Losangelesblade.com, Volume 3, Issue 48, November 29, 2019

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N O V E M B E R 2 9 2 0 1 9 • V O LU M E 0 3 • I S S U E 4 8 • 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



Christy Smith only woman running in CA 25 special election Combating machismo on the March 3 ballot By KAREN OCAMB kocamb@losangelesblade.com A look at their Facebook pages the week before Thanksgiving gives an insight into the candidates vying to replace former Rep. Katie Hill in California’s 25th Congressional District. The men – Democratic YouTube host Cenk Uygur, Republican former Rep. Steve Knight and former Trump campaign staffer George Papadopoulos all focus on themselves. Assembly member Christy Smith, however, focuses on the district – from the 32-plus photos of a Lancaster community Thanksgiving dinner to packaging Thanksgiving dinners for 124 families associated with the Samuel Dixon Family Health Centers in Newhall to raising $1,406 at her Hart High School Class of 2009 reunion to show support for Saugus High School, still grieving after the recent mass shooting. But Smith also has some California mamma bear snarl. Papadopoulos has lived in California for just over a year and is still on supervised release after spending two weeks in federal prison for lying to the FBI during the Mueller probe. On Oct. 29, Smith posted a Twitter video mocking the 32-year old. “Hey, guess what, this is California,” said Smith, slapping her hand on a U.S. map. “And as soon as you can identify my district on here, you let us know.” Nonetheless, on Nov. 25, Papadopoulos went on “Fox & Friends” to announce he’s running to “promote the ‘America First’ agenda.” Some media outlets are speculating about a possible duel between Papadopoulos and Cenk Uygur, the hypermasculine progressive co-founder/ host of The Young Turks, who is also running. The Los Angeles County Democratic Party, Stonewall Democratic Club, and Stonewall Young Democrats have condemned Uygur for past controversial comments, including a 2000 blog post in which Uygur called women “flawed.”

Assembly member Christy Smith, a candidate for the 25th congressional district Photo courtesy Smith

“It seems like there is a sea of tits here, and I am drinking in tiny droplets,” Uygur wrote. “Obviously, the genes of women are flawed. They are poorly designed creatures who do not want to have sex nearly as often as needed for the human race to get along peaceably and fruitfully.” Uygur posted a Facebook video complaining about the “personal attacks.” But Uygur has a bigger problem. “I’ve never once seen Cenk at anything,” Zakia Kator, an Afghan refugee progressive activist who supports Smith, told the Daily Beast. “He’s truly a carpetbagger. Nobody knows him, other than the people like me who actually listen to his show.” After Uygur filed to run on Nov. 13, conspiracy theory InfoWars host Mike Cernovich fantasized about a debate with the uber-progressive. Smith posted a cryptic tweet: “Here’s an idea. How about all of you man spread in your own damn districts?! #CA25 belongs to #CA25” Endorsements poured in, including from Equality California. “Christy Smith is an outstanding ally and champion for the LGBTQ community,” Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur said in a press release. “In Sacramento, she’s fought to lower the cost of healthcare and make our schools safe and supportive for all students. We’re confident she’ll do the same in Washington and are proud to support her

campaign for Congress.” In his video, Uygur complained that his opponent didn’t want to discuss “the issues.” But a quick scroll through Smith’s Twitter feed demolishes that assertion. She highlights community events, provides important information during the terrible fires that ravaged her district and talks about her education, good governance, and pronurses legislation signed by Gov. Newsom. Smith told the Los Angeles Blade that if elected, she will make education a top priority. “Our public school system is one of the most important cornerstones of our democracy,” she said. “I plan to be a member who’s focusing on everything that’s relevant to my District, but especially working on improvements in our public education system across the country.” Smith said she finds Uygur’s commentary “disqualifying.” But it was his lack of response to the Saugus High School shooting that really galled her. “The night of the event I was with grieving families and really trying to work to pull our community back together,” Smith said. “I got home to find out that he had been raising money online and boasting about fundraising totals. Probably from his mansion in Newport Beach. That act alone I found singularly disqualifying for the kind of District that he hopes to represent.”

Smith said she learned about the LGBTQ community as a teenager when her mother was a home healthcare worker for people with AIDS during the ‘80s while living in Santa Clarita. “She really became bonded to these individuals, sometimes to their families, sometimes to their partners,” Smith said. “[She] shared with me the injustices that these individuals were facing — not being able to leave property to a partner or a loved one; not being able to provide for them, being on their deathbed and not having family members come to be at their side because they had been disavowed for being a part of the gay community. The fact that we talked about deep issues like this, informed me.” That led to “some really solid friendships” with LGBTQ people, including supporting and mentoring a gay young man who ran for school board in their local community. Smith said she appreciated “the warmth and the outpouring of support” from Equality California and Stonewall. “It just means the world to me,” she said. “I may not be the perfect ally because I haven’t shared the struggles, but I am always certainly willing to learn and to understand and to appreciate. I hope to not let the community down.” For more, visit christyforcongress.org.




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Most Americans support LGBTQ adoption, foster care RaiseAChild helps build loving families By KAREN OCAMB kocamb@losangelesblade.com Despite the dramatic promises proffered by reality TV star Donald J. Trump during his presidential campaign and the Republican convention, “LGBTQ progress is being reversed in plain sight” for more than 11 million LGBTQ American citizens during his administration, ProPublica pointed out in a Nov. 22 report. Among the rights being rolled back is federal support for same-sex couples and LGBTQ individuals building a family through foster care and adoption. “Child welfare providers will never be forced to choose between their faith and serving those in need — not on our watch,” evangelical-centered Vice President Mike Pence said in a speech at the Department of Health and Human Services on Nov. 1, the first day of National Adoption Month. HHS announced “a new proposed rule that would allow adoption and foster care agencies funded by the department to turn away would-be care providers who are LGBTQ,” ProPublica noted, dropping enforcement of and rolling back regulations that prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity by any HHS grant recipients. Specifically, “the rule seemed to target child welfare programs — and same-sex couples are more likely to adopt or foster children.” Additionally, HHS halted a plan to collect LGBTQ information about foster children, as well as foster and adoptive parents or guardians. As of 2017, about 442,995 children were in foster care, disproportionally children of color. That the Trump/Pence administration reversed the Obama administration’s childfriendly rules based more on anti-LGBTQ hatred than sincere Christian belief may be extrapolated from a Nov. 19 nationwide HillHarrisX poll showing that 66% of Republican voters say child welfare providers should not be able to discriminate against LGBTQ

Oscar and Adam Kaiz-Vera with their five adopted children; with a foster child coming. Photo courtesy RaiseAChild

parents by turning them away from fostering or adopting a child in need. Indeed, the poll indicated that 72% of voters overall say federally funded adoption and foster care agencies should not be permitted to deny service to LGBTQ prospective parents. One consequence of the Trump/Pence action has been self-censure, with one prospective gay dad telling the Los Angeles Blade that he and his husband fear the humiliation of being turned away by an agency or having the heartbreak of a child taken away by the government. That wouldn’t happen in California, says Rich Valenza, founder and CEO of RaiseAChild, the Los Angeles-based national LGBTQ-oriented non-profit organization that grew out of the West Hollywood-based Pop Luck Club support group for gay dads. “This is RaiseAChild’s ninth year in

business and every one of the nine years we get asked by LGBTQ people: Am I allowed to foster and adopt?” Valenza, father of two adopted children, tells the Los Angeles Blade, adding that California has a longstanding law prohibiting discrimination in LGBTQ adoptions. “In this political climate, folks understandably are nervous,” Valenza says. “But I don’t believe there is a reason to be nervous, as far as LGBT people going through the process to foster and adopt and build families. Public opinion has been in our favor for many, many, many years.” Under President Obama, “if you’re receiving federal funding as an agency, then you don’t have the right to discriminate against taxpayers who are helping pay your bill,” Valenza says. “But under this administration, they are allowing for what

they call ‘religious freedoms’ — what I see as a very dangerous policy because it’s not good for the kids. Each year we’re adding more and more children to the foster system because of the opioid epidemic, because of families falling apart. And what we need is more good people to step up and to foster and adopt. We don’t need to allow discrimination.” Indeed, governmental agencies responsible for child welfare, such as San Bernardino County and LA County’s Department of Children and Family Services say, “some of their best families are LGBTQheaded. They call them ‘resource families.’ It’s a name that someone in Sacramento made up, meaning both foster and adoptive parents.” Not only do LGBTQ people create good families, they often foster and adopt more than one or two children. “Many of our families are taking on more and more kids. And it’s really a wonderful thing because I know that these kids are getting a very loving home and a nurturing home within our community,” says Valenza. “We, as a community, most of us, have experienced the disappointment or the rejection of our families in coming out,” he says. “And when you talk about foster kids, there’s a deep profound sense of rejection that they feel by their birth parents. I think that our community has a special empathy for that, a special understanding of that. And so, I think that’s a reason why we make such great foster and adoptive parents.” Additionally, “people are looking to build families because they feel there’s not much that they can do against what seems to be happening in this administration,” Valenza. says. “But they do feel that they can control what’s going on within their home and they want to make a difference. So we’re finding a lot of people saying, ‘This is something that I can do that’s good to reverse the effects of all of the negatives.’ And we’re here to support those people because it’s a wonderful, wonderful thing.” RaiseAChild is holding a Fostering & Adoption information event on Dec 4 from 6:30-8 p.m. at La Plaza de Cultura y Artes, 501 N. Main St. DTLA.



