Losangelesblade.com, Volume 4, Issue 2, January 10, 2020

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



Anti-LGBTQ Rep. Duncan Hunter formally resigns Faces up to five years in prison after guilty plea FROM STAFF REPORTS California Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter sent his formal letter of resignation on Tuesday to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Gov. Gavin Newsom, effective next Monday, Jan. 13. The longtime anti-LGBTQ representative from San Diego County’s 50th Congressional District pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court last Dec. 3 to one count of conspiracy to misuse campaign funds. In August 2018, Hunter and his wife, Margaret, were indicted on 60 federal counts of using campaign funds in excess of $250,000 for

personal use from paying for their children’s tuition to plane fare for their pet rabbit to paying for hotel rooms and other expenses for Hunter’s five mistresses. During the three-year investigation, Hunter pointed out that his wife was responsible for handling the campaign’s finances. Eventually Hunter and his wife each pleaded guilty to a single count of felony conspiracy rather than face trial in the District Court for the Southern District of California starting on Jan. 22. Hunter will be sentenced on March 17. He faces up to a maximum of five years in federal prison. However, the Alpine Republican, who was sworn into office Jan. 3, 2009, has garnered at least 11 years in office which goes toward an annual congressional pension of $32,538 once the 43-year

old turns 62. Hunter succeeded his equally anti-LGBTQ father Duncan Hunter Sr., who held that seat for 39 years. Hunter Jr. was re-elected in 2018, despite being federally indicted, barely escaping a takedown by Obama administration official Ammar Campa-Najjar who is running again in 2020. The Democrat’s GOP opponents in the hotly contested 50th CD race include former California Congressman Darrell Issa and out former San Diego city council member Carl DeMaio. In his two-page resignation letters to Pelosi and Newsom, Hunter did not mention the scandal, nor apologize. Instead he outlined his accomplishments and thanked his constituents. “It has been an honor to serve the people of

California’s 50th District, and I greatly appreciate the trust they have put in me over these last 11 years,” he wrote. Newsom has yet to announce if he will call for a special election to fill Hunter’s seat or leave it vacant until the elections in 10 months. Carl Luna, a political science professor at the University of San Diego told KPBS last month that if a special election were held, election results history shows that Republicans in the race would have the advantage. “On special elections, you have a smaller turnout and usually the smaller the turnout the better it is for Republicans. Democrats need a whole bunch of people to show up...to win elections in contested districts,” Luna said. – Karen Ocamb contributed to this report.

Iconic LGBTQ ally John Lewis has Stage 4 pancreatic cancer Jewel Thais-Williams on meeting her teen hero By KAREN OCAMB kocamb@losangelesblade.com On the precipice of a new year, a new decade, terrible news about the five-decades strong civil rights icon John Lewis broke Twitter. On Dec. 29, Georgia Rep. John Lewis —the hero of the March 7, 1965 “Bloody Sunday” march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge to win voting rights for America’s Black citizens — announced that he has been diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. “I have been in some kind of fight – for freedom, equality, basic human rights – for nearly my entire life. I have never faced a fight quite like the one I have now,” Lewis said in a statement. “So I have decided to do what I know to do and do what I have always done: I am going to fight it and keep fighting for the Beloved Community. We still have many bridges to cross.” Lewis is a longtime LGBTQ ally. On May 17, 2019, for instance, he compared the profound

Jewel Thais-Williams and Rep. John Lewis Photo by Karen Ocamb

Brown v Board of Education desegregation decision issued by the Supreme Court on May 17, 1954 to the need to pass the Equality Act, the LGBTQ civil rights bill. “Today, on this day, we have an opportunity to send a message now to help end discrimination

in our country and set all of our people free,” Lewis said on the House floor when the Equality Act was introduced. “You and I are partners. We are part of an ongoing struggle to redeem the soul of America, to help people in this country and around the

world come to grips with one simple truth: we are one people. We are one family. We are the human family,” Lewis said at the Human Rights Campaign gala in 2016. LGBTQ icon Jewel Thais-Williams, longtime owner of Catch One Disco in Los Angeles, was excited to meet America’s first Black President, Barack Obama at an LGBTQ reception at the White House and “thrilled” to meet Lewis, the courageous teenager with whom she identified from afar. “Some 60-plus years ago when I was a teenager, I wished I could march and be part of the civil rights movement,” Thais-Williams told the Los Angeles Blade. She vicariously experienced the young people being hosed, beaten, and jailed, including Lewis. “So when I met him, there was a special kindred spirit of feeling like I knew him always. When they were beaten, I felt that.” Thais-Williams wishes Lewis well. “He’s one of my heroes,” she said. “It was a thrill meeting one of the legendary survivors of the ‘Bloody Sunday’ march that made it possible for Barack Obama to be in the White House.”

2020 Theme: LGBTQ Recovery, Health, Wellness and Longevity The Finding Freedom Symposium is about bringing forward relevant information for best practices in supporting the LGBTQ community with co-occurring disorders. Our intention is to offer a container for discovery and focused discussion to find effective solutions for professionals and their LGBTQ patients - CE credits will be offered!

January 24-25, 2020 • Riviera Resort in Palm Springs, CA Thursday 1/23 7:00 pm Town Hall Meeting Friday 1/24 1:30 - 5:30 pm Pre-Conference Workshop CE’s offered Saturday 1/25 8:30 am - 5:15 pm Workshops CE’s offered Bar-b-que Lunch on Patio



Is California killing its LGBTQ press? A new labor law restricts freelance writers/ photographers, others By KAREN OCAMB kocamb@losangelesblade.com Last October, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed AB 5 into law, a bill intent on reforming the state labor law to deal with the new gig economy. The law, which took effect, Jan. 1, forces businesses and companies to limit the amount of work performed by independent contractors or classify them as employees with a minimum wage and overtime pay, workers compensation, unemployment insurance, healthcare benefits, and the right to form a union. Newsom called AB5 “landmark legislation” to combat worker misclassification. “The hollowing out of our middle class has been 40 years in the making, and the need to create lasting economic security for our workforce demands action,” Newsom wrote in a signing statement. “Today, we are disrupting the status quo and taking a bold step forward to rebuild our middle class and reshape the future of workers as we know it,” said AB 5 author Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez, Democrat from San Diego. “As one of the strongest economies in the world, California is now setting the global standard for worker protections for other states and countries to follow.” While AB5 targeted such companies as Uber, Lyft, and meal delivery services like DoorDash and Postmates that rely heavily on independent contractors, it soon became clear that thousands of unconsidered professionals would be severely impacted. The California Trucking Association filed suit and received a temporary injunction while a federal court judge considers granting a permanent injunction. The association argued that more than 70,000 independent truckers would suffer irreparable harm by not being able to set their own schedules, among other detrimental impacts. Not considered, however, was the fate of independent contractors such as freelance journalists, artists, dancers, musicians, photographers, as well as the

Randy Dotinga is leading the lawsuit by American Society of Journalists & Authors. Photo courtesy Dotinga

myriad of freelancers temporarily hired by entertainment-related companies. AB5 only allows 35 submissions or jobs for each company each year. On Jan. 6, US District Judge Philip Gutierrez in Los Angeles denied granting a temporary restraining order requested by an attorney representing The American Society of Journalists & Authors and the National Press Photographers Association, saying the delay in filing for an injunction belied their argument that AB5 created an emergency situation for freelancers, who rely on producing a volume of articles or photos to earn a living. The Bay Area Reporter was hip to the sideeffects of AB5 long before the bill was signed. “In our case, AB 5 would be a crippling blow, as the Bay Area Reporter relies on about 50 freelance reporters, critics, photographers,

and delivery drivers,” BAR wrote in a Sept. 4, 2019 editorial. “Small news and media outlets like ours simply cannot hire additional full-time or part-time employees — that’s why we, and many other industries, rely on contract workers.” The Los Angeles Blade and other LGBTQ outlets became aware of the dire situation after Vox Media abruptly fired more than 200 California freelancers working with its digital sports media company, SB Nation. Though BAR and others have implored state lawmakers such as lesbian Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins and gay State Sen. Scott Wiener to intervene and provide an exemption to the newspaper industry as has already been granted to doctors and real estate agents, apparently Gonzalez won’t budge.

“We don’t seek to overturn the entire law. We want the state to lift the submission cap and remove the ban on freelance videography. California cannot violate the First Amendment,” San Diego-based freelancer Randy Dotinga, board member and former president of plaintiffs American Society of Journalists & Authors tells the Los Angeles Blade. “California Freelance Writers United is working on getting an exemption via legislation.” “AB5 also shuts the door on an entire generation of up-and-coming voices who could provide us with valuable insight. Many folks who are coming up in the industry will simply give up and move on to PR or copywriting. We’ll have a less-informed public because of it. California Freelance Writers United started a few months ago as a Facebook group to challenge AB5,” says LAbased LGBTQ leader Steven Blum. “This is not looking good at all. Assembly Bill 5 could permanently alter the journalism landscape in California, and not for the better,” says freelancer writer Joseph Fenity, president of the LA chapter of the National Association of LGBTQ Journalists. “Where are some of these Hollywood-based freelance entertainment reporters going to be based out of? D.C.? Let me know how that works out.” “I think AB5 is a great law, but I don’t think the people who wrote it had any awareness of how freelance writers operate,” says Marie Lyn Bernard, CEO and editor-inchief of the queer-owned, women-owned autostraddle.com which has “an enormous pool of freelancers, many of whom are based in California, because cities like L.A. and San Francisco are often the only places where LGBTQ people feel safe.” But, says Bernard, “there’s no feasible way to hire a full-time staff member to represent every identity we need represented.” AB5 without an exemption for freelancers is “a danger to free speech and freedom of the press, particularly to independent press. There has to be a better way to regulate exploitation in media.” The American Society of Journalists & Authors and the National Press Photographers Association lawsuit seeking a permanent injunction will be heard in March. In the meantime, the clock is running on freelance contributions to outlets previously a trusted source of income.



