O C TO B E R 1 1 2 0 1 9 • V O LU M E 0 3 • I S S U E 4 1 • 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 • OCTOBER 11, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Ed Buck indicted in death of Timothy Dean Feds bring extensive charges By BRODY LEVESQUE The US Attorney’s office in Los Angeles announced Oct. 2 that a federal grand jury indicted West Hollywood resident Ed Buck for distributing crystal meth resulting in the deaths of Timothy Dean, 55, in January 2019 and Gemmel Moore, 26, in July 2017. Buck was also charged with providing methamphetamine to three other men, one of whom survived two overdoses. Buck, 65, had “engaged in a pattern of soliciting men to consume drugs that Buck provided and perform sexual acts at Buck’s apartment,” the US attorney’s office said in a statement. “The criminal complaint alleging Mr. Buck caused the death of Mr. Moore is supported by a 21-page affidavit that outlines a disturbing pattern of Mr. Buck soliciting men for sex in exchange for drugs and money,” Nick Hanna, US Attorney for the Central District of California, told reporters last Sept. 19. The complaint offers a disturbing view of Buck’s apparent fetish to inject men with meth during paid sexual encounters. Investigators spoke to a man who had previously lived with Buck. “This man said Mr.
Timothy Green died in Ed Buck’s apartment in January. Screen grab from KTLA
Buck injected him with methamphetamine almost daily. He experienced two overdoses that required hospitalization,” Hanna said. Buck continued to solicit men for sex and drug use even after another man Timothy
Dean, 55, died in January of this year in Buck’s Laurel Avenue apartment, Hanna said. Buck is facing additional state charges of causing serious injury by administering
methamphetamine and maintaining a drug house, filed by LA County District Attorney Jackie Lacey. The federal charge against Buck allows for evidence to be introduced that was otherwise inadmissible for a first-degree murder charge under state law, which included testimony by Moore’s mother, Lacey explained at the Sept. 19 news conference. LGBTQ and Black activists have been demanding that Buck be held accountable since Moore’s death but was not charged because he was reportedly a wealthy white Democratic donor. “I just wanted to thank everyone who played a part in getting this indictment, especially the feds for taking this case,” said Joann Campbell, Timothy Dean’s sister in an emailed statement to the LA Blade. “My family is overjoyed with the news today. We all are crying, but with joy. Special thanks to Detective Rodriguez for his continued fight and hard work on this case. We know it was difficult dealing with us pressing you the detectives to work harder. We appreciate their hard work. And to Ed Buck, you will never hurt and cause harm to another family. We are truly grateful!” Shortly after his Sept 17 arrest by the FBI, Buck was evicted from his Laurel Ave. apartment. Additionally, Buck is now being represented by a public defender.
New law OKs PrEP without prescription PrEP and PEP strategic key to ending epidemic FROM STAFF REPORTS Gov. Gavin Newsom signed SB159 on Oct. 7, legislation that permits access to HIV preventative medications pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) through a pharmacist without a doctor’s prescription or prior authorization from an insurance company. Pharmacists may already furnish emergency contraceptives and the birth control pill without a prescription. A 2011 study of gay men and transgender women found once-daily PrEP use resulted
in 99% protection against HIV. But while infection rates have decreased, there were significant health disparities: gay/bisexual Latino men were almost twice as likely to contract HIV as white men, and Black gay/ bisexual men were over 3 times as likely to contract HIV. “Recent breakthroughs in the prevention and treatment of HIV can literally save lives,” Newsom said in a statement upon signing SB 159. “All Californians deserve access to PrEP and PEP, two treatments that have transformed our fight against HIV and AIDS. I applaud the legislature for taking action to expand access to these treatments and getting us close to ending HIV and AIDS for good.” SB 159, authored by Sen. Scott Wiener
(D-San Francisco) and Assemblymember Todd Gloria’s (D-San Diego), goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2020, making California the first state in the nation to authorize pharmacists to furnish up to a 60-day supply of PrEP and a complete course of PEP without a physician’s prescription. “To end new HIV infections, we must dramatically expand access to PrEP and PEP, yet far too many Californians who need these drugs struggle to access them. SB 159 will keep more Californians HIV-negative and help us end this epidemic. I applaud Governor Newsom for signing this first-inthe-nation legislation to remove barriers to these critical HIV-preventatives,” said Wiener, who is HIV-positive. “The HIV epidemic is still a pressing
issue today — especially for LGBTQ people of color and folks in rural communities,” said Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur. “But with Governor Newsom’s signature, SB 159 is a giant step forward in getting to zero transmissions, zero deaths and zero stigma. By increasing access to life-saving HIV prevention medication, California — unlike the White House — is leading the country in the race to eliminate HIV. We owe a debt of gratitude to Senator Wiener and Assemblymember Gloria for their leadership and tireless advocacy. SB159 was co-sponsored by the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, APLA Health, the Los Angeles LGBT Center, Equality California, and the California Pharmacists Association.
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04 • OCTOBER 11, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Will Duncan Hunter finally lose his legacy congressional seat? He could be dethroned in 2020 by a gay Republican talk show host By KAREN OCAMB firstname.lastname@example.org The eyes of the political nation are fixated on Washington, D.C., and the fireworks surrounding the possible impeachment of President Donald J. Trump. But voters in California’s 50th Congressional District are witnessing a spectacle of their own an improbable Republican reality TV cat fight as indicted anti-LGBTQ Rep. Duncan D. Hunter struggles to keep his seat in the once reliably deeply red spot in purple/blue Southern California. Ironically, Hunter, who has served for 10 years in the House seat once held for 28 years by his hardline anti-LGBTQ father, could be dethroned in 2020 by either a gay Republican talk show host or a Democratic Christian Latino Arab-American who worked in the Obama administration. Hunter, 41, a Marine vet and avid Trump supporter, eked out a 3.4% victory in 2018 using widely condemned racist ads against his then-29-year-old opponent Ammar Campa-Najjar, all while engulfed in a campaign finance corruption scandal, which he blamed on his wife. Both have been indicted on multiple counts of wire fraud, conspiracy, falsification of records, and using campaign fund credit cards for improper personal purposes, including Hunter seeking reimbursement for Uber rides for dalliances with five women with whom he had “intimate relationships.” Hunter maintains his innocence and says the charges are politically motivated. But last June, Hunter’s wife, Margaret Hunter pleaded guilty to one conspiracy charge and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors for leniency in the case where she could get up to five years in federal prison and have to pay a fine of up to $250,000. She is expected to testify against her husband at trial. Democrat Campa-Najjar is now leading
Rep. Duncan D. Hunter is struggling to keep his seat in the once reliably deeply red district.
in a field of four Republican and two independent contenders in the most recent poll—and a judge moved Hunter’s criminal trial to February, one month before California’s open primary on Super Tuesday in the district that includes east San Diego County and parts of western Riverside County. Coming in second behind Campa-Najjar, who holds 31% of likely voters in a Sept. 27- Oct. 2 SurveyUSA poll for the San Diego Union-Tribune and 10News, is openly gay married conservative talk show host and former San Diego Council member Carl DeMaio at 20%. One-time congressional heavyweight Darrell Issa comes in at 16%, polling just higher than Hunter at 11% and undecided at 15%. Of voters asked who they would vote for “right now,” Campa-Najjar’s poll total jumps to 34% among a subset of voters who are “certain” to vote, vying with DeMaio at
22% and Hunter dropping to 9%. Now almost 60% of likely voters in CD50th believe the evidence against Hunter in the corruption case suggests that “he may have broken the law,” while only 13% in the once reliable deep red district Hunter/legacy district think the charges are “a partisan witch hunt.” Campa-Najjar also scored high on the “character of the candidate” question, which ranked the same as border security and holding President Donald Trump “accountable for his actions.” In fact, the Democrat came in 31 points ahead of DeMaio. But there’s also a major caveat: 32% of likely voters polled said they were “unfamiliar” with Campa-Najjar to 21% for DeMaio. That almost a quarter of those polled don’t know DeMaio is actually somewhat surprising since the Reform California activist was THE Republican star who led the successful recall of a local Democratic
state legislator who voted in favor of a gas tax and was lauded by GOP candidates seeking election in 2018. Though his Prop 6 Gas Tax Repeal campaign did not succeed, the publicity surrounding the initiative makes him a seriously viable candidate. DeMaio also has a talk radio host penchant for trolling, as he did former Rep. Darrel Issa who decided not to seek re-election in his own 49th CD against Democrat Rep. Mike Levin and is carpet-bagging over to the 50th CD. “I don’t understand why someone who would quit his congressional district and cut out and run would turn around and say ‘Well, now I want to run for Congress,’” DeMaio told the Palm Springs Desert Sun at a recent GOP confab at the Morongo Casino, Resort and Spa in Cabazon. “It seems like he’s bored or seeking a title and I don’t think that’s going to resonate with voters.” DeMaio is confident in his frontrunner status, based on his “track record of being a fighter for Californians who are sick of socialism.” Hunter, too, seems to be taking his reelection outlook in stride. “It’s too bad for the Republican Party, I think it reflects poorly upon it,” Hunter told the Desert Sun through clouds of vaping smoke. “Here you have two guys who don’t live in the district that could really challenge a Democrat in districts where they live. Instead, they’re choosing to go after me. And I think that’s one of the problems with the party and why it’s lost so many seats lately in California.” While the SurveyUSA poll doesn’t look good for Hunter, he faces another stark re-election concern: voting by mail in California starts on Feb. 3, the same day as Iowa caucus-goers start determining the viability of presidential candidates. That’s 12 days after Hunter’s criminal trial begins on Jan 22. Meanwhile, on Dec. 12, the 9th Circuit US Court of Appeals in Seattle is scheduled to hear oral arguments in Hunter’s attempt to have the case dismissed based on political bias—an argument akin to the arguments Trump is using to escape impeachment. Could the machinations in the 50th CD be a local microcosm of the GOP’s national political showdown?
