Losangelesblade.com, Volume 4, Issue 1, January 3, 2020

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Photo by Jamie Smed via Wikimedia Commons

J A N U A R Y 0 3 2 0 2 0 • V O LU M E 0 4 • I S S U E 0 1 • A M E R I C A’ S LG B TQ N E W S S O U R C E • LO S A N G E L E S B L A D E . C O M


Top 10 LA news stories of 2019 Praise for Ed Buck’s arrest, LA Center expansion By KAREN OCAMB kocamb@losangelesblade.com For news editors, picking a top 10 yearin-review list is like asking a parent to pick their favorite child. My criteria came down to which stories were and will be most impactful. That said, I can’t let 2019 go by without three “honorable mentions” of note: 1) the death of Project 10 founder Dr. Virginia Uribe; 2) longtime lesbian activist Ivy Bottini leaving West Hollywood for Florida; and MCC Founder Rev. Troy Perry donating papers to the Smithsonian Institution. There are so many other stories deserving of attention, of course, but here’s my subjective top 10: No. 10 THE LAZARUS EFFECT. The Los Angeles LGBTQ community experienced two major Lazarus rising moments this year — the comeback of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, which appeared doomed to an ignominious demise after being rocked by accusations of sexual harassment. But with new leadership, its star-studded Aug. 16 Stonewall 50th concert at the Walt Disney Concert Hall with 500 singers from 25 other choruses, honoring politico David Mixner, suggested a fresh promise. Likewise, Christopher Street West/LA Pride was mired in a financial and political miasma, with lots of angry finger pointing. But by June 8/9, the clouds had cleared and everyone seemed to have a merry time, which was also very profitable for WeHo & LA. No. 9 LGBTQs IN SACRAMENTO. LGBTQ history was made in 2018 when Ricardo Lara was elected statewide as Insurance Commissioner. He initially stumbled over a donor controversy but has received plaudits for telling insurers they can’t drop homeowner policies of wildfire victims. Meanwhile the LGBT Caucus continues to be legislatively active and Gov. Newsom flying the trans flag over the State Capitol went viral. No. 8 ANNIVERSARIES GALORE. Fifty years ago — other than LA-based Mattachine

The 150-member strong GMCLA contingent (R), with NYCGMC, its East Coast commissioning partner, perform at Carnegie Hall on June 27 as part of Stonewall 50. Photo by Gregory Zabilski

Society founder Harry Hay and friends — most LGBTQ people had no concept of themselves as a minority “community” with a shared collective history. But 2019 put that to rest with celebration after commemoration of notable anniversaries, starting with the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York City. The Washington Blade also marked 50 years since its inaugural publication as The Gay Blade. The Los Angeles LGBT Center also celebrated 50 years, though some activists quibbled with CEO Lorri Jean’s changing the date from its 1972 incorporation to 1969 based on Gay Liberation Front/LA historical records and information provided by the late Center co-founder Morris Kight. Equality California celebrated its 20th anniversary, though the LGBTQ lobbying group originally grew out of LIFE AIDS Lobby, founded in 1985. The Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles celebrated 40 years; Project Angel Food celebrated 30 years and provided its 12 millionth meal. The Wall Las Memorias commemorated 25 years and the youth-oriented Impulse Group celebrated 10 years of fun and service. No. 7 AHF FIGHTS HOMELESSNESS. AIDS

Healthcare Foundation started out in 1987 as the AIDS Hospice Foundation to provide gay men dying of AIDS with shelter and a dignified death. Now a global healthcare organization serving more than 1.3 million people in 43 countries — including flying in aid to hurricane-devastated Puerto Rico and the Bahamas — AHF has taken on the epidemic of homelessness and the dearth of affordable housing in LA by buying and rehabilitating Single Room Occupancy hotels in downtown LA and Hollywood. Former homeless vet, Herbert Butler, 88, is riding on AHF’s float in the New Year’s Day Rose Parade. AHF’s housing advocacy division, Housing Is A Human Right, has gathered more than enough signatures to qualify the Rental Affordability Act for the November 2020 ballot. No. 6 ANITA MAY ROSENSTEIN CAMPUS OPENS. The barflies at the Stonewall Inn and the Black Cat in the days when homosexuality was a crime and queers were perverts worthy of death could never have imagined the Anita May Rosenstein Campus, the new LA LGBT Center headquarters in the heart of Hollywood. The two-acre, $141.5 million

complex across from the Village at Ed Gould Plaza provides comprehensive intergenerational services for LGBT seniors and youth with emergency and transitional housing and beds, affordable housing, a new Senior Community Center, Youth Drop-In Center and Youth Academy, and employment programs. Phase II will add more apartments by mid-2020. The Center’s four-story McDonald/Wright Building is now a dedicated LGBT health center. “Here we have a president and his team of people who want to build a wall to keep the most vulnerable out,” Jean told the Los Angeles Blade. “And what do we do? We build a beautiful campus to invite the most vulnerable in.” No. 5 TRANS DEATHS/DEFIANCE. This November’s Transgender Remembrance Day, the Human Rights Campaign reported at least 22 trans and gender-nonconforming people had been murdered in 2019, most of whom were young Black trans women during an era of rising hate crimes, including in the LA area. By Dec. 19, the known dead increased to at least 24. Meanwhile, the Trump administration made it extremely difficult for those fleeing violence and seeking asylum in the U.S., especially trans asylum seekers. In May, Johana Medina Leon, a trans woman who fled violence in El Salvador and pleaded with ICE for medical attention, died four days after ICE released her into an El Paso Texas hospital. But the trans community and allies have been defiant. Equality California and Attorney General Xavier Becerra are fighting the trans military ban; Karina Samala, James Wen, Khloe PerezRios, Chela Demuir, Blossom C. Brown, and Maria Roman Taylorson advocated for trans visibility; and Bamby Salcedo and the TransLatin@ Coalition got Alejandra Barrera out of ICE detention to await her hearing. And huge kudos to the Washington Blade’s Michael Lavers for his guts traveling to scary areas to do original reporting!


