear that while cinematic Brittany is inspired by real Brittany, the movie character is not a portrait of his friend. He used her story to dive into his interest in archetypal cinematic characters. “My concept for the film was to explore the stock character of the hot mess, fat sidekick comic relief party girl,” he says. “I wanted to give this character a true hero’s journey. I wanted to dig into her past and her behaviors and let the story be both entertaining and emotional.” In the meantime, Colaizzo was also working on other scripts. One of them, “Really Really” caught the attention of Eric Schaeffer and Matthew Gardiner at Signature Theatre in Arlington. In 2012, Gardiner directed the premiere production of the play, which broke box office records at the theater and won a Helen Hayes Award. A year later, when the award-winning play was produced by Manhattan’s MCC Theatre, actor and producer Tobey Maguire happened to catch a performance. Maguire and producing partner Matthew Plouffe met with Colaizzo after the show to discuss working together. The writer told them about “Brittany,” and the trio began working on the script. Once the script was finalized, Maguire and Plouffe started looking for a director, and Colaizzo realized he wanted to direct it himself, even though he had no experience. His request was denied, but
he persisted. “I told them I wanted to protect the character. I was afraid the movie could turn into a lecture or a humiliating broad comedy. I didn’t want it to be either of those things. I wanted to present a reality. I wanted to be steering the ship.” He created a look book and storyboards for the movie and talked to the producers again. This time they said yes. Colaizzo’s first task as writer/director was to cast the role of Brittany. He decided on Jillian Bell, known for her work on “Saturday Night Live” and for her appearances in “Rough Night” and Lynne Shelton’s “Sword of Trust.” Bell became fiercely committed to the role. Colaizzo recalls. “She signed on seven months before we were scheduled to start filming. We met once a week to go over the script word for word to make sure we were on the same page when we got to set. Jillian understood that Brittany is both the protagonist and the antagonist of the story, trying to conquer her own self-destructive behaviors.” Colaizzo was also impressed by Bell’s commitment to capturing Brittany’s physical transformation. “She started running,” the writer/director says, “and had her family members record her progress to help her recreate that journey on film. She also took it upon herself to lose the same amount of weight the character did — 40 pounds.” The character’s weight loss led to another challenge for the first-time director — capturing the gradual changes in Brittany’s body over the curse of several months during a 28-day film shoot. The filmmaker explains how he and his crew used movie magic to capture Brittany’s physical transformation. There’s a scene at the very beginning of the film where Brittany’s sitting on the couch looking at her Facebook photo. That’s a photo of Bell that was taken a year before filming. The Brittany seen on the couch is a recreation of that image using prosthetics, hair, makeup, costume and body padding. Various combinations of those movie tricks were used throughout the film. As Colaizzo finished work on his first movie, he got to enjoy another D.C. connection. In 2013, Signature Theatre produced his play “Pride in the Falls of Audrey Mill” starring Christine Lahti. As he worked on the final edits of “Brittany Runs a Marathon” at the Sundance Editing Lab, he discovered that Lahti was one of his advisors on the project. In the spirit of the indomitable woman who inspired the movie, “Brittany” won the Audience Award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. D.C. audiences can now enjoy the cinematic debut of out filmmaker Paul Down Colaizzo, who hopes that he will be returning to Signature Theatre sometime soon.
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