New leadership at Lambda Legal Kevin Jennings busy developing strategies for protecting LGBTQ rights By KAREN OCAMB kocamb@losangelesblade.com Kevin Jennings is not a lawyer so why was he tapped to lead Lambda Legal, one of the LGBTQ community’s most important national organizations? “Well that was sort of what I said when Lambda called me,” Jennings told the Los Angles Blade by phone before officially starting on Dec. 2. “They said, ‘We’re not looking for a lawyer. We have lots of brilliant lawyers. We’re looking for an experienced organizational leader,’ — and that I am. I’ve been a leader of the LGBT movement for over 30 years and this is really a critical time for a movement, particularly for Lambda. The right wing has a very clear strategy to use the court and all of [President]Trump’s horrific judicial appointments to roll back everything we’ve won over the last 40 years. Lambda is going to be a key player in stopping that.” Jennings is “very excited” to be taking the helm at this pivotal juncture. “Everything I’ve been working for my entire adult life since I marched in my first Pride in 1986 is at risk now. We’re in real danger of losing things that we thought just a few years ago were safe. I’m very excited to be part of the resistance and making sure that doesn’t happen,” says Jennings, best known as the founder of GLSEN and assistant deputy secretary for the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools at the U.S. Department of Education during the Obama administration. “The right wing is coming for us through the courts,” he says. “This is their whole strategy. They’ve been planning this. People think a lot of things about the right wing — they are not stupid. Never underestimate them. They know exactly what they are doing. They are coming for us through the courts, and we know that, and we are waiting and we are ready.” Jennings intends to emphasize the education aspect of Lambda’s incorporated name — Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund. “The courts are going to be the central

Kevin Jennings, new executive director of Lambda Legal Photo courtesy Lambda Legal

battleground,” Jennings says. “Much of what we’ve won could be taken away through the courts. It doesn’t matter if you’re a lawyer right now. The courts are where it’s at and everybody needs to be paying attention to what’s happening in the courts.” Jennings points to Jay Sekulow, head of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), as “the mastermind of the right wing litigation strategies” and ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council) as producer of their model legislation. “They have very carefully invested over 50 years to build a whole infrastructure of organizations,” Jennings says. “They have the Federalist Society, where they have built a very sophisticated infrastructure that identifies young people in law school and begins training them and grooming them and preparing them for court appointments. They’re brilliant at what they do. I will give them credit. They play a long game. We’ve

got to be just as smart on our side because they make strategic investments that they expect to pay off in 10, 20, 30, 40 years, and we’ve got to be just as strategic on our side. “What they’re doing right now is they are reaping the investments with people like [Supreme Court Justice] Brett Kavanaugh, investments they made decades ago. We’ve got to be doing the same thing. We’ve got to be investing in long term change in the same way they are,” says Jennings. As a national leader and forever a teacher at heart, Jennings knows how to listen to the community’s needs and frustrations, including about the past several years at Lambda. “I plan to build a plan for the organization that responds to those concerns and frustrations,” he says. “I know that there is a real need to address people’s frustrations that are out there and I come in aware of that and prepared to listen to those and to

address them.” The larger context for Jennings’ plan is Lambda’s 41-year history and its “very well documented track record of success” plus Jennings’ own superlative track record as a leader in the LGBTQ community for over three decades. Additionally, Jennings’ own story adds that degree of authenticity that he personally grasps LGBTQ issues that are too often overlooked or overshadowed. “I grew up in a trailer park on an unpaved dirt road in an unincorporated town in rural North Carolina in a single-parent family,” Jennings says. “My mother worked in fast food restaurants and cleaned people’s houses. That’s how she supported us. My entire childhood was below the poverty line. I was the first person in my family to graduate from college. I understand the needs of our community members who are struggling with poverty and other factors in a firsthand visceral way because I’ve lived there.” Jennings intends to put his decades of experience to public use. “We’ve got to help people understand the issues and explain them and teach people, and I think that that is where I, because of my background as an educator, can contribute a great deal to Lambda. We have to not just educate judges, we have to educate the public. We have to work in both the court of law and the court of public opinion.” Jennings is intent on developing coalitions to strengthen the LGBTQ hand. “Probably because I was a teacher, I believe strongly in the concept of playing well with others, and the leaders in this movement know me as someone who believes in the power of collaboration,” Jennings says. “Lambda already has a strong record of collaborating with other organizations and I plan to build off that reputation, as well as my own track record of collaborating with other organizations to strengthen those relationships because I believe that our movement is at its best when we’re all working together. We each have unique roles to play and when we’re collaborating and leveraging each others’ strengths, it makes the whole community stronger.” He acknowledges that Lambda Legal has not always lived up to that reputation, such as at times during the up and down struggle over marriage equality. “Prop 8 was a dark chapter in many ways in



Kevin Jennings with the Concord GSA at the 1993 March on Washington Photo courtesy Jennings

our community,” he says. But he emphasizes Lambda’s long participation in the Legal Round Table, which brings together all of the various groups that do litigation. “I think that structures like that — bringing people together so that there is dialogue and people are trying to collaborate — are really important and I’m really committed to keeping those structures going and building even more of them.” Out of that dialogue will come new strategies to deal with the shifting legal landscape of the Trump administration packing the courts with young lifetime appointees. “Trump’s nominees fill one quarter of the seats on the nation’s Circuit Court of Appeals. He has seen more Circuit Court judges confirmed, more by this point in his presidency than any other past president in U.S. history,” says Jennings. “They have packed the courts systematically and

carefully under Trump and they still have at least 14 months to go. The landscape has shifted dramatically against us, and we need to recognize that means that we are going to have to focus on developing a very robust distinct strategy.” Given Trump’s legal legacy, victory for the LGBTQ community may look very different for many years to come. “Victory, on one level, is going to consist of stopping horrific things from happening,” says Jennings. “We’re going to have to be very selective and very strategic in how we use litigation to try to advance a proactive agenda. “We’re going to have to be strategic in two ways,” Jennings continues. “Our selection of which circuits we bring cases in, and what arguments we make because in some circuits, we are going to be DOA [dead on arrival] because they have appointed such extremist judges. And we are going to be

facing judges who subscribe to very different philosophies than the ones we have been used to encountering. We are going to have to make new kinds of targeting.” Jennings says he’s “completely confident” in Lambda’s brilliant attorneys. “But we’re going to have to be very strategic when we are trying to advance good things,” he says. “We’re going to have to have a surgical approach to advance any positive things. It was never easy, but it has gotten exponentially harder, thanks to Trump.” Jennings cites his experience at GLSEN as an example of strategically reframing the argument. “25 years ago when we were trying to get Gay/Straight Alliances [GSAs] instituted in schools around the country, the principals were telling kids they couldn’t start them,” says Jennings. “David Buckel, who was a Lambda attorney, found a piece of legislation called the Equal Access Act. This said that if

you allow students to form clubs, you had to allow them to form any club they wanted to form. Now it was written intended to protect the rights of students to form clubs like Bible clubs and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. That was its intent. But David said we can use this to say you have to allow kids to form Gay/Straight Alliances. He was able to convince the courts to interpret it that way so that it protected the rights of kids to form GSAs.” Jennings calls such creative thinking “judicial jujitsu.” No longer can LGBTQ and ally attorneys expect the courts to agree with old arguments. “It’s an unfortunate thing that the right wing has politicized our judiciary so extremely, but since they’ve done it,” says Jennings, “we are not going to stand by and be idle. We are going to fight fire with fire.”


Shepard Smith, the gay former Fox News anchor who left Fox in October, surprised the Committee to Protect Journalists with a $500,000 contribution for an initiative to fight for press freedom in the U.S. and around the world. “Intimidation and vilification of the press is now a global phenomenon. We don’t have to look far for evidence of that,” said Smith, who emceed the organization’s annual International Press Freedom Awards Nov. 21 in New York City. “It’s one reason CPJ has co-led an initiative to mobilize the American public to stand up for press freedom and actively protect their own right to be informed…So tonight, I’m donating a half-million dollars to this cause.” Smith’s announcement received a standing ovation, the New York Times reported. It was one of only a few references to President Donald Trump of whom Smith was often critical as anchor of his afternoon news show, “Shepard Smith Reporting.” In a tweet, Trump labeled him Fox News’s “lowest-rated anchor” and he became a target of Fox’s pro-Trump pundits Sean Hannity, Lou Dobbs and Tucker Carlson. “Journalists continue to be murdered and thrown in prison when they speak out,” Smith said. “But governments have learned other less crude techniques to censor and stifle our work. Concentration of media ownership, whether by government or corporate cronies, has narrowed the choice of independent news sources from China to Hungary.” “A free press is the underpinning of a democracy and it cannot be taken for granted,” Smith said. – Karen Ocamb

“The evidence of Trump’s misconduct is already overwhelming, despite his effort to block every witness from testifying and obstruct every document request. The facts are not contested. The President violated his oath of office. The question now is: will we observe our own?”

- Rep. Adam Schiff, Chair of the House Intelligence Committee on the failure of Congressional Republicans to acknowledge the evidence in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

“If joining and funding real solutions to homelessness, instead of political theater and points scoring, are the Trump administration’s objective, California continues to be ready to engage.” - Jesse Melgar, out spokesperson for Gov. Gavin Newsom on the rumored move by the federal government to intervene in state affairs.

“Chick-fil-A remains committed to Christian values. Dan Cathy assured me that this isn’t going to change. I hope all those who jumped to the wrong conclusion about them read this.” - Anti-LGBTQ evangelist Franklin Graham on Facebook Nov. 21 on assurances that the fast food chain will still discriminate against LGBTQ people.

