THE BLADE JOINS BUTTIGIEG FOR A JOURNEY ACROSS IOWA, PAGE 10
N O V E M B E R 1 5 2 0 1 9 • V O LU M E 0 3 • I S S U E 4 6 • 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 • NOVEMBER 15, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
FBI: Anti-trans hate crimes increase Some good news: LA creates new housing for trans women FROM STAFF REPORTS Transgender Awareness Week from Nov. 13 to Nov. 19 includes the Transgender Day of Remembrance memorializing all victims of transphobic violence, especially recognizing the 23 transwomen murdered so far this year. Approximately two-thirds of trans individuals killed in previous years were victims of gun violence, according to an FBI report issued Nov. 11. The FBI noted a significant increase in hate crimes motivated by gender identity bias in 2018 with 184 hate crimes perpetrated by bias against transgender or gender non-conforming people, 157 motivated specifically by anti-transgender bias and 27 motivated by bias against gender nonconforming individuals. In 2017, 118 hate
‘Poverty affects the Trans community disproportionately,’ said APAIT/SSG Health & Policy Coordinator Jazzmun Crayton. Photo via Facebook
crimes were anti-transgender and 13 were anti-gender non-conforming. The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBTQ advocacy organization, noted the death last month of 29-year old Itali Marlowe, a Black transgender woman
who was killed in Houston on Sept. 20. “These victims are not numbers -they were people with hopes and plans, dreams for the future, loved ones and communities who will miss them every day. There are currently very few explicit legal protections for transgender or genderexpansive people,” wrote Elliott Kozuch on Oct. 9. “We must demand better from our elected officials and reject harmful antitransgender legislation appearing at the local, state and federal levels because it is clear that fatal violence disproportionately affects transgender women of color.” Gains in other areas are being made despite the epidemic of anti-trans bias. In Los Angeles, Special Service for Groups, a non-profit health and human service organization associated with APAIT and HOPICS, announced “Casa de Zulma,” the first-ever publicly funded Enhanced Bridge Housing project for transgender women in LA. The Enhanced Bridge Housing project will be “a gender-affirming space that not only
provides 16 beds for transgender women, but also provides trauma-informed care in the form of behavioral health services (e.g., individual and group psychotherapy, substance use support), as well as intensive case management with the goal of linkage to permanent supportive housing,” according to a press release. “Casa de Zulma” is named after Zulma Velasquez, an LGBTQ community fixture who hosted the weekly “Cafecito with Zulma,” providing “a safe space for queer and trans community members to have a cup of coffee, build community and discuss the issues they face day-to-day,” according to the release. Velasquez passed away in August 2019. “Poverty affects the Trans community disproportionately. We are prone to violence, homelessness, substance abuse and mental illness. We have to build alliances, acquire resources, and create safe affordable spaces to dwell and live in,” said APAIT/SSG Health & Policy Coordinator Jazzmun Crayton.
Students stage walk-out to support lesbian classmate Archdiocese of Los Angeles disputes the charge FROM STAFF REPORTS Students at Bishop Amat Memorial High School, the largest Catholic high school in Los Angeles, located 20 miles East of downtown LA, walked out of their classes Nov. 8 following a Buzzfeed News report that a lesbian classmate alleged school officials threatened to out her to her parents. Magali Rodriguez, 17, told Buzzfeed’s Claudia Koerner that while Bishop Amat High School does not have a written policy barring same-sex relationships, after she starting dating another girl, school staff singled her out for her sexuality. “She said she was forced into disciplinary meetings and counseling, barred from sitting next to her girlfriend at lunch,” Buzzfeed reported.
Magali Rodriguez said school staff barred her from sitting with her girlfriend at lunch. Photo via Facebook
Rodriguez, who had attended the school for the previous three years, added that if she didn’t follow these rules — which didn’t apply to straight students in relationships — school officials threatened to out her to her parents, who didn’t know she was gay at the time, Buzzfeed reported. The high school senior told Buzzfeed that she had tried to stay positive throughout her ordeal but admitted that she finally
had reached a breaking point. Once her grades had slipped and she was emotionally overwrought suffering from extreme stress and anxiety, she made the decision to tell her parents and then go public with her story. “I really don’t want it to happen to anybody else,” she told Buzzfeed. Her parents pulled her out of the school, angered by the school staff’s treatment of their daughter,
“They took it upon themselves to parent our daughter, to counsel her, to lecture her,” Martha Tapia-Rodriguez said. Following the publication of the Buzzfeed News story Nov. 7, Bishop Amat students organized a walkout in support of Rodriguez. Several students said they hadn’t heard about Rodriguez’s experience prior to Buzzfeed’s article, and were shocked to learn how she was treated. “I never would’ve imagined Amat to be an environment like this,” said one student, who declined to be named, Buzzfeed reported. “Once I started to read about the article I was in full shock. I decided to walk out to stand up for her.” Bishop Amat administrators, as well as the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, declined to answer questions regarding Rodriguez’s situation, citing student privacy. But an Archdiocese spokesperson disputed the Rodriguezes’ account, saying it was not “entirely accurate.”
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04 • NOVEMBER 15, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Eddie Martinez runs for Huntington Park City Council Bringing LGBTQ Latino politics back home By KAREN OCAMB email@example.com Eddie Martinez said yes when asked to step up and contribute to the community by running for Hunting Park City Council. Affirmation is key to his character and now the executive director and co-founder of the Latino Equality Alliance (LEA) is on a slate with Councilmembers Marilyn Sanabria and Graciela Ortiz for the March 3, 2020. And it’s all because of love for family. “About six years ago, I moved back to Huntington Park to care for my elderly mom and I decided to get involved in Huntington Park,” Martinez tells the Los Angeles Blade. “It’s my hometown. It’s where I grew up. My family migrated from Mexico to Huntington Park and the city is very close to my heart so I just got involved in activating residents to be vocal and to advocate for more green space.” City councilmembers saw Martinez’s passion and asked him to run for city council, something he’d thought of doing in the future. “I thought if the local elected officials see something in me and they see maybe I could provide a certain experience to the city council and if I had the support now - this would be a great opportunity,” he says. “I have about 25 years of nonprofit experience with grassroots, community organizing and creating systemic changes to improve the quality of life for the community. And I think I could bring that experience and skills to the city council of Huntington Park.” Martinez’s sensibilities about quality of life are also at work when no one’s looking. His 80-year-old mother is good but is also faced with challenges as she gets older, especially the isolation and loneliness of outliving family and friends. Ironically, it’s the gay son and his lesbian sister who have the time to care for her while his other siblings care for their own families. “I’m okay with that because I had my fun time when I was young and single,” he says. So, I welcome that role in my family. And my
Eddie Martinez Photo courtesy Eddie Martinez/Latino Equality Alliance
mom is happy that I’m there and I do what I can to make sure that the grass stays green and the flowers are blossoming, which she loves. I’m providing that good mental health that she needs sometimes.” Martinez accepts his responsibility not as a burden but as the ability to give a gift. “It’s my role,” he says. “It’s my time now to step up and care for family and I’m happy that I could bring a smile to her life today.” It is with that kind of compassion and sense of community responsibility that he considers both his job at LEA and the prospect of serving on the city council. “Huntington Park is located in Southeast Los Angeles. It’s a city of working-class families, immigrant families. We have a lot of DREAMers. The challenge we had over the years is just that we don’t have a lot of people that are actively involved in their neighborhood,” Martinez says. “There are also issues with quality of life. We have higher health issues in our community; diabetes, alcoholism, drug abuse. So we’re just trying to address that whole quality of life issue.” Additionally, the lack of revenue is an obstacle to providing adequate services.
Martinez says he wants to activate neighborhoods and leaders to help them learn about and advocate for public policies, “to get involved, bring more resources into our community, more nonprofits that could provide that wrap-around care. That’s going to result in improving the quality of life and our community.” He also wants to work with residents, business leaders, and elected officials to revitalize the Pacific Boulevard business district, “to make it a destination of culture, art and a place for entertainment and a shopping experience for families, including the queer community,” particularly the trans community. “I want to provide a lot of training for the local business owners -- to talk about how their store could be very welcoming to employees who are identified as trans but also for the trans community to come and shop in the district,” Martinez says. “So, creating that safe space will be one of my focus points.” Another will be finding time to take care of himself as well as LEA, and, if elected, the small city of Huntington Park, which has part-time city council positions.
Martinez considers running for office “just another layer on everything else I do,” he says. “So it’s going to put a lot of energy into my life. People have always called me the ‘Energizer Bunny,’ so I think I could get it done.’ And to add to an already crowded life, Martinez is a delegate to the California Democratic Party endorsing convention representing the very diverse Assembly District 53. The country is in “bad shape” with Donald Trump; he wants young people to step up. “It’s very important not only to create a safe environment but to develop your leadership skills and to become an advocate for change in your neighborhoods,” Martinez says. “Don’t be afraid to think that you can’t step up to be a commissioner or elected official. Run for office and have fun with it -but do it with honesty and integrity and be that person that’s willing to work with other leaders to make a positive difference. That’s one of the reasons why I’m running: I want to be a good example for them all.” Check out Martinez’s Facebook page: www. facebook.com/EddieForHuntingtonPark2020
06 • NOVEMBER 15, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Top California cast in the impeachment drama Speaker Nancy Pelosi: ‘No one’s above the law’ By KAREN OCAMB firstname.lastname@example.org Only three times before in American history has a president faced impeachment in the U.S. House of Representatives, though none resulted in conviction and removal of office by the Senate. In an irony of ironies, the top leaders in this historic fourth impeachment inquiry into the conduct of President Donald J. Trump are Democratic and Republican Californians. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a San Francisco icon and third in line for the presidency, called for an official impeachment inquiry on Sept. 24 after resisting calls for impeachment over Russian interference in the 2016 election – including loudly from Los Angeles icon Rep. Maxine Waters, chair of the Financial Services Committee, which is investigating Trump’s finances. Pelosi thought voters should decide Trump’s fate at the ballot box in 2020, thus avoiding a black hole for many freshman Democrats who flipped red seats blue in 2018, including several in Southern California. However, Pelosi could not blink after a whistleblower revealed that Trump himself threatened to withhold congressionally appropriated military funds in a call to the new president of Ukraine until President Volodymyr Zelensky dug up dirt on Trump’s expected 2020 rival, Joe Biden and his son Hunter. “The actions of the Trump presidency revealed dishonorable facts of betrayal of his oath of office and betrayal of our national security and betrayal of the integrity of our elections,” Pelosi said. “No one is above the law.” Pelosi’s political counterpart, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield, responded with a word salad. Speaker Pelosi “does not speak for America when it comes to this issue. She cannot decide unilaterally what happens here,” he told reporters. “Our job here is a serious
Rep. Adam Schiff Screen capture via MSNBC
job…Our job is to legislate, not to continue to investigate something in the back when you cannot find any reason to impeach this president….It’s time to put the public before politics.” McCarthy’s job is to keep Republicans in line in their absolute fealty to Trump. But that can prove difficult, such as when Trump compared the impeachment inquiry to a “lynching” in an Oct. 22 tweet. “That’s not the language I would use,”
McCarthy said in response. “I don’t agree with that language, it’s pretty simple.” Inexplicably, McCarthy seemed to only learn about Trump’s alleged extortion during a “60 Minutes” interview. Anchor Scott Pelley read excerpts of the White House-released summary of the call, during which Zelensky said Ukraine was ready to buy more Javelins missiles “for defense purposes.” Trump replied: “I would like you to do us a favor, though….” “You just added
another word,” said McCarthy, referring to “though.” “No, it’s in the transcript,” said Pelley. McCarthy has scored dunce points before, proudly admitting on Fox News, for instance, that Republicans used the incessant Benghazi hearings as a political strategy to make Sec. of State Hillary Clinton “untrustable.” Trump calls McCarthy “my Kevin.” On Nov. 13, the Intelligence Committee opened their impeachment hearings to the public. Like the House leadership, the Intelligence Committee is run by two Californians – Chair Rep. Adam Schiff whose district spans from Burbank to West Hollywood – and Ranking Member Rep. Devin Nunes, who represents Fresno and Tulare County. Until the Democrats won a majority in the House in 2018, Nunes chaired the Intelligence Committee and seemed to work in cooperation with Schiff, until he joined what some see as “the cult of Trump” and used numerous outlandish stories to defend the president, including writing a four-page memo alleging an FBI conspiracy against Trump. Trump’s sense of authoritarian immunity seems to have rubbed off on Nunes. Since last March, Nunes has been involved in a frenzy of lawsuits, including a defamation lawsuit against Twitter and two accounts -“Devin Nunes’ Mom” (@DevinNunesMom) and “Devin Nunes’ Cow” (@DevinCow) – for mocking him. He also sued journalist Ryan Lizza for reporting that the Nunes dairy farm had actually been moved to Iowa by his family in 2007. Nunes’ opening statement at the televised inquiry was replete with conservative talking points and conspiracy theories. And he mocked the two credible witnesses, Trump appointees, saying that the main staged performance by the Democrats — “the Russia hoax — has ended, and you’ve been cast in the low-rent Ukrainian sequel.” Schiff, a former federal prosecutor, on the other hand, wore the solemnity of the constitutional crisis on his face. “The questions presented by this impeachment inquiry are whether President Trump sought to exploit that
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • NOVEMBER 15, 2019 • 07
Rep. Adam Schiff and ranking member Rep. Devin Nunes, both of California. Screen capture via MSNBC
ally’s vulnerability and invite Ukraine’s interference in our elections? Whether President Trump sought to condition official acts, such as a White House meeting or U.S. military assistance, on Ukraine’s willingness to assist with two political investigations that would help his reelection campaign? And if President Trump did either, whether such an abuse of his power is compatible with the office of the presidency?” Schiff said. “The matter is as simple, and as terrible as that. Our answer to these questions will affect not only the future of this presidency, but the future of the presidency itself, and what kind of conduct or misconduct the American people may come to expect from their Commander-in-Chief,” Schiff said. “If this is not impeachable conduct, what is? Does the oath of office itself -- requiring that our laws be faithfully executed, that our president defend a constitution that balances the powers of its branches, setting ambition against ambition so that we become no monarchy -- still have meaning?” Schiff asked. The stakes are as high as preserving the republic itself. “These are the questions we must ask and answer,” Schiff said. “Without rancor if we can, without delay regardless, and without party favor or prejudice if we are true to our responsibilities.