Gay West Hollywood resident Ed Buck was arrested and charged with ‘operating a drug house and providing methamphetamine to a 37-year-old man who suffered an overdose’ in 2019. Photo by Karen Ocamb

No. 4 HRC/CNN LGBTQ Town Hall. For the Human Rights Campaign, the Oct.10 LGBTQ Town Hall at The Novo was an historic follow-up to their news-making forum in 2007. To CNN, it was a town hall on a political “issue,” with out anchors Anderson Cooper and Don Lemon as questioners, each handling protesters with courtesy. Nine Democratic presidential candidates showed up, with gay presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg generating the peak ratings at 1,430,000 viewers. Frontrunner Sen. Elizabeth Warren did well, but former Vice President Joe Biden oddly stumbled and longtime LGBTQ ally Sen. Kamala Harris failed to hit a homerun message. Sen. Bernie Sanders was absent, recovering from a heart attack. A Saturday Night Live spoof featured Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda as former HUD Sec. Julián Castro saying: “Well, first of all, gracias. As a Democrat, I want to apologize for not being gay, but I promise to do better in the future.” No. 3 ED BUCK INDICTED/ LA DA RACE IMPACTED. Thanks in large part to Black lesbian activist Jasmyne Cannick, the Ed Buck scandal dominated headlines until

finally federal authorities stepped in and arrested Buck at his West Hollywood apartment in September, charging him with a federal drug crime in the July 2017 overdose death of Gemmel Moore. Timothy Dean also died in January of a drug overdose at Buck’s apartment, which LA DA Jackie Lacey called a “drug den.” The feds claimed there were at least 11 additional victims, most young Black male escorts, who allege Buck, who is white, injected them with meth as part of a sexual fetish. If convicted, Buck could get a sentence of 20 years to life in prison. Lacey claimed her office was legally restricted in how she could proceed but critics claimed she failed at her job, with former San Francisco DA George Gascon moving to LA to challenge the incumbent. No. 2 REP. KATIE HILL RESIGNS Rep. Katie Hill, a Democrat from Santa Clarita and California’s first bisexual representative in Congress, announced her resignation “with a broken heart” in an Oct. 27 tweet and statement. She was being investigated by the House Ethics committee for allegedly engaging in a relationship

LA LGBT Center CEO Lorri L. Jean and Anita May Rosenstein. Photo courtesy of LA LGBT Center

with a congressional staffer, which she vehemently denied. She did admit to a consensual affair with a campaign staffer prior to her election in 2018, defeating anti-LGBTQ Republican Rep. Steve Knight. The relationship came to light after rightwing blog Red State and UK’s Daily Mail published nude photos of her that she knew nothing about, supplied by her estranged husband. In an astoundingly personal Dec. 7 New York Times op-ed, she shared her new activism after overcoming the suicidal depression caused by the revenge porn cyber exploitation. The race for Hill’s 25th CD seat is heating up with Hill and most Democrats supporting Assemblymember Christy Smith over alleged sexist and homophobic “progressive” Cenk Uygur, who lost his Bernie Sanders’ endorsement after a backlash, as well Republicans Steve Knight and convicted felon and former Trump associate George Papadopoulos. No. 1 IMPEACHMENT. On June 11, 2017, Rep. Maxine Waters took the stage at the #ResistMarch in West Hollywood, flanked by California colleagues House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Adam Schiff, chair

of the House Intelligence Committee, and led a loud call-and-response chant: “Impeach 45!” Two years later, Pelosi agreed to launch an impeachment inquiry and Schiff’s committee concluded President Donald J. Trump needed to be impeached for withholding congressionally appropriated military aid to Ukraine, contingent on that country’s new president promising to announce an investigation into Trump’s anticipated 2020 rival, former Vice President Joe Biden and his son. Gay representatives Sean Patrick Maloney and David Cicilline acquitted themselves well during the hearings, as did a slew of California leaders. On Dec. 19, the House historically voted to impeach Trump on two counts — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. What happens in the Senate, with lesbian progressive Tammy Baldwin and bisexual conservative/moderate Democrat Kyrsten Sinema serving as impeachment trial jurors, may determine the strength and operation of the Constitution’s three coequal branches of government, and with it, the fate of the republic in advance of the 2020 elections.


The top national news stories of 2019 Pete Buttigieg’s popularity and Katie Hill’s fall make our list By CHRIS JOHNSON

President Trump surprised many by announcing a plan to beat HIV by 2030. Blade file photo by Michael Key

It was another memorable year in LGBTQ news. Here are the staff’s picks for biggest national stories of 2019. No. 10 Methodist Church faces split over LGBTQ inclusion In a disappointing move for LGBTQ parishioners, the Methodist Church this year voted the reaffirm its ban on LGBTQ clergy and same-sex marriage, raising questions about whether the denomination will split. Although the U.S. delegates at the United Methodist General Conference overwhelmingly voted “no,” the proposal succeeded as a result of an alliance of conservatives from both the United States and abroad. An estimated 43 percent of the delegates are from overseas and overwhelmingly supported the anti-gay policy. After a vote of 438-384, the measure headed for ratification to the Judicial Council, which voided the measure on the basis of “irregularities” in voting. Months later, five bishops representing the Western Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church issued a statement in support of LGBTQ clergy.

No. 9 Trump announces plan to beat HIV by 2030 In a surprise move, President Trump during his State of the Union address this year announced a plan to beat the HIV epidemic by 2030, calling on Congress for help in defeating the disease “in America and beyond.” With the goal to reduce new HIV diagnoses by 75 percent within five years, and by 90 percent within 10 years, Trump’s plan is set to target specific places with high rates of new infections with prevention and treatment services, including free access to PrEP. Trump’s budget proposal sought an additional $300 million in domestic HIV funding to implement the plan, although the request also seeks to cut Medicare and Medicaid and slashes global programs like PEPFAR and the Global Fund. Congress ended up not only agreeing to the domestic funds, but rejecting the proposed cuts. No. 8 Supreme Court green lights trans military ban The U.S. Supreme Court green lighted President Trump’s transgender military ban this year as litigation against the policy continues, allowing the armed forces to

Rep. Katie Hill resigned after admitting to an ‘inappropriate’ relationship with a female staffer in a scandal tinged with biphobia. Image courtesy C-SPAN

refuse enlistment to applicants based on their gender identity. In a policy known as the “Mattis Plan,” the Defense Department allows transgender people currently serving in the armed forces to remain in service, but prohibits in most cases transgender people from enlisting (unless they’re willing to serve in their birth sex), requires the expulsion of any service member who’s diagnosed with gender dysphoria at a later time and fosters a hostile climate for transgender troops still in service. No. 7 Anti-trans violence energizes LGBTQ movement Amid ongoing violence against transgender people, the LGBTQ movement was energized to new levels this year with anger over the perceived inaction on the issue. According to a report from the Human Rights Campaign, at least 22 transgender and gender non-conforming people were killed by November of 2019, many of whom were people of color. Outrage came to the fore during the Human Rights Campaign forum for Democratic presidential candidates on LGBTQ issues when activists interrupted

the event to demand attention to the issue. Among them was Blossom C. Brown who grabbed the mic and blamed the media and the Democratic candidates for failing to address anti-trans violence. No. 6 Rep. Katie Hill resigns amid scandal tinged with biphobia Former Rep. Katie Hill, a bisexual lawmaker elected in the 2018 Democratic “blue wave,” resigned her seat representing California’s 52nd congressional district in Congress this year amid an investigation of an improper relationship with a legislative staffer in a scandal tinged with biphobia. The conservative outlet RedState reported she and her husband were involved in a “throuple” relationship with a campaign staffer during the 2018 election. As part of the reporting, RedState published a redacted nude photo of Hill combing the hair of the female staffer. Hill, who was in the process of divorcing her husband, said she was in an “abusive” relationship with him, but admitted to having an “inappropriate” relationship with the staffer. RedState later reported Hill was having an affair with her legislative staffer, which is against House rules. Hill denied the affair