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Maloney lands in spotlight during impeachment inquiry Pelosi praises him as ‘spectacular member of Congress’ By CHRIS JOHNSON It was the second week of open testimony in the impeachment inquiry against President Trump, and Gordon Sondland — a major Trump donor named U.S. ambassador to the European Union — had just delivered a bombshell confirming U.S. aid was held up in a quid pro quo with Ukraine. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.), however, didn’t think that was enough. After Sondland under questioning refused to be pinned down any further, an exasperated Maloney — one of seven openly gay members of the U.S. House — went in for the kill with a question that seemed to have an obvious answer. “Let me ask you something: Who would have benefited from an investigation of the president’s political opponents?” Maloney asked. But Sondland demurred, “I don’t want to characterize who would have and who would not have.” “I know you don’t want to, sir,” Maloney retorted, titling his head in condescension. “That’s my question. Would you answer it for me?” Sondland asked Maloney to restate his question, and the New York Democrat obliged: “Who would benefit from an investigation of the president’s political opponent?” After audibly sniffing into his microphone, Sondland replied, “Well, presumably the person who asked for the investigation.” Pressed further by Maloney, Sondland admitted that person in this hypothetical would be the president. “Well, it’s not a hypothetical, is it, sir?” Maloney said. “We just went around this track, didn’t we? The president asked you about an investigation. He was talking about the Bidens. When he asked you about the Biden investigation, who was he seeking to benefit?”

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) vigorously questioned Gordon Sondland during the impeachment inquiry.

Maloney went on to question Sondland about who would benefit from an investigation of the Biden family. After all, former Vice President Joseph Biden is pursuing the Democratic nomination to run against Trump in 2020. Sondland initially balked at having to answer, but Maloney wouldn’t let up. “I assume President Trump would benefit,” Sondland said in capitulation. “There we have it!” Maloney declared in victory to applause in the committee room. “See? Didn’t hurt a bit, did it?” As a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Maloney, 53, stood out in his impeachment inquiry with his vigorous questioning of Sondland. It was an exchange that bolstered the profile Maloney has cultivated throughout the impeachment inquiry, which also includes sniping at his Republican colleagues for their continued defense of Trump as evidence of wrongdoing continues

to pile up. Among Maloney’s cheerleaders is none other than House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who praised his contributions to the impeachment inquiry in a statement to the Washington Blade. “Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney is a spectacular member of Congress and a trusted voice on the House Intelligence Committee, to whom our caucus looks for his brilliant legal mind, proven strategic wisdom and determined dedication to defending our democracy,” Pelosi said. “During this critical time in American history, the House is grateful for the courageous, committed leadership that he consistently brings.” Elected to Congress in 2012, Maloney is the first gay parent to serve in the U.S. House. He and his husband, Randy Florke, whom he married in 2014, have adopted three children. In the 1990s, Maloney worked for President Bill Clinton as a White House adviser and was one of two delegates the Clinton administration sent to the funeral of gay college student Matthew Shepard in 1996. As a University of Virginia-educated lawyer who has pursued runs for New York attorney general both before and after his election to Congress, Maloney has made good use of his legal chops as the impeachment inquiry has proceeded. The capitulation from Sondland that Trump would benefit from an investigation of the Bidens wasn’t the last word Maloney had with the Trump appointee. After admitting Trump would have benefited from an investigation of the Bidens, Sondland tried to push back on where the questioning was headed. “Mr. Maloney, excuse me, I’ve been very forthright, and I really resent what you’re trying to do,” Sondland said. You could practically see the smoke coming out of Maloney’s ears. “Fair enough,” Maloney said. “You’ve been very forthright? This is your third try to do so, sir. It didn’t work so well the first time, did it?” Maloney pointed out Sondland had to correct his earlier testimony in a closed-

door hearing, telling the House Intelligence Committee after the fact the White House was holding up aid for investigations. “We had a little declaration come in after, remember that?” Maloney said. “And now we’re here a third time, and we got a doozy of a statement from you this morning. There’s a whole bunch of stuff you don’t recall. So with all due respect sir, we appreciate your candor, but let’s be really clear on what it took to get it out of you.” Another key moment for Maloney came when another witness, Fiona Hill, spoke before the committee two days after Sondland. A former official at the White House National Security Council specializing in Russian and European affairs, Hill testified the idea Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election instead of Russia is a fantasy cooked up at the Kremlin. “Based on questions and statements I have heard, some of you on this committee appear to believe that Russia and its security services did not conduct a campaign against our country and that perhaps, somehow, for some reason, Ukraine did,” Hill said. “This is a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves.” Challenging Hill during the hearing was Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio), who has been a leading Republican skeptic in the impeachment inquiry. Holding up the House Intelligence Committee report on the 2016 election, Turner pointed to its introduction, which states Russia, in fact, interfered. (It should be noted a central conclusion of the report was “no collusion” between the Russian government and the Trump campaign.) “A little small effort on your part, Dr. Hill, and you would have known that what you just said is not true, what you had heard, but you felt the need to put into your eight-page statement before you went on to tell us a bunch of other things that you heard about other people, no matter how convinced you were of, also which were not necessarily true,” Turner said. Continues at losangelesblade.com


This is only a brief summary of important information about BIKTARVY and does not replace talking to your healthcare provider about your condition and your treatment.

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Black LGBTQ activists split over Harris, Buttigieg spat Both accused of ‘perpetuating gay vs. black nonsense’ By CHRIS JOHNSON In the aftermath of Sen. Kamala Harris criticizing Mayor Pete Buttigieg for bringing up the gay experience when confronted with his issues with black voters, black gay activists living at the intersection of the two groups are split in their reactions. The responses from black gay activists ranged from backing Harris, saying neither was right and rejecting the spat in a call for unity against President Trump. Among the activists saying neither candidate was right is Alvin McEwen, a South Carolina-based blogger. “I think they are both in the wrong because they are both perpetuating the gay vs. black nonsense,” McEwen said. “To me as a gay black man, when folks start this mess, it puts folks like me — gay LGBTQs in a tug of war in which both communities treat us like commodities in some sort of Oppression Olympics. Black people get so insulted that they won’t acknowledge the existence of LGBTQs of color, and the LGBTQ community get defensive that they do the same thing.” McEwen said until both communities “acknowledge LGBTQ people of color as the intersection of both communities, we are going to continue to have this dumb argument,” blaming both Harris and Buttigieg for starting a fight. “And I am very disappointed at both Harris and Buttigieg for feuding over this and thus perpetuating this nonsense when both have the visibility to demand nuance to the conversation,” McEwen said. The trouble started at the Democratic debate last week in Atlanta, where Buttigieg — who’s currently polling around zero among black voters — was asked about his lack of support among communities of color. As South Bend mayor, Buttigieg has a less than favorable record with the black community. Just this year, black residents were angry over his handling in June of the police shooting of Eric Logan, a 54-year-old

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-South Bend, Ind.) at the Democratic presidential debate on Nov. 20. Screen capture via YouTube

black man. Buttigieg in 2012 terminated a black police chief investigating racism among his colleagues, which Buttigieg later called his “first serious mistake as mayor,” and a “1,000 Properties in 1,000 Days” development plan that ended up destroying an estimated 679 homes, many of which were in communities of color. On top of all that, the rollout for the Buttigieg campaign’s “Douglass plan” to aid black Americans was less than stellar. As first reported by The Intercept, some on the list of 400 supporters of the campaign said they didn’t request to be on it, and at least 40 percent were white. Asked about these issues during the debate, Buttigieg said he recognizes and welcomes the opportunities to connect with black voters, then made the pivot to his experience being gay. “While I do not have the experience of ever having been discriminated against because of the color of my skin, I do have the experience of sometimes feeling like a

stranger in my own country,” Buttigieg said, “turning on the news and seeing my own rights come up for debate, and seeing my rights expanded by a coalition of people like me and people not at all like me, working side-by-side, shoulder-to-shoulder, making it possible for me to be standing here wearing a ring in a way that couldn’t have happened two elections ago.” While Harris declined to criticize Buttigieg during the debate itself, she made her feelings known the next day when speaking to a Black Women Power Breakfast on Thursday hosted by Higher Heights, calling the South Bend mayor “a bit naive.” Harris said those who have been in the civil rights struggle for a long time know it was wrong for Buttigieg to “compare our struggles.” “It is not productive, it is not smart and strategically it works against what we need to do which is build coalition,” Harris said. “We know that in our ongoing fight for civil rights if any one of us starts to differentiate ourselves in a certain way and in particular

what he did on the stage, it’s just not productive. And I think it’s a bit naïve.” It should be noted in the debate, Buttigieg in his remarks explicitly distinguished his experience from that of black Americans. Asked by NBC News about Harris’ remarks, Buttigieg said “there’s no equating those two experiences.” “What I do think is it’s important for each of us to reveal who we are and what motivates us and it’s important for voters to understand what makes me tick, what moves me and my sources of motivation and ensuring that I stand up for others,” Buttigieg said. “Last night I shared that some of my sources of motivation included my personal experience, my governing experience and my personal faith.” Earl Fowlkes, executive director of the D.C.-based Center for Black Equity, was present when Buttigieg made the remarks and said he sides with Harris. “While there are many similarities in the fight for equality for both Black Americans and the LGBTQ community under the heading of human rights, discrimination based on race is different than discrimination based on being LGBTQ,” Fowlkes said. “My ancestors were forcibly brought to this country as slaves, which started the horrible legacy of racial discrimination in the United States.” Fowlkes added as a gay black man, he has been “on the receiving end of discrimination for being black and a member of the LGBTQ community,” but there’s a distinction between the two. “I could possibly hide being LGBTQ but I cannot hide being Black,” Fowlkes said. “Racial discrimination is pervasive in our society and even in the LGBTQ community. Comparing racism to LGBTQ discrimination is seen by some in the black community as a way to marginalize the fight for racial equality both economically and socially, which our nation continues to struggle with.” David Johns, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, said at the end of the day the exchange “misses the point” about the existence of people who are black and LGBTQ. Continues at losangelesblade.com



