Losangelesblade.com, Volume 4, Issue 5, January 31, 2020

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Photo by Daniel Sliwa

J A N U A R Y 3 1 , 2 0 2 0 • V O LU M E 0 4 • I S S U E 0 5 • 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



Issa uses Blade story in anti-gay attack on DeMaio Longtime hostile politico says he sticks by the ad By KAREN OCAMB & BRODY LEVESQUE In a blistering editorial, The San Diego Union-Tribune, California’s third-largest daily newspaper, criticized Republican former Rep. Darrell Issa for a homophobic attack ad against gay GOP political rival Carl DeMaio. The two are vying for the congressional seat vacated by longtime anti-LGBTQ Rep. Duncan Hunter, who resigned earlier this month after pleading guilty to a federal felony campaign corruption charge. “Darrell Issa should be ashamed,” the San Diego paper subtitled its Jan. 23 op-ed. “Political observers have always known that the open 50th Congressional District seat would be a hardball affair. The stakes are high and the candidates running have major differences. But former

Former Rep. Darrell Issa at a news conference defending his anti-LGBTQ campaign ad. Image via screengrab

Rep. Darrell Issa’s new attack ad targeting fellow Republican Carl DeMaio, the former San Diego councilman, and talk show host, is despicable. It’s nominally about who is the more devoted supporter of President Donald Trump and who is a bigger critic of illegal immigration. Yet the

two headlines from printed stories the ad shows aren’t about these themes. Instead, they both identify DeMaio as gay.” The ad uses images of two news article headlines, one from the Washington D.C.-based outlet The Hill and the other from the Los Angeles Blade. Both describe DeMaio as “gay.” “Clearly, Issa believes pointing out this fact about his opponent will help him win some voters in the 50th, which includes East County and most of non-coastal North County. It’s also clear he’s lost some of his humanity,” the UnionTribune scoffed. “Gay-baiting is unacceptable and unforgivable.” The specific Los Angeles Blade story cited in Issa’s attack ad called DeMaio “California’s gay GOP kingmaker,” referring to how state Republican candidates used DeMaio’s campaign to repeal the gas tax as a way to garner votes statewide. Ignoring DeMaio’s sexual orientation,

GOP gubernatorial candidates vied for his endorsement after he led the successful June 2018 recall of Democratic state Sen. Josh Newman of Fullerton over his vote for the gas tax. San Diego Republican Party Chair Tony Krvaric described the Issa ad as highly inappropriate. “We encourage all candidates to stick to the issues,” he told San Diego station KGTV ABC10 News Jan. 23. At a news conference, Issa defended the ad. “I certainly think that you should talk to The Hill and The Blade and ask them why they used those words, but the reality is those are real headlines talking about his real failures,” Issa said. “My opponent, for whatever reason, makes statements that have no bearing in truth and can’t be backed up. If we say something, we’re going to tell you what it’s attributed to.“ An effort by the Los Angeles Blade to reach Issa for comment was unsuccessful.

EQCA launches $1 million campaign for census outreach Some ads to appear on Grindr By KAREN OCAMB Los Angeles County’s population of 10,105,518 diverse people is roughly 300 people fewer than the entire state of North Carolina, according to the U.S. Census. LA County is also believed to have the second-largest LGBTQ population, behind New York City, but people are notoriously hard to count in this county as a result of language barriers and fear of the government. Loss of that count could have serious consequences through the reapportionment of congressional, state and school districts. “We could stand to lose anywhere from one to two congressional seats, and that primarily impacts areas like southeast Los Angeles and the South Central area, where African-American and Latino communities live,” LA County Supervisor Hilda Solis told the LA Times. LA County could also lose federal and state funding for much needed social and other public

EQCA Census ad Photo courtesy EQCA

services, which are allocated based on centers of populations with the perceived greatest need. That is of such great concern that Equality California Institute recently launched a $1 million outreach campaign to get LGBTQ people to participate in the upcoming U.S. Census. While there is no specific LGBTQ question on the census, there is a question about same-sex households and the congregation of LGBTQ people in such cities as West Hollywood, San

Diego, Long Beach, and San Francisco matter in appropriating resources. Equality California Institute’s campaign includes digital advertising on Facebook and Grindr and peer-to-peer text messaging — apparently the most effective way to engage with hard-to-count populations — to initially encourage LGBTQ people to pledge to participate and then send them reminders as the deadline approaches. There are also

10 regional LGBTQ census assistance kiosks, some specifically serving bilingual LGBTQs. Latino Equality Alliance is also partnering with Equality California Institute to run a census questionnaire assistance kiosk at Mi Centro in Boyle Heights. “The 2020 census is nothing less than a fight for our future — a future that values diversity and invests in the communities that need it most,” said Equality California Institute Executive Director Rick Zbur. “Too often, California’s diverse LGBTQ community is undercounted — which denies us power, representation and funding for programs that the most vulnerable members of our community need to survive. There’s far too much at stake to allow that to happen in 2020. LGBTQ Californians will be counted.” Census letters will be mailed out between March 12 and March 20. The questions include how many people in the household? What is the age, sex, race of each person? There are three ways to comply: mail back the form; call in the information in 13 languages; and fill it out online, also in 13 languages. Census Day is April 1.

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Zingale, longtime LGBTQ and HIV advocate, is retiring A journey for social justice and healthcare By KAREN OCAMB Daniel Zingale straddles the moment. In the background, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s staff is waiting to throw him a retirement party. But he is also keenly aware that he embodies the arc of LGBTQ history and is happy to linger to paint a rainbow story or two. Zingale, Newsom’s chief strategist and health policy guru, smiled at the connection between then and now. In 1996, as the Human Rights Campaign’s public policy director, he took the stage at an HRC get-out-the-vote rally on the mall and said, “It’s important to elect people who have a clue.” He then talked about watching the movie “Independence Day.” “That’s so ironic because I met Jeff Goldblum yesterday. He was here lobbying on the plastics bill,” Zingale told the Los Angeles Blade by phone from Sacramento on Jan. 24. “I actually vividly remember seeing ‘Independence Day.’ What struck me was when they blew up the Capitol, the audience cheered. And now you think about that – it was sort of an ominous sign of the populist era to come.” Zingale, 60, is retiring to handle a health issue with a good prognosis and to be with his family – his partner, two children, two cats and a German Shepherd named Sparky -- a loving situation once considered unfathomable for LGBTQ people. “I came of age at a time when the AIDS epidemic was just emerging,” Zingale says. “It was just beginning to be a little safer for people to come out and not be instantly fired from their job and by their church and family, criminalized, victimized by violent crime and even by the police. Things were getting a little bit better on the LGBT front, thanks to the courageous leadership of those who came right before my generation.

