JASON AND FRED TREAT WEST HOLLYWOOD TO ITS FAVORITE PARTY, PAGE 24
O C TO B E R 1 8 2 0 1 9 • V O LU M E 0 3 • I S S U E 4 2 • 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 18, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Newsom signs LGBTQ Safe and Supportive Schools Act Bill requires resources but not training By KAREN OCAMB email@example.com California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the Safe and Supportive Schools Act of 2019 (AB 493) ON OCT. 14, enhancing LGBTQ resources for teachers. Authored by Assemblymember Todd Gloria, who is running for Mayor of San Diego, and co-sponsored by Equality California and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, the bill aims to create safer and more supportive school environments for LGBTQ youth by “encouraging school districts to provide teachers with information on resources available to support LGBTQ students and requires the California Department of Education to develop relevant training
Out Assemblymember Todd Gloria Photo by Karen Ocamb
programs for teachers no later than July 1, 2021,” according to Equality California. “Today, Governor Newsom sent a loud and clear message to LGBTQ students across California that we have their backs,” said
Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur in a press release. “The Safe and Supportive Schools Act will not only start a multi-year process to ensure that teachers and school staff have the tools and training they need to support our students, but it will put California on a path to serving as the gold standard for school climate.” Equality California cites GLSEN’s 2017 National School Climate Survey noting that approximately 7 in 10 LGBTQ students reported hearing anti-LGBTQ remarks often or frequently in their school; 82 percent reported being called names or threatened because of their sexual orientation; and more than one-third of students who identify as LGBTQ reported missing at least one day of school because of feeling unsafe. “All too often, LGBTQ youth are bullied or harassed at school and do not feel like they have a place to turn. Some have chosen to end their own life because of it. This is an epidemic we must cure, and circumstances
we should disrupt,” said Assemblymember Gloria. “The Governor’s signature on AB 493 represents a first step toward that goal.” An earlier version of the bill would have required school districts to provide teachers and school staff with training and resources but the requirement was taken out due to budget constraints. Equality California and the authors pledged to continue pressing for legislation with required training in 2020. “I thank Governor Newsom and Assemblymember Gloria for their leadership in passing and signing AB 493, of which I’m a proud co-sponsor,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Thurmond said in a press release. “LGBTQ students must have the same opportunities for a quality public education in an environment that accepts them for who they are. AB 493 will help California’s LGBTQ students by providing teachers the resources they need to support them, and closes disparities in health, mental health and academic outcomes.”
Trans activist Ashlee Marie Preston apologizes for old bigoted tweets Paid campaign surrogate for Warren posted racist, homophobic messages By STAFF REPORTS Ashlee Marie Preston, a nationally known Los Angeles-based transgender activist and paid surrogate for the presidential campaign of Democratic Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, came under heavy criticism Oct. 14 after a series of old homophobic and racist tweets surfaced. Preston was featured in a Warren campaign video released in advance of the HRC/CNN Equality Town Hall on Oct. 10. Preston has had a controversial social
media presence with a history of making offensive, homophobic, racist, pro-life/ misogynistic and xenophobic comments, particularly on Twitter, which have sometimes been lauded as “truth-telling.” She came to national attention in 2017 when the then-editor-in-chief of Wear Your Voice magazine confronted Caitlyn Jenner at a Trans Chorus of LA event to which Jenner had financially contributed. On Oct. 14, attorney Colin Kalmbacher posted several of Preston’s old tweets at LawandCrime.com, some shockingly homophobic. One tweet from April 7, 2011 reads: “That is the last time I help that faggot fucker….he’s bringing ME problems Truman help him.” Two weeks later, on April 27, 2011, she tweeted: “I LUV gay men but THIS
county clerk at window G is a mahfukkan faggot wit it…hes bald but rokn jewels, acrylic nails,&silk scarves #andshit.” Preston responded on Twitter and Facebook by categorizing the disclosures as “a political play.” But she also apologized, blaming her then-addiction to methamphetamine. “I take full responsibility for my actions and deeply apologize to those I’ve offended or hurt. I also apologize to those indirectly impacted by these developments.” She says she has been clean and sober for over 7 ½ years and has learned “how to make amends when I’m wrong and to take complete accountability for my actions.” However, more recent tweets suggest Preston hasn’t entirely ditched her homophobia: “I’d beat the dog shit of
out you; furry slipper wearing ass fuck boy,” Preston tweeted on September 8, 2018. “IRL I’d smash your fucking head in like a can of A&W Root Beer–But ima fall back and let you keep pretending for the internet… dick rider.” LawandCrime notes that “Preston, a paid campaign surrogate who was previously criticized for not disclosing her ties to the campaign while appearing on The Young Turks, locked her Twitter account over the weekend and has since deleted many of the tweets in question–though several are still publicly available on Twitter.” The Los Angeles Blade has reached out to Preston and the Warren campaign for comment and will update this story as warranted.
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04 • OCTOBER 18, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
I’m a bullied Palm Springs teacher Even laws can’t protect against bias By ANONYMOUS (Editor’s note: Without enforcement, California’s progressive anti-discrimination laws are toothless, as illustrated by this teacher’s account. He asked for anonymity fearing retaliation) I locked myself in the bathroom stall, crying and afraid, not sure if I could go back out. This wasn’t a memory of when this happened in junior high and high school after being harassed and attacked for being gay, but now, as a teacher, in my 40s. How could this happen at work? I am writing this anonymously because I am still under duress at work. I have reported these situations to Human Resources and multiple people in the district seeking help and support, as well as local and national LGBTQ organizations. I am afraid of what is going to happen to my career, the safety of LGBTQ youth in our district, and the civil rights of my fellow LGBTQ teachers. At the end of 2016, I moved from the Midwest to San Diego for a new teaching position. While there, I was sent to training offered by GLSEN. Sitting in the training in the fall of 2017, I learned about the Fair Education Act, the School Success and Opportunity Act, and Seth’s Law. I felt empowered. I knew I needed to return to the classroom and be a visible role model to help decrease the staggering rates of suicides and homelessness for LGBTQIA youth. I remember sitting there, emotional, as I shared the bullying and harassment I experienced as a gay youth and my regret that I had not been an out and visible gay teacher for my students much sooner. My students at the time were 6-8th graders, mostly refugees from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. I had spent the last year with the majority of these students. I told my principal that my students would ask about my new engagement ring and I wouldn’t lie anymore as I had the past 20 years. I told her this was my time to share who I am with my students. My principal was incredibly supportive. Walking to my classroom, my students noticed my ring and shouted, “What’s her
The Blade granted the writer anonymity to ensure he could speak freely. Photo courtesy Anonymous
name?” This time, I said I would tell them all about it once inside the classroom. They took their seats and I said, “I have something
to share with you. I love you all and you matter a great deal to me, and I have been afraid to share this with you.”
As tears rolled down my face, I told them I was gay and I told them my fiancé’s name. At first, some of the students didn’t quite understand so the more advanced English speakers explained in Arabic and Farsi. Then the students started clapping, saying, “We love you! Don’t cry.” These students, some who had been shot, many who had lived in refugee camps, experienced the worst this world has to offer. They left repressive societies where LGBTQ people were often killed, beheaded, thrown off buildings or suffered other atrocities – and they embraced me with open arms. This beautiful experience gave me the confidence and strength to never go back in the closet professionally. I had come so far since my days growing up in North Dakota and Minnesota. In elementary school, a few kids started calling me “fem.” I wasn’t sure what that meant and finally asked a friend. He said I was like a girl and must like guys. I still really didn’t understand but knew it must be something bad. My world of fear began to form. In 6th grade, in junior high, I immediately got pegged as gay by a few kids. I learned quickly that being gay, or thought of as gay, was the worst possible thing that you could be, at least so I thought. By 7th grade, when I finally began to understand that I was gay, I became very depressed. I thought myself to be the only gay kid at my school. My grades dropped and the counselor pulled me into his office thinking I might have been doing drugs, but that was not the case. It was at this time I began to have thoughts of suicide. I also prayed each day that God would change me. In my freshman year, I got chased each day and shoved into lockers by a couple of guys, Brad and Jeff. I would hide in bathrooms, try to be the first to leave class, and rush to my next class, and would have to try and leave school early or late to avoid them. By 12th grade, after hearing daily that it is better to be dead than be gay, I attempted suicide for the first time. I went to my room, grabbed my dad’s handgun and placed the barrel in my mouth. As soon as the cold metal of the barrel hit my teeth, I began to cry and placed the gun on the ground. Continues on Page 10
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06 • OCTOBER 18, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Could Mayor Pete Buttigieg be the one? Gay presidential candidate handles questions of war and protest By KAREN OCAMB firstname.lastname@example.org The day after the fourth Democratic debate on Oct. 15 in Ohio, President Donald Trump sat in the Oval Office and praised his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Northern Syria as “strategically brilliant,” allowing Russian President Putin to mediate what Trump calls “a land dispute” between Syria and Turkey. “It’s not our problem,” said the embattled president who is facing an expanding impeachment inquiry. Others vehemently disagree as Trump’s shocking move gave Turkey the greenlight to launch a military invasion of Syria and start the ethnic cleansing of the Kurds, America’s former allies on the frontline in defeating ISIS. Even Trump fan Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said it is “dishonorable” to abandon America’s allies. But it was South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg—the gay presidential candidate who was deployed to Afghanistan serving under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”—who best responded to Trump’s unpatriotic “cut and run” depravity during the Democratic presidential debate, enabling viewers— especially those for whom military service is a sacred honor— to see the smart vet taking on Trump, the Vietnam War draft dodger. American “soldiers in the field are reporting that for the first time they feel ashamed -- ashamed -- of what their country has done. We saw the spectacle, the horrifying sight of a woman with the lifeless body of her child in her arms asking, what the hell happened to American leadership?” Buttigieg said, his face revealing pain and anger. “And when I was deployed, I knew one of the things keeping me safe was the fact that the flag on my shoulder represented a country known to keep its word. And our allies knew it and our enemies knew it. You take that away, you are taking away what makes America America,” Buttigieg said. “It is undermining the honor of our soldiers. You take away the honor of our soldiers, you might as well go after their body armor next. This president has betrayed
Mayor Pete Buttigieg faces TransLatin@ Coalition protesters Photo by Daniel Sliwa
American values. Our credibility has been tattered. I will restore U.S. credibility before it is finally too late.” Buttigieg’s campaign website crashed after the debate, which featured no LGBTQspecific questions other than one based on the friendship between Ellen DeGeneres and former President George W. Bush. The 37-year old candidate is counting on a win in the Iowa Caucuses to wipe away any lingering doubts, including among LGBTQ people, that an intellectual, moral, married gay guy from the industrial Midwest could win the Democratic nomination and defeat Donald Trump. Inspiration and turnout are key and Buttigieg has yet to inspire a number of Democratic demographic groups to break through into the top three tier. But he is trying. On Oct. 10, he was among nine Democratic candidates who took the stage at The Novo theatre in Los Angeles for the HRC/ CNN LGBTQ Town Hall attempting to woo LGBTQ voters he is not taking for granted.
