EQUALITY CALIFORNIA CELEBRATES 20TH ANNIVERSARY THE POWER OF LEGISLATIVE ACTIVISM
S E P T E M B E R 2 7 2 0 1 9 • V O LU M E 0 3 • I S S U E 3 9 • A M E R I C A’ S LG B TQ N E W S S O U R C E • LO S A N G E L E S B L A D E . C O M
02 • JULY 27, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Jewel Thais-Williams is getting a square named in her honor Oct. 5 ceremony is free to the public By KAREN OCAMB firstname.lastname@example.org Jewel Thais-Williams just keeps making history. After founding Jewel’s Catch One, the longest Black-owned disco in America that provided a safe haven for Black LGBT people when racism was still blatantly rampant in the Los Angeles LGBT community, Jewel and her wife Rue Thais-Williams took those Catch dollars and helped start several AIDS organizations and the first shelter
for women living with HIV/AIDS and their children in South Los Angeles. That deserves more than a pat on the back, says LA City Council President Herb Wesson. On Saturday, Oct. 5 at 3 p.m., Wesson will officially designate the intersection of Pico Blvd. and Norton Ave. at the site of Catch One as “JEWEL THAIS-WILLIAMS SQUARE.” “Everybody deserves to be able to enjoy a night out where they can feel safe and welcomed, but before Jewel Thais-Williams that was not the reality for Los Angeles’ Black LGBTQ+ community,” Wesson said in a press release. “With Jewel’s Catch One, she built a home for young, Black queer people who were often isolated and shut out at their own homes, and in doing so changed the lives of so many. Jewel is more than deserving
to be the first Black lesbian woman with a dedicated square in the City of Los Angeles for this and so many other reasons.” With the designation, Thais-Williams becomes the second Black woman in the history of City of Los Angeles to have a square named after her and the first Black lesbian to receive the honor, says Wesson. Members of the public can RSVP online to attend the free ceremony at the Catch, 4067 Pico Blvd in LA (go to losangelesblade. com for link). The unveiling will be followed by a reception with legendary Catch One deejay DJ KeyKey. “I’m grateful and overwhelmed to have been honored by LA City Council President Herb Wesson,” Thais-Williams tells the Los Angeles Blade. “It’s been my pleasure to
serve the LGBT and other communities over the years.” After graduating from UCLA, starting a business, then opening the club in 1973, Jewel got her Master of Science degree in Oriental Medicine from Samra University in 1998 and opened the non-profit affordable Village Health Foundation clinic as a safe space to learn nutrition, heal and relieve pain and PTSD through auricular acupuncture. “What people may not realize is that there is an intersection between injustice and health,” says Thais-Williams. “In the early days, I was happy to help people come out and deal with AIDS and addictions at the Catch. Now, at the Village Health clinic, I’m counseling and helping people with a broad range of health issues to be their healthiest selves.”
Key federal prosecution witness against Ed Buck is homeless Community rallies to help Black victim FROM STAFF REPORTS The prosecution witness who was the basis for the state charges brought against Ed Buck for his involvement in the deaths of two black gay men and key to the federal case against the one-time West Hollywood Democratic activist in those deaths, told NBCLA Sept. 23 he is homeless. Buck, 65, was criminally charged with running a drug den by Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey after this homeless man overdosed on Sept. 11 but survived after meeting Buck on the gay dating website Adam for Adam. Ten men told investigators that Buck paid them to use drugs for his sexual pleasure. On Sept. 19, federal prosecutors charged Buck with distribution of methamphetamine
that resulted in death, referring to Gemmel Moore, and alleged he targeted addicted and homeless gay men. “Before I met Ed, before all of this happened, I’d never been out on the streets like this,” the man who has only been identified as “John Doe” in court documents told NBCLA in a telephone interview. “I always had pride that I had a job and a place to stay.” Doe, 37, also told NBCLA that he had asked LA County to assist him in finding temporary housing. Doe said that a County official offered last week to arrange a shelter space in Anaheim, but he said that would make a daily bus commute to a new job in West LA impossible. The official said shelters closer to LA were full. Doe has been staying in a rented room paid for by LGBTQ activist, journalist, and consultant Jasmyne Cannick. On Sept. 20, Cannick posted an appeal for assistance to raise funds for Doe on her Facebook page.
“#URGENT Hey y’all I need some help. I’m with an #EdBuck survivor who has come forward and is very important to the case against Buck. Can anyone help me raise some $$$ to make sure he has housing and food for the weekend until we can find him temp housing?” Cannick wrote. “We’ve depleted the funds we’ve raised so far on Gemmel’s funeral, travel for the families, other victims and the legal costs for the civil lawsuit. Thanking you in advance.” Cannick’s appeal was successful; Doe was grateful. “I just want to get back to having peace,” he said. “I need that safe feeling again.” Buck, who is facing both state and federal charges, is being held with no possibility of bail until a detention hearing in the federal case. There is a $4 million bond assessment in the state’s case. He has been assigned a public defender for the federal charge and is no longer being represented by his longtime attorney Seymour Amster, according to court filings.
Jasmyne Cannick with Buck victim ‘John Doe’ Photo via Facebook
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04 • SEPTEMBER 27, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Equality California celebrates 20th anniversary The power of legislative activism By KAREN OCAMB email@example.com History doesn’t just make itself. History happens at an inflection point when fed up individuals come together and organize to make change. Different groups take different approaches to an issue but for change to stick, it needs to become law. This is particularly true for LGBTQ people who are still not equal to their fellow citizens under federal and many state and local laws. That’s why Equality California’s 20 years of successful legislative activism has become a model for other statewide LGBTQ civil rights organizations. But Equality California stands on the shoulders of brave souls who paved the way through the dark, tangled thicket of entrenched and institutionalized homophobia. California has a long track record of creating change, starting with the Mattachine Society, the Daughters of Bilitis, ONE Magazine, the Society for Individual Rights (SIR) in the 1950s. In the 1960s, gay and lesbian activism intertwined with the anti-Vietnam War, Women’s Liberation and Gay Liberation movements. But ironically, the Black Cat and Stonewall rebellions in the late 1960s also sent people “scurrying into closet” fearing exposure through police arrests at bar raids, according to attorney and businesswoman Diane Abbitt. “There was a lot of shame. People were terrified of losing their jobs. A lot of them were teachers and professional people,” Abbitt tells the Los Angeles Blade. “And it impacted businesses. There was a lesbian bar in Redondo Beach where the police kept coming in on the pretext that they were looking for a runaway.” By the 1970s, the fight for equal protection under the law hit the political scene and the California Legislature. In 1971, the Alice B. Toklas Memorial Democratic Club of San Francisco formed to train activists to become political professionals and
Bisexual Palm Springs City Councilmember Christy Holstege, gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom, trans Palm Springs City Councilmember Lis Middleton, Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California Photo courtesy EQCA
engage with the Democratic Party. In 1975, Stonewall Democratic Club was founded in Los Angeles and Assemblymember Willie Brown arduously secured passage of a consenting adults law that didn’t exactly decriminalize homosexuality—sodomy or oral copulation laws remained on the books—but private consensual activity between adults over 18 was no longer illegal. In 1977, Assemblymember Art Agnos started pushing for a gay rights job bill and Harvey Milk was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. The following year, a statewide coalition of activists defeated the anti-gay Briggs initiative and Milk was assassinated. Meanwhile in LA, the Municipal Elections Committee of Los Angeles (MECLA) became the first gay political action committee (PAC) contributing money to local progay politicians. “We wanted to change the quality of life for gay people so they could be who they are - and they wanted to do that through political action,” says Abbitt,
MECLA’s first female board co-chair who later served on the EQCA board and became PAC chair. MECLA became so prominent, Gov. Jerry Brown gave the keynote speech at a 1979 roast for philanthropist businessman Sheldon Andelson. There were a record 71 openly lesbian and gay delegates to the 1980 Democratic Convention, 17 of whom came from California. The Democratic Party Platform included a gay rights plank. But Democratic President Jimmy Carter lost to former California Republican Gov. Ronald Reagan in 1980 and everything changed. Though the first AIDS cases reported to the CDC in 1981 of five gay men from Los Angeles exploded into “1,112 and Counting,” as Larry Kramer put it in 1983, the religious conservative Reagan administration did little to nothing. But AIDS brought together the leaders of numerous LGBT groups to form LIFE AIDS Lobby to push AIDS legislation in Sacramento. LIFE worked with allies like Willie Brown
and David Roberti, whose openly gay aide Stan Hadden wrote bills and coordinated the legislative response. LIFE also pushed back on anti-gay/AIDS bills and other measures such as the AIDS quarantine initiatives. John Duran, a volunteer attorney for ACT UP/Orange County, joined the LIFE AIDS Lobby board and wound up serving as co-chair from 1988-1992, working with executive director, Laurie McBride. By the time Republican Gov. Pete Wilson vetoed AB 101 in 1991, LIFE Lobby included members as diverse as transgender ACT UP/ LA AIDS activist Connie Norman and Log Cabin Republican Club co-founder Frank Ricchiazzi. In the 1990s, state politics was dominated by conservative anti-gay Republicans. Out attorney Sheila James Kuehl took on the challenge, becoming the first openly gay person in the California Legislature and the first member of the LGBT Legislative Caucus. But in 1998, despite the turning point of Democrat Gray Davis’s election as
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • SEPTEMBER 27, 2019 • 05
governor and the promise of new life-saving AIDS medications, LIFE Lobby ran out of money and folded. But longtime politicos recognized the need for political and legislative activism and California Alliance for Pride and Equality (CAPE) quickly emerged from the ashes in 1999 with longtime San Francisco politico Jean Harris as executive director. Geoff Kors, a graduate of Stanford Law School and a lawyer in private practice, was one of nine members who sat on CAPE’s Board of Directors—which now constituted individual board members, not representatives from different statewide organizations. When Harris left in 2003 – having helped pass Assemblymember Carole Migden’s AB 25 domestic partner registry bill and Kuehl’s AB 537, the first statewide LGBTinclusive anti-bullying law – Kors stepped in as executive director and changed the organization’s name to Equality California. Kors grew the organization into a national model. First, in 2003, working with gay friend Assemblymember Mark Leno, they secured passage of Leno’s AB 196 adding gender identity to employment and housing protections. That year, he also helped secure passage of AB 205, Assemblymember Jackie Goldberg’s expanded domestic partnership bill that was essentially civil unions by another name. In 2004, as the Religious Right pressured President G. W. Bush to pass a federal constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, Equality California merged with Marriage Equality California and focused on both affirmative and counter measures. In 2005, Leno’s first marriage bill, AB 849, passed the Legislature, only to be vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Marriage equality became a key gay and lesbian civil rights issue but marriage equality was upended by the passage of Prop 8 in 2008. It was eventually overturned. Kors left Equality California in March 2011 after a hugely successful tenure, concluding with passage of State Sen. Mark Leno’s SB 4, the FAIR Education Act that established an inclusive curriculum. Kors was followed by Roland Palencia, who served a year, followed by John O’Connor who joined the organization in December 2012. During their tenures, Equality California worked to pass Ted Lieu’s SB 1172 “reparative therapy” bill to protect LGBT youth from psychological abuse; Assemblymember Tom Ammiano’s AB 1266, the School Success and Opportunity Act, protecting and prohibiting the exclusion of trans students from classes
Gov. Gray Davis shakes Equality California Executive Director Geoff Kors’s hand after signing AB 205. Photo by Karen Ocamb
and activities; and Assemblymember Susan Bonilla’s AB 2501, prohibiting use of the “panic defense” based on sexual orientation or gender identity. When O’Connor left, Rick Zbur, a longtime political and environment activist, retired in 2014 from his senior law partnership with Latham & Watkins to take the executive director job, which also includes working with the Equality California Institute and the community Equality Council. Equality California has expanded, rebranded and flourished under Zbur’s leadership, broadening the scope of the organization’s mission to focus on intersectionality and look at health disparities, especially in people of color communities, and the rights of trans people and LGBT undocumented immigrants. This year, Equality California had 13 bills and resolutions; seven passed the legislature; one has been signed into law; and six bills were turned into two-year bills.