Target hits the LGBT market, with much-improved aim Some praise retailer for Pride month support; others want local commitment By SCOTT STIFFLER Fifty years after Stonewall, LGBT people who listen to a song, stream a series, or read a book have more positive images to draw upon than ever before. But where are our faces in the ads that sell us those things—or, for that matter, pretty much everything? Rarely seen is the same-sex couple sizing up choices at a car dealership, passing around a tube of toothpaste during their morning routine, or sharing a smooch as anniversary rings are exchanged. “There’s just a very small group of companies that make an effort to educate themselves, and to progress… to show us as we are, or appeal directly to the LGBT consumer,” says Todd Evans, of Rivendell Media. As Rivendell’s president and CEO, it’s Evans’ job to place advertisements for the National LGBT Media Association. (This publication is among its members.) Absolut Vodka and Wells Fargo, Evans notes, are on the short list of high-profile corporations that market to the LGBT community with creative content that depicts lives being lived in something other than heterosexual accordance. Include Target on that list, says Evans, who points to the general merchandise retailer as an example of a company committed to LGBT-specific marketing and products. “This is a group that has wanted to educate themselves,” says Evans, recalling, “years ago, Target faced a boycott for [indirectly] donating to an anti-LGBT politician. They rose to the occasion by not only stopping that, but becoming LGBT-friendly.” In July 2010, Target became a, well, target of backlash, after donating $150,000 to MN Forward, a group that proclaimed to function as a champion of Minnesota’s economy, but also funded campaign ads for Tom Emmer—the Republican candidate for

A Target contingent in D.C.’s Capital Pride parade. Photo courtesy Target

governor who, The Minnesota Independent reported, “authored a constitutional amendment to prohibit same-sex marriage and civil unions” in 2007, while a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives. As reported by Minnesota’s MPR News in an Aug. 20, 2010 article, Gregg Steinhafel, CEO of Target (whose headquarters is located in Minneapolis), apologized for the financial contribution—but only after, MPR noted, “Democrats, gay rights groups and others called for a boycott of the company.” Steinhafel’s Aug. 5, 2010 letter to Target employees asserted the company’s commitment to “fostering an environment that supports and respects the rights and beliefs of all individuals,” and pledged to bring together “a group of companies and partner organizations for a dialogue focused on diversity and inclusion in the workplace, including GLBT issues.” Making good on that diversity pledge, ironically, raised the hackles of the antiLGBT American Family Association, which has been boycotting Target since April 2016 for, it alleges, endangering “women and children by allowing men to frequent women’s facilities”—a dog whistle reference

to Target’s policy allowing transgender people to use changing rooms and bathrooms in accordance with their identity. Whether the product of public embarrassment, genuine enlightenment or a little bit of both, Target, says Evans, “went from the verge of a boycott” during its MN Forward days “to really embracing their LGBT customers, and speaking directly to them.” Target got its feet wet with 2012-2016 ads in Out magazine and The Advocate, then, in 2017, Evans said the retailer “expanded those national buys to a number of local markets, including Dallas, New York City, Miami, Boston, Orlando, Salt Lake City, and Denver. They also started carrying Pride merchandise every June, which shows they really educated themselves about the market, and the best way to reach it.” One series of ads featured individuals of, Evans notes, “every shape and color. It really speaks to Pride itself, and being accepted. They even end it with the hashtag ‘takepride.’ I don’t think you can ask for anything better.” Danielle Schumann, Corporate Public Relations Lead at Target, declined numerous

requests for an interview, instead referring this reporter to links within the corporate. target.com destination. Therein, Caroline Wagna, Target VP and Chief Culture, Diversity & Inclusion Officer, proclaims, “In order to continue to be a place where people want to come and spend their money, we have to be connected to who our potential customers are across the board, and in order to stay relevant as a business, we have to be sure our guests are seeing experiences, products, and services that reflect who they are.” This year, corporate.target.com notes, Pride month was observed in the form of more than 90 Pride-themed items created by working “closely with Target’s Pride Business Council—an HQ-based team member resource group—to create an assortment that is inclusive.” Those items were made available in 350 of Target’s 1,868 U.S. stores. A perfect score of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s 2019 Corporate Equality Index and “presenting partnership” status with GLAAD’s Spirit Day—described by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation as “the world’s largest and most visible LGBTQ anti-bullying-campaign”— are among demonstrations of solidarity touted by Target, which also made a $100,000 Pride month contribution to GLSEN (the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network), and said that in 2019, Target team members would “be on tap to volunteer at more than 30 Pride events across the country, including this year’s World Pride in New York City.” In a case of funding Peter by shortchanging Paul, Evans notes, “This year, Target didn’t advertise at all” with the print publications he represents—a stark departure from their Pride month advertising of the past. “But I did notice they were a World Pride Stonewall 50 Platinum sponsor. I think this year, a lot of people’s budgets went to that.” Attempts to engage Target on the local level have been unsuccessful, says Mark Segal, publisher of the Philadelphia Gay News, a member of the National LGBT Media Association. Continues at losangelesblade.com



Community woven in struggle Memorials remind us of grace others taught us

Richard J. Rosendall is a writer and activist. Reach him at rrosendall@me.com.

Articles at the New Ways Ministry blog are routinely posted at night. It is good to have company in my wakefulness, albeit virtual. An hour before dawn I reached for my tablet and found an entry titled, “At Fall Assembly, U.S. Bishops Vote to Double-Down on LGBTQ-Negative Agenda.” I lay in the dark, my brain storming, contemplating the moral bankruptcy of the episcopacy. What is the point of having a Church at all if it is going to look like this? I know, the Church is a community of believers, not its buildings nor its hierarchy. It took me well past my teenage years to find community, in the city, among my own kind. The Church’s leaders insisted that I be a sheep instead of a human being. That never appealed to me. Great crimes have been facilitated by people behaving like sheep. Exiled, I retain favorite teachers, organ concerts, memories of a beautiful campus, and the phrase “On Church Index” typed in red on card catalog entries in Falvey Library

for books that were nonetheless on the shelves. And off in the mist, a beautiful boy of 20, now 62, whose sunflower simply was not made to turn my way, but who, it turns out, still follows my writing. My virtual Church is built on moments of connection, undeserved, unexpected, sometimes glimpsed in our first South American pope, whom so many of the bishops resist. He has his flaws, such as ignorance of the science of gender identity, which includes brain chemistry. Telescopes and microscopes have always vexed the bossy old men of the Church, who ignore evidence that contradicts their dogma like Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee. Nov. 20 was the Transgender Day of Remembrance. The previous day, the global scale of transphobic violence was emphasized when trans refugees at the Kakuma camp in northwest Kenya were pelted with stones. The culprits were not only the Turkana locals who threw them, but politicians like President Uhuru Kenyatta who stoke hate. I met a trans friend for coffee last week in a northwest corner of the District. She was helping me aid a refugee. We chatted with the freedom of familiarity for a few hours until dusk fell. She is smart, tough, and funny. Director Ryan Coogler says a meeting where someone brings an idea you hadn’t thought of is the best kind of meeting, and that is how I felt as my friend shared her insights into current controversies. Cold weather brings the prospect of more gatherings warmed by good food, drink, and fellowship as we take respite from the battles outside. With World AIDS Day approaching,

amfAR’s HIV Cure Summit was held in San Francisco on Nov. 21. On the previous day, a ceremony at the Library of Congress announced that the National AIDS Memorial is taking custody of the Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt. That took me back half a lifetime to the sight of two men from the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington holding each other and sobbing beside a friend’s panel during a massive display on the National Mall. Multiply that by a hundred thousand to approximate the scale of cathartic grief the quilt mediated. Our little remembrances are overwhelmed by the magnitude of collective loss. But that is how we honor those who are gone, like an old soldier leaving a medal at the foot of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial below the name of a comrade who died young. We know that our tokens and pencil scratchings are inadequate. It is just how we express our connectedness, our defiance of the void. The years are catching up with my generation. Our friends taught us how to die, not how to grow old. Like the quilt’s preservation being passed from one group to another, our struggle will be continued by a new generation whose journey we cannot chart. On the night of Nov. 20 I went to my roof and lit a candle for trans women murdered by ignorance and hate, for friends fleeing persecution an ocean and a continent away, and for moments of grace, unauthorized, bearing seeds of redemption, like those I myself have been blessed to witness.

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All material in the Los Angeles Blade is protected by federal copyright law and may not be reproduced without the written consent of the Los Angeles Blade. The sexual orientation of advertisers, photographers, writers and cartoonists published herein is neither inferred nor implied. The appearance of names or pictorial representation does not necessarily indicate the sexual orientation of that person or persons. Although the Los Angeles Blade is supported by many fine advertisers, we cannot accept responsibility for claims made by advertisers. Unsolicited editorial material is accepted by the Los Angeles Blade, but the paper cannot take responsibility for its return. The editors reserve the right to accept, reject or edit any submission. A single copy of the Los Angeles Blade is available from authorized distribution points, to any individual within a 50-mile radius of Los Angeles, CA. Multiple copies are available from the Los Angeles Blade office only. Call for rates. If you are unable to get to a convenient free distribution point, you may receive a 26-week mailed subscription for $195 per year or $5.00 per single issue. Checks or credit card orders can be sent to Phil Rockstroh at prockstroh@washblade.com. Postmaster: Send address changes to the Los Angeles Blade, PO BOX 53352 Washington, DC 20009. The Los Angeles Blade is published bi-weekly, on Friday, by Los Angeles Blade, LLC. Rates for businesses/institutions are $450 per year. Periodical postage paid at Los Angeles, CA., and additional mailing offices. Editorial positions of the Los Angeles Blade are expressed in editorials and in editors’ notes as determined by the paper’s editors. Other opinions are those of the writers and do not necessarily represent the opinion of the Los Angeles Blade or its staff. To submit a letter or commentary: Letters should be fewer than 400 words; commentaries should be fewer than 750 words. Submissions may be edited for content and length, and must include a name, address and phone number for verification. Send submissions by e-mail to tmasters@losangelesblade.com.