Benjamin Franklin was asked what kind of a country America was to become, “A Republic,” he answered, “if you can keep it.” The fundamental issue raised by the impeachment inquiry into Donald J. Trump is: Can we, keep it?” Schiff is not the only Californian challenging Trump and his GOP loyalists. Rep. Eric Swalwell, a former deputy district attorney who represents Alameda and part of Contra Costa County, is an important Intelligence Committee explainer-inchief on television, as is another popular explainer-in-chief, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow whose parents live in Swalwell’s district. Rep. Jackie Speier, who represents most of San Mateo County, also has some special insight into the GOP’s extreme loyalty toward Trump. And as a survivor of the 1978 Jonestown massacre where followers of Jim Jones assassinated Speiers’ mentor Rep. Leo Ryan and left her for dead after being shot five times. On Oct. 31, she reacted angrily to a Devin Nunes trope on Fox’s “The Ingraham Angle” when the Intelligence Committee was taking depositions like a congressional grand jury. “So many millions of Americans’ minds are poisoned,” Nunes told Laura Ingraham. “There’s a cult going on in the basement in
a SCIF behind locked doors….Then you walk outside the doors, and you see another cult. That’s the media.” “Devin Nunes calling the Intelligence Committee’s fact-finding mission a cult is despicable. I know about cults. Cults are led by maniacal narcissists who expect complete adoration and relinquishment of independent thought. I suggest Mr. Nunes look elsewhere,” Speier tweeted. There are other smart Californians sitting on the committees investigating Trump, including Reps. Karen Bass, Zoe Lofgren, Judy Chu, Ted Lieu, Katie Porter, Harley Rouda, and Ro Khanna, among others. And then there’s Rep. Maxine Waters who, as Chair of the Financial Services Committee, has been investigating Trump’s financial dealings from campaign finance violations through pay outs to prn star Stormy Daniels to possible money shenanigans through Deutsche Bank, Capitol One and other financial institutions. Trump has successfully fought the release of his business records and tax returns but the official impeachment inquiry may change that. “I understand that all of the chairs of the six committees will be involved in basically coming up with what should be articles of impeachment based on the work that
we have been doing,” Waters told Rachel Maddow. “Some will have more to say about what those articles should be based on the work that they have been doing, some will say less. And we will agree basically what those articles should be based on our experiences that we’ve had with our investigations. And that will be what the Judiciary Committee will be working with.” And Waters’ patience has worn thinner than thin. “I think he’s gotten away with enough that he does not believe that we can do anything to stop him. He has discovered the awesome powers of the presidency. The Constitution of the United States never anticipated that a president would use his powers this way and he has learned that he can get away with it. He’s brazen,” Waters told CNN’s Andrew Cuomo on Sept. 27. Pelosi is hoping the impeachment inquiry will wrap up by the end of the year but the Judiciary Committee is expected to take several weeks to study the different reports and decide if and what to write for articles of impeachment. If impeached by the House, as expected, Trump would then face a trial in the Senate where California Sens. Dianne Feinstein and former prosecutor Kamala Harris will be waiting to join their California castmates in producing a Hollywood ending.
08 • NOVEMBER 15, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Are California Democrats battling Trump fatigue? Presidential enthusiasm is flagging, too By KAREN OCAMB email@example.com While politicos nationwide watch the historic House Intelligence Committee impeachment inquiry into the presidency of Donald J. Trump, led by the focused and unflappable Democratic Chair Rep. Adam Schiff, Democrats back in the blue state are still squirming over which presidential candidate could best beat Trump in 2020 and how far to go to get there. Fans of former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren were disappointed when the two frontrunners decided to skip the California Democratic Convention Nov. 15-17 in Long Beach, with California Democratic Party Chair Rusty Hicks issuing a stern finger-wagging. “Your decision is a blatant disregard and disrespect to California’s grassroots leaders who make the phone calls, knock the doors, and give the money... in swing districts and swing states alike... year after year after year,” Hicks posted Nov. 5 on his Facebook page. “It’s clear you don’t think you need us to win the Primary. But, you *just might* need us in the General. Just sayin.” Well, maybe not in California. An Oct. 1 report released by California Sec. of State Alex Padilla indicates that Democrats have either increased their lead in voter registration or narrowed the gap with Republicans. The 154-Day Report of Registration before the March 3, 2020 Presidential Primary Election indicates that registered Democratic voters increased from 43.1% to 44.1% while Republican Party voters decreased from 27.6% to 23.6%. This is especially important in terms of holding the seven flipped House seats, which would keep Nancy Pelosi as Speaker and Democrats in the House majority to retain oversite of the Trump presidency, as much as possible. Fortuitously, Reps. Katie Porter (D-Irvine), Harley Rouda (D-Laguna Beach) and Mike Levin (D-San Juan Capistrano)
Vote California Image via California Sec. of State
have seen Republican control diminish. “None are more notable than Porter’s Orange County district, where Republicans had a 14.2-percentage point advantage in 2016 and now have seen that gap shrink to less than 4 percentage points,” writes LA Times political reporter John Myers. Interestingly, even without evidence of Democratic improvement in their districts, Porter, Rouda and Levin bravely came out in favor of an impeachment inquiry when the Mueller Report was looking into Russian interference in the 2016 election to benefit Trump. Additionally, Democrats dominant in the four other flipped districts held by Reps. Josh Harder (D-Turlock), T.J. Cox (D-Fresno) and Gil Cisneros (D-Yorba Linda) -- and the 25th Congressional District represented by Katie Hill until her difficult, abrupt recent resignation. Myers thinks “so-called independent voters could be a key factor in the race to
succeed Hill,” a proud bisexual whose defeat of longtime anti-LGBTQ Steve Knight was sweet political revenge for the agony Kight and his father Pete Knight put the LGBTQ community through for decades. On Nov. 10, Knight announced he’s jumping in the race to regain his old seat. He joins a crowded Republican field that includes former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos. That 25th CD includes Simi Valley, Santa Clarita, Palmdale and a part of Lancaster – long considered one of the most conservative and blatantly anti-LGBTQ stretches of northern Los Angeles County. But locally, the district is represented by pro-equality Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who is miles more progressive than her former boss and predecessor, Mike Antonovich. Hill won the congressional seat by nine points over Knight, a sign of the changing demographics in the area. Enter Katie Hill’s friend Christy Smith, who was elected to the California Assembly
in November 2018 representing an area that overlaps the congressional district, including Simi Valley. Democrats have cleared the field for Smith — Alex Padilla’s name had briefly been mentioned but was quickly squashed. “My goal as chairman of the party is to make sure that we don’t have a Dem-on-Dem fight where we split the vote and let Steve Knight take back his old seat,” out LA County Democratic Party Chair Mark Gonzalez told the LA Daily News. However, Smith is largely unknown in the SoCal LGBTQ community. Jane Wishon, Chair at Westside Democratic Headquarters and Political Vice President at Stonewall Democratic Club, is trying to remedy that with a fundraiser and meet and greet for Smith on Monday, Nov. 18 (7-10PM) at Senator Jones, 2020 Wilshire Blvd in Santa Monica (See Wishon’s Facebook page.) As the Los Angeles Blade goes to press, Gov. Gavin Newsom has not yet called for a special election to fill Hill’s vacant seat. But it will take a lot of money and boots on the ground to keep that seat out of hungry Republican hands. Democrats also want to win the 50th congressional seat, long held by indicted Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter. Pundits have him up by five points over a crowded field that includes gay talk show host Carl DeMaio and former Rep. Darrell Issa, both of whom live outside the district. Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar is running again in the “top-two” primary, having lost by only 3.4% points in 2018 to Hunter in a district won by Trump by 15 points in 2016. But there’s an odd miasma clouding the Democratic Party. Perhaps it’s weariness with all-things Trump or the ongoing whispered confusion over which presidential candidate Democrats should embrace. But for some reason, at least in Los Angeles, there is a dearth of authentic enthusiasm as the campaigns head into the holidays, even though early Feb. 3 voting by mail is just around the corner. Democrats may have a voter registration advantage – but it won’t mean much if voters stay home and don’t actually vote in the March 3 Primary and Nov. 3 General Election next year.
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • NOVEMBER 15, 2019 • 09
Older white couple wears ‘Blacks for Trump’ T-shirts at rally in Georgia Photo via Twitter
The image seemed so absurd, so fake, the photo of an older white couple wearing “Blacks for Trump” T-shirts was sent to the fact-checking site Snopes for verification. Snopes checked it “True.” The photo was one of several following the Nov. 8 “Black Voices for Trump” rally at the Georgia World Congress Center in downtown Atlanta launching an effort towards “recruiting and activating Black Americans in support of President Trump,” according to CBS News. The rally was held in the district represented by civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis. Without providing evidence, Trump claimed that blacks are returning to the Republican Party in “record numbers,” despite exit poll numbers showing Trump received only 8% of black votes in 2016. Trump’s national support now is around 10%. Snopes cited the New Yorker reporter, Charles Bethea, who found the source of the photo. “Bem Joiner, a local entrepreneur, saw an elderly white couple ‘walking so jovial towards us,’ as he later put it to me, in a direct message. The grinning couple wore matching white T-shirts with black lettering that read ‘blacks for trump.’ Joiner, who is black, said, ‘my homegirl took the pic’ of the couple, which Joiner later posted on Instagram, ‘cause I was too in awe of the situation.’ In the caption, Joiner referred to the scene as being something out of ‘The Twilight Zone.’” Also surreal was Bethea’s account of a black “ pastor kid” from Harrisburg, North Carolina who wore a “Black Lives maga” hat. “He told me, of Trump, ‘I feel like he’s done so much. Specifically for the minorities. People try to say what he’s done for these white supremacists— like all the whites—but he’s for everybody. He’s for America. I believe that,’” Bethea wrote. – Karen Ocamb
“With this measure we are righting that wrong and sending a message to LGBTQ veterans that we have their backs, just as they had ours.”
– New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on signing the Restoration of Honor Act, enabling LGBTQ veterans honorably discharge under the LGBT ban to apply for New York State veterans’ benefits.
“Oh, man, I’m so f—ing in love with you.” - Kristen Stewart to girlfriend Dylan Meyer “in some shitty bar,” as told to Howard Stern, via People magazine Nov. 12.