WeHo family reacts to U.S.-Iran conflict Iranian-American lesbian attorney concerned about hate crimes By KAREN OCAMB kocamb@losangelesblade.com For a few moments on Wednesday, Jan. 8, the world held its collective breath waiting to see if the president of the United States would declare war on Iran. For days on Twitter, Donald Trump seemed to be craving a fight like a junkie needing a fix, itching to show the world yet again that he is better and way more macho than Barack Obama. After all, he ordered the drone strike assassination of Iranian bad guy Gen. Qassim Soleimani, something even the Israelis declined to do, fearing unpredictable and uncontrollable repercussions. Trump entered the White House room for his global address backlit by a blinding white light as if his entrance was stage-produced by Evangelicals. And then, flanked by Vice President Pence and stone-faced generals, Trump breathed heavily through a scripted speech filled with lies and mispronounced words, showcasing his braggadocio – but stepping back from the brink of war. Trump claimed he was taking an “off-ramp” because Iran’s retaliation for the assassination of their number two leader was only two dozen ballistic missiles fired at two U.S. bases in Iraq, destroying nothing and killing no Americans. More economic sanctions, but no more military action, for now, at least. “I feel relieved that there were no casualties and it seems that sanctions is the option being chosen today rather than a military option,” West Hollywood-based Iranian-American lesbian attorney Sepi Shyne tells the Los Angeles Blade after the speech. “I found his speech to be a political one more so than addressing the situation. It feels to me that the [Iranian Islamic] mullahs have been strengthened in this situation more than anything, which is not good for the people of Iran who want to be free of this oppressive regime.” Like Shyne, the world exhaled when Trump exited back into the glaring bright light. “But analysts cautioned,” Peter Baker wrote in the New York Times, “that even if the two sides ease off a military clash in the

Sepi and Ashlei Shyne with Chloe the Queen of Weho Photo Courtesy Sepi


short term, the conflict could very well play out in other ways in the weeks and months to come. Iran has many proxy groups in the Middle East that could stir trouble in new ways for American troops or American allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia, and experts remained wary of a possible Iranian cyberstrike on domestic facilities.” This is no joke. Axios reports that there are nearly 800 US military bases around the world with between 60,000 and 70,000 US troops stationed throughout the Middle East. Soleimani’s assassination was Trump’s knee-jerk response while on holiday at Mara-Lago to seeing a mob protesting at the U.S. embassy in Iraq and fearing he’d be blamed for another Benghazi debacle. But Trump’s impetuous ordering of the assassination without publicly providing evidence of its necessity has now united previous enemies Iran and Iraq against the U.S. And while the leaders of those countries might prefer stealthy long-term revenge, an organized affiliate like Hezbollah or a sympathetic lone wolf in America might not be so assuaged. Dread hangs like a heavy pall over much of America, including the families of LGBTQ members of an already weary volunteer military. “Many of our military families are expressing a real sense of tiredness, dread, and sadness over the latest developments in the Middle East,” Stephen L. Peters II, a Marine veteran and Director of Communications and Marketing for Modern Military Association of America, tells the Los Angeles Blade. “While they continue to dig down deep to find what it takes to support their servicemembers through deployment after deployment, there’s no denying the seemingly endless conflicts are taking their toll. MMAA is working harder than ever to ensure these military families have the support system they desperately need, and we urge every American to show their appreciation however possible, regardless of their political persuasions.” Waiting during the drums of war is dangerous for LGBTQ people. “War would stoke nationalist fervor in both the U.S. and Iran, exactly the kind of populism that is so dangerous for those of us seen as different,” Jessica Stern, executive director of OutRight Action International,” tells the Los Angeles Blade. “In times of war, majorities scapegoat minorities, and the result is increased verbal and physical hatred toward those of us who are LGBTIQ, women, people of color, immigrant, or members of religious or ethnic minorities. Outright

Action International opposes violence in all forms and strongly denounces US aggression towards Iran.” Fear is palpable in the LGBTQ IranianAmerican community in Los Angeles, too. The Los Angeles Blade has heard unconfirmed reports that LGBTQ Iranians have been reaching out for help from inside Iran and elsewhere. Additionally, some local LGBTQ Iranian Americans are fearful of

by the taking of American hostages in 1979. Since then the image of IranianAmericans has fluctuated between being construed as Middle Eastern sleeper-cell terrorists after 9/11 (hence Trump’s Muslim ban) to being gaudy rich and overly selfabsorbed as represented by Bravo’s “Shahs of Sunset,” including mustachioed gay Reza Farahan. Attorney Sepi Shyne, 42, a former and

“War would stoke nationalist fervor in both the U.S. and Iran, exactly the kind of populism that is so dangerous for those of us seen as different.” — Jessica Stern, Executive Director of OutRight Action International

talking to the press or being out and visible to anyone other than their immediate social circle for fear of repercussions here and abroad — a situation that has only intensified since the assassination. Some cite news reports of as many as 60 Iranian and Iranian-American U.S. citizens detained and questioned for up to 12 hours by federal officials at the U.S.-Canada border. The Persian/Iranian community in Los Angeles grew dramatically after the fall of the modern but despotic Shah of Iran and the coming to power of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard, symbolized globally

current candidate for West Hollywood City Council, has a unique perspective on the conflict. Born in Iran in 1977, a year before the Iran-Iraq War started, her father worked for the government-run oil company but supported pro-Western Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, as did Shyne’s feminist mother. Her father “was thrown in jail for a while because he spoke up against the mullahs. After that, we fled the country for our safety,” Shyne says. “My mom is such a feminist. In fact, she’s on Facebook with 5,000 friends, constantly posting in Farsi against the Islamic regime and giving inspiration to the

LOCAL women in Iran who are still really treated horribly under this regime.” People have misconceptions about Iran. “It is very metropolitan” with “a lot of cultural sites because we do have so much history there.” But “people haven’t been happy with the regime ... We’ve heard from family that hundreds and hundreds of people were shot dead” during the recent protests against the regime. “Unfortunately, this act of killing Soleimani, as much as the anti-Islamic regime Iranians are happy that the guy has been killed because, finally, there’s some act against this regime,” she says. But “it seems like people now in Iran are becoming united against a common enemy, which is now the Trump administration.” On the other hand, Soleimani also kept ISIS out of Iran “and ISIS has been a nightmare for the Middle Eastern countries. It’s a really bad situation.” After moving to the U.S. in 1982, Shyne experienced “regular bullying,” because she looked different from other kids at school. But the hostage crisis in Iran raised the bullying to a more intense level. “They started saying I’m a camel and all this racerelated bullying,” she says. “My family and friends were very scared. Iranian college kids were threatened and had hate crimes committed against them.” A similar fear is gripping IranianAmericans now as hate crimes have increased because of an administration “that just tramples on people’s rights. We’ve seen it for three years now with every single group. We call Los Angeles ‘Tehrangeles’ because of the huge amount of Iranians that moved to Los Angeles as a result of the diaspora” who are concerned now about the extreme, volatile Trumpers. “[Trump] leads with so much hate, that it elevates and stokes the anger in other people. And now we’ve had three antiSemitic acts of violence in Los Angeles during the holidays. We had the attack on the Persian temple in Beverly Hills and two stores in West Hollywood, the Bayou and Block Party, got vandalized. “I know that the LGBTQ community and the Jewish community have high rates of hate crimes against them, but these are just so blatant,” she says. “I never thought I would see this again. And so when Trump ordered the attack on Soleimani, the first thing I thought was, ‘Oh, my God, here we go.’” Shyne thinks Trump might start a war

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‘The people of Iran do not hate America’ Continued from page 7 just to distract from his impeachment. “I do believe he truly believes that’s the way to win reelection and, sadly, most presidents do when we’re in a time of war, so that’s even scarier,” she says. As Middle Easterners during these times of conflict, “what usually happens is anyone who looks brown ends up being targets,” like Sikhs after 9/11. “I started carrying my passport in my backpack when they were throwing people in cages and separating children….I was so scared because if, for some reason, I can’t prove I’m a U.S. citizen and, in the chaotic government that we have right now, God forbid I get deported to Iran. I’m sure my name is on a list as a lesbian. I’m a very, very out….My mom is absolutely on a list because they monitor social media, the Iranian Islamic agency….I’m so visible, I can never go back to Iran because they would absolutely throw me in jail and then kill me.” Other visible LGBTQ people have been targeted on social media, Shyne says. But there has also been a lot more acceptance for LGBTQ Iranians in Los Angeles, she says, at least in the Jewish community. Shyne cites organizations like JQ ( Jewish Queer) International that have done “an incredible job to educate the community,” though a lot of Iranians live in Northern California with no such organization as JQ. “I’m not Jewish. I was born Muslim, but I’m nondenominational. I’m spiritual,” Shyne says. “But JQ was the first queer organization that had an Iranian focus as part of one of its queer Iranian programming that I ever found out about, so I thought it was pretty cool.” It also has an Iranian version of PFLAG, which is “very important.” Shyne also notes another, newer nondenominational Iranian LGBTQ organization called RAHA International that also has a lot of programming, not just social events, for queer Iranians. Shyne notes how essential it is for LGBTQ Iranians to support each other. “Even [former Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad said, ‘We don’t have gay people in Iran.’ That’s the culture. They erase us,” Shyne says. “I came out when I was 19 to my mom and my family and I was the first ever out Iranian to come out to any of our family. It was very hard -- it

Air Force map of the region

took about 10 years. And slowly, they went from tolerating to accepting and eventually, they’re all advocates now for the community, which is amazing. “I knew the shift happened when they started coming out for the family to other people,” she says. “My brother was like, ‘Oh, my sister is a lesbian’ to people. I thought, ‘Oh, great. This is it. This is the goal.’ This is when you know, ‘okay, my work has been done now.’ But there are a lot of Iranians that still are in the closet. They’re afraid to come out because some of them travel back and forth. They maybe feel a little more free -but they’re still not out because they want to go back to Iran to visit their family and their loved ones and they love their country. They don’t want to give up the right to go back to Iran by coming out and putting themselves in danger.” LGBTQ Iranian-Americans face a double concern in the U.S. conflict with Iran - being targeted for hate crimes here and fear of

deportation and being killed in Iran. Shyne said she saw the fear intensify during the Muslim travel ban. “What I was concerned about were the LGBTQ people being stuck in Iran and not being able to travel here” she says. “I was also thinking about all of the dictators in power in other countries and there are so many of them right now, way too many.” But Shyne is also concerned about the dramatic increase in hate crimes in LA County. “I’m definitely concerned about hate crimes because the MAGA group of Trump supporters thrive on his words and his words are very dangerous. And Trump has made Middle Easterners an ‘enemy’ in the media because of all the wars we’ve been in,” Shyne says. “And now we’re at war again, pretty much.” The concern is a family affair. Shyne is married to actress/writer Ashlei Shyne with whom she shares a dog named Chloe and three cats, Imon and Ameera that are

Siamese twins, and Bastet, who is going to be 18 on March 3rd. Ashlei Shyne has “a lot of concerns” primarily related to Sepi Shyne’s political visibility after she received numerous antiMuslim comments. “This is definitely a concern,” Shyne says. “But, for me, I think it’s more important to be courageous and stand up because I’m not the Iranian or the Middle Easterner that is what everybody thinks, right? I’m an out, liberal, lesbian, born-Muslim Iranian who is very spiritual.” And spirited. Shyne says she became an attorney after experiencing the humiliation of discrimination while in college. “My ex and I were holding hands at a coffee shop that was known to be gayfriendly in San Jose. The management had changed and the new manager was homophobic,” she says. “Next thing I know, a police officer and the manager were standing above us. The police officer looks down and says, ‘You two need to get up and leave. The management doesn’t want your kind in this establishment.’ Then cop blew a kiss and winked. We were terrified and we couldn’t call our family because we had just come out recently, so they weren’t going to be happy. We decided right then and there that we would go to law school, learn the law, and stop things like this from happening to others.” But being an attorney is no guard against retaliatory terrorism. “I was actually fearful about the Women’s March that’s happening — but we do have a lot of domestic white terrorists in America,” says Shyne, adding that the “pretty savvy” Iranian government would more likely “target Trump properties to get back at him.” Of continuing great concern, however, is how Iranian-Americans are perceived and treated. “If you see somebody being targeted, speak up. If you see a hate crime happening, try to help and intervene,” Shyne says. “The people of Iran do not hate America. Those people in the streets are the very conservative Islamic people. The majority of the people were the ones protesting that were shot and killed — 1,000 of them — by this government. It’s a delicate situation, but most Iranians don’t want this regime in power.”