Millions attended NYC’s World Pride and Stonewall 50 celebrations in June. Blade file photo by Michael K. Lavers

was taking place, but the House Ethics Committee announced it was investigating the issue. But it didn’t end. The U.K.-based Daily Mail published a nude photo of Hill holding a bong. Hill resigned her seat, threatening legal action against the media outlets for posting images of her as “revenge porn.” No. 5 NYC celebrates WorldPride, Stonewall 50th In recognition of the Stonewall riots that began on June 28, 1969 and ignited the start of the modern LGBTQ rights movement, celebrations were held throughout the country this year in recognition of its milestone 50th anniversary. In New York City, where the Stonewall riots took place on Christopher Street, a major celebration took place at the same time the city hosted WorldPride. An estimated 5 million people came from around the globe to attend. Key to the celebration was recognition of the participation in the riots of Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, transgender women of color. The two were honored as pioneers with a new monument in New York City. No. 4 Trump impeached as anti-LGBT policies continue With anti-LGBTQ policies continuing to emanate from his administration, President

Trump was impeached this year by the U.S. House, making him one of only three U.S. presidents in history with that dubious distinction. House Democrats impeached Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress based on allegations he made U.S. aid to Ukraine appropriated by Congress conditional on the country announcing an investigation of his potential political opponent Joe Biden. Meanwhile, anti-LGBTQ policies coming from the Trump administration include new regulations enabling taxpayer-funded adoption agencies to refuse placement into LGBTQ homes over religious objections and medical practitioners to discriminate against transgender patients. No. 3 U.S. House approves Equality Act In a historic first, the U.S. House this year passed comprehensive legislation to enact a long sought prohibition against antiLGBT discrimination in federal law known as the Equality Act, marking the first time either chamber of Congress approved the measure. First introduced in 2015, the House finally was able to pass the Equality Act thanks to a new Democratic majority put in place after the “blue wave” in the 2018 congressional mid-term elections. The Equality Act would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prohibit anti-

Pete Buttigieg’s unexpected and meteoric rise to the top of primary polls is our No. 1 story of the year. Photo courtesy Buttigieg

LGBT discrimination as a form of sex discrimination in housing, employment, public accommodations, federal programs, jury service, education and credit. The bill would also expand the definition of public accommodations under federal civil rights law and clarify the Religious Freedom Restoration Act can’t be used to justify discrimination. No. 2 Supreme Court to decide if employers can fire LGBTQ workers The U.S. Supreme Court heard major litigation this year that will either determine LGBTQ people have federal nondiscrimination protections wherever they exist under federal law on the basis of sex — or no protections whatsoever. In April, justices agreed to hear two cases, Bostock v. Clayton County and Zarda v. Altitude Express, which seek clarification on whether anti-gay discrimination is illegal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and one case on anti-trans discrimination, Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC. During oral arguments in October, the Trump administration argued against LGBTQ inclusion under the law. U.S. Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch emerged as a surprising possible LGBTQ ally, suggesting he agrees with the textual argument anti-LGBTQ discrimination is a form of sex discrimination, but has concerns about “massive social upheaval” that would

follow such a ruling. No. 1 Buttigieg rises to top in 2020 campaign South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg rose to the top of the Democratic primary this year, drawing on his skills as a speaker and prodigious fundraiser to make history as an openly gay presidential candidate. With polls showing him in the lead in Iowa and New Hampshire, Buttigieg — who’s also an Afghanistan war veteran and a Millennial candidate — is in the same league with Democratic contenders Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Among his plans: Medicare for All Who Want It, a “Douglass Plan” to address racial inequities, and abolition of the Electoral College. Buttigieg has emerged as a moderate alternative to more progressive candidates. On his way to the top, Buttigieg continues to face criticism for not being representative of more disadvantaged sectors of the LGBTQ community. Although Buttigieg at one point falsely blamed LGBTQ media for those complaints, he later retracted those comments. Honorable mentions: Alphonso David named HRC president; Chicago elects lesbian mayor; first National Transgender Visibility March on Washington deemed success.


Top 10 international news stories of 2019 Plight of LGBTQ migrants, Chechen crackdown attract coverage By MICHAEL K. LAVERS is a choice and we have to fight against it!” Luxembourg is a small, wealthy European country that borders France, Belgium and Germany. Bettel took office in 2015.

While some countries forge ahead on a more progressive path, others, including the United States, took big steps backwards on LGBTQ equality in 2019. Our staff picks for the top 10 international news stories of the year: No. 10 Countries grant marriage rights Taiwan and Northern Ireland in 2019 became the latest countries to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples. Taiwan in May became the first country in Asia to allow gays and lesbians to marry after lawmakers approved a same-sex marriage bill. A law that extended marriage rights to same-sex couples in Northern Ireland took effect on Oct. 22. Angola and Botswana this year became the latest countries to decriminalize consensual same-sex sexual relations, although the Botswana government has appealed the High Court ruling that legalized homosexuality. Media reports indicate lawmakers in Gabon in July approved a new penal code that bans “sexual relations between people of the same sex.” No. 9 Anti-LGBTQ violence persists in Latin America Rates of violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity remained high throughout Latin America in 2019. Camila Díaz Córdova, a transgender woman from El Salvador who the U.S. deported in 2017, died on Feb. 3 after she was found at a hospital with multiple injuries. Three Salvadoran police officers have been charged with Díaz’s murder. Bruna Benevides of Associação Nacional dos Travestis e Transsexuais, a Brazilian trans advocacy group, on Sept. 13 said during an International Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights event in D.C. that a trans person is killed in her country every 48 hours. The International Lesbian, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association for Latin America and the Caribbean (ILGALAC) in November said four LGBTQ people are killed each day in Latin America.