“It was a challenging year for us. I’ve got to admit that. Part of that is because our bills are more challenging and in many ways, we’re tackling tougher issues that impact our community in significant ways,” Zbur tells the Los Angeles Blade. “Many of the strategies that we are pursuing cost money. So that is something that we’ve got a lot of work to do to educate the legislature about the need to prioritize our community as they’re allocating budgetary resources. We’ve got a lot of work to do next year to get those six bills passed.” Gov. Newsom signed AB 711 by Assemblymember David Chiu. “That basically ensures that local educational agencies in California are required to update the records of their former students who identify as transgender, so that their legal name and their gender are accurately reflected in documents like high school diplomas and school transcripts.” Says Zbur. Assemblymember Todd Gloria’s AB
LOCAL 493, Safe and Supportive Schools, is on Newsom’s desk but minus a key component - Mandatory Teacher and Staff Training Element, which was pulled because the budgetary funding was insufficient. “We have an agreement and understanding with the governor’s office that we will bring back the mandatory training elements of the bill next year. They made a commitment to us to work on a funding package as part of next year’s budget,” says Zbur. “We’re optimistic that the governor and his staff have actually prioritized LGBTQ school safety as an issue to tackle in sort of a comprehensive way next year.” Another major bill awaiting a signature is SD 179, PrEP and PEP Access Expansion bill by Sen. Scott Wiener. The bill “basically authorizes pharmacists to furnish PrEP and PEP to patients without a prescription, which eliminates one of the key barriers to getting coverage,” says Zbur. Now, if someone can’t get a doctor’s prescription over the weekend, PrEP and PEP is over available at an emergency room. “That costs a lot of money and for people that have inadequate insurance, it is a huge barrier. So this bill would fix those circumstances,” says Zbur. “It also prohibits insurance companies from requiring prior authorization from insurance companies for at least that initial prescription for PrEP.” Another bill, SD 495 by Senator Maria Elena Durazo, tackles child custody determinations, modifying the family code “to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity of a parent or legal guardian or relative when granting and making decisions on custody of a child, which is an important new nondiscrimination protection that is now embedded in our law.” Additionally, AB 785, by Senate Assemblymember Richard Bloom “streamlines the transfer of donor medical information for families in donor conceived individuals” is also on Newsom’s desk. The tough two-year bills include the complicated Intersex Bodily Autonomy bill, which was pulled early to allow for more education. “Basically it protects the rights of intersex Californians to ensure that they can provide informed consent before medically unnecessary and sometimes irreversible and harmful procedures are performed on them as babies,” says Zbur. “At its core, this is about protecting and respecting an individual’s own determination of their
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06 • SEPTEMBER 27, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
20 years of legislative activism at Equality California Continued from page 5 gender identity.” Another now-two-year bill by Senator Wiener, SB 132, the Transgender Respect Agency and Dignity Act, primarily dealing with how trans inmates are housed in prison. “We, as a coalition, elected to take a pause and work on some details on the bill that we think will allow us to get it passed next year,” Zbur says. “As you might expect, there’s a high amount of engagement with the California Department of Corrections.” And then there was the dustup with Assembly Appropriations Chair Lorena Gonzalez, who placed Wiener’s SD 145 Sex Offender Registry bill on suspense without explanation, turning it into a two-year bill. The bill would fix the state’s discriminatory practice of treating LGBT young people differently than their non- LGBTQ peers when engaging in voluntary sexual activity “We obviously expressed our concern about how this bill was treated. But we are planning on working with the Assembly Appropriations Chair next year and are dedicated to continuing to fight to get this through,” says Zbur. “I think [Gonzalez] considers herself an ally. But I think she really doesn’t fully understand our issues. It’s inappropriate for her to really try to pit a bill that is trying to fix discrimination against LGBTQ people against folks in the criminal justice advocacy area, who would oppose any sort of increased criminalization of something.” Apparently, Gonzalez hated the bill. “She wanted this gone. She had concerns about the underlying law. That’s something that she should do as a separate bill. We obviously took issue with the fact that she wanted to tie concerns that she had with the underlying law to an LGBTQ bill to fix discrimination for our community,” Zbur says. Two other bills, SD 741 and 8650, “got bollixed up because of some of the details,” says Zbur. One allows trans Californians to update their marriage certificates and birth certificates while still protecting their privacy and the other is about LGBTQ data collection. A third bill, AB 307, by Eloise Gomez Reyes and Senator Wiener regards a homeless youth grant program for which there was no money in the budget. “One of the challenges that we’re facing
Equality California staff: From left: Program Director Robbie Rodriguez, Program Associate Marisa London, Communications Director Samuel Garrett-Pate, Director of Finance & Administration Valencia Phillips, Executive Director Rick Zbur, Managing Director Tony Hoang, Program Manager Jeremy Payne, Grants Associate Allie Hughes Photo by Claudia Unger & Francesca Di Amico, courtesy of Equality California
is that many of the things that we need to do in California do cost money now,” says Zbur. “So we’ve got a lot of work to do to really hold our legislators and legislature accountable to prioritize the needs of our community. These bills are essentially a drop in the bucket compared to the broader state budget. But really, just the commitment isn’t there yet among many of the folks that are making these decisions. So we’ve got a lot of work to do and that’s what we’re going to be focusing on next year.” Zbur says their Equality California 20th Anniversary Awards on Sept. 28 at the J.W. Marriott Hotel “should be the biggest gala that we’ve ever had,” with an expected attendance of more than 1200 people. The honorees are Jill Soloway, creator and executive producer of the Amazon original series Transparent, with the Equality
Visibility Award; CNN political commentator Ana Navarro with the Ally Leadership; Latham & Watkins, LLP and attorney Amy Quartarolo, who will be honored together with the Community Leadership Award - Latham & Watkins, contributed almost $3 million in free legal services to Equality California over the last three years; and past Equality California Board President Andreas Meyer, who led the organization’s board of directors from 2012-2016. Meyer was Board president when Zbur was hired and “developed the strategy that the organization is following now—one that is very intersectional and really focused on addressing the disparities in health and wellbeing that our community faces.” Zbur also says he is “actually very lucky to have an incredibly committed board and an incredibly committed staff. I mean
it’s really a team effort. But when I came in, it was a time in which a lot of folks were asking the question: why do we need Equality California? We were so associated with the fight for marriage equality and that was behind us. Andres was an incredibly important leader of our organization during that transition,” as were Jackie Thomas and Joyce Rowland at the Equality California Institute. “For two decades, Equality California has led the Golden State’s fight for LGBTQ civil rights and social justice,” says Zbur. “And after 20 years in this fight — even in these challenging times — I couldn’t be more hopeful. I have hope for our future because like our fledgling board back in 1999, I know the next generation of leaders are unafraid, unjaded and don’t give a damn what the cynics have to say.”
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08 • SEPTEMBER 27, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Schiff at LA LGBT Center on eve of impeachment news 50th anniversary celebrants express their support By KAREN OCAMB firstname.lastname@example.org Rep. Adam Schiff was halfway through his remarks celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Los Angeles LGBT Center on Sept. 21, joking about going all “fanboy” over CEO Lorri Jean and about Red Dress Day on the AIDS LifeCycle ride when he pivoted to the pall hanging over America. “There’s not much that I can say that would do justice to the magnitude of the accomplishments of the Center’s fearless leader. So I’ll just say that at a time when I don’t need to tell anyone in this room, our country is going through a really dark chapter…” Schiff said. “Why don’t you impeach him?” someone shouted from the audience, referring to President Donald J. Trump. For a brief moment, the room seemed to erupt in agreement. Schiff paused. For two days, as chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Schiff had been dealing behind closed doors with gaining access to a whistleblower’s “urgent” complaint that Trump had a phone call with a foreign leader to whom he’d made some sort of promise. The Trump administration told the inspector general not to release the complaint to Congress, a violation of federal law. The pause was brief, suggesting a flicker of maybe sharing some news. But that would be too much of a digression from the significance of the Center event. Schiff quickly resumed his accolades for Lorri Jean. “I can’t imagine anyone that I would rather have on my side in the fight for healthcare, for equality, for humanity and for basic decency than the woman who has led this organization to this very moment in history,” Schiff said. “Nancy Pelosi likes to say that the times have found us. Well, they have certainly found Lorri Jean and thank god they have.” The resounding applause refocused the sizable crowd dining under a large tent
Rep. Adam Schiff and Los Angeles LGBT Center CEO Lorri L. Jean Photo by Karen Ocamb
before heading to The Greek Theatre for a spectacular concert. “There is no member of the United States Congress who makes me prouder than Adam Schiff,” said Jean, accepting an honor from the representative before laying out how, over the past 50 years, “we have seen unprecedented progress and met unimaginable challenges.” Jean pegs the beginning of the Center’s history to 1969 “when at least one of our founders, the late Morris Kight, first began providing services to LGBT people in need. Now Morris once told me that most of these early services were information referrals and a lot of moral support.” But in 1969, LGBT people were “virtual
pariahs,” frequently arrested “simply for having a drink in a bar with others of our kind.” Being outed meant being isolated, losing jobs, children and being disowned by families. That information and those referrals were vital. “Those who dared to speak the truth did so at their peril,” Jean said. “I’d like for you all to think about the audacity and the bravery that it took in that climate for a group of LGBT people to organize around helping one another and to claim our rightful place in society. Yet that is exactly the kind of courage that was shown by our founders and by everyone involved in the Center in its earliest days.” And they were all volunteers, Jean said,
identifying the founders, executive directors and key contributors throughout the years. “The lesson of our unrivaled history is that no matter the forces aligned against us. No matter our movement’s missteps or the challenges ahead, we will not be dissuaded from advancing our powerful vision,” Jean said. “Every human being deserves freedom, justice and equality, dignity, respect, and love, acceptance, health and happiness. And that is what your Center is fighting for and what we took 50 years building – that is why we persevere.” The Los Angeles LGBT Center, Jean said, stands as a bulwark against the political chaos swirling around the country. “Our Center’s 50-year history is proof that we cannot be stopped, no matter who is in the White House, the state house, or the court house,” Jean said. “We will not give up. We will continue to fight for what is right with resilient determination and relentless courage. With organizations like our Center and a community like you to support us, I promise you that we will win. We will succeed because an army of lovers shall not fail.” The next morning, Schiff threw down the gauntlet that has since led to an impeachment inquiry against Trump after revelations that the President tried to intimidate Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky into digging up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter to help Trump’s 2020 re-election. “I have been very reluctant to go down the path of impeachment, Schiff said on CNN Sunday morning. “But if the president is essentially withholding military aid at the same time that he is trying to browbeat a foreign leader into doing something illicit that is providing dirt on his opponent during a presidential campaign, then that may be the only remedy that is coequal to the evil that that conduct represents….We very well may have crossed the Rubicon here.” While Schiff may be going into the historic impeachment proceedings with the constitutional determination of a former federal prosecutor, after the Center’s 50th anniversary gala, he also knows he is backed by his LGBTQ constituents.