According to overnight ratings the LGBTQ town hall was the most watched of all such CNN forums, and Buttigieg’s half hour drew the most viewers. Buttigieg and Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris put out comprehensive LGBTQ plans before the forum—Beto O’Rourke put out his LGBT plan last June— and numerous intersectional issues were addressed such as trans military service, HIV/AIDS, suicide and mental health, youth homelessness, gun violence and education and school safety, as well as civil rights and full equality under the Constitution. But despite the diversity among the questioners, there was a painful sense of the lack of urgency to the ongoing crisis of the murder and violence toward Black and Brown trans women. TransLatin@ Coalition founder Bamby Salcedo, along with Maria Roman-Taylorson, and and Michaé Pulido made the point by disrupting Buttigieg’s segment. “People are dying,” they yelled. “The reason we decided to do it when Pete Buttigieg was onstage is because he
is a member of the LGBT community and we wanted for him to see first-hand the violence where at least 20 trans women have been killed,” Salcedo told the Los Angeles Blade. “We needed to show him the importance of addressing the violence against trans women as a priority and to really make sure he understands what needs to happen in order for us to have a better life within our broader LGBT community and the broader society,” she said. “We wanted the national mainstream audience to get the broader message.” Gay CNN moderator Anderson Cooper was a little thrown but explained the disruption to the million-plus viewers. “Let me just point out there is a long and proud tradition and history in the gay, lesbian, and transgender community of protest and we applaud them for their protest,” Cooper said. “And they are absolutely right to be angry and upset at the lack of attention, particularly in the media, on the lives of transgendered....”
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • OCTOBER 18, 2019 • 07
After the protesters were led away, Buttigieg was asked his question but decided first to address what had just happened. “I do want to acknowledge what these demonstrators were speaking about, which is the epidemic of violence against black trans women in this country right now,” he said. “And I’m very mindful of the fact that my experience as a gay man, but as a white, cisgender gay man, means that there are dimensions, for example, of what it’s like to be a black trans woman that I do not personally understand.” Buttigieg then seemed to address the curious criticism that he is not gay enough. “But I also think the diversity within the LGBTQ+ community is part of what we have to offer right now. Our community, our country is so torn apart, we’re so fragmented, and here we have the LGBTQ+ world that is everywhere…. “And when somebody’s weighing whether to come out or just coming to terms with who they are, it’s really important for them to know that they’re going to be accepted,” he continued. “There is no right or wrong way to be gay, to be queer, to be trans. And I hope that our own community, even as we struggle to define what our identity means, defines it in a way that lets everybody know that they belong among us.” While all the candidates supported the Equality Act and vowed to end HIV/AIDS and conversion therapy, among other positive responses, Black trans activist Blossom C. Brown was still unhappy with what seemed to be CNN’s cultural incompetence in not specifically addressing the epidemic of Black trans murders. “Black trans women are being killed in this country. And CNN, you have erased black trans women for the last time. Let me tell you something. Black trans women are dying. Our lives matter,” Brown said, taking the microphone from Lizette Trujillo who, with her transgender son, was about to ask a question of former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke. “Blossom, let me tell you something. The reason that we’re here is to validate people like you. That is why we’re giving -- but that is why we’re here,” Black gay CNN moderator Don Lemon said, engaging in a long exchange. “We’re proud and happy that you’re here. Yes, but, remember, we’re under a time constraint. All right. Thank you, Blossom, and I appreciate it.” “Yeah, that’s how anti-Blackness works, amongst people of color. That’s what antiBlackness looks like, the erasure of Black trans people,” said Brown.
The passionate protests were akin to when Larry Kramer screamed about AIDS in the early days of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. HRC President Alphonso David later tweeted an apology for not being sensitive enough to the crisis in the Black trans community. Lesbians, bisexuals and non-binary people also decried the dearth of attention at a four-and-a-half hour town hall devoted to LGBTQ issues two days after the Supreme Court heard three job discrimination cases on whether the firing and harassment of an employee based on whether a worker’s sexual orientation or gender identity qualifies as sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. According to an Associated Press analysis, “a ruling that says the federal law doesn’t protect workers targeted because they’re gay or transgender could leave millions vulnerable in more than half of U.S. states.” The stakes are high for the LGBTQ community in the 2020 elections and Buttigieg is not a shoe-in simply because he’s gay. But self-identified LGBT voters were 6% of the electorate in the 2018 mid-term elections and cast more than 7 million ballots -- a turnout of roughly 70%, compared to a turnout of 50% among the general population. An analysis released Oct. 9 by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law based on a poll conducted with Reuters/ Ipsos of candidate preferences found that nearly 9 million LGBT adults are registered to vote, with half registered as Democrats, 15% registered as Republicans and 22% Independents and the remaining respondents picking another party or demurring on identifying one. Marketwatch, however, extrapolated that around 21% of LGBTQ adults are not registered to vote. With an estimated 11 million LGBTQ adults in America, that means there are roughly two million more LGBTQ adults still eligible for registration and voting in the 2020 election. Two million. And that’s not counting those who want to vote but are shut out or dissuaded or uninspired. Mayor Pete Buttigieg may have demonstrated that the gay guy is smart, strong and savvy enough to be the one Democrat capable of defeating Donald Trump but it won’t matter if LGBTQ people and their allies aren’t inspired and don’t turn out to vote for him or whoever the Democrats nominate as their standard bearer.
Trans protester Blossom C. Brown at HRC/CNN LGBTQ Town Hall Photo by Daniel Sliwa
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10 • OCTOBER 18, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Bullied Palm Springs teacher speaks out Continued from Page 4
Although I wasn’t successful, I tried twice more, the next times were by slitting my wrists and downing pills. I had to be hospitalized. During my college years, I decided to “suppress” my gayness and hopefully find a girl and get married. I mostly spent my 20s with a lot of self-hatred. Finally, after moving to California in 1999 for my first teaching job, I began to accept and embrace myself. Coming from North Dakota, I figured I could be fired for being gay, so I never shared who I was with my students. Even in California, I never taught with an open and visible LGBTQI teacher at the elementary or middle school level. The next 20 years passed by. In between, I went to farrier school in 2011 in Montana, moved to Oklahoma the same year and was
diagnosed with HIV in 2015. After San Diego, my fiancé and I decided to move to Palm Springs in the summer of 2018 so we could afford to buy a home. The area we moved to is internationally known to be a very accepting place for LGBTQ people so we had no worries. But three weeks into the school year, my new principal called me into his office during my lunch break. He began to immediately interrogate me as to why I had shared with my students that I was gay. He interrogated me for times and dates when I had shared this and repeatedly asked what my being gay has to do with the curriculum. I cannot describe the dark place this brought me. After my initial horror and shock, I told him that I have every right to share that I am gay, and have a fiancé, just as every straight person shares openly about their husband, wife, or kids. I left his office devastated, worried that my job was in jeopardy. I went back to my
table with my teammates, explaining what happened, then went to the bathroom and locked myself in the stall and cried, just as I had so many times back in junior high and high school. The bell rang and it was time to pick up my 4th graders. Back in the classroom, I decided to immediately call HR and let them know this happened and that I believed it to be illegal. Come Monday morning, I received an email from HR simply stating that the principal was simply doing his job and following up on a parent complaint. Being new to the district, and not having tenure, I felt powerless. I suffered through months of sometimes subtle, sometimes not so subtle harassment. I was able to switch schools for the 20192020 school year. While there are other LGBTQ teachers at my school, I am, once again, the only open and visible gay teacher. At my new school, I was placed in a
situation where I had to stand up for my students, some who were being denied food when they arrived late -- and most unbelievably, to ask that Christian Bible verses be stopped from being placed in our school mailbox every day. The Bible verses did not stop. I requested again that they stop, citing the Establishment Clause of the Constitution and how the Bible is often used to justify discrimination, hatred, and even death towards LGBTQIA. Since reporting these incidents, I have been bullied and harassed by both fellow teachers (who were upset the Bible verses stopped) and administrators. The majority of LGBTQIA teachers I have met in the district are afraid to be open and visible at work. They are afraid of reprisals from parents, their administrators, and the district. If we, as LGBTQIA adults do not feel safe in Palm Springs, can you imagine how LGBTQIA youth feel in our district?
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • OCTOBER 18, 2019 • 11
Maria Roman-Taylorson and Bamby Salcedo
CONGREGATION KOL AMI LAUNCHES JEWISH DOCUMENTARY SERIES
Photo by Karen Ocamb
Bamby Salcedo entered her QueenCiañera at LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes like a Queen, borne aloft by four scantily clad men as 49 rose-bearing, rose gold-adorned sisters waited to honor the nationally recognized trans activist superstar on her 50th birthday. The grand Oct. 12 celebration, emceed by her dear friend and former mentor, Maria Roman-Taylorson, came just two days after Salcedo, Roman-Taylorson, and and Michaé Pulido representing the TransLatin@ Coalition disrupted the HRC/CNN Equality Town Hall to draw attention to the violence and murders of trans women. “The reason we decided to do it when Pete Buttigieg was onstage is because he is a member of the LGBT community and we wanted for him to see first-hand the violence where at least 20 trans women have been killed,” Salcedo told the Los Angeles Blade. “We needed to show him the importance of addressing the violence against trans women as a priority and to really make sure he understands what needs to happen in order for us to have better life within our broader LGBT community and the broader society,” she said. “We wanted the national mainstream audience to get the broader message.” Salcedo also noted how roughly they were treated by security. “The way security handled us was inappropriate, even violent, simply because we were trans women,” Salcedo said. “Honestly, I think law enforcement has the mentality to be rough toward trans women, period. That has to change.” - KAREN OCAMB
“The driver swerved…I saw headlights and the next thing I knew I was hitting a tree that was next to me.”