“The Bible tells us, ‘The Lord detests lying lips…’ (Proverbs 12:22).” – Rich evangelical Franklin Graham in Facebook rant about impeachment proceedings against his friend, President Donald Trump.
10 • NOVEMBER 15, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
On the bus with Mayor Pete Buttigieg electrifies crowds in Iowa as new polls show him taking the lead By CHRIS JOHNSON CHARLES CITY, Iowa — He’d been going for days, fielding endless queries from voters at campaign stops on everything from health care and gun control to whether he plays Dungeons & Dragons. (He doesn’t, but plays board games like Risk.) But asked pointedly whether evangelicals would ever back a gay candidate, Pete Buttigieg didn’t miss a beat. “I’m from Indiana, right?” he said to laughter in the crowd. “I know a little bit about what you’re talking about.” Over the course of South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s three-day campaign bus tour across Iowa, there was no escaping the realization the 2020 presidential hopeful is gay. But it wasn’t because Buttigieg was wearing his sexual orientation on his sleeve, or waving a rainbow Pride flag on stage at his rallies. It wasn’t because he hectored his audience to back his candidacy based on the unprecedented nature of an openly gay presidential contender in the race for the Democratic nomination. It was because the audience kept bringing it up and cheered him on for it. Coming off his success at the Liberty & Justice Celebration for Democratic presidential candidates on Nov. 1, Buttigieg lit up crowds over the course of his campaign tour — and being an openly gay candidate was a big part of that welcome reception. After long bus rides with views of cornfields and big Iowa skies, LGBTQ issues and the prospect of having a gay man in the White House were brought up by the audience, not by the 37-year-old presidential hopeful, in four of the five public events on Buttigieg’s tour. At Charles City, Buttigieg recounted his story of coming out. In June 2015, as Buttigieg was running for re-election as mayor of South Bend, he disclosed his sexual orientation for the first time publicly in an essay for the South Bend Tribune. “As hard as it was for me deciding what to do when I came out — and it was an election year by the way, we didn’t know what the
Mayor Pete Buttigieg crossed Iowa last week on a campaign bus and addressed LGBTQ issues along the way. Blade photo by Chris Johnson
effect was going to be — I just knew in my life, it was time,” Buttigieg said. “And what happened was I got re-elected with 80 percent of the vote, even in Indiana when Mike Pence was governor of our state.” The audience ate it up, responding with applause and cheers that lasted several seconds. Building off that response, Buttigieg made a joke involving Chasten Buttigieg, his now husband whom he married last year. “He couldn’t get through the milk aisle at the grocery without hearing about potholes and all these things,” Buttigieg continued, in a seeming attempt to make his family life more relatable. “We invited people to treat us like any other couple, and 99 times out of 100, they did.” That’s where Buttigieg made his shift. Run-of-the-mill issues like potholes, he said, are what Americans are concerned about, not the prospects of a gay couple in the White House. “What I’m finding is the real question on voters’ minds is how their lives are going to be different when I’m president versus the one we’ve got, or one of the competitors,” he said. Buttigieg conceded he’s “happy to tell my
story and I’m proud of who I am,” but wants to focus on the bread-and-butter issues Americans are facing. “This is part of how we break the spell of the current president: It’s not all about me, it’s not all about him, though there are many things we might point out about his deficiencies,” Buttigieg said. “But the more we’re talking about him or me the less we’re talking about you. And when we’re talking about you, we’re winning, because we’ve got the right answers for our lives.” That answer struck a chord with attendees, who responded with cheers and applause. It also exemplifies the way Buttigieg approached the issue of being gay on his campaign tour: Wait for the audience to bring it up, acknowledge it, stand for applause then shift back to bread-andbutter issues or the main campaign message. It would be a historic first having an openly gay president, and that’s inspiring supporters in the same way the idea of electing the first black president helped Barack Obama and the idea of sending a woman to the White House helped Hillary Clinton. William Reinicke, a 19-year-old student
at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, who came to hear Buttigieg speak at a fish fry event in Cedar Rapids, said the South Bend mayor is his No. 1 choice for president because he “represents generational change,” and being openly gay is one aspect of that. “I think that’s a plus in the sense that it shows that no matter what your background is, no matter what your orientation is, that you can make it to whatever level possible that there is in this country,” Reinicke said. The most powerful example of this phenomenon — and perhaps the most highly publicized in the media — was the last question Buttigieg took at a rally Saturday evening in Decorah, where an audience member — through a note passed to a campaign staffer — asked how he’d deal with international leaders from countries “like Saudi Arabia and Russia, where it’s illegal to be gay.” “So, they’re going to have to get used to it,” Buttigieg said succinctly. A full 27 seconds of applause followed. It was the loudest and longest applause for any response that night. Other responses from the crowd of 1,000 to Buttigieg’s lines about action on guns and removing President Trump from the White House were loud, but didn’t come close. Although Buttigieg cautioned, “we can’t intervene in every country and make them be good to their people,” he said his election as president would have an impact on LGBTQ people overseas. “I do believe that one big step forward would be for a country like the United States to be led by somebody that people in those other countries can look to and know that they’re not alone,” Buttigieg concluded. Buttigieg, asked by the Blade on the campaign trail whether he’s surprised being gay has energized his crowds, said he’s seen a lot of older individuals “who have a kid or maybe a niece or nephew who comes out and is gay and trans” seeking to have a better understanding of LGBTQ people. “This campaign has helped that,” Buttigieg said. “So, it’s not only that it, I think, sends a message in particular a lot of youth that they belong and they have a place, but also for a lot of adults with relationships with LGBTQ youth, and then of course a lot of people from an older generation who are LGBTQ just never thought they’d live to see this day.”
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Buttigieg added, “It has been striking to me how many people it touches in different ways.” He’s certainly connecting with Iowans. A Quinnipiac poll published on Nov. 7 found he’s essentially tied in the state with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) among likely Iowa caucus-goers. Warren has support from 20 percent, followed by Buttigieg at 19 percent, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) at 17 percent and former Vice President Joseph Biden at 15 percent. And a Monmouth University poll released Tuesday shows Buttigieg atop the field in Iowa with 22 percent support, followed by Biden at 19, Warren with 18 and Sanders with 13 percent.
Faith and passion Of course, being gay isn’t the only personal attribute inspiring Buttigieg’s supporters, many of whom are also impressed with his credentials at just 37 years old. After all, Buttigieg is a Harvard-educated Rhodes scholar who’s also an Afghanistan war veteran and a former McKinsey management consultant. For Linda Langston, a 66-year-old former member of the Lake County Board of Supervisors who attended a Cedar Rapids fish fry wearing a “Pete 2020” campaign sticker, Buttigieg’s sexual orientation is no big deal. “It’s fine,” Langston said. “I mean, my oldest son is gay, so I get it, but that is not what to me is the defining factor, the defining factor is that he’s a really bright, articulate person who has served his country in war, and can come back and speak with hard faith and passion.” Cindy Schubert, a 73-year-old Iowa voter who showed up on a Monday afternoon for a meet-and-greet with Buttigieg in Algona, Iowa, brought up the candidate’s youth when asked by the Blade if he’s championing any issues she supports. “I guess I like the fact that he’s very energetic and young, you know, but at the same time, I’m learning towards Joe because of his experience,” Schubert said. “So I’m really torn.” Although the meet-and-greet event in Algona, hosted by the Veterans of Foreign Wars, attracted an older crowd than Buttigieg’s usual audiences, Schubert said he’s “got a lot of support in this community.” “I think he’s got more support than anybody else,” Schubert said. But Buttigieg’s youth cuts both ways in the Democratic primary, as evidenced by a recent New York Times article on Buttigieg
Mayor Pete Buttigieg is connecting with Iowans; a new Monmouth poll has him leading the Democratic pack with 22 percent support. Blade photo by Chris Johnson
indicating his gushing press and expansive donor base are riling his Democratic rivals, who say he’s inexperienced. At a subsequent rally in Spencer, Buttigieg sought to allay concerns about his youth and inexperience in response to a question from an attendee. “It’s true that I have not been marinating around Capitol Hill,” Buttigieg said. “I’d argue that might be a virtue at a time like this.” Following applause, Buttigieg said he does have experience “on the ground, dealing with problems as a mayor.” “And one of the things about being a mayor is you are on the ground getting stuff done, we deal with some of the biggest and toughest issues in the country from infrastructure, economic development, from disasters, to getting the 3 a.m. phone call, to planning for the long run racial issues all the way through to infrastructure underground,” Buttigieg said. To laughter, Buttigieg continued, “You don’t get to call fake news if somebody says that the snow didn’t get plowed, either it did or it didn’t. People are going to know.” At times, the connection between Buttigieg’s supporters and the gay presidential candidate was poignant, such as when the campaign tour came to Mason City.
On one hand, the city has the distinction of being the town on which “River City” in the classic musical “Music Man” is based and the site where the rock ‘n roll pioneers Big Bopper, Ritchie Valens and Buddy Holly met their end in a plane crash in 1959. On the other hand, Mason City was also the first stop on the Buttigieg tour within the congressional district of Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), whose notoriously anti-LGBTQ views have animated his career and whom Congress recently censured for comments in favor of white nationalism. LGBTQ people knew about King long before he expressed white nationalism sympathies. Among other things, King in 2010 successfully led the effort to oust by referendum three judges from the Iowa Supreme Court who ruled in favor of samesex marriage. Nonetheless, in his stop in King’s district, an audience member presented Buttigieg with an LGBTQ question: What would he do for LGBTQ youth?
‘I was alone’ In response, Buttigieg said winning marriage equality nationwide four years ago “doesn’t mean the job is done,” pointing to the importance of passing federal LGBTQ comprehensive non-discrimination
LOCAL legislation known as the Equality Act. “It’s a basic matter of fairness, it’s the right thing to do, and I will sign it when it gets to my desk,” Buttigieg added to loud hoots and applause. Buttigieg pointed out an estimated 40 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ and said LGBTQ kids are more likely to have mental health problems and commit suicide. “We got to make sure that we wrap around young people with compassion,” Buttigieg said to applause. His response included a personal touch. “There were exactly zero out students at my high school,” Buttigieg said. “I was starting to realize I was different, I was alone, and you need to know you’re not alone, you’re not the only one and everybody in the name of compassion ought to support that.” As he wrapped up in Mason City, Buttigieg said he could embrace policies to advance LGBTQ rights all day long, but emphasized the importance of belonging — a core general message of his campaign. “It’s not just policy,” Buttigieg said. “It’s about the example we send, and the message we send. The message we send is you belong and we love you, and we want to belong.” Buttigieg once again followed the pattern of embracing support for LGBTQ identity before moving to a more general theme, this time with an emotional, almost biblical, appeal that seemed well suited for the audience. And again, Buttigieg won resounding applause. Among the attendees at the Mason City event was Adam Lewis, a 41-year-old social worker who’s gay and volunteers for the Buttigieg campaign. “He just magnetic,” Lewis said, “and I wanted to make sure that as many people as I know could also hear him because I know as soon as you hear him and hear his values and what he stands for, and how he’s going to make sure that everyone belongs in this campaign, that’s all they need to hear.” Lewis, who said the results of the 2016 election “didn’t make sense” to him, said living in King’s district makes Buttigieg a breath of fresh air simply because he’s “someone reasonable, and not racist or homophobic.” “I think people fear change,” Lewis said. “I’m hoping that a lot has changed since the last election, and people are opening their eyes and realizing that we have to Continues on page 12
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For Buttigieg, being gay a boost on the campaign trail Continued from page 11 have change. It’s not something to fear, it’s something we need.” Asked if having gay presidential candidate is important to him as a gay man, Lewis said, “it’s not that it’s not important, because who we are and who we love is a central to who we are as human beings,” but added there’s more to it. “It’s about bringing reason and responsibility back to Washington and letting a new generation of people fix the mess that was created over the last several decades,” Lewis said. After the Mason City event, Buttigieg told the Blade that finding a warm reception in conservative areas like King’s district is “really encouraging” and demonstrates the appeal of the Democratic Party’s views in unlikely places. “Part of what I think is really important is to let a lot of people who maybe think they’re the only one in their community or office of family or church pew who sympathizes with Democrats to realize they’re not the only ones, to kind of build a community around these values,” Buttigieg said. Buttigieg also said holding events in conservative areas builds off his theme of unity — a major message he’s articulated in his campaign. “It’s not that we’re going to get everyone to agree,” Buttigieg said. “It’s that there’s a lot more room for us to grow than you would think, but you got to show up, and that’s one of the reasons why it’s important for me to campaign in an area like this.”