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06 • OCTOBER 11, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Out Deputy DA Ceballos challenging boss Jackie Lacey Community interaction matters By KAREN OCAMB email@example.com Jackie Lacey’s gotta go. That’s not just the sentiment of a number of Black LGBTQ activists upset with Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey’s handling of the overdose deaths of Gemmel Moore and Timothy Dean in Ed Buck’s West Hollywood apartment – it’s also the sentiment among some of her own crew. Last March, gay veteran Deputy District Attorney Richard Ceballos announced he’s challenging his boss as a progressive alternative to her Democrat-in-name-only administration. In April, he was joined by 33-year-old gay Deputy District Attorney Joseph Iniguez. They just got company. On Oct. 3, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón abruptly resigned, effective Oct. 18, to move back to LA to establish residency and file by Dec. 6. to run in the March 3 open primary. Gascón joined the Los Angeles Police Department in 1978, left, then came back under LAPD Chief Bill Bratton, rising to the rank of assistant chief. He subsequently became police chief in Mesa, Ariz., until Mayor Gavin Newson hired him as SFPD Chief in 2009. When SF DA Kamala Harris became attorney general in 2011, Newsom picked Gascón to replace her. Gascón is returning to LA trailing both praise and criticism, all of which will be minutely scrutinized in what is expected to be a very expensive race. Lacey has already sewn up a slew of political endorsements, including one from LA Mayor Eric Garcetti. But Lacey is vulnerable. In an op-ed entitled “L.A. District Attorney Jackie Lacey Failed the Victims of Ed Buck,” Black activists Jasmyne A. Cannick and Nana Gyamfi, Esq., assert that Lacey is trying to “rewrite history” in the Ed Buck case. “Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey’s failure to charge Ed Buck for the deaths of Gemmel Moore and Timothy Dean was not because of a lack of evidence or probable cause. Her failure was a direct result of a lack of interest and political
Richard Ceballos Photo courtesy Ceballos
will. All of which was the reason that the sheriff’s department sought outside help from their federal counterparts to finally bring Buck to justice,” they write. “Make no mistake. It is an election year and DA Lacey is extremely embarrassed and rightfully so after having one of the biggest cases in her jurisdiction publicly snatched from her by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.” In an October letter to “Dear Friends,” Lacey claims that while her deputy Das worked with sheriff’s detectives to build criminal cases “that would hold suspected predator Edward Buck accountable for the deaths’ of the two Black gay men, “We could not file a state murder charge because we lacked the admissible evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant Buck intended to kill Mr. Moore or Mr. Dean.” After a new witness emerged on Sept. 11, they filed “the case we could at the time.” Federal prosecutors, however,
“were able to charge defendant Buck with furnishing drugs causing the deaths of Mr. Moore and Mr. Dean. That federal charge allows prosecutors to seek a significantly longer sentence. It also does not require prosecutors prove an intent to kill,” she wrote. “There is no comparable statute in California criminal law that my office could have used to charge defendant Buck in either of the deaths.” It was her office that “opted to work with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to ensure defendant Buck would face the harshest possible sentence,” Lacey wrote, adding her empathy for the victims’ families. But if Lacey managed to woo support with the logic of that explanation, she closed on a politically defiant note that unmasked her true character. “But, as your District Attorney, I have a legal and ethical duty to follow the law. I cannot and will not allow the loudest voices to influence how my office charges any person in our community,”
Lacey wrote. “While the case against Ed Buck is still a pending and open matter, as an attorney I am ethically prohibited from directly commenting on the charges he is facing,” Ceballos tells the Los Angeles Blade. “However, suffice it to say, Jackie Lacey’s handling of the case was a monumental failure in leadership. As Jasmyne Cannick has noted, Lacey’s lack of interest in the first death of Gemmel Moore and then the second death of Timothy Dean was the direct result of her refusal to demonstrate the political will and courage to simply do the right thing.” Ceballos is blunt. “We didn’t do a very good job,” he says. “I mean, we just have to sit down with folks; we have to sit down with the family; we have to explain the process. It doesn’t take that much effort and why she wouldn’t do that it just boggles my mind.” But not communicating with the impacted community is apparently a pattern with
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • OCTOBER 11, 2019 • 07
Richard Ceballos at DTLA Proud. Photo Courtesy Ceballos
Lacey. “We’ve seen it in other instances. We’ve seen it with the police shootings. She doesn’t do that,” Ceballos says. “And I don’t know what her rationale or her theory behind it is. I think it might be ‘I don’t want to make it appear that I’m prejudging the case before I make a decision.’ But it’s not a matter of prejudging the case—it’s being human, recognizing that people are suffering and they have questions and they want answers. They just want to know that people are listening to them and hear what they’re going through. And I think that’s what needed to be done in this case, and not ignore the family, and that’s what Jackie did.” Ceballos would not speculate about how he would have handled the case as DA. “I can’t tell you what I would’ve done in the case because that’s going to require that I have access to the evidence, and I don’t have all the evidence in front of me. I can’t tell you I would’ve done this or that, I would’ve filed this charge or that charge versus whatever she did, because that’s a bit unfair, and also that would kind of prejudge a case against Mr. Buck,” he says. “What I’m willing to say, what I can say, is
I think there are definite theories of liability when it comes to homicide that should’ve been considered, could’ve been considered. Maybe they were considered,” Ceballos says. “But definitely after the first instance, the second instance, that should’ve rung some bells in people’s heads like there’s something wrong here and we need to take a real close look at it quickly before there’s a third.” Now Buck is facing serious federal charges. “Jackie just filed essentially misdemeanors. Battery’s a misdemeanor charge, and I’m not sure what operating a drug den is. I’ve never heard of that charge in 30 years I’ve been in the office. I’d have to look it up somewhere. I don’t know if it’s a felony or misdemeanor. I assume it’s probably a misdemeanor. These are all essentially slaps on the wrist,” he says. “So now the feds are going to be handling the case from this point on.” Would you have looked for other ways to approach the case? “Oh absolutely,” Ceballos says. “Without a doubt. I mean how many dead people do you need for you to start taking this seriously? I
don’t know why she did what she did—why she slow walked it. I don’t know.” As DA, Ceballos would emphasize community relations. “I think you want to establish a relationship with the community before a crime even happens, so that they get to know you,” he says. “It’s kind of like what the police will do with community policing. The theory behind community policing is you have the officer get out of the car, walk around, meet the residents, meet the business folks beforehand. They get to know each other so when a crime does occur, these people know who to call and can trust them because they’ve already been talking.” Ceballos acquired his understanding of the significance of community relations from personal experience volunteering as a suicide prevention hotline counselor as he was attending law school “The training I’ve had at the Suicide Prevention Center certainly helps,” he says. “I think one of the things that has helped me over the years is that we need to listen to people. It is one of those traits, skills if you will, that appears to be missing. People
will love to talk, but they don’t really know how to listen. And you really have to listen to people, not only what they say, but how they say it.” Some of the people with whom he spoke were people with AIDS during the AIDS crisis, giving him a deeper understanding of trauma. “We have to do a better job of listening to the community. I mean, we serve the community. We’re here to protect the community. But we don’t necessarily have all the answers on how to best do that,” Ceballos says. “And in order to find out what the answers and the concerns are, we have to go out into the community and listen to what they say as the problems. And not only that, what do they see as the possible solutions?” That’s not a Lacey trait. “You know, there are a lot of things you can say about Jackie - but the biggest thing is – she doesn’t interact with the community. And that is so important. And that would be one of the major things I would change about our office, is that we have to be receptive to the community.”
08 • OCTOBER 11, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Is ‘bullying’ just an empty talking point? Jane Clementi wants candidates to speak out By KAREN OCAMB firstname.lastname@example.org In an era freckled with ironies, this one stands out like a big red blotch. In a Politico/ Morning Consult poll published Oct. 9, half of America’s registered voters supported President Donald Trump’s impeachment and removal from office. After three years and what many consider several impeachable offenses, the last straw was Trump bullying the president of Ukraine into finding dirt on Joe Biden and his son Hunter to help Trump’s 2020 re-election— or Trump would withhold missiles Congress already allocated for Ukraine’s defense against Russian advances. The big red blotch? Trump’s wife Melania Trump’s stated mission as First Lady is her anti-cyber bullying #BeBest campaign. Yet she has continually ignored her husband’s bullying, including his mocking 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg on Twitter. The Trump family’s Orwellian hypocrisy and profound lack of empathy has given permission to followers to imitate their heroes, resulting in proud, ugly national divisiveness and an uptick in hate crimes and bullying. America in 2019 is in the throes of both a constitutional and moral crisis – one that particularly threatens the lives of vulnerable LGBTQ teens targeted by the hate effect of Trump and his minions. Nine years ago, on Sept. 21, 2010, out columnist Dan Savage created the “It Gets Better” campaign in a massive community response to an epidemic of six suicides by teens bullied for being or being perceived as LGBT. One month later, President Barack Obama posted a video lending his support. “We’ve got to dispel this myth that bullying is just a normal rite of passage; that it’s just some inevitable part of growing up. It’s not. We have an obligation to ensure that our schools are safe for all of our kids. And for every young person out there you need to know that if you’re in trouble, there are caring adults who can help,” Obama said on Oct. 21, 2010. Nine years later, the outrage has become a toothless anti-bullying talking point that has virtually ignored the LGBTQ suicides of bullied
Tyler Clementi and his mother Jane Photo courtesy Jane Clementi
16-year-old Channing Smith, a junior at Coffee County Central High School in Manchester, Tenn., on Sept. 23 and bullied 15-year-old Huntsville High student Nigel Shelby in Alabama who took his own life last April. “With Nigel’s situation he was already struggling with his identity, so he was going through some stressful times. And depression is real. A lot of people don’t understand that depression is a disease. And when you have a kid who is already depressed and going through a lot emotionally, for you to call him names that you shouldn’t call him or say stuff to them, it sometimes has a worse effect than it would on a child who is not struggling with depression,” Nigel’s mother Camika Shelby told Huntsville station WAFF48 the day she buried her son. Jane Clementi agrees. Her son Tyler Clementi, an 18-year-old student at Rutgers University, died by suicide on Sept. 22, 2010, after being cyber-bullied. Jane established a foundation to honor Tyler and created the anti-bullying #Upstander pledge whereby signers agree to refrain from using bullying words and actions and stand up at any time and to anyone who is bullying another.
Clementi, who is based in New Jersey, flew to Los Angeles to ask an anti-bullying question at the Oct. 10 HRC/CNN forum. “I think it’s all important for them to understand that, even though there are so many major issues in this world, bullying is a significant problem, I believe a crisis epidemic right now, and it is a life-anddeath matter for many families, including my own,” Clementi told the Los Angeles Blade. “That’s why it’s so important, to have these conversations and to ask them what they plan to do about the bullying crisis. Bullying situations are a mental health situation.” Neither Donald nor Melania Trump have responded to her outreach, though the top presidential Democratic candidates have signed her pledge. “Our youth are looking to what our leaders are doing, and we need to change that,” she said. “It’s hard to reach out to Mr. Trump, because he ignores us. We did reach out to him to sign our Upstander Pledge, as well. He did not respond at all.” The Tyler Clementi Foundation seeks to “teach people to be in the spaces with the same character that we are in person,”
Clementi said. “My philosophy or mission is to empower the bystanders, whoever and wherever they are, to call out the behavior, because we can’t be the social media police or the internet police everywhere. “I definitely think we are in a turning point,” she continued. “This is a critical time in our history, and we need to move forward in a positive way of inclusion and celebration of differences and making sure that everyone has the same protection and right as everyone else, just as our Declaration declared. It’s taken us a long time to really get to see that or achieve that.” Bullying is a mental health crisis all 2020 electoral candidates should address beyond the talking points that pretend to feign concern. What’s the plan to stem the epidemic? If you or someone you know may be at risk of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. If you’re a young LGBTQ person who needs to talk, call The Trevor Project’s 24-hour helpline at 1-866-488-7386. If you are a transgender person of any age, call the Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860.
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • OCTOBER 11, 2019 • 09
Pro trans boxer Patricio Manuel Photo courtesy Everlast
The culture wars are being fought on many fronts. To boost his faux “tough guy” image with his cultish evangelical base, President Donald Trump – whose father secured him four fake privileged-base deferments to get out of going into the Vietnam War - re-imposed the ban on open transgender military service, despite being days away from full equal integration. The majority of American people and the businesses that wish to serve them, however, are continuing in the progressive direction of diverse inclusion. Recently, Everlast, the renowned manufacturer of boxing, MMA, and fitness equipment, became the latest to take a stand against the forces of regression, announcing that Patricio Manuel, the world’s first professional transgender boxer, is the new face of the iconic 109-year old company. And by embracing Manuel, Everlast knew it was embracing the fight outside the ring the boxer deals with daily. “I’ve been boxing competitively since I was 17 and throughout my career, I’ve always thought of Everlast as the most iconic boxing brand out there,” Manuel tells the Los Angeles Blade. “Everlast has sponsored so many legendary Black boxers - Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier and Sugar Ray Robinson, to name a few. So, it’s an honor to now be in their company as a Black transgender man, especially at a time when our humanity is under attack by the federal government and our rights are being debated by the Supreme Court. It’s an honor to fight for my community, as did those boxing greats who came before me.” – Karen Ocamb
“These bills show a new path to ensure our state moves closer toward a more equitable criminal justice system.” – Gov. Gavin Newsom after signing more than two dozen criminal reform bills on Oct. 8, 2019.
“You reject a call at your own peril.”
– Trans Pastor Paula Williams on feeling a “call” from God to transition in 2012, to Jada Pinkett Smith on Facebook Watch’s Red Table Talk Oct 7.
“Don’t tempt me. Do your job.”
– Former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump who joked that Clinton should run again in 2020, on Twitter.