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • SEPTEMBER 27, 2019 • 09
Billy Porter exalted in his Emmy win for Outstanding Actor in a Drama with his peers acknowledging his incredible performance as a person with AIDS in the New York City 1980s ballroom community portrayed in Ryan Murphey’s FX drama “Pose.” Making history as the ﬁrst openly gay Black actor to win an Emmy, Porter quoted the late out gay author James Baldwin in his acceptance speech. “It took many years of vomiting up all the ﬁlth I’d been taught about myself, and half-believed, before I was able to walk on the earth as though I had a right to be here,” said Porter exuberantly, adding: “I have the right. You have the right. We all have the right!” Backstage, Porter choked up. “I hope that young queer people of all colors can look at me and know that they can” create change. Trans actor Laverne Cox, nominated for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for the Netﬂix hit “Orange Is the New Black,” raised awareness through her rainbow clutch emblazed with the words “Oct. 8 Title VII Supreme Court.” She was accompanied by trans ACLU attorney Chase Strangio. Patricia Arquette used her Emmy win to movingly pay tribute to her trans sister, Alexis Arquette, who died in 2016. “In my heart, I’m so sad,” Arquette said. “I’m in mourning every day of my life, Alexis, and will be the rest of my life for you until we change the world for you until we change the world so that trans people are not persecuted. And give them jobs. Let’s get rid of this bias that we have everywhere.”
“Representation matters. Visibility matters. Without a voice, we can’t begin to address issues like the staggering rates of sexual assault of bisexual women or disproportionate rates of poverty that affect bisexual people. Happy #BiVisibilityDay. I see you.” – Out bisexual Rep. Katie Hill on Twitter Sept. 23.
“Today we recognize #BiVisibilityDay, and the work that still needs to be done to end the erasure. You are valid and we will leave no one to ﬁght alone.” – Presidential candidate California Sen. Kamala Harris on Twitter Sept. 23.
“Without the people of Long Beach, I never, ever would have had the opportunity to launch my tennis career, and travel the world, and have a platform to hopefully make a difference in the lives of others.” – Out tennis legend Billie Jean King on the public opening of the Billie Jean King Main Library, via Long Beach Press Telegram Sept. 21.
10 • SEPTEMBER 27, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
HRC president: Trump responsible for anti-trans violence David talks 2020 and more on eve of trans march, national dinner
their voices are heard. And they appreciate the true impact that this election could have on this country. Blade: As you were coming on board, did you have any conversations with Chad Griffin at all during the transition? David: [Laughs] Yes. I’ve known Chad for a long time. I met Chad when he first thought about bringing a lawsuit challenging Proposition 8, which was a ballot initiative in California that ended up going all the way up to the Supreme Court. And we had been colleagues and friends for a long time. So before taking this job, I had a conversation with him — actually several conversations with him — about the organization about the challenges that we face in the movement, and about the opportunities that I see that we can take advantage of.
By CHRIS JOHNSON Alphonso David, the new president of the Human Rights Campaign, doesn’t hold back when talking about the harm he says President Trump is inflicting on the LGBT community. In fact, David said Trump is responsible for the ongoing problem of violence against transgender people. Just this year, as David noted, 18 transgender people have been reported killed, 17 of whom were people of color. “President Trump is not only responsible, but he is the gasoline that is responsible for many fires around this country,” David said. David said Trump is “spewing hate and division and bigotry” and is responsible for discrimination and violence against many minority communities, including transgender people. “There is a connection between what we’re seeing with transgender violence, with racial injustice, with immigrant bias throughout this country because of Donald Trump,” David said. David made the remarks in an interview with the Washington Blade in his office on Tuesday days before the first-ever National Transgender March on Washington and the 23rd annual Human Rights Campaign National Dinner in Washington, D.C. Asked about his message to participants in the transgender march, David issued a call for solidarity with transgender people. “We have to be supportive of the transgender community, and we have to not only be there for this march, we have to be there after the march, we have to be there in two weeks, we have to be there in six months, we have to create systems that will support the transgender community,” David said. David kept his cards close to the vest about the upcoming National Dinner, but said big news is in store for the night. “And, you know, certainly I’ll be focused on transgender rights,” David said. “I think
Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David photographed this week during an interview at HRC headquarters. Blade photo by Michael Key
it’s something that we need to focus on, but the details of that, you’ll have to wait until Saturday.” Read the full interview here: Washington Blade: I guess my first question for you is you’ve been on the job now for about a month Has anything about being in this job in that time period surprised you? Alphonso David: Yes. There have been a number of things that surprised me. The dedication, the commitment, the passion that HRC staff members and supporters bring to this work. We often talk about the Human Rights Campaign being the largest LGBTQ civil rights organization in the world. But we never really talked about the dedication and the sheer grit that people exhibit in doing this work. And so, that has been a surprise. What has also been surprising to me as I travel the country, talking to advocates, and activists, supporters about the election, and they are incredibly energized. They’re ready to get involved. They’re ready to make sure that
Blade: In your introduction, one thing that’s really notable about your biography is your background and growing up in Liberia, with all the challenges that country faced when you were growing up, and you had to flee violence there. How does that experience inform your approach to the LGBT movement? David: There are so many takeaways from my experience in Liberia that are applicable to my adult life, and they’re also applicable to my advocacy. I think most important for me is making sure people understand how fragile democracy can be. I grew up in a country that was — had a democratically elected president and a democratically elected, you know, state — our equivalent would be state elected officials. And in the span of a few hours, that all shifted, and my uncle was assassinated, and my father was put in prison, and we were living under a dictatorship. So that experience for me is very real. It continues to be very real, and I take that and learn from it to make sure that other people fully appreciate how important it is for us to engage in our democracy. And it’s not only as it relates to LGBTQ issues, right? It’s anything that you care about, it could be the climate, or it could be on race issues, or it could be on economic issues. We have to make sure that people are informed and actively engaged in our democracy, and I bring that to this work.
I also bring to this work the fact that we are living under a significant amount of daily — I would say a barrage of daily attacks — from the Trump administration, and it’s gotten to the point that people have become numb to it. When the Trump administration says we’re filing an amicus brief, and in that amicus brief, we’re saying LGBT people can be fired from their jobs because they’re gay. We’re saying that transgender people can lose their housing because they’re transgender. We’re saying that under the Affordable Care Act, transgender people shouldn’t be protected. We’re saying transgender people can be thrown out of the military. When you see that drumbeat of attack after attack after attack, my fear is that people become numb to it, or they think that it doesn’t have the impact that it actually does. And part of my role is making sure that we remind people, remind people that we’re living under a climate where LGBT people live under attack, and we have to make sure that we engage, we have to make sure we get him out of office, Donald Trump specifically. And we elect proequality candidates that represent all of us, not just simply some of us. Blade: We’ve talked a lot about some initiatives you want to pursue, including getting Trump out of office, but what is your No. 1 priority for the Human Rights Campaign? That might be it. David: [Laughs] I have many priorities, I would say one of the most important priorities is making sure that we have a president that represents our interests, and we have elected officials across the board from congressional members to state elected officials that represent the interests of all Americans and all residents as opposed to just some, so that is a huge priority. But I’m also going to be outlining a variety of other priorities this week. We have our national dinner that’s scheduled for Saturday. I hope you’re coming. [To Blade photographer Michael Key:] And I hope you’re coming. And I will be unveiling all of those priorities, the things that I think we need to focus on as we go into the election season and as we go into next year. Continues at losangelesblade.com
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12 • SEPTEMBER 27, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Tense moment for Biden at Iowa LGBT forum Audience boos reference to Pence as ‘decent guy’ By CHRIS JOHNSON CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Democratic presidential hopefuls came together Sept. 20 at an LGBT candidate forum to lay out their vision for LGBT rights, but the evening yielded to a tense moment when Joseph Biden was defensive on stage about blemishes on his record. Lyz Lenz, a columnist with the Cedar Rapids Gazette brought up Biden’s votes in the 1990s for the crime bill, a military spending bill that instituted “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibited the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage. When Lenz lumped that together with contemporaneous remarks from Biden in which he called Vice President Mike Pence, who’s notorious for his anti-LGBT record, a “decent guy,” the audience booed. “You’re a lovely person,” Biden replied, generating applause from the audience that was hard to read. “Just asking the questions people want to know,” Lenz said, which in turn generated a roar of applause. Asked by Lenz what assurances he could make he wouldn’t compromise on LGBT rights, Biden made the (untrue) assertion in the wake of that record he “didn’t have to go through any period of adjustment.” “I came out on ‘Meet the Press’ before anyone else did nationally,” Biden said. “It was honestly, No. 1, and the reason I did, I had to evolve.” Biden was also indignant about the criticism for calling Pence “decent,” saying it’s just a way to speak “when you try to get things.” Biden added he doesn’t think Trump is decent, but would still call him president. “I think it’s just an issue because he has not been decent to a whole swath of Americans,” Lenz responded to audience applause. In terms of promoting LGBT rights, Biden laid out a plan that included the Equality Act, undoing the Trump administration’s reversal of Obama’s LGBT administrative actions and a ban on “the conversion therapy, nationally.” The LGBT candidate forum at Coe College’s Sinclair Auditorium marked the first time in the 2020 election Democratic candidates gathered for an event dedicated to LGBT issues and the first time for such an event in 11 years, when the
Former Vice President Joe Biden was booed when asked about his description of Mike Pence as a ‘decent guy.’ Screen capture via YouTube
2008 candidates addressed LGBT issues in a similar forum. Ten of the Democratic candidates made an appearance during the LGBT forum — which was orchestrated by the LGBT media watchdog GLAAD — to lay out their vision for LGBT rights, but Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg were at their peak performance. Booker said after years of the Trump administration and its anti-LGBT policies, the time has come for a president who will bring a comprehensive approach to bettering the lives of marginalized people, including the LGBT community. “It’s abouttime thatwehave awoke president on these issues and every day is using their platforms to inspire and ignite justice, compassion, a more courageous empathy, a revival of civic grace so that everyone for the equal dignity and equal citizenship that we all have,” Booker said. Among the LGBT agenda items Booker said he plans is appointing a U.S. attorney general “who will fight to protect the rights and safety of LGBTQ Americans” and an education secretary who “actually was in public schools and will stand up and protect every single one of our children.” Elizabeth Warren took the opportunity of her opening statement when asked about her plan on LGBT rights for her first 100 days to read the name of the transgender women who were killed so far this year. “It’s time for a president of the United States of America to say their names,” Warren said. “Equality is far off for many people in this country, but the cost of inequality for trans people, particularly trans women of color has now reached a moment of crisis, and it is time for
everyone in America to speak out on this issue.” Warren also incorporated LGBT rights into her anti-corporatism messaging, saying Trumpappointed “corporate lawyers” have been appointed at a time it’s set to consider whether federal civil rights law as it stands prohibits antiLGBT discrimination. “I hope we don’t lose this case,” Warren said. “I will stay on top of this, but remember, we also have a Congress that we can hold accountable, and our Congress can decide that we all are equal in this country and that is the fight I am ready to lead.” Further, Warren invoked a parable from the Bible to make a point about LGBT equality, a risky decision before an LGBT audience who may have felt harmed by religion. Buttigieg, who had the distinction of being an openly gay candidate at the forum, emphasized the LGBT community has the unique distinction of being able to cut across wide swaths of groups in America. “We have the power to reach into our own spirit, belonging to a part of America that also cuts across all other different categories,” Buttigieg said. “I can only assume we’re the only minority that exists in equal proportion across every ethnicity and family income.” Zach Stafford, editor of The Advocate, asked Buttigieg a question about the Food & Drug Administration policy prohibiting men from donating blood if they’ve had sex with another man within the past year. As a result of that policy, Stafford noted, Buttigieg would face discrimination as a gay man even as U.S. president. Buttigieg recognized the gay blood ban
continues and said its discriminatory impact affected him when he organized a blood drive as South Bend mayor. “And it’s a great thing that we do,” Buttigieg said. “And I realized I can’t, I can’t be part of it. We still do it. It’s still a good thing. But it’s an example, one of the many examples of the exclusions that continue in this country.” Questions came up for candidates who have records against granting gender reassignment surgery for transgender inmates in prison. When Lenz confronted Kamala Harris about her litigation position as California attorney general representing the California Department of Corrections against the procedure for a transgender inmate, Harris said she defended the state, but also acted to correct the policy. “When I learned about what they were doing, but behind the scenes I got them to change the policy, and I commit to you, that always in these systems, there are going to be these things that these agencies do and I will commit, as I always do, to deal with it,” Harris said. Lenz also questioned Warren, who previously was against the surgery for inmates before reversing her position in 2017, asking her how to get others to evolve. “The way I think about this, in America, equal means equal,” Warren said. “And that is true everywhere, it’s true in the workplace, it’s true in marriage and it’s true in health care.” While Lenz asked Harris to defend her record, she asked Warren how she can help others evolve, a distinction noticed online by media critics. To be fair, Warren signaled support for gender reassignment surgery for all inmates, a position Harris hasn’t articulated in so many words. Other candidates weren’t as stellar in their delivery and seemed to take the opportunity to address other issues. Tulsi Gabbard, who has come under criticism for comments in the 2000s disparaging LGBT rights activists, said she’d work to ban anti-LGBT discrimination in all areas of life, but didn’t exactly assuage concerns by making “the cost of war” a central point at an LGBT forum. “There’s one issue that is central to all the rest, to our ability to serve all of these needs, and that issue is the cost of war,” Gabbard said. “I want to talk about this because not very many people do, but it is central for our ability to deliver and serve the needs of the American people.” Gabbard said since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks the United States has spent $6 trillion “to go and pay for wasteful regime wars in other countries,” which she added cost the United States dearly in terms of treasury and blood.