Trouble in the South The idea of a gay presidential candidate might not play as well in other early states in the Democratic primary. In fact, there’s good evidence being gay could hurt him in the South, which is essential territory for any candidate to secure the Democratic nomination. Late last month, The State, a South Carolina-based newspaper, published a memo on internal Buttigieg campaign focus groups indicating black voters in
Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s Iowa bus tour last week. The Blade was among a handful of media outlets invited along for the ride. Blade photo by Chris Johnson
South Carolina find the candidate’s sexual orientation a barrier to supporting him. Additional stories were published in Politico and the New York Times to the same effect. Buttigieg told the Blade he doesn’t think his sexual orientation “has to be an obstacle” for black voters, but understands “there’s clearly a life journey within a lot of church communities, and a lot of generational dynamics.” Even though the issue isn’t going away, Buttigieg said he thinks he can deliver for black voters based on his policy positions, which include a “Douglass Plan” to rectify racial injustice. “I think voters, and in particular black voters who have felt both abused by the Republican Party, but also taken for granted by the Democratic Party, they just want to know if there are going to be results,” Buttigieg said. “And if I can demonstrate that, then a lot of the other stuff falls away.” Asked by the Blade whether the internal
focus group published by the State was an authorized leak, Buttigieg denied it was the case. In response to another reporter’s question about whether similar focus groups were commissioned in other states, Buttigieg said he’ll “let others talk to focus group stuff.” Alvin McEwen, a South Carolinabased blogger who’s gay and black, said black voters in South Carolina are more concerned about Trump than Buttigieg and “would support” the candidate if he were the Democratic nominee. “This speculation about homosexuality and the black community is nothing more than a generalization about the black voter and our community in general,” McEwen added. There are nuances that people always miss. Not all black church folk oppose homosexuality. Some actually support the LGBTQ community. They are either LGBTQ or have LGBTQ relatives. They tend to be silent because the prevailing belief is that
the black community is homophobic and they aren’t going to rock that boat.” Even on the Iowa trip, there was one instance where Buttigieg’s sexual orientation — as well as his youth — ended up being the elephant in the room as opposed to energizing his candidacy. At the Abby Finkenauer Fish Fry in Cedar Rapids, amid the pungent aroma in the air of fried food, an awkward moment ensued when the three union leaders who were moderating — three older men with a “no nonsense” vibe — asked him about infrastructure. Confessing he’s actually surprised Trump didn’t fulfill his pledge, Buttigieg said infrastructure is important, even the “less sexy” aspects like wastewater management. Coincidentally, one of the moderators for the discussion was representing the plumbers union and said wastewater was “pretty sexy.” Buttigieg shrugged it off with a laugh and said, “Oh yeah?” But the awkwardness continued when another moderator said he wanted to discuss the topic of bridge construction, which he said iron workers find “real sexy.”
Touring an ethanol plant Donning a hard hat and blue goggles, Buttigieg inspected an ethanol plant in Mason City, including the laboratory and a room with computer screens monitoring the fermenters, asking questions about best practices and economic policies that would benefit the business. Promoting the facility, which mixes ethanol into petrol to extend its use, Golden Grain Commodity Manager Curt Strong touted exports and the plant’s enhanced environmental practices. Asked by the Blade during the tour how Trump’s trade wars were affecting business, Strong said the important thing is for Congress to pass the United States-MexicoCanada trade deal, or USMCA, which he said would be a “great first step.” Otherwise, Strong said tariffs in China and Brazil were problematic. “So some of our bigger customers were penalizing us for shipping product to their
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countries where we could tell they wanted the product,” Strong said. “So the trade wars, it would be great to get them solved. It would be great for us to have a level playing field. But I think there’s a lot of negotiation that needs to go on there.” Concluding the presentation, Buttigieg said biofuels like those produced at Golden Grain could be part of American’s future, but “you got to have policy that supports that” as well as policy consistency. “And the added uncertainty that’s coming from this administration has just created more problems that really haven’t gotten folks here,” Buttigieg said. “Now you’re working around the uncertainty, you’re working through the regulation, but I got to think that it would be extraordinary to think of what could be unlocked if you had another 15 years ahead of you to innovate the way you did last 15 years without some of these things being thrown at you from Washington, D.C.” On one occasion, Buttigieg broke his own pattern by bringing up his sexual orientation himself — during a forum on disabilities in Cedar Rapids. Touting his newly unveiled comprehensive plan for the disabled, which includes doubling employment among disabled people by 2030, Buttigieg brought up being gay no fewer than three times. Addressing the crowd of advocates for people with disabilities, Buttigieg said many Americans “have been put on the wrong fence of belonging” and he “felt this in one very particular way in my own life,” making an allusion to his sexual orientation without explicitly bringing it up. Asked about the high suicide rate, Buttigieg said he was glad the question came up because he belongs to “actually a couple communities — as a gay veteran — that remind me that there are some communities in America that are disproportionately liable to die by suicide.” Buttigieg also drew a comparison between LGBTQ people and people with disabilities, saying members of both communities cut across all demographics. “I reflected once as a member of the LGBT community, I thought, you know, one thing that’s really special about our community is it’s a minority that is kind of evenly distributed — as far as I can guess — across every geography and race and income group and family background and profession. And then, and then it was pointed out to me that that’s not just true of that community, that’s also true of the disability community.” As a result, Buttigieg said “at a moment when we are frighteningly fractured as a
country,” the disabled community — like the LGBTQ community — is “an exceptionally diverse, internally diverse community” that can use its political forces to hold public officials accountable to its needs. “And I hope you find that the opportunity to provide some of that crucial, knitting back together the social fabric of this country, that I, as I hopefully become president will be relying on the American people to do as we pick up the pieces that first day after the Trump presidency has come to an end,” Buttigieg said. Another exception was during a rally in Waverly, Iowa, when Buttigieg brought up his coming out story in response to a question from a young girl who asked him to name a time in his life he did something that was the right thing to do, but unexpected. It was also a time when Buttigieg most poignantly described his feelings behind his decision to come out in 2015. Initially, Buttigieg responded to the question by saying it was consistent with his expectation for candidates pursuing office, offering an idealistic vision for the values they should uphold. “That’s a really important quality for somebody running for office because that’s part of how you earn your paycheck when you’re in office,” Buttigieg said. “It’s to know — look, when you run for office, you want to win, but if you don’t know what matters more to you than winning, then you should not be in office.” After talking about signing on in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting in 2015 to Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Buttigieg shifted to coming out as he was pursuing reelection as South Bend mayor. “The decision to come out, I guess was not expected, it wasn’t you know a battle of right versus wrong, but it felt like a battle inside me because I didn’t know what was going to happen,” he said. There was extended applause and cheers of approval. Back on the bus Buttigieg was asked by the Blade how and when he makes the decision to bring up being gay as opposed to letting his audience do it. The South Bend mayor said the planning is “not always superintentional, right? “It comes out just over the course of me talking about my life, and certain things remind me of it,” Buttigieg said. “So with the disability community, it reminds me of it because you have this really interesting phenomenon both with the disability and with the LGBTQ world of this minority, if you will, that cuts through every other
group.” Buttigieg concluded by acknowledging that being gay will likely come up one way or the other on the campaign trail. “As you know, no two of my stumps are kind of alike because I just kind of go with it, but if I don’t raise it, somebody usually will, so one way or the other, I know it’s part of what we will talk about,” Buttigieg said. “It doesn’t define those appearances, but it’s also something I’m happy to talk about.” Although being a gay presidential candidate was a major component of the Iowa trip, Buttigieg’s spouse, Chasten Buttigieg, was only present for half of it and no part of the official bus tour. According to the Buttigieg campaign, Chasten was at the pre-event rally and attended the Liberty & Justice Dinner with Buttigieg, then went to Nevada as a campaign surrogate.
On trans healthcare At his final rally in Spencer, Iowa, Buttigieg again was asked about LGBTQ issues: What would he do as president for LGBTQ youth, especially those who are transgender in medical care? The question was the last one at the rally, and the last one for his bus tour. It was a fitting end to a bus tour where having an openly gay presidential candidate was a major theme. “This is obviously an issue of personal importance to me, having grown up, not knowing if I would ever fit in because I was different,” Buttigieg said. “I didn’t know if my own community would have a place for me, and some great things have happened, some great steps forward with that in this country.” Embracing the U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2015 in favor of same-sex marriage, Buttigieg continued, “I don’t think I would have guessed at the beginning of the same decade that we’re living in that it would be possible for me to stand in front of you a married man running for president of the United States.” He name-checked the Equality Act, then pointed out the questioner asked specifically about transition-related care for transgender youth. Transgender Americans, Buttigieg said, are “facing a lot of obstacles.” “We got to make sure that health care is equitable, that everybody can get the care that they need, including gender-affirming care,” Buttigieg said. “That’s part of what it means to be healthy.” With respect to kids in schools, Buttigieg said, “High school is hard enough if you’re
LOCAL not transgender to navigate. If you are we need to make sure that we’re tearing down the obstacles to belong and be able to get through your day.” Finally, recognizing Iowa was in 2009 among the first states in the country to legalize same-sex marriage, Buttigieg concluded by thank Iowans to another round of applause. It was the last line of his remarks before he announced his departure. “I know the progress that is possible, again, because of things that have become possible in this country that I never would have guessed,” Buttigieg said. “And by the way, thank you Iowa for what you did to help blaze the trail for marriage equality.” That line may be key to understanding the excitement behind his candidacy. Iowans believe their state has led the way for civil rights, paving the way for LGBTQ rights in 2009, when the Iowa Supreme Court legalized marriage equality, and the election of the first black president the year before, when Barack Obama emerged as the victor in the Iowa caucuses. For Iowans, Buttigieg’s candidacy represents the opportunity to marry the two. Time will tell if that happens when the Iowa primary caucuses take place on Feb. 3. Courtney Reyes, executive director of the LGBT group One Iowa, affirmed Buttigieg’s potential to make history as a gay presidential candidate fits in well with the state’s progressive past. “For many LGBTQ Iowans and allies, even those who plan to caucus for a different candidate, Buttigieg’s candidacy and positive reception is a sign that our state’s progressive history on LGBTQ rights can’t be erased entirely by recent setbacks,” Reyes said. “We Iowans take our ‘first in the nation’ status very seriously, and the caucuses represent a galvanizing opportunity to advance equality for all. No matter what specific candidate they support, LGBTQ Iowans and allies are mobilizing to defend our community during the caucuses and beyond.” Buttigieg ended his three-day tour by interacting with the crowd in Spencer along the rope line before the stage, shaking hands and taking selfies. After shaking hands with two children in the crowd, before posing with them and their parents for a picture, Buttigieg made his last act for his tour waving to the crowd as he made his exit. The campaign tour in Iowa had come to an end, and just as Buttigieg credited the state with blazing a trail for LGBTQ rights, Buttigieg’s ability to blaze a trail as a gay presidential hopeful was all the more evident.
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Students, former faculty keep the faith after Catholic high school firings ‘There’s something really wrong with this picture’ in Indiana case By SCOTT STIFFLER Marriage equality may be the law of the land, but at Roman Catholic Church-run Roncalli High School in Indiana, the lesson being taught is that having a same-sex marriage, or standing in solidarity with those who do, will cost you your career. Those scenarios played out, when the Central and Southern Indiana-serving Archdiocese of Indianapolis discovered longtime Roncalli guidance counselors Shelly Fitzgerald and Lynn Starkey were both married to women. Roncalli social worker Kelley Fisher, a straight ally who publicly supported Fitzgerald and Starkey following their firing, also lost her job— and gay-identified Dominic Conover, who founded the Shelly’s Voice Advocacy Group alongside five straight Roncalli students, discontinued his vocal support of Fitzgerald for months (a behavior without which, he was told, he would not receive his diploma). Fitzgerald, who grew up in the Catholic faith and graduated from Roncalli High School in 1991, returned to its halls as a guidance counselor in 2004, then worked as Co-Director of Guidance until 2018, when the church obtained a copy of her marriage certificate via a tipster who, ironically, has yet to be publicly identified. Fitzgerald, notes the Indy Star in an Aug. 20, 2019 article, “was called into a meeting [Aug. 10, 2018] with officials from her school and the church and given three options: divorce her wife, quit her job or wait out the end of her contract quietly and be fired at the end of the school year, when it would expire.” Two days later, Fitzgerald was put on administrative leave and banned from campus. She received a May 2, 2019 letter from Roncalli that her contract would not be renewed, by which point she had filed with the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission), alleging discrimination and retaliation. A federal lawsuit was filed on
Shelly’s Voice was founded by students at Roncalli to support their fired guidance counselors.