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Thank you, Virginia Woolf, conjurer of women’s and queer lives Celebrating 90th anniversary of seminal ‘A Room of One’s Own’

Kathi Wolfe, a writer and poet, is a regular contributor to the Blade.

I love to wake up to The New York Times and a cuppa joe on Sunday mornings. But recently, I was so startled by what I read in the Times that I had to put my coffee down. What made me do a spit-take? An interview with Andre Aciman, author of “Call Me by Your Name,” 2007 Lambda Literary Award winner, and its sequel “Find Me,” in the Times Book Review’s By the Book column. (An Oscar-nominated movie of “Call Me by Your Name” was released in 2017.) The Aciman interview was headlined “Andre Aciman Would Like to Demote Virginia Woolf From the Canon.” What book would you remove from the canon of great books, the Times asked Aciman. “I would remove ‘Mrs. Dalloway,’ by Virginia Woolf,” Aciman said. “‘Mrs. Dalloway’ is an overrated novel that I don’t find particularly gripping or interesting,” he added, “I’m not even sure it’s well written.” Why am I telling you this? Because Woolf, the queer British writer, who lived from 1882-1941, is a hero to many feminists and queers. She is an integral part of our history. Her work is embedded in our hearts, minds – our DNA. To dismiss Woolf is to dismiss a beloved queer icon. It isn’t just Aciman’s Times interview

that has me thinking about Woolf. This year marks the 90th anniversary of the publication of Woolf’s seminal feminist work “A Room of One’s Own.” First published in 1929, it became a sacred text of second wave feminism. Nearly a century later, it still resonates with many of us today. I love movies and binge-watching TV. But books still matter – whether read in print or on one’s phone. Especially if you’re queer, female or

from any marginialized group. That was the case with me when I was young. I rarely came across queer characters in movies, TV or books – unless they were depicted as mentally “sick” or “depraved” criminals paying the price for their crimes. Until I found “A Room of One’s Own” and “Mrs. Dalloway” in the library. In these works, for the first time, I saw that there were people like me: folks who were attracted to people of their own sex.

And they weren’t “perverts.” These queers were mothers, teachers, wives – people who gave parties. Woolf wrote gender-bending, queer, feminist, modernist fiction and essays decades before we talked about our pronouns; extolled postmodernism; decried the economic inequality between men and women; or yearned for more queer liplock in art. In “Mrs. Dalloway,” Woolf does something revolutionary for her time. She portrays a day in June in the life of Clarissa Dalloway, an ordinary woman in London. In the novel, Clarissa remembers a pivotal moment from her youth. “Sally stopped, picked a flower, kissed her on the lips,” Woolf writes, “The whole world might have turned upside down.” “A Room of One’s Own” is based on lectures that Woolf gave to two women’s college at the University of Cambridge. The idea of the book is simple, but true: you need enough money to live and a space to create in order to write. Because most women have lacked funds and a “room of their own” they haven’t been able to write. There’s been much progress for women since “A Room” was published. Yet, because of sexism, transphobia, homophobia, domestic violence and the attack on reproductive freedom many women are still unable to write. As VIDA, a women’s literary organization says on its website, “it’s difficult when we are working every day for survival.” In “A Room of One’s Own,” Woolf imagines a fictional writer named Mary Carmichael. “The very next words I read were these ‘Chloe liked Olivia,’” Woolf writes, “...Do not blush...Sometimes women do like women.” Woolf wrote sentences the likes of which had never been written in English, Sheila Black, a poet and writer emailed me. “She conjured a women’s viewpoint as it had never been quite conjured before.” Thank you, Virginia Woolf, conjurer of women’s and queer lives!

for WEHO NOVEMBER 30, 2019 Shop on Small Business SaturdayÂŽ and a portion of proceeds from retail sales at participating businesses will be donated to the Los Angeles LGBT Center Culinary Arts program.* Come out to see the stars and support our local businesses. *Go to wehochamber.com/shopsmall for more information. #ShopSmall #ShopSmallWeHo


KTLA 5’s Emmy®️-Winning Journalist

Award-Winning Anchor and Reporter for NBC4

Broadway Star & Emmy®️Winning Writer



12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.

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Gelato Festival 8906 Melrose Ave.

Dogpound 627 N. Robertson Blvd.

Rounderbum 802 N. San Vicente Blvd.

RYU Apparel 8550 Melrose Ave.




Golden Globe®️Winning Actress


WeHo widens its Small Business Saturday horizons

Locals to rally in support of mom-and-pop businesses


The Nov. 30 Small Business Saturday event, done the West Hollywood way, is as much a date-specific destination event as it is a way to woo shoe-leather shoppers to brick and mortar businesses time and time again—and this time around, sweet deals, swag, and celebs beckon you to start the holiday shopping season by standing in solidarity with a favorite local merchant, or making a first-time transaction at a new discovery. That call to action was first made a decade ago, when American Express conceived Small Business Saturday (SBS) as a next-day follow-up to Black Friday. Focused on the notion of making “a big impact in your community,” SBS sees locals rally in support of mom-and-pop businesses (or, for those lucky 10 percenters, pop-and-pops and mom-andmoms). Locally, the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce (WHCC) has been on board since year one, says WHCC President/CEO Genevieve Morrill. That first time around, she recalls, “We just bounced off the platform that AmEx provided,” which gifted swag to participating businesses. WHCC provided helium tanks to local participating stores, with which to breath life into those AmEx-supplied, SBS logo-emblazed balloons. “Then, the next year,” Morrill recalls, “we set up some hubs in different locations on the street, that would have Shop Small bags to give out.” In the coming years, they added a celebrity element, with longtime WHCC member Steve Valentine, of Valentine Group Public Relations, often called upon to use his connections to bring some star power to SBS. Bruce Vilanch, a Valentine “get” and a past participant, will be back this year. “Steve has those relationships,” notes Morrill. “And Bruce is a natural fit for us. People like him, and Leslie Jordan, are so specific to West Hollywood. We like to use our locals.” You’ll find those local known names at four locations along the WeHo SBS route. From 12-1 p.m., KTLA 5’s Emmy-winning Wendy Burch brings some journalistic flavor to Gelato Festival (8906 Melrose Ave.). Joined by her son, Brady, Burch and Gelato Festival’s master chefs will generate some artisanal flavors from the Festival’s classroom kitchen. Those flavors, including the intriguingly named Blueberry Basil, will be on sale for the day, while supplies last. From 1:30-2:30 p.m., trainer’s gym Dogpound (627 N Robertson Blvd.) welcomes NBC4 award-winning anchor Robert Kovacik, who will sweat it out in one of the fitness classes. And no joke: Broadway star, Emmy-winning writer and Renaissance funnyman Bruce Vilanch will be good for a killer zinger or two (dozen), when, from 2:30-3:30 p.m., he presides over the modeling of “lift-tech” men’s underwear, at Rounderbum (802 N San Vincente Blvd.). Golden Globe-winning actress Elizabeth Rohm, co-owner of RYU (Respect Your Universe), gives you a sneak peek at their spring 2020 collection. The

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A wide array of WeHo businesses plan to participate in Small Business Saturday.

event, 4-5 p.m., pulls double duty: It’s also the debut opening of their LA location (945 N Fairfax Ave.). Giving back is the primary concern of WeHo SBS’s charitable component, which sees local participants earmarking a percentage of their Nov. 30 profits to a worthy cause. That effort has raised over $20,000 over the years, with past recipients including The Foundation for The AIDS Monument and the City of West Hollywood Homeless Initiative. This time around, the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Art and Culinary Arts program is the charity of choice. The program, as noted on the Center’s website, is “an intergenerational training program for LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness and low-income LGBT seniors.” Based at the Center’s commercial kitchen in the Anita May Rosenstein Campus, the program “engages youth, ages 18–24, to learn basic culinary skills alongside students from the Center’s Senior Services programs.” Graduates of the program top off their training by completing a 100-hour internship with local restaurants, catering companies, and food service businesses (SBS participant Gelato Festival is a current participant). Segueing nicely into the notion of culinary art, SBS participants include Carerra Café (8251 Melrose Ave.), offering Shop Small lattes. Customers at Duff’s Cake Mix (8302 Melrose Ave.) will get 10 percent off on purchases—and Frank’s Chop Shop (8209 Melrose Ave.) delivers sweet and savory pastries to

customers. More info to follow on the SBS’s participants (every last one of them, in fact)—but let’s first circle back to the article’s opening salvo, which posits SBS as a call to action far beyond Nov. 30. “When we debriefed last year,” says Morrill, of SBS 2018, “the feedback we got was, ‘How can we maximize local shopping beyond just one say?’ I think Small Business Saturday is an important day, but I also view it as an ‘awareness day.’ ” To build awareness, WHCC is positioning billboards outside the city limits, touting the virtues of West Hollywood merchants. Some SBS participants will continue with special perks and promotions for the duration of the holiday season, and shoppers can plead their case in the great “naught or nice” debate by appealing directly to not one, but two, variations of Santa, in his “Hunky” and “Rock and Roll” incarnations (seen, respectively, at the pickup lines for the Santa Monica Blvd. and Sunset Strip shuttles). Morrill also mentions, and not just in passing, how WHCC intends to build upon broadening the very notion of what constitutes a small business. “Over the years,” Morrill says, “We started to realize the significance of the freelance, entrepreneur, and E-commerce market.” Those elements will continue to be represented, when these new economy merchants partner with brick and mortar participants.