14 • SEPTEMBER 27, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Trump talks decriminalizing homosexuality at U.N.
Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel on Sept. 24 made history when he became the first out head of government to speak about LGBT-specific issues at a U.N. General Assembly. Photo by Julien Becker; courtesy Wikimedia Commons
Luxembourg leader makes history at U.N. Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel on Tuesday became the first out head of government to speak about LGBTI-specific issues at a U.N. General Assembly. “Being gay is not a choice, but not accepting it is a choice,” said Bettel at an U.N. LGBTI Core Group event that focused on efforts to end antiLGBTI hate speech in social and traditional media, according to a tweet from Luxembourg’s Permanent Mission to the U.N. “Homophobia is a choice and we have to fight against it!” U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, who is the former president of Chile, also spoke at the event alongside others who include OutRight Action International Executive Director Jessica Stern and Sam Brinton of the Trevor Project. Geena Rocero, a Filipina model and transgender rights activist, is among those who were in attendance. The event took place hours after President Trump delivered his address to the U.N. General Assembly. Trump referenced his administration’s campaign that encourages countries to decriminalize consensual same-sex sexual relations, even though the White House’s LGBTI rights record in the U.S. and overall foreign policy continues to spark outrage. The U.S. in 2018 withdrew from the U.N. Human Rights Council, which has emerged as a vocal champion of LGBTI rights around the world in recent years. The U.S. nevertheless remains a member of the U.N. LGBTI Core Group. Deputy Assistant Secretary of the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Scott Busby and Courtney Nemeroff of the U.S. Mission to the U.N. attended Tuesday’s event, but did not have a chance to speak. Religious freedom is among the other issues that Trump raised in his U.N. General Assembly speech. Trump, along with Vice President Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, are among those who spoke at a first-of-its-kind religious freedom event at the U.N. that took place on Monday. “As president, protecting religious freedom is one of my highest priorities and always has been,” said Trump. MICHAEL K. LAVERS
In a surprise move, President Trump included in his speech before the United Nations on Tuesday his administration’s global initiative to decriminalize homosexuality in the more than 70 countries where it remains illegal. “My administration is working with other nations to stop criminalizing of homosexuality,” Trump said. “And we stand in solidarity with LGBT people who live in countries that punish, jail and execute people based upon sexual orientation.” The remarks mark the first time ever outside of Twitter Trump has acknowledged the global initiative, which is being spearheaded by U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, the highest-ranking openly gay person in the Trump administration. White House Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere echoed the president’s message in response to the Blade’s request seeking background on the decisionmaking that led to the inclusion of those words in Trump’s speech and what comes next. “It was an opportunity to deliver an important message to world leaders and a global audience that the U.S. will not stand for the criminalizing of homosexuality,” Deere said. It’s not the first time a U.S. president has brought up LGBT rights in a speech before the United Nations. That distinction belongs to President Obama, who included gays and lesbians in a speech addressing the General Assembly in 2011. “No country should deny people their rights to freedom of speech and freedom of religion, but also no country should deny people their rights because of who they love, which is why we must stand up for the rights of gays and lesbians everywhere,” Obama said. In 2011, Hillary Clinton gave an entire speech before United Nations delegates in Geneva devoted to U.S. solidarity with LGBT people across the globe. A notable line in the speech was Clinton saying, “Gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights.” Trump’s speech, however, was likely the first time a U.S. president has explicitly brought up the decriminalization of homosexuality in remarks before the United Nations. The inclusion of the LGBT initiative in Trump’s speech was one component of a more than 30-minute speech before the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, which heavily focused on nationalism, denouncing socialism, and criticizing Iran and China. “Wise leaders always put the good of their own people and their own country first,” Trump said. “The future does not belong to the globalists; the future belongs to the patriots.” Charles Moran, managing director of Log Cabin Republicans, praised Trump for including the global
initiative in his speech. “President Trump is fulfilling his initiative to decriminalize homosexuality across the globe,” Moran said. “We are thankful that he will use this moment while addressing the world to call for the end of senseless persecution of LGBTQ individuals. President Trump is keeping his promises to the LGBTQ community, and for standing up for American values.” CHRIS JOHNSON
Montego Bay Pride canceled amid security concerns Organizers of a Pride event that was to have taken place in the Jamaican resort city of Montego Bay next month say security concerns have prompted them to cancel the event. A press release that Montego Bay Pride organizers released on Thursday said Montego Bay Mayor Homer Davis and St. James Councilor Charles Sinclair “don’t feel that we belong in Jamaica” and have banned them from using a public cultural center. “I am not opposed if Montego Bay Pride wishes to have an event to promote same-sex marriage, but I believe it should not be held at the Montego Bay Cultural Center,” said Sinclair, according to the Jamaica Gleaner, a Jamaican newspaper. “The cultural center is a building under the management of the municipal corporation, which is a government agency.” “We, as a government agency, must ensure that we uphold the Constitution of Jamaica, and in upholding the Constitution, why would we engage a building controlled by the municipal corporation to be used to hold a function to promote same-sex marriage?” he added. “It is not consistent with the mandate that we have.” Montego Bay Pride in their press release said “no other venue will rent to us at a reasonable rate” because of Sinclair and Davis’ comments. “Venues have even cancelled on us,” it reads. “The local police have advised that the hysteria whipped up against LGBT Jamaicans by the mayor and the councilor is so violent right now that the police can’t provide security for our Walk for Rights without extraordinary measures and expense.” Upwards of 3,000 people were expected to attend this year’s Montego Bay Pride that was scheduled to take place from Oct. 13-20. The first Montego Bay Pride took place five years ago. Organizers in their press release say they will “now be pursuing legal action for the breaches of our constitutional rights, including the rights to freedom of expression as well as assembly and association that have been directly curtailed by Mayor Davis and Councilor Sinclair’s dangerous and reckless words and actions.” MICHAEL K. LAVERS
LGBTQ Victory Institute’s
Join more than 550 LGBTQ elected oﬃcials, leaders and advocates from around the world as we build skills and strategize what’s next for the LGBTQ movement. The four-day conference includes plenary events, issue-based workshops, networking and an exclusive elected oﬃcials track for those leading on LGBTQ legislation and policy worldwide. 2018 speakers include: Colorado Governor Jared Polis, US Senators Tammy Baldwin & Elizabeth Warren, US Representative Sharice Davids, former US Representative Barney Frank, NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson, Virginia Delegate Danica Roem and many more.