Daniel Zingale and Maria Shriver Photo by Karen Ocamb

“But then we were hit with the HIV epidemic while I was still in college in the Bay area – and the Bay area was at ground zero. So within a very short period of time, many of my close friends were getting sick and dying before we really knew anything.” In 1980, Zingale got his first job as an intern in Gov. Jerry Brown’s office. Brown made history in 1979 appointing out Stephen Lachs as a Superior Court Judge and in 1980, appointing Rand Schrader to the Municipal Court. “He was really the only national political figure in America to embrace LGBT equality at that time,” says Zingale. [Sen.] Ted Kennedy was a close tie or a second.” In 1982, after graduating from Berkley, with Ronald Reagan as president and Republicans controlling the California Legislature, Zingale “fled the country” to live and work in Japan for two years at the Tokyo Shimbun newspaper and at an

international school teaching American studies to Japanese psychology students. “The AIDS epidemic was so mysterious and terrifying and the politics was so daunting, and there weren’t a lot of opportunities for someone like me who wanted to be involved in systemic change so I found a place of refuge,” Zingale says. He was also enlightened, experiencing “being in the minority, being different,” Zingale says, enabling him to reflect on what he missed about America. Zingale’s visiting mother also led to a lesson. She cut her hand during a bike ride and after she was stitched up at the hospital, she pulled out her credit card. “They were genuinely mystified as to why she was bringing out a source of payment,” Zingale says. “I remember thinking that’s one of those things that being an American -- we just assume that when you get care, you’re going to have to

pay something for it. And that was really an a-ha moment for me.” Coming home, adding his Japan journey to his pre-existing social justice framework inculcated in him by his parents “to challenge those things that struck me as unjust,” Zingale sought “to forge a path that would give me purpose in terms of advocating for people with HIV and AIDS, advocating for my LGBT community, and for others who were being systemically held back and held down.” That led to the Human Rights Campaign, to leading AIDS Action and the California Endowment and working for four governors. “I’ve been able to see the movement from the outside and the inside as both activist and policy advisor,” he says. “Right now, I’m just feeling enormous gratitude for having been able to play a role in some of that history, hopefully to have been a force of good at times.” Highlights – he’s had more than a few: the near passage of the Employment NonDiscrimination Act with author Sen. Ted Kennedy, Coretta Scott King and other legends of the civil rights movement; working with Gov. Gray Davis on enacting AB 205, the comprehensive domestic partners law that became a cornerstone for marriage equality in California; leading the development of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s health reform plan “which we recognize today in the DNA of Obamacare;” and creating the California Hall of Fame with First Lady Maria Shriver and inducting Harvey Milk, Billy Jean King, RuPaul and his dear friend, Dolores Huerta. “I am still learning and benefiting from Maria’s wise counsel to prioritize family and the simple things in life,” Zingale says. “Just today, she reminded me we can do that and still contribute to making the world a better place.” Most importantly, “I hope I’ve been a good mentor and opened doors,” Zingale says. “And now, honestly, I’m really excited about making space for others to have similar opportunities.”

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LA LGBT Center and LA County delay STD disaster Public health crisis averted but not fixed By KAREN OCAMB It’s right there on the front page of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health website in Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer’s welcoming message. “Public Health is committed to reducing health disparities through collaborations with a wide-range of partners. The Department strives to support policies, practices and programs that lead to healthier environments,” Ferrer writes. But Ferrer’s behind-the-scenes contract maneuvering is threatening to sicken the LGBTQ community during burgeoning epidemics of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). For over a year, the Public Health director and her team have been negotiating with the Los Angeles LGBT Center to provide continuous free STD and HIV testing, with the Division of HIV and STD Programs encouraging “sexually active people to get tested every 3 months.” But on Jan. 27, the Center went public with what they claimed was Ferrer’s disingenuous defunding of their vital free core testing services, contrary to explicit orders from the Board of Supervisors last year to maintain and even expand STD services to at-risk communities. Additionally, in a surprising break with public health precedent, after the new contract was issued, the Department of Public Health (DPH) announced that it will invoice community health partners for the County’s own lab costs. And, insult upon injury, they were told they would not be reimbursed for expenses going back to January 1, 2020. “For the Center, this means an additional $1.5 million of unfunded care that decimates almost the entire amount of funding provided by DPH,” the Center said in an angry press release. “This means the end of almost all free testing for gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis at the Center,

Getting tested at the LA LGBT Center Medical lab. Photo courtesy the Los Angeles LGBT Center

impacting an estimated 15,000 people.” “At a time when all of us should be redoubling efforts to end these epidemics, the Department of Public Health and Dr. Ferrer are turning their backs on the LGBT community and their duty to protect the public health of all Angelenos,” Los Angeles LGBT Center CEO Lorri L. Jean said in the Jan. 27 press release. “We demand the Board of Supervisors take immediate action to restore care to those who need it most.” “We do more testing and treatment work than all the County-run public health clinics combined and they are not required to hold bake sales to cover costs. We are,” Center Chief of Staff Darrel Cummings, a longtime LGBTQ healthcare expert, tells the Los Angeles Blade. At loggerheads over negotiations, the Center felt forced to pull the plug on free

testing. “As a result, starting tomorrow, the County will be responsible for ending almost all free STD testing at the Center, causing tens of thousands to go untested, undiagnosed, and untreated. This includes eliminating thousands of free HIV tests funded by DPH. At a time when we’ve made so much progress in the fight against HIV, this represents a direct assault on the LGBT community by DPH and Dr. Ferrer,” said Jean. Using the county’s own data, the Center reported that “[o]ver the last five years, there has been a 98 percent increase in primary and secondary syphilis; 81 percent increase in gonorrhea; and 25 percent increase in chlamydia cases in Los Angeles County. Alarmingly, the epidemic disproportionately impacts communities

hardest hit by health inequities and stigma, including young gay and bisexual men, women, people of color, and transgender people.” “The ripple effect of the thousands of people who will now go untested and untreated will have dangerous repercussions for the LGBT community and all of Los Angeles,” said Dr. Ward Carpenter, the Center’s co-director of Health Services. “As funding cuts choke off these services, STD cases in Los Angeles will soar and it will cost millions of additional dollars in testing and treatment. These changes are short-sighted, dangerous to the public health, and bad for the taxpayers of Los Angeles County.” One problem seems to be that Ferrer apparently lacks cultural competence, as if she’s the Betsy DeVos of public health. She seems unaware that healthcare services provided by the Center and other LGBTQ/ AIDS institutions exist because the need is great but minorities often do not trust government and government often ignores morality-laden problems mainstream society considers icky and controversial. Officially rejected as criminals by the federal and state governments, stigmatized LGBTQ people found ways to take care of themselves and each other after Stonewall and Gay Liberation. For instance, it was Hugh Rice, head of the LA Gay Community Center’s STD Clinic, who in 1979 first discovered what would turn out to be AIDS in gay men lined up for their antibiotic STD prevention shots. But unlike the usual gay bashings and grating ugly discrimination, AIDS was mysteriously fatal. Third District Supervisor Ed Edelman fought for County funding as AIDS decimated LA gays but it took ACT UP/LA to scream and rudely protest to get funding to help dying friends, lovers and family members a decade later. Ferrer seems to have no concept of that history or ongoing societal discrimination – nor does she seem to care. How else to explain her flouting HIV and STD Programs Director Mario J. Perez’s analysis and recommendations in his Oct. 9, 2019 memo regarding the County’s 2018 STD


Graphic of STDs Courtesy Los Angeles LGBT Center

Snapshot? For instance, his memo says methamphetamine use, “which is associated with sexual behaviors that increase risk for STDs, may be a driving factor in LAC’s STD epidemic.” His first recommendation: “Improve early detection of cases through testing of at-risk populations.” “We have been trying to work with Dr. Ferrer and DPH for more than a year to find strategic solutions to these issues. We have been sounding the alarm, yet, even as the devastating impacts of these funding changes became apparent, Dr. Ferrer has refused to meet with us directly. The Board of Supervisors needs to act immediately and take responsibility where Dr. Ferrer has failed,” said Jean. After the Center went public, the LA LGBTQ community screamed loudly and quickly. Like her Third District predecessors, out Supervisor Sheila Kuehl heard them. “I share people’s concern about this issue,” Kuehl told the Los Angeles Blade. “The high local rates of STDs are not acceptable, which is why I and my colleagues voted over a year ago to invest an additional $5 million of local resources to combat STDs. We only recently heard about these proposed funding cuts. We are working closely with the Center and the Department of Public Health to resolve the issue and ensure that the Center can continue to serve a vital role in the County’s system of free STD testing and treatment services.” But while appreciated, Kuehl, too, misses the point. “It’s important to understand that the funding and public health leadership has not kept pace with this rapidly growing epidemic period,” Cummings says, as if trying to quiet the scream in his own head. “Even when Sheila says, ‘We added $5 million last year,’ that’s really true and that was really good --but it was nowhere near the amount of money to meet the County-wide need.” The Jan. 27 public protest worked – but only, apparently, because the jammed phone lines meant Ferrer couldn’t stay on top of the first case of the “novel coronavirus” in LA. A critical temporary patch was put on the wound until the end of March but there’s no permanent solution. “The Los Angeles LGBT community saved the day. From phone calls to tweets and emails, their voices were heard and ultimately saved these vital services for our community,” Jean said in a jubilant press release. “It’s a potent reminder of