10 • OCTOBER 11, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Gorsuch emerges as possible LGBT ally in Supreme Court arguments Landmark cases could realign movement for equality By CHRIS JOHNSON When the dust cleared Tuesday after two hours of arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court on whether anti-LGBT discrimination is prohibited under federal civil rights law, U.S. Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch emerged as a potential ally for LGBT people. Gorsuch, a Trump-appointed justice who considers himself a textualist, asked many questions suggesting he’s at least considering the idea that anti-LGBT discrimination is a form of sex discrimination, thus prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. If LGBT rights supporters eke out a victory from the Supreme Court, they may well have Gorsuch to thank on the divided court for taking them over the finish line. Throughout the arguments, Gorsuch made several inquiries on whether the concept of sex is inseparable from antiLGBT discrimination. At one point, Gorsuch asked, “Isn’t sex also at play here?” and gave an example of an employer firing a man for being attracted to another man as an example of sex discrimination. To be sure, Gorsuch also asked questions about whether employers could keep sexsegregated bathrooms under an LGBTinclusive Title VII. “To what extent should we take that into account?” Gorsuch said. “And same thing with gender-specific uniform requirements. How would you deal with those, given that at least those affected might think that they’re suffering a harm?” Gorsuch posed one question in particular to David Cole, national legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union, that may best offer a glimpse into the justice’s internal views. “Assume for a moment that I’m with you on the textual argument,” Gorsuch said. “Should the court be concerned about the massive social upheaval that would ensue?” (With respect to transgender protections, Cole said there would be no upheaval, citing decades of case law affirming anti-
Hundreds of pro-LGBT protesters converged on the Supreme Court on Tuesday. Blade Photo by Michael Key
trans discrimination is a form of sex discrimination.) The Supreme Court agreed to adjudicate the litigation as a result of taking up a trio of consolidated cases seeking clarification on whether Title VII covers anti-LGBT discrimination. The cases are Zarda v. Altitude Express and Bostock v. Clayton County, which seek resolution on whether anti-gay discrimination is illegal under Title VII, and EEOC v. Harris Funeral Homes, which seeks resolution on whether anti-trans discrimination is illegal under the law. According to the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, non-discrimination protections for an estimated 4.1 million LGBT people in states without LGBT civil rights are at stake in the upcoming decision. Although Title VII relates specifically to employment, any decision the Supreme Court reaches will impact other laws barring sex discrimination, such as the
Fair Housing Act, the Affordable Care Act and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Therefore, the decision will impact LGBT people not just in the workplace, but also housing, health care and education. Gorsuch was one of three justices who were carefully under watch during oral arguments as potential swing votes on whether anti-LGBT discrimination is prohibited under Title VII. Another was Chief Justice John Roberts, who entertained the idea of anti-gay discrimination being a form of sex discrimination during the 2015 marriage equality arguments. But four years later in the Title VII cases, Roberts was unequivocally on the side that anti-LGBT discrimination is not a form of sex discrimination. Roberts’ questions pointed out Congress didn’t intend to include LGBT people in the 1964 law. Another justice of interest was Brett Kavanaugh, but the newly confirmed Trump
appointee kept his cards exceedingly close to his vest. Kavanaugh asked only one question: A legal technical inquiry on the difference between the plain and ordinary meaning of Title VII. The oral arguments on the two issues consisted of two hours with discussion on sexual orientation discrimination in the first hour and anti-transgender discrimination in the second. But the discussion on both subjects often crossed over to both sides. For example, the question of transgender people using bathrooms came during the sexual orientation portion, and John Bursch, a lawyer with Alliance Defending Freedom, brought up the idea of religious institutions being able to terminate employees who enter into a same-sex marriage. It’s certainly possible the Supreme Court could reach one decision with respect to transgender employees, and another with respect to gay, lesbian and bisexual workers (especially considering the case law among lower courts for transgender people is significantly more developed). But justices gave no indication they’d reach two separate decisions. Amplifying Roberts’ view LGBT people aren’t covered under Title VII was U.S. Associate Justice Samuel Alito, who also asked questions about congressional intent in 1964, bathroom use and allowing transgender athletes to participate in women’s sports. “The point is that discrimination on the basis of sex in the sense that Congress understood it in 1964 is a different concept from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation,” Alito said at one point. Alito repeatedly asked about a bizarre hypothetical situation in which an employer is aware of the sexual orientation of a job applicant and refuses to hire that person without knowing his or her gender. “Let’s imagine that the decision-maker in a particular case is behind the veil of ignorance and the subordinate who has Continues on Page 12
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12 • OCTOBER 11, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Supreme Court hears LGBT bias cases Continued from Page 10 reviewed the candidates for a position says, ‘I’m going to tell you two things about this candidate. This is the very best candidate for the job, and this candidate is attracted to members of the same sex,’” Alito said. “And the employer says, ‘OK, I’m not going to hire this person for that reason.’” To Alito, that suggested anti-gay discrimination isn’t necessarily a form of sex discrimination. Representing the gay workers before the court was Pamela Karlan, who’s director of the Supreme Court Litigation Clinic at Stanford Law School. “The attempt to carve out discrimination against men for being gay from Title VII cannot be administered with either consistency or integrity,” Karlan said. “In the words of the en banc Second Circuit, it forces judges to resort to lexical bean counting where they count up the frequency of epithets, such as ‘fag,’ ‘gay,’ ‘queer,’ ‘real man,’ and ‘fem,’ to determine whether or not discrimination is based on sex or sexual orientation.” Karlan, a lesbian, approached her task with energy and great wit befitting a representative of gay men before the Supreme Court. When U.S. Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg asked Karlan about congressional intent in 1964, Karlan quipped LGBT people weren’t in mind because “those were the days of ‘Mad Men,’” invoking the hit TV show. Karlan added, nonetheless, the courts since that time have expanded the definition of sex under Title VII to include sex stereotyping and sexual harassment. In response to Alito’s hypothetical about a genderless, gay job applicant, Karlan quipped that person would be like “Pat,” the androgynous character formerly seen on “Saturday Night Live.” For a long stretch into her arguments, the justices allowed her to proceed without questions. At her conclusion, she joked, “If no one has any further questions, I’ll reserve the remainder of my time for rebuttal.” Roberts responded she would
have questions, and the justices peppered her with them. Cole, representing Aimee Stephens, who was fired from her job from the Michigan-based Harris Funeral Homes after announcing she’d transition, made the case the anti-trans discrimination she experienced is a form of sex discrimination in various ways. “That Harris Homes would fire both transgender men for being insufficiently feminine and transgender women for being insufficiently masculine is, as the government concedes, two acts of sex discrimination, not a defense,” Cole said. Each of the four liberal justices on the bench — Ginsburg as well as U.S. Associate Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer — advocated for LGBT inclusion under Title VII from the bench. Breyer brought up several times the notion firing someone for being in an interracial or interfaith relationship would be illegal under Title VII, suggesting that should be the same for someone in a samesex relationship. Toward the end of arguments, Breyer delivered a standout moment when he recognized Congress enacted the Civil Rights Act in 1964 to help vulnerable communities, which should lead the court to expand its scope to include LGBT people. “In the ’60s, we were only 10 years away from where people who were real slaves and discriminated against obtained a degree of freedom,” Breyer said. “And these statutes were all part of a civil rights movement that was designed to include in our society people who had been truly discriminated against for the worst of reasons. And at that time, this civil rights statute, when it was passed, would have put in the category gay people, transgender people as people who were suffering terrible discrimination.” Sotomayor echoed that statement in her words, saying the Civil Rights Act was intended to end “invidious discrimination.” “And we can’t deny that homosexuals are being fired merely for being who they are and not because of religious reasons, not because they are performing their jobs poorly, not because they can’t do whatever
Blade Photo by Michael Key
is required of a position, but merely because they’re a suspect class to some people,” Sotomayor said. “They may have power in some regions, but they are still being beaten, they are still being ostracized from certain things.” Representing the Trump administration in the arguments was U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco, who represented the U.S. government in the transgender case and volunteered time in the gay cases. Francisco, responding to Breyer’s suggestion the premise of the Civil Rights Act calls on the Supreme Court to expand it, rejected that notion. “I actually find it troubling for courts to take that approach because I actually think it deprives the people of the ability to struggle with these issues democratically,” Francisco said. “And I think it is very important when we have these kinds of big changes, that we actually convince one another that this is the right thing to do.” Jon Davidson, chief counsel at the proLGBT Freedom for All Americans, attended the oral arguments and said in the aftermath he was “cautiously optimistic.” “It seemed clear that we have four votes to uphold federal employment discrimination protections for LGBTQ people,” Davidson said. “We only need one more and I believe that Chief Justice Roberts, Justice Kavanaugh, and especially Justice Gorsuch all remain in play.” It’s unclear when the Supreme Court will render its decision. Because justices are hearing the cases early in their term, they’re expected to issue a ruling well before June 2020. Regardless of the decision, Davidson said legislative change will still be necessary in Congress to protect LGBT people from discrimination. “Win or lose, we will need Congress to act by passing a law like the Equality Act,” Davidson said. “If we lose, that is our only recourse. If we win, we will still need that victory written into the statutes and we will still need federal protections against discrimination in public places like stores, restaurants, and hotels and against discrimination by federally-funded
More than 100 arrested at Supreme Court Capitol Police on Tuesday arrested 133 LGBT activists outside the U.S. Supreme Court. The activists who were affiliated with Housing Works and other organizations sat in First Street, N.E., in an act of civil disobedience after the justices heard oral arguments in three LGBT rights cases. Capitol Police said the activists were arrested “for unlawfully demonstrating at First and East Capitol Streets, N.E.” and “charged with D.C. Code §22-1307, Crowding, Obstructing, or Incommoding.” “We already live in a world where people who don’t fit societal conventions of gender expression are subject to stigma, discrimination, verbal and physical abuse, and even being killed for who they are,” said Housing Works CEO Charles King in a press release that Housing Works issued earlier this week. “This is compounded for our transgender, non-binary and gender nonconforming brothers, sisters and siblings. We are mobilizing this action because we are deeply concerned and angered that the gates could be opened to losing rights and protections in the workplace, in education, healthcare, the military and beyond.” Capitol Police and the U.S. Supreme Court Police at around 8 a.m. closed the streets around the Supreme Court in response to a suspicious package. The Supreme Court remained open during the closures, but they delayed an LGBT rights rally that was to have begun at 8:30 a.m. The rally began shortly after 10 a.m. once the streets reopened. Freedom for All Americans CEO Masen Davis told the Blade outside the Supreme Court the oral arguments in the three cases “is one of the biggest days in my lifetime and career.” “[The cases] will really determine to what extent we are protected under the 1964 Civil Rights Act and Title VII,” said Davis. “The court, if it does the right thing, should be affirming those rights.” MICHAEL K. LAVERS
14 • OCTOBER 11, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
NATIONAL Grenell tapped as U.S. envoy for Serbia-Kosovo peace talks President Trump has named U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, the highest-ranking openly gay person in his administration, to become the new point person for the U.S. government in Serbia-Kosovo peace negotiations. The White House announced last week in a statement Trump would tap Grenell for the role in addition to keeping him at his position as U.S. ambassador to Germany. Although most Americans were probably last aware of the conflict between Serbia and Kosovo during U.S. involvement in the war between the two in the Clinton administration, those tensions have been renewed. In May, the Associated Press reported tensions flared after Kosovo’s police raided Serb-dominated areas in the region’s north and arrested “scores of people.” “There have been clashes between Kosovo’s police and local Serbs, with several people injured, and two U.N. personnel were detained, including a Russian,” the AP reported. “Serbia raised its combat readiness and warned it won’t stand by if Serbs in Kosovo are attacked.” A White House official said Grenell won’t need Senate confirmation to assume his new role. Grenell has served as point person for the Trump administration in its global initiative to decriminalize
homosexuality. President Trump brought up the initiative during his speech last month before the United Nations just before tensions grew with Congress as a result of the impeachment inquiry launched by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). It wasn’t immediately clear whether Grenell would retain the role as point person for the global initiative. Neither Grenell nor the White House would immediately respond to the Washington Blade’s request to confirm that. CHRIS JOHNSON
Judge strikes down Tampa’s ban on conversion therapy A federal judge in Florida has struck down a ban on widely discredited “ex-gay” conversion therapy in Tampa, ruling the city lacks jurisdiction to enact the ordinance. In a 41-page decision, U.S. District Judge William Jung, a Trump appointee, enjoined enforcement of the ban under the doctrine of implied preemption, asserting Tampa overreached in matters reserved for the state legislature. “The city’s ordinance creates a danger of conflict with the legislature’s broad program for the healing arts in Florida,” Jung writes. “The strong policy reasons for a statewide,