- Drag performer Sasha Markgraf to CBS2/LA Oct. 9 about being hit by a car after leaving night spot Flaming Saddles in West Hollywood.
“To those of you who are mad at me: please forgive me. To those of you who wonder if you failed me: you didn’t. To those of you feel like I failed you: I did and I’m sorry and I hope you’ll remember me in better times and better light.” - San Francisco-based transgender activist, comedian and actress Daphne Dorman in a Facebook post before dying by suicide on Oct. 11.
“David, you guys, along with several women like Marylouise Oates, saved an entire generation. People who didn’t live through it will never understand. Thank you.” – Longtime out reporter Hank Plante to longtime gay and peace activist David Mixner on the 50th Anniversary of the historic Oct. 15, 1969 Vietnam Moratorium Committee organized by Mixner, Sam Brown, David Hawk and Marge Sklencar, on Facebook.
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 23 7:30 PM TO 9:30 PM Join us for screenings of feature documentary films on Jewish topics! These DocJewmentariesTM have been carefully selected to cultivate conversation and spark our curiosity. Tickets for the general public are $18 per film or $80 for the entire series. To RSVP, please visit our website at kol-ami.org/docjewmentary. Congregation Kol Ami is located at 1200 N. La Brea Avenue, West Hollywood, CA 90038.
October 23, 2019: Rosenwald November 13, 2019: Jews in Blue and Gray December 18, 2019: Dreaming of a Jewish Christmas February 12, 2020: Body and Soul: An American Bridge April 22, 2020: Who Will Write Our History? May 20, 2020: The Museum
12 • OCTOBER 18, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Buttigieg delivers forceful debate performance Clashes over health care, guns, war in Syria By CHRIS JOHNSON South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg delivered a forceful performance during the Democratic debate Tuesday night, demonstrating a rare knack for both rising above the fray and engaging in it. The contradictory — but effective — approach from the gay candidate during the debate in Westerville, Ohio, was seen in particular toward the end when Joseph Biden and Elizabeth Warren were quarreling. Buttigieg responded, “For every argument that I’ve witnessed like this I could pay for college for everybody,” then knocked Biden for calling President Trump an “aberration” and accused Warren of fostering “inﬁnite partisan combat.” “We have to ﬁght for the big changes at hand,” Buttigieg added. “But it’s going to take more than ﬁghting. Once again, I want to take you back to that day after Trump has stopped being president. Think about what the president can do to unify a new American majority for some of the boldest things we’ve attempted in my lifetime: Medicare for All Who Want It, actually getting something done on immigration for the ﬁrst time since the 80s, an assault weapons ban, which would be a huge deal, making college free for low and middle income students. Yet there’s some here on this stage who say it doesn’t count unless we go even further.” At other times during the evening, Buttigieg engaged with his competitors for the Democratic nomination with a ferocity that showed the passion of his beliefs and desire to build a consensus to get things done. When Buttigieg was asked about Beto O’Rourke’s proposed mandatory buyback for assault weapons, he said the plan was insufficiently ﬂeshed out at a time when action is needed. “We can’t wait,” Buttigieg said. “People are dying in the streets right now. We can’t wait for universal background checks that we ﬁnally have a shot to actually get through. We can’t wait to ban the sale of new weapons and high-capacity magazines so we don’t wind up with millions more of these things on the street. We can’t wait for red ﬂag laws that are going to disarm domestic abusers and prevent suicides, which are not being talked about nearly enough as a huge part of the gun violence epidemic in this country. We cannot wait for purity tests. We have to just get something
Pete Buttigieg (left) delivered a strong debate performance on Tuesday (pictured with Andrew Yang, center, and Beto O’Rourke). Photo via CNN
done.” O’Rourke responded his plan was “not a purity test” and those other proposals aren’t mutually exclusive from his plan, but Buttigieg would have none of it. “I don’t need lessons from you on courage, political or personal,” Buttigieg said. “Everyone on this stage is determined to get something done. Everyone on this stage recognizes, or at least I thought we did, that the problem is not other Democrats who don’t agree with your particular idea of how to handle this. The problem is the National Riﬂe Association and their enablers in Congress, and we should be united in taking the ﬁght to them.” Amid an unfolding crisis in Syria after President Trump green-lit an invasion by Turkey, Buttigieg also came out on top in an exchange with Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. Gabbard, who has called for an end to “regime change wars,” urged the audience to “understand the reality” the situation is the result of American presence in the region. Channeling bipartisan anger over the worsening situation, Buttigieg said the only reality was Trump’s failure. “Well, respectfully, Congresswoman, I think that is dead wrong,” Buttigieg said. “The slaughter going on in Syria is not a consequence of American presence. It’s a consequence of a withdrawal and a betrayal by this president of American allies and American values.”
Buttigieg, who has also called for an end to endless war, said he didn’t think the Iraq war was right in the ﬁrst place and the time has come to leave Afghanistan, but the small number of U.S. special operations units in Syria were keeping peace in the region. “Meanwhile, soldiers in the ﬁeld are reporting that for the ﬁrst time they feel ashamed — ashamed — of what their country has done,” Buttigieg said. “We saw the spectacle, the horrifying sight of a woman with the lifeless body of her child in her arms asking, what the hell happened to American leadership? And when I was deployed, I knew one of the things keeping me safe was the fact that the ﬂag on my shoulder represented a country known to keep its word. And our allies knew it and our enemies knew it. You take that away, you are taking away what makes America America.” Gabbard responded Buttigieg was supporting U.S. presence in Syria for “an indeﬁnite period.” That presence, Gabbard said, has caused refugees to ﬂee Syria, undermined U.S. national security and fostered terrorist groups in the Middle East. Buttigieg’s response: That’s Trumpian. “You can put an end to endless war without embracing Donald Trump’s policy, as you’re doing,” Buttigieg said. Gabbard continued to interject about endless war, but Buttigieg kept with the refrain about the United States keeping its word. “Part of what makes it possible for the United
States to get people to put their lives on the line to back us up is the idea that we will back them up, too,” Buttigieg said. “When I was deployed, not just the Afghan National Army forces, but the janitors put their lives on the line just by working with U.S. forces. I would have a hard time today looking an Afghan civilian or soldier in the eye after what just happened over there. And it is undermining the honor of our soldiers. You take away the honor of our soldiers, you might as well go after their body armor next. This president has betrayed American values. Our credibility has been tattered.” In contrast to Buttigieg, Warren and Biden — the two frontrunners in the Democratic primary — didn’t have as good a night. Warren faced heavy questioning on whether her plan for Medicare for All would result in a middle class tax hike and didn’t provide a deﬁnite answer, while Biden was on defense following an interview his son Hunter Biden did on “Good Morning America” in which he admitted he shouldn’t have been on the board of a Ukrainian gas company. A recent poll in Iowa that showed big gains for Buttigieg may be responsible for bolstering his debate performance. A CBS News poll revealed he has support from 14 percent of Iowa Democrats, which puts him in striking distance of Biden and Warren, who were at 22 percent, and Bernie Sanders, who was at 21 percent. For Buttigieg, that’s a growth of seven percentage points since September. No mention of LGBT issues came up during the debate. (The exception being a question that referenced the controversial friendship revealed last week between Ellen DeGeneres and George W. Bush). Kasey Suffredini, incoming CEO of Freedom for All Americans, said in a statement last week debate moderators missed an opportunity to discuss the Equality Act. “Just one week after the Supreme Court heard arguments in three LGBTQ workplace discrimination cases – in which the court will decide whether to make it legal to ﬁre LGBTQ workers just because of who they are – it was disappointing to hear no mention during tonight’s debate of the Equality Act, which would provide express and enduring nondiscrimination protections for all LGBTQ Americans in all areas of daily life,” Suffredini said. “With nearly two-thirds of LGBTQ Americans reporting having faced some kind of discrimination just because of who they are, and 70 percent of Americans from all walks of life supporting nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people, the time to act is now.”