“ICE and the other officers know how difficult the last 14 months have been for me and yet have had no compassion for the way they detain me and move me around like I mean nothing.” – Trans immigrant Lexis Avilez, in segregated confinement at a remote Texas facility, after her San Francisco public defender filed a restraining order against ICE on Jan. 6, per KPIX.

“Media stories and storylines that shed light on LGBTQ people of different backgrounds, genders, races, religions, and more, are needed to counter the current politically and culturally divisive moment.” - Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD President & CEO announcing the 31st Annual GLAAD Media Awards, which include nominee Washington Blade national correspondent Chris Johnson and special recognition for Los Angeles Blade news editor Karen Ocamb.

“I am pleased that we can all move forward and focus our collective energy on continuing the Big Blue Wave, which began in California during my tenure as Chair, hopefully restoring full control of Washington, D.C. to people who share our Democratic values.” - Out former California Democratic Party Chair Eric Bauman, who resigned under pressure in Nov. 2018, in a statement after the CDP announced a fair settlement in sexual harassment lawsuits, via the New York Times.

4.625 in.

10.0 in.

LGBTQ ally and reality TV favorite Lisa Vanderpump displayed her usual tongue-in-cheek British humor in reaction to a silver Ferrari crashing into her WeHo Pump restaurant on Jan. 5. “No. We are not a Drive-Thru. Thank God no one was hurt,” she posted on Twitter. Actually, one unidentified person was apparently injured and taken to the hospital, the Los Angeles County Fire Department told KTLA. The accidental crash into Pump’s front patio area facing Santa Monica Boulevard at Robertson Boulevard is under investigation. Vanderpump came to fame as a star on Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” as owner of SUR restaurant in West Hollywood, one of 45 restaurants she and husband Ken Todd have opened in the U.S. and England. She now stars in and produces “Vanderpump Rules,” which also stars two straight bartenders who opened TomTom, another Vanderpump bar/ restaurant on Santa Monica Boulevard in WeHo. – Karen Ocamb

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Klobuchar’s votes for Trump judges include one with anti-LGBTQ record Stras derided gay rights, school integration as ‘social policy’ By CHRIS JOHNSON Sen. Amy Klobuchar is facing scrutiny on the campaign trail for voting to confirm many of President Trump’s judicial nominees — and a closer look at that record reveals she backed one pick who once derided as “social policy” not only LGBTQ rights and abortion, but also school integration. With weeks remaining before the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 3, Klobuchar’s vote to confirm David Ryan Stras to the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals could dissuade supporters of LGBTQ rights and other progressives from supporting her in the Democratic presidential primary. Although Stras hasn’t been as viciously anti-LGBTQ as some of Trump’s other picks, his past is troubling to LGBTQ advocates. As a law professor, Stras in a 2008 legal essay was condescending toward judges’ “ventures” into LGBTQ rights, abortion and school integration. “The court’s own ventures into contentious areas of social policy — such as school integration, abortion, and homosexual rights — have raised the stakes of confirmation battles even higher,” Stras wrote. Additionally, as a Minnesota Supreme Court justice, Stras in 2012 joined an opinion allowing an anti-gay marriage amendment to come intact to the ballot with a title obscuring its purpose and effect. Minnesota voters ended up rejecting the amendment anyway. Along with Sen. Doug Wilson (Ala.), Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) former Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) Sen. Mark Warner (Va.), former Sen. Heidi Heithkamp (N.D.) and former Sen. Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Klobuchar was among seven Democrats who joined Republicans in voting for Stras. The vote in January 2018 was otherwise along party lines, 56-42. Ironically, Klobuchar voted for Stras even though she wasn’t consulted on the judicial

Sen. AMY KLOBUCHAR has been criticized for a vote to confirm a Trump nominee with an anti-LGBTQ record. Blade file photo by Michael Key

pick, which was a customary part of the confirmation process before the Trump era, and recommended other choices for the judicial seat. Carlie Waibel, national press secretary for the Klobuchar campaign, put distance between Klobuchar and Stras in response to a Washington Blade inquiry on whether the Democratic hopeful stands by her vote. “Of course Sen. Klobuchar disagrees with his comments, just as she will not agree with every one of his opinions,” Waibel said. “She has made clear that Judge Stras was not the judge that she would ever recommend to the White House. In fact, she recommended other candidates.” Waibel also defended the senator’s vote for Stras by saying he was better than other picks Trump might have offered. “Her vote was based on the reality that given the choices, on balance she thought he was better than the other candidates who would have been nominated from other states,” the spokesperson said. “Judge Stras was recommended by liberal Justice Alan Page, who Sen. Klobuchar has great respect

for, and in the vast majority of cases on the Minnesota Supreme Court Judge Stras sided with the majority, which included several Democratic-appointed justices.” Klobuchar’s vote for Stras was one of many in favor of judicial nominees by Trump, who set records with judicial confirmations in ways that will likely affect the courts for generations to come. According to an April 2019 article in ThinkProgress, Klobuchar voted for more than 56 percent of his judicial picks two years into his presidency. According to the Klobuchar campaign, the percentage since that time has dropped to just 33 percent. Meanwhile, other Democratic senators who have run for president this cycle, such as Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand, had a kneejerk opposition to all of them. Klobuchar cast a vote for Stras even though he was opposed by civil rights and progressive groups, who pointed to his statements and actions as a law professor and Minnesota Supreme Court justice. Among the groups that opposed him were Lambda Legal, People for the American Way and Alliance for Justice. In a letter dated Jan. 29, 2018 urging senators to vote “no” on confirmation, Lambda Legal Chief Strategy Officer Sharon McGowan wrote Stras’s record “raises serious concerns about his willingness to adhere to the Supreme Court’s landmark LGBT rights decisions.” “His vision of the role of the courts as a nefarious force that seeks to block the will of the majority sends a dangerous message to vulnerable minorities that their constitutional rights are not guaranteed,” McGowan wrote. “Justice Stras’ failure to appreciate the important role that an independent judiciary plays in our constitutional democracy causes communities like ours grave concern.” In a 2008 essay titled “Understanding the New Politics of Judicial Appointments,” Stras wrote intensified media scrutiny and organized interest groups have politicized the judicial confirmation process, which he said made lawmakers act “with a keen eye toward pleasing constituent groups and maintaining a consistent policy image.”

As an example of attempts at “pleasing constituent groups,” Stras pointed to judicial rulings on LGBTQ rights, abortion and school integration, suggesting either the decisions were best left to the political process or the courts got it wrong. Although the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade is the case most cited in the article, Stras also draws on the 2003 decision in Lawrence v. Texas, noting with a tinge of skepticism the court “struck down a Texas ban on homosexual sodomy because, according to the court, the state law violated privacy rights.” Anthony Kreis, visiting assistant professor of law for the Chicago-Kent College of Law, told the Blade comments deriding LGBTQ rights as “social policy” are off-base. “The problem with the notion of LGBTQ rights as being ‘social policy,’ is that viewpoint indicates that the Constitution’s protections do not sweep broadly enough to protect sexual minorities,” Kreis said. “In other words, LGBTQ people are at the mercy of legislatures to do right by them — and so then courts aren’t reliable actors to combat homophobia and transphobia.” In written responses to questions from the Senate on his 2008 writing, Stras when asked about school integration acknowledged the Supreme Court applied the Fourteenth Amendment to desegregate schools in Brown v. Board of Education, which he said “overruled the Supreme Court’s detestable decision in Plessy v. Ferguson.” “When I wrote the referenced book review essay, I did so as a law professor, not as a judge,” Stras added. “I was describing the factors that have increased political polarization surrounding the judicial nomination process over the past several decades.” Asked whether the U.S. Constitution provides a textual basis for rights to contraception, women’s access to abortion and same-sex marriage, Stras acknowledged the Supreme Court’s rulings in favor of abortion rights and marriage equality, saying he’d “follow all binding precedent, including each of these precedents” on the Eighth Circuit. Continues at losangelesblade.com