uniform system of substantive healthcare regulation and discipline are clear, as is the legislature’s intent for same.” The City of Tampa passed the ban on conversion therapy, Ordinance 2017-47 on April 6, 2017. Former Mayor Bob Buckhorn signed it four days later. ( Jane Castor, a lesbian and former police chief, is now mayor of Tampa.) The ordinance prohibits therapy seeking to change sexual orientation or gender expression within the City of Tampa, but is restricted to minor patients (not adults) and practices conducted by medical doctors and mental health professionals (so clergy and unlicensed persons are exempted.) Jung, casting a dismissive eye on the Tampa measure, writes the city is unaware of any minor being prescribed conversion therapy within its limits. Further, Jung writes Tampa has “never before substantively regulated and disciplined the practice of medicine, psychotherapy, or mental health treatment,” nor does the municipality “possess charter or home rule authority to do so.” Jung concludes the ordinance is “preempted by the comprehensive Florida regulatory scheme for health care regulation and discipline.” Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said the decision is “an outlier, and unlikely to have much influence.” CHRIS JOHNSON
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16 • OCTOBER 11, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
VOLUME 03 ISSUE 41
Becoming whole A new era for LGBTQ+ America
Pete Buttigieg is mayor of South Bend, Ind., and a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. (Photo courtesy Buttigieg campaign)
(Editor’s note: This is edited from a summary of Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s 18-page LGBTQ Equality Plan on PeteforAmerica.com.) To be LGBTQ+ in America today is to enjoy freedoms hard-won by trailblazers who came before and to feel the urgency of an unfinished promise of full equality under the law…. Twenty years ago, an awkward teenager at St. Joe High School in South Bend, Indiana, who didn’t know a single out LGBTQ+ student there, never would have imagined how far we would come as a country. But what does our country look like to a teenager in 2019, just starting to realize who they are? What future do they see for themselves? They see an administration that has unacceptably deemed people who risk their lives for their country as unfit for service because they are transgender. They see a government that is allowing clinicians to refuse to treat patients who are LGBTQ+. They see a president who, when asked about LGBTQ+ rights by a reporter, joked of his vice president: “Don’t ask that guy—he wants to hang them all!” They see more states covering genderaffirming procedures, but they also see schools refusing to allow trans students to use the bathroom of their current gender. They see people with HIV living vibrant lives, but they also see people who cannot afford the treatment they need. They see gay nightclubs opening up across the country, but they can’t forget Pulse. They see transgender people, primarily Black transgender women, murdered at alarming rates. They see a country where they are still not fully free or safe and one in which they still don’t feel like they fully belong. In the past week alone, four out of five LGBTQ+ youth felt down or depressed, more than two out of three reported feeling worthless, and last night,
almost all had trouble sleeping. This past year, LGBTQ+ Americans were twice as likely to suffer from mental illness as their straight peers, and almost one in two transgender people considered suicide. Across much of our country, discrimination and the ever-present fear of it continue to govern aspects of LGBTQ+ people’s lives. Can I be who I am and keep my job? Can I hold the hand of the person I love in public? Which bathroom can I use safely? Will I be able to raise a family or not be harassed at school? Can I live here and be happy? Will I ever be accepted? When I’m president, I hope these questions will start fading away. We will share solutions big enough to meet the challenges the LGBTQ+ community faces while bringing the American people together to understand that our freedoms are bound up in each other. For LGBTQ+ people, like for other marginalized groups, the political has always been extremely personal. This is why our policy is inspired by LGBTQ+ people’s stories: by the war that breaks out in the heart of a young person when they realize that a basic fact about them makes them more likely to be feared, and the immense joy that comes with finally knowing with certainty that you belong…. Each of us has our own story. And when I’m president, I will use the power of the presidency to tear down the walls that have excluded far too many LGBTQ+ people for far too long. Major policies: On equality: • Pass the Equality Act, so that LGBTQ+ people can no longer be denied a job or housing. • Ensure that the freedom of religion is not the freedom to discriminate. • End the blanket ban on blood donation for gay and bisexual men and replace it with a sciencebased approach. • Protect and respect the rights of intersex people’s bodily autonomy, including banning medically unnecessary genital surgeries on intersex infants and children. On health: • Guarantee that every LGBTQ+ person has access to affordable health coverage through Medicare for All Who Want It. • End the HIV/AIDS epidemic by 2030, which is disproportionately affecting gay men of color and transgender women. • Pass the LGBTQ+ Suicide Prevention Act to address key risk factors for deaths by suicide.
On youth and families: • Prohibit violence, bullying, and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and ensure that all students can learn in safe, supportive environments. • End “conversion therapy” for good. • End youth homelessness as part of a comprehensive housing agenda. • Pass the FAMILY Act so new parents, including LGBTQ+ parents, get time off from work to take care of family, including chosen family. On community: • Launch a “We Belong National Mentorship” program modeled on My Brother’s Keeper and other successful peer-to-peer mentoring efforts, and focused on supporting LGBTQ+ youth. • Increase funding for community-based programs that support the LGBTQ+ community. On justice: • Ensure the safety of all LGBTQ+ people, especially transgender women of color, by vigorously enforcing the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act and training law enforcement to provide respectful, appropriate and equitable treatment to all. On honor: • Honor the contributions of the LGBTQ+ veterans and service members, starting by rescinding the transgender military ban. • Review and restore honorable discharges and appropriate benefits to veterans discharged solely based for being LGBTQ+. • Fund and promote the ongoing documentation and celebration of LGBTQ+ arts, history, and culture. • Increase the representation of LGBTQ+ people and history in our National Parks System. Leadership • Become a global leader on LGBTQ+ rights, including by strengthening protections for LGBTQ+ immigrants and refugees. • Recognize the right to refugee status and asylum in U.S. for individuals being persecuted for being LGBTQ+. • Lead against persecution and discrimination of LGBTQ+ people on the global stage, and encourage our ambassadors to be spokespersons for LGBTQ+ rights as human rights. • Build an Administration that reflects the diversity of America, including LGBTQ+ Americans.
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LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • OCTOBER 11, 2019 • 17
Ed Buck’s arrest should spark outrage over gay meth epidemic Community must react and save lives
Jim Mangia is president and CEO of St. John’s Well Child and Family Center, a nonproﬁt community health center providing services at 18 sites in downtown and South Los Angeles. (Photo courtesy Mangia)
Recently, one-time Democratic donor Ed Buck was indicted following two drug overdose deaths in his West Hollywood apartment in 2017 and 2019. His arrest was long overdue, after continued allegations by Black gay men that Buck had forced them to do drugs in his apartment house and demands for answers coming from the LGBTQ+ community for two years with no action by authorities in response. But amidst all the controversy about how Buck got away with this horrendous alleged behavior for so long, there is one piece missing: a real, in-depth conversation about
the gay community’s ongoing struggle with crystal methamphetamine addiction. The videos of Buck during his appearance at the Los Angeles County Courthouse show a gaunt shadow of a man. He was skeletal, with deep caverns where cheeks used to be and veins protruding from his neck to his forehead. While court ﬁlings charge that Buck’s sexual proclivity was to inject Black male escorts with meth and there is no proof yet that Buck himself was a meth addict – he appeared with the look of so many gay men -- of all ages -- who are addicted to meth. It’s beyond time to start talking about it. I’ve seen the devastating impacts of meth addiction ﬁrsthand. One of my closest friends started using crystal meth a couple of years ago. Previously a successful businessman, he has now lost all of his friends, his family and his business. He spends his days searching for meth. Ten years ago, I lost a partner to crystal addiction. He relapsed after two years of sobriety and eventually died on the street. Meth is dangerous for many reasons -partially because it’s so cheap and can be made in a frying pan at home using sinus, cold and other over-the-counter medicines. It’s also readily available, being sold on the streets, on “hook-up” and dating apps, and in gay bars -- often under the seemingly innocent name “Tina.” At St. John’s Well Child and Family Center,
the community health center I lead, we treat thousands of members of the LGBTQ+ community -- and the overwhelming majority of patients who access treatment at our substance abuse programs are addicted to crystal meth. As it stands, as little as 5% of crystal meth users can get and stay sober without institutional help. Yet this raging epidemic which has plagued and ravaged the gay community for over 20 years still bears little mention from national LGBTQ+ organizations, gay elected officials, and the mainstream media. This means there are few programs, resources, and virtually no government or private grants in place to combat a drug addiction so lethal that it literally alters the chemical make-up of the brain. Additionally, in the gay community meth is linked to sex – meaning there is less inhibition and more risk for HIV and other STDS. And while PrEP may help prevent HIV infection, the CDC reports that syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia continued their record-breaking rise in 2018 So many members of the LGBTQ+ community have already been impacted by the crystal meth epidemic – friends, lovers, partners and community leaders lost to the ravages of the worst drug we have ever seen. If we’re not careful, it could take countless more lives.
In my twenties, I lost countless friends and two partners to the AIDS epidemic. Today, I can’t help but draw correlations to the present-day plague ravaging my community. During the AIDS epidemic, service organizations were formed and ACT-UP mobilized gay men and their allies to the streets. Many of us became politicized by ﬁghting the AIDS epidemic and the refusal of the government to act. It’s time for us to take similar action now and start mobilizing around our community’s struggles with meth. It is patently true that if the DA’s office had moved quickly in the Buck case, lives would have been saved. It is just as true that we are all standing by, silent, as thousands of our gay brothers die in the scourge of meth addiction. We need political action, adequate funding to treat those addicted, new methods to break the cycle of addiction to this horrible drug, and the development of innovative education and prevention strategies to save our people from the death spiral of crystal meth addiction. But all of that starts with LGBTQ+ folks being honest about what’s going on in our community. We must begin to heal and move past this together.
Adam Rippon’s next chapter Out figure skating star on new life, loves, memoir, ass and skating in the nude By JOEY DiGUGLIELMO
We blitzed through a torrent of questions with Adam Rippon by phone last week. The bronze medal-winning gay breakout star (and selfproclaimed “America’s sweetheart”) releases his memoir “Beautiful on the Outside” Oct. 15. He and skier pal Gus Kenworthy each came out in 2015 and last year became the first openly gay male U.S. athletes to compete at the Winter Olympics. Rippon is in LA (at Book Soup) on Wednesday, Oct. 23 as part of a 13-city book tour. His comments have been slightly edited for syntax and length. LOS ANGELES BLADE: How did the book come about? ADAM RIPPON: Well, right after the Olympics, my team was saying that it might be a fun idea to write a book and I thought that this, like, really felt like a full chapter of my life sort of coming to an end and a new one was starting so I felt like it would be a really therapeutic almost experience. And I thought it would be a good thing for me to do, to kind of debrief and sort of be my moment to soak in everything that was like going on. So it was my team’s idea but then ultimately it was something that I did truly want to pursue. BLADE: How long did it take to write? RIPPON: About six-seven months. It wasn’t too long but it was a substantial amount of time. BLADE: A lot of your appeal is the way you come across on camera. Were you concerned that that might not translate to the written page? RIPPON: Totally. One thing that I really focused on was (making sure) the writing felt very in person, so that whatever you were reading felt like I could have been sitting right next to you like on a couch telling you this story and you were hearing my voice. So that was really important to me because I feel less like a writer and more like a storyteller. So I wanted to make sure, especially when I would be doing the audiobook, that it really felt like I wasn’t adding any words or saying any words that I wouldn’t say in a conversation. BLADE: You share a lot of hard-won wisdom in the book. Were those convictions about life already in your head and bones or did the process of writing the book kind of help you distill and
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articulate some of that? RIPPON: I think when I wrote the book, that was such an important thing for me to add into it because those are lessons and scenarios and things that I had learned and they were just so important to me, that was something really I wanted to add into the story. … Sometimes I just laugh at myself and move along through life through different struggles and things of that nature, but I really did learn a lot about myself, it really prepared me for the bigger moments. BLADE: A lot of the book is about how what was going on in your head affected your skating. Did you ever work with a sports psychologist when you were competing? RIPPON: I did but … it’s funny now, post skating career, I see a therapist but when I was skating, I felt like, no that’s weak, I’m not going to go to a sports psychologist, I’m going to just suck it up. I wish I had, but it’s harder because when you’re a competitive athlete. One you don’t have a lot of means to go out and find someone on your own and they do offer someone but it’s like someone that everybody uses, like all of your competitors are going to use the same sports psychologist, so in a way I was like, “Am I really going to tell my deepest fears with somebody’s who’s then gonna work with all of my competitors too?” I was like, no, I’m gonna tell this bitch that yeah, everything’s fine and I’ve never felt better. So it’s hard but now as an adult, I can go out and find someone on my own who’s personally mine and that was just something I did not have access to when I was competing because it was really expensive. BLADE: How often are you on the ice these days? RIPPON: Maybe once or twice a month now. Just skating for myself. Sometimes if I have a day off, I’ll go work with one of the skaters I used to train with, Mariah Bell. Working with her some makes me feel connected to skating, but I don’t skate very much on my own anymore. BLADE: Would you like to do more skating exhibition tours? RIPPON: I would, but they take so much time and energy to prepare for and I would not ever want to do one and not feel like I was giving my best. … Right now I really do want to focus on pursuing these other endeavors that are available to me now and I do want to pursue them because I do think the time to do that is right now and if there is something comes up in skating, it’ll make sense. Right now, I think I’m really focused on writing this book and that kind of hustle.