the strength, tenacity, and resilience of our community.” But how did this happen – in the middle of STD epidemics? It started with that 2007/2008 recession. The financial crisis had hard-to-fix ripple effects, though some feel that for Ferrer to cry poor more than a decade later with a $billion-dollar budget is more of an excuse than reality. Additionally, when Ferrer met with the Center a year and a half ago and claimed, “We don’t have any money,” the Center’s public policy staff put together a coalition and led the successful effort to get $17 million in the state budget specifically for STD services statewide. “They needed our help, so we swung into action,” Jean tells the Los Angeles Blade. Still, the Center got stiffed. “The County awards us an amount of money to do X number of testing and treatment services. Because we’re so good at what we do and because more and more people in our community increasingly want to come to us for these services, we blow through that contract ceiling about midway through the year,” Cummings explains. “And then we go back to the County and we ask this fundamental question, which we need to be asking them all the time, which is: ‘Do you want, as a public health function, to continue testing, diagnosing people and treating people or don’t you? Because if you do, there’s got to be more money to cover those costs.’ Every year they, one way or the other, have figured out how to put enough dollars, in addition to our contract, to keep this going -- even though we put more private dollars in every year, as well,” Cummings says. “So the original contract amount may stay the same, but the actual amount of money that the County has put in has increased incrementally over the years – but it has not kept pace with the epidemics.” In other words, the contract awards have been flat funded. But because of the epidemic, they blow their funding cap after six months. The County tells them to continue providing services, for which they are incrementally given more money each year. But it’s not enough. “Which is why we have started to subsidize those programs -- and now we’re up to the Continues on page 8



An STD disaster averted (for now) in LA County Continue from page 7

tune of over a million dollars,” says Jean. “We felt like, ‘Okay, we can handle a little bit of this,’ and we didn’t want to abandon our community because when we stop testing people for STDs, that means we’re also not catching new HIV infections, and we are catching two to three new HIV infections a week in this testing program,” Jean says. “80% of the people who we’re testing in this program are asymptomatic,” Jean says. “So that means that they don’t know that they have an STD, and if they couldn’t get tested with us -- because they trust us and they’re used to coming to us on a regular basis, they know it’s easy, they know it’s free, there’s no barrier, in and out, and they have peace of mind -- if they have to start now paying and if they have insurance, billing their insurance, all of those things, then they’re not going to get tested. They’re not going to have the same incentive and they’re going to be out there spreading disease.” Like AIDS in the 80s, it became another collision of dollars versus disease. “It was not financially sustainable to continue seeing so many more STDs that we were seeing, double the number of syphilis cases. Just crazy, crazy increases,” says Carpenter. “So we went to the Board of Supervisors and pled our case — which we believe is not just our case, but the case for the entire County of Los Angeles that we need to take better care of this looming epidemic — that they needed to step up in the County.” But about nine months ago came the new, inexplicable RFP (Request For Proposals). “The thing that put us over the edge this time is that for 40 years, the County has required us to submit sexually transmitted infection labs to particular providers because they are monitoring this as a public health disease control matter. And they have paid for those costs for 40 years,” Jean says. “This time, they put out the RFP -- they never said a peep in the RFP about 40 years of practice is going to change -- so we submitted our proposals based upon the presumption that it was going to continue as

Los Angeles LGBT Center CEO Lorri Jean at the opening of the Center clinic in West Hollywood. Photo courtesy Los Angeles LGBT Center

it has for 40 years. And there was nothing in the RFP that said it wouldn’t. So, we got our grant, and the crazy thing they did in this RFP is say only one site per organization. “So we’re like flipped out. What are we going to do? We’ve got West Hollywood and we’ve got the Jeffrey Goodman Special Care Clinic, and they both test the same amount of people. A ton,” Jean says. “So we chose to ask for funding for West Hollywood and we asked for a lot more than what we’d gotten before, because we knew that the Board of Supervisors was supportive of not only maintaining levels of service, but increasing them as the epidemics demand. And so we asked for what we thought was closer to what we really needed. And then we went to the bidder’s conference and we raised all these issues.” However, Jeans says, while the County staff admitted they didn’t realize the impact and acknowledged they’d made a mistake, “they’ve been unwilling to correct the mistake in all these conversations.”

The Center started making plans to shut down free testing services and go public, giving Ferrer ample warning. “We’re not going to go away with our tail between our legs. We’re going to take it to our community because we don’t think this is what the Board of Supervisors wants. We know this is not what our community wants. We know that this is not in the best interest of public health,” says Jean. DPH did not respond to several requests for comment from the Los Angeles Blade. But Cummings anticipated their rebuttal. “Barbara will rebut by saying that the center got a very sizable award this year and that is true,” Cummings says. “But here’s what’s important. They funded four different categories. The first category is core services. That is the actual testing and treatment. The way we do it now, low barrier testing and treatment. That, in fact, was cut more than 50% from what we received last year. The other three categories that were funded, and for us that is a funding in the

amount of 1.5 million, were for programs that have never been done before. So these are all good programs to be funded, but failure to find the core services makes everything else irrelevant.” In fact, Cummings says, “if you want to do a real comprehensive public health approach to a tremendous set of epidemics, then you employ all these things simultaneously --but you fund them properly. The answer to what is going on right now is dramatically expanding them. And then we employ a variety of other tactics and programs that increase our ability to reach people who need to be tested and treated. That will then stop the spread of the epidemics. “The right approach here is expansive and it’s comprehensive and it’s County-wide,” says Cummings. “But it is cheaper than letting these epidemics continue to soar as they are and it’s immoral as a public health matter.”



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According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the total number of those murdered by Nazis and their collaborators during the Holocaust was 17 million men, women and children: 6 million were Jews and 11 million were other ethnicities, including Soviets, Slavs, Poles and Ukrainians, Romanis/Gypsies (classified as enemies of the state, like Jews), the disabled – and homosexuals. No one really knows or seems to care how many LGBTQ people were killed, tortured, maimed or castrated, except, thankfully, the U.S. Holocaust Museum. “More than one million gay Germans were targeted, of whom at least 100,000 were arrested and 50,000 were convicted and imprisoned,” reports the Museum via Wikipedia. An estimated 5,000 to 15,000 gay men were imprisoned in concentration camps and died at high rates, according to a survivor. They were forced to wear identifiable pink triangles, as were those convicted of pedophilia and bestiality. But unlike other survivors liberated from concentration camps as World War II ended, gays were persecuted and re-imprisoned under Germany’s anti-gay law, Paragraph 175. Adding to the cruelty is the ongoing insult of erasure. On Jan. 23, world leaders gathered in Jerusalem to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz on Jan. 27, 1945, repeating the promise to “never forget,” except the homosexuals.

“Well, let me tell you something, if right doesn’t matter, if right doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter how good the Constitution is… If right doesn’t matter, we’re lost.” – House impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) in closing arguments on Jan. 23 during the Senate trial of President Donald Trump.