Yariel Valdés González is a Blade contributing writer who is being detained by ICE under inhumane conditions. A judge granted him asylum but the government appealed the ruling, keeping him in custody. Blade file photo by Michael K. Lavers

No. 8 Cuba continues crackdown on LGBTQ activists, journalists The Cuban government in 2019 continued its crackdown against independent LGBTQ activists and journalists. Cuban police on May 11 arrested several people who took part in an unsanctioned LGBTQ march in Havana. The event took place less than a week after the National Center for Sexual Education, a group directed by Mariela Castro, the daughter of former President Raúl Castro, cancelled its International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia marches that were scheduled to take place in the Cuban capital and in the city of Camagüey. The Cuban government on May 8 refused to allow this reporter into the country after arriving at Havana’s José Martí International Airport. Maykel González Vivero, director and co-founder of Tremenda Nota, the Washington Blade’s media partner in Cuba,

is among the independent journalists who the Cuban government has prohibited from leaving the country. The U.S. on Sept. 18 granted asylum to Yariel Valdés González, a Blade contributor who suffered persecution in Cuba because he is a journalist. He remains in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody because his case has been appealed. No. 7 Gay Luxembourg leader addresses U.N. Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel on Sept. 24 became the first out head of government to speak about LGBTQspecific issues at a U.N. General Assembly. “Being gay is not a choice, but not accepting it is a choice,” said Bettel at a U.N. LGBTI Core Group event that focused on efforts to end anti-LGBTQ hate speech in social and traditional media. “Homophobia

No. 6 Hong Kong reaffirmed as 2022 Gay Games host The Federation of Gay Games and the Gay Games Hong Kong Management Team in November reaffirmed the decision to hold the 2022 Gay Games in Hong Kong, despite pro-democracy protests that rocked the city this year. The protests began in response to a proposed law that would allow Hong Kong to extradite residents to China for prosecution. The pro-democracy movement, which includes prominent LGBTQ activists, continues, even though Chief Executive Carrie Lam scrapped the proposal. Hong Kong was a British colony until China regained control of it in 1997 under an agreement with the U.K. Lam’s pro-Beijing party in November suffered serious loses in Hong Kong’s local elections. No. 5 Murders of at least 331 transgender people Transrespect Versus Transphobia Worldwide, a project that Transgender Europe launched, on Nov. 20 published a report that says 331 “trans and genderdiverse people” were reported killed between Oct. 1, 2018, and Sept. 30, 2019. The report notes Brazil, Mexico and the U.S. had the highest number of murders. Two trans women of color — Ashanti Carmon and Zoe Spears — were killed in Fairmount Heights, Md., on March 30 and June 13 respectively. Victor Madrigal-Borloz, the U.N.’s LGBTQ rights watchdog, told the Blade after Transrespect Versus Transphobia Worldwide released its report the number of trans people reported killed is “only the tip of the iceberg.” No. 4 Brunei penal code sparks global backlash A provision of Brunei’s new penal code that sought to impose the death penalty


George Clooney called for a boycott of the Beverly Hills Hotel after Brunei adopted a penal code imposing the death penalty for anyone found guilty of same-sex sexual relations.

A June pro-democracy protest in Hong Kong. Photo courtesy Voice of America/public domain

for anyone found guilty of consensual same-sex sexual relations sparked outrage around the world. The State Department, U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet are among those who sharply criticized the penal code. Ellen DeGeneres and George Clooney also called for a boycott of the Beverly Hills Hotel and other properties that Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah owns. The Bruneian government in May announced it had placed a moratorium on the death penalty in the country. No. 3 Anti-LGBTQ crackdown continues in Chechnya The anti-LGBTQ crackdown in Chechnya continued in 2019. The Russian LGBT Network on Jan. 14 said at least two people were killed and upwards of 40 others were detained in a “new wave

of illegal detentions in Chechnya based on the alleged sexual orientation of victims, both men and women.” The Blade in April spoke with a gay man from Chechnya with HIV who said he asked for asylum in the U.S. “It’s not safe for gay people,” he said, referring to Chechnya. The State Department in January described the additional reports from the Russian LGBT Network as “deeply disturbing.” President Trump has not publicly commented on the crackdown. No. 2 Homophobic Brazilian president takes office Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro took office on Jan. 1. Bolsonaro, a former Brazilian Army captain, continues to face widespread criticism over his rhetoric against LGBTQ Brazilians and other underrepresented groups. Bolsonaro on March 19 stressed his government’s “respect of traditional family

values” and opposition to “gender identity” as he spoke alongside President Trump during a press conference in the White House Rose Garden. Bolsonaro on the same day met with Pat Robertson and other evangelical Christians. Bolsonaro was scheduled to accept an award from the Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce in New York on May 14. Bolsonaro cancelled his planned trip to the U.S. after LGBTQ activists, among others, pressured sponsors to withdraw their sponsorship of the event. No. 1 Trump immigration policy puts LGBTQ migrants at risk President Trump’s hardline immigration policies continue to place LGBTQ migrants at risk. Activists on both sides of the MexicoU.S. border with whom the Blade spoke in 2019 said the White House’s controversial “remain in Mexico” program that forces migrants to remain in Mexico as they

await the outcome of their asylum cases places LGBTQ migrants at increased risk of violence. Activists have also sharply criticized U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement over its treatment of LGBTQ migrants who are in their custody. More than two-dozen transgender women who were in ICE custody at the Cibola County Correctional Center, a privately run facility in rural New Mexico, on June 26 signed a letter in which they complained about inadequate health care and mistreatment from staff. A dozen gay men and trans women in March said they suffered “rampant sexual harassment, discrimination and abuse” at the Otero County Processing Center, another privately run ICE detention center in New Mexico. Johana “Joa” Medina León, a trans woman from El Salvador with HIV, on June 1 died at a hospital in El Paso, Texas. ICE released her from its custody three days before her death.


Remembering the queer voices and allies we lost in 2019 Authors, artists and others who changed the world By KATHI WOLFE Many acclaimed LGBTQ people died in 2019. They include: Carol Channing, the legendary Broadway actress, died on Jan. 15 at age 97 in Rancho Mirage, Calif. She was best know for her performances as Lorelei Lee in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” and Dolly Gallagher Levi in “Hello Dolly!” Mary Oliver, a lesbian poet, died on Jan. 17 at her Florida home at age 83. Her collection “American Primitive, won the 1984 Pulitzer Prize. Harris Wofford, a Democratic senator and civil rights crusader, died on Jan. 21 at age 92. After his wife died, Wofford fell in love with Matthew Charlton. They married in 2018. Barbra Siperstein, a transgender rights crusader died on Feb. 3 at age 76 from cancer at a New Brunswick, N.J. hospital. A New Jersey law bears her name. It permits people in New Jersey to change their gender on their birth certificates without having to prove they’ve had surgery. Patricia Nell Warren, author of the 1974 novel “The Front Runner” died on Feb. 9 at age 82 in Santa Monica, Calif. from lung cancer. The iconic book was one of the first to feature an open same-sex male relationship. Hilde Zadek, a Vienna State Opera mainstay, died on Feb. 21 at 101 in Karlsruhe, Germany. She debuted in the title role of in Verdi’s “Aida” in 1947. She retired in 1971. Jackie Shane, a black transgender soul singer who received a 2018 Grammy nomination for best historical album for her album “Any Other Way,” died at age 78 in Nashville. Her body was found at her home on Feb. 21. Giliam Freeman, the British novelist who wrote the 1961 novel “The Leather Boys” died on Feb. 23 at age 89 in London. The book was one of the first to portray workingclass gay characters. Carrie Ann Lucas, a queer lawyer and