14 • OCTOBER 18, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Ugandan official says no plan to bring back ‘Kill the Gays’ bill
Ernesto Muyshondt Photo via Facebook
San Salvador mayor talks marriage equality during D.C. visit The mayor of El Salvador’s capital talked about marriage equality in his country during a visit to D.C. earlier this month. El Tiempo Latino, a Spanish-language newspaper in D.C., asked Ernesto Muyshondt about the issue during an Oct. 2 interview. Muyshondt said he is not reluctant to talk about it within his Republican Nationalist Alliance (ARENA) party. Muyshondt nevertheless called out ultra-conservatives and other ARENA members who do not support the issue, especially given they put it and abortion on the same line with the LGBTI community’s rights. “I think that these issues can be debated openly; we have to respect the rights of other people,” declared the San Salvador mayor. “The right to life is the main human right and I think that ARENA should be a pro-life party. From there the freedom of every person to live their sexual orientation and preference, etc., should also be respected.” LGBT activists in El Salvador, for their part, have welcomed Muyshondt’s comments. “We have heard over the last few months a very important position on his part in relation to respect and people’s dignity and respect for making free decisions. And in this case, he has been very sincere and open to talking about the right to decide in relation to his reference to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community,” William Hernández, director of Asociación Entre Amigos, told the Washington Blade. Hernández also said Muyshondt’s office supported San Salvador’s annual Pride parade this year. “The mayor’s office was represented, even though he could not attend,” said Hernández. “He issued permits and the mayor’s office allowed the event to take place.” “To have people like Mayor Muyshondt talk about civil marriage equality is already a great step forward, because the issue has been tied to a party that has been historically ultra-conservative for years,” Karla Guevara, executive director of Colectivo Alejandría, told the Blade. “We know there are still many people who resist the recognition of LGBT people’s rights, especially marriage equality for gay and lesbians as with the issue of a gender identity law for trans men and women.” ERNESTO VALLE
A spokesperson for the Ugandan government says it will not reintroduce a bill that would impose the death penalty for anyone found guilty of homosexuality. “Government hereby clarifies that it does not intend to introduce any new law with regards to the regulation of LGBT activities in Uganda because the current provisions in the penal code are sufficient,” tweeted Ofwono Opondo on Oct. 12. Opondo’s comments came a day after Ethics and Integrity Minister Simon Lokodo spoke with the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “Homosexuality is not natural to Ugandans, but there has been a massive recruitment by gay people in schools, and especially among the youth, where they are promoting the falsehood that people are born like that,” said Lokodo. Uganda is among the countries in which consensual same-sex sexual relations remain criminalized. Lokodo nevertheless said his country’s “current penal law is limited.” “It only criminalizes the act,” he told Thomson Reuters. “We want it made clear that anyone who is even involved in promotion and recruitment has to be criminalized. Those that do grave acts will be given the death sentence.” President Yoweri Museveni in 2014 signed Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act, which imposed a life sentence upon anyone found guilty of repeated samesex sexual acts. The law was known as the “Kill the Gays” bill because it once contained a death penalty provision. The Obama administration after Museveni signed the law cut U.S. aid to Uganda and imposed a travel ban against officials who carried out human rights abuses. Uganda’s Constitutional Court later struck down the Anti-Homosexuality Act on a technicality. MICHAEL K. LAVERS
ICE appeals asylum ruling for Blade writer An immigration judge’s ruling that granted asylum to a Washington Blade contributor from Cuba has been appealed. Judge Timothy Cole on Sept. 18 granted asylum to Yariel Valdés González, who suffered persecution in his homeland because he is a journalist. ICE reserved the right to appeal Cole’s ruling within 30 days. Lara Nochomovitz, Valdés’ lawyer, last week told the Blade that ICE appealed the decision. Valdés, 29, entered the U.S. on March 27 through the Calexico West Port of Entry between California’s Imperial Valley and Mexicali, Mexico. ICE on May 3 transferred Valdés to the Bossier Parish Medium Security Facility in Plain Dealing, La., from the
Tallahatchee County Correctional Facility in Tutwiler, Miss. The Associated Press on Wednesday reported roughly 8,000 of the 51,000 people who are currently in ICE custody are in Louisiana. Valdés throughout his detention has documented the conditions in which he and his fellow detainees are being held. The Miami Herald and Diario las Américas, a Miami-based Spanish-language newspaper, are among the other media outlets that have covered Valdés’ case. “It was a big blow to receive this news, because I thought the end to this more than six-month long battle was coming to an end,” Valdés told the Blade on Thursday in a statement. The Cuban government since the beginning of this year has increased its persecution of independent journalists. Roberto Quiñones, a reporter for CubaNet, a Miamibased website that covers Cuba, on Sept. 11 began to serve a year-long jail sentence after authorities in April arrested him while covering a trial in the city of Guantánamo in eastern Cuba. Authorities on May 8 arrested Luz Escobar, a reporter for 14ymedio, an independent website founded by Yoani Sánchez, a prominent critic of the Cuban government, as she tried to interview survivors of a freak tornado that tore through parts of Havana in January. The Cuban government on the eve of the Feb. 24 referendum on the country’s new constitution blocked access to the website of Tremenda Nota, the Blade’s media partner on the island to which Valdés contributes. Cuban authorities on May 8, the same day when Escobar was arrested, did not allow this reporter into the country after his flight from Miami landed at Havana’s José Martí International Airport. Valdés told the Blade after Cole granted him asylum in the U.S. that he hopes he “can start my life over in this country.” Valdés on Thursday reiterated this point, while noting the Cuban government will continue to persecute him if he returns to Cuba. “My fear of being returned to Cuba, where the only thing waiting for me is more repression because of my work as an independent journalist, has returned,” said Valdés. “I came to this country looking for the freedom that I never had and for an end to the Cuban dictatorship’s abuses against me, and it is because of this that I intend to remain strong and keep fighting.” “I am confident that justice will be done soon, because I am in the most democratic country in the world,” he added. “I only ask those who have this decision in their hands for their most profound understanding and help. What I want the most now is to hug my family and friends who have supported me so much during this process. I hope that this great country will give me a definitive welcome soon.” ICE and the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the agency, have not returned the Blade’s request for comment. MICHAEL K. LAVERS
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16 • OCTOBER 18, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
VOLUME 03 ISSUE 42
LGBTQ community needs more advocates like Kamala Harris Prop 8 plaintiff recalls attorney general officiating her marriage
Kris Perry was a plaintiff in efforts to win marriage equality; she and Sandy Stier became the first same-sex couple to legally wed in California since Prop 8.
I met Sandy Stier while attending a computer class in 2000. She was the instructor and I, a very attentive student. We became good friends, then fell in love and pledged to spend the rest of our lives together. Our dream was realized when we were able to legally marry in San Francisco in 2004. Later that year, we again exchanged wedding vows in front of family and friends, our four sons at our side, and looked forward to a blended family and a happy marriage. In just a few short weeks, the California Supreme Court voided 3,955 same-sex marriages, including ours. Months later, Proposition 8 passed and constitutionally banned same-sex marriage in the state. With the support of our sons, we made a difficult decision: to embark on a lengthy legal battle for marriage equality, suing the state we loved so much for the right to be married. We testified as witnesses at the Ninth District Court and wound our way through multiple appeals until we finally sat before the Supreme Court of the United States. It was clear that the homophobic ban on same-sex marriage was in violation of millions of Americans’ right to due process and equal protection under the Fourteenth
Kamala Harris Blade file photo by Michael Key
Amendment. We sued for our right to marry, and on June 26, 2013, we won. Two days later, the courts officially lifted the ban and we became the first same-sex couple in California to legally wed since the enactment of Proposition 8. Our wedding was officiated by then-Attorney General Kamala Harris, who blessed our marriage with joy and celebrated our newly-won justice. As we continue to celebrate the progress the LGBTQ+ community has made in this country, Sandy and I celebrate the allies who made our journey possible. Kamala Harris has always been a fierce advocate of the LGBTQ+ community. She was there every step of the way as we fought for our
constitutional right to marry. As attorney general, she refused to defend the ban on gay marriage and worked tirelessly to support marriage equality. She led the way to fight the status quo, long before it was politically convenient or popular, and officiated many of the first same-sex marriages in the country. She advocated for inclusion and justice for the transgender community and led the way in ensuring safety for our LGBTQ+ neighbors. While we have had victories, there is still so much to do. LGBTQ+ youth are five times as likely to have attempted suicide and black trans women are particularly at risk . A significant majority have experienced harassment and discrimination because of who they love. The Trump Administration has relentlessly rolled back protections for the LGBTQ+ community, gutting protections for trans people in homeless shelters and preventing them from serving their country in our Armed Forces. His brutal attacks on the LGBTQ+ community are not only unjust, they’re un-American. Kamala Harris understands the work that lies ahead. As president, she will pass the Equality Act to protect the LGBTQ+ community from discrimination in all aspects of life. She will undo the regressive changes made by the Trump Administration, protect LGBTQ+ rights to participate in federal programs, and appoint an Attorney General who will prioritize the prosecution of hate crimes. Sandy and I are happily married today because of the collective actions of countless Americans who believed in fighting for what was right rather than what was politically convenient. It is this sort of principled activism that always has and always will move America forward. We deserve a president who remains clear-eyed in the face of political adversity and never backs down in the fight for justice. We deserve a president who personifies the principles of honesty, equality, and persistence. Kamala Harris is that president.
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LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • OCTOBER 18, 2019 • 17
Missing: Lesbians at the CNN LGBT Town Hall Omission a strategic political error
Karla Jay, Ph.D., is professor Emerita of English and Women’s & Gender Studies at Pace University in New York. She is the award-winning author of 10 books, an early member of both the Gay Liberation Front (1969), and a co-founder of Radicalesbians (The Lavender Menace, 1970). (Photo courtesy Jay)
When the CNN/HRC televised LGBT Town Hall ended at midnight on the East Coast, I felt more like I had survived an entire Jerry Lewis Telethon for Muscular Dystrophy (OK, this dates me) rather than an informative interchange between Democratic candidates and a lively audience. When I unscientifically polled “Friends” on Facebook afterwards,
not one of perhaps 700 lesbians admitted to having watched the event. My bluest of the blue lesbian friends visiting from Florida confessed that they had fallen asleep not far in. But it wasn’t Lesbian Nation’s fault for conking out at the remote when HRC’s questions totally ignored us. I was prepared to count mentions of the L-word, but not a single question pertained specifically to my community! The preselected questioners identified themselves as gay men, transsexuals, or parents of an LGBT child. Most of the women identified themselves as “health care workers.” Toward the end, asking about medical coverage for her spouse, one woman referred to herself and her wife, and there was one bisexual and one nonbinary person. While two openly gay men (Anderson Cooper and Don Lemon) were among the moderators, there was no lesbian or transgender presence on the stage. Instead, the viewers were treated to Chris Cuomo, who didn’t seem to understand a current protocol that Sen. Kamala Harris was adhering to when she introduced herself by her gender pronouns “she/her/hers.” “Mine, too,” he quipped inappropriately to no laughs. Was no out lesbian, inside or outside of
CNN, available for the evening? Everyone would have been so much better off with political writer Masha Gesen or “Gay USA”s co-host Ann Northrop. It is also time for a trans moderator— could the talented Laverne Cox not be trusted to read the cue cards or monitor? For some reason, the general public and even many gay men seem to think that lesbians have no specific issues except to worry about which half of a couple will get custody of the cat after a divorce, who will win the lesbian softball tournament, and what should be brought to the vegan potluck. However, not being seen is not the same as being well off or content. Since women generally live longer than men and the ravages HIV took the lives of so many more gay men than women, being old is one issue more lesbians face. There is even an organization called Old Lesbians Organizing for Change (OLOC) and no national equivalent for aging gay men or trans individuals. Not one question or candidate addressed HR1777, the Ruth and Connie Elder Americans Act of 2019. “To amend the Older Americans Act of 1965 to provide equal treatment of LGBT older individuals, and for other purposes.”
Our elders are a “vulnerable population,” often subject to abuse and denial of services, sometimes in the name of religion. Samesex couples have been separated when seeking assisted living or when entering homeless shelters. Queer elders have been abused in nursing homes by staff and other patients when their identity is known. Family leave was addressed during the Town Hall, but not the issues lesbians in particular have in terms of creating families. Both couples and single lesbians are often concerned about reproductive equality, access to alternative insemination in every state, and justice for both biological and nonbiological parents in the event of a separation or divorce. The number of lesbians is actually fairly equal to that of gay men. According to The Washington Post, there are 5.5 million lesbians in the United States—most of them presumably of voting age. The robust lesbian communities in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania could turn those states blue. Reaching out to lesbians is an uncomplicated strategy that could pay big dividends. But suggesting by omission that our lives don’t matter is a strategic error.