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New Kameny book cover mimics 1950 report calling gays ‘perverts’ The author of an upcoming book on gay rights pioneer Frank Kameny’s groundbreaking work beginning in the late 1950s in fighting the federal government’s discrimination against gay people has given the Blade an advance look at the book’s unique cover. Entitled “The Deviant’s War: The Homosexual vs. the United States of America,” the book’s cover partially replicates the cover of a sensational 1950 U.S. Senate report on homosexuals in federal employment that is credited with triggering widespread purges of gay federal workers over the next 30 years. The book’s author, gay historian and Harvard and Cambridge University trained scholar Eric Cervini, spent six years researching Kameny’s work from the time he was fired from his federal job as a civilian astronomer for the U.S. Army Map Service in 1957 and his role as co-founder and leader of the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C.’s first significant gay rights group. The book, which Cervini describes as a history of Kameny’s unique and innovative work in advocating for LGBTQ rights, ends in 1971 when the D.C. Mattachine Society was replaced by the then-D.C. Gay Activists Alliance, for which Kameny also played an active role. A statement released by the book’s publisher, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, says the book is scheduled to be released on June 2, just prior to the 50th anniversary of the world’s first LGBTQ Pride celebration in New York. “Based on fifty thousand pages of firsthand accounts, recently declassified FBI records, and personal documents, The Deviant’s War unfolds over the course of the 1960s, as the Mattachine Society of Washington – the group Kameny [co] founded – became the first organization to protest the systematic persecution of gay federal employees,” the statement says. “It is a story of America at a cultural and sexual crossroads; of shocking, byzantine public battles with Congress; of FBI informants; murder; betrayal; sex; love – and ultimate victory,” the statement says. It points out that the book’s black and pink cover is modeled after the 1950 U.S. Senate report, “Employment of Homosexuals and Other Sex Perverts in Government.” Kameny was among those ensnared in the gay purges that the Senate report is reported to have triggered when he was fired from his civilian federal job in 1957 for being gay. The publisher’s statement notes that unlike so many others at the time, Kameny fought back by contesting his firing before the then-U.S. Civil Service Commission and through the courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, all of which turned down his appeal for a reversal of his firing. His Supreme Court brief, which Kameny himself wrote, marked the first known time a gay person challenged anti-LGBTQ bias before the high court and became a model for future efforts to contest anti-LGBTQ discrimination. “By tracking Kameny’s story alongside the movements for African Americans, lesbian, and trans rights, the book also shows how LGBTQ+ Americans are, in the end, a family of the persecuted – a minority that must continue fighting for the most marginalized of its members,” Cervini said in the statement. Cervini said a major source for his book was Kameny’s papers, which Kameny donated to the Library of Congress in Washington. He said he also traveled across the country tracking down other documents and to “place Kameny’s story in dialogue with America in the 1960s, a decade before the Stonewall Riots.” LOU CHIBBARO JR.

Methodist Church plans to split over LGBTQ acceptance The United Methodist Church, which has struggled for years with LGBTQ acceptance, announced a plan for a split in which parishes that oppose samesex marriage will leave the denomination, but pave the way for LGBTQ inclusion among the remaining congregations. The new plan, announced last month, was hailed by both church leaders seeking to overturn the Methodist Church’s bans on LGBTQ clergy and samesex marriage as well as other congregations seeking to go their own way over opposition to LGBTQ inclusion. A 16-member group of Methodist bishops outlined the plan in a nine-page “Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation.” Under the proposal, churches that separate would get $25 million in funds from the denomination over the course of four years and be allowed to keep their local church properties. New York Conference Bishop Thomas Bickerton, one of 16 bishops that negotiated and signed the proposal, said in a statement the contentious nature of LGBTQ inclusion within the church demonstrated the need for a plan for amicable separation. “It became clear that the line in the sand had turned into a canyon,” Bickerton said. “The impasse is such that we have come to the realization that we just can’t stay that way any longer.” Bickerton praised the plan as “a pathway that acknowledges our differences, respects everyone in the process and graciously allows us to continue to live out the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world, albeit in different expressions.” The Methodist Church, which has an estimated 9 million adherents in the United States and 13 million worldwide, announced the plan nearly a year after the United Methodist General Conference in St. Louis approved a “Traditional Plan” that not only reaffirmed its existing ban on LGBTQ clergy and same-sex marriage, but called for greater enforcement. Although U.S. delegates at the 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-LGBTQQ policy. CHRIS JOHNSON

Gavin Grimm joins ACLU board A transgender man who challenged his Virginia school district’s bathroom policy has been elected to the American Civil Liberties Union’s board of directors. Gavin Grimm on Jan. 3 in a tweet said he has been elected to the board for a one-year term. “I am elated, and I will work hard to do this position justice,” said Grimm. “Thank you to the ACLU and to everyone who has supported me through my fight.” Grimm was a sophomore at Gloucester County High School in 2015 when he filed a federal lawsuit against the Gloucester County School Board’s policy that prohibited students from using bathrooms and locker rooms that did not correspond with their “biological gender.” The U.S. Supreme Court was scheduled to hear oral arguments in the case in 2017, but the justices remanded it to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond after the Trump administration rescinded guidance to public schools that said Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 requires them to allow trans students to use restrooms based on their gender identity. A federal judge in Norfolk last August ruled the district discriminated against Grimm when it implemented its bathroom policy. The district has appealed the ruling. The ACLU represented Grimm in his case. MICHAEL K. LAVERS


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Nicaraguan LGBTQ activist tortured after arrest A well-known LGBTQ activist in Nicaragua who was arrested last September says he was tortured while in custody. Ulises Rivas on Monday said members of Nicaragua’s National Police on Sept. 1, 2019, arrived at his niece’s volleyball game in Comalapa, a town in the country’s Chontales department that is roughly 75 miles east of the Nicaraguan capital of Managua, and arrested him because “they had an arrest warrant.” A source with whom the Blade spoke after Rivas’s arrest said he had been accused of robbing a woman. Rivas sent the Blade a screenshot of a message posted to a pro-government Facebook group that said he has also been accused of “inciting violence, destabilizing the peace” of his neighborhood and “hiding under the false flag of protectors of the environment.” Rivas told the Blade during an emotional WhatsApp interview from his home in Santo Domingo, a town in Chontales department, the police brought him to the departmental capital of Juigalpa and placed him in a cell. ULISES RIVAS faces a court “I was not able to receive anything from my family, nor a visit or food,” said Rivas. “I was hungry all appearance later this month night.” and could be returned to Rivas said officers the next morning took him to a local jail, and put him into what he described as a prison. Photo courtesy of Rivas “punishment cell.” Rivas told the Blade he was forced to stand inside a cell for four hours with his hands in the air. He also said he suffered physical, “cultural and psychological torture.” “I was bleeding and my entire body had been beaten and tortured,” said Rivas. “I didn’t think that I would return to see my family,” he added. “I have tears in my eyes from everything they did to me.” Rivas told the Blade he was forced to strip naked when his family arrived at the jail to visit him. Rivas also said authorities forced him to show his buttocks and made him do 10 squats. Rivas said he spent 25 days in the cell before authorities transferred him to a prison within a larger penitentiary complex and placed him into another “punishment cell.” “There was no bed, there were no mattresses, there were no hammocks,” said Rivas. “There was nothing on the floor.” Rivas told the Blade there was a hole in the floor into which he and his other cellmate could defecate. Rivas also said they had access to water for only 20 minutes a day. “You could hear cries, the cries of common prisoners when they were beaten,” said Rivas. Rivas told the Blade there was also no access to medical care. He said the psychologists who worked at the prison were “from the government.” “The first thing that they ask you is whether you want to kill yourself,” he said. Hundreds of people have been killed in Nicaragua since protests against the government of President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, began in April 2018 in response to proposed cuts to the country’s social security benefits and the response to a wildfire at the Indio Maíz Biological Reserve on Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast. Rivas before he fled to Costa Rica protested against a gold mine in his hometown that B2Gold, a Canadian company, owns. He helped create Asociación Hijos del Arco Iris LGBTI, a group in Costa Rica that helps other LGBTQ Nicaraguans in exile. Rivas returned to Nicaragua in June 2019 in order to take care of his father who later died of cancer. “I saw him die in the hospital,” Rivas told the Blade. “I was caring for him.” Rivas said he then returned to his hometown for his father’s funeral. “Afterwards they saw me and captured me because they had already seen that I was in Nicaragua,” he said. Rivas spoke with the Blade less than two weeks after the Nicaraguan government released him and 90 other political prisoners. Rivas noted Waldemar Sommertag, the papal nuncio in Nicaragua, and the International Committee of the Red Cross played a role in the prisoners’ release, along with pressure from the international community. Rivas said his neighbors continue to protect him, even though he remains under house arrest and government surveillance. “My neighborhood loves me,” he told the Blade. Rivas said he does not know what to expect during his next court appearance that is scheduled to take place on Jan. 15. The screenshot of the Facebook page that Rivas sent to the Blade says he could be sent to El Chipote, a notorious Managua prison in which Ortega himself was once a prisoner, “for about 10 or 20 years without the right to freedom, under the accusation of terrorism and threats to people.” Rivas nevertheless remains defiant. “Nicaragua is made of vigor and glory,” he said. “Nicaragua is made for freedom.” MICHAEL K. LAVERS

Belize court upholds ruling that struck down sodomy law Belize’s Court of Appeal has upheld a ruling that said the country’s colonial-era sodomy law is unconstitutional. Belize Supreme Court Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin in 2016 issued his ruling in a case against Section 53 of the country’s Criminal Code that Caleb Orozco, a prominent LGBTQ activist in the Central American country, brought. The Belizean government challenged portions of Benjamin’s ruling, but the Court of Appeal on Dec. 30 upheld it. “I have proven as a citizen that our fundamental rights have value and can be upheld by our courts, and that any alienated section of society can stand on principle and can go to court and use the fundamental rights to ensure that the state leaves no one behind,” said Orozco in a statement after the Court of Appeal issued its ruling. “Today is a renewal of hope in the substance of the chief justice’s decision in 2016, which still stands,” added Orozco. OutRight Action International Deputy Executive Director Maria Sjödin on Friday noted to the Blade the Belize Supreme Court is the first court in the English-speaking Caribbean to strike down a colonial-era sodomy law. Activists throughout the region have said Orozco’s case continues to resonate in their countries. LGBTQ people in Jamaica, Dominica, Barbados and St. Vincent and the Grenadines in recent years have challenged their respective countries’ sodomy laws in court. The government of Trinidad and Tobago has appealed a 2018 ruling that declared the country’s sodomy law unconstitutional. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights last fall held a hearing in D.C. that focused on challenges to Jamaica’s sodomy law. The three LGBTQ Barbadians who have challenged their country’s colonialera statute brought their case to the commission. A decision in their favor could have sweeping implications throughout the Caribbean, especially in countries that continue to criminalize consensual samesex relations. “We urge authorities in Belize to embrace and fully implement the ruling, and to work with civil society to promote genuine equality for its LGBTIQ inhabitants,” Sjödin told the Blade. MICHAEL K. LAVERS