If you haven’t read author PATRICIA NELL WARREN’s essential ‘The Front Runner,’ then your gay card is in jeopardy.

disability rights advocate, died on Feb. 24 at age 47 in Loveland, Colo. She championed the rights of disabled parents. John Richardson, an art historian renowned for his four-volume biography of Pablo Picasso, died at age 95 on March 12 at his Manhattan home. Barbara Hammer, a lesbian filmmaker, died at age 79 from ovarian cancer at her partner Florrie Burke’s home in Manhattan on March 16. Hammer celebrated lesbian sexuality in “Dyketactics” and other films. Dr. Richard Green, a psychiatrist, died at age 82 on April 6 at his London home. He was one of the first to critique the idea that being queer is a psychiatric disorder. Michael Fesco, the nightclub owner who provided open spaces (Ice Palace, Flamingo and other venues) for gay men to dance when LGBTQ people couldn’t be out, died on April 12 at age 84 in Palm Springs, Calif. Lyra McKee, a 29-year-old, queer Northern Ireland journalist, died on April 18. She was killed while covering violence in Londonderry. Giuliano Bugialli, a gay culinary historian and three-time James Beard Award winner,

died at age 88 on April 26 in Viareggio, Italy. Doris Day, queer icon, actress and singer best known for her romantic comedies with Rock Hudson, died at age 97 on May 13 at her Carmel Valley, Calif. home from pneumonia. Binyavanga Wainaina, a Kenyan author, founder of the magazine “Kwani?” and one of the first prominent African writers to come out as gay, died at age 48 on May 21 in a Nairobi hospital. Charles A. Reich, author of the 1970 counter-culture manifesto “The Greening of America,” died on June 15 at age 91 in San Francisco. Douglas Crimp, an art critic and AIDS activist, died on July 5 at age 74 at his Manhattan home from multiple myeloma. He wrote many articles for journals. Yet he also attended meetings of the AIDS group ACT UP. Elka Gilmore, a queer chef known for her fusion cuisine, died at age 59 on July 6 in San Francisco. The New York Times Magazine called her “the enfant terrible of the modern California kitchen.” George Hodgman, a gay editor, died on July 19 at age 60 at his Manhattan home.

The cause was thought to be suicide. Hodgman’s memoir “Bettyville” is his story of staying in Paris, Mo. with his widowed mother who had dementia. Lee Bennett Hopkins, a gay poet who wrote and edited many books for children, died on Aug. 8 at age 81 in Cape Coral, Fla. In 2018, he edited “World Make Way: New Poems Inspired by Art from The Metropolitan Museum.” Sally Floyd, one of the inventors of Random Early Detection (RED), a widely used internet algorithm, died at age 69 on Aug. 25 at her Berkeley, Calif. home from cancer. She is survived by her wife Carole Leita. Valerie Harper, the actress best known as Rhoda Morgenstern on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” died on Aug. 30 at age 80 from cancer. Harper was D.C.’s 2009 Capital Pride Parade grand marshal. Rip Taylor, a gay comedian known as The King of Confetti, died on Oct. 6 at age 88 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. John Giorno, a gay artist, died on Oct. 11 at his home in Manhattan at age 82. In 1969, he founded Dial-A-Poem, a communications system enabling people to hear Allen Ginsberg and other poets read their poems. Gillian Jagger, an artist whose work (installations of animal carcasses and tree trunks) wasn’t aligned with any one movement, died on Oct. 21 in Ellenville, N.Y. at age 88. “I felt that nature held the truth I wanted,” she told the U.K’s Public Monuments and Sculpture Association magazine. She is survived by her wife Connie Mander. Howard Cruse, a gay cartoonist whose comic strip “Wendel” ran in The Advocate for several years, died on Nov. 26 at age 75 in Pittsfield, Mass. from lymphoma. His graphic novel “Stuck Rubber Baby” and other work influenced other queer cartoonists. He is survived by his husband Ed Sedarbaum.



2019 marked by impeachment of Trump Let’s hope next year’s headline is ‘Decent Americans reclaim their country!’

Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBTQ rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.

In any 2019 Year in Review, the lead must be the impeachment of Donald J. Trump. It took over the news media for months culminating in a vote of two Articles of Impeachment against the president by the House of Representatives. A Senate trial is expected in 2020, though Speaker Nancy Pelosi declined to send the articles to the Senate before holiday recess. Much of 2019 was consumed with the disgusting policies of the Trump administration and supported by his Republican sycophants in Congress. It is clear there is no Republican Party as we once knew it; rather it is now the Party of Trump. We have a president whose tweets have taken over the headlines and reading them can make anyone with a brain and a lick of decency sick to their stomach. He and his administration kept doing things to take our country backwards and designed to make happy our enemies abroad and white nationalists, neo-Nazis, sexists, racists and homophobes here at home. So much was focused on all of this it overshadowed some wonderful things that happened. At the federal government level, the Democratic-controlled House of

Blade file photo by Michael Key

Representatives under the leadership of Pelosi passed literally hundreds of great bills moving forward progressive goals on such issues as gun control, healthcare, voting rights, climate change and education. These bills are now accumulating dust on the desk of ‘Moscow Mitch,’ otherwise known as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ken.). We are in the midst of a Democratic primary and while some have a problem with one candidate or another every person running for the Democratic nomination for president is head-and-shoulders better than Trump. In November, Democrats celebrated great results in the Virginia legislative elections when they took over both houses of the legislature for the first time since 1995. Then there were victories in both the Kentucky and Louisiana gubernatorial elections, all this boding well for Democrats in 2020. Another highlight of 2019 was the Washington Blade’s celebration of 50 years of service to the LGBTQ community with great reporting, exciting editions of the paper with a new cover design, culminating with a successful gala. The beneficiary of the gala was the Blade Foundation, which is offering fellowships and scholarships to

aspiring LGBTQ journalists. It is also the year of the next generations. Mayor Pete who is only 37 and openly gay is being taken seriously as a candidate for president. Greta Thunberg who is only 16 from Sweden was named Time magazine’s Person of the Year for her activism on climate change. The students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., who organized the March for our Lives in 2018 have continued their fight for gun control throughout 2019 and those like David Hogg now at Harvard continue to lead this organization of young activists. As we move into 2020, it is clear the first part of the year will be taken up with headlines about the impeachment trial of Trump in the United States Senate. It is my hope it ends quickly and the focus can be returned to the 2020 elections. We know Trump will not be convicted by Republicans who control the Senate. It will be a year focused on the November elections with the first months leading to Democrats choosing their nominee to run against Trump and the second part of the year heading to the Nov. 3, 2020 election of the next president. Let’s hope the headline in a review of 2020 will be ‘Decent Americans reclaim their country!’