16 • SEPTEMBER 27, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
VOLUME 03 ISSUE 39
How many more Ed Bucks are out there? Meth use ‘at epidemic levels in the gay community’ By JOHN-MANUEL ANDRIOTE Los Angeles LGBTQ activist and Democratic donor Ed Buck’s arrest on Sept. 17 offers a lens into both the widespread use of crystal meth in a segment of the gay male community, and arrangements in which older men with more money and status use meth to ply sexual favors from younger men—sometimes ending very badly for the younger men. Buck, 65, was charged on Sept. 17 with one count each of battery causing serious injury, administering methamphetamine, and maintaining a drug house after a 37-yearold man overdosed, but survived, at Buck’s apartment on Sept. 11. This follows the 2017 meth overdose deaths of two African-American men— Gemmel Moore, 26, and Timothy Dean, 55— in Buck’s West Hollywood apartment. Prosecutors say Buck lured the men to his home with offers of drugs, money, and shelter. In exchange he manipulated them into joining in sexual fetishes that include “supplying and personally administering dangerously large doses of narcotics to his victims,” they wrote in court papers. “I feel vindicated for all the people who said [Buck’s arrest] was never going to happen,” said Jasmyne Cannick, an LGBTQ advocate and spokeswoman for Moore’s mother. “I feel really good for all the young men he took advantage of because they didn’t feel like anyone took them seriously, like their lives weren’t important enough for anyone to really care about.” Ft. Lauderdale-based substance abuse
expert and certified sex therapist David Fawcett, Ph.D., says, “Meth use among gay men in New York City has risen 400 percent.” Author of “Lust, Men and Meth: A Gay Man’s Guide to Sex and Recovery,” Fawcett says estimates run as high as 1 in 4 gay men in major urban areas in the U.S. who are semiregularly using meth. “It’s at epidemic levels in the gay community,” he says. As for the inter-generational drugs-forsex exchange, Fawcett says in the just-out documentary “Crystal City” “Meth is a great equalizer.” He explains, “The older guys with money provide the meth and the younger guys provide sex.” Why does this wildly addictive, potentially deadly drug—its lethal effects can include stroke, heart attack, liver and kidney failure, and even rotted teeth—hold such strong appeal for a large minority of gay men in particular? Meth’s best known effects are pleasure and dissociation, as it works on the brain’s limbic system, the reward circuitry. Combined with sex, as it frequently is by its gay male users, meth explodes physical and emotional pleasure through the roof—and kicks good judgment to the curb. Meth is well known to make men hypersexual even as it shatters any personal standards they may have had for protecting themselves and their partners against HIV. But if pleasure alone were meth’s main appeal, then surely the three-quarters of gay men who do not use the drug would also be drawn to it—along with the rest of the human race. A bigger attraction is the chance to escape the isolation and loneliness that are rampant in the gay community. “Meth is a really effective way to numb what in the literature is called ‘minority stress,” says Fawcett. “People who have experienced a lot
of stigma based on who they are, experience a lot of mental health and addiction issues.” Those who combine meth and sex face the highest rate of relapse, “typically about 90 percent,” says Fawcett. Fawcett told me in an interview about Crystal City that both straight and gay men connect meth use to porn and sex addiction because both operate similarly in the brain. “We approach it as an intimacy disorder, an intensity disorder, an increasing need for intensity,” he said, describing the practice called Seeking Integrity through which he and fellow therapist Rob Weiss work with gay men. Twelve-step abstinence-based recovery programs have proved to be the most successful approach to addressing meth addiction. A key to their success is the supportive community they provide. “Any recovery solution must have a communal aspect,” said Fawcett. The LGBTQ community certainly has the creativity, connections to government funders, and other resources to be able to direct attention to the growing meth epidemic among urban gay men. We need one that addresses depression and HIV stigma, two major drivers of risky behavior—and huge reasons so many gay men feel the need for analgesia to ease their emotional pain. Meth and other drug abuse, and HIV too, should rightly be looked at as symptoms of that pain. First address what’s hurting. That’s how healing becomes possible and the need for pain-relief will decrease.
John-Manuel Andriote is an author and blogger. Reach him via stonewallstrong.com.
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LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • SEPTEMBER 27, 2019 • 17
Will LGBTQ Americans ever be treated equally? Supreme Court hearing 3 employment discrimination cases on Oct. 8
Jon Davidson is chief counsel for Freedom for All Americans.
In the days before there were any laws barring businesses from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, business owners throughout the country had free rein to turn LGBTQ people away, without consequence. Now that 20 states, Washington D.C., and nearly 300 counties and cities expressly ban such discrimination by businesses open to the public, those whose anti-LGBTQ views were once mirrored in the law have been ﬁghting hard to be able to continue to refuse equal treatment to LGBTQ people. Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected one such effort in its much-misunderstood Masterpiece Cakeshop decision. It reaffirmed precedent that has stood for ﬁve decades that the Constitution’s rightly valued protections of freedom of religion cannot be twisted by business owners into a license to discriminate. At the same time, however, the Court ruled that the bakery
in that case had been treated unfairly by the state administrative agency that ruled against it, whose members the Court felt had expressed unwarranted hostility toward religion, thereby depriving the bakery of a neutral decisionmaker. Undeterred by that reaffirmance of the rule that all who enter the world of commerce must play by the same rules, antiLGBTQ groups like the so-called “Alliance Defending Freedom” (ADF) have switched gears. Instead of relying primarily on freedom of religion, they have sought refuge under freedom of speech, asserting that at least businesses that create customized goods and services should not have to do so for events celebrating the now-lawful marriages of same-sex couples to which they object. On Sept. 16, a slim 4-to-3 majority of the conservative Arizona Supreme Court issued a narrow ruling in Brush & Nib v. City of Phoenix embracing this argument. It held that, under the Arizona Constitution’s free speech protections and an Arizona law known as the Free Exercise of Religion Act, a stationery and calligraphy business that designs and sells custom wedding invitations could refuse to do so for samesex couples, notwithstanding a Phoenix ordinance prohibiting such discrimination. While the court conﬁned its ruling to personalized wedding invitations, the humiliation and debasement of having a door slammed in your face as you seek to celebrate what for many people is the happiest day of their lives were ignored. So too, the majority seemed not to care how permitting businesses to say “we don’t serve your kind” in even this limited context
would also shield discrimination based on persistent prejudices against members of racial and religious minorities and those in interracial or interfaith relationships as they plan their weddings. At least the ruling is cabined to Arizona. The federal Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit reached a similar outcome last month, however, based on the U.S. Constitution’s protection of speech. In Telescope Media Group v. Lucero, it issued a divided ruling that a videography company that wanted to start making wedding videos only for different-sex couples could proceed with their challenge to a Minnesota law that bars sexual orientation discrimination by businesses. That case is ongoing. While these rulings are distressing, they at least are limited to those who use words and pictures to create customized goods for sale. But anti-LGBTQ groups are determined to expand a “right” to discriminate far beyond that. On Sept. 11, ADF asked the Supreme Court to hear the further appeal of its Arlene’s Flowers v. Washington case, in which it claims that a ﬂorist was entitled to turn away same-sex couples planning their wedding based on a claim that ﬂower arranging is speech protected under the First Amendment. If that were the case, what other vendors would be entitled to treat LGBTQ people unfairly? ADF’s arguments aren’t even limited to weddings but would apply to any events that businesses object to providing services to because of the identity of those participating in them. In Arlene’s Flowers, ADF also is misreading the high court’s Masterpiece Cakeshop decision to argue that any decision by state authorities to enforce civil rights
laws against those asserting religious justiﬁcations constitutes impermissible religious hostility. Such claims of selective prosecution, however, run squarely into Supreme Court authority upholding the broad discretion of government officials to decide when to enforce particular laws, which can be challenged only with proof of improper discriminatory intent. These cases raise fundamental questions about whether LGBTQ people are entitled to equal treatment as we go about our daily lives or whether, in at least some contexts, those with religious objections can treat us as second-class citizens with impunity. Yet, in a majority of states and at the federal level, we still do not even have express and enduring statutory protections against such discrimination. The U.S. Supreme Court will be hearing arguments on Oct. 8 in three cases about LGBTQ employment discrimination that will determine if federal law protects LGBTQ people. These are the most important cases in LGBTQ history since we won marriage equality. But, even if we win them, we still will need Congress to ﬁnish the job by passing the Equality Act, which would ensure express and enduring nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people. Only a federal law will make sure that businesses like Brush & Nib that can no longer be sued in Arizona courts. Learn more about these cases and what you can do to get such a federal law passed by visiting the Freedom for All Americans website. Nothing less than whether LGBTQ Americans will ever be treated equally is at stake.
Emmy Awards see LGBT highs, viewership lows Billy Porter makes history in memorable hat By SCOTT STIFFLER
A host wasn’t the only thing missing at the 71st Annual Emmy Awards. Viewers stayed away in droves, driving the show’s ratings into the furthest recesses of the basement. Airing on Fox, the least-watched Emmys ever can at least claim credit for giving credence to one presenter’s bold declaration. “Television has never been so damn good,” crowed Bryan Cranston, which might explain why a paltry 6.9 million people tuned in. Perhaps their time was spent binging on the shows that won big that night. HBO’s “Game of Thrones” slayed the competition, with awards for Outstanding Drama Series and Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series. Peter Dinklage’s win saw him top six others, including fellow “Thrones” actors Alfie Allen and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. Tellingly, only one Supporting Actor nominee came from a network TV show (Chris Sullivan, for “This Is Us”). Everyone else in the category hailed from cable and subscription services (Jonathan Banks and Giancarlo Esposito, of AMC’s “Better Call Saul” and Michael Kelly, from Netflix’s “House of Cards”). That lopsided representation from sources other than network television was the river that ran through the Emmys, in both wins and nominations. HBO’s “Barry” saw Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series nominations for Anthony Carrigan and Henry Winkler, alongside Tony Hale and Stephen Root, of HBO’s “Veep.” Netflix’s “The Kominsky Method” put Alan Arkin in competition for the award. Shutting out network TV entirely was the category’s final nominee, and winner: Tony Shalhoub, for Amazon Prime’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” Not quite the snoozefest its ratings suggest,
the Emmys did manage to produce a few new notable moments of LGBT visibility. Billy Porter made history, as the first openly gay black man to stand at the podium accepting the award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series. The crown jewel of FX’s well-cast, ’80s-set NYC underground ball culture scene show “Pose,” dapper Porter’s win for the role of Prey Tell saw the actor declare, “I am so overwhelmed and I am so overjoyed to have lived long enough to see this day.” Quoting James Baldwin to reflect his own journey, Porter noted it, “Took many years of vomiting up all the filth that I had been taught about myself and halfway believed before I could walk around this earth like I had the right to be here,” then declared, “I have the right. You have the right. We all have the right.” Answering in the affirmative the question, “Does anyone still wear a hat?” and proving there’s no better son than a gay one, Porter praised “my mama Clorinda,” noting, “There’s no stronger, more resilient woman who has graced this earth. I love you, Mommy.” The actor also sent “Much love to the Actors Fund nursing home,” as well as his castmates, his sister, his manager of 29 years, “Pose” creator Ryan Murphy, and his husband, Adam Porter Smith. “I screamed when Billy Porter won,” recalls Frank DeCaro, whose recently released “Drag: Combing Through the Big Wigs of Show Business” chronicles drag artistry from the beginning of time to the present. “I said he would win an Emmy for Pray Tell the moment he sang ‘Home,’ from ‘The Wiz,’ in Season 1. This is the TV our little gay hearts asked for when we were growing up!” And it’s not just the win that makes DeCaro’s heart flutter. “Pose,” he says, is “important television. It lets us into the lives of transgender
people, and helps those of us who aren’t trans understand in a way that no speech or public service announcement ever could.” DeCaro cites “unabashed moments of pure happiness” as the series’ most groundbreaking contribution. “That day-atthe-beach episode,” he recalls, “was the most radical thing ever. Nothing bad happened to the girls. Nothing! They were happy from beginning to end. Everyone deserves roundthe-clock joy once in a while—and trans characters, as best I know, have never had that on television. It’s time.” Longtime ally Patricia Arquette, who won the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie award for her work on Hulu’s “The Act,” used her public platform to further trangender visibility. “…In my heart, I’m so sad I lost my sister Alexis, and that trans people are still being persecuted,” said Arquette, referring her HIVpositive sibling, who died of a heart attack in 2016. Noting that she is “in mourning every day of my life,” Arquette spoke directly to her sister, declaring, “I will be [mourning] the rest of my life for you until we change the world, so that trans people are not persecuted… They’re human beings. Let’s give them jobs. Let’s get rid of this bias that we have everywhere.” “Obviously, the big winner of the night was Patricia Arquette,” said Los Angelesbased drag queen Jackie Beat, who tweeted, immediately after the speech, “It makes perfect sense that Patricia Arquette was dressed like an angel tonight.” Beat told the Blade she appreciates “what a tireless ally she has been for the entire LGBT community, but especially our Trans brothers and sisters. I think it’s incredible that she consistently uses the very limited time she
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has in front of millions to make a point or support a cause.” Referencing that 2015 acceptance speech upon winning the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her work in “Boyhood,” Beat says she “was so disheartened by the subsequent backlash” Arquette received, when she made an appeal for wage equality. “I saw people on social media calling her an ‘entitled White woman,’ ” recalls Beat, noting, “I have known Patty for 30 years, and she is the real deal. The Arquette kids were raised in a f**king commune, not a gated community. We liberals need to stop attacking the very people who are obviously on our side and fighting the good fight. Mark my words, this will be our downfall… So, thank you Patricia, not only for your fearless and vanity-free performances, but also for fighting for what’s right. And for keeping the spirit of our sister Alexis alive through activism.” “RuPaul’s Drag Race” drag mother extraordinaire, RuPaul Charles, snatched yet another Emmy, winning again in the Outstanding Host for a Reality or Competition Program category. For “Big Wigs” author DeCaro, it was “a landmark moment and a sign of real progress. A drag queen—and let me add, a flamboyant gay man of color—won a fourth Emmy Award, and then kissed his husband on the mouth, as you do when you’re married and something great happens.” DeCaro called that moment “fantastic,” imagining the impact it had on “that kid sitting at home, feeling alone, watching the Emmys, and seeing that. When I was at my most impressionable age, the only gays I saw on TV were either tragic or closeted. Now they’re real and wear dresses for money. I’d call that a definite improvement.”