BLADE: It looks like you’ve stayed in great shape. Do you feel pressure to have perfect abs? I mean the shape you were in for Olympics has to be impossible to maintain I imagine. RIPPON: Well, you know what? I’m gonna be super honest. After the Olympics, I went to the gym and I was like, “I can’t do this anymore. I’ve gone here every day of my life for 20 years and I just don’t have the motivation,” and that was OK. But I didn’t go to the gym for maybe a year. BLADE: Oh wow. RIPPON: Yeah, I know. It was a lot. BLADE: But you didn’t gain 300 pounds or anything. I haven’t seen you lately but you look like you were in great shape on “Dancing With the Stars.” RIPPON: I’m not 300 pounds yet, but no. … I realized I just needed to find new goals at the gym because it’s something I really enjoy. So I’ve been going for like the past month and have been working out pretty regularly with my old trainer again and, of course, the workouts are totally different, because it’s no longer about trying to be as good a skater as possible. But I really love the rush you get from finishing a workout. BLADE: You make a joke in the book about your hook-ups not believing you had an office job because nobody with a desk job would have an ass like yours. What kind of currency has having that kind of butt given you in your personal life? Is it something your boyfriends have gone on and on about or it something that maybe seems more exaggerated from afar? Tell me about your ass, Adam. RIPPON: Well, here we go. How much time do you have? (laughs) No, I’m kidding. Um, the one thing I’ve noticed, now surrounding myself with people who are not athletes by profession is that everybody who works out and goes to the gym, the hardest thing for them is legs. I’ve noticed going back to the gym, that’s always been my upper hand because I’ve done only legs for so long. With my boyfriend, he’s mostly envious that I have these bigger legs and, like, a butt that really fills out my pants. Mostly he’s jealous but he does like it, which is good because I can’t really get rid of it. BLADE: At one point in the book you say you were having trouble with quad toe so you had to switch to quad lutz. Why not quad sal? RIPPON: It’s a little different with the quads. That’s why you see these Russian junior girls
and some of them won’t do triple axels but their only two quads are toe and lutz. The lutz may be the hardest because that entrance is so hard but when you have the torque just right, it really snaps the quickest into rotation. I think when you’re learning triples, the skill of how you should learn them is correct, but with quads, it’s more like which do you feel and I think difficulty sort of comes in second. BLADE: Did you ever play around with quad loops or flips? RIPPON: Yeah. I think in my life, I’ve landed a (quad) flip, a salchow. It was just one day and it’s going really well, then the next day I’m just doing like cheated triples and I’m like, “Oh, OK, here we go.” BLADE: Have we hit the ceiling on quads? Is it realistic to think somebody might land a quad axel someday? RIPPON: I think so. I never thought I’d see a day where somebody has a program like Nathan Chen’s planned programs and it’s something he actually does and it’s not, like, a joke. And it’s the way he does it really effortlessly and you don’t really actually notice he’s doing all these quads ‘cause they’re so well done, which is the scariest part of his skating. BLADE: Have you stayed in touch with him? RIPPON: I’ve stayed in touch with pretty much everyone I competed with and with Nathan, we had the same coach for a while. I have such a soft spot for him and the things that he does. I’m always cheering for him. He’s just a really, really good kid and, you know, works super hard and is so well rounded. I love catching up and seeing how he’s doing. BLADE: I know it’s probably hard to put into words, but how much harder is the triple loop than the triple toe as the second jump in a combination? RIPPON: Adding the triple loop onto something is much harder because the room for error and correction on landing the first jump is so small. When you’re doing a triple loop in a combination, the biggest thing is you cannot readjust or fix the landing position of that first jump because it happens so quickly and it immediately needs to come together. With the toe loop, you can readjust the tap into the ice, you can tap a little further, tap quicker, you can jump a little more from the assistance of the free leg, so it’s still Continues on Page 20
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Rippon says abuse allegations, suicide rocked skating world Continued from Page 19 incredibly difficult but a triple loop combination is by far much harder than a triple toe loop combination. BLADE: Were you more team Zagitova or Medvedeva in the ladies’ event last Olympics? RIPPON: You know, I think that I was really impressed with Zagitova, I thought she skated very well, but I do have to say the way that Medvedeva handled herself as like a two-time world champion, and then to go out and skate two clean programs, I just felt she had a lot of substance to her skating maybe her style wasn’t the I don’t know, wasn’t everybody’s cup of tea. She performed, she had everything that an Olympic champion should have and I really felt that she kind of earned it. Zagitova skated a little bit like a really excellent junior lady in her first year senior. It wasn’t as refined and Medvedeva was a twotime world champion heading into that event, she was very refined and in that moment and was incredibly young, but yet had some womanly flair to her, which I really admired. I completely see why Medvedeva was the silver medalist and Zagitova was the gold medalist, I understand, but if I were judging I would have had Medvedeva first. BLADE: Did it bother you that Zagitova back-stacked all her jumps? (Jumps completed in the second half of the long program are weighted in scoring.) RIPPON: No. I mean, of course I want to be like, yes, it doesn’t make for a nice program, but then at the end of the day, we have rules and we have points and you know I think if Eteri’s goal, their coach, is that she has a student who wins, and that they compete and there’s no pecking order of who should win and who shouldn’t win, you’re gonna go and you’re gonna do the most that you can do. So, I mean she played the game within the rules and she knew that Medvedeva had better style, so the way to make Zagitova more competitive against Medvedeva would be to just technically you know, put everything at the end. So is it annoying, like a little bit, but is she cheating? No. Everybody had that option and everybody knew that, so it doesn’t bother me. I kind of look at it like I don’t like it, but you’re smart. BLADE: Why are they wrapping everybody up in those goddamn jackets now the second you step off the ice? They never used to do that. RIPPON: It’s a sponsor thing. While you’re just sitting there in kiss and cry, they want the sponsor logo to be visible on TV. Obviously you couldn’t skate with a logo, but when you’re just sitting there waiting for scores, you can see what it says on the label.
BLADE: I wasn’t a big fan when they changed the rules to allow vocal music. You took advantage of it. What was your opinion? RIPPON: I didn’t like it at first, but then I really enjoyed it as a skater. I just thought it opened the door for a lot of really cool ideas. BLADE: How was Tonya Harding on “Dancing With the Stars?” Did you develop any camaraderie with her? RIPPON: I wouldn’t say camaraderie, but she was super nice and she’s fun. She’s super funny, really personable. You know, I doubt Nancy (Kerrigan) would think that, but she’s super personable. I had no problem with her. She was nice. BLADE: Did you admire her skating back in the day? RIPPON: The first competition I ever watched was ’98, so I never grew up with her, but once I went back and started watching things, I’ll always remember that opening at 1991 nationals with the “Batman” theme and that mint green dress. BLADE: Did you like the movie “I, Tonya”? RIPPON: I mean Margot Robbie when she does press for the movie, she says it’s Tonya’s side of the story and I think she did a really good job of that. But I think even Margot would tell you that the truth probably lies in the middle. BLADE: So many skaters — Brian Boitano, Jeffrey Buttle, Johnny Weir — came out after they stopped competing. I’m not asking for names, but are there still closeted skaters that you know of or is that era finally over? RIPPON: I think we’re becoming past it and I really feel that like I hope that I had something to do with it, where people felt like it didn’t really matter and you could still be successful. But I do think that the pressures of someone like me and someone like Brian Boitano or Jeffrey Buttle are so different. I was never a favorite for a world title, there was no pressure like that. I was just trying to kind of make my world team and see if I, if someone’s having a bad day, could swoop in for a world medal. Or like at the Olympics, know that I could be a really good asset to the team event. So I knew that like the pressures for me were totally different, they were not the same as somebody trying to win a world title, I wasn’t going to be as scrutinized. I mean especially compared to somebody like Brian Boitano in the ‘80s. So it’s a totally different time but I do think that because a lot of the attention, I did get at the Olympics, I think it broke down a lot of stigma. Because yes, there was a gay athlete but everything else wasn’t about that, which I think was great. I think it was a really good thing.
BLADE: Why are there so many more medal opportunities in the summer games? Can you imagine if figure skaters had the number of medal opportunities as Michael Phelps? RIPPON: I think when you get into subjective sports where it’s all based on human judging, it’s really hard to break those into different categories. And it’s part of the drama of skating that there aren’t all these opportunities. That’s one reason I love the idea of a team event, not only because I’m a medalist from it, but I love that it’s brought different stars from the Olympics forward. I mean look at Yulia Lipnitskaya from Sochi. In the team event, she was the star of the whole competition and when we think about the individual, I even forget that she competed in it. So it gives other people the chance to be Olympic stars in a different capacity. The whole point of the Olympics is to inspire people to get into sports. That really is truly what it is. And I think the team event really does that. BLADE: You obviously came up long after compulsories were eliminated. When you go back and watch old performances, do you think skaters in the ‘70s and ‘80s had better form, better edges, because of having to learn the school figures or not so much? RIPPON: I think the quality of skating is going up because the demands of what you have to do now technically are so high. You have to do so many transitions into jumps and so many turns and steps into all of your elements so you get a nice transition score and I think that’s pushing people to learn these turns and steps in the proper way and faster than if they’d started with figures. This way you jump right into it and the learning curve is a lot quicker. You know you have to do it this way because that’s how it’s judged so it’s the only way to be competitive. BLADE: Were you really fully nude except for your boots for the ESPN shoot or did you have some kind of little loincloth on or something? RIPPON: I was 100 percent naked and it was actually at the rink I trained at. There are three rinks and one is all the way at the end in the corner and they blocked it off and had security and everything but yeah, it was fully nude, and for the first two minutes it was like, “Isn’t it weird that I can see my dick and I’m skating,” but then you get going and you’re like it doesn’t really become a thing anymore and nobody’s really fazed by it because they’ve shot like a million naked athletes before so it’s a very cool experience. BLADE: Isn’t it hard to skate with your dick flopping around? RIPPON: No, because at that point, everything gets
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RIPPON: Well I knew that I never would, so I haven’t. BLADE: Do you keep the Mirror Ball Trophy (from “Dancing With the Stars”) with all your skating medals? Or they displayed? RIPPON: All my skating medals are in a container from the Container Store. The Mirror Ball Trophy is in a guest bedroom on the night stand. I have it out if somebody wants to see it, but it’s not something I’m looking at all the time. I want to focus on getting more things and — I know this is just in my own head — but not feel complicit in what I’ve achieved so far. BLADE: You don’t even keep your Olympic medal out? RIPPON: They came in beautiful boxes so I have it in the box on a side table with the medal inside. So it’s there if somebody wants to see it but it’s not like, “Oh wow, it’s hanging on the wall.” BLADE: Any hint of sexual tension between you and (out Olympic skier) Gus Kenworthy or is that just totally a gay bromance? RIPPON: It’s very much a brotherly sort of relationship. I adore him. We don’t talk all the time, but he’s just somebody I think I’ll always be kind of close to. BLADE: You say in the book you and (figure skater) Ashley Wagner were close friends. Do you have any comment on her decision in August to say she was sexually assaulted (11 years prior by pairs skater John Coughlin, who committed suicide in January under similar allegations)? RIPPON: I think it was brave. I’m sure it was really hard for her to do it. I think it’s going to hopefully create some good conversations with people within the sport.