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Iconic and ignominious

Top LGBT pop culture ’19 moments find African-American stars in the spotlight By JOEY DiGUGLIELMO

HONORABLE MENTION — “Queer Eye” guys ubiquitous (Photo courtesy Netflix) It was another huge year for the “Queer Eye” guys. Antoni Porowski (food and wine) was named People Magazine’s sexiest reality star. Tan France (fashion) released his memoir “Naturally Tan” in June. Karamo Brown (culture) released his memoir “Karamo: My Story of Embracing Purpose, Healing and Hope” and a children’s book; he was also on “Dancing With the Stars.” Bobby Berk (design) was the most low key while Jonathan Van Ness (grooming) exploded with the fall release of his memoir “Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love” in which he revealed a history of drug addiction, childhood sexual abuse and being HIV-positive. No. 10 — Queer superheroes galore! (Photo courtesy The CW)

LGBTQ superheroes are all the rage. “Batwoman,” featuring a lesbian title character (a first), debuted Oct. 6 on The CW. Her out peers are Alex Danvers (“Supergirl”), Nia Nal (“Supergirl,” also the first trans superhero on TV), Sara Lance (The CW’s “Arrowverse” franchise), John Constantine (“Arrow,” “Legends of Tomorrow”) and Anissa Pierce (“Black Lightning”). No. 9 — Robyn Crawford FINALLY opens up about Whitney Houston (Photo courtesy Dutton/Plume) After decades of speculation, Whitney Houston gal pal/confidante/BFF Robyn Crawford FINALLY opened up about the true nature of their relationship with her November memoir “A Song for You: My Life With Whitney Houston.” Having sat out for two major Houston docs, Crawford (now

married with a wife and kids) writes that for a short period before Houston was famous, they were teen lovers. Houston died in 2012 at age 48 of an accidental drowning.

rights to her TV series and a first-look option on feature film projects, thus making her the first openly trans woman of color to secure a deal with a major content company.

No. 8 — “Rocketman” (Photo courtesy Paramount) The Elton John biopic was released in May and grossed $195 million against a $40 million budget. It drew largely positive reviews and is up for three Golden Globe Awards. John and Paramount criticized a distribution company that cut out five minutes of footage for Russian release, thus neutering the film of any gay or drug content.

No. 6 — Billy Porter wins ‘Pose’ Emmy (NATAS screenshot via Fox broadcast) “Pose,” the Ryan Murphy FX period drama about queer life in the ‘80s and ‘90s, was nominated for Outstanding Drama Series at the Primetime Emmys. Star Billy Porter won the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Emmy becoming the first openly gay black man to win (or be nominated) in an Emmy lead acting category. Porter and the show were up for 2019 Golden Globes but lost. Porter is up for another in January. Porter also made a splash in February for wearing a tux/gown combo to the Oscars.

No. 7 — Janet Mock goes big (Photo by Ted Eytan via Wikimedia) In June, Janet Mock signed a three-year deal with Netflix giving its execs exclusive


No. 5 — Taylor Swift “You Need to Calm Down” video (Screen capture via Vimeo) “You Need to Calm Down” was a June release and the second single from Taylor Swift’s seventh studio album “Lover.” It won two of the nine VMAs it was up for at the MTV Awards and the song is nominated for a Grammy. Its video features cameos by Hannah Hart, Laverne Cox, Chester Lockhart, Todrick Hall, Hayley Kiyoko, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, the “Queer Eye” cast, Adam Rippon (seen here selling sno-cones), Adam Lambert, Ellen, Billy Porter, RuPaul (and a bunch of “Drag Race” vets), Katy Perry and Ryan Reynolds. It’s amassed more than 161 million views on YouTube. No. 4 — Lil Nas X (Photo courtesy Fabebk via Wikimedia) The rapper/singer/songwriter (age 20) hit big with the country/rap single “Old Town Road,” which went to No. 1 on the Billboard

Hot 100 and stayed there 10 weeks, a record. He came out in June, the only artist to have done so while having a No. 1 hit. He also became the first openly LGBT artist to win a Country Music Association Award. He’s up for six Grammys. No. 3 — Stonewall 50/WorldPride NYC 2019 (Photo by Christian Montone via Wikimedia) A massive series of events commemorating the 50th anniversary of Stonewall in New York in June. Madonna headlines on Pride Island (Pier 97) in Hell’s Kitchen along with Grace Jones and others. Melissa Etheridge performs at the closing ceremony in Times Square. No. 2 — Jussie Smollett attack drama (Photo courtesy Wikimedia) It started Jan. 29 when then-36-year-old openly gay actor, known for his role as Jamal

on the Fox drama “Empire,” told police he was attacked outside his apartment building by two men in ski masks who shouted racial and homophobic slurs, poured an unknown liquid on him and put a noose around his neck. He was not seriously hurt. On Feb. 20, he was charged with a felony for filing a false police repot. On March 26, all charges were dropped. Smollett agreed to community service and forfeit of his $10,000 bond. The next day it was announced the FBI would investigate why the charges were dismissed. Three ensuing lawsuits are pending. Speculation varies widely on what actually happened. In late April, it was announced that his Fox contract had been renewed although there were no plans for him to appear on “Empire’s” sixth season. If it seems trivial now, recall the saturation news coverage it got all winter and into spring. No. 1 — Megan Rapinoe’s breakout year

On July 7, soccer legend Megan Rapinoe put the U.S. up 1-0 in the 2019 World Cup final against the Netherlands. It was a seminal moment. In front of a sold-out crowd of nearly 58,000 people at Parc Olympique Lyonnais in Rhone, France, Rapinoe scored her 50th international goal on a penalty kick in the 61st minute. After a second goal by teammate Rose Lavelle, the U.S. defeated the Netherlands 2-0 to cinch its second consecutive World Cup championship. At age 34, Rapinoe was the oldest woman to score in a World Cup final and was named Player of the Match. Several accolades followed. Rapinoe, a lesbian and LGBT advocate, was just named Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year becoming just the fourth woman in its 66-year history to win it solo. Sports Illustrated said the gallant pose Rapinoe struck in her triumphant moment was “the signature sporting image of 2019.”