Oct. 22 of this year. “I was stunned,” says Fitzgerald, of her dismissal. “I was just living my life as I wanted to live it, and was caught completely off guard,” especially since her sexual orientation had never been a source of controversy or trouble. “The predominant amount of people I worked with not only knew I was gay and had a partner,” says Fitzgerald, “but my daughter has walked the halls since she was able to walk—and we hung around socially with many who worked there, including administrators … I’ve been out, really, since I was 18 years old. But I wasn’t out to students and parents, because as a counselor, that’s not part of the job, to compare stories.” Once dismissed from Roncalli, however, Fitzgerald found herself at the heart of a “nonstop local story” for the past year and a half. “One of the biggest adjustments for me has been the lack of anonymity,” says Fitzgerald, who cites the activism of Conover and other Shelly’s Voice members as the reason “why this story has legs. The day they stepped up, they changed the trajectory of my life forever. They’ve shown what it’s like to be true allies… That made it easier for me, because it gave me an opportunity change things, so nobody has to go through this again. I just want people to have a safe place
to be. So this is not a story about a guidance counselor getting fired. It’s a story about how we can change the path, to make sure everyone has a welcome seat at the table.” As for his own activism, Conover says, “I tell people that before Shelly was fired, I was blind to discrimination, blind to the fact that there was a difference in standing up for other people and standing up for your Catholic faith… I identify as gay and, sadly, it took me up to this year to do that, because of the shame and guilt that goes along with it.” Conover, who graduated in 2019, says he’s no longer in touch with Roncalli faculty, but has “a few friends there [students], that I still talk to, who are supportive of what I’m doing [with Shelly’s Voice]. But they can’t say that out loud.” For LGBTQ people at Roncalli, “It’s a very toxic environment,” notes Conover. “It’s hard to be happy with yourself when the school you go to won’t allow you to be who you are... There are others [Roncalli students] in our organization who have had to back down on their positions, to ensure they can graduate.” Shelly’s Voice, he says, “kept me afloat” during his time at Roncalli. “Without being an activist and an advocate for Shelly, I would not have had the mental strength” to endure the ultimatum he was given in order to receive his diploma. “I did not, at the
time,” recalls Conover, “understand what this state of forced silence would have on a person.” During that period, recalls Conover, “I had the blessing of meeting Ariadne Getty,” a lifelong philanthropist who, he notes, worked with him “to make sure my voice would be heard after graduation.” “He’s what we love to invest our time in, which is the next generation of disrupters and activists,” says Getty, whose Ariadne Getty Foundation (AGF) secured pro bono legal and public relations work for Conover, and gave financial support to Fitzgerald. “I want to make an impression that this isn’t acceptable,” says Getty, calling the Roncalli situation “a story that you can’t ignore,” and noting AGF’s support is part of its wider effort to “do right by people who have been wronged… If there’s anything I can do to help other people facing similar crisis, I would love to know.” Getty has taken a hands-on approach, noting of Fitzgerald, “We’ve become very good friends. We talk often, and I talk with Dominic regularly. I’m blessed to have them in my life.” Of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, says Getty, “There’s something really wrong with this picture. Here, we have this community that’s supposed to love everybody, and go to church on Sunday. Then what happens on Monday? You get fired. Or, if you’re a student, your graduation is going to be held over your head.” Not everybody in the church or the wider community has been hostile. Conover says Shelly’s Voice has received letters “from priests across the country, who have written, anonymously, to say they support what we are doing, and pray for the change we are seeking.” Conover notes that despite many letters of support sent to the archdiocese via Shelly’s Voice, his almost daily voicemails left with the office of Archbishop Thompson have gone unanswered since the beginning of last year, when “We [Shelly’s Voice] had a meeting with him to discuss our opposition to what he was doing. But I never get a call back or a request for a conversation.” Continues at losangelesblade.com
The top 5 nominees in each category will become finalists and voting will be held from December 2nd - December 18th Winners will be announced in January at the Best of LGBTQ LA Party
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VOLUME 03 ISSUE 46
Black men’s body parts for sale Ed Buck case is about a warped sexual fantasy involving a mythological appendage
Paul Scott is founder of the Los Angeles Black LGBTQ Movement.
The deaths of Gemmel Moore and Timothy Dean and the near death of several black men in the West Hollywood home of Ed Buck are indicative of an artificially created, heightened demand for that mythological black male appendage below the belt. Let’s be clear: this is not a desire for the individual black man, his personality or his looks – it’s a craving for just the appendage. And many white and brown gay men are willing to pay large sums of cash to possess it, even if only for a short period of time. To some gay black men like me, this hunting for a distinct black male body part feels much like the African elephant being hunted to near extinction for its ivory tusk, which is ground up and used to ostensibly enhance sexual prowess. It is proof of the
power of marketing on the human mind. The marketers of the porn industry and con artists in the American media know how to market this appendage very well — creating the sexual desire for black men that poor black boys are pursued to fulfill. Most white men know that they don’t possess the natural ability to attract the desires of black men unless money is part of the equation: it’s almost a given that if you’re a gay black boy in a predominately white gay world you will be offered money for sex. Too often, it becomes easier and much more lucrative to offer up your body than to try and get a job within the broader gay community. If an individual Asian, Latino or white man decides to make a little money by doing a porn scene, their entire race is not identified by their individual actions. Unfortunately, however, that does not transfer to black men. The general perception is that each individual black man must be like all black men, even though not all black men can all play sports, rap, dance or have a penis large enough to fit the commonly held mythology. The horrible blowback from this sex marketing mindset is largely to blame for the deaths of Gemmel Morre and Timothy Dean. In the city of West Hollywood, there are scores of white gay male escorts. When the term “sex worker” is applied to them, they are basically offered a modicum of respect. But it took the deaths of two black gay men — one a known escort — and the near
death of a third black gay escort, before the known white suspect was ever taken into police custody. This screams of racial disparities and prejudices about how black men’s lives are devalued. In this case, it is particularly ugly to see the legal power structure that promotes the belief that Gemmel Moore and Timothy Dean’s deaths were selfinflicted — accidental overdoses, according to the coroner — as if black men devalue themselves so much that they would choose to die in Ed Buck’s apartment. I do not believe their deaths were “accidental.” I believe they died because of Ed Buck’s warped sexual fantasy about a black man’s penis. The powerful elite that owns and operates online and offline media with an objective and mission to monetize the public’s appetites and desires knows what sells. They have also led in the messaging of what and who black gay men are. We gay black men do not possess a metaphoric mega phone to shout to the world: WE BLACK GAY MEN ARE NOT WHAT YOU’VE BEEN TOLD.” If we did, then I’m confident our perceived identities would not be so sexually skewed. We black people once again have to take control of our own identity and once again, like the civil rights movement of the 60s, create a new black LGBTQ movement. Check out LosAngelesBlackLGBTMovement.org or see the Facebook page.
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LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • NOVEMBER 15, 2019 • 17
GOP, party of chaos Brave patriots speak up amid Trumpist noise
Richard J. Rosendall is a writer, activist, and longtime Ward 2 resident. Reach him at email@example.com.
The stream of Republican distractions and diversions from the House impeachment inquiry, centered on Donald Trump’s attempted extortion of Ukraine, is like someone who works out of a home office being interrupted during a live broadcast by his toddlers bursting into the room—only the toddlers are like the demon child in “The Omen.” With the hearings going public this week, everyone is wondering how much more chaos Congressmen Jim Jordan and Matt Gaetz can stir up. Having been to the circus before, I really don’t need to watch another showoff abusing lions. If you decide to watch, keep in mind
that it could be worse. Lawfare’s Benjamin Wittes tweeted, “Reading through these transcripts, I am pleased to report that at least none of the people discussed bring a whip to work. You can’t take these things for granted anymore.” A few observations: An impeachment inquiry is not a coup. It is authorized by Article I, Section 2, Clause 5 of the Constitution. It is not a criminal proceeding. Braying a lie a hundred times neither makes it true nor turns a pumpkin into a carriage. Distinguished career diplomats and decorated military veterans do not become traitors and spies because a spoiled adolescent from Queens doesn’t like to be contradicted. Behind the likely articles of impeachment, for which the strongest and clearest case can be made, lurks mischief by and on behalf of Trump that reminds us why a compelling narrative is needed against this dangerous and destructive president: the changing rationalizations, the ever-moving goal posts, the projecting of Trump’s sins onto his foes, and the repeated, zombielike resurrection of debunked conspiracy theories such as the one used to shift blame for foreign interference in the 2016 election from Russia onto Ukraine. A perfect illustration of Trump’s gift for
attracting henchmen from hell: on the same day that Kevin McCarthy appointed Jordan to the House Intelligence Committee, a second person stated he had told Jordan about sexual abuses against students when Jordan was assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State University in the 1990s, which Jordan denies. The Trump family’s sociopathy was displayed by Donald Jr. as he described how a visit to Arlington National Cemetery reminded him of the attacks his family had suffered and the sacriﬁces they had to make to help their father succeed—sacriﬁces nowhere in evidence. Whistling past the graveyard has been raised to desperate new heights, as reported in stories with headlines like “Six times Trump’s allies downplayed Trump’s actions by pointing to his incompetence.” That piece ends by quoting a 2014 Trump tweet (there is always a tweet) attacking Obama: “Are you allowed to impeach a president for gross incompetence?” Amid frantic demands by Trump to “name the whistleblower,” who is protected under federal law, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman testiﬁed that “there was no doubt” Trump sought a quid pro quo during his July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Vindman was on that call, and therefore is a direct witness; so President Russian Asset and his minions
keep screaming about the whistleblower, like a ﬁre department attacking a 911 caller and denying there was a ﬁre after the house burned down. Trump’s defenders constantly, indignantly insist that the rules everyone else goes by somehow do not apply to him. By attacking those who courageously step up to tell the truth, Trump and Company put them in danger. You might say he is shooting them in the middle of Fifth Avenue, just as his diehard supporters want. Thinking as they are told, Trump’s fans are far more outraged by a parodic characterization by Rep. Adam Schiff than by the president’s brazen wrongdoing. The stream of frenzied, baseless denunciations is designed to distract us from the damning revelations that the Democrats are patiently and methodically bringing to light. Trump’s tantrums, which are getting worse, are about to be eclipsed by the truth about who is harming the country and who is holding the vandals to account. Use your mute button judiciously. Listen for the signal amid the noise. Let us remember and honor the patriots who brave a petty tyrant’s wrath by standing their ground amid the battle for our country. Copyright © 2019 by Richard J. Rosendall. All rights reserved.