Photo courtesy GMCLA
Fred & Jason’s Halloweenie goes to hell, for good More tricks than you could ever treat yourself to By SCOTT STIFFLER
Far more fun than merely writing a check, and more spine-tinglingly interactive than some wishy-washy, web-based ice bucket challenge, Fred & Jason’s annual gay Halloween fundraiser (aka “The Party with a Purpose”) presents charity-minded patrons with a frighteningly fabulous, insanely immersive flight of fancy, where all comers partake in all manner of drop-dead sexy goings-on. Past iterations have seen more whimsical offerings, such as a “Wizard of Oz” environment. But with a monster in the oval office and a roguish roster of black-robed Supremes contemplating a witches’ brew of regressive rulings, Fred Arens says the theme for this 14th annual Halloweenie was based on “what’s going on in the community, and the world. When Jason and I think of themes for the event every year, it’s a visceral response to how we feel about the state of affairs.” Given the tone set by our current presidential administration, says Fred, “We’re all feeling a little fed up, like, ‘Let’s show what we’re about. We’re not going to stand here idly.’ ” Of this year’s theme, “Raise a Little Hell,” Fred assures, “Yeah. We’re raising hell—but we’re gonna do it in a fun way.” That’s the promise of what awaits Oct. 25, as
the entrance to the Belasco Theater serves as a powerful portal, past which a night in Lucifer’s playground is yours for the taking. Two dance floors, photo experiences, drinks, food, live performances, and the “dead sexiest crowd of demons, gargoyles and golems you’ll ever see” are all on deck. It’s a world away from the event’s humble 2005 origin, when Fred & Jason hosted Halloweenie’s first iteration as a backyard gathering. “The party started in our home,” recalls Fred. “What inspired us to do it as a benefit was, we went to a cocktail party put on by the [Los Angeles LGBT] Center, and we saw the work they were doing with youth.” One of the Center’s beneficiaries spoke about how the staff found him on the street, and gave him support. “He announced to everybody that he just got accepted into UCLA. That was the moment we said, ‘That’s what we’re going to do [with Halloweenie].’ We gave the money to the Center, and did that for six years after.” By the fourth year, the public’s appetite for Halloweenie grew past what their home could accommodate—and interest grew again, after receiving international attention when the event took place in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. From there, it took over the sound stage used by “True Blood,” a pivotal point at
which current beneficiary Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles [GMCLA] came onto the scene. “We felt we really wanted to get to the kids before they were on the street,” recalls Fred, “before they felt desperate. The Chorus was trying to get to kids, to say, “It gets better. We’re representations of what it’s like to be healthy, gay adults.’ ” “We’ve always been very tied to our community,” says Jason Duguay, “so when we heard about GMCLA’s Youth Outreach programs, we were connected to that. Because they visit all the LA county high schools, to do preventative work.” GMCLA executive director Lou Spisto has known Fred and Jason “since 2015, when I was a board member. They’re members of our board, and very generous with their time and effort.” GMCLA’s Youth Outreach programming includes the Alive Music Project, which Spisto notes “has been going on for well over a decade. We bring our members into the schools, and work with the students, in some cases performing with them,” in an effort not just to spread GMCLA’s love of music, but to “provide them with an opportunity to learn about the community we represent. So we offer students an opportunity to learn about
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Photo courtesy GMCLA
resources they may be looking for, if indeed these kids are dealing with homophobia or discrimination. We provide them with a framework to reach those services.” Another element of GMCLA’s youth programming occurs in conjunction with the Arts for Incarcerated Youth Network. “We go into detention centers, juvenile halls and, in some cases, prisons,” says Spisto, “and we train them in music. We bring our own teaching artists. It’s something we’re very proud of.” Having Halloweenie proceeds directed toward these two programs, Spisto says, “frees up our ability to support our primary concert programming, and the other work we do. We’re always performing at community events in Los Angeles, for free in most cases.” What Fred & Jason have done, says Spisto, “is remarkable. Not simply for the magnitude of support, but the amount of effort that goes into producing this event. It really does become a second job for them, and I’m incredibly proud that it has brought them into our leadership circle. As for what Fred & Jason will be bringing to the 2019 Halloweenie circle, the bar has been set high indeed. “This is our third year in the Belasco,” notes Jason, “and we know the gays are fickle. We
need to use the space differently. Kevin Huvane [a managing partner of Creative Artists Agency], our sponsor for the event, said, without blinking an eye, ‘Okay, boys, I got your back. Do what you want to.’ So we have a higher level of production than ever before. We’ll be creating moments for our guests throughout the night.” The first moment occurs in the main lobby, where longtime production designer Chuck Alexander assures guests will thrill to a Lucifer’s playground populated by demons, devils, and one exceptionally horny (as in, sporting massive horns) muscle boy. “That sets the tone for the night,” says Jason, who notes The Scenario Studio, underwritten by Anawalt Lumber, will return once again to the downstairs area, where “people are able to go, for their takeaway photo of the night. It’s a school detention room set in hell.” When the doors open and the dancing begins, those not inclined to boogie down will, Jason says, find in the mezzanine area previously used as a hall of horrors, a poker tournament. Proceeds, of course, are mainlined into the event’s charitable arm, but “at the end of the night, you can cash your winnings in for some great prizes,” courtesy of many promoters with whom Halloweenie is actually competing with that night.
“We have an incredible amount of volunteers” on the ground and behind the scenes, says Jason, “and for the entertainment, we have DJ Blacklow and DJ Dawna Montell, wonderful friends who have been doing this for us for many years. DJ GSP is flying in from Greece, and we have, co-headlining, DJ Isis Muretech, from Guadalajara.” Creative costuming, Fred and Jason note, is as competitive as it is compulsory. One year, recalls Fred, “our friends Greg and Rob came as the main characters from ‘Misery.’ One pretended to be in a bed, the other would carry around a sledgehammer and hobble the guy throughout the evening.” Not to be outdone, Jason recalls, “One year, a man was literally a box of wine. There was this massive cardboard box, and a spigot. He walked around the party, pouring wine for people. Another guy came as a joint. The top of his head had dry ice, like it was smoking.” “I mean, this is the gay community were talking about,” says Fred, “so they always take things to the next level.” Halloweenie 2019 happens Fri., Oct. 25, 8 PM to 3 AM at the Belasco Theater (1020 Hill Street, Los Angeles). Visit halloweenie.com for more information or to purchase tickets (including perk-packed VIP tix).
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20 • OCTOBER 18, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Ellen was right to socialize with Bush We need to interact with diﬀerent-minded people By BILLY MASTERS
This image of Ellen with W. sent Twitter into a tizzy.
Visit www.squirt.org to hook up today
“There is no right or wrong way to be gay, to be queer, to be trans, and I hope that our community, even as we struggle to deﬁne what our identity means, deﬁnes it in a way that lets everybody know that they belong among us.” — Pete Buttigieg at the recent Equality Town Hall responding to cries of “trans lives matter” and “trans people are dying”. Have I gone insane? Or has the world? It’s really a toss-up. Perhaps we’ll ﬁgure it out by the end of this column, which you can read in its entirety on BillyMasters. com. First, let’s look at CNN’s Equality Town Hall. There weren’t many surprises. Thank God for good ol’ reliable Joe. First, Biden almost made a startling revelation by saying, “When I came out...”. He quickly realized how that sounded, laughed, and put his arm around Anderson Cooper saying, “I’ve got something to tell you.” Cooper responded, “I kinda ﬁgured it out a while ago.” Then, Biden rattled on and on: “Back 15, 20 years ago in San Francisco was all about gay...gay bath houses. It’s all about around-the-clock sex. It’s all...come on, man. Gay couples are more likely to stay together longer than heterosexual couples.” And if you think that’s bad, you should have seen him in the swimsuit competition! Alright, I admit it. I’ve had my share of around-the-clock sex orgies in San Francisco 15, 20 years ago. I’ve also had them 15, 20 days ago. But, I’m a bad example - I’ve had around-the-clock sex orgies at the Vatican. I hate to point this out to Joe, but bathhouses in San Francisco closed in 1984. You’d have thought the LGBTQ topic would be right up Pete Buttigieg’s alley, so to speak. But based on performance alone, all hail Queen Warren. Her quip, while not phrased in a particularly presidential way, certainly seemed the right response during the Trump era. Still, I really missed Bernie. He could have told us about gay bars during Prohibition. This leads perfectly into the Ellen DeGeneres debacle. Many people were horriﬁed after she was seen sitting next to George W. Bush in the Dallas Cowboys VIP suite. Their seating was happenstance — Ellen and Portia were invited by Charlotte Jones, the daughter of the Cowboys owner. The more militant members of our community feel she should have protested, walked out, or done something other than spend time with a man who tried to block gay marriage, went into needless wars, and did other horriﬁc things. Instead, Ellen stayed and socialized. She said, “I’m friends with George Bush. In fact, I’m friends with a lot of people who don’t share the same beliefs that I have. We’re all diﬀerent. And I think we’ve forgotten that that’s OK that we’re all diﬀerent.” I was reminded of when Barbra Streisand received the Kennedy Center Honor in 2008 during the presidency of George W. Bush. She could have turned it down. She didn’t. The honor is selected by an independent committee. So, like Ellen, Barbra was invited to something that thrust her into contact with the president. Although, unlike Ellen, Babs was careful not to be photographed anywhere near Bush. Streisand later wrote about the experience: “I have never met George W. Bush, but for the past eight years I have been blogging about him and his administration on my website. I have relayed my frustration at the direction he has taken our country in no uncertain terms. So it was just as surprising to me as it apparently was to the press that upon meeting President Bush and extending my hand to him, he said to me, ‘Aw, c’mon, gimme a hug and kiss.’ And then he proceeded to embrace me. I must say, I found him very warm and completely disarming...even though I think perhaps he was kissing me hello as I was kissing him goodbye...I guess in some small way, he and I proved that we could agree to disagree, and, for that weekend, art transcended politics.” Here’s what I think - people are never one thing. If I stopped talking to friends with views or actions or traits that I disagree with, I’d have no friends. Interacting with diﬀerent-minded people leads not only to many spirited debates and conversations, but also to broader understanding of another point of view. As gay people, how many times have we asked, “Why does one part of my life that you don’t understand or agree with deﬁne me and scare you?” We look for acceptance, so it’s hard to argue not accepting others. I don’t expect to sit down with Bush anytime soon, but I’m sure I’d ﬁnd him charming. I may end up liking him more than Ellen, who I ﬁnd....well, you know. Continues at losangelesblade.com
Starry Skies With Scattered Sequins. Follow @WeHoCity for alerts on all spectacles from Russian songs to Carnaval thongs.