Remembering the best of LA’s 2019 arts scene Lauper, ‘Swan Lake’ among year’s memorable moments By JOHN PAUL KING stakes are so high.

One of the greatest perks of living in Los Angeles is year-round access to the kind of world-class arts and entertainment experiences only a world-class city can offer. Here’s a look back at some of the Blade’s favorites in 2019. “Witness Uganda,” Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts: To a western ear with preconceptions about Africa, the title might conjure thoughts of distress, danger, and despair. Instead, this “documentary musical,” written by husband-and-husband team of Griffin Matthews and Matt Gould, was a thrilling tale of hope. An autobiographical piece exploring Matthews’ real-life experiences as a volunteer in Uganda after being expelled from his church choir for being gay, this vibrant, unexpectedly joyful musical follows the young man’s efforts to teach a handful of poor children and his eventual establishment of the Uganda Project, a non-profit devoted to raising money for the education of his African wards. Along the way, it takes on wider-ranging issues around the experiences of people of color – not just in Africa, but in America, too – while also focusing on its hero’s own efforts to find a place for himself as a queer man. This West Coast premiere at the Wallis brought an explosion of talent to the mix, with a diverse and enthusiastic ensemble, led by Jamar Williams and 12-time Grammy nominee Ledisi, turning every musical number into a jump-to-your-feet showstopper; and while the Wallis’ Lovelace Studio Theatre is a small-ish venue, they made it feel like we were watching a cast of thousands, and audiences lucky enough to get a ticket also got the privilege of experiencing the life-changing power of theatre firsthand. “Daniel’s Husband,” Fountain Theatre:

“Drag: Combing Through the Big Wigs of Show Business,” by Frank DeCaro: The great thing about this 2019 arts highlight is that it will be around forever. Written by local drag legend DeCaro, this non-fiction volume was the end result of a five-year labor of love that the author calls “encyclopedic,” but also “light-hearted.” With 144 pages worth of lovingly crafted layouts, 100 story-unto-themselves photos (some of them from the queens’ personal collections), and contributions by the likes of Lypsinka, Bianca Del Rio, Hedda Lettuce, Harvey Fierstein, and Wesley Snipes, DeCaro’s book is, as the foreword by Bruce Vilanch fittingly puts it, “a living, pulsing documentation of some of the most brilliant subculture artists in America’s cultural history.”

A scene from ‘Witness Uganda.’

Photo courtesy Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts

In a post-Marriage Equality world, Michael McKeever’s play might have seemed a few years out of date, but that’s a deceptive viewpoint to take. This intimate, five-character piece centered on a long-standing, affluent gay couple who disagree about marriage; one wants it, while the other, though he would “fight to the death” for the right of others to get married, believes that actually tying the knot is an assimilation into “normal” society that goes against everything his radical

queer activist heart believes in. Bolstered by remarkable performances and a deeply compassionate script, this theatrical gem took us on a journey from light-hearted comedy to complex drama we watched an unexpected health crisis turn the couple’s world upside down, reminding us of the practical benefits of marriage – so long denied to same-sex couples – while also offering a grim warning against the hubris of making a choice based on philosophical principal when the real-world

Outfest 2019: With the most attendees in more than a decade, the 38th annual Outfest Los Angeles LGBTQ Film Festival was the unquestionable highlight of the year for fans of world-class LGBTQ cinema. Screening more than 240 films from 33 countries, with more than two-thirds of them directed by filmmakers who are women, trans, and people of color, this year’s festival was focused on diversity and intersectionality within its lineup. With titles ranging from local crowd favorite “Circus of Books” (a documentary about LA’s legendary adult store and cruising spot) to the heartbreaking Guatemalan conversiontherapy drama “Temblores” to the Grand Jury Prize-winner for US Narrative Feature, “Jules of Light and Dark,” it was one of the strongest slates in the festival’s history and served to remind audiences how far we’ve come in the world of queer cinema since Outfest began in 1982. It was also the debut of Outfest’s new


Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Home for the Holidays’ was a 2019 highlight.

Executive Director, Damien Navarro, who inspired the crowd at the closing night gala by saying, “We are the magic that we create, and we are the changes that we envision,” and teased them that about plans for the festival’s future by asking, “How can Outfest be there for you always – always on, and always there?” Cyndi Lauper & Friends “Home for the Holidays” Concert, Novo at LA Live It was one of those happy occasions when fantastic entertainment intersects with real-world benefits for real people with real – and urgent – needs. With all proceeds going to Lauper’s “True Colors United” organization, which helps with the crisis of LGBTQ youth homelessness by providing training and education programs, advocacy at the state and federal level, and building

youth collaborations and youth leadership programs that help bring solutions, it was a way of treating yourself to an unforgettable evening of top-notch talent while also doing something concrete to help a segment of our queer community that is all too often ignored and forgotten. A star-studded lineup of performers – including Belinda Carlisle, Billy Porter, Justin Trantner, Lily Tomlin, Kesha, Marilyn Manson, Henry Rollins, and many other outstanding artists – was on hand for the evening, which also included the presentation of the United Nations’ firstever High Note Global Prize, an award which honors and celebrates major recording artists for using their music and celebrity platform to advocate for social justice worldwide, to Lauper herself (who also performed, of course). On December

The still-vibrant masterpiece ‘Swan Lake’ is most remarkable for the sheer beauty of its imaginative choreography. Photo courtesy Center Theatre Group

10, it was definitely at the top of the list for places to be. Matthew Bourne’s “Swan Lake,” Ahmanson Theatre: Yes, this reimagining of the classic Tchaikovsky ballet – which put Olivier-andTony-winning choreographer Bourne on the map for his bold choice to make the doomed romance at its center a samesex one – could really be considered a “Best of 1995” choice; but this remounted production at the Ahmanson reminds us that the work of a visionary artist is not only timeless, but also worth experiencing over and over again. Though the power of its gender-swapped casting may have mellowed somewhat after nearly three decades of progress in LGBTQ visibility and acceptance (watching two

impossibly beautiful, impossibly athletic, and impossibly graceful men dance together with smoldering chemistry no longer feels transgressive, thank goodness), and the weight of its unavoidable AIDS subtext may not be as heavy (or as obvious) as it was when it debuted at the height of the epidemic, Bourne’s lavishly mounted spectacle is still a testament to the wonders possible when queer voices find a way to express authentic queer experience through the magic of performance. Best of all, even with all that cultural importance on its shoulders, this still-vibrant masterpiece is most remarkable for the sheer beauty of its imaginative choreography – created with Bourne’s characteristic blend of whimsy and heart-stopping drama – and executed with world-class skill by some of the most talented dancers on the planet.