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Rising anti-Semitism: 4 lessons for LGBTQ Americans Our shared future depends on action once more By TYLER GREGORY Seventy-five years after the liberation of Auschwitz, deadly attacks on Jewish homes, businesses, and places of worship are rocking America, from San Diego to Pittsburgh, and from Jersey City to Monsey. Yet anti-Semitism isn’t just a clear and present danger for Jews: for millennia it has been a symptom of societies breaking down into dangerous forms of tribalism. At its root, this fight is just as much about holding up America as a pluralistic and democratic society for all – something every LGBTQ American must concern themselves with to protect and advance our rights. Below are four important lessons we as an LGBTQ movement must learn to become effective advocates and partners in the fight against anti-Semitism. • Jewish identity is a unique construct. Jewish identity is uniquely difficult to explain, and easy to exploit. Its complexity explains both our unique vulnerability and durability over millennia. Depending on the Jew, we are any combination of a nation, a people, a faith, a shared history, a culture, and a tradition. No two Jews share the exact same list of Jewish attributes in the same ranking of importance. Prescribing one such description of Jewish identity to the Jewish experience as a whole is as tokenizing as a

straight person prescribing what it means “to be a good queer.” • Anti-Semitism is also a unique construct. Unlike other forms of discrimination, anti-Semitism manifests against Jews irrespective of privilege and status. The myth of Jewish wealth and elite status is centuries-old and continues to show up today, everywhere from hook-up apps like Grindr to attacks on Jews being “all about the Benjamins.” Assigning Jews with artificial privilege is dangerous to all Jews, both those with financial means and those who lack it. White-passing Jews enjoy certain privileges – so long as they hide their stars of David from spaces like select Dyke Marches, and take off their Kippah (skull cap) on places like the Metro. Jews of Color face the additional challenge of quite often having to prove their Jewish identity to nonJews (and sadly to many Ashkenazi Jews) simply because they don’t “look Jewish,” which in and of itself is a highly problematic construct. • Zionism is for Jews to define. The term “queer,” once a derogatory term thrown at our community, is today an empowered identity for many. Others continue to reject it, uncomfortable with its history. How we accept or reject queer identity as LGBTQ people is for each one of us to decide – not outsiders. The same is true for “Zionism,” the movement to re-establish an indigenous Jewish homeland. For far too long, “Zionism” has become a litmus test in LGBTQ circles and far beyond to divide “good Jews” from

“bad Jews.” Anti-Zionism, effectively the elimination of the Jewish state, would render Jews powerless orphans to an unstable world once again. Denying Jews our attachment to Israel for any reason isn’t just anti-Israel – it makes Jews feel unsafe. We as LGBTQ Americans know how it feels to be powerless. • Anti-Semitism is not a partisan issue. Anti-Semitism is a systemic problem to be confronted everywhere. Too many left-wing Americans are content to rightly call out white nationalism, but cannot take up the work of uprooting cancerous anti-Semitism in progressive ranks. And too many rightwing Americans are rightly content to call out select anti-Zionist leaders in the Women’s March and Black Lives Matter (leaders who do not represent their movements), but fail to condemn the alt-right stirring up antiSemitic memes online. We must have the courage to address and remove these biases from our own side of the aisle. In the words of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov that inspired the name A Wider Bridge: “The whole world is a narrow bridge, and the most important part is not to be afraid.” On behalf of A Wider Bridge, we invite you to join us in this urgently needed fight against hate. ACT-UP taught us that “Silence=Death.” Our shared future depends on action once more.

Tyler Gregory is executive director of A Wider Bridge.

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Winning the war may require turning the other cheek Let kindness and love win

Gabriel S. Hudson, Ph.D., a democratic theorist, teaches at George Mason University’s Graduate School of Education and The Schar School of Policy and Government. He is the author of ‘Christodemocracy and the Alternative Democratic Theory of America’s Christian Right.’

Last month, President Trump’s solid base was rocked by a scathing editorial by Christianity Today. It was significant because white Evangelicals have remained Trump’s most loyal supporters. CT, founded by the late Rev. Billy Graham, has been at the forefront of social conservatism since its beginning. CT’s editor Mark Galli surprised many by unapologetically calling for Trump’s impeachment, citing an unconstitutional abuse of power and inexcusable lack of moral character. “The facts in this instance are unambiguous: The president of the United States attempted to use his political power to coerce a foreign leader to harass and discredit one of the president’s political opponents. That is not only a violation of the Constitution; more importantly, it is profoundly immoral,” he wrote

Since Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority helped elect Ronald Reagan president in 1980, Christian conservatives have claimed a monopoly on morality and no Republican has won the White House without their support. That’s why prominent Evangelical leaders like Franklin Graham and Jerry Falwell Jr. heap obsequious praise on Trump. Though less influential, there’s still currency in politicized Christianity. But that has frustrated many Evangelicals. Trump embodies lust, pride, greed and dishonesty. His policies reflect a cruel antithesis to the person of Jesus. He has never even feigned a grand conversion like George W. Bush nor seems the slightest bit repentant. So, why is Trump the champion of the Christian right? Because he shares their enemies. He attacks the very people they perceive as attacking them. The age of Trump has brought with it an ideological realignment. Trump is not a conservative in the traditional sense. He has ballooned the deficit and sees no merit to limiting government power - especially his own. Indeed, intellectual conservatives like George Will and Bill Kristol scarcely call themselves Republicans anymore and are among Trump’s staunchest critics. Instead, Trump reflects the new political divide between elites and populists. He roars in support of those commonly dismissed as unsophisticated fundamentalists. Trump’s appeal to Evangelicals derives from his willingness to attack institutions they see as aligned against them: academia, scientific inquiry, the news media and federal agencies, to name a few. He’s by no means a

common man, but he channels the frustrations of those who feel left behind by a swiftly changing society. Still, the CT editorial reveals not all Evangelicals are on board. In many ways, Protestants in America reflect the elite-populist cultural divide that characterizes discourse writ large. The editor of the Christian Post recently resigned because of his publication’s refusal to criticize the President. The United Methodist Church just announced a schism over acceptance of LGBTQ clergy and same-sex marriage. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, noted in a Jan. 6 editorial that “many looking at this have said that what is evident is a split between an evangelical elite against President Trump and populist evangelicals for the president.” He’s right. Trump’s political might derives from an ownthe-libs, us v. them, stick it to The Left mentality. He’s not the cause of our current division, but a byproduct of it - and its greatest beneficiary. Efforts to hold him accountable are ineffective, despite clear evidence of wrongdoing, because his base is sequestered in a bubble of invincible ignorance. Critics are unpatriotic. Legitimate investigation is a witch hunt. Journalists are the enemy of the people. Checks and balances are a conspiracy. Convincing many Evangelicals of his unfitness for office is overwhelmingly frustrating. The CT editorial seems to be screaming: “What is wrong with you people!?” These Evangelicals line up behind Trump because they are afraid. Division and fear are the sources of Trump’s strength. To defeat not just the candidate in 2020 but the ideology he represents,

demands we resist feeding into the division and fear that empowers him. Easier said than done, this may require us to model our rhetoric after the Jesus they purportedly follow. Right now, LGBTQ Americans are enjoying a well-earned high point. We have greater cultural acceptance and political clout than at any other time in history. There is still work to be done and there is no way in hell we are relinquishing any hard won victories. But it behooves us to assure our enemies we have no intention of shoving them into the closets where we long suffered. At a recent Evangelical rally in Florida, Trump promised the fawning crowd that he would protect them against persecution. The idea that white Christian Americans are persecuted sounds silly -- but ridiculing them as rednecks and rubes plays into Trump’s hands. Instead, we should be convincing Evangelicals that they get to keep their beliefs and their religion -- they just can’t use them as an excuse for political persecution anymore. We LGBTQ people know better than anyone what it feels like to be condemned by society and shunned by loved ones. It is time for us to NOT do unto them as they did unto us for so many years -- not because they deserve that grace and forgiveness, but because it may be the only way to heal our country and move past Trump. Championing equality without demeaning the devout sounds difficult, but if Christians felt less threatened by change, they may stop cowering behind their immoral conman. Division and fear fuel President Trump’s most faithful believers. Let’s reach out in kindness and prove that Love Wins.

electrolytes in one go, consider Vitamin Booster+, which contains real fruit juice, less than one gram of sugar and is only 15 calories per serving. • De-stress: Too much stress can compromise your body’s ability to absorb nutrients. So take steps to relax and unwind. Whether it’s through meditation, journaling, cooking or jogging, discover what hobbies and wellness activities help you reduce your stress levels and be sure to make time for them.

Be more proactive about your diet in 2020. Photo courtesy StatePoint

Are you getting all your vitamins? Tips for revamping your diet in 2020 By STATEPOINT

Getting all the vitamins and nutrients you need each day is one of the most important things you can do to feel your best. The good news is that you don’t need to devote hours each week to meal prep to ensure you’re healthfully getting essential vitamins. As you make your 2020 plans to revamp your diet, here are a few things to keep in mind: • Don’t follow fads: When it comes to your wellness, it’s

best to rely on basic science, not the latest fad diets or sports drinks and supplements that rely on added sugars, fillers, preservatives, artificial flavors, sweeteners, dyes and negatives. Look for products that transparently list all their ingredients. • Drink your vitamins: Did you know that liquids are the most bioavailable form for your body to absorb nutrients? For complete health on-the-go, consider drinking your vitamins. One effective solution is Drink Nutrient, which offers singleserve stick packs that make it easy to get the essential vitamins you need. Among its offerings is Vitamin Coffee, a natural sustained energy booster made from 100 percent Colombian Arabica coffee that offers 50 percent of your daily essential vitamins in each serving. Served hot or cold, it’s a good choice for anyone who needs a caffeine boost without the crash. Or, to get 100 percent of your daily essential vitamins and 610 mg of


• Refuel wisely: If you hit the gym frequently, you likely have tried one or two sports drinks and know how important it is to refuel quickly and wisely after a workout. For optimal high performance, consider upgrading your drink of choice. With double the electrolytes of leading sports drinks, Liquid Nutrient has a potassium-tosodium ratio intended for highquality hydration as well as amino acids for mental focus and muscle repair. • Maximize meals: To maximize meals, make sure the bulk of the calories you consume are not “empty.” Empty calories, such as added sugars and solid fats, contain little to no nutritional value. Fill up on dark leafy vegetables, berries, nuts, seeds and good-for-you fats like avocado and salmon, while avoiding chips, cakes and other junk foods. Don’t let your busy lifestyle get in the way of ensuring you’re getting all the nutrients you need to feel your best. This new year, resolve to revamp your diet for optimal nutrition.

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From custom-designed sneakers to tailor-made sunglasses, the trend of personalization is going head to toe, and for good reason, making its way to the world of weight loss and wellness. Specifically, researchers have been studying two converging topics in recent years. One is the importance of body type in determining the combination of fats, carbohydrates and protein that will provide the best results for a given individual. The other is the variability of results associated with a single diet — the idea that if two people start the same diet at the same time, their results could be drastically different. Research has found that not all diets and bodies work together the same way. Photo courtesy Rawpixel/iStock via Getty Images Plus

Personalized diets A tailor-made plan can help you achieve better results By STATEPOINT

On top of that, consumer research shows that people overwhelmingly prefer personalized experiences. Sixty percent of consumers agree that personalization is essential to weight loss and overall wellness. Here’s what to know about why personalized diets are becoming so popular and how to find the right diet for you:

The importance of body type The places your body stores excess fat may be the single greatest predictor of health outcomes. This is the concept behind Nutrisystem’s assessment of the four most common body types: “Apple,” “Pear,” “Hourglass” and “Rectangle.” “We’re going a bit old school here, because these categories have stood the test of time for a reason. They provide crucial information on how you respond to food intake and can help you to adjust what you eat based on your goals,” says Courtney McCormick, corporate dietitian at Nutrisystem.