LA Blade’s favorite things to do with the kids Beyond Weho, there’s a whole world of magic FROM STAFF REPORTS
Outdoor ice skating at various locations (listed here) from Nov. 1, 2019 to Jan. 29, 2020. One of L.A.’s most popular holiday traditions is skating at the various outdoor ice rinks throughout the city. Take advantage of the beautiful Los Angeles winter weather and get a tan as you skate on a sunny afternoon. Or bundle up and enjoy the crisp night air while skating under the stars. Just remember the rules of the rink and enjoy the holidays. You can enjoy outdoor Ice Skating at DTLA’s Pershing Square (532 South Olive Street, Los Angeles) or Ice at Santa Monica (1324
5th Street, Santa Monica). Or go inside at LA King’s Holiday on Ice at LA Live (800 Olympic Boulevard). Prices range from $25 to $100.. Open 365 days a year, The Grove invites the entire family to enjoy a Winter Wonderland in LA now through Christmas Day (Wednesday, Dec. 25). The holiday festivities include a 100foot Christmas tree, the Santa House, nightly snowfall at 7 and 8 p.m., live music and entertainment. Santa Paws Pet Photos for your furry friend every Tuesday from 6:30-9 p.m. through Dec. 12, 2019. Free. Universal Studios Hollywood from
November 2019 to January 2020 at 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City. Get in the festive spirit with all-new holiday experiences at Universal Studios Hollywood! Surrounded by holiday decor, you can celebrate Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, enjoy the most Who-tacular Grinchmas celebration ever, and take a selfie with the merry and mischievous Minions. Christmas at the Wizarding World of Harry PotterThis holiday season, Hogsmeade™ is transformed with festive décor to celebrate Christmas at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
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Experience an all-new holiday spectacle with dazzling lights and music cast against the majestic backdrop of Hogwarts™ castle. Hear holiday favorites performed by the Hogwarts student choir accompanied by their giant throaty frogs. Shop for holiday ornaments, stockings, tree toppers and figurines, then enjoy seasonal food and beverage offerings at Three Broomsticks, including a Holiday Dinner and hot Butterbeer. Varies costs up to $140. Holiday Lunch at Lorelai’s - Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood is from Dec. 22, 2019
to Jan. 6, 2020 at 3400 Warner Boulevard, Burbank. At Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood, share your love for Gilmore Girls and take a stroll down memory lane back to the charming town of Stars Hollow, Connecticut from December 22 to January 6. Once you reach the end of your Studio Tour at Stage 48: Script to Screen, purchase lunch and enjoy the sights of Lorelai’s decorated house. Relive the magic of your favorite scenes with authentic props and costumes on display, take a photo in the iconic Gazebo, and walk in the familiar footsteps of Lorelai, Rory,
Luke, and all the everyday townsfolk as you explore the original sets from the show. Save your appetite for a delicious holiday spread with gourmet sandwiches and a selection of beverages available for purchase, right in Lorelai’s backyard. “‘Tis the season to Live more. Laugh more. Eat more. Talk more. Gilmore.” Up to $295. Hollywood Pantages Theater, 6233 Hollywood Boulevard, is perfect for the whole family this Holiday season from December 4, 2019 to February 2, 2020. If you missed Donna Summer LGBT Night there’s yet another
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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
Christmas at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
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LA Blade’s favorite things to do with the kids Continued from Page 19 reason to go to Pantages. Frozen. As fearless optimist Anna teams up with rugged mountain man Kristoff and his loyal reindeer Sven, they set off on an epic journey to find her sister Elsa, whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom of Arendelle in eternal winter. Take the kids and they’ll never stop singing. It Broadway in Hollywood and you got to celebrate. Ticket prices vary at hollywoodpantages.com. El Capitan Theater, 6838 Hollywood Boulevard, is the old world movie palace standard and the best house in Los Angeles. December sees a marathon of Frozen. Frozen 2 from November 21 to December 15. You must schedule for one of the special events, either the four hour Frozen double feature on December 21 or the Frozen 2 Breakfast and Pajama party on November 22. Holiday Events at the Music Center are throughout the month of December 2019 at The Music Center, 135 N. Grand Avenue, home to the Ahmanson Theatre, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Mark Taper Forum and Walt Disney Concert Hall (111 South Grand Street). From concerts and sing-alongs to the city’s largest holiday celebration, visitors can spend the entire season at the Music Center and never see the same event twice. At the most important Arts venue in Los Angeles, sky is the limit on price but there are always deals at musiccenter.org/.
Las Posadas at Olvera Street from Dec. 16 to Dec. 24, 2019 is all about Christmas and family. Each year from Dec. 16 until Christmas Eve, Olvera Street merchants and their families walk through El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument in a ceremonial re-enactment of Joseph and Mary’s nine-night search for sanctuary. The tradition features a procession with sing-alongs and piñata breaking, and is one of the oldest events in the city. The Original Farmers Market, 6333 West 3rd Street, celebrates the holidays from Dec. 18 to Dec. 24, 2019. As it has for decades, The Original Farmers Market at Third and Fairfax will celebrate the holidays with Yuletide decor, globally-inspired seasonal music, arts & crafts, Christmas Karaoke and more. The Market’s holiday music line-up offers an eclectic range of musical styles, from Latin jazz to Calypso and mariachi. A popular Market tradition returns with carolers strolling the aisles in Dickensian costumes. Holiday events and activities at The Original Farmers Market are free, check the online flyer for the full schedule. Free. Queen Mary Christmas, 1126 Queens Highway, the Queen Mary is decked out now through Jan. 1, 2020. Discover new traditions mingled with old-fashioned Christmas cheer as you stroll the beautiful decks of the legendary Queen Mary! Experience thousands of twinkling lights, carolers and musical performances, the outdoor skating rink, meet and greets with Santa, and much more. Highlights of Queen Mary Christmas
include Santa’s Captain’s Quarters featuring photos with Santa, Mrs. Claus in the Starboard Lounge, outdoor ice skating on the Sports Deck, Gingerbread Village, Canopy of Lights, Breakfast with Santa, and the Holiday Dinner Show. Tickets start at $29.95. Tournament of Roses is from Dec. 1, 2019 to January 1,2020, at various locations around Pasadena. Founded in 1890, the Tournament of Roses in Pasadena is America’s New Year Celebration, a greeting to the world on the first day of the year and a salute to the community spirit and love of pageantry. From the pre-bowl game feasting at Lawry’s Beef Bowl, to the spectacular Rose Parade and the Rose Bowl Game on New Year’s Day, the Tournament of Roses is a Southern California tradition that is unequaled anywhere in the world. Last year’s winner, bisexual Louise Deser Siskel, recently completed her reign and passed the crown to Camile Kennedy. Most events are free. Did you know you can surf & snow ski on the same day in LA Angelenos and visitors alike have heard that in Los Angeles, you can surf in the morning and ski in the afternoon. With Downtown LA as your home base, you have several options that will make you the envy of your surfing and skiing friends and family. Go east for snow and west for surf. It’s there, we promise. Whether it’s during the holidays or any time of year, you can start your day in the beautiful Pacific Ocean and finish your adventure at the stunning mountains above LA County. Siri knows how to get you there.
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • NOVEMBER 15, 2019 • 21
This week saw the release of songwriter Tom Goss’ seventh studio album “Territories.” Goss, who is best known in the gay music scene, not unlike Steve Grand, could be best identified by his distinctive brand of indie rock, a style he dedicated his previous six albums to perfecting. Uptempo acoustic guitars and drums, an instrumentation like much of the indie rock music of the mid-2000s (think Augustana), undergirded Goss’ storytelling songwriting tendencies. But for Goss’ small, devoted following, “Territories” arrives as something of a shock. Since his emergence on the scene around 2006, his focus has been on the kind of folk rock so conducive to storytelling, and his folksy, even slightly mushy lyrics have been successful in connecting with his gay audience. Although his 2016 “What Doesn’t Break” included far more synth and electronic effects, it could still be classified as characteristically indie-pop/indie-rock, even with a slightly harder edge. The major influences of the new album seem to be ambient music and ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response). ASMR has emerged in the past couple of years as a fad, which uses repeated, everyday sounds to create pleasurable feelings for listeners. “Territories,” produced by Ian Carmichael, capitalizes on the popularity of ASMR, creating tracks that would perhaps more accurately be considered soundscapes than songs. It’s a curious, maybe savvy, move on the part of Goss and his producers, but the songs are effectively stripped of any internal drive. Instead of the music being moved by a palpable sonic tension, one has more the impression of floating along aimlessly. It’s ideal music for the bathtub, for intimacy, but is so disconnected from the ordinary rhythms of life that the music is hard to place. It’s like sweeping cinematography without the directed action of the plot. Nonetheless, there is a continuity to the wanderings, with many of the songs tied to specific geography (“Berlin,” “Quayside,” “Quebec,” “Amsterdam” and so on). And Goss succeeds in making the listener hear the distinction of each location. Take for example the single “Berlin,” a story about sexual reawakening in the German capital. Of course, the city has been of interest to gay writers and artists, especially in the English-speaking world, since Christopher Isherwood’s classic “Goodbye to Berlin” in 1939. The subsequent adaptation of the novel into the 1972 movie “Cabaret,” starring Liza Minnelli, Joel Gray and Michael York, permanently cemented Berlin in the gay imagination. The music video for “Berlin” pays tribute to this aesthetic, with its costumes and back-room-of-a-cabaret setting. It’s an interesting, conscious situation of a contemporary gay story in reference to iconic cultural markers. Press materials for the album say the song is inspired by Goss’s long-time husband’s infidelity and their subsequent decision to have an open relationship, which led Goss to a sexual reawakening. “Quayside” is the best of the on location tracks — the song is balanced, not lacking in direction like many of the others. If anything, it suffers from an overly redundant chorus, not unlike Goss’ hymn to “Berlin.” Despite the washy, vaguely nauseating synth punctuated by ASMR, the album manages a couple of gems despite itself. “Eve” is a fantastically balanced, sexy song that succeeds on every point. There is a delightful Ben Folds-esque quality to it, and rather swimming about without direction, the track takes us somewhere. It’s bound to be one of the more popular on the new album. Likewise, “Zedel” is a delightful blues-influenced track, which Goss pulls off deftly. One common feature of these tunes is that both are keyboard driven, which gives the music more structure and Goss a framework in which to shine. “Territories” is a conceptually interesting album that suffers from a somewhat poor execution. It’s neither from a lack of production quality nor talent, but rather the absence of moderation. My bet is that the next album will favor a wholly different concept, and that, by that time, ASMR videos will have disappeared as quickly as they first popped up in our YouTube recommendations.