Adam Rippon on the cover of ESPN’s 2018 Body Issue.
so small it’s like, “OK, this is what we’re dealing with.” It’s nothing to write home about. (laughs) BLADE: What did you think of Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski’s commentary of your Olympic performances? RIPPON: They bring such excitement to skating. People tune in to watch the skating, but also to hear their opinions. They’re like Dick Button and Peggy Fleming for this generation, where you wanted to hear if Dick Button thought you were a good skater or not. They aren’t mean, they’re honest and now, being able to be more subjective, I see that. I remember there was one performance where Johnny said he thought I wasn’t interpreting the music well and I was like, “What? He doesn’t know what he’s talking about.” But as I watch it back now, I’m like, “No, he’s totally right.” He was just giving an honest opinion and it’s his job do to that. … They add flair to the whole competition. BLADE: Did you ever hear from Mike Pence after the Olympics or was that just a big dog-and-pony show?
BLADE: You say in the book you two were super close. Did she tell you about this shortly after it happened? Did you know John Coughlin? RIPPON: I did know John, I thought, pretty well. But I had no idea any of this was going on and it’s been pretty tough ‘cause I wish I could have said something to someone or said something to him, but I didn’t have that opportunity. It’s something I think a lot of skaters are struggling with because we don’t agree with it. It’s not good. So many athletes aren’t equipped to deal with the suicide of someone that they knew. So it was really something challenging for a lot of people to get through and it was just something that was still, you know, pretty raw I think for a lot of people. BLADE: What did you think of Yuzuru Hanyu’s (goldwinning) performances in PyeongChang? RIPPON: I thought he was amazing. He’s incredible. Such a legend. BLADE: Is he approachable or kind of in his own world? What’s it like being around such a great skater? RIPPON: There’s a level of respect for everybody like that that all the competitors have regardless of who they are or what they’ve achieved. He’s always been super nice and I would say that I enjoyed competing
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT ADAM RIPPON ‘Beautiful on the Outside’ book signing Wednesday, Oct. 23 6 p.m. Book Soup 8818 Sunset Blvd. West Hollywood booksoup.com $28 (includes book)
with him as both gold older. One thing that helped is since he moved to Canada, his English got better so we could actually chat. As an adult, I enjoyed seeing him and getting to cheer for him and watch him compete. BLADE: How do you feel about turning 30 (in November)? RIPPON: I can’t wait. I’m really excited. BLADE: Why? RIPPON: I just feel like it’s perfect timing. I’m retiring from skating and starting this new phase of my life and career so the time feels really good. And I don’t know, I felt like I was 30 for a few years already anyway, so it’s all good timing. BLADE: Does (boyfriend) JP (Jussi-Pekka Kajaala) live with you now in L.A.? How are things there? RIPPON: JP goes back and forth between L.A. and Finland. I’m actually going there Friday. BLADE: How often do you get to see each other on average? RIPPON: We probably spend about five months out of the year together. BLADE: Are you and (“Dancing With the Stars” dancing partner) Jenna (Johnson) still BFFs? RIPPON: Um, yeah. I love her. We talk, like, very often. BLADE: Are you a morning person by nature or did you kind of just force yourself to be one all those years getting up to train? RIPPON: I’m not, but if I don’t force myself to be a morning person, I could stay in bed for like years. BLADE: What do you have coming up? What do the next six months look like for you? RIPPON: I’m on the book tour for two weeks, then right after that I have a few stops and I’m working on a few other things that will be announced soon, which is cool. I also just filmed another series of Breaking the Ice, the little videos on YouTube. Yeah, just stuff like that. It’s all good, nothing super busy. BLADE: What would you like to be doing in 10 years? RIPPON: I would love to still be working in entertainment, in comedy, and be successful. Let’s see, I don’t know, I just would like to be really successful, have more awards, right? I’m an athlete, I love a good trophy. So I think I really enjoy the kind of stuff I’m doing now and just continue to be a performer but like in a different way. I’d love to still be doing all this in 10 years.
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Donning the cowl Aussie actress Ruby Rose suits up as ‘Batwoman’ By SUSAN HORNIK
Ruby Rose in and out of character. Photos courtesy the CW
As the Gotham City crime fighter Kate Kane in “Batwoman,” Ruby Rose’s character is one for the history books, as the first lesbian superhero in a leading television role. It’s been a fast-moving ride to the top for the young Australian actress/model, who caught everyone’s eye back in 2014 when she created “Break Free,” a short film on gender fluidity. The YouTube video has been viewed more than 51 million times. Rose had no idea the impact it would make on her career. “I honestly thought that I would do that film, that it would feel good, that it would be special to me and to maybe a couple of fans that I have accumulated over 10 years in Australia,” she told the Blade at the Television Critics Press Tour. “And that was sort of it. I just needed to get it out and maybe one person will watch it, 10 people and when it got to the point where it was 30 million, 40 million, 50 million I had no idea what even to do with that. And then obviously, that led to ‘Orange is The New Black’ and even then, I didn’t think that was going to be as much of a big deal and as well received as it was,” she said. “Since then, I’ve just been like, ‘OK cool, so what’s next?’ This is a wild ride. But yeah, that’s like one of the things I’m most proud of.” Looking back, Rose, 33, understands the cultural relevance the film has had. “I could have made that video 10 years earlier, five years earlier, a year earlier and maybe it wouldn’t have had the same impact. It was like at that precipice point where without knowing; just timing, serendipitous, Laverne (Cox) was on ‘Orange’ that was about it. I don’t think ‘Transparent’ was even out. You know, like Caitlyn Jenner, all these conversations hadn’t been had yet. They were kind of Laverne and ‘Orange’ was what was sort of starting it. And then I put that video out and then other things were happening. Other people were becoming big parts of that conversation and suddenly it just catapulted into something much bigger than myself and much bigger than what I could have imagined. If I knew it was going to become that big, I would have done some more editing.” Rose, a lesbian who has spoken of taunts for being gender nonconforming in her youth, is grateful the film touched many. “I’ve had people even now talk about how that is what led them to either transition or take the step, come out to their family. There was a 42-yearold female to male that literally was wanting to transition their entire life. I read a newspaper article which said that video made them say, ‘That’s it, I’m doing it.’” Rose has been hard at work, creating a strong connection with her character, whom she perceives as vastly different from her. The character was introduced in DC Comics in 2006 as Kate Kane, who began operating as a similarly caped and cowled Gotham City-based vigilante. She’s a cousin to Bruce Wayne (though she works largely independently of
Batman) and although not the first LGBT character in the Batman universe, she’s considered the “highest profile” queer character ever to appear in comic books. “I don’t brood as much, I really don’t,” she said. “I smile a lot. I feel like I was more like her when I was younger, you know, the hesitation of trusting people, letting people in, feeling like I could do everything on my own, not having a big family. Being gay, obviously, but it’s not the biggest part of the show. But there’s a lot that I definitely experienced throughout earlier teens, maybe even early 20s, but that now I don’t share with her. But I can see why she feels the way that she does.” The legendary Batman city has helped inform her approach. “Living in Gotham it’s so different. When you live there and the world is like that — not that we’re far from it — it’s a heavier situation. Whereas I feel like my life is pretty well put together, unlike Kate, who is figuring it out.” Still, Rose “owns” her version of who Batwoman is. “I’m sure there’s going to be many other versions after this and different actors that play it, it’s an entity far bigger than me. But in the version I get to play, the Kate that I’ve sort of developed and love, she is a certain way. … I mean who knows when I’m 60 and I’m like, ‘Hey kids, I was Batwoman!’ And they’re like, ‘Whatever, Selena Gomez’s greatgranddaughter is Batwoman now,’ I’m sure there will be many reincarnations and I’m excited about that. But it’s definitely like a legacy piece that I really think is important and I dedicate all of my time to it.” Rose drew upon the defunct “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that’s in a lot of the comics for her role. “That was important to me that we did that in the right kind of way, just because of the gravity of that. And I believe we did and I think we probably touch more on it, we try to fit as much as we can into the pilot, but it’s not a lot of time.” While Rose is a badass, (check out her work in “John Wick” if there’s any doubt) she recently had to undergo emergency surgery from doing her own stunts. “To anyone asking about my new Pez dispenser scar on my neck ... a couple of months ago, I was told I needed emergency surgery or I was risking becoming paralyzed. I had herniated two discs doing stunts, and they were close to severing my spinal cord. I was in chronic pain and couldn’t feel my arms,” she wrote on Instagram, posting a video of the operation. “And to anyone asking why I let them video it. Did you not watch that ‘Greys Anatomy’ episode where they left a towel in a patient?” Rose said. “Also I wanted to see what happens when we go under.” This month, Rose will receive the Create NSW Annette Kellerman Award, which celebrates a screen industry figure who has been a trailblazing role model for Australian women.
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • OCTOBER 11, 2019 • 23
“Pain and Glory” (“Dolor y Gloria”), the 21st film by out Spanish writer/director Pedro Almodóvar, is a sublime masterpiece by a queer auteur at the top of his game. It’s a profound and effortless journey through themes that have obsessed the master filmmaker throughout his amazing career: desire and sexuality, the need to create and communicate, the blurred lines between past and present and between reality and fiction, the lure of drugs, religion, the complicated bonds between mothers and sons and the challenges of maintaining both friendships and romantic relationships. Passionate and precise, it’s a dazzling artistic achievement and a glorious collaboration between a master craftsman and his long-term creative colleagues, along with a few new partners. The semi-autobiographical “Pain and Glory” (it opens today in Washington in Spanish with English subtitles) is about the trials and tribulations, and ultimate triumph, of filmmaker Salvador Mallo. (Almodóvar says it’s part of an unintentional trilogy with “Law of Desire” and “Bad Education,” which also focus on male film directors and their artistic and personal obsessions.) Mallo is played by frequent Almodóvar collaborator Antonio Banderas, who won the best actor prize at the Cannes Film Festival for his incandescent portrayal of man in search of redemption. As the movie opens, Mallo is at a standstill, waylaid by a variety of physical and psychological conditions. (Juan Gatti’s delightful animations accompany Banderas’ recitation of his many ailments.) Suffering from chronic back pain, he’s unable to write and fears that he will never have the physical strength to work behind the camera again. Under the influence of several drugs (prescribed and otherwise) and unable to move forward, Mallo is adrift in a sea of memories. In memory, Mallo is reunited with his late mother Jacinta, played as a young provincial woman by Penelope Cruz and as an old woman by Julieta Serrano. (Both women are long-time Almodóvar collaborators and both turn in searing performances.) Newcomers Asier Flores and César Vicente play Salvador as a 9-year old boy and Eduardo, the handyman who is the object of Mallo’s first crush. In reality, the restoration of Mallo’s film “Sabor” (“Taste”) leads to a series of reunions. He meets up with the actress Zulema (Almodóvar veteran Cecilia Roth) and with two of the most important men in his life: his former lover Federico (Leonardo Sbaraglia) and the actor Alberto Crespo (Asier Etxeandía) who starred in “Sabor.” The line between memory and reality becomes porous when Alberto convinces Salvador to let him stage his short story “The Addiction” as a dramatic monologue. “The Addiction” is about the passionate relationship between Salvador and Federico during the wild period in Madrid in the
1980s following the fall of Franco. These fascinating threads weave seamlessly together as Mallo slowly gathers the strength to pull his life together and resist the allure of living in the past. With the help of his devoted friend Mercedes (Nora Navas), he begins work on a new project called “The First Desire.” The final tableau is sublime. Almodóvar’s brave and daring work in “Pain and Glory” is simply stunning. He is in complete command of the camera and every shot displays his mastery of sound, color and pacing. His work with long-time collaborators José Luis Alcaine (director of photography) and Alberto Iglesias (original score) is amazing, as is his work with new partner Teresa Font (editor). The design of the film is exquisite. The visual contrast between his childhood in the poor provincial village of Paterna in Valencia and his present-day life in Madrid is arresting. It’s fascinating to note that the design is so deeply influenced by Almodóvar’s own life. Banderas’ hair is styled the same way as the director’s and the actor is often dressed in clothes from the director’s own closet. Mallo’s Madrid apartment is based on Almodóvar’s residence and the set was filled with the director’s own furniture and furnishings. The acting is outstanding. Banderas turns in a magnificent, multi-layered performance as the artist in crisis. This is the eighth film Almodóvar and Banderas have made together. Both men started their careers as part of the artistic resistance to the autocratic regime of General Francisco Franco. Banderas made his film debut in Almodóvar’s “Labyrinth of Passion” (1982) and was featured in several of the director’s early films. After successful careers in Hollywood and Madrid, the two men enjoyed a cinematic reunion in “The Skin I Live In” (2011). Based in part on their long artistic partnership, Banderas creates a nuanced portrait of an artist who is clearly based on Almodóvar but who is clearly not Almodóvar. Banderas captures Mallo’s physical pain and growing despair with remarkable clarity. Banderas is also at the top of his game and it’s wonderful to see him in a role that’s worthy of his talent. The rest of the cast is equally strong. Cruz and Serrano are magnificent as Mallo’s mother in different time frames. Vibrant young Jacinta blazes with her fiercely over-protective love for her son, yet also joyously breaks out in song while washing clothes in the river with the other women of the village. Frail old Jacinta is bitter, isolated in the big city and poisoned by her homophobia. Remarkably, the two wonderful actresses create one seamless performance. Likewise, Flores’ fine performance as young Salvador shows the roots of the man he will become. It’s destined to be a classic movie in the LGBT canon and is a must-see for all queer cinephiles.