“These companies know that protecting their LGBTQ employees and customers from discrimination is not just the right thing to do — it is also the best business decision.” - Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos about the new 2020 Corporate Equality Index.

“So many of us are hurting right now. My condolences to the Bryant family & everyone that knew him. @kobebryant, your impact on our world goes way beyond a basketball court. #RIP #Mamba”

– Out basketball player Jason Collins in a Tweet after the shocking death of LA Laker star Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and 7 others in a helicopter crash in Calabasas on Jan. 26.





Do or die for Buttigieg in Iowa? Caucuses present key test for gay candidate’s viability By CHRIS JOHNSON With just days to go before the Iowa caucuses on Monday, all eyes will be watching to see which candidate claims the momentum going forward — and a win for Pete Buttigieg is all but essential. Buttigieg, the first viable gay presidential candidate, will need to win delegates in the Midwestern state near his home in South Bend, Ind., to show he can compete elsewhere in the nation. If he doesn’t pull it off, his case will be much harder to make. Spencer Kimball, a professor in political and sports communication at Emerson College, said a strong performance in Iowa is “vital to a Buttigieg candidacy, and likely for [Sen. Amy] Klobuchar as well.” “I think only one of them gets a ticket out of Iowa because they are both pulling from a similar voting bloc,” Kimball said. “Both need the momentum to catapult them onto the national stage as both are struggling nationally and in other early states.” Although Buttigieg was once polling well above his competitors in Iowa, the frontrunner status seems to belong to Bernie Sanders now. An Emerson College poll puts his support at 30 percent. As pointed out by Vox, three of the four latest polls have the Democratic socialist from Vermont as the favored candidate, while former Vice President Joseph Biden is the front-runner in the fourth poll. Meanwhile, Buttigieg’s ranking is now all over the place. The former South Bend mayor is second in the New York Times poll, with 18 percent support, but CBS and Suffolk polls put him in third, while the Emerson poll has him fourth place tied with Elizabeth Warren. (National polls, in contrast, have Biden in the front-runner position, where he has been since he announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination last year. Although Biden’s performance in Iowa polls, as well as New Hampshire, is comparable to other Democratic candidates, he’s polling well ahead of the pack in South Carolina, which has a greater population of black

Pete Buttigieg faces a crucial test on Monday as Iowans finally head to the caucuses.

voters.) One prominent Buttigieg fundraiser who talked to the Blade on condition of anonymity emphasized the critical importance of finishing first or second in Iowa and New Hampshire. The winner in Iowa will see a tremendous boost in fundraising overnight, leading to a big advantage moving forward, the source said. If Buttigieg fails to finish in the top two in those states, he will likely be forced to end his campaign before Super Tuesday, the source added. Keep in mind the Democratic primary contests aren’t winner-take-all like the Republican primary or the Electoral College. Each candidate will be allocated an amount of delegates proportionate to their wins on caucus night. But what makes the situation demanding is a candidate needs at least 15 percent of

support from caucus-goers at any particular site to remain viable. Any candidate with less than that won’t be scored by the Iowa Democratic Party to receive delegates in the presidential candidate nominating process at the upcoming Democratic National Convention. As a result, the winner of the most delegates at the end of the day may be the candidate whose campaign has the greatest ground game and is able to bring out supporters to the caucus. If Buttigieg can pull that off, he may have a strong performance at the end of the day. On top of that, the Iowa Democratic Party for the first time this year will report out the raw vote total for each of the candidates — both for the beginning and at the end of the caucus. Because a candidate needs to meet the 15 percent threshold to be viable, the numbers could be different at the end.

So that means three sets of results: A vote tally at the beginning, a vote tally at the end and the delegate count. As a result, three different Democratic contenders could claim victory when everything is said and done. Lyz Lenz, a columnist for The Gazette who was a moderator at the GLAAD presidential candidate forum in Iowa on LGBTQ issues, predicted caucus night is “going to be madness.” “It’s possible I’m going to be very wrong,” Lenz said. “But I think we will see a lot of confusion coming out of the caucuses. There will be three reported counts. And in a very tight race, that’s three ways for candidates to claim some sort of victory. So, on to New Hampshire and no one will have to think about ethanol for another four years.”



Longtime LGBTQ activist in Orlando dies An LGBTQ activist who played a lead role in the response to the 2016 massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., has died. Terry DeCarlo, the former executive director of LGBT+ Center Orlando, passed away on Monday from cancer. DeCarlo’s husband, Bill Huelsman, confirmed his death in a Facebook post. “I lost the love of my life last night,” wrote Huelsman. DeCarlo was the LGBT+ Center Orlando’s executive director on June 12, 2016, when a gunman killed 49 people and wounded 50 others at Pulse, a gay nightclub south of

downtown Orlando. The massacre, which happened during the club’s Latino night, was at the time the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. DeCarlo, along with Equality Florida CEO Nadine Smith and others, attended an emotional press conference at the LGBT+ Center Orlando less than 24 hours after the massacre. DeCarlo could barely speak when he told the Blade about what he saw when he and his husband arrived to the area in which Pulse was located roughly three hours after the massacre began. “It was just mayhem,” said DeCarlo. “You

had police and fire and the bomb squad and AK-47s. It was like a scene out of a movie.” Smith told the Blade that DeCarlo’s death is “heartbreaking news.” “Terry has been such a fixture in the community,” said Smith, noting DeCarlo was one of Equality Florida’s first employees. “His love and leadership in the aftermath of Pulse was how many came to know him, but he led organizations throughout the state for years.” The LGBT+ Center Orlando in a Facebook post said DeCarlo “helped the organization through its darkest times in 2016 and beyond.” MICHAEL K. LAVERS

Former LGBT+ Center Orlando Executive Director Terry DeCarlo Photo courtesy of DeCarlo’s Facebook page

Va. non-discrimination bill advances A Virginia House of Delegates committee on Tuesday voted 16-6 to advance a bill that would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s nondiscrimination bill. The House General Laws Committee passed House Bill 1663, known as the Virginia Values Act that state Del. Mark

Sickles (D-Fairfax County) introduced. “We are witnessing a wave of positive progress as LGBTQ-friendly legislation moves through the General Assembly,” said Equality Virginia Executive Director Vee Lamneck. “There is widespread, bipartisan support for the Virginia Values Act. We’re confident lawmakers will quickly pass this

legislation to protect LGBTQ Virginians.” The Senate General Laws and Technology Committee is expected to vote on a Senate version of the bill sponsored by state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) introduced. James Parrish, director of the Virginia Values Coalition, which supports the bill, is

encouraged by its progress in the General Assembly. “These nondiscrimination protections are critical to ensuring that LGBTQ people have the freedom to go about their daily lives with safety, privacy and dignity,” he said. PHILIP VAN SLOOTEN