On Gossamer wings? New Tom Goss album is feathery, atmospheric left turn By THOM MURPHY
Tom Goss’s new album ‘Territories’ was inspired by gay marital troubles. Album cover courtesy Press Here Publicity
OUT & ABOUT
Remembering Studio One Iconic disco being turned into luxury hotel By JOHN PAUL KING
A scene from the glory days of Studio One. Photo Courtesy ONE Archives
22 • NOVEMBER 15, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
On the night of Saturday, Nov. 9, West Hollywood bid a bittersweet farewell to a big piece of its history, when an enthusiastic crowd gathered in the space now known as The Robertson, but that was once the site of what was arguably gay LA’s most iconic disco, Studio One. The revelers were there to attend the official good-bye party for the storied club – “Back to the Backlot: A Studio One Celebration and Farewell.” A show and dance party thrown by Faring Capital, the West Hollywood-based real estate and development company that owns the building, it was hosted by Emmy-winner Bruce Vilanch, with entertainment for the evening provided by Thelma Houston, Freda Payne, Billy Masters, and an assortment of other performers and musicians – hearkening back to the club’s glory days, when celebrities like Joan Rivers, Bernadette Peters, and Wayland Flowers (with Madame, of course), performed there. That the event should warrant the participation of bigname talent is no surprise, considering Studio One’s long legacy. The building, originally a bombsight facility from WWII, became The Factory, a late-60s style disco that was a popular nightspot for celebrities. When that club closed in the early ‘70s, Studio One was born. Though it later became The Axis, and then The Factory again, for LGBT Angelenos of a certain age, it would always be Studio One. There are plenty of important reasons why the legacy of the beloved disco deserves to be preserved– from 19741994, the club saw the rise of the gay rights movement, the rise and fall of disco and the darkest days of the AIDS crisis, when it became ground zero for AIDS activism. But for many of the generation or so of former patrons for whom Studio One was an important touchstone, the most profound reasons are their own memories. For instance, West Hollywood councilman John Jude Duran, who on the day of the farewell party, posted on social media that he had “[m]ixed emotions of sadness, loss, sweet love, kinship and deep gratitude.” The former Weho mayor wrote, “Walking into Studio One that first time I found my Tribe. Confused teen. Fake ID. Circled that block around Robertson and La Peer for a long time until I summoned the courage to walk up those stairs... [b]ut then I walked through the double doors into the STUDIO ONE. Shirtless beautiful Marlboro men with mustaches. Hyper masculinity. The beat of the bass and dance. Threw myself into the unbridled joy on that dance floor and never looked back... until now.” There was also Marc Saltarelli, a filmmaker who was at the farewell celebration to capture it for an upcoming documentary he has in the works, titled “Studio One Forever.” When asked by the Blade what he felt about the club on a personal level, he said, “I remember going to Studio One when I moved here from Illinois in 1983… it took a few circles around the block to get up the courage to walk in. All of my internalized homophobia seemed to be lifted once I got inside. It didn’t feel wrong to be there — it felt like Disneyland. I couldn’t have known that so many years later I would be documenting the club’s history. The AIDS crisis was just beginning to creep into consciousness. For a moment I had unfettered joy and freedom.” These wistful reminiscences are of a kind with those of other former Studio One regulars who spoke with the
Blade. Some offered brief, potent memories that instantly spring to their mind on mention of the club – such as Kevin, who remembers “the nicest bartender in the front… I can’t remember his name… he was in his 30s, muscular, blond – a very sexy man,” or Mitch, who admits, I know I had a lot of fun times there in the early 80’s but the details are sketchy” – though he does add, “I used to see Paul Lynde and Wayland Flowers there, too.” Others had more detail to share, and stories that illustrated the role Studio One played in the lives of the young LGBT people for whom it became an oasis. Anthony, who used to make the drive from Long Beach every week for a night of dancing in Weho, still has awe in his voice as he talks about his experiences there. “My Studio One days began in the early 80s. By that time, it was well known as an institution of gay nightlife.... Studio One was revered as a full-on club, one of maybe three then – the others being the Odyssey and Probe – that were worth going to for a blissed-out night of dedicated dancing. “Inside, the place was vast and had a stellar sound system. What I remember most is the fog machine that would turn the vastness into a hazy, insulated dancehall and added a sense of mystery to what was around the corner... what hottie was lurking just ahead. You’d see partiers from all walks of life – models hobnobbing with preppies, fashion execs judging your clothes… and then you’d turn to the dance floor and see jocks dancing with leather men amid a sea of fan dancers… though I may be mixing that up with the Beach House or something. It’s hard to remember… thank you drugs!” Another former patron, Marvin, paints a vivid, impressionistic portrait of his time there toward the end of its heyday. “The year was 1992-93. The music was electronic, techno mixes, 90’s dance stuff… I remember beepers glowing. It was foggy, It was loud and I don’t remember being able to talk to anyone. We all glowed because of the fog machines and lights… and I remember my best friend would get hit on by older men, they would want to photograph him naked or buy us a drink.” “I felt like I was in a place that I belonged,” he continues. “These were my people. Because of its location in Weho, I self-identified as a gay young man coming of age, and Studio One allowed me to live that for that one night of the week.” That last sentence gets to the heart of why Studio One was a touchstone for the people who congregated there in their youth, and why its passing could not go unacknowledged. It was a place where they could be exactly who they were – at least for the night – without fear of judgment from the “real” world they lived in the rest of the week. The world has changed since the glory days of Studio One, and acceptance is much easier to find for the LGBT community – at least in Los Angeles – but there are few, if any, places today that offer a taste of freedom quite so sweet. For that reason, in years to come, as they drive past the luxury hotel that Faring plans to erect on the property, many gay Angelenos will always feel a twinge of sadness. Faring Capital, the West Hollywood-based real estate and development company, hosted a show and a dance party at The Factory building, to celebrate and say goodbye to the old historical Studio One gay disco.
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • NOVEMBER 15, 2019 • 23
“The Good Liar” is a great movie title, no question about it. At first, it might seem a bit generic, even bland, especially for a film that features two titans of the acting world; but as the story progresses and more revelations emerge about its characters, the title keeps returning to mind as an invitation to ponder its significance. It’s deceptively simple, deliberately non-descriptive. It tells us little about what we are going to see but prompts us to ponder the multiple shades of meaning wrapped within it. Which character does it refer to, and in what sense? Does it mean someone who is good at lying or someone who is lying for a good reason? And what makes that reason good? It’s important to call attention to the title of this new film from director Bill Condon, not just because it subtly encourages the kind of emotionally detached intellectual curiosity the movie requires of us, but also because it’s one of the few aspects of “The Good Liar” that can be discussed without spoilers – and “The Good Liar” is the kind of film for which the phrase “no spoilers please” was invented. What can be safely said by way of set-up is that the movie centers on Roy Courtnay (Ian McKellen), an elderly con artist who specializes in high-stakes financial swindles. He targets Betty McLeish (Helen Mirren), a welloff widow he finds on an Internet dating site, and begins to cultivate a relationship with the intention of gaining access to her considerable bank account. As he gets to know her, he finds himself having feelings for her – but will it be enough to stop him from taking everything she has and leaving her penniless and alone? Things are complicated by her grandson Steven (Russell Tovey), who doesn’t trust him, and a disgruntled former mark (Mark Lewis Jones) out to take back what was stolen from him. Adapted from a novel by Nicholas Searle, Condon’s movie teams him for the third time with McKellen, who starred as “Frankenstein” director James Whale in the pair’s first collaboration, “Gods and Monsters” (1998). That Oscar-winning film – a story about an out gay director made by an out gay filmmaker and an out gay actor – became revered by fans who recognized it as a queer classic. Their second project together, 2015’s “Mr. Holmes,” about the later years of the famous fictional detective, was well reviewed but failed to match the popularity of the previous effort. This time, they are joined by the always-luminescent Mirren, her co-star’s fellow British acting legend and one of the few people able to bring as much gravitas to a character as he does. The trio makes a formidable team, unsurprisingly, and their combined talents make the movie deliciously engaging from start to finish. That’s fortunate, because in terms of story, “The Good Liar” needs that powerhouse quality in order to sell itself to an audience. In keeping with the sense of nostalgia that has been at the heart of the previous Condon/McKellen teamings, it’s a movie that evokes a certain type of film that was almost a subgenre of its own in the seventies and eighties: clever, literate, twoor-three character thrillers like “Sleuth” or “Deathtrap,” which teased and toyed with viewers by winding their way through multiple plot twists on the way to a surprise
ending. Like those films, Condon’s movie puts old-school master thespians in front of the camera to do the heavy lifting in a kind of intellectual-roller-coaster experience as we try to figure out just exactly what is going on. Also like those older movies, it cheats – the whole idea of ‘psyching out’ an audience requires a certain amount of dishonesty in presenting information, so it’s inevitable that important clues will be withheld before the final solution to the mystery – usually a far-fetched one – is revealed. It’s built into the design. The difference is that those older films acknowledged their own inherent silliness – they had, almost, a sense of camp, with excellent performances that were nevertheless over-the-top and an unapologetic embrace of the ludicrous at their core. Though there was murder afoot, it was ultimately all meant to be good fun. “The Good Liar” can’t get away with that – again, to avoid spoilers, all that can be said is that it goes dark, very dark – and doesn’t leave quite as satisfying a taste as those pulpy cinema “classics” of the past. That doesn’t mean it’s not a great ride. The two stars, who have worked together before onstage, are as superb together as one would expect; their chemistry is palpable, and the skill with which they manage the delicate balance of truthfulness in performance with the necessity for not giving anything away is a delight to behold. McKellen, a master of crafty contrast, uses his ability to wrap the most venal of characters into the cloak of benign elderly sweetness to great advantage, yet Roy stirs our empathy no matter how unscrupulous we fear he may turn out to be. Mirren has, arguably, the more challenging role to fulfill in that she must play her hand closer to the chest; since the narrative centers from Roy’s point of view, we cannot know what she knows or what she feels until it’s time for us to know it, and she pulls it off flawlessly. As for the remaining cast, a younger generation of career British thespians is represented by gay heartthrob Tovey, whose performance must walk a similar tightrope to Mirren’s; he, too acquits himself admirably, while incidentally providing the movie’s only directly queer content – the nature of which (again, no spoilers) you’ll have to wait to find out. There’s also Jim Carter (Mr. Carson of “Downton Abbey” fame), who manages to make himself memorable among these heavy-hitters as Roy’s shadowy “associate,” and the blustery Lewis as their haplessly boorish former mark. Thanks to the cast, “The Good Liar” provides exactly the kind of gripping entertainment it sets out to deliver, even if its slow-reveal tactics can’t quite hide the overarching implausibility of its story, or the thorny darkness of the twisted path on which it takes us undercuts its sense of fun. And if Condon’s movie leaves us feeling thrilled but vaguely cheated, it’s not inappropriate for a film full of lies, populated by liars, and ultimately about the longreaching consequences of lies. Like the con man at its center, the filmmaker is running a “long game,” and we go willingly along with him like lambs to the slaughter. In a way, maybe that makes Bill Condon the best liar of them all.
A gripping, yet implausible, ‘Good Liar’ McKellen and Mirren shine under director Bill Condon By JOHN PAUL KING
Ian McKellen and Helen Mirren star in ‘The Good Liar.’ Photo Courtesy Warner Bros/New Line Cinema
24 • NOVEMBER 15, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Bienvenue a Paris gay French capital city is great for a wintertime visit By BILL MALCOLM
Editor’s note — This is a new column. The Blade editors welcome Bill Malcolm to the fold. Winter is the perfect time to visit Paris. The crowds are gone. The weather is not as cold as many U.S. cities. Since you’ll be spending a lot of time in museums, it doesn’t matter anyway. Plus, Paris has a great gay scene and a gayborhood — The Marais.
Getting there I snagged a great low fare on Delta Airlines. The service was exceptional and everything was free. Free hot dinner and breakfast, free headsets, free blankets and pillows, free eyeshades and more. Once in Paris, hop on the commuter rail to town, the RER-B then take the Metro to get to your hotel from the Gare du Nord Station.
Where to stay I stayed at The Moxy, a new Marriott brand geared for millennials. The rate was very reasonable (it varied by day with one day at just 93 Euros or around $110). It’s located near the Marais in the Bastille District and near no less than three Metro stations. You can walk to many of the major attractions or hop on the subway. Two nearby stores (Franprix) have everything you need including salad bars, hot sandwiches and great selections of wine.
Nightlife The bars are mostly in the Marais. Bears will of course like the Bears’ Den. The Open Café serves food and is a lot of fun. Sly Bar has a great happy hour and karaoke on Mondays and Tuesdays. The Raidd bar has a shower show. You can dance the night away at Le Depot.
What to do Paris’s gayborhood, The Marais. Photo by Bill Malcolm
The first day I walked around the historic Marais District. Like many gayborhoods, it has been gentrified and is now full of high-end stores as well. The second day visit the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, walk along the Seine River and explore the shops of the Champs-Elysees. Then visit the new Leonardo da Vinci exhibit at The Louvre. The third day explore the Natural History Museums, the zoo (Le Zoo du Jardin des Plantes), the Indoor Tropical Gardens, the Botanical Gardens, then walk back to the hotel. There’s also a farmer’s market on Sundays in the Bastille District where you can find local delicacies including pig’s feet, French cheeses, Paella and every kind of pastry and bread you could want. I liked the new Liberation Museum (Musee
de la Liberation de Paris) which chronicles the German occupation of France. Day four go to visit Montmartre and the Sacred Heart Cathedral. Great views of Paris. Be sure and visit the Montmartre Museum as well and the associated Renoir Gardens.
Where to eat Grab coffee at Alma Coffee. Don’t ask for milk or cream in your coffee. The French don’t use it and don’t drink (although they eat a lot of cheese). Ma Bourgogne has great steak and fries (in the Marais).
Travel tips • Your ATM card works at French banks and they don’t charge a withdrawal fee. • Many of the museums are free the first Sunday of the month in the winter. • Paris is seven hours ahead of Chicago so the jet lag is a hassle. Try to check into your hotel early but wait until 3 to take a nap. On the way home, stay up late at home to re-adjust. • The Euro is worth slightly more than the U.S. dollar. • Tips are included at restaurants. • Buy a 10 ticket pack of Metro tickets and save. • Turn off your phone and put it in Airplane mode. Shut off all data for all your apps too. Otherwise you will face roaming charges from French carriers which can be quite high. Most places have free internet so you can stay connected that way. • Most locals speak some English but if you can, try to start the conversation in French. For more information and travel ideas Paris has a number of LGBTQ publications all of which have city gay guides. Qweek has a lot of ideas especially for nightlife (Qweek.fr) along with maps of the neighborhoods. Strobo Magazine has a great map of the nightlife (strobomag. com). Tribu is another great publication also with a map. Parisinfo.com has travel tips as well and you can visit them at the Hotel de Ville (City Hall) in the Marias. You can’t beat a winter visit to gay Paree. Bill Malcolm is the nation’s only syndicated LGBTQ value travel columnist. He resides in Indianapolis and his column is or has been run by LGBTQ publications in Indianapolis, Chicago, Tampa-Orlando, Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, Detroit, Washington, Raleigh, Charlotte and Palm Springs and also found on the IGLTA travel blog. He received no compensation of any kind from any of the places visited (nor airlines nor hotels). His opinions are his own.