Billy Porter’s win for Best Actor made history. Photo by kathclick / Courtesy Bigstock
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20 • SEPTEMBER 27, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
LA’s big weekend for LGBT celebrations By TROY MASTERS
Anniversary weekend in Los Angeles saw several organizations celebrate the founding year of their group. Bienestar, the Los Angeles LGBT Center, WeHo’s Bi-Pride and the Wall Las Memorias were among the largest of the celebrations.
Bienestar, founded in 1989, primarily as a direct response to the lack of resources for the Latino LGBTQ community in Southern California at the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis, celebrated its 30th anniversary at the Globe Theater on Sept. 21. The group held the Latin Factory Fashion Show, hosted by Arglelia Atilano with special guests Stephanie Bradford and Queer Latin Dance Group of LA.
Dozens turned out for the second annual Bi-Pride in West Hollywood on Saturday, Sept. 21 at West Hollywood Park.
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • SEPTEMBER 27, 2019 • 21
Thousands gathered at the Greek Theater in Griffith Park on Saturday Sept. 21 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Los Angeles LGBT Center.
United States Congressman Adam Schiff, who discarded his prepared remarks to read a portion of the Los Angeles Blade’s profile of LA LGBT Center CEO Lorri Jean, is pictured here awarding her with a certificate from his office.
Before the star-studded stage event, a dinner was held for major donors and VIP guests of the Center. Photo courtesy LA LGBT Center
Photo courtesy LA LGBT Center
Jenifer Lewis, Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda and Kathy Griffin attend Los Angeles LGBT Center Celebrates 50th anniversary with “Hearts Of Gold” Concert & Multimedia Extravaganza at The Greek Theatre on Sept. 21, in Los Angeles.
August Getty attends Los Angeles LGBT Center Celebrates 50th anniversary with “Hearts Of Gold” Concert & Multimedia Extravaganza at The Greek Theatre on Sept. 21, in Los Angeles. Photo by Presley Ann/Getty Images for the Los Angeles LGBT Center
Photo by Gregg DeGuire/Getty Images for the Los Angeles LGBT Center
The Wall-Las Memorias Project celebrated its 25th year in the fight against HIV/AIDS, substance abuse and for social equality for LGBT and faith communities. The event honored LA County Supervisor Hilda Solis and LA City Council member Gilbert Cedillo and featured music by the legendary Thelma Houston. It was held at La Plaza de Culturas y Artes.
Richard L. Zaldivar delivers a passionate speech about the mission and history of The Wall Las Memorias at the organization’s 25th anniversary gala.
Thelma Houston performs her Grammy winning song “Don’t Leave Me This Way” at the Sept. 21 event.
Photo provided by Wall Las Memorias
Photo provided by Wall Las Memorias
22 • SEPTEMBER 27, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
5 fab Weho homes that could be yours Local real estate market is booming By TROY MASTERS
According to Zillow, there are more than 400 homes for sale in West Hollywood zip codes and if you add the Los Angeles Hills (we didn’t) there are dozens more. It’s enough to make your head spin, the array of choices. If that’s what you want to call it. Spoiler alert: You better be rich. But that’s alright. Every now and then someone hits the scratcher million status in WeHo and it’s a shopping they go. Or a rich celeb decides to quit New York and give LA a whirl. Whatever, WeHo is a luxury market. And just like New York, the LGBT hoods are being scooped up and their characters are changing. Here are five of our favorite local listings.
1030 N Kings Road #202, West Hollywood, CA 90069
9021 Rangely, West Hollywood, CA 90048 9021 Rangely, West Hollywood, CA 90048 Beds 4, 5 Full and 1 half Baths, .11 Acres, House, Built in 2019 Asking $5,250,000 Rep: Compass Realty, Jennifer Okhovat, Cell: 310.435.7399
Raising the bar for ultimate luxury, this brand new three-level modern home is the first of its kind to go on the market in this exclusive area of West Hollywood. This premier residence features soaring-high ceilings, exquisite finishes, & stunning outdoor pool. The main level offers a grand entryway to several dining and entertaining areas, which are surrounded by Fleetwood sliding doors to create seamless transitions to an indoor/outdoor lifestyle. Kitchen is furnished w/high quality appliances manufactured by Wolf, SubZero, and Miele, & custom cabinetry curated by IKD. 3 large
bedrooms including an impressive master suite w/ private balcony are all located upstairs; each room has been designed w/comfort + functionality in mind. A finished basement offers a large entertaining area, wet bar, add’l bedroom, bonus room+two more baths. Do not miss this once in a lifetime opportunity to purchase a showcase home that has been created with the most discerning buyer in mind. 1030 N Kings Road #202, West Hollywood, CA 90069 Beds 2, 2 Full Baths, 1056 Sq. Ft., Condo, Built in 2018 Asking $1,139,000 Rep: Engel & Völkers Westlake Village, Phone: 818-889-1602
Last remaining 2nd-floor unit features innovative, sustainable architecture by award-winning Los
Angeles-based firm LOHA and sophisticated interiors by MLH Design Group. This north-facing two-bedroom residence features airy, open-plan living with expansive window walls and ten-foot ceilings maximizing light, height and depth. A single patio highlights the indooroutdoor living embraced by each unit. Chef-caliber, Bauformat kitchens boast mobile waterfall-style islands, raw wood cabinetry and Miele appliances. Exquisite master suites feature walk-in wardrobes designed by Closet Factory, and master baths with hand-selected, floor-to-ceiling marble slabs, Bauformat oak vanities and TOTO porcelain sinks. 960 Larrabee Street #111, West Hollywood, CA 90069 Beds 1, 1 Full Baths, 644 Sq. Ft., Condo, Built in 1964 Asking $549,000 Rep: Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties, (888) 995-7575
Stunningly remodeled residence in prime West Hollywood! Inside you’ll find chic design & an open layout where new French oak hardwood floors flow throughout a sun-splashed interior. Living room seamlessly flows into dining & kitchen; perfect for entertaining! Eat-in kitchen is a total dream with quartz countertops & peninsula, custom cabinets & pantry
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • SEPTEMBER 27, 2019 • 23
960 Larrabee Street #111, West Hollywood, CA 90069
9031 Elevado Avenue West Hollywood, CA 90069
+ stainless steel appliances. Unit boasts a spacious bedroom with custom closet, fabulous updated bath with jetted tub & marble flooring, in-unit laundry & a lovely outdoor terrace with patio surround for added privacy makes the perfect place to relax. Complex has a newly renovated lobby, a solar heated pool, & a spectacular rooftop deck with jaw-dropping city views of DTLA & WeHo. Unit comes with 1 secure underground parking space + storage unit. Nestled in the Norma Triangle, putting you in the center of all the action, with immediate access to the Sunset Strip & WeHo’s most beloved venues, shops, dining & nightlife. 9031 Elevado Avenue West Hollywood, CA 90069 Beds 4, 1 Full, 2 three quarter and 1 half Baths, 2,258 Sq. Ft., House, Built in 1927 Asking $2,150,000 Rep: Sotheby’s International Realty, Julia Delorme, Cell: (310) 205-0305
Gorgeous Contemporary Mediterranean with detached guest home and separate address. Past the grassy front lawn, the main house features an open floor plan with French oak hardwood floors & charming French paned windows. Gourmet chef’s kitchen with custom Italian cabinetry, oversized farmhouse sink,
935 N La Jolla Avenue, West Hollywood, CA 90046
brand-new stainless-steel appliances & matching quartz throughout the countertops, center island & separate breakfast bar. Luxurious master suite with a custom Italian walk-in closet and barn door that leads to an ensuite marble bathroom. Double doors lead to the backyard with a sleek wooden deck and porch for entertaining. 2-car garage doubles as an office space, topped with a delightful guest home, full kitchen and bath-just as stylish and comfortable as the main house. Unbeatable location in the heart of Norma Triangle in West Hollywood with a 10/10 rated school district, West Hollywood Elementary, and a stone’s throw to famed Sunset Blvd and retail & restaurant studded Santa Monica Blvd.
935 N La Jolla Avenue, West Hollywood, CA 90046 Beds 4, 5 Baths, 3,932 Sq. Ft., House, Built in 2016 Asking $3,995,000 Rep: Douglas Elliman, Dena Luciano, Cell: (310) 600-3848
A great 1031 exchange opportunity, this 4 bedroom / 4.5 bathroom luxe residence is leased at $22,000 per month. This property provides effortless, sophisticated living at its best. Light streams down from generous 2nd story skylights, while oversized glass doors disappear into discreet pockets, leaving the back of the house wide open to the shimmering pool and spa. Just beyond is an extra roomy, fully functional cabana complete with a sleek gas fire pit. Entertainers will delight in the high-end, open plan gourmet kitchen. Property is leased until May 2020 for $22,000 per month.
24 • SEPTEMBER 27, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
‘The Third’ explores polyamorous relationships An affair jeopardized by skepticism, jealousy and secrets By JOHN PAUL KING
‘The Third’ explores a polyamorous relationship in Palm Springs.