Long-term, WHCC is looking forward to presenting its West Hollywood Small Business Initiative. Two and a half years in the making, the document recommends, Morrill says, “ways to entice small, unique businesses to open here. We need to rethink how we look at zoning codes and fee structures.” Although the Initiative focuses on retail, it also “takes a hard look at where the business environment is going,” and asks how to nurture “the live/work environment, the home-based business.” For Nov. 30, however, brick and mortar is king, and coming out to put your cash where your choppers are is all important. Visit wehochamber. com/shopsmall for more info, including the full list of participants. See that list below to plan your route. Atacama Home, B2V Salon, Block Party, The Bord Room Barber Shop, Candle Delirium, The, Chad Allen Method, Chroma Studio, Coco Queen, Conservatory, Custom Comfort Mattress, Dogpound, Drip Doctors, Employees Only, Fred Segal, Gelato Festival, The Gendarmerie, Grande Maison, Jaffa, Kitchen24, Miniluxe, My 12 Step Store, NARS, Pura Vita, Pleasure Chest, Pura Vita, The Real Real, RYU (Respect Your Universe), Shape House, Sunset Kids, Sutton, Tom Tom, Unplug Meditation, Urth Caffe, Vanity Girl Hollywood, Voda Spa, Weho Bistro, and Zen.

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Dame Judi Dench in ‘Cats.’ Photo courtesy Universal

A Christmas ‘Bombshell’ Family fare, Oscar bait, franchise installments pepper holiday ’19 movie season By BRIAN T. CARNEY

With Thanksgiving coming so late this year, the holiday movie release schedule is especially crowded. LGBT cinephiles have plenty of great films to choose from. Currently on screen is Elizabeth Banks’ stylish and suspenseful reboot of the “Charlie’s Angels” franchise. Despite a great cast, including Kristen Stewart as a queer crimefighter, the movie unfortunately failed to catch fire at the box office. It’s worth a look, especially as a fun break from holiday preparations. Also on screen is “Parasite,” by South Korean director Bong Joon Ho (“Snowpiercer” and “Okja”). A contemporary fable about class warfare, the movie’s already been generating a lot of awards buzz. “Waves” (opened Nov. 22) by acclaimed director Trey Edward Shults (“Krishna” and “It Comes at Night”). The moving drama about a suburban African-American family stars Sterling K. Brown (“This Is Us”), Kelvin Harrison

Jr., Taylor Russell, Lucas Hedges and Renée Elise Goldberry (“Hamilton”). “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” stars Tom Hanks as the legendary Mr. Rogers, but the focus of the movie is really on cynical journalist Tom Junod (Matthew Rhys) whose life gets turned around when he’s assigned to do a profile of the legendary children’s television host. Viewers be warned: this is not a movie for the whole family. Last week’s family-friendly opening was Walt Disney’s “Frozen II,” the continued adventures of Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Sven and Olaf. The confusing sequel lacks the charm (and narrative coherence) of the original, but still packs a significant visual and emotional punch. Opening in time for the Thanksgiving holiday (Nov. 27) is the delightful family crime caper “Knives Out.” Directed by Rian Johnson (“The Last Jedi”), the all-star cast includes Daniel Craig, Christopher Plummer, Jaime

Lee Curtis, Don Johnson, Michael Shannon, LaKeith Stanfield, Toni Colette and Chris Evans. It’s a great way to spend quality time with your own family. Queer filmmaker Todd Haynes (“Carol,” “Far from Heaven” and “Velvet Goldmine”) branches out in a very different direction with “Dark Waters.” The true crime drama stars Mark Ruffalo, Anne Hathaway, Tim Robbins, Bill Pullman and out actor Victor Garber. Also opening for the holiday weekend is “Queen & Slim.” Written by queer authors Lena Waithe and James Frey, the movie stars Daniel Kaluuya (“Get Out”) and newcomer Jodie Turner-Smith in a tale of a first date gone horribly wrong. In the meantime, following the critical and popular success of “Roma,” Netflix is again pursuing a hybrid release strategy for three of its prestige projects: they’ll receive a theatrical release before they start streaming. Loosely based on Shakespeare’s history

2 2 • V O LU M E 0 3 • I S S U E 4 8 • 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 • N O V E M B E R 2 9 2 0 1 9

Elsa, Anna, Kristoff and Sven in ‘Frozen II.’

Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman and Margot Robbie in ‘Bombshell.’

Photo courtesy Disney

Photo courtesy Lionsgate Films

Mark Ruffalo in ‘Dark Waters.’

The cast of ‘Knives Out.’

Photo by Mary Cybulski for Focus Features

Photo by Claire Folger; courtesy Lionsgate Films

A scene from ‘The Irishman.’

Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers.

Photo courtesy Netflix

Photo by Lacey Terrell; courtesy Sony Pictures

plays, “The King” stars Timothée Chalamet as the future Henry V. Martin Scorsese’s epic crime drama (with a running time of threeand-a-half hours) “The Irishman” stars Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci and Anna Paquin. “Marriage Story” stars Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson as a couple facing the break-up of their marriage. More traditional holiday offerings at Netflix include the animated tale “Klaus” with the voice talents of Joan Cusack, Rashida Jones and J.K. Simmons and “Let It Snow,” a story about a small-town Christmas that includes an LGBT storyline. On a less seasonal note, Netflix is also streaming “I’m With the Band: Nasty Cherry” about a fledging all-female rock band that includes an openly lesbian musician. Amazon Studios is also trying a hybrid release strategy with “The Report.” Screening in theaters now and streaming on Amazon Prime on Nov. 29, the inside-the-Beltway tale stars Adam Driver as a Senate staffer

investigating the CIA’s post 9-11 Detention and Interrogation Program and features Annette Bening as Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Fans of the Christmas favorite “Love Actually” can enjoy the film and a special holiday party on Thursday, Dec. 5 at the Warner Bros. Theater at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History (si. edu/imax/movie/love-actually). New releases continue pouring into theaters in December. On Dec. 6, there’s the Cannes favorite “Little Joe,” a horticultural thriller with Emily Beecham and out actor Ben Whishaw; “The Aeronauts,” which reunites Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones from “The Theory of Everything;” and the stunning “Two Popes” starring Jonathan Pryce as Pope Francis and Anthony Hopkins as Pope Emeritus Benedict. On Dec. 13, acclaimed director Clint Eastwood returns with “Richard Jewell,” a drama about the man falsely accused

of planting a bomb at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. Three of the year’s most highly anticipated movies will be released Dec. 20: Tom Hooper’s all-star adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Cats”; “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” the ninth and final installment in the Skywalker saga; and “Bombshell,” the sordid star-studded saga of sexual harassment at Fox News with Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, Margot Robbie and John Lithgow. Last but hardly least, two stories about life during wartime will be released on Christmas Day, Dec. 25. Directed by Sam Mendes (“Skyfall” and “American Beauty”), “1917” stars Andrew Scott and Benedict Cumberbatch in a gripping World War I drama. Directed by Greta Gerwig (“Lady Bird”), the latest adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s Civil War saga “Little Women” stars Saoirse Ronan and an all-star cast and is already generating significant Oscar buzz.

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‘Temblores’ addresses love that hurts in Guatemala Forced to choose family and status or true love By JOHN PAUL KING

Guatemalan filmmaker Jayro Bustamante’s explores the relationship between a closeted man and his lover in ‘Temblores.’ Photo courtesy Film Movements

The reason for the title of Guatemalan filmmaker Jayro Bustamante’s “Temblores” becomes clear within its first few minutes, when the tempestuous anguish of a family conflict is suddenly rendered immaterial for a few brief minutes as the earth begins to shake violently. It’s Guatemala, where earthquakes happen frequently, and they are taken very seriously. Even before this literal “tremor” strikes, however, the filmmaker’s masterful prologue sequence hints at deeper layers of the movie’s title by pulling us immediately into the situation of Don Pablo, the younger son of a wealthy and influential Guatemala City family, just as his world begins to fall apart. Despite his flawless image as a happily married, devout Christian heterosexual man, he has a male lover – and his secret has come out, even if he hasn’t. As the film opens, he drives through the stormy night into the family estate to face the fallout from the revelation, and even though we don’t know any of that yet, the sense of impending disaster is palpable. The ensuing confrontation predictably, is histrionic to the point of being comical – or would be, if it weren’t for the ugliness wrapped inside the unanimous recriminations being hurled at him by his wife, parents, and the other members of the extended clan. Despite the temporary reprieve granted by the rumbling threat of natural disaster, his personal life has been turned upside down. No longer welcome at home, he moves in with his boyfriend, Francisco – liberated, out, and completely comfortable with his sexuality – while still attempting to protect himself and his family from “shame” and scandal. At first, he embraces his freedom and the bliss he feels with Francisco; but as his conservative religious family ramps up the pressure and the whispered rumors and secrets cost him his job and his status, he finds himself being pulled inexorably backward. Powerless against the combined force of the evangelical church and the deeply homophobic Guatemalan legal system, he will be forced to make a choice: stay with Francisco in his newfound gay life and lose everything he’s ever had, including his beloved children, or do whatever it takes, even submitting to church-directed “therapy,” to return to his family and give up the only authentic adult love he’s ever known. For U.S. audiences (at least the ones that are likely to seek out “Temblores”), the subject matter Bustamante tackles here has become familiar enough – so familiar, in fact, that the movie’s raw truth may catch them off guard. Conditioned by American film narrative conventions, viewers here are almost certain to expect that love and reason will ultimately prevail and the movie’s protagonist is sure, after a perfunctory emotional struggle, to come out on the right side of his journey and find a way to make peace between his two worlds – or at least the hope of it. That expectation is part of what gives this exquisitely crafted drama so much power. Pablo’s world is not a Hollywood fantasy, and the reality it shows us is one that goes against the grain in a culture that is, by comparison, as free-thinking and progressive as the one we are privileged to enjoy in America – or at least in its cosmopolitan areas. This is not the cultural climate