Biden takes swipe at Sanders over Rogan endorsement In an increasingly heated Democratic primary just days before the Iowa caucuses, Joseph Biden took a not-so-veiled swipe at Bernie Sanders for accepting Joe Rogan’s support despite comments from the podcast host condemned as transphobic. Taking to Twitter, Biden drew on his comments he made as vice president when he called transgender rights “the civil rights issue of our time,” which stands in contrast to the Sanders campaign accepting Rogan’s support. An LGBTQ backlash against Sanders ensued after he promoted the Rogan endorsement on his Twitter account. Among those criticizing Sanders was Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David, who said, “it is disappointing that the Sanders campaign has accepted and

promoted the endorsement.” “The Sanders campaign must reconsider this endorsement and the decision to publicize the views of someone who has consistently attacked and dehumanized marginalized people,” David said. Among other things, Rogan in the past has said a transgender woman athlete is actually a man, has used anti-gay epithets before “retiring” them and compared a black neighborhood to “Planet of the Apes” before admitting the comments were racist. Amid the backlash, the Sanders campaign didn’t retract the endorsement or admonish Rogan for his comments, but instead defended the decision. “Sharing a big tent requires including those who do not share every one of our beliefs, while always making clear that we

will never compromise our values,” said Sanders national press secretary Briahna Joy Gray. Also defending Sanders is Christine Hallquist, the first openly transgender gubernatorial nominee of a major party. Hallquist, who unsuccessfully ran in Vermont in 2018, told the Huffington Post “there is a contingent of privileged white males and we need their votes.” Additionally, Hallquist said she plans on endorsing Sanders. Biden made the veiled criticism of Sanders as the two are locked in national polls as the front-runners for the Democratic presidential nomination. The Iowa caucuses on Feb. 3 will be key to seeing who has momentum going forward. None of other major presidential

Joe Biden criticized Bernie Sanders for accepting an endorsement from Joe Rogan.

candidates have been public in criticizing Sanders for accepting Rogan’s support, including gay presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg. The Blade has placed a requestwith the campaigns of Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren seeking comment. Andrew Yang’s campaign declined to comment. CHRIS JOHNSON

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NYC’s first lady working to aid homeless LGBTQ youth ‘Changing society’ by helping the most vulnerable By CHRIS JOHNSON If there were an award for the warmest person in public service, first lady of New York City Chirlane McCray could very well be the winner. With her welcoming smile and slow, relaxed manner of speaking, McCray has a gentle demeanor that would put any stranger at ease and perfectly matches her goal as first lady of New York City in making mental health a central priority. It also makes her an ideal spokesperson for the NYC Unity Project, a multimillion-dollar, citywide initiative she started to assist LGBTQ young people and their families, especially LGBTQ homeless youth. In an interview with the Blade last week at the annual meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, McCray said her personal experience was a major factor in promoting the initiative after she became first lady when her husband, Bill de Blasio, became mayor. “There was a big gap, from my perspective, in terms of what was needed in New York City for the populations that we serve,” McCray said. “I know a lot of this stems from my personal experience. I came to New York when I was 22. I identified as black feminist lesbian. I saw all around me young people, especially people of color, but young people of all ethnicities who are struggling to get their footing.” The city-wide initiative started in 2017 with an initial investment of $4.8 million to expand services for LGBTQ youth, including employment training, education, and transition-related health care for transgender youth. A subsequent $9.5 million investment provided drop-in center services, new training for family acceptance clinical practitioners, expanded peer supports for parents, and a family acceptance campaign for parents and family members of LGBTQ youth in New York City. “Unity was created to make sure that every single one of our [LGBTQ youth] — especially runaway and homeless youth, more than 40 percent of them identify as LGBTQ — make sure that they’re safe, that they’re supported, and

Chirlane McCray and Mayor Bill de Blasio Photo via Bill DeBlasio Flickr

they’re healthy,” McCray said. Previously, McCray said, no agency in New York City had jurisdiction over LGBTQ youth homelessness, but Unity changed that by centralizing the issue under the mayor’s office in City Hall. “It was important that we had an office in the mayor’s office or program that was located in City Hall to make sure that all of our agencies were involved in an appropriate way,” she said. “If it comes from the mayor’s office, it’s very different than [something] assigned to an agency.” A key component of Unity, McCray said, is “getting to the heart of why we have so many runaway and homeless youth,” which she said is due to family and community rejection. “We want to change society, and many families come from a tradition or religion or culture where this is just what they’ve heard and I’ve been taught and they don’t know anything else,” she said. “So we’re trying to help them.” Another component, McCray said, is working with clergy, which she acknowledged “has often been another force in rejection.” “We want those young people who do identify as being religious to feel that they are not being rejected by houses of worship,” McCray said. “And those are also sanctuaries for so many people, right?” McCray said Unity has a group of 50 to 100

clergy members who are having conservations with families of LGBTQ youth and have taken a pledge to affirm them in houses of worship. One recently announced component of Unity is NYC Unity Works, a first-in-the-nation program that seeks to ensure LGBTQ young adults, including LGBTQ homeless youth, attain basic work skills and paid training opportunities. “Some of these kids, they’ve dropped out of school, because they don’t have family that they’re close to,” McCray said. “They are not able to get their GED or finish high school or go to community college because they can’t afford to do it, or they don’t know how to do it, and that’s what Unity is all about.” Carl Siciliano, executive director of the Ali Forney Center, which provides beds and meals to LGBTQ homeless youth in New York City, is among those praising McCray for her leadership in the Unity project. “We look forward to our continued work together to ensure that our LGBTQ young people are cared for through mental health services, the addition of desperately needed beds, and through ensuring providers are culturally competent and responsive to the unique needs of our youths,” Siciliano said. Asked for specific instances of success under Unity in helping LGBTQ youth, McCray said she doesn’t have specific numbers, but maintained

the program is working with thousands of families as part of an administration-wide effort in the city government. “So this is not the province of just the Unity project,” McCray said. “We’re working across the administration, with all of our agencies. Many agencies are doing the work of reaching out, because you don’t know [on] whose doorstep someone may turn [up], and it’s important that everybody is doing the work of identifying.” McCray said LGBTQ youth, for example, may seek help through the Administration for Children’s Services in the foster care system and “they have a way to get connected to what we’re doing to support them.” “That’s one of the highlights of this administration is working across agencies, so everyone feels like it’s their responsibility, not just the Department of Education or ACS, it’s everyone’s responsibility to make sure that these young people are safe and supported,” she said. Asked whether she had spoken to other mayors outside of New York City about Unity at the annual meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in D.C., McCray said her focus had been on giving speeches at the event. But in the past, McCray said she had spoken about Unity to mayors in California and New Hampshire as well as to London Mayor Sadiq Khan. “I will say that I talk about Unity. I also talked about work with mothers who are incarcerated, which sounds like, oh my God, these are two [different things], but it’s all related,” McCray said. “It’s about bonding. It’s about bonds with family. It’s about how do we keep people intact because human connection is the essence of what life is about.” Considering McCray said she based Unity on her experience of coming to New York City as a “black lesbian feminist,” one might have questions about her marriage to de Blasio. McCray said she still identifies as a member of the LGBTQ community. “I do! I do!” McCray said. “I’m married. As one of my very good former colleagues says, ‘I’m married I’m not dead.’ I love my husband. He is my soul mate, but nothing is lost, right? Nothing was lost.”



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Iowa voters will finally get their say But it’s time to end their first-in-the-nation say

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

Time to stop looking at the polls and find out who voters will caucus for in Iowa on Monday, Feb. 3. Let me be clear: I think both Iowa as the first state to vote in the Democratic primary, and all caucuses, need to be placed on the dust heap. Nevertheless, here we are. Since no one has voted all we have is polling, and caucus polling is extremely hard to do and not reliable. It appears four candidates have a shot at winning Iowa: Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg and perhaps less likely, Elizabeth Warren. Five Thirty Eight has Sanders up as of Jan. 25. A USA Suffolk University poll has Biden up by 6% The New York Times poll has Sanders up by 7% with 40% of voters saying they could still change their minds and a margin of error for the poll of nearly 5%. No one knows if it will make a difference that Biden and Buttigieg have extra time campaigning in Iowa while Sens. Amy Klobuchar, Warren and Sanders are sitting through the impeachment trial. Or whether the president’s team focused on trashing Biden at the trial will hurt or help him. Once Iowa votes the guessing game turns to what it will mean going forward for the winners and losers. Whose campaign will be on life-support if they don’t win? Who can survive a loss and move on still having a realistic hope of being the nominee? For some the stakes are higher than for others. If Klobuchar would come from the middle of the pack to be one of the top three finishers it would give her a tremendous lift and the headlines will scream “look at her.” If Sanders wins they will say he has come all the way back from his heart attack and is the man to watch. If Biden wins they will say with his strength in the Super Tuesday primary polls he is now the presumptive nominee. If Buttigieg wins he will be hailed as the young hero and the media will look to New Hampshire and question if he wins there will it make any difference in any Super Tuesday state where he currently polls at less than 8% everywhere. If Warren were to win it would recharge a candidacy that seems to be going downhill.