For generations, anyone who identified outside the heteronormative model of sexual attraction has had little opportunity to see the love stories of their real lives reflected in the narratives of our popular culture. Though things have changed in recent years, it’s still comparatively difficult for men or women who identify as gay to find entertainment content that speaks directly to their experience; for those whose sexual orientation is even further outside the expected paradigms of our society, it’s nearly impossible. Consider the case of the polyamorous “thruple,” a relationship model that has gained visibility within the current generation, who are either more drawn to triangular bonds than ever before or are simply less afraid to admit it; one would be hard-pressed to think of a single example of such an arrangement in film or television, even today, and whenever we see a threeway romance portrayed on our screens, it’s usually in a story of rivalry, betrayal, or worse, and we can pretty much predict that it’s going to end badly. “The Third,” a new series coming in October from queer streaming network Dekkoo, is hoping to change all that. Created by filmmaker Matthew Lynn, it’s a provocative look at the passionate relationship that develops when 29-year-old Jason (Sean McBride) stumbles into a “triad” relationship with Carl and David (Corey Page and Ryland Shelton), an established gay Palm Springs couple who are on the outs after five years of marriage. Thinking that a third person might spice up their relationship, they agree to move forward with Jason – only to encounter a whole new set of complications. That’s a premise that’s sure to be met with raised eyebrows and skepticism by a lot of viewers, and that’s exactly the point. From the very beginning of its first episode, the show wastes no time in showing us just how much judgment anyone in a polyamorous relationship must put up with, not just from outsiders, but even from themselves. After an opening sequence in which young Jason buys flowers for his two older paramours (risking the withering attitude of the cashier at the florist) we flash back to the early days of their relationship; even in the intoxicating glow of fresh infatuation, each of the men, for reasons of their own, questions the wisdom of what they’re about to do, but that doesn’t mean any of them wants to stop it from happening. The debut installment handles the basic set-up for the show’s premise and gets us engaged by introducing us to its three charming and attractive leading men. It also does a great job of using the Palm Springs setting as more than just a backdrop but a condition of the story; it’s a beautiful and vital city that doesn’t get nearly enough attention on film and television, and it’s refreshing to see it given such loving treatment here. In terms of story, it doesn’t give us much beyond establishing the situation between the three lovers and teasing us with hints of serious trouble ahead, but according to the show’s official synopsis, we can expect the central affair will be “jeopardized by skepticism, jealousy and secrets,” as this nervous trio journeys into
their brave new world, writing their own rules along the way and trying to figure out the true definition of love. Promising part drama, part comedy and a healthy dose of mystery, “The Third” delivers a sexy and stylish opener that hooks us in and makes us want to keep watching – while also showing that it’s not afraid to cross boundaries. Show creator Lynn explains the origins of his show by remembering, “When I was 23, I came out to my family and they said, ‘Leave and never come back.’ Soon after, a gay couple took me in and became my surrogate family; eventually, we entered into a triad relationship. These people taught me how to be a gay man and live in this new world I had discovered. My experiences in this relationship provided the initial inspiration for the show.” Lynn says he feels a responsibility to present his characters and their lives in a positive way. “As a gay creator,” he says, “I want to portray gay relationships without any sensationalism or exoticism. At the same time, I didn’t want to shy away from or be ashamed of what it means to be gay in today’s world.” That means there are sometimes going to be things onscreen that many viewers will find provocative, even shocking. The first episode alone features several such moments, but the boundaries these push have nothing to do with nudity or sexual content; rather, the things that take us out of our comfort zone are more about attitudes and ideas, challenges to our preconceived – and persistently binary – concepts of what a relationship is supposed to look like. If we’re being honest, there are a lot of us who would have no problem experimenting with an extra partner or two in the bedroom – but expand that experimentation into something that lasts longer than a single night, and even the most permissive of sexual adventurers is likely to become as closed-minded as any prudish church lady. This might be because “conventional wisdom” usually declares that such relationships are complicated, unstable, and doomed to fail. After all, “adding a third” to an established couple can only bring a whole new dimension of skepticism, jealousy, and secret-keeping to the dynamic, right? If things get messy, though, is that really any different than any other relationship? And if that relationship is important, isn’t it worth the effort it takes to learn how to make it work? That’s a central idea in a story that Lynn says is not only “very real to me, but to many others as well.” Elaborating, he adds, “At my production company, Bridge the Divide Media, our mission is telling stories on the fringe of society, and I wanted to show a gay relationship in a way that’s never been shown before. Something that didn’t feel like it was gay first, but human first - but also not shying away from it or being ashamed by it. Many people are now in ‘non-traditional’ relationships and this show is about bringing light to them and their unique stories. All of us are looking for somewhere to belong.” When “The Third” debuts on Oct. 24, that somewhere just might be Dekkoo.
Is now a good time to BUY A HOME? The answer to that question leans toward yes. Rates have fallen to the lowest they’ve been since November 2016* and some experts are predicting they will drop even further before year’s end. With unemployment down, incomes up and rates low, the economic environment currently also supports buying a home and is forecasted to be favorable through the end of 2019. If you’re thinking about becoming a homeowner in the near future and your finances are in good shape, the time to do it could be now. Financial Partners offers a wide range of home loans featuring those low rates we’ve just been talking about: • Fixed and Adjustable Rate options • VA Loans – for veterans and those on active duty • FHA Loans – perfect for first-time homebuyers
And, we guarantee 15-day closings on purchases!** Apply 24/7 at FPCU.org/home-loans or give us a call at 844.TRY.FPCU. You could be in your new home in time for the holidays!
*Source: Freddie Mac. **15-Day Ready to Close: “Ready to close” is defined as ready to send final loan documents to your settlement agent for signing by you. Offer and terms: If FPCU is not ready to provide final loan documents for signing within 15 business days of receiving an executed sales contract, all loan documentation as required, acknowledgement to proceed and upfront appraisal fee, FPCU will credit up to $850 towards our processing fee if the loan is funded with FPCU. Member must specifically request the program “Ready to Close” for a maximum 45 day escrow. Members must be pre-approved by FPCU prior to and within 90 days of the executed purchase contract with no material financial changes. Members must provide a final purchase contract, executed by both parties and all supporting loan documentation as required within two days of the date of the contract (contact your Mortgage Loan Consultant at 877-404-7328 for required documents). In addition, acknowledgement of intent to proceed by the member and the upfront fee must be received within the 2 days to start the clock. Loan rate, amount and terms must be locked and not changed at least 10 business days prior to the “Ready to Close” signing date. Offer is good for purchase loan applications received with an executed purchase contract. Offer available only for conforming, high balance conforming and jumbo 1st mortgage purchase loans for a single family residence, PUD or condo in California. Not available for refinance loans, FHA/VA programs, HELOCs, 2nd mortgages, 2-4 units or purchase loans outside of California. The guarantee does not apply if events occur beyond the control of Financial Partners Credit Union, including but not limited to: Appraised value; borrower, seller, escrow, title or other 3rd party delays; 2nd lien holder approval; short sale approval; lender conditions that cannot be met by any party; or acts of God (inclement weather, disaster, etc.). Purchase guarantee is not transferable to another borrower or another property. Program and/or terms subject to change without notice. All loans are subject to credit approval. NMLS# 401427
26 • SEPTEMBER 27, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
‘Where’s My Roy Cohn?’ exposes all sorts of ugliness Seminal teacher of the dark arts of politics for a young Donald Trump By DAVID EHRENSTEIN
A still from Where’s My Roy Cohn? by Matt Tyrnauer, an official selection of U.S. Documentary Competition at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. Photo Courtesy of Sundance Institute by Ap/REX/Shuttersock)
One of the greatest villains of the 20th Century, Roy Marcus Cohn (1927-1986) is fixed in popular memory thanks to Tony Kushner’s epic drama “Angels in America,” which depicts the final days of the political operative, Mafia lawyer and all-purpose “fixer” for the rich and infamous as he died of AIDS. Actors as noteworthy as Al Pacino and Nathan Lane have played Roy on stage and screen. But as Matt Tynauer’s new documentary “Where’s My Roy Cohn?” reveals no one played Roy as well as Roy himself. Assembled with great care from extant footage of Cohn and his cronies and new interviews — an especially interesting one being with an ex-boyfriend of Cohn’s who found him fun — this is a startlingly in-depth study of a closeted gay man, who lived wild and free when the closet was the rule. He had, however, no intention of extending the freedom he made for himself to others. In fact, quite the contrary. Cohn worked long and hard at making things worse for other gays, most memorably with the help of his equally closeted front man Sen. Joseph McCarthy. Together they launched what became known as the “Lavender Scare” — a reign of terror that stretched across the nation from Washington, D.C. to Broadway, Hollywood and anywhere else the LGBT community might find shelter. Being the mastermind of this jihad, Cohn is the model for self-hating gays who persist even in this post-Stonewall and post-Obergefell era persist. And through Cohn, Tynauer shows how this self-loathing operates when it’s working at full throttle. Tynauer whose films include “Valentino: The Last Emperor” and “Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood” discovered Roy Cohn via the making of his last documentary “Studio 54.” Cohn was the lawyer for that fabled celebrity mosh-pit. He was there constantly to hang out with the swells and have sex with the waiters, busboys and high-end hustlers who were its featured attraction for the rich and closeted. There was, however, little he could do for its tax-avoiding owners Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager, for by the time they came to grief Cohn’s fortunes had fallen so low he was being disbarred. Cohn first made a name for himself as the U.S. Department of Justice prosecutor in the espionage trial of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, the American Communists who supposedly “Gave The Bomb to the Russians” as the New York tabloid press would have it. As Tynauer shows what Julius Rosenberg and his brotherin-law David Greenglass were dealing with were minor bits of information the Russians had. For cooperating with Cohn, Greenglass was given a stretch in prison. He died in 2014. One of the highlights of the film are heretofore unseen shots of demonstrators in the streets of New York protesting the Rosenberg execution and sobbing and falling apart on hearing it has taken place. Ethel Rosenberg simply typed the notes her husband gave her. But Cohn was intent on not simply linking her to her husband and brother’s crime but going so far as to claim she was the mastermind. Tynauer’s film shows Roy declaring on camera that he would have loved to have pulled the switch that executed