Halloween Carnaval & Russian Cultural Festival
City of West Hollywood California 1984
22 • OCTOBER 18, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Blade’s 50-year history reflects struggles, advances of LGBT community ‘Paper of record’ chronicled police entrapment and blackmail, AIDS epidemic, marriage By LOU CHIBBARO JR.
Reporter Lou Chibbaro Jr. (second from left) in a meeting with fellow Blade staff, including editor Lisa Keen (third from left).
In its 50-year history, the Washington Blade — the sister paper of the Los Angeles Blade — has covered news for the LGBT community that has reflected dramatic advances as well as struggles ranging from workplace discrimination and attempts at blackmail to the AIDS epidemic and the achievement of marriage equality, establishing the Blade’s reputation as the LGBT newspaper of record. In its very first issue in October of 1969 as a one-page monthly newsletter called “The Gay Blade,” the paper reported on the 1960s era fear of blackmail and the possibility of being fired from a government job because of one’s sexual orientation. “Warning to Dupont Circle people,” the first issue states in its third story. “Cars seen too frequently in the Circle area are having their license numbers taken down; their owners later are being harassed and blackmailed.” That same first issue included articles on pioneering gay rights activist Frank Kameny being available to provide help for gays or lesbians subjected to a security check by their employer, the formation of the Gay Liberation Front in New York City, and the launching by the Gay Blade of a gay roommate referral service. Fifty years later, the now weekly Washington Blade has a correspondent accredited to cover the White House and presidential news conferences and an editor-reporter who frequently travels abroad to cover international LGBT news. Since September 1995, the Blade has been available online through its website, enabling it to publish breaking LGBT news on a daily and even an hourly basis. The Blade’s founding editors in October 1969 were Nancy Tucker, a lesbian, and Bart Wenger, a gay man who at the time went by the name Art Stone. Both had been members of the Mattachine Society of Washington, the first D.C. gay rights organization of note co-founded by Kameny. Tucker and Wenger have said in subsequent years that although they supported the work of the Mattachine Society, they wanted to launch, four months after the Stonewall riots in New York, an independent news publication to provide needed information for D.C.’s then fledgling gay rights movement. It was Kameny, Tucker told the Blade years later, who convinced her to help produce the new publication. “It filled a clear need right from the get-go – and it has been that way ever since,” Kameny recalled in an October 2009 interview with the Washington Blade, two years before his passing in 2011. Tucker, who later moved to Albuquerque, N.M., has said several people were involved in producing the Blade’s first issue, including Martha Taylor, her partner at the time, who operated a mimeograph machine that printed the first 500 copies of the paper. But she said many of the people that helped produce and distribute the first issue and the next few issues withdrew from participation a short time later, leaving only a small “staff,” all of whom were volunteers. “It eventually came down to my doing all of the writing, most of the news work, some of the distribution, all of the advertising selling – and Bart did some of the distribution and let me know what news tips that he came up with,” Tucker said. She said she knew the Blade was becoming influential
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • OCTOBER 18, 2019 • 23
because LGBT people were using the Blade to publicize the activities of their organizations or businesses. “I have a profound belief that it contributed to really the creation of the gay community in Washington,” Tucker said. “It helped publicize various bars and businesses and stuff as they opened.” In July 1973, Tucker announced she was stepping down from her role as editor and publisher of the Blade and issued a call for interested parties to assume control of the then newsletter. Lesbian activist Pat Price, who used the pseudonym Pat Kolar, answered that call and became the new editor and publisher. Although she and others who began to write for the Blade used pseudonyms, their names appearing in the paper marked the first time stories contained bylines. A little over one year later in November 1974 the Blade ended its newsletter size page and began publishing as a standard tabloid format on newsprint paper. Also in November 1974 the paper moved into its first offices at 1724 20th St., N.W. in Dupont Circle. In December 1974, Joseph Crislip, who began writing for the Blade one month earlier under the pseudonym Christian Deforrest, assumed the position of Blade editor and “coordinator” of its business operations. In November 1975, under Crislip’s leadership, the Gay Blade officially changed its name to the Blade and incorporated as a nonprofit corporation called Blade Communications, Inc. In early 1977, shortly after the Blade had moved to a tworoom suite on the 2400 block of Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W, a gay activist who had recently moved to D.C. from Buffalo, N.Y. named Don Michaels showed up at a Blade volunteer meeting. It was the start of Michaels’ 24-year association with the Blade in which he would eventually become publisher and oversee the Blade’s growth in size and status to become one of the nation’s major LGBT publications. According to a detailed account of the Blade’s history by D.C.’s Rainbow History Project, in 1978 Michaels became managing editor while Crislip retained the position of publisher. That same year, in November, the Blade changed from operating as a monthly to a bi-weekly newspaper in response to the growth in its readership and advertising. In October 1980, the Blade reincorporated into a forprofit, employee-owned business and changed its name to the Washington Blade. By early 1982 Michaels assumed the position of publisher succeeding Crislip, and as the paper continued to grow, the decision was made to become a weekly. Steve Martz, who joined the Blade a few years earlier in the advertising department, became managing editor and Lisa Keen, who started at the Blade in 1979 as a freelance reporter, became assistant editor. From several years prior to that time up until 2001, the Blade had moved to several different locations, including 930 F St., N.W., an office building that became home on its first floor to the 9:30 Club; and later to a small office building at 724 9th St., N.W. It was during that time, around 1984 that Martz left the Blade and Keen assumed the role as top editor, which eventually was given the title of executive editor while Michaels continued as publisher. In 1992, the Blade moved to 1408 U St., N.W., in the city’s Continues on Page 24
The very first issue of the Blade, dated October 1969.
24 • OCTOBER 18, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Blade chronicled LGBT community’s growth, struggles
Current Blade publisher Lynne Brown (top); a Blade employee unpacking and filing copies of the paper.
Continued from Page 23 newly developing “U Street corridor” that quickly evolved into an entertainment district. One year later, in April 1993, coinciding with the 1993 LGBT March on Washington that brought tens of thousands to the nation’s capital, the Blade published its largest issue to date, containing 216 pages. In 1995, the Blade launched its website, WashingtonBlade. com, further expanding its ability to cover breaking LGBT news on a daily basis. In May 2001, a gay-owned media company named Window Media that also owned the Southern Voice LGBT newspaper in Atlanta, purchased the Blade. William Waybourn, one of its principal owners, became the Blade’s new publisher and Chris Crain, another Window Media owner, became the Blade’s executive editor. Michaels, Keen, and others on the Blade’s editorial and management leadership team left the Blade at the time of the sale. In 2006, Waybourn and Crain left the Blade to pursue other endeavors. Crain was succeeded as executive editor by Kevin Naff, who remains the Blade’s editor today. In December 2007, Lynne Brown, who had worked for many years on the Blade’s advertising team, was named Blade publisher. “It’s been a privilege to edit the Blade and help preserve its legacy of quality journalism as we’ve navigated the challenges facing the entire newspaper industry,” said Naff. The Blade relocated from U Street to the National Press Building at 14th and F Street, N.W. in February 2008, bringing it to a location where many of the nation’s most prestigious news media outlets had their Washington news bureaus. But less than two years later, in November 2009, Window Media’s parent company filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, resulting in the shutdown of the Blade and the other LGBT publications owned by Window Media. However, just four days later, the Blade’s staff, which banded together as volunteers, took the extraordinary step of creating a temporary replacement for the Blade called the D.C. Agenda and published its first issue. Through financial support from loyal advertisers and readers, the former Blade staffers continued to publish the D.C. Agenda as a weekly placeholder until former publisher Brown, former editor Naff, and the Blade’s former advertising executive, Brian Pitts, formed a business partnership that purchased the Blade’s assets from the bankruptcy court. The three partners created a new parent company, Brown Naff Pitts Omnimedia, and relaunched the Washington Blade brand in April 2010. The new company opened its offices at 1712 14th St., N.W., the Blade’s current headquarters. In October 2010, the Washington Blade Foundation, a new 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, was formed to raise money to digitize the full Blade archives. In January 2011, Brown Naff Pitts Omnimedia launched a new business unit, Azer Creative as a boutique marketing firm. And in March 2017, BNPO launched the Los Angeles Blade, a sister LGBT newspaper headed by publisher Troy Masters and veteran journalist Karen Ocamb as news editor.