Awash in memory Semi-autobiographical new Almodovar film ‘Pain and Glory’ is sublime instant classic By BRIAN T. CARNEY
Antonio Banderas won the top Cannes Film Festival acting prize for his work in ‘Pain and Glory.’ Photo by Manolo Pavon; courtesy Sony Pictures Classics
24 • OCTOBER 11, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
OUT & ABOUT
Family Equality shines an opportune light on the struggle for LGBTQ families Hundreds of thousands raised for family activism and legal battles By SUSAN HORNIK
Gigi Gorgeous (L) and Nats Getty receive an award at the Family Equality Los Angeles Impact Awards 2019 at a private residence on Oct. 5, in Los Angeles. Photo by Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images for Family Equality
Newly married YouTube star/trans activist Gigi Gorgeous and her wife, Nats Getty, were excited to be honored at the Family Equality 2019 LA Impact Awards. The nonprofit organization strives to help LGBTQ families, who seek to form or expand their families through adoption, foster care, and surrogacy. More than 400 guests gathered at the home of Joey Gonzalez and Jonathan Rollo to show their support, enjoying a performance by Cheyenne Jackson, incredible stories, and celebration of those who make a difference in the fight for legal and lived equality. The fundraiser succeeded in raising nearly $700,000 to support Family Equality’s work. “We are thrilled to join the Family Equality network of supporters, and do everything in our power to help increase inclusivity in the fertility world,” Gorgeous Getty told the Los Angeles Blade. “So that people like ourselves are able to ask questions without doubt or humiliation. To know how to navigate roadblocks and ultimately never feel discredited. And at the very least, understand that all humans have the right to love and be loved. To have a family. And have options…without bigotry.” The couple received the 2019 Murray-Reese Family Award for paving the way for future LGBTQ+ parents everywhere by sharing their experiences as an LGBTQ+ couple via Youtube, a featurelength documentary (“This is Everything: Gigi Gorgeous”), and a book (“He Said, She Said: Lessons, Stories, and Mistakes from my Transgender Journey.”) Being honest and open with her audience and really sharing her side of the fertility experience, with no filters or bs, was important to Gorgeous Getty. “We wanted to really show what was happening at the fertility clinics... We need to have access to doctors who specialize in non-discriminatory fertility treatments, resources, and education on the options for LGBTQIA+ people. I can truthfully make that statement based off of Nats’ and my own experience with our own fertility story.” Nats Getty has been so proud of his wife, for having the courage to talk about the fertility challenges they have dealt with. “I’m honestly blown away by Gigi’s strength to tell this story, and I know the reason she was able to was because of the constant love and support from her family and fans,” Nats Getty said. “By sharing this, she’s definitely touched the lives of others dealing with similar difficulties. This shows the importance of continuing to live out loud, share our stories, and be heard.” Nats Getty is “very happy” that an organization like Family Equality exists. “Despite the current time that we are in as a couple, the experience of pursuing family planning was still incredibly traumatizing for us,” Nats Getty acknowledged. “We still have a long way to go as a society, but are grateful for the work this organization has done so that young couples don’t have to go through what we went through. Without people like Gigi who are willing to be vulnerable and tell their stories, progress wouldn’t be made. Living out loud is necessary, and what needs to happen in order to create change.” On October 18th, the Washington Blade is honoring Getty’s philanthropist mom, Ariadne, for her tireless help with the lgbtq community. “It’s so dope that I come to an event honoring Gigi and I get to run into my mom here, who is about to be honored,” enthused Nats Getty. “It’s amazing and magical; it speaks so much about our family.” Ariadne Getty is over the moon about her and Gigi’s family joining together. “I love their family dynamic, there is a lot of fun and joy that they experience with Gigi as her authentic self. It’s wonderful to be around.” Family Equality’s 2019 Corporate Impact Award honored dedicated LGBTQ+ allies California Cryobank, a company which has supported thousands of LGBTQ+ families since 1977. The award was presented by creator and star of the critically-acclaimed comedy show and podcast, “Don’t Tell my Mother,” Nikki Levy, who was at the event with her wife, Scarlett Davis. “It was an honor to present the Corporate Impact Award to Scott Brown of California Cryobank tonight,” said Levy. “Scott has spearheaded California Cryobank to be the preeminent sperm bank for the lgbtq+ community. I joke that California Cryobank is the creme de la creme of creme. I can say that because I’m a client! In 2015, I was a single lesbian looking to freeze some embryos. Cut to now, I just got married and am ready to pop those babies (literally) in the oven. Family Equality is such an important organization because it helps people like me - queer people - make their dreams of having a family come true.” She continued: “They say it takes a village to raise a kid, but when you’re LGBTQ+, sometimes it takes a village to make one! Family Equality is a key part of that village. Levy’s next event is “Don’t Tell My Mother! Coming Out Show,” which happens Saturday, October 12 at Catch One, and will feature true stories from “Schitt’s Creek” star Emily Hampshire, LGBTQ+ activist and influencer Miles McKenna, comic Nicky Paris, Chanty Marostica.
OUT & ABOUT
For Broadway legend Betty Buckley, the second act is sweetest Star returns to LA for series of appearances at Segerstrom Arts Center By JOHN PAUL KING
Betty Buckley returns to LA for a series of appearances at Segerstrom Arts Center. Photo by John Boal
26 • OCTOBER 11, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
There’s more than a hint of bemused irony in Betty Buckley’s voice as she takes note of the recent anniversary of “Cats,” the show for that earned her a Tony, and which opened on Broadway on October 7, 1982. “I was just like… ‘What? It was 37 years ago? Time just goes by in the blink of an eye!” She chuckles, “Of course, you don’t know that when you’re a younger person. It seems like forever, but one of the things that happens as you get older is that every day just goes by – like ‘vroom, vroom!’” The celebrated actress and singer, who is about to return to Los Angeles for a series of appearances at the Segerstrom Arts Center (Oct. 17-19) and the Saban Theatre (Nov. 2), reflects back on her career since that momentous opening night. “I always knew that my best work would be in my later life,” she says, wryly. “Then I woke up about three years ago and realized I was at my later life – and I was shocked!” She says the revelation came when her friend, director Michael Wilson, called her up “out of the blue” to ask her if she would be in his planned production of “Grey Gardens.” She assumed he was asking her to play the younger, lead role of Little Edie – but he actually wanted her to play BIG Edie, that character’s irascible, elderly mother. “I started laughing hysterically,” she recalls, “and I said, ‘Oh my God, the time is here, isn’t it!’” Awkward as it may have been, that phone conversation was the beginning of a new phase in Buckley’s alreadystoried career. Her performance in “Grey Gardens” won her raves, and from there a role in filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan’s “Split” earned her further accolades. It was as the title character in the national tour of Broadway’s acclaimed “Hello, Dolly” revival, however, that the renaissance of Betty Buckley seemed to fully bloom – something of a surprise, considering it was a show she had never really felt a connection with. “It was never a role I imagined for myself or had a desire to play,” she says, “and it was daunting. I mean, the icon that is Carol Channing set the standard for all time, and so many gifted women have played the role. I had no clue what my particular contribution could be, whereas, with other things that I have replaced in – most particularly ‘Sunset Boulevard’ – I knew what my purpose was, who I was going to be in the role. That was a bit confusing, at the beginning.” There were other challenges, too. Though she had plenty of experience with comedic acting, the role of Dolly calls for a style known as “antic comedy,” which she had never done. Then there was the question of getting into the kind of shape that would permit her to endure the grueling eight-show-a-week performance schedule demanded by a Broadway tour – something she accomplished with the help of her longtime trainer, Pat Manocchia, who put her on a regimen that helped her lose 40 pounds and got her into the kind of shape she “didn’t think was possible, at my age.” “It was thrilling,” she says, “at age 71, to be learning a whole new skill set. I discovered that I was capable of so much more than I had thought, at this point of my life – and I was really inspired by this character’s commitment to joy and love. I was grateful to take that message out across America in a time period when we so sorely need to be reminded of it. It was an incredible gift.” It’s telling that Buckley would value a role for the
challenges it offered, rather than from any acclaim it may have brought her. It’s also notable that she seems as excited by her twisted character arc as a guest star on the third season of “Preacher” – a TV show of which she calls herself “an ardent fan and devotee” – as she was by her work on “Dolly.” “I love dark, perverse, aberrated characters,” she gleefully exclaims. “That’s what I spent years in acting school trying to do. I always wanted to be one of those kinds of actors, like Geraldine Page or Kim Stanley or Gena Rowlands. I wanted to be able to bring that kind of emotional rawness to my work, so of course I was excited to do this incredible part.” This passion for the work itself reflects a refreshing lack of ego from someone who has achieved, by anyone’s reckoning, the status of a Broadway diva. “At a certain point,” she reflects, “hopefully, you reach a level of knowing about yourself, and what your purpose is as a storyteller – a singer, actress, communicator – and you realize it’s about serving the audience. I made that commitment a long time ago, when I found meditation and spiritual philosophy in my late twenties, and I started to bring it into my work. Before that, what I did was for the audience’s response, for the applause, but it didn’t feel like that was enough. That’s hardly a purpose.” “Now I teach it in my workshops,” she continues, “how to meditate and use a universal spiritual philosophy as the foundation of making choices as a storyteller, to communicate with audiences at the most essential, universal level.” That endeavor to communicate is behind her work with longtime collaborator Christian Jacob, who is her pianist, arranger, and music director, and with whom she has worked on a whole series of albums. The latest of these, “Hope” came out in 2018, and its songs will be among the material she performs at her upcoming shows in Southern California, accompanied by Jacob and a quartet of musicians she describes as “incredible.” It’s at shows like these that Buckley gets to connect on a more intimate level with audiences – including the large LGBT fan base which she has long embraced. “That gift, the support of that community, is everything to me,” she says. “They’ve been there for me my whole career, and I want to be there for them, to the best of my ability – especially in a time when our human rights are being so thoroughly attacked, by such insanity. That’s my purpose as a communicator and storyteller, to remind people that we are all connected at this essential level of heart. In truth, we’re all one being, as a humanity, and we all deserve to be treated with respect and equality. I’ll continue to fight the good fight, alongside my friends.” No doubt that fight will be part of her ongoing efforts as a storyteller and communicator, something for which her passion seems only to have been renewed by the late-life resurgence in her career. “It’s been a great two or three years,” she sighs, contentedly. “I’ve just been really blasting. It’s wonderful to wake up in your later years and be able to say, ‘Shit! I know how to do this!’” “And some other people know I know how to do it, too, and that’s pretty great!”