Billie’s breakout year Jonas Bros. reunite, Madonna returns and Ariana kills it By THOM MURPHY and JOEY DiGUGLIELMO The end of 2019 also marks the close of a decade of music to be grouped together forever as the 2010s. Over the past decade many more queer artists have come openly to the forefront of the music scene. Artists like Troye Sivan, Years & Years and Kim Petras have put a relatively young face on pop music, but the decade has also attested to the staying power of many iconic pop voices. If anything, 2019 has given us a fair sample of what the past decade had to offer, showcasing some of the newest and most exciting acts, as well as those straying toward mediocrity. Early in the year the Backstreet Boys released their album “DNA,” 20 years after the release of the hit album “Millenium.” The album was less than great, but nonetheless managed a few solid tracks. One of the pop highlights of the year was without a doubt Ariana Grande’s “Thank U, Next,” her second full studio release in six months. The album was another massively successful chart-topper, featuring singles such as the eponymous lead single and “Break Up with Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored.” A full album following so quickly after an earlier release showcases the power Grande has in the pop world, likely to translate into staying power in the next decade. R&B singer Chaka Khan released her 12th studio album “Hello Happiness,” a delightful production that signals her return to making new music after more than a decade hiatus. One of the more disappointing releases of the year was P!nk’s “Hurts 2B Human,” which fell short of some of her best work on earlier albums like “Fun House” (2008) and even the more recent “Beautiful Trauma” (2017). Nevertheless, the album managed to produce a few hidden gems like the song “My Attic.” Reba McEntire released her 32nd studio album “Stronger Than the Truth,” which was a major success on the country charts and serves as a testament to the indefatigable staying power of the country legend. Gay actor and singer Ben Platt (who

It was a solid musical year for Tegan and Sara, who revisited their roots.

Photos courtesy IMP Entertainment

opened as the lead in the Broadway musical “Dear Evan Hansen”) released his first album entitled “Sing To Me Instead,” which featured the catchy single “Grow as We Go,” as well as slew of other largely accoustic-driven songs. And 2019 has continued to be a big year for Platt, who stars as the lead in the new Netflix series “The Politician.” After various solo efforts, brothers Nick, Kevin and Joe Jonas reunited for their first new album as the Jonas Brothers since 2009. Their return after a decadelong hiatus showed a mature pop sound that caters to an adult audience. It is the marriage of their more recent work (think Nick Jonas’ solo album or Joe’s DNCE project) and a more classic Jonas Brothers (i.e. high school) sound. One hesitates to assume they will have much longevity as a boyband, but their futures, individual or collective, continue to look bright. The June release of Madonna’s “Madame X” album was polarizing. On one hand, it featured a handful of catchy, clever cuts (“Medellin,” “God Control,” “Future,” “Faz Gostoso”) but the price of such brazen

musical experimentation (the record is chocked wth international influences) is that it doesn’t always stand up to repeated listens. Even some die-hards hoped for a bit more melody and track “Killers Who Are Partying” is not only unlistenably bad, it comes off as cloying and misappropriating (“I will be gay/if the gay are burned” — “the gay?”). And though she claimed the “God Control” video (which recreates the Pulse nightclub shooting) is a call to end gun violence, it played more like a preening glam video shoot for the star than a genuine plea for action. She continues her well-received theater tour in 2020. One of the big success stories of the year was 18-year-old Billie Eilish, whose debut album “When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” dropped in March to strong reviews, a No. 1 Billboard slot and by year’s end, double platinum RIAA certification buoyed by hit single “Bad Guy.” The country star Ty Herndon, still best known for the ‘90s hit “What Mattered Most,” released an album stuffed with rerecordings of his most popular songs. Notably for Herndon, “What Mattered

Most” was re-recorded with masculine pronouns to refer to his love interest, a bold move for one of the very few openly gay country singers. Kim Petras — whose irresistibly catchy “Heart to Break” is mouthed in every gay bar and club in the country — finally released her first full album “Clarity” this year. Petras is one of the most visible trans performers in pop music and is headlining her own tour this year after previously touring with Troye Sivan. The sister duo Tegan and Sara came out with “Hey, I’m Just Like You,” a fulllength album composed of songs written during their high-school years. The album coincides with their new memoir entitled “High School” which chronicles their adolescence and coming out story. It’s a delightfully fun album and a wonderful breath of fresh air from the tyranny of the dance-pop single. The British pop singer Charli XCX released her third album entitled “Charli,” a solid effort with limited chart success. Lead single “1999,” featuring Troye Sivan, however, has been ubiquitous on pop radio since its release late last year. Kristin Chenoweth’s album “For The Girls,” a collection of mostly standards and classic songs, features duets with Ariana Grande, Dolly Parton and Jennifer Hudson with Reba McEntire. Two of the more bizarre phenomena in pop music this year: the rapper and producer Kanye West came out with a fulllength gospel album entitled “Jesus Is King,” which does not fully succeed even taken on its own terms. And artist Brooke Candy, who could perhaps best be described as the club kid of the up-and-coming-ish pop scene, released her first album “Sexorcism,” a sex-obcessed, anti-pop record, which remains a question mark. Celine Dion closed out 2019 in a strong way with the release of her studio album “Courage,” another testament to the continued staying power of the contemporary legend.


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A section of the barrier along the Mexico-U.S. border in Tijuana, Mexico, on Jan. 26 has the word ‘EMPATHY’ written on it.

A group of LGBT asylum-seekers from Central America meet with Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton at Casa Ruby on March 26.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-South Bend, Ind.) holds a fundraiser and rally in DC on April 4.

Famed auteur John Waters meets with the Blade at his Baltimore home on May 2.

Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) speaks at a press conference near the U.S. Capitol on May 17 about the reintroduction of the Equality Act.

The National Center for Transgender Equality holds a rally at the White House on May 29 calling for the preservation of transgender health protections in the Affordable Care Act.


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Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams celebrate their company’s 30 year anniversary on Sept. 12 at their 14th Street store in Washington, D.C.

New HRC President Alphoso David speaks with the Blade at the Human Rights Campaign Building on Sept. 24.

The National Trans Visibility March stretches along Pennsylvania Ave. on Sept. 28.

Out performer Ricky Martin speaks at the Human Rights Campaign National Dinner on Sept. 28.

Portions of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt are unfurled at a ceremony at the Library of Congress on Nov. 20.

Cities across the country read the names of transgender murder victims for Transgender Day of Remembrance on Nov. 20.


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