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • OCTOBER 18, 2019 • 25
Recollections by former Blade leaders
“I still live in D.C. and treasure a 45+ year relationship with John Yanson, who in the early days of the Blade was the staff photographer,” Michaels said when asked what he’s been doing since leaving the Blade. He and Yanson also spend time in San Diego, Calif., where they own a condo, he said. Michaels was quick to reply to the question of what he most remembers about the Blade during his years working there. “How eager our community was for a publication that focused on news and features rather than sexually oriented content,” he said. “Our approach attracted many really dedicated staffers who worked hard and tirelessly to make the paper grow from those 24-page monthly editions way back when into a well-regarded weekly newspaper of record.” Keen, who had worked on the Blade staff for 20 years before leaving in 2001 as executive editor, said her years at the paper left a lasting impression. “I remember a team of really dedicated colleagues and intensely loyal readers,” she said. “Don Michaels articulated a vision of the paper as one that would strive to meet professional standards and serve the LGBT community,” said Keen. “People who joined the staff shared that vision and commitment at a time when working at a ‘gay paper’ was very likely to diminish one’s future employment prospects,” she said. “They were courageous and tough as nails, fun and funny, talented and reliable.” Keen said she and her spouse, Sheilah McCarthy, currently live in Wellesley, Mass., where Keen has been covering national legal and political news for several LGBT news outlets around the country, including her own KeenNewsService.com. The couple is raising a 15-year-old son, Sam Keen. Former publisher Waybourn said he and his partner maintain a D.C. residence but spend most of their time in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. They own several businesses, including the Long View Gallery in D.C. “It was a great time to be involved in D.C. media,” Waybourn said in discussing his tenure at the Blade. “I loved working with the staff and individuals I met through community groups and organizations, and still maintain friendships with the individuals I met through the Blade.” Crain, the former executive editor, said he and Waybourn “look back with great pride” on the years the two worked at the Blade. He said their acquisition of the Blade in 2001 through Window Media took place “at the height of prominence in LGBTQ media” and enabled them to work with “a wonderful and talented staff to expand the paper’s local coverage, improve its production quality, grow its advertising base and dramatically increase its presence on the internet.” Crain said by the mid-2000s the Blade was “facing the same challenge as print publications everywhere” such as the loss of classified advertising to the internet. But he said the Blade nevertheless remained profitable, even at the time after he and Waybourn left and the Window Media parent company declared bankruptcy. “We were greatly pleased that the staff took up the mantle to carry on the Blade’s rich history, and we join in celebrating this terrific milestone,” Crain said.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE BLADE’S 50 YEARS The Washington Blade began in 1969 as a one-page, monthly newsletter compiled by volunteers and based in an activist’s apartment. It now has 17 full-time employees and a sister newspaper in Los Angeles. 1960s October 1969: Nancy Tucker, Art Stone and a handful of activists publish the first issue of the Gay Blade. The newsletter, which is published monthly, consists of one side of a letter-size page, printed on a mimeograph machine in Tucker’s apartment. The 500 copies are distributed to the city’s gay bars. 1970s July 1973: Original editor Nancy Tucker leaves the Blade, calling for interested parties to take over the newsletter. That call is answered by Pat Price, who goes by the pseudonym Pat Kolar. It is also the first time in the Blade’s history that stories contain bylines, although nearly all of them are pseudonyms. • July 1974: After undergoing several size changes, the Gay Blade is printed on newsprint for the first time. It uses a format that is slightly larger than tabloid size, but by November 1974, the paper is reduced to the standard tabloid format that is still used today. • November 1974: The Gay Blade moves into its first offices, located on 20th Street, N.W., in Dupont Circle. • November 1975: The Gay Blade officially changes its name to the Blade, and the newspaper also becomes incorporated as a non-profit corporation under the mantle Blade Communications Inc. • August 1976: The Blade moves to a two-room suite on the 2400 block of Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. • November 1978: The Blade changes from being published monthly to bi-weekly, signifying the growth of D.C.’s gay readership. 1980s February 1980: The Blade leaves its offices on Pennsylvania Avenue and moves to 930 F St., N.W., above what would later become the 9:30 Club. • October 1980: The Blade re-incorporates as a for-profit, employee-owned business and changes its name officially to the Washington Blade. • October 1984: In celebration of its 15th anniversary, the Blade presents D.C.’s first gay film festival, staged at the Biograph Theatre in Georgetown. • January 1987: The Blade starts the year with a new office, located in the Victor Building at 724 Ninth St., N.W. 1990s September 1992: The Blade moves again, this time to 1408 U St., N.W. • April 1993: To coincide with the 1993 March on Washington, the Blade publishes its largest issue to date, containing 216 pages. • September 1995: The Blade launches its web site. 2000s May 2001: The Blade is purchased by Window Media, a gay-owned media company that also owns the Southern Voice newspaper in Atlanta. Chris Crain, a co-founder of Window Media, becomes the Blade’s executive editor and William Waybourn its publisher. • September 2006: Crain leaves the Blade. He is succeeded by Kevin Naff, who remains the paper’s editor today. • December 2007: Lynne Brown is named publisher. • February 2008: The Blade relocates from U Street to the National Press Building at 14th and F streets, N.W. • November 2009: Window Media’s parent company files for Chapter 7 bankruptcy; Blade offices shuttered. Just four days later, the Blade staff publishes under a new name, the DC Agenda, a weekly placeholder publication. 2010s April 2010: Business partners Lynne Brown, Kevin Naff and Brian Pitts purchase the Blade’s assets from the bankruptcy court and re-launch the Washington Blade brand. The new parent company is Brown Naff Pitts Omnimedia and its offices move to 1712 14th Street, N.W. October 2010: the Blade Foundation, a new 501(c)3, debuts to raise money to digitize the full Blade archive. January 2011: BNPO launches a new business unit, Azer Creative, a boutique marketing firm. March 2017: BNPO launches the Los Angeles Blade, a sister publication headed by publisher Troy Masters and later adds veteran journalist Karen Ocamb as news editor. 2019: The Blade announces plans for a yearlong celebration of the paper’s 50th anniversary culminating with an October 2019 gala.
26 • OCTOBER 18, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
‘Define yourself’ — Ariadne Getty on family, philanthropy and queer activism ‘I encourage everybody who has any way of being part of a cause to make the time and become involved’ By KEVIN SESSUMS
“Money is like manure,” said J. Paul Getty. “You have to spread it around or it smells.” Getty himself was redolent of a rascally sort of rapaciousness. He was also a tough old coot with a tumescent appetite for beautiful women. But he had a soft spot for one particular beauty in his life: his granddaughter and godchild, Ariadne Getty, now 57, who has always been a bit of a rascal herself — one part punk, one part princess. “I’ve never taken any of this for granted,” the philanthropist tells me when she is read that quote from her grandfather. “I’ve never pretended that I made a penny in my life. I inherited this money and I’m a steward. I have to honor it. Actually, I have to honor my great-grandmother who set up the trust. She didn’t trust my grandfather because he was a womanizer,” she says, confirming this lede paragraph and letting loose a signature burst of laughter, a quick gale of it that can blow through a conversation like a gust of gumption. Such frankness is refreshing as she sits at a table in her Los Angeles home on this conference call as we converse in the disembodied way that such calls engender on top of the already stilted badinage of an interview’s back-and-forth, a kind of disembodied, distilled discourse all its own with which such wealthy patrons raised by the wolves of fame and fortune engage journalists after having been coached to do so by the experts they hire to smooth their heralded heredity into but a smattering of personality quirks and wisecracks. Call it the knowingness of the known. Getty has an expert publicist and the expert head of her charitable foundation there at the table with her at each of her elbows, which I imagine to be well-lotioned, even though she is unafraid to throw such elbows around a bit roughly if need be in the staid world of philanthropy. That is her charm: her ability, elbows ready, to challenge others to find their inner iconoclast even as they serve a higher purpose to better society as a whole. Yet there is nothing slippery about this iconoclastic woman even if the emollients of lotion and lavish privilege come to mind when speaking with her. Indeed, Ariadne Getty speaks haltingly — a bit shyly — and chooses her words quite carefully. This is not out of a fear of being misquoted so much as it is out of the seriousness with which she takes her philanthropic impulse. When she was first starting her charitable foundation, she came up with a one-line, two-word mission statement: “Unpopular Causes.” It has since expanded to the more generalized assertion that the
goal of the Ariadne Getty Foundation is to “work with partners worldwide to improve the lives of individuals and communities through large-scale investments & hands-on advocacy.” The focus most recently at the foundation has been shoring up LGBTQ organizations, such as the Los Angeles LGBT Center and GLAAD. Getty joined the board of directors of the latter in 2016 and last year at the World Economic Forum in Davos she pledged $15 million to the organization, which focuses on media and how we as a culture can rewrite the script for LGBTQ acceptance. I ask her if maybe her daughter Nats Getty’s mission statement for her gender-fluid streetwear line, Strike Oil, might be an even better fit for her foundation. It reads, in part: “For the misfits and the outcasts, The unseen and the unheard, For anyone who dares to be different, Because different is dope.” She readily agrees and tells me that Nats and her brother August, also a fashion designer but one with a more high-end couture aesthetic focused on the female client, are her “beacons of information and light.” They are her only two children. August is gay. Nats is a lesbian and married to Gigi Gorgeous, the YouTube sensation and transgender activist. They are the kind of adults who still have a cool-kid vibe about them, as does their part punk/part princess mom. They are quite a triple-treat as a close-knit family as well as a style council of creative spirits who straddle lots of worlds — Getty runs both the fashion lines — and I’d wager some of that Getty wealth that when you use the term “grommet” around them they know it is not only something that can reinforce an eyelet sewn into a piece of clothing, but also a term for an inexperienced skateboarder with scratched-up knees and no real scratch of his own. “Inexperienced” is not a term anyone would use for Ariadne Getty who grew up outside Siena, Italy, with her mother after her parents divorced. It was in many ways an idyllic setting for a childhood but anywhere would have been within reach of the tentacles of the family scandals that, as she grew up and realized what her last name meant to the larger world, strengthened her even as it all made her a bit wary — and, yes, for a time quite weary — of public attention. Her father J. Paul Getty II was a drug addict for much of his life (her stepmother died of a heroin overdose) and became a recluse in England in his later years, but one finally with a generous spirit which she seems to have inherited from him. She survived the actual narrative of the
kidnapping of her older brother, J. Paul Getty III, and his subsequent heartbreaking health issues as well as the faux narratives made more noxious for their rather mercenary and monetary reasons. She bonded with her sister Aileen who is herself an activist and philanthropist, roles that were motivated by Aileen’s HIV-positive status. She lived in London and had a swinging time designing T-shirts and being a bit of dilettante who dallied in lots of sybaritic endeavors. She even had an academic interregnum at Bennington College in Vermont. Getty’s gust of laughter again blows through the conversation when I bring up her college days because of how few those days actually were. So she didn’t go for the whole four years? “I certainly did not.” Does she even remember her time at Bennington or was it basically one long, however brief, blackout? “It’s a little bit fuzzy to be honest,” she confesses. “But I did learn a lot there. I really did. I had some fantastic people I was exposed to. It really was an environment that allows you to find your own personality without the restrictions of rules. It’s almost like a Waldorf approach to college,” she tells me, citing the Rudolf Steiner holistic model of education. But I take it as another kind of cue. “A Waldorf salad approach?” I ask. Another gust of of laughter. “It does put nuts into your life,” she says. Some would claim that her children and their circle of friends — many of them the misfits and outcasts cited in Nats’s mission statement for Strike Oil streetwear — are the latest nuts in her life with whom she has surrounded herself. She is a kind of den mother of the denizen of acceptance that her home has become for this extended LA family. They even call her Mama G. Does she think she would be so viscerally focused on LGBTQ rights if she weren’t the mother of two gay children and seen as a mother figure for so many of their friends? There is a maternal aspect to her activism. “I always say I am here doing this mostly to support what my children have made me aware of … I’m not sure how the Mama G thing started, but it’s so sweet. I get texts to Mama G all the time from the friends of my children and my daughter-in-law Gigi. I am a fiercely loyal mother. I will go to war for my children and their friends.” “You’re like a polar bear,” I tell her. “I can’t believe you said that. That’s my spirit animal. You got me there. They are my cubs — Nats and August. And all of their friends are, too.”