Body type can also influence how macronutrients like fat, protein and carbs are processed. To fulfill your individual needs, first determine your body type, food preferences and goals, then look for a weight loss plan that takes these important factors into consideration, such as Nutrisystem.

One size does not fit all The DIETFITS study, a large, randomized research study comparing low-fat versus low-carb dietary patterns found no difference in weight loss between them. But drilling down into the data, one can see great variability. Some dieters gained weight while others lost a lot. But it’s not always about weight outcomes, as recent research has shown that factors such as body shape may play a bigger role in the determinants of health risks than body weight alone. For instance, a woman who is appleshaped tends to carry her extra weight in the mid-section. She would see best results on a lower-glycemic nutrition plan that is lower in refined carbs and higher in healthy fats and protein. “Research shows that one size does not fit all when it comes to weight loss and disease prevention,” McCormick says. “That’s why we’ve created a unique, personalized approach that’s easy to follow and designed to help participants lose weight and get healthy.” For more insights on how to personalize your diet and maximize results, visit leaf.nutrisystem.com. While it’s no secret that achieving one’s weight loss goals is challenging, personalizing your plan can help make things easier, ultimately providing you a greater chance of success.

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Fasting has physical and spiritual components experts say. Blade file photo

Fasting: a holistic approach 24-hour, three-day or week-long fasts yield bounty of benefits By JOEY DiGUGLIELMO joeyd@washblade.com

Most people who are basically fit but have gained and lost the same 10 pounds over and over know those last 10 are often the hardest to lose. If you have a lot of weight to lose and get serious about eating right and exercising, you can drop a lot of weight fairly quickly. It gets doubly frustrating, then, when you’re used to that pace, but so close to your goal you hit a wall. Stymied by plateaus, last year I decided to experiment with intermittent fasting and researched it from a variety of perspectives. The best overall resource I found was “The Complete Guide to Fasting: Heal Your Body Through Intermittent, Alternate-Day and Extended Fasting” (2016) by Jason Fung and Jimmy Moore. As the title suggests, there are multiple ways

to fast. Merely skipping a meal or skipping two (basically 24-hour fasting) yield health benefits but they expand significantly the longer you fast. The gist of the book is two-fold: 1. millions of years of evolution resulted in natural selection that is wildly out of whack with the way most of us in the U.S. live today. Our bodies learned to store fat for periods when it was usually a long time between meals, a fact of life in the huntergatherer societies of yore. But with less than 200 years behind us since the Industrial Revolution ended, our bodies haven’t caught up to the modern, often sedentary jobs and lives we lead today. Fast food is ubiquitous, Sheets MTO is 24-7, food courts offer mostly unhealthful options (eating healthfully takes creativity

and major proactivity!) and yeah, Whole Foods may have lots of healthful options, but you’d have to make six figures to buy lunch there everyday. So fasting — their second main point — is actually one of the fastest, simplest approaches one can take. Fung and Moore also write that many illnesses and maladies can be improved with intermittent fasting, from cancer to arthritis to heart disease and more. Big pharma has conditioned us to seek meds for our ailments when often the simplest approach is to simply fast. It’s also the big secret the $72 billion U.S. weight loss industry doesn’t want you to think too much about. Simply stop shoving garbage into your mouth for a few days or a week and the need for a fancy weight loss program disappears. “The Complete Guide” is thorough, authoritative and medically sound and walks you through the pros and cons of fasting for any length of time. It also takes a lot of the fear out. If you’ve never fasted, you tend to imagine hunger pangs gradually increase in frequency and intensity until you’re ready to devour anything in sight like a crazed person. But it’s not like that at all. It’s much more akin to a busy work day where you didn’t have a chance to think about lunch until 4 p.m., then realized you weren’t nearly as famished as you’d have thought. Hunger comes and goes in waves during a longer fast (three days or more) and actually gets less bothersome once you’ve worked through the first missed meal. Keep busy and you’ll be surprised how relatively easy it is. The downside of the book, which gets rather old by the end, is that its authors are huge advocates of the ketogenic diet.


Practically every other page features some sort of keto plug. The nice thing about fasting is if you’re on keto already, fasting dovetails beautifully with it (you’ll automatically be in a ketogenic state after a couple days of fasting). I’ve tried keto, though (mostly because this book acts like it’s the best thing ever), and it’s just too restrictive for me for any kind of long-term plan. That said, though, “The Complete Guide to Fasting” is a great starting resource. A fun read but not a very accurate depiction of fasting is a 2013 first-person article from GQ called “How the Terrible, Insufferable Six-Day Water Fast Made Me a New Man” by Phillip Toledano. It’s online if you wanna look it up. He writes wittily but basically does everything wrong. First, he spends his fasting week at a health center for monitoring (totally unnecessary unless you have serious medical issues going into it), tries to curtail his boredom by watching the Food Network (No! Keeping your mind occupied with non-food stuff is the best recipe for fasting success) and writes of severe headaches, restlessness and foul moods. I had almost the total opposite reaction — I was astounded at how not a big deal it was once I got my mind off food. I won’t say it was a breeze (I’ve done two, one-week-long fasts) — I was counting down the days toward meal time for sure, but not because I was in agony or even that I was that hungry. I just missed the sensory pleasure of chewing and tasting food more than that I was extremely hungry. So take that article with a grain of salt. Continues at losangelesblade.com

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LEA DELARIA LIVE IN CONCERT Sat, Jan 18 @ 8pm The Theatre at Ace Hotel


310-825-2101 | cap.ucla.edu @ CAP_UCLA | #CAP_UCLA Additional support from The Theatre at Ace Hotel.



Golden Globes kick off Hollywood’s awards season But the most interesting action was behind the scenes By SUSAN HORNIK

The week before the Golden Globes is always one of the busiest times of the year in Hollywood, with numerous celebrities attending ritzy industry parties and swag gift lounges. The Los Angeles Blade’s Susan Hornik takes readers behind the scenes, talking with LGBTQ nominees and award presenters.

Behind the Scenes With Golden Globe Winners Elton John was over the moon with his Best Song win. “You know, this is really sweet, because this is not just about a song we wrote for a movie. This is a song we wrote for a movie which deals with our relationship, and it’s a relationship that doesn’t happen very much in this town. It’s a 52-year-old marriage.” Backstage in the press room, a visibly moved Ellen DeGeneres was humbled to receive the prestigious Carol Burnett Achievement award. Although she has received numerous accolades, this one was special to her. “That’s crazy that I have gone in and out of television; the fact that I would get something even connected to a name that I grew up admiring is obviously very important to me. I think it means a lot to other people...it sends a message... my life has been a crazy journey. I never could have imagined that I would have won any awards. I think it sends a really powerful message to anyone out there trying to start a career and saying ‘I’m different.’ You can accomplish a whole lot. DeGeneres was thrilled that Kate McKinnon presented the award to her, telling reporters that the lesbian comedian inspired her. “I look up to not just people that are older than me, but people that are starting out now and paving the way. I think Kate McKinnon is brilliant, and I think she’s strong, and I think she’s brave. So I look up to her. I look up to so many people.” The veteran talk show host was reflective about her life. “I think I am really happy for every single thing that happened in my life...for the people that didn’t support me. I’m happy for the times that were the hardest times of my life, because I feel like that’s what makes one you. If everything is easy, you don’t really have anything to compare it to. So I’m really grateful for all of the hard times, all of the things that didn’t work out the way I wanted them to work out, and I feel bad for people that have everything working all the time, because that’s just not life.” She added: “Life doesn’t work that way. So I’m just grateful for my journey and, of course, my husband Mark!” she quipped, referring to her joke onstage.

Around Town

Elton John was over the moon with his Best Song win. Photo by Denis Makarenko/Courtesy BigStock

During the 7th annual Gold Meets Golden awards brunch on Saturday, veteran athletes from across the world mingled with numerous LGBTQ celebrities to raise money to benefit Angel City Sports, a Los Angeles organization that helps support youths and adults with physical disabilities. “LGBTQ athletes have doubled in numbers with each Olympics since Beijing 2008, and Gold Meets Golden has featured many since year one,” said Charley Cullen Walters, who co-founded and produced the event with fellow Olympics buff and Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. member Scott Orlin. This year we were proud to welcome Australian swimmer Ian Thorpe, diver Greg Louganis, Dallas Cowboys’ Jeff Rohrer, figure skater Randy Gardner and rugby player Phaidra Knight. Also present were Hollywood community members Matt Bomer, Beanie Feldstein, Ben Platt and Ryan Murphy.” Walters was honored that Nancy Hogshead-Makar, a straight ally who won three Olympic golds and has advocated for keeping athletes safe from sexual assault and empowering athletes in their own lives, made the trip from Jacksonville to attend. Enthused Walters: “Joining Matt Bomer on stage to sing a happy 60th birthday to my childhood Olympic idol Greg Louganis was a personal highlight of the event for me this year.” Lucky attendees of Gold Meets Golden 2020 left with a jam-packed Gold-


Medal Gift Bag from the Mr. Morris Foundation valued at over $10,000. Items included a Sanchaya Indonesian Resort Plush Robe and five-night resort stay, Coca-Cola Commemorative Tokyo 2020 smartphone wallet, BMW Beverly Hills mini Golf Kit, Herradura Tequila Ultra Anejo Bottle with Commemorative Gold Meets Golden Medal, Ghost Democracy Full Clean Skincare Kit, TONAL Fitness $500 coupon and Blender bottle, J’Adore Les Fleurs Everlasting Golden Flower Arrangement, UNIQLO Golden ultra-lightweight down jacket, CBDfx Hydrating CBD Mask and Muscle Balm, Rosetta Stone 24-month access card for learning a new language. Rex Chou, founder of the luxury skincare line, Ghost Democracy, was thrilled to showcase his products at the event. “It’s an honor to be a part of such an inspiring day. Ghost Democracy is all about exceptionally clean, high-performance skincare and was a natural fit for an event. I loved seeing the high-performing athletes and award-winning performers come together,” Choi said. “To see iconic Olympic legends such as Greg Louganis and Ian Thorpe representing the LGBTQ community was the highlight of my day!” Also in the gift bag: Paul Mitchell Sugar Cream, Sugar Day Cleanse and Sugar Spray Collection, Wheaties Commemorative USA Women’s Soccer Champions Box, UR+H CBD Fire and Ice roll-on and Peppermint lotion, Golden Door Full luxury body skincare kit + Gift Card to a 5 night stay at their resort spa, Cann Deux Full Spectrum CBD serum Le Grand Courtage Brut Rose Wine bottle, beatsbydre Golden Edition Headphones, The Giving Keys Rose Gold Mini Key Pendant Necklace and Official Limited Merchandise for the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.