we are used to seeing in movies about contemporary LGBTQ life; despite the seeming sophistication of its urban setting, under the surface it more closely resembles the oppressively homophobic atmosphere seen in “Brokeback Mountain,” and however confident we may be of a happy ending, such an outcome seems less and less certain as the film goes on. As for the romance at its center, we might be conditioned also to cling to the bond between Pablo and Francisco as the shelter that will protect them – and us – from the metaphoric tremors that rumble through their lives. Bustamante has not made a love story, however, no matter how tempted we may be to view it through that lens; the heartfelt authenticity he bestows upon the relationship between his two leading men – aided immeasurably by the beautiful performances of Juan Pablo Olyslager (Pablo) and Mauricio Armas Zebadúa (Francisco) – might give us temporary respite and hope, but it also serves to provide a stark contrast between the two conflicting parts of Pablo’s life. In fact, it’s contrast that fuels “Temblores.” Not only does the telenovela-level near-absurdity of Pablo’s family turmoil appear in stark relief to the blissful oasis he shares with Francisco, so too does the gap between the ideals projected by the church and the actions and behaviors they inspire. Pablo’s family refer to the damage he is causing, yet we repeatedly watch as their various responses to the situation wreaks havoc on all of their own lives; they refer to his sexuality as an “illness,” yet it’s they who seem to be sick. Watching a roomful of anguished churchgoers, arms flailing feverishly as they raise their voices in a cacophony of desperate prayer, it’s hard not to be reminded of the kind of imagery more typically associated with suffering sinners in hell. That brings home the point of Bustamante’s film, of course. As the filmmaker himself has put it, “It’s a movie that speaks about conditional love, shameful love, love that hurts, about the divine and celestial love that is needed in a context where the earth trembles and destroys everything. The love that gives us an excuse for our extraordinary mastery of double standards.” It’s a context within which it becomes heartbreakingly understandable how a man like Pablo, well-educated and with access to an equally real world where he is free to be who he truly is for the first time in his life, can be trapped into making a choice that denies him his own happiness in favor of satisfying a code of morality he has already recognized as false. As disconcerting as that realization might be, it’s even more upsetting to recognize that such a situation is still very much a fact of real life for many LGBTQ people all around the world. It’s a testament to Bustamante’s skills as a writer and a director that he has made a film of such nuance and observational honesty that we can view all those involved, even those who oppress themselves in the name of their own oppressors, with compassion. “Temblores” has met with acclaim at film festivals internationally, including a win as Best Narrative Feature at New York’s NewFest and a Best Actor prize for Olyslager’s charismatic performance at LA’s Outfest. It opens in Los Angeles on Dec. 6.


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

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‘Dark Waters’ run deep Todd Haynes tackles corporate greed in timely film By DAVID EHRENSTEIN

Mark Ruffalo in ‘Dark Waters’ Photo courtesy Frameline Films 2019

A “ripped from the headlines” thriller about a chemical corporation willfully poisoning untold millions before being brought to heel by the dogged efforts of a single attorney may seem at first quite “outside the wheelhouse” of a director like Todd Haynes. But with his new film “Dark Waters,” the creator of such queer classics as “Velvet Goldmine” (1998), “Far From Heaven” (2002) and “Carol” (2015) is actually returning to the likes of his “Poison” (1991), “Safe” (1995) and, above all, “Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story” (1988); films in which both the environment and personal health play a key role. The difference here is Haynes’ newfound skill at handling the full resources of a “mainstream” feature with an awards-worthy lead in Mark Ruffalo and a dramatic drive reminiscent of the glory days of Costa-Gavras (“Z”) and Alan J. Pakula (“The Parallax View”). Socially conscious dramas aren’t exactly an endangered species what with the likes of the Ruffalo-starred priestly-pedophile thriller “Spotlight” of 2015, and just this year Edward Norton’s “Motherless Brooklyn,” which uncovers high-level criminality in 50s-era New York much like Polanski’s “Chinatown” (1974) did for 30s-era LA. But “Dark Waters” has quite a different tone as it patiently traces the evolution of Ruffalo’s lawyer, who has made a career of working at the pleasure of the corporate class, finds himself changing sides. This begins when he’s confronted by a beleaguered West Virginia rancher (Bill Camp) who presents him with irrefutable evidence that his cattle have been poisoned by the local water supply. Said water has also served to blacken the teeth of the locals, before killing them outright with cancer. Suspecting corporate mendacity is one thing — proving it quite another. But what distinguishes “Dark Waters” is the way it gets into the details as Ruffalo’s lawyer educates himself in science in order to isolate the chemical formula that Dupont (the chemical corporation in question) has created making innovative products at the cost of consumer health. This may sound dry, but it’s very dramatic onscreen. The result: it’s safe to say that after seeing this film you will never use a “Teflon”-coated pan again. Would that were enough. It isn’t. For the problem, the film shows, is the damage has already been done to such an extent that 99 percent of the U.S. population is infected to one degree or another with deadly chemicals and at present there’s nothing we can do about eradicating them from our bodies. There is however quite a lot we can do about corporations, and their dominance in governmental policy, provided the right people are in charge. Dupont, thanks to the overwhelming number of lawsuits the story behind the film inspired, is no more. Needless to say other villainous concerns are still in operation. Under President Obama a wide number of measures were taken to insure that chemical wastes were no longer dumped into the nation’s rivers and streams. That the Trump administration has ordered the reversal of these policies is yet another reason why its ruinous rule must be brought to an end as swiftly as possible. Meanwhile back at the movie “Dark Waters” (whose finely crafted screenplay is the work of Mario Correa, and Matthew Michael Carnahan) offers the distinct pleasure of a film made for grown-ups with Ruffalo’s star turn ably supported by Anne Hathaway as his neglected wife, Tim Robbins as a legal colleague who comes to join his crusade and Victor Garber as a slickly evil Dupont executive. Working with his usual cinematographer Ed Lachman and dramatically enhanced by a vibrant musical score by Marcelo Zarvas, Hynes delivers the bad news with added assurance that consciousness and comprehension are the best disinfectants of them all.

Since its founding in 1992, Congregation Kol Ami is an important leader in the Jewish, LGBTQ+, and West Hollywood communities. Its commitment to progressive spirituality, diversity, inclusion, and social justice has been celebrated nationwide. As West Hollywood’s premier Reform synagogue, Kol Ami is an award-winning congregation by daring to be innovative while remaining rooted in Jewish tradition and practice. Kol Ami is committed to a world in which all individuals are honored and connected in community and is a gathering place for Jew and nonJew alike. Kol Ami’s Founding Rabbi, Denise L. Eger, has served with distinction the Jewish and greater communities for over 30 years. She is an internationally known LGBTQ+ and human activist. A Past President of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, (the international organization of Reform Rabbis), she was the first openly gay or lesbian person in the position and only the third woman in over 130 years. Rabbi Eger is also a Past President of the Board of Rabbis of Southern California, the first woman to serve in that post. She was named one of the 50 most influential Jewish leaders in the U.S. for her work on LGBT rights. She was the founding President of the Lesbian, Gay, & Bisexual Interfaith Clergy Association, a founder of California Faith for Equality. Rabbi Eger has contributed to many books and is the co-editor of the newly published “Gender & Religious Leadership: Women Rabbis, Pastors and Ministers”. Her forthcoming book this March will focus on Jewish LGBTQ rituals, prayers and meditations. She has been honored for her activism by HRC, Being Alive UFMCC, the LA Gay and Lesbian Center and the City of Los Angeles. To read more, visit https://www.kol-ami.org/rabbi-denise-l-eger. Assistant Rabbi Max Chaiken joined Kol Ami in July of 2018 and directs The Open Yad Project, Kol Ami’s 20s & 30s community. Earlier this year, he was named as an Interfaith Family Rukin Rabbinic Fellow. A passionate writer, Rabbi Chaiken has published several articles and composes original Jewish music and poetry. His song Eliyahu Hanavi was first published in the Ruach 5771 compilation produced by Transcontinental Music. To read more, visit https://www.kol-ami.org/rabbi-maxchaiken. In addition to Shabbat and Holy Day worship, Kol Ami offers numerous programs to the community at-large including numerous classes and lectures; DocJewmentary Film Series (monthly); HIV+ Support Group (monthly); interfaith activities (as programmed). Through the EZRA Network, a social worker is available the first 3-4 Wednesdays each month and a career coach is available on the last Wednesday. Meeting with either professional is freeof-charge with an appointment. In 2001, Kol Ami became the first predominantly LGBTQ+ synagogue in the U.S. to construct its own building and offers spaces for rent for your events. Kol Ami’s facilities include a sanctuary with a loft ceiling, an adjoining reception lobby, a library, a complete commercial-style kitchen, a meeting room, and an intimate roof deck. Kol Ami has hosted various types of events. To read more, visit https://www.kol-ami.org/synagogue-rentals.