MILLIONS OF MOMENTS OF
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I N E NIG
A ER S M
O F BI M
A MA S H
SIP, SASHAY & CELEBRATE ON PALM CANYON & ARENAS ROAD
SIGN LANGUAGE INTERPETATION SCHEDULED FOR MOST PERFORMANCES
THAT ‘80S BAND | HAPPYFORYOU | DJ PETER BARONA | DJ KIDD MADONNY | LUCY WHITTAKER | AUTUMN LEILANI | DJ JEFFREE RAY RHODES | PAUL COWLING | JOSH ZUCKERMAN | KEISHA D Tara Macri | Ted Fox w/Joe Musser & The Roadhouse Rebels | Jessica Inserra | Probe 7 | DJ Eric Ornelas | DJ Galaxy Ryan Sky | DJ Vaughn Avakian | DJ Drew G DJ Aaron C | DJ Addict | Risqué | Now Serving The Chilldren | Modern Men | Palm Springs Gay Men’s Chorus | A Cabbello | Siobhan Velarde | Arenas Fashion Show Miss Bea Haven | DJ Austin Del Rio | Michael mAr | Krystofer Do | James Sings...Olivia | Cat Lyn Day as Marilyn | Z LA LA | Kendra Dahl Sax-Playing Drag Queen Madyx | Ayline Artin | MARY | Isabelle | Steven Fales | Torrey Mercer Emcees Bella da Ball & Alexander Rodriquez | Anita Rose & Company | Anita Treadmill & Divas On The Dance Floor | Erica September Carrington | Ms. Bea Haven | Iowna Mann | Lilly White Pink Lemonade | Samantha Montgomery | Candace Camera | Charles Herrera | Cher-Javier | Dan Westfall | Desert Rose Playhouse | Eve Holmes | Jason Hull | JB | Jesse Jones | Johnny Gentleman Lola Showgirl & Team Lola | Marina Mac | Maxx Decco | Patsi | Phillip Moore | Randell McGlasson | Robbie Wayne | Sadie Ladie | Steven Michael Dance Machine | The Mod Squad Variety Francesca Amari | Jeff Stewart | Wayne Abravanel | Tommie Douglas | Tommy Dodson | Tony Romano | Willie Rene | Brian Scott | Dammit Jim | Luka
MARK DUEBNER DESIGN
OUT & ABOUT
28 • OCTOBER 11, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Queer Latinx leads the way in mainstream entertainment Panel explores diversity and inclusion across the spectrum FROM STAFF REPORTS
Vida’s, Mishel Prada Photo courtesy Starz
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In a year of increased LGBTQ+ representation in both television and ﬁlm, mainstream festivals and live events across the country have quickly realized that inclusion for our community needs to follow suit and be given prominence in such arenas also, not just on screen. “Queer Latinx Dominating Mainstream Entertainment,” a panel held at the 10th anniversary of Hispanicize, arguably the largest annual event for Latinx trendsetters, focused on content creators and newsmakers. The event brings together the movers, shakers and leaders of the Latinx community. In its past nine years, this is actually the second time in which a dedicated panel focusing on LGBTQ representation is part of the event schedule. “Pose” actor Johnny Sibilly sat on a Hispanicize panel last year in Miami and it was not LGBTQ focused. This year, Sibilly joins fellow panelists on the LGBTQ+ panel -Singer/Songwriter/Actor, Laith Ashley, and Vida Television Star, Mishel Prada, who portrays a queer woman on the hit STARZ show, and is one of our ﬁercest allies oﬀ screen. “We understand that all facets of our community need to be represented at live events and that includes our amazing and never wavering female allies,” added Roman Navarrette who along with co-producer Jose Resendez is creating the panel session which will take place onsite on Saturday, Oct. 19, at 4 p.m. at the DTLA Intercontinental Hotel. Resendez, a gay Latino with an extensive background in brand marketing will do double duty this year as he is not only co-producing the panel but also the event’s marquee event - the Tecla Awards. “I’ve been a part of the Hispanicize family for over half a decade and I truly believe this is the place to shift perception and move the needle for Hispanics in the social media space. Navarrette, who cut his teeth at the Fox network in marketing and then shifted to working on multicultural and targeted marketing for Fox Entertainment Group as part of the Fox Audience Strategy division, is now a marketing consultant leaning into the LGBTQ+ and Latinx spaces, working with companies like Live Nation Latin, FX and most recently, Pasadena Playhouse’s Little Shop of Horrors starring Mj Rodriguez of FX’s “Pose” fame. “It’s important to highlight diverse images within our LGBTQ+ community. There are layers and layers in our community and we need to emphasize Latinx and people of color stories in order to continue to make progress and impact pop culture for our youth as well. Positive portrayals with intricate characteristics help everyone at the end of the day,” added Navarrette. And while representation for the community has been popping up more and more at SoCal industry events, (Vida’s Ser Anzoategui recently took part in panels at both The National Association of Latino Independent Producers in LA and Latitude, in San Diego) this is the ﬁrst time a panel produced by LGBTQ+ community members solely, is taking center stage. Added features this year include the addition of LGBTQ+ community organization members being invited to attend at no cost to them. “We wanted to make sure that the audience included members of the entire Latinx LGBTQ+ community and especially those on the ground in the trenches working with the community providing services and healthcare as well as HIV testing and counseling,” added Navarrette. “It’s not always about Hollywood.” The two-day Hispanicize 2019 conference kicks oﬀ on Friday, Oct. 18, with a keynote from critically acclaimed John Leguizamo whose NGL Collective newly acquired Hispanicize earlier this year. Nearly 2,000 attendees are expected to visit this year’s conference and be treated to various panels and activations featuring celebrities and inﬂuencers such as Rosie Perez, CNCO, the cast of Netﬂix’s On My Block, Stephanie Beatriz, Mexican Gueys, BuzzFeed’s Curly Velasquez, Jenny Lorenzo, Danay Garcia, LGND, and Prada’s Vida Costar, Melissa Barrera. In addition, one of the coveted Pepsi music lounge performances and Q&A sessions will feature gay Latino, Willie Gomez, former Britney Spears dancer and new emerging artist. Besides Pepsi other brands participating in the two-day event include Facebook watch, HBO Latino, Walmart, Colgate, Pluto TV, Nickelodeon, Unilever, Ciroc, Dove, Clorox, Voto Latino, Caress, Jim Beam, and McDonalds. Continues at losangelesblade.com
Say those words, and you’ll immediately feel the beat, the spirit, the heat of the legendary Donna Summer. Her songs smashed every record. Her story shattered every barrier. Now, the queen arrives direct from Broadway. After a twice extended, sold-out run at San Diego’s celebrated La Jolla Playhouse, SUMMER, The Donna Summer Musical, partied on Broadway at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre and is now strutting its way across North America on a National Tour. She was a girl from Boston with a voice from heaven, who shot through the stars from gospel choir to dance floor diva. But what the world didn’t know was how Donna Summer risked it all to break through every barrier, becoming the icon of an era and the inspiration for every music diva who followed. From Janet Jackson to Beyoncé, they all began with Donna.
Three actresses play the role of musical icon Donna Summer at different points in her life as “Diva Donna,” “Disco Donna” and “Duckling Donna,” while an inexhaustible ensemble of almost entirely women tear up the stage. Featuring choreography from Tony Award winner Sergio Trujillo, who won a Chita Rivera Award for Outstanding Choreography in a Broadway Show for SUMMER, and directed by Des McAnuff, the Tony Award®-winning director of Jersey Boys and The Who’s Tommy, SUMMER takes us through her tumultuous life and tempestuous loves. Including a mega-watt dream list of musical hits—including “Bad Girls,” “MacArthur Park,” “She Works Hard for the Money,” and “Last Dance”... SUMMER makes Fall the hottest season of all.
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Photo: Francesco Scavullo
THIS FALL, IT’S ALL ABOUT
“Toot toot, hey, beep beep!”
30 • OCTOBER 11, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
FBI: Marijuana arrests rise for 3rd year in row The total number of persons arrested in the United States for violating marijuana laws rose for the third consecutive year, according to data released by the FBI. According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, police made 663,367 arrests for marijuana-related violations in 2018. That is more than 21 percent higher than the total number of persons arrested for the commission of violent crimes (521,103). Of those arrested for cannabis-related activities, some 90 percent (608,776) were arrested for marijuana possession offenses only. “Police across America make a marijuana-related arrest every 48 seconds,” NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri said. “At a time when the overwhelming majority of Americans want cannabis to be legal and regulated, it is an outrage that many police departments across the country continue to waste tax dollars and limited law enforcement resources on arresting otherwise law-abiding citizens for simple marijuana possession.” The year-over-year increase in marijuana arrests comes at the same time that several states, including California, have legalized the adult use of cannabis — leading to a significant decline in marijuana-related arrests in those jurisdictions. It also marks the reversal of a trend of declining arrests that began following the year 2007, when police made a record 872,721 total marijuana-related arrests in the United States. Marijuana-related arrests were least likely to occur in western states — most of which have legalized the substance — and were more prevalent in the northeast, where they constituted 53 percent of all drug arrests.
California voters say legalizing pot ‘a good thing’ BERKELEY, Calif. — Nearly seven out of 10 registered voters in California believe that the passage of Proposition 64, which legalized the adult use and retail sale of cannabis, was a “good thing,” according to polling data compiled by the University of California at Berkeley’s Institute for Governmental Studies. Sixty-eight percent of respondents endorsed the law, while only 30 percent said that it was a “bad thing.” Those respondents between the ages of 30 and 39 (81 percent), between the ages of 18 and 29 (79 percent), and self-identified Democrats (78 percent) expressed the greatest degree of support for the law. By contrast, 50 percent of Republicans defined the law as a “bad thing.” Proposition 64 was passed by voters in 2016 by a vote of 56 percent to 44 percent. Sixty-three percent of respondents also said that
they favored allowing retail marijuana stores to operate in their community. That result is largely in contrast with local laws, as the majority of California’s cities and counties prohibit commercial marijuana activities. Pollsters surveyed over 4,500 registered voters. The poll possesses a margin of error of +/-2 percentage points.
Unregulated THC vapor cartridges often contain dangerous additives LOS ANGELES — Unregulated THC vapor cartridges often contain vitamin E oil, according to a recent investigation by NBC News. The inhalation of vitamin E oil, which is sometimes added to unregulated e-liquid products in an effort to thicken their consistency and to mask dilution, has previously been linked with incidences of lipoid pneumonia. An advisory issued last month by New York State health officials identified “very high levels of vitamin E acetate in nearly all cannabiscontaining [vapor cartridge] samples analyzed.” The NBC News investigation reported that 87 percent of the unregulated THC cartridges they analyzed tested positive for the presence of vitamin E oil. Many of the products also tested positive for the presence of pesticides. By contrast, “Of the three purchased from legal dispensaries in California, the CannaSafe testing company found no heavy metals, pesticides or residual solvents like vitamin E.” Updated data released last week by the U.S. Centers for Disease Controls reported more than 800 cases of acute respiratory distress linked to the use of portable vapor cartridges used to consume e-liquids. Of the products tested thus far by the US Food and Drug Administration, about half have identified the presence of vitamin E acetate. Most of the products linked to lung illnesses have been traced to the unregulated, “informal” market, the agency reported. These findings reaffirm the variance in the safety and the quality of cannabis-related products available on the unregulated market versus those on the stateregulated retail market, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said. “Consumers must also be aware that not all products are created equal; quality control testing is critical and only exists in the legally regulated marketplace.” In recent days, lawmakers in Michigan, New York, Rhode Island, and Washington have moved to impose bans on the sale of flavored vaping and/or e-cigarette products, while the Governor of Massachusetts has enacted a temporary ban on the retail sale of all vaping products, including the sale of state-regulated products at licensed cannabis dispensaries. Oregon’s Governor is considering implementing a similar emergency ban. Cannabis Culture news in the Blade is provided in partnership with NORML. For more information, visit norml.org.
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