Ethel himself. Outside of Adolf Eichmann’s trial, I daresay nothing this individually monstrous has been seen on screen before. Without making too fine a point of it Tynauer suggests what may have been behind Roy’s rage at Ethel was his own mother. As the film shows Dora Marcus was widely referred to as the “ugliest woman in New York” Her marriage to New York State Supreme Court Justice Robert E. Cohn was an “arrangement’ in which the wealthy Dora virtually”bought” him to become a “Sadie Sadie Married Lady” (as the song from “Funny Girl” put it) and have a child. Roy was the apple of his mother’s eye. But he was a rotten apple to the core thanks in no small part to her efforts to “fix” his nose in a botched operation resulting in a large hideous scar across it. Cohn’s own attempts at augmenting his looks with plastic surgery were equally egregious. But power and “clout” can often trump beauty, and hide potential scandal. Cohn made quite a spectacle of himself when he and his then-boyfriend, hotel chain heir G. David Schine (as handsome as Cohn was ugly) began their affair. In 1952, Schine published a six-page anti-Communist pamphlet called Definition of Communism, and had a copy placed in every room of his family’s chain of hotels. Brought to Cohn’s attention the pamphlet and its author became central to his life as they began a tour of U.S. military bases in Europe to distribute it and hold forth on the dangers of “Communist Infiltration.” This tour became so well-known that William Burroughs satirized it in “Naked Lunch” with Cohn and Schine portrayed as “Mr. Bradley and Mr. Martin.” Gore Vidal, who needless to say was onto the whole thing opined that in Washington, “We used to sing ‘Come Cohn or Come Schine.’” What happened after this wasn’t made into a musical, though Jerry Herman would do well to take a crack at it. For Cohn’s efforts to have the U.S. military grant his boyfriend special treatment resulted in what became known as “The Army-McCarthy Hearings” — the first major live TV spectacle. Cohn had McCarthy “investigate” the U.S. military for “Communist subversives.” Trying to show Schine’s importance he offered as “evidence” a cropped photo of the private standing near some high-ranking officers. When the Army’s lawyer Joseph Welch showed the photo (in which Schine was a bystander of no importance) McCarthy hemmed, hawed and professed ignorance as to how this could have happened. “Well who do you think did this,” Welch asked, “a pixie?” McCarthy then declared no knowledge of what a pixie might be. “Well it has been my impression that pixie is a close relative of a fairy,” said Welch, in the diss of all-time, nailing Cohn as McCarthy’s “pixie.” McCarthy’s reign was almost instantly over. Cohn, however, continued. As a Mafia lawyer he was responsible for overseeing the mob’s swankiest 50’s-era club The Latin Quarter and its boss Loy Walters. Lou’s daughter was Barbara Walters. The telejournalist, now retired and reportedly in ill health, passed on speaking to Tynauer. Continues at losangelesblade.com
28 • SEPTEMBER 27, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Remembering ‘Roy’ ‘Media whore’ and lifelong closet case gets doc treatment in ‘Where’s My Roy Cohn’ By BRIAN T. CARNEY
The late Roy Cohn and Donald Trump as seen is ‘Where’s My Roy Cohn.’ Filmmaker Matt Tyrnauer says it’s important viewers know ‘how the dots connect.’ Photo courtesy Sony Pictures Classic
In his excellent and timely new documentary “Where’s My Roy Cohn,” out filmmaker Matt Tyrnauer creates a vivid portrait of the poisonous lawyer and New York power broker Roy Cohn, whom Tyrnauer describes as “evil but indisputably brilliant” and an “American Machiavelli.” As Tyrnauer conclusively demonstrates, the closeted lawyer (1927-1986) was a central figure in a network of mentorships and relationships that shaped American right-wing politics from the 1950s to the present. The ambitious Cohn graduated from law school at age 20 (even though he couldn’t take the bar exam until he was 21) and through family connections landed a job in the office of the United States Attorney in Manhattan. He was involved in several well-publicized trials of accused Soviet operatives but rose to national prominence during the infamous trial of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg who were accused of spying for the Soviet Union. Historians still disagree on their guilt, but Cohn bragged that his illegal communications with the judge led to their execution. Cohn came to the attention of two powerful men who became his mentors. The first was journalist Walter Winchell whom Tyrnauer describes “as the Fox News of the analog era.” Tyrnauer explains that he “was an extremely powerful right-wing force in the world of news and information. He had the highest-rated radio shows of the time and was a syndicated newspaper columnist. He was a household name with a demagogic anti-Communist agenda.” Cohn’s other powerful mentor was the closeted director of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover. According to Tyrnauer, Hoover had a symbiotic relationship with Winchell. “They used each other to spread their poison,” he says. He also points out that Hoover introduced Cohn to Senator Joseph McCarthy. With Cohn at his side, McCarthy ran a series of Congressional hearings that ruined the careers of hundreds of people who were accused of being Communists or homosexuals. One of the most fascinating sequences in the documentary deals with the next phase of Cohn’s turbulent career, the Army-McCarthy hearings of 1954, which Tyrnauer delightfully presents as an unrequited queer love story. Cohn befriended the straight G. David Schine, an anti-Communist propagandist. When Schine was drafted, Cohn lobbied to get him special privileges; when the Army refused, the Cohn “threatened to “wreck the Army.” The closeted Cohn was openly mocked during the hearings, which came to an end when the Army’s attorney Joseph Welch finally asked McCarthy, “Have you no sense of decency, sir?” McCarthy retired in disgrace, but Cohn returned to Manhattan to become a fixture in
the glittering New York social whirl. His clients included the New York Yankees baseball team and their controversial owner George Steinbrenner; media mogul Robert Murdoch, the founder of Fox News; Aristotle Onassis; the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York; and, members of several prominent Mafia families. As Tyrnauer notes, “Cohn was orbiting anywhere there was power or money. He was a thoroughly transactional political creature.” Cohn also worked behind the scenes to smooth the way for the presidency of Ronald Reagan, especially through his friendship with Nancy Reagan. “Cohn was a registered Democrat but identified with right-wing Republicans and actively undermined liberal Democrats,” Tyrnauer says. “Nancy Reagan had a very hypocritical relationship with many gay men, all of whom were in the closet. She used that network of right-wing gay power to infiltrate the imperial drawing rooms of moneyed New York and Washington. Cohn was a conduit to a lot of big-ticket political donors.” Cohn was also the lawyer for the owners of the fabulous Studio 54, as well as a frequent visitor to the club. Tyrnauer actually got the idea for making a movie about Roy Cohn while he was making his documentary about the famous A-list night spot. He remembers, “I kept seeing all this archival forage of Roy Cohn and I kept thinking this is such a great character for a film. He’s on camera all the time because he was basically a media whore, a self-promoter who loved the cameras. All this footage of him fairly leapt off the screen.” Despite Tyrnauer’s interest in Cohn, the filmmaker admits the film would not have gotten made without the unexpected 2016 election of Cohn’s protégé, Donald J. Trump. Before the election, Cohn would have been a footnote in American history and a character in Tony Kushner’s celebrated “Angels in America.” After the election, Cohn became a force of history. “That’s why I made this movie,” Tyrnauer says. “Everyone needs to know who this person is, how the dots connect. As the movie demonstrates, it was Cohn who taught Trump about the power of “The Big Lie” and who tutored him in lessons like “Never admit you’re wrong.” Tyrnauer, by the way, is a big fan of Kushner. When it comes to Roy Cohn, “Kushner gets it all right,” he says. “’Angels in America’ is an immortal and transcendent piece of art. His use of Roy Cohn is just breath-taking.” “I thought that Trump would lose and that Roy Cohn would best be remembered as a character in that play. Unfortunately, because he created a President from beyond the grave, Cohn is still impacting the current day,” Tyrnauer says.
TO W N HALL
Tune into HRC Foundation’s Power of Our Pride town hall event co-hosted with CNN on October 10th. This historic Democratic presidential town hall devoted to LGBTQ issues will feature former Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Cory Booker, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Secretary Julián Castro, Senator Kamala Harris, Senator Amy Klobuchar, former Representative Beto O’Rourke, businessman Tom Steyer and Senator Elizabeth Warren. Moderated by CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Don Lemon, Dana Bash and Chris Cuomo. Find a watch party near you, or sign up to host a watch party at: hrc.im/TownHallWatchParties
30 • SEPTEMBER 27, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
D.C. mayor expands cannabis protections for workers
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser clarified legal protections for certain District employees who consume cannabis while away from the job.
Mayor Muriel Bowser signed an order last week clarifying legal protections for certain District employees who consume cannabis while away from the job. The new rules apply to all District government agencies under the direct administrative authority of the mayor. Under the rules, many would-be employees will no longer face pre-employment drug screenings. The order states: “Employees who are not in a safety-sensitive position will be tested for drugs only upon reasonable suspicion, or after an accident or incident. Thus, those employees not in safety-sensitive positions may find that they can use cannabis, with or without a medical card authorizing [it], so long as they are not impaired at work.” Commenting on the policy change, NORML NE Political Associate Tyler McFadden said: “Employment protections are critical to ensure that law-abiding adults are not unduly discriminated against in their efforts to be productive members of society solely because of their use of cannabis while off the job. This order provides clarity and guidance to employers and peace of mind to the employees who work in the District of Columbia.” For employees seeking safety-sensitive positions, the order states that those who test positive for the presence of cannabis on a pre-employment drug screen may be “disqualified.” In some cases, however, the order states that those who initially test positive for cannabis may receive a “second opportunity to take a drug test at least two weeks after the initial test results have been provided.” In cases involving post-accident testing, a positive drug test result for cannabis metabolites will continue to be viewed as presumptive evidence of impairment. However, this “presumption may be overcome if the employee presents clear or convincing evidence that he or she was not impaired at the time of the test.” Because THC’s primary metabolite, carboxy-THC is lipid soluble, residual levels of the compound may persist in urine for weeks or even months post-abstinence. According to the US Department of Justice, a positive urine test screen for drug metabolites “does not indicate abuse or addiction, recency, frequency, or amount of use; or impairment.” Earlier this month, members of the DC City Council approved Act Number A23-0114: The Medical Marijuana Program Patient Employment Protection Temporary Amendment Act, which seeks to impose explicit protections for medical cannabis patients against workplace discrimination.
Utah officials revise medical cannabis law SALT LAKE CITY — Members of the Utah House and Senate unanimously approved legislation revising the state’s nascent medical cannabis access program during a special legislative session last week. Under the revised plan, the distribution of medical
cannabis products will no longer be overseen by public health regulators. Rather, the state will license as many as 14 private entities throughout the state to dispense cannabis products to authorized patients. The new legislation also permits courier services to engage in cannabis deliveries to those patients who either reside a significant distance from an operating dispensary or who are homebound. Republican Gov. Gary Herbert expressed support for the changes, stating, “The bill will help provide safe and efficient access to an important medical option for patients while also taking public safety into consideration.” This is the second time in less than a year that lawmakers have convened a special session to amend the state’s medical cannabis law. Voters in 2018 approved Proposition 2, which legalized the use and dispensing of medical cannabis to qualified patients. Shortly thereafter, lawmakers held a special legislative session where they voted to repeal and replace the initiative law with their own legislation. Specifically, lawmakers eliminated patients’ option to home cultivate cannabis, narrowed the list of qualifying conditions, and placed additional restrictions on the dispensing of cannabis products, among other changes.
Regulators want to amend rules for clinical cannabis testing The Director of the U.S. National Institutes of Health and the Acting Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration have acknowledged that existing federal regulations hinder clinical cannabis research, and are suggesting that scientists be able to legally access cannabis products from sources other than the University of Mississippi – the only federally licensed supply source of marijuana for research purposes. In a letter to Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), first obtained by Politico, the officials acknowledge that the existing monopoly on federally authorized cannabis production limits “the diversity of [cannabis] products and formulations available to researchers, [thus] slowing the development of cannabis-based medications.” The letter’s authors suggest both “licensing additional entities to supply cannabis,” as well as “enabling researchers holding Schedule I licenses for marijuana to obtain products from state authorized dispensaries.” They conclude that the current regulations governing the clinical study of cannabis, along with the Schedule I status of marijuana under federal law, create “significant administrative cost challenges that slow this research and may deter scientists from pursuing cannabis research altogether.” Since 2016, officials at the DEA have promised to license additional, private producers of research-grade cannabis. As of yet however, the DEA has failed to take action on more than 30 applications pending before it, and the agency has yet to provide a timeline as to when they intend to do so. Cannabis Culture news in the Blade is provided in partnership with NORML. For more information, visit norml.org.
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