Sunday, December 8, 4:00-6:30 pm Congregation Kol Ami 1200 N. La Brea Avenue West Hollywood, CA 90038 Come mingle, nosh, drink, play & laugh with our inclusive community & friends! FEATURING COMEDIAN

LIZ GLAZER For entry tickets visit kol-ami.org/goldengelt or call (323) 606-0996

$100 donation per person, includes v 2 drink tickets v hors d’oeuvres v $50 in chips for blackjack, craps, v v

roulette & poker (with mini Texas Hold’em tournaments) Comedian Liz Glazer 5 raffle tickets

$250 sponsorship, includes v 2 entry tickets, plus v $100 contribution to selected Chanukah values candle



Celine Dion does karaoke And Pete Davidson reveals his DiCaprio crush By BILLY MASTERS

Celine Dion entered the karaoke competition by singing a new song, ‘Flying On My Own.’ Photo by kathclick/Courtesy Bigstock

“Well, I used to jerk off to Leonardo DiCaprio.” — Pete Davidson in “Paper” magazine. He clarifies, “Uhh, like his acting. used to have a HUGE crush on Leonardo DiCaprio. I had this huge poster of him from ‘The Beach’ in my room.” Well, that clarifies...err, nothing. While the impeachment hearings limped to an end, one question remains: Did Hope kill Thomas by pushing him into a vat of acid? These preemptions have made it impossible to follow “The Bold and the Beautiful.” The one thing I’m certain of is that if Thomas did end up in boiling hydrofluoric acid, he’s neither bold nor beautiful. The original Broadway cast of “The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife” reunited for a special reading to benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. The idea for the reunion was sparked by Linda Lavin, the leading lady of the original Broadway production. When she recently staged the play at her North Carolina theatre company, she played the role of the leading lady’s mother, Frieda (played on Broadway by the late Shirl Bernheim). Linda knew that playwright Charles Busch always coveted the title role, so why not assemble the rest of the original cast and have Charles play Linda’s role while Linda played the mother? Charles was in, but said that since Lavin played the role to perfection, he’d have to play it the way she did - “in homage.” “There will be times Linda’s going to feel like she’s acting with herself.” While Busch slipped into the title role effortlessly, Lavin still stole every scene she was a part of. As I quipped to Linda, “I can’t think of another actress who returns to a play in which she stole the show 20 years ago, plays a different part, and steals the show again!” The event proved what a phenomenal piece of writing Busch’s play is - it may even survive the proposed film version starring Bette Midler and Sharon Stone. Just a few blocks away, the Roundabout Theatre was doing its own benefit reading on the same night. Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” starred the formidable Angela Lansbury as the meddling Lady Bracknell. I’m told that Angela gave a terrific performance - obviously I wasn’t there because, contrary to popular belief, I cannot be in two places at the same time (I can, however, be with two men at the same time, should that ever be relevant). Everyone says Angie seemed thrilled to be back onstage. The audience loved her, and she looked positively elated at the endless curtain calls. Two benefits for two great causes. Only in NYC. Elsewhere in the Big Apple, Celine Dion turned up at drag karaoke, and why not? She’s probably the most convincing Celine Dion the place has seen! Miss Dion went to Lips to celebrate the release of her latest CD, “Courage.” Celine also entered the karaoke competition by singing a new song, “Flying On My Own.” Watch the video on BillyMasters. com and let me know if you would have voted for her or not. While voting hasn’t happened yet, Lil Nas X has already made Grammy history. Last week, Nas got nominated for Artist of the Year, Album of the Year, Best New Artist, Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, Best Rap/Sung Performance, and Best Music Video. In short, this is an unprecedented number of plaudits going to an openly gay singer. You can check out his 12-inch on BillyMasters.com - free membership for all Grammy voters! Jussie Smollett made good on his promise to sue the City of Chicago and the lead officer for how they handled his purported “attack.” The suit really is a response to the Chicago asking that he pay back the $260K it cost to investigate. Instead of paying the bill (assuming he has the money), Jussie filed a countersuit claiming economic losses, legal bills, mental anguish and distress. I say we start a class action suit charging mental anguish and distress for the handful of us still watching “Empire.” Talk about cruel and unusual punishment! When daytime dramas are being preempted by the biggest soap opera of all, it’s definitely time to end yet another column. Since this is our Thanksgiving column, let me tell you what I’m thankful for. First and foremost, I’m thankful that certain parts of my anatomy can bring so much pleasure to so many people. I’m thankful for the ability to laugh at others’ misfortunes. I’m also thankful I’m not in therapy, where it would be pointed out that laughing at others’ misfortunes is not healthy. But, most of all, I’m thankful for all of you who have been reading this column for close to 25 years - you really are the best part of this job. Thanks to the many papers that continue to publish me - even in these days when print media are in jeopardy. Lastly, thanks to the staff at www.BillyMasters.com - the legal eagles who keep me out of prison and the proofers who make sure that my penis is the only thing dangling. Should you have a question, a query, or a Quiznos sandwich you’d like to share (I’m partial to footlongs), get in touch with me at Billy@BillyMasters.com and I promise to get back to you before I ever again write the word Wu. So, until next time, remember, one man’s filth is another man’s bible.

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



need to catch up because of public support [in favor of legalizing marijuana] and because it is the right thing to do.” NORML’s Political Director Justin Strekal praised the House Judiciary vote, stating, “Not only does this bill reverse the failed prohibition of cannabis, but it also provides pathways for opportunity and ownership in the emerging industry for those who have suffered the most under federal criminalization.” Nadler indicated that the next stop for the More Act could be a House floor vote, presuming that other committee chairs agree to waive their jurisdiction over the bill.

Inhaled cannabis helps with migraines: study

‘Our federal laws have not kept pace with the obvious need for change,’ said House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler.

Cannabis de-scheduling bill passes House committee Members of the United States House Judiciary Committee last week passed legislation – House Bill 3884: The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act – by more than a two-to-one margin. Members decided 24 to 10 in favor of the Act, with two Republicans voting in support of the bill. The MORE Act removes the marijuana plant from the federal Controlled Substances Act, thereby enabling states to enact their own cannabis regulations free from undue federal interference. The vote marks the first time that members of Congress have ever voted to federally deschedule cannabis. The Act also provides for the review and expungement of past cannabis convictions and provides reinvestments to those communities most adversely impacted by the drug war. It also prohibits the denial of federal aid to those who use cannabis in compliance with state law and allows physicians affiliated with the U.S. Veterans Administration to authorize medical cannabis recommendations, among other changes. The measure is the most comprehensive piece of marijuana-related legislation ever approved by a body of Congress. House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, who sponsored the bill, said: “States have led the way and continue to lead the way, but our federal laws have not kept pace with the obvious need for change. We

PULLMAN, Wash. — Cannabis inhalation is associated with self-reported reductions in headache and migraine severity, according to clinical data published in the Journal of Pain. A team of investigators from Washington State University reviewed archived data from 1,959 anonymous cannabis consumers who tracked their cannabis use and headache frequency over a 16-month period via an online application. Authors reported that inhaled cannabis reduced subjects’ perceived severity of headache and migraine by nearly 50 percent. Men were more likely than women to report changes in headache severity. Investigators also acknowledged that many subjects exhibited tolerance to cannabis over time, as they required increased quantities to maintain the same self-reported analgesic effects. They concluded: “The present study indicates that inhaled cannabis reduces headache and migraine severity ratings by approximately 50 percent. Repeated use of cannabis is associated with tolerance to its effects, making tolerance a risk factor for the use of cannabis to treat headache and migraine. However, cannabis does not lead to the medication overuse headache that is associated with other conventional treatments, meaning that use of cannabis does not make headaches or migraines worse over time. Future double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials are warranted and will help to rule out placebo effects and provide a more controlled examination of dose, type of cannabis, THC, CBD, and THC x CBD interactions.”

Two-thirds of Americans say pot should be legal More than two out of three U.S. adults believe that the personal use of cannabis should be legal, according to nationwide polling data compiled by the Pew Research Center.

Sixty-seven percent of respondents said that the “use of marijuana should be made legal.” That is the highest percentage of support ever recorded by Pew, which has been surveying Americans’ attitudes on marijuana policy since 1969. Public support for legalization has more than doubled in the past decade. The Pew survey is the fourth national poll released in recent weeks showing majority support for cannabis legalization. Recently compiled polling data by Gallup and the Public Religion Research Institute both reported that two-thirds of Americans endorse legalization, while survey data compiled by Harvard reported that 62 percent of US adults back the policy change. Consistent with other national surveys, support for adult-use legalization was strongest among selfidentified Democrats (78 percent) and Millennials (76 percent), but was weaker among Republicans (55 percent) and those born before 1945 (35 percent). “The percentage of the public who favors adult-use marijuana legalization has skyrocketed over the past three decades and shows no signs of abating,” NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri said. “As more and more states have moved forward with their own marijuana liberalization policies in recent years, public support has only grown stronger. At a time when political divides are larger than ever, the issue of marijuana legalization is one of the few policy issues upon which most Americans agree.”

N.J. Senate leaders propose 2020 pot ballot measure TRENTON, N.J. — Senate President Steve Sweeney and Sen. Nicholas Scutari, Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, announced plans last week to place a constitutional amendment on the 2020 ballot to legalize and regulate adult cannabis use. “This initiative will bring cannabis out of the underground so that it can be controlled to ensure a safe product, strictly regulated to limit use to adults, and have sales subjected to the sales tax,” they said in a joint press release. “We will move forward with a plan that helps correct social and legal injustices that have had a discriminatory impact on communities of color. We can make real progress toward social justice at the same time cannabis is made safe and legal.” According to a statewide Monmouth University poll released this year, 62 percent of New Jersey adults support legalizing personal use quantities of cannabis and 80 percent approve of it being sold at licensed retail outlets. Legislative efforts to enact a system of regulated marijuana sales stalled after the proposal failed to obtain sufficient support to pass a Senate floor vote. Cannabis Culture news in the Blade is provided in partnership with NORML. For more information, visit normal.

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