What if they lose? If Sanders doesn’t win Iowa it will be said his surge is over and it looks like he will see the same result as 2016. If Klobuchar gets some delegates but is not in the top four she will continue in the race but it will be accepted it’s only for a chance to be the vice presidential candidate. If Buttigieg loses it will most likely be the end of the line for his hopes of winning the nomination. He will have the money to go on for a while but his problem will be many supporters will move on to new candidates. He recently didn’t win the endorsements of any of the three LGBTQ political clubs in New York and it is reported the lesbian mayor of Chicago is considering endorsing Bloomberg. Rufus Gifford, the gay former ambassador to Denmark and finance director of President Obama’s successful campaigns, recently endorsed Biden. If Biden loses, the media will start asking about whether his leads in the South will hold up or whether Bloomberg’s billions will eat into those leads. But win or lose he moves on to Super Tuesday. If Warren loses it will signal her campaign is close to over. If there is no clear winner — if Warren, Sanders, Buttigieg and Biden all end up within a point of each other in Iowa, the game moves on to New Hampshire on Feb. 11 pretty much unchanged, except for maybe Biden who gets a positive boost because so many people anticipated by Iowa his campaign would fade. So even with a near win he will have shown he has staying power along with his big leads in the Super Tuesday states. I began this column suggesting Democrats continuing to allow Iowa to go first with a caucus is insane. The state is not representative of the Democratic primary voters nor the general election voters Democrats need to win. The state has sometimes proven it can make or break a candidate, but often the winner of the Iowa caucus either doesn’t become the nominee or if they do, goes on to lose the general election. Time to end the tradition of Iowa being first in the nation.

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Throwaway people in our midst ‘Just Mercy’ helps change the narrative on criminal justice

Rick Rosendall is a longtime LGBTQ activist and writer who contributes regularly to the Blade.

I recently met a grizzled panhandler who was cursing that nobody would hire him because of his criminal record. He told me that he slept in an alley, and pointed to a trashcan that he had searched four times that day. He was afraid of dying in the cold, but didn’t feel safe in homeless shelters, so he carried a knife. Why did that homeless man return to the same trash can several times a day? It was beside a stream of people who could afford to waste food. Not only was he familiar with the most promising trash cans, he knew the locations of several ATMs where kind souls could get him cash. Such is the life of a street survivor in our

throwaway culture. “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” So said Gregory Peck’s Atticus Finch to his daughter Scout in 1962’s To Kill a Mockingbird. His performance as the quintessential white savior defending a wrongly accused black man won him an Oscar and inspired many people to become lawyers. His halo was snatched away when Harper Lee’s novel Go Set a Watchman, published in 2015, revealed that Atticus served on the white supremacist Maycomb County Citizens’ Council. Speaking of points of view, Mockingbird was perfectly designed to make white people in the civil rights era feel better about themselves. Six decades later, there is more diversity among filmmakers. The current movie Just Mercy, starring Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx, which also concerns an unjustly accused black man, is partly set in Monroeville, Alabama, the real place that inspired the fictional Maycomb. This true story, however, is told from a black perspective. A black sensibility permeates the film.

The contrast between Bryan Stevenson’s meeting with the wrongly convicted man’s family and the comparable scene in Mockingbird is telling: in Just Mercy, the defense attorney is not just paying his respects but seeking input. In Mockingbird, polite Negroes are plentiful on the porch and in the courtroom balcony. In Just Mercy, black people are active participants: they have agency. The danger Stevenson faces as a black attorney from Harvard, just by being there and persisting, is palpable. The portrayal of the prisoners whose cells are next to that of Foxx’s Walter McMillian is as humane as I have seen. Stevenson says, “We have a system of justice that treats you better if you’re rich and guilty than if you’re poor and innocent.” According to the Equal Justice Initiative, which he founded, “Mr. Stevenson and his staff have won reversals, relief, or release from prison for over 135 wrongly condemned prisoners on death row and won relief for hundreds of others wrongly convicted or unfairly sentenced.” Reform is hard. As Paul Butler describes in Chokehold, “Ban the Box” policies “prohibit employers from conducting

criminal background checks until late in the application process. The hope was this would give people coming home from prison a better chance at landing an interview, but studies have shown that BTB policies have actually done more harm than good for black men. When employers don’t have actual information about whether people have a criminal background, they tend to assume that young African American men do.” Butler writes, “The truth is that the vast majority of black men have never committed a violent crime. It’s a stereotype that … can be supported by a selective view of the evidence.” The homeless, including former prisoners, transgender people, and veterans with PTSD, represent systemic failures, as in criminal justice. Filmic truth-telling like Just Mercy can further efforts like Stevenson’s to change the narrative. Things are not always as we imagine. If we stop throwing our fellow human beings away, all of our streets can better reflect the society we have long told ourselves we are.

Dale Dickey and Del Shores in rehearsal. Photo courtesy Shores

A playwright and his muse take us ‘This Side of Crazy’ Del Shores opens latest play with collaborator Dale Dickey By SCOTT STIFFLER

From the ease they have with each other, you can tell Del Shores and Dale Dickey go way back. Of course, he’s a playwright and she’s an actress that have worked together several times; but the sense of comfortable familiarity they share goes deeper than professional respect – although there’s plenty of that to go around, too. It’s the kind of connection only possible when there are so many common threads binding two people’s lives together that they are comfortable enough to finish each other’s

sentences. The Blade spoke to the pair recently ahead of the upcoming LA premiere of Shores’s latest play, “This Side of Crazy,” which opens Jan. 31 at the Zephyr Theatre in West Hollywood. The award-winning Texas-born Shores is best known for his play (and subsequent movie) “Sordid Lives,” which he later expanded into a prequel series for Logo and a sequel, “A Very Sordid Wedding.” Before that, he was a writer for shows like “Dharma and Greg” and “Queer as Folk,”

and his second play, “Daddy’s Dyin’, Who’s Got the Will?,” had already become an award-winning hit and spawned a movie adaptation. As for Dickey, she’s a familiar face thanks to a career that has included memorable appearances on TV (“My Name is Earl,” “True Blood,” “Breaking Bad”) and an Oscarnominated supporting turn in “Winter’s Bone.” Their latest project together is a play that sounds like it’s cut from the same cloth as “Sordid Lives,” in which a lauded