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“Yet not all wealthy parents support their gay children in the way that you have chosen to support yours. Some of them even donate to Donald Trump. Would you meet with Trump if he invited you to the White House?” “Oh, Kevin … Kevin …,” she says, moaning. No laughter is launched into the conversation at the thought of this. There is a long silence instead. “I would have to say, ‘I’m sorry. Under most other situations, I would be honored to be invited and I would love to go,’” she carefully begins. “But as Trump continues to stop people’s human rights and disregards the basic … ah … ah, ” she stops again. Time to throw some elbows, after all. “You know what, I would tell him in a heartbeat that under any other circumstances I would love to go but I actually wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I met with him in the Oval Office. I would probably even have a couple of rotten tomatoes in my pocket,” she says, that gust of laughter finally unleashed as she references her time in England and how the groundlings there would respond to their own vulgarians on their Elizabethan stages by throwing such weaponized fruit at them. “You could bring your children and daughter-in-law to bear visual witness to your meeting with him,” I suggest, knowing that Gigi is sort of Trump’s type and how disconcerting that would be for him to be turned on by her. “If he allowed me even to bring them with me,” says Getty. “Can you imagine? Or we could wear MAGA caps but install little mini-cams in them and tape his reaction when I introduced him to my daughter-in-law, ‘Mr. President, this is Gigi. She’s transgender.’” We have been speaking on this conference call the same day that Ellen DeGeneres was getting media flak for her friendship with another president, George W. Bush. What does Ariadne think of Ellen’s response to the criticism? “I personally believe that if you have a platform no matter what it is — even if it is your single voice as a human — you have a responsibility to it. Ellen is extremely fortunate to have such a fan base and a platform. I personally believe that there is nothing wrong with being friendly in private, but going public with it and saying what she said sends a mixed message. It not only might confuse her fans but also those who aren’t necessarily her fans but use her as a sort of barometer. Since she is a comedian, she gets to tackle a lot of topics. I do think that this is a message that does not need to be so public. Yes, it’s important to respect and accept everyone for who they are. I haven’t read exactly what she said. But if she is using her platform but she is ignoring the facts that there were so many rollbacks with Bush and his administration and there were so many LGBTQ injustices passed, then I don’t agree with that. “She is not referencing that. She is not saying even though these things happened, we can affect a change if we approach those who have been against us in a fair and kind way in order to try and find a middle ground … After the election in 2016, I called Sarah Kate Ellis, the president and CEO at GLAAD. I said I’m going to
‘I’ve never pretended that I made a penny in my life. I inherited this money and I’m a steward. I have to honor it,’ says philanthropist Ariadne Getty. Photo Courtesy the Getty Foundation
bed and closing my curtain and I’m going to stay here for a couple of weeks because I’m so very depressed. And she said, ‘I’m going to give you 24 hours to be depressed and then I want you to get out of bed, get dressed, brush your hair, and make 10 calls to talk about the changes you want to see happen. Get up and stand up and get to work.’ And that’s what I did.” “Here is another quote from your grandfather,” I say, winding down our conference call. “’The rich are not born skeptical or cynical,’” he said. “They are made that way by events and circumstances.’And yet you, Ariadne, have had the opposite reactions to the events and circumstances of your life. They have made you less cynical and skeptical. They have given you a social conscience and spurred you to activism.” The laughter is no longer a gust of gumption. It is now more a lovely little breeze, a hum of humility underlying it here on the line.
“You know what, life is too short,” she says. “I’ve had all the things happen to me that you can imagine — especially people taking advantage. There could be plenty of space in my life to just shut down and not interact and just basically be a victim, or what have you. But I love my life. It is really a privilege to be involved with the LGBT Center in LA, which has so many intergenerational programs there. I’m fortunate. I encourage everybody who has any way of being part of a cause to make the time and become involved.” She pauses. The breeze erupts into one last gust that carries more than itself forward. “Don’t let what other people do define you,” says Getty. “Define yourself.” (Editor’s note: Ariadne Getty is being honored with the Washington Blade Lifetime Achievement Award for LGBTQ Advocacy for her commitment to equality. The award is being presented to her at the Blade’s 50th anniversary gala on Oct. 18 in D.C.)
28 • OCTOBER 18, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Photos by Pedro Greig
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30 • OCTOBER 18, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
My all-time best and worst Blade celeb chats From loquacious and chatty to boring and condescending By JOEY DiGUGLIELMO
Blade Features Editor Joey DiGuglielmo at his celebensconced desk in 2007. Blade file photo
I’m naming names, so get ready. I came to the Washington Blade in October 2006 as news editor, then became features editor in 2008, which is my title to this day. That’s probably a record, but I have no easy way to verify that. One small part of my job is interviewing celebrities. It’s tough when it’s somebody you’re not familiar with and you have to research from scratch. It’s super fun when it’s a star you’ve followed for a long time and can go deep and ask interesting, off-the-beaten-path stuff. I work hard to eschew the same handful of questions they’ve been asked nine zillion times before (e.g. to John Waters: “What was Divine like?”). You can geek out and go crazy deep/obscure for a few questions but obviously you don’t want an entire interview of that. Often the audiences for these pieces are people who follow the subjects avidly already so you want to make it interesting for them as well as the casual fan. Nothing pisses off a fan base faster than a set of questions that sounds like you cobbled them together in 10 minutes after reading the press release and the Wikipedia page. These are almost always done by phone because rarely is the celeb in D.C. prior to the event that’s bringing them to our region. I only agree to e-mail interviews under extremely rare circumstances because they usually cherry pick which questions they want to answer and there’s no chance to press them if they play coy or evasive. I let Larry Kramer by on a pass because he has severe hearing loss (he was great — we went several rounds of follow-up by e-mail) and Janis Ian, who was on vocal rest. It’s tough when their handlers have scheduled backto-back phoners and you only get 15 minutes and have to keep firing like you’re in the lightening round to cram in as much as possible. The celebs don’t give a shit — even under tight time constraints, you’ll sometimes get somebody who’ll ramble on for 10 minutes answering one question, so you’re fucked (I’m looking at you Megan Mullally). You also learn quickly, these people are never your friends; many of them are just good at giving you the temporary illusion that they’re chummy with you. As a mentor of mine used to say, you see how quickly that stops when the column inches are over. It also sucks when their publicists stay on the line and cut you off just when you’re getting going. In some cases, I get it — some journalists would hog the celeb’s time so somebody has to be the bad cop. I’m greedy with my celeb time but never go crazy long. Thirty-40 minutes is ideal — you can actually breathe a little, give them time to ramble, then pick your most interesting responses to use. You always have to have more prepared than you’ll get to in case they go Bob Dylan on you and give oneword answers. The best situations are when you develop rapport, keep them engaged (typically this kind of thing bores them) and get them riffing way off their press release. So after 11 years of doing this, I’m giving out my all-time best and worst awards for Blade interviews. We’ll start with the worst. 5. Stand-up legend Margaret Cho (“Mothers’ Day with Margaret” 2013; “Margaret goes ‘psyCHO’ on new tour,” 2015) — perfectly nice lady but not funny in interview
mode; like, at all. Makes you feel like she’d rather be doing anything but this. 4. Actress Maria Bello (“Don’t label Maria Bello,” 2015) — didn’t have time for anything much once we got through talking about her book. 3. Andy Cohen (“Deep Talk with Andy Cohen,” 2017) — polite but just didn’t give me much to work with. Very succinct responses delivered in as few words as possible. It was like he couldn’t wait to get off the phone. 2. Singer Natalie Merchant (“Natalie Merchant goes deep,” 2017) — ostensibly polite and decent elaboration but sounded about as excited as a clerk at a D.C. 7-Eleven. 1. Jazz pianist Patricia Barber (“Cerebral jazz,” 2013) — stock answers, kind of a tone of “why would you ask me that”? to every answer that made me feel she thought I was an idiot. DISHONORABLE MENTION: Rufus Wainwright (“Rufus Wainwright on opera, revisiting his first two albums,” 2018) — Nice enough guy, but we were late getting started, then his handlers cut us off as if the clock had started at the time they were supposed to have called. Best: 5. Actress Valerie Harper (“Taking on Tallulah,” 5-29-09) — one of the rare ones I got to do in person. Chatty, funny, willing to go anywhere the questions took her — a delight. 4. Singer/actress Patti LuPone (“Reminiscing with LuPone,” 9-8-11) — I was terrified. Miss LuPone does not suffer fools gladly and I’m not a show queen, so I was winging it slightly (but I had read her then-new memoir! You don’t always have time.). The appointed time came. Her husband answers and says sorry, she’s getting her hair done. She called a few hours later and apologized. It was perfect — that mild inconvenience put her more at my mercy, so she wasn’t prickly at all. 3. Figure skater/personality Adam Rippon (“Adam Rippon on new life, loves, memoir, ass and skating in the nude,” 2019) — candid, funny, balked at nothing, not in a hurry and genuinely sweet. 2. Motown legend Mary Wilson (“Mary Wilson shares Motown memories,” 2017) — the Supremes co-founder gleefully went anywhere I led and elaborated without prodding. Miss Ross, of course, has yet to deign us with her presence. 1. Actress Lily Tomlin (“Laughing with Lily,” 2014; “Lily Tomlin on why she’s happy she lost the Emmy this year — and a whole lot more,” 2018) — unsurprisingly, it’s often true that the bigger the name, the more you’re likely to encounter a diva. Tomlin, as many in my field would attest, is the exception. Exceedingly nice, the only celeb to ever make a point of using my name and never in a rush. The ultimate class act A-lister. HONORABLE MENTIONS: Bruce Vilanch (“Dishing with Bruce,” 2013), Leslie Jordan (“Flamboyantly funny,” 2016; “Character actor Leslie Jordan on his pony obsession, TV hits and misses and dream threesome,” 2019); Salim Gauwloos (“Former Madonna dancer Slam recalls ‘Blond Ambition Tour,’ ‘Truth or Dare’); Dave Koz (“A Dave Koz Christmas,” 2014, “Koz and effect,” 2011), Yvonne Craig (“Holy spandex tights! It’s Batgirl!,” 2015) and Alison Arngrim (“Life on the ‘Prairie,’” 2011).
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Losangelesblade.com, Volume 3, Issue 42, October 18, 2019