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26 • NOVEMBER 15, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Auto-themed holiday gifts Bring miles of smiles to gearheads and others on your shopping list By JOE PHILLIPS
Porsche Kiddie Car
The Baby Porsche 4S ($165) is a fun ride for tots, made of high-quality plastic and sporting a lizard green paint job. But beware: With the soft seat, “whisper-quiet” tires and mechanical horn — along with nifty 3D headlights and taillights — it’s easy to see how kids today just might expect you to buy them a real Porsche when it’s time for their ﬁrst real car.
Ferrari Pilota Watch A limited-edition Pilota chronograph watch ($399) from Ferrari features an elegant black dial with red and silver accents. There’s also a black perforated wrist strap and red stitching. Another plus: The stainless-steel watch is water resistant to 325 feet.
Mercedes Shopping Bag Forget typical grocery bags. Mercedes has an all-purpose shopping bag ($25) made of gray felt with an embroidered black logo. There’s also a zipped inner pocket for keys, wallets and such. And the bag’s handles are made from real seat-belt material to make them extra sturdy.
Nissan Nismo Socks To keep toes toasty, Nissan oﬀers 15-inch black socks ($14) emblazoned with the logo from its Nismo motorsports brand. The Nismo logo is on the top of the sock, with “Brake Gas” written on the bottom of one sock and “Clutch” on the bottom of the other.
Mustang Boombox The Ford Mustang boombox ($110) has Bluetooth connectivity and comes with two full-range speakers, deep bass radiator and rechargeable battery. The cool design is mid-century modern, with an AM/FM tuning dial that looks like the speedometer from a classic 1960s Stang.
Mercedes Cologne Mercedes says its men’s fragrance ($85) is full of pear notes and muskmallow seeds, where “woody notes unfold through elegant rosewood on a bed of oakmoss.” In other words, it smells nice.
Jaguar XKSS Racing Espresso Set What better way to get your pulse racing than with high-test espresso served in mugs featuring the iconic 1957 Jaguar XKSS roadster? These beloved cars have a storied past: Only 25 were supposed to be built and a ﬁre destroyed nine of them. Today, they can fetch millions at auction. The four bone porcelain mugs ($64) are dishwasher safe and come with contrasting color saucers and a stylish presentation box.
Land Rover iPhone Case with Terrain Icons Land Rover has various phone and tablet cases, including an iPhone case ($20) that features the automaker’s well-known terrain icons used to identify road conditions: snow, desert, oﬀ-road, etc. Yes, Samsung users, there are some other cases for you as well.
Porsche Motorsport Bear For that special cub or otter in your life, Porsche has a cuddly teddy bear ($90) with motorsport racing suit, cap and lanyard.
FRANK BRUNI IN CONVERSATION WITH SARAH SMARSH Sun, Dec 8 @ 5pm | Royce Hall
Frank Bruni is a longtime Op-Ed Columnist for The New York Times. His columns reflect on American politics, popular culture and gay rights. Sarah Smarsh is an author, speaker and journalist who focuses on socioeconomic class and rural America. Her newest book, Heartland, examines historic economic inequality. Together, they will discuss recent events and issues facing voters in the upcoming elections. JOIN THE CONVERSATION cap.ucla.edu | 310-825-2101
@cap_ucla | #capucla
28 • NOVEMBER 15, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Caitlyn Jenner returning to reality TV? And Chely Wright reveals she suffered a stroke By BILLY MASTERS
Caitlyn Jenner is reportedly joining the cast of the UK’s ‘I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here.’ Photo by kathclick/Courtesy Bigstock
“The booing is fucking us up. It’s messing with everyone’s mic. You can grimace and all that. All we hear is booing.” – Whoopi Goldberg admonishes the studio audience during Donald Trump Jr.’s appearance on “The View.” After the fiasco, Junior said, “I don’t think I’ve enjoyed an interview this much in my life.” And they say he’s the smart one! A few years ago, I was sure I was having a stroke. I had the most excruciating pain in my head, blurred vision, dizziness, and some numbness. I looked up symptoms of a stroke, looked in the mirror for signs of drooping – which was no help since I always think my left side droops a bit. I didn’t feel up to driving to the ER, and was embarrassed to either call a friend or even an ambulance. What if I was fine? Needless to say, I did not have a stroke – I had my first migraine. Chely Wright found herself in the exact same position – with strikingly different results. “Exactly one year ago today, I went to the ER at Lenox Hill Hospital because I was on Day 3 of a migraine, which isn’t uncommon for me. Because I had shows booked for the coming weekend, I wanted to get this headache out of the way…After a series of diagnostic tests, I was informed that I’d had a stroke.” While the gay country singer is now fine, she shared her story as a cautionary tale. Don’t be like me – be like Chely! Caitlyn Jenner is itching to get back to reality television. Rumors abound that Cait may appear on the UK competition “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!” Not only has she pitched herself to the show, the producers consider her a huge “get.” You know what else is huge about it? The paycheck. Allegedly, just for participating, Jenner would be paid roughly half a MILLION dollars. More than 40 years ago, Studio One opened in West Hollywood and quickly became THE gay dance club in the country. Owner Scott Forbes was proud of saying, “Studio One was planned, designed and conceived for gay people, gay male people. Any straight people here are guests of the gay community. This is gay!” Like Studio 54 (which opened two years later), Studio One had the hottest male staff in the skimpiest outfits and attracted record numbers every night. The club also housed The Backlot, a theater that featured such performers as Joan Rivers, Chita Rivera, Barry Manilow, Divine, Rip Taylor, Eartha Kitt, Nancy Dussault, Mimi Hines, and moi. We even filmed the pilot for my talk show there. So I was thrilled to participate in the closing night event for the club (the space is being incorporated into a hotel and shopping plaza). The night kicked off with yours truly interviewing people on the red carpet. As to the show itself, I co-hosted
with the irrepressible Bruce Vilanch. People like Freda Payne, Charlo Crossley and Thelma Houston blew the roof off the house. Who says you can’t go home again? Alas, there’s no rest for the weary. The next day, I was off to see “The Lion in Winter” at the Laguna Playhouse, with a cast led by Frances Fisher and Gregory Harrison. I love the play, I love the performers, and I was entertained. But I had issues. While the set was attractive and serviceable, I found the lighting too bright and devoid of atmosphere, especially for a show set in 1183. There was a lack of gravitas from top to bottom. Everything seemed a tad too contemporary for my taste and mitigated the impact of this extraordinary text. Fisher gave the weightiest performance and surely has the chops for such a pivotal role. While Harrison commands the stage, he portrays Henry as an aging frat boy – the geniality of which belies the torment of the aging monarch. While not a perfect presentation, it’s still a rare opportunity to see a truly marvelous drama on stage. It runs through Nov. 24. You can get more details at LagunaPlayhouse.com. Our “Ask Billy” question comes from Walter in Maine: “I just saw a photo of one of those ‘One Direction’ boys posing in underwear. He looked pretty grown-up to me. Do you have any of the pics?” There are underwear shots, and then there are Liam Payne’s underwear shots for Hugo Boss. I’ll let Liam explain: “I hadn’t been properly warned about the amount of nudity Mert and Marcus do in their work, let’s say…I mean it was just a room full of five or six people and a hell of a lot of tequila to get me to this level. I was standing there and all of a sudden it was, ‘Right, OK, take them off.’ I’m like, ‘Really? Take them off? Off, off? Like on-the-floor off? Oh my God. And there was a real hollow moment afterwards where I was sitting outside smoking a cigarette thinking, ‘I have basically just shot softcore porn.’” First, where did that body come from? And let’s not even discuss the basket – which is ginormous. Because a picture is worth a thousand words, and since I’m close to my limit, I’ll post a few thousand more at BillyMasters.com. When Liam looks like he’s putting more than just eggs in his basket, it’s definitely time to end yet another column. With so much talent to take in, check out www.BillyMasters.com – the site that’ll give you something to stroke about. As for your questions, send them along to Billy@BillyMasters.com and I promise to get back to you before Caitlyn is dancing with a real star! So, until next time, remember, one man’s filth is another man’s bible.
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30 • NOVEMBER 15, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Most Americans support ending cannabis criminalization WASHINGTON, D.C. — More than six in 10 U.S. adults say that they favor “changing federal law to legalize marijuana for recreational use,” according to national polling data compiled by the D.C.-based publication Politico and Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. It is the third national survey released within the past month showing strong majority support among Americans for legalizing marijuana. Sixty-two percent of respondents endorsed legalization and 69 percent said that they supported allowing the substance to be sold at state-licensed retail stores. Support for legalization was strongest among self-identified Independents (69 percent) and Democrats (67 percent). Slight majorities also said that they supported the establishment of state-licensed cannabis cafes (52 percent) and were comfortable with recreational marijuana facilities operating in their local neighborhoods (53 percent). Consistent with prior polls, most respondents residing in adult-use legal states favor the policy change. Sixty-four percent said that “legalizing marijuana for recreational use ... has been a good thing.” Commenting on the poll results, NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri said: “At a time when the political divide is larger than ever, the issue of marijuana legalization is one of the few policy issues upon which most Americans agree. With eleven states now having legalized the adult use of cannabis, citizens of all ages and ideologies are seeing the benefits of regulation and rejecting the failed policy of marijuana prohibition. We expect to see public support to continue to grow in 2020 as more and more states implement sensible cannabis regulatory policies.” The poll has a margin of error of +/-3.4 percentage points.
Pain patients report improvements after cannabis access laws PHILADELPHIA — Those suffering from chronic pain report significant improvements in health following the passage of medical cannabis access laws, according to data published in the journal Forum for Health Economics & Policy. Researchers affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania and the Perelman School of Medicine assessed the impact of medical cannabis legalization laws on self-reported health outcomes. Investigators reported that pain patients were the group most likely to report health benefits following medical cannabis enactment. They determined: “A MML (medical marijuana law) and protected dispensaries positively affected the health of individuals suffering from chronic pain by reducing
the days not in good physical health, days not in good mental health, and days with health-related limitations. ... [T]hese effects translate into reduction in the number of days with health-related issues between 14 percent and 23 percent.” They concluded: “Individuals who report having pain that limits their daily activity see large health improvements. This is the strongest evidence that a group with a high probability of pain medication use sees large benefits from medical marijuana laws.” Separate studies – such as those here, here, and here – consistently report that pain patients reduce their use of opioids following access to medical cannabis therapy. Among statelicensed medical cannabis registrants, two out of three report consuming cannabis to mitigate pain conditions. Full text of the study, “The impact of medical marijuana laws and dispensaries on self-reported health,” appears in Forum for Health Economics & Policy.
Cannabis compounds show promise in treating Parkinson’s SAO PAULO, Brazil — Plant-derived cannabinoids, including CBD, possess a potential multi-targeted treatment strategy for patients with Parkinson’s disease and dyskinesia, according to a literature review published in the journal Neurotoxicity Research. Brazilian researchers affiliated with the University of Sao Paulo assessed “clinical and preclinical evidence suggesting CBD and other cannabinoids have therapeutic effects in PD” and dyskinesia (involuntary muscle movements). They concluded: “The studies reviewed here indicate that cannabinoids could influence the development and manifestations of PD and LID [L-DOPA-induced dyskinesia]. Several mechanisms, ranging from direct changes in critical neurotransmitters such as dopamine and glutamate to indirect anti-inflammatory effects, seem to be involved. Among the cannabinoids investigated so far, CBD appears one of the most promising drugs in preclinical trials. It is a ‘multi-targeted’ compound, with an extensive range of biological effects in different neuropsychiatric disorders. The specific role of this compound in the treatment of these disorders, however, remains to be established by large and comparative clinical trials.” Full text of the study, “Cannabidiol and cannabinoid compounds as potential strategies for treating Parkinson’s disease and L-DOPA-induced dyskinesia,” appears in Neurotoxicity Research. Additional information on cannabis and Parkinson’s disease is available online. Cannabis Culture news in the Blade is provided in partnership with NORML. For more information, visit norml.org.
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