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gospel songwriter has promised a reunion appearance from her three adult daughters, once a beloved little-girl vocal trio (“little superstars for Jesus”), at a tribute concert dedicated to her music. The only problem is that the three women have been long estranged; the eldest still lives at home, the youngest is a lesbian atheist, and the middle girl (played by Dickey) is in a mental institution for “anger issues,” and the complicated circumstances of their past makes reconciliation not only unlikely, but possibly inadvisable. Their conversation with the Blade is below. Los Angeles Blade: How did your paths first cross? Del Shores: It was at a play, I think in ‘96, ironically at the Zephyr Theatre. It was a play by Horton Foote, and my friend who was in it, called me and said, “You have to come and see it tonight because Horton Foote is here and I know how much you love him.” So, I sat right behind Horton Foote – didn’t meet him, just soaked it in – and then this person flew on stage that played this crazy, drunk woman, and maybe five minutes into her performance I thought, ‘Who the fuck is that?’ Her work was just so truly mindblowing. Dale Dickey: Del was really complementary about my performance. He mentioned how much he appreciated having real southern people in his shows, and asked if maybe I would audition for him sometime. He was getting ready to do a revival of “Daddy’s Dyin,” and so I went and auditioned for him – and he cast me. And that was the beginning of that. It’s been like, 23 years, and this is our seventeenth collaboration. Shores: And by the way, that was the last time she ever had to audition for me. Blade: Dale is not the only one you keep

bringing back to your work. There’s a whole cadre of players that seems to gravitate toward your work. Why do you think that is? Dickey: I think almost all of us are from the South. Shores: Except for Bonnie Bedelia, she’s not really southern. And Olivia [NewtonJohn], of course. Maybe Southern Australia. I like it because they hear the same thing that I hear. They hear the same song, they’re from the same dirt. I write with them in my head and I don’t really have to explain much. We’re so in sync. Dickey: There are a lot of people who can play southern roles, who aren’t from the South, even though you know we all cringe when there’s a bad accent. But you know, I could do a Neil Simon play, and do well, or David Mamet – but I wouldn’t be the perfect choice, as opposed to someone who grew up in that part of the country. I grew up in Tennessee, which is kinda similar to Texas, in many ways, so Del’s writing is just in my make-up, it’s in my bones. Blade: So it’s more than just work that connects you. Shores: We have become family. We are all at each other’s houses, and functions, and holidays. We love each other. It’s the same thing in our gay community, sometimes we have to have a chosen family, or a ‘logical family,’ as Armistead Maupin says. I love that. Blade: Speaking of family, it sounds like you’ve created another outrageous one for “This Side of Crazy.” Shores: It’s another dysfunctional family, and this one’s really twisted and dark. Blade: You’re known for these over-thetop southern characters. Do you feel like they are exaggerations? Shores: I don’t feel like I’m exaggerating at

all, I really don’t. I think that people who are not from the South sometimes think that, but people who were raised in the South see my plays and they go, ‘Oh, no, no, that’s the way it is.’ ‘Sordid Lives’ has the most extreme characters, I think, of my plays, and I can’t tell you how many people write to me and say, ‘Oh, I have an Aunt Cissy, I have an Aunt LaVonda,’ or ‘Juanita’ was my mother.’ I honestly didn’t even think my family was eccentric until I wrote “Daddy’s Dyin,’’ and people were talking about “Del Shores’s eccentric family.” I was like, “Oh, they are?” Dickey: It’s heightened truth. Del’s plays have this high, high hilarity, and then boy, they just drop. That’s real life. Blade: Is that what we can expect from “This Side of Crazy?” Shores: It has comedy, like all of my work does, but it also has some very intense drama, like a lot of my work as well has had. What it comes down to, for me – there are certain crimes, certain sins, certain violations in relationships, where you have to ask, ‘Is forgiveness even possible?’ That’s what’s explored in this play. This woman has made a crazy promise, but there are these circumstances – it’s so extreme, these people should all probably never see each other again. They were all raised in the church, where forgiveness is a very big thing, but sometimes the circumstances are so severe that it’s almost impossible. My theory is that a lot of people fake forgiveness, and there’s a lot of festering going on within the hearts and souls of people, and this play allows those all to explode. Dickey: Very well put. Over the years, I’ve seen many families torn apart by tragedies, arguments, where they don’t talk to each other for years, and they suffer. People can suffer from that, when you cannot heal. It’s an important message.

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LA Blade Best Of awards sizzle 3rd annual celebration features burlesque, politics, drag and more By JOHN PAUL KING

Jeff Consoletti accepts the Pat Rocco Award at the Los Angeles Blade’s Best of LGBTQ Awards. Photo by Daniel Sliwa

An evening in the heart of WeHo is always dazzling, but last Thursday, there was an extra touch of sparkle in the air as the community gathered to acknowledge its best and brightest. For a remarkable array of West Hollywood’s most familiar faces and friends, the place to be was Rocco’s Tavern on Santa Monica Boulevard, for the third annual Blade Best of LGBTQ LA event, presented by the Ariadne Getty Foundation and PostMates in association with Chappy’s, Cadillac of Beverly Hills, Wheels, Casamigos, Gold Meets Golden and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. It was more than just an opportunity to reward the achievements of a few celebrated individuals – it became a celebration of the community itself. The crowd began to assemble early, for a red carpet and reception on Rocco’s patio, where the new local eatery and nightspot (voted by Blade readers in the Best of LGBTQ LA Awards as this year’s Best Neighborhood Bar) served up a hearty selection of meal-sized happy hour treats. Despite the sea of notable figures that were everywhere among the partygoers, there was no sense that this was one of those glitzy “see and be seen” events where people show up to mix and mingle with celebrities; rather, they blended with the rest of the crowd, joining their voices with the rest of the community in offering recognition, appreciation, and congratulations to the evening’s winners. The festivities themselves got off to a rousing start with a dance performance from the fabulously diverse Beauty of Burlesque show, who returned throughout the presentation with musical interludes and tantalizing stripteases. They were followed by host Miss Tosh, who gave the crowd a rousing rendition of “Don’t Rain on My Parade” before handing things off to Los Angeles Blade publisher Troy Masters to get the ceremony rolling.

Official announcements of the winners in the various categories, chosen in a poll of over 30,000 Blade readers, were interspersed throughout the night; Josh Johnson of InVision Church, which was voted winner in the Best House of Worship category, stepped up to fulfill that duty, while also putting his affable charm on display as the evening’s de facto MC. Each of the winning names was met with enthusiastic cheers and applause from the gathered audience. It was with the evening’s special awards, though, that the already-palpable spirit of community in the room became most powerful. The first such moment came when Masters took the stage to introduce Blade News Editor Karen Ocamb, who was presenting the Local Hero award to Runningbear Ramirez. Ocamb, who is herself being honored later this year with a Special Recognition Award at the GLAAD Media Awards, first introduced Michael Aguilera, the LA deputy assistant for Rep. Adam Schiff, whose district covers Burbank to West Hollywood. Ocamb led the crowd in a rousing ovation of gratitude for Schiff, who has been arguing the case for the impeachment and removal of President Donald Trump as the lead manager of the House impeachment team. Welcoming Runningbear to the community with the Local Hero Award, Ocamb was eloquent in her praise for the young Native American entrepreneur, activist and philanthropist, noting that his work includes a current association with Project Angel Food addressing the nutritional needs of Native Americans with diabetes. The Blade’s inaugural Pat Rocco Award was presented to Jeff Consoletti. The award is named for Pat Rocco, a pioneering filmmaker and activist who passed away at 84 in 2018. Besides producing a body of work, ranging from gay erotic short films to documentaries of the early gay rights movement, he was a pioneer in the local LGBTQ community who, among other leadership roles he took on, co-organized the very first LA Pride parade. The Los Angeles Blade has designed the honor to recognize an individual who has elevated the community while honoring the history and legacy of West Hollywood and LA Pride. As the first recipient of the honor, Consoletti was being acknowledged for his gamechanging efforts as the producer of LA Pride. Founder and principal of the events production company JJ|LA, he has worked with LA Pride for 10 years. The gig was the birth of JJ|LA, and since then he has built a roster of clients, from big brands to nonprofits and across multiple industries, and is known nationally for the events he executes. He now has offices in LA, New York and Boston. When he first came on board, LA Pride was struggling, suffering from problems with corporate sponsorship engagement, lagging ticket sales and a lackluster entertainment program. Nevertheless, his efforts shone through it all, and when the new LA Pride team of President Estevan Montemayor and Executive Director Madonna Cacciatore took the festival’s reins, Consoletti was there as an indispensable and seasoned hand. “We revamped the guest experience to create a clean, accessible and inviting event with eye-catching design and decor that got guests excited,” Consoletti told the Blade. “We took a deep dive into the entertainment program, identifying supportive allies and out and proud artists that could help to drive ticket sales and publicity opportunities to the shows. As audiences grew, so did corporate engagement. We looked to on board brands that wanted to showcase their support toward the LGBT community rather than billboarding, by encouraging immersive, guest-facing activations that got consumers excited.”