KATE McKINNON gives ELLEN DeGENERES the Carol Burnett Award at the Golden Globes Sunday night. screen capture via NBC Broadcast/HFPA

Getting Groomed Toska Husted, who owns Toska European Spa spent this past weekend in Los Angeles working her magic on clients for the awards event. Her first client of the new decade was the red-carpet assassin himself, Billy Porter. His first step to shutting down Sunday’s red carpet was treating himself to her signature facial, the Toska Triple Lift. Porter wanted radiant skin that was lifted and using only products from Biologique Recherche. Toska gave the “Pose” star the bright skin he desired, which included Billy’s favorites, Lotion P50V, Serum Dermopore, and Creme Dermo RL. Porter listened to 70’s funk and post facial, said that he “loved how bright his skin looked.”

Gift Lounge As usual, GBK had an incredible pre-Globes gifting suite. Some of the celebrities that stopped by included the stars of nominated films such as Bruce Dern, Michael Madsen and Mike Moh (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), Ashley Greene (Bombshell), M. Emmett Walsh & K Callan (Knives Out), Trace Lysette (Hustlers), Tzi Ma (The Farewell), and Katherine Narducci (The Irishman) among others. The celebrities and select media, who attended GBK’s Luxury Lounge were treated to this season’s hottest items such as beauty and health care by The Super Dentist, Dermafirm USA, Glenn Ivy Hot Springs, AKA Cosmetic, New England Hemp Farm, Harmony Proteins; Trips by Sailrock Resorts and S Hotel Montego Bay Jamaica presented by Swanky Resorts; clothing & jewelry by Trico Field & ZuZu Kim; cool tech and gadgets by Silent Mode, Nature Bright Company, Go Easel, iiRcade, Genius and other gifts by Hestan Vineyards, La Boulisterie, Miyoko’s Creamery, Basic Vodka, Yowie Surprise Inside Chocolates, Secret Knock, West Coast Firepits, Gelato Festival and more. This year’s on-site charity was Educating Young Minds.

TARON EGERTON wins a Globe for playing Elton John in ‘Rocketman.’ screen capture via NBC Broadcast/HFPA



‘Dracula’ deserves a chance Bisexual controversy aside, new series is bloody fun By JOHN PAUL KING

The new ‘Dracula’ series is available now on Netflix. Photos courtesy Netflix

It’s already become fashionable to bash the new “Dracula” series unleashed on the world with the new year by “Sherlock” creators Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffatt. Co-produced by the BBC and Netflix, the latest incarnation of Bram Stoker’s 1897 classic became queer news late last year when Gatiss (who is out) teased that its re-imagined title character would have bisexual appetites, immediately piquing the interest of queer horror lovers the world over. Things began to turn, however, when co-creator Moffatt “clarified” by telling The Times that ‘bisexual” was not exactly the right word to describe the show’s vision of the Count. “He’s bi-homicidal, it’s not the same thing,” he said. “He’s killing them, not dating them.” Controversy ensued, of course. Online commentators suggested that the BBC had engaged in “queer-baiting” to draw LGBTQ viewers to the show, and some took Gatiss’ additional comments that “horror should be transgressive” to imply that the bisexual overtones themselves were meant to be shocking – an outdated concept in 2020, to be sure. When the show dropped on Jan. 1 (on BBC One in the UK and Netflix in the U.S.), the “bi-vampire-curious” among us got all our questions answered – and those answers, it seems, were not the ones most of us wanted. Any real discussion of whether this “Dracula” works is dependent on “spoilers,” thanks to the nature of its narrative conceits, so readers beyond this point should consider themselves warned. The details of Stoker’s novel are well-known, of course, and this latest renovation remains surprisingly faithful to them, all things considered; but as any follower of Gatiss and Moffatt’s career knows, much of the magic in their work – most notably, their modern-day “Sherlock,” which made Benedict Cumberbatch the household name everybody loved to mispronounce – hinges on the way they shatter an already-familiar story and re-assemble its shards into something that feels entirely fresh. When it works, it’s breathtakingly enjoyable. For many viewers, it seems, the problem with their “Dracula” is that it just doesn’t. Comprised of three feature-length episodes, the series begins in much the same way as almost every version of the tale, with the arrival of solicitor Jonathan Harker at the mysterious Romanian castle where Dracula has spent centuries draining his neighbors of their blood. This time, his story is told in flashback, as he relates his harrowing experiences there to a nun at a convent to which he has barely escaped with his life – or so he thinks. The Count, he tells her, had hired him as an agent to set up a relocation to England, in hope of finding meals with more “flavor” than the superstitious and unsophisticated locals are able to provide. It’s here where we discover that the “bisexual” spin was not altogether wrong; Dracula’s “wooing” of Harker is overtly homoerotic (by which tactic the unfortunate lawyer is not unmoved), and he ultimately refers to the young man as his “favorite bride.” Yet ultimately, it’s all a ploy; like all of Dracula’s attractions, it’s based on blood, not sex, and anyone hoping for a queer vampire love story would be well-advised to look instead to the books of Anne Rice.


By the end of the first installment, we have learned that the situation is both nothing like what we are being told and exactly what we think it looks like, and also that the increasingly hardedged and interrogative nun is none other than the Gatiss-Moffat reinvention of Dracula’s equally iconic arch-nemesis, Dr. Van Helsing, having been given both a gender-flip and considerably more sass. Up to this point, most viewers seem to have been all in. It’s with the second episode that audience opinions seem to split. Documenting the Count’s sea voyage to England, it expands the Stoker novel’s six-page account into an Agatha Christie-style “And Then There Were None” scenario (which includes a doomed gay couple within the mix – again, not the supernatural romance we might have wished, but more than a token nod to representation, at least) before unexpectedly having Dracula finally set foot on English soil smack in the middle of modern times. This climactic reveal – along with the presence of a new and doubly-determined Van Helsing (no longer a nun but still female) – sets up a final chapter in which, if social media can be considered a valid gauge, the whole thing falls apart into a disappointing and frustrating mess. Contemporary setting notwithstanding, many of the book’s characters still put in an appearance, such as the tragic Lucy, whose journey from hopeful bride to walking corpse is here played out by a lovely young social media influencer - who also happens to be a woman of color with gay BFF, adding a few more points for to the diversity scale. It’s the tale’s final twist, however, that has left many viewers feeling cheated, betrayed, or otherwise victimized by the series. That final revelation will remain unspoiled here. What matters more is that a lot of people seem to really hate it. Like disgruntled “Star Wars” or Marvel fans who take to the internet to campaign against creative choices with which they disagree, so too have “Dracula” purists seem to have embraced the new series as the latest example of how a thing they love has been “ruined.” It would be hard to argue that the latest offering from Gatiss and Moffatt is a masterpiece. Its cleverness is often too deliberate, its glibness too self-referential, and its horror too perfunctory; and while Dolly Wells is a show-stealing wonder as the durable Van Helsing, Danish actor Claes Bang can’t quite manage the delicate balance between camp and menace that is required to make Dracula the sexy beast we all want to see – though admittedly, he tries his best to shine through the sometimes ridiculous dialogue he’s been given to work with. Even so, “Dracula” was never high art. It was a purely commercial endeavor for Stoker, and even the iconic 1931 movie version starring Bela Lugosi was a clunky potboiler, even for its day. Every screen retelling has remade the durable tale in the image of the day, from the bloodthirsty horror of Christopher Lee’s popular incarnation to the subversive proto-goth allure of Gary Oldman’s romantic outsider in Francis Coppola’s divisive 1992 adaptation, and the best of them have always made bold choices in order to bring some meaning to the proceedings beyond the archetypal horror that drives the original novel. Gatiss and Moffatt have done no less, and if the result flies in the face of expectation, it can hardly be helped. Instead of simply telling us a story we already know, they have taken the core of the vampire mystique – the seductive appeal of death itself – and made it the focus of a meditation that happens to also be a lurid, not-tobe-taken-too-seriously guilty pleasure. For those who prefer their classics as-is, that might understandably be a deal-breaker. Anyone else should be encouraged to give it a chance. It can be a lot of bloody fun, if you let it.




Island paradise Honolulu is perfect escape from mainland wintertime blues By BILL MALCOLM

Sick of winter yet? Honolulu is a perfect escape. The temperatures are in the low 80s year round. I only packed shorts.

What to do The first day I hiked up Diamond Head State Monument for great views of Waikiki. Take the no. 2 bus to the trail head near the community college. It’s not only a mountain but a giant crater with lots of interesting plant life. On the way back, I stopped at the Pineapple Shack for coconut juice (and pulp to eat). They also sell fresh pineapple juice. Stop by the Diamond Head Market and Grill on the way up to pick up a picnic lunch. On day two, a friend and I toured the beautiful University of Hawaii at Manoa campus. Stop at the Student Center for lunch for local fare. The L&L Hawaiian Barbeque had great garlic shrimp. We hiked up to the Lyon Arboretum which is run by the university. You will learn about the endemic plants of Hawaii and hike through fern valleys, a native Hawaiian plant garden, and more. The no. 5 bus will get you there. Day three featured a hike through the St. Louis neighborhood to Wa’ahila Ridge Regional Park. It features a Norfolk Island pine forest and great views of the city. We hiked up and took the bus back down. Day four included a tour of the Army Museum at nearby Fort DeRussy Beach run by the military. The beach is handy and open to everyone. I went swimming everyday with my friends at Queen’s Surf Beach. Honolulu apparently does not have a gay beach anymore, but this one was close enough.

Night life Bacchus Bar at 408 Lewers is a lot of fun. It has bingo on Thursday nights and features a friendly neighborhood crowd with great nightly specials. Its owners boast that it’s one of the best gay bars in the U.S. Check out Hula’s Bar (134 Kapahulu Avenue) for the sunset views. It had live music and great happy hour specials the night I was there and is close to the beach. The In Between Bar (2255 Lauula) features karaoke every night and a friendly local crowd.