Grand finale New Pet Shop Boys album brings Berlin trilogy to satisfying close By CHRISTINA LAMBERT

“Hotspot,” Pet Shop Boys’ much-anticipated 14th studio album, was released last week on x2 Records/Kobalt. On this outing, which rounds out the intended trilogy of albums with producer Stuart Price (after 2013’s “Electric” and 2016’s “Super”), Neil Tennant (who’s openly gay) and Chris Lowe present us with a buffet of songs that are both fresh and familiar, hypnotic and pensive. “Hotspot” juggles living-in-the-moment anthems with narratives of wistful reflection. Giving us a little more mood than its two predecessors, but mercifully not straying too far into “Elysium” (2012) territory (that had many wondering whether Neil and Chris were calling it a day), “Hotspot” gives both casual PSB listeners and the endearingly dubbed “Petheads” plenty to celebrate. Peppered with nods to Berlin, opener “Willo-the-Wisp” is a pulsing lament on a former paramour trading reckless for respectable, much to the dismay of Tennant (“You were always such a free spirit/Aren’t you getting bored?”), whose candor and persistent yearning are underscored by the squealing sounds of the U-Bahn. Released last September, “Dreamland” is the first single, featuring a collaboration with synthpop band Years & Years. As the name suggests, “Dreamland” is a utopia-like, otherworldy place, a better, more welcoming place full of hope and promise. Delivered with a punchy groove, the weighty messaging and not-so-subtle lyrics around a “free land and they welcome everyone to stay,” “leaving all our worries behind” and not needing a visa to move freely alludes to the continuing global tensions around borders,

The Pet Shop Boys are NEIL TENNANT (left) and CHRIS LOWE. Photo by Phil Fisk

access and acceptance. Featuring Bernard Butler (Suede, The Tears, McAlmont & Butler) on acoustic guitar, “Burning the Heather,” as the melancholy second single, sees a misunderstood Tennant contemplating his life’s journey and where he might find himself next, which is anyone’s guess: “I am a stranger in this town but that’s as far as it goes and where I am bound no one knows.” The delicately haunting “Heather” is reserved in the tracklisting as the closing ballad (if you’re playing straight through and are not a “shuffle play” listener), artfully anchoring the end of the album in thirdact introspection. New single “Monkey Business” is all attitude, hyper-confidence and bloated self-importance (“people tell me I’m a legend round these parts”) but this track is pure disco-dosed fun, punctuated with hand claps and full of the-night-is-young optimism and antics with assuredly questionable consequences (“we’re gonna have a party where we all cross the line”). This wonderfully infectious song is what you’re playing on repeat as you’re mixing your Saturday night pregame cocktails. Weaving these singles together is an assortment of “all-the-feels” ballads such as “You Are the One,” so earnest in its declaration of love,

and “Only the Dark,” so atmospherically 1980s it could have been plucked directly from some beloved coming-of-age film; it’s an expression of tenderness and contentment, with Tennant sweetly reassuring “You’re all that I want/it’s all that I need/to be here with you,” and funky uptempo dance gems found in the ’90s-throwback bliss of “Happy People” and “I Don’t Wanna,” the stylistic counterpart to “Monkey Business,” even if the music belies the subject matter. Tennant’s subject is insecure, introverted and simply doesn’t wanna go dancing, but this song is absolutely meant to be danced to, perhaps he might come around? “Wedding in Berlin,” the final track, wraps up “Hotspot” with a positive message and a surprise appearance by Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March” but comes across as an uninspired effort without much lyrical or emotional depth. Without question, “Hotspot” is an overall win, an absolute treat to spend time with and a satisfying conclusion to their Price collaboration. No matter what direction they head next, Pet Shop Boys are still here, still relevant, still masters at balancing powerful pop with insightful message, here with a little more gravitas. Don’t sleep on this beautifully executed album.



Puerto Vallarta — what’s not to like? Reasonable, warm, easy to get to and gay friendly are attractions in Mexican resort spot By BILL MALCOLM

board, snorkel and swim on a great beach on the northern part of Banderas Bay. The trip leaves from the Marina Nuevo Vallarta. Book your adventure at vallarta-adventures.com. The Vallarta Botanical Gardens is a 50-minute bus ride down the coast and up into the mountains at 1,500 feet. It is a “dry season tropical forest” with lots of plants and trees. They feature tropical plants like the sun burn tree (the Gumbo Limbo) as well as swimming in the bottom of the canyon in the Rio Sendero. Have lunch at the fabulous Rooftop Restaurant featuring local fare. Don’t miss the Orchid Conservatory as well as the Vanilla Plantation walks. To get to the gardens, catch the El Tuito bus at Carraza at Aguacate Streets. The fare is around 40 pesos. There are several beach clubs on the beach catering to the community including the Blue Chairs and the Green Chairs (Ritmos). It’s never a dull moment as peddlers stop by try to sell you souvenirs. You can order lunch under the beach umbrellas as well as drinks. It makes for a great day. You can work out daily at The Fit Club which features day passes as well as longer-term pricing options.

Nightlife Puerto Vallarta offers a warm weather bargain and is exceedingly LGBT-friendly. Photo by Bill Malcolm

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico is the premiere LGBT resort in North America and winter is a perfect time to visit. It’s the dry season and temperatures are in the low to mid-80s every day. Your cost would be half what you would pay for a similar vacation in Florida. It’s on the Pacific Ocean on the largest Bay in Mexico and is a steal. The food is excellent with lots of seafood and Mexican dishes. And did I forget to mention that Tequila comes from a small town nearby of the same name? Nestled in the Zona Romantica (old town) is the LGBTQ district with its many charming hotels, bars and restaurants which are all steps from each other on cobblestone streets. Don’t miss the farmers’ market on Saturdays and Art Walk Wednesday nights. The Malecon, a sculpture-lined beach walkway, leads you to the Playa de los Muertos beach and pier. South of the pier is the gay beach.

What to do Sailing on Banderas Bay with Vallarta Adventures is a great way to see wildlife like the whale sharks, sting rays (which the locals call manta rays), pelicans, blue-footed booby birds (which dive for fish) and dolphins. Our sailing adventure stopped to paddle

I saw the fabulous Kim Kuzma at the Palms Cabaret who did her British Invasion show featuring songs from Annie Lennox, Adele and British singers and groups. You can see the show Tuesdays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. The cabaret is at 508 Olas Altas, the main street in the Zona Romanica (Old Town). Tickets at thepalmcabaret.com. Many of the bars are on Lazaro Cardenas Street including Mr. Flamingo (347 Lazaro Cardenas on Vallarta) and CC Slaughters. The others are down the street in the Zona Olas Altas including the Anonimo, a video bar which has three floors and great views of the street scene. Catch the nightly drink specials including the 50-peso Cosmos on Sunday. Then grab a slushie drink at the nearby Blondies Bar. Swedes Restaurant and Bar features Cosmos for 40 pesos