Where to stay

Waikiki in the distance seen from Diamond Head in Hawaii. Photo by Bill Malcolm

I stayed in Waikiki at The Surfjack Hotel and Swim Club, which was perfect. I had a small apartment with balcony. The Surfjack features local room design and art work and local fare in its restaurant, Mahina and Sun where guests at the hotel get a $10 per day credit for a meal. Surfjack has live music every night at 7 p.m and wine tasting on Tuesdays. Free bikes and helmets are nice too not to mention its pool (with free towels and sunscreen) and a tote bag to take your stuff to the beach. The hotel is right next door to Bacchus. Next door is an ABC Store (408 Lewers) that has everything you would want to eat or drink. Show your Surfjack room key at the Honolulu Museum of Art for free admission. The Surfjack has it all and is highly recommended.

What to eat


Bargain hunters will love Da Spot where dinners start at just $6. You will find the at 2569 King Street near University Avenue.

Getting there I redeemed just 19,000 points for a free ticket on Southwest Airlines through Oakland (from Indianapolis) to Honolulu. It’s a new route for the company. However, the five-hour-plus flight on its new seating types was uncomfortable and the crackers and cheese snack (plus pretzels and fruit candy) was insufficient for a dinner-hour flight. No food was offered for purchase either. The flight attendant barked at me for not separating my cup trash from other trash for pick up as instructed. Another complained when I had the temerity to ask for a full can of Diet Coke on a four-plus hour flight from Indy to Oakland. Worse, the gate they use at HNL is a 20-minute walk to baggage claim and the main terminal where you catch the bus to town, although there is a shuttle bus. The flight back on American Airlines was much better. Besides being in the main terminal, the red eye through Phoenix featured a great cheese and fruit tray for purchase plus French wine. The seats had chargers for your electronic devices (unlike Southwest). The staff was professional and top notch. You won’t need a rental car for your Honolulu trip. It is a very walkable city (especially Waikiki). You can take “The Bus” (their name for the city bus system) everywhere. Take the no. 19 Bus to and from the airport for just $2.75. Better yet, by an all-day pass for $5.50

Travel tips All the hotels charge a resort fee of around $25-35 so always check what it is when you get a hotel room quote. (At least you are at a resort area, unlike downtown Portland, New York City and other places that now also tack on a resort or amenity fee.) Resort fees are the worst trend of the year in travel. Most of the Honolulu hotels are expensive and the ones that aren’t are not part of national chains. Many of these get so-so reviews (see TripAdvisor), so shop around but be prepared for the high room rates. It took a lot of research to track down the Surfjack. Try the Japanese food. It’s excellent and everywhere — even at the 7-11. This is because about half the tourists are from Japan. Aloha means hello and mahalo means thank you. Don’t jaywalk and don’t ride your bike on the sidewalk. These laws are strictly enforced. Be sure and take time to learn about the fascinating history of Hawaii and its world-famous plant life while you visit. The locals are friendly and welcoming. Honolulu indeed makes for a perfect winter get away. For more information, try the LGBT pages at visit hawaill.com. The Good to Know LGBT Oahu Pocket Guide also lists everything you need to know in terms of LGBT activities plus lists great hike ideas and beaches on Oahu. Pick one up at a bar. Bill Malcolm’s syndicated LGBT value travel column appears in LGBT publications throughout the country. His opinions are his own. He resides in Indianapolis and writes as a hobby. He paid for his own travel and hotel for this trip.

Honolulu, Hawaii Cathy L.




Kathy Griffin’s New Year’s surprise And Gus Kenworthy has some fun in Palm Springs By BILLY MASTERS

Kathy Griffin wed her longtime boyfriend Randy Bick on New Year’s Eve. Photo by kathclick

“This is 20/20.” — Cheri Oteri rings in the New Year as Barbara Walters alongside a stoic Andy Cohen and a giggling Anderson Cooper on CNN. I’m a lot like Tina Turner. Now, the obvious question to ask is, “How, Billy, are you like Tina Turner?” Sometimes I like my life to be nice and easy; but sometimes, I like it to be nice and rough. I was thinking - what would be a good challenge for this, the dawn of a new decade? Then it hit me — we’ve got 50 states in this country (more or less), and we’ve got 50 weeks in a year (more or less). So, why not try and have sex with a guy from a different state each week. I’ve built in a lot of conditions for this challenge. First off - none of this has to be done alphabetically. Also, layover sex in an airport definitely counts. However, the guy and I don’t need to have sex in the state in question. But since I’m a stickler for details, IDs should be consulted - even at certain gatherings where clothing is not required. Come to think of it, on a good night I could cross like a baker’s dozen states off the list if I’m lucid enough to keep track. Let’s see how this goes - and how often I need to go to urgent care. Kathy Griffin didn’t need a gig on New Year’s Eve to make headlines. Forget about CNN and ABC. Kathy had a captive audience watching her ring in the New Year from her palatial home, where she GOT MARRIED! Yes, Griffin married her on-again/off-again beau Randy Bick. To make it a truly gayla affair, the officiant was the legendary Lily Tomlin, while Tomlin’s spouse, the great Jane Wagner, was a witness. It’s not God, but it’s close. I wonder if Russell Tovey and Steve Brockman will become the Colton Haynes and Jeff Leatham of 2020 (there’s a chance many of you reading this would not be able to identify any of those four people in a police lineup). Tovey and Brockman were dating in 2017. They got engaged in 2018. Later that year, they broke up (perhaps that coincided with news of Brockman’s gay porn past going public). Last year, they started dating again. And as the year drew to a close, they were once again engaged. Looking forward to more drama with those crazy kids in 2020. Gus Kenworthy has no use for kids. He’s courting an older crowd. How much older? In the words of Mame Dennis, somewhere between 40 and death. Gus was recorded meeting a group of

three gay men who are denizens of God’s waiting room, Palm Springs (Fort Lauderdale is God’s parking lot). When shown a photo, the men seemed unsure who Gus was. One said, “Who was that Olympic skier? Adam Rippon’s friend. Chuck Helmsworthy?” In the words of Jesus’ parents - Oy! Once Gus was correctly IDed, he came out to meet the oldsters, who were quite smitten - after all, Kenworthy is both dashing and delightful. Well, that and as one guy kept pointing out, he’s got those thighs and that ass. Check out this fun video on BillyMasters.com. As 2019 drew to a close, we lost a giant among men - the legendary composer Jerry Herman. It’s interesting to note that 2019 began with the death of Herman’s dear friend and muse, Carol Channing. I don’t think Jerry would want us to remember him by mourning. He’d want us to celebrate life — something he did in all of his musicals. And the fact that he was diagnosed as HIV-positive in 1985 and lived 34 years proves something. So long, dearie. Our first “Ask Billy” question of the year isn’t particularly gay, but it amuses me. Frank in Detroit asks, “Have you seen the ‘Mad About You’ reboot? I love it – but where is Fran?” I love it too. The chemistry between Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt is perfect, as is the writing. A hallmark of the original sitcom was the quirky supporting characters. I’m glad to see Ira, Lisa and Mark back. As to Fran, actress Leila Kenzle (who played the role) gave up acting a few years ago and is now a psychotherapist. The irony is Fran’s onscreen husband, Mark, is now married to Tonya, who is, you guessed it, a therapist! If the studio just matched Leila’s hourly rate, they could probably get her to do a cameo. When someone charging an hourly rate is NOT the subject of a blind item, it’s definitely time to end yet another column. While I get my agent on the phone, let me remind you to get the latest gossip (and casting ideas) at www.BillyMasters. com - the site that has nothing against you doing it on the couch. If you have a question for me - or if you’re an Alaskan visiting Los Angeles for the weekend send an e-mail to Billy@BillyMasters.com and I’ll get back to you once I’m south of the Mason-Dixon Line. Until next time, remember, one man’s filth is another man’s bible.



House committee advances marijuana bill The House Small Business Committee is waiving jurisdiction over the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act (HR 3884), making it the second House committee in the 116th Congress to advance legislation to end federal marijuana prohibition. “With this action, the MORE Act is one step closer to becoming the first bill to end cannabis prohibition to pass the House of Representatives,” said NORML Political Director Justin Strekal. “Never have we been closer to ending federal marijuana criminalization. Thanks to the work of the Small Business Committee and Chairwoman Velazquez, the emerging legal cannabis industry will ultimately become more inclusive to small businesses and entrepreneurs.” The MORE Act would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and incentivize states to facilitate the expungement of criminal records related to low-level marijuana offenses, among other changes. The bill passed in the Judiciary Committee on November 20th with a bipartisan vote of 24 to 10.

Youth survey shows little change in cannabis use ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Annual survey data finds that self-reported marijuana use by young people has remained stable since 2012 when the first two states enacted adult-use cannabis legalization. According to the Monitoring the Future report published in 2019, the percentage of young people reporting lifetime cannabis use, annual use, and use within the past 30 days has changed little since 2012 and remains well below 1999 levels. However, among those adolescents who report using cannabis, a greater percentage than ever before are vaping it. Teens’ self-reported use of alcohol and several other controlled substances continues to be at record or near-record lows. By contrast, the percentage of 8th and 10th graders nationwide reporting

having consumed cannabis daily has risen since 2012, particularly among 10th graders. In July, an assessment of data compiled by the Youth Behavior Risk Survey reported that there has been an overall decline in self-reported marijuana use by young people residing in states that have regulated the substance for either medical or recreational purposes.

Adult-use marijuana laws associated with less binge drinking CORVALLIS, Ore. — The enactment of adult-use cannabis access laws is associated with decreasing rates of binge drinking by college students ages 21 or older, according to data published in the journal Addictive Behaviors. Researchers affiliated with Oregon State University compared selfreported drug and alcohol use among nearly one million college students over ten years (2008 to 2018). They reported that binge drinking prevalence among those between the ages of 21 and 26 fell by ten percent in jurisdictions where adult-use cannabis access was regulated as compared to other states. Investigators reported no increase in the use of any controlled substances other than marijuana, except for the use of sedatives by those under the age of 21. Authors concluded: “[F]or students ages 21 years and over, binge drinking decreased following RML (recreational marijuana legalization). ... We speculate that legalizing recreational marijuana use may temper this [increased alcohol use by minors after they reach the legal drinking age] effect, such that college students over the age of 21 who otherwise would have engaged in binge drinking continue using marijuana instead. ... [A] substitution effect of RML on college students’ binge drinking could have important public health implications.” Cannabis Culture news in the Blade is provided in partnership with NORML. Visit norml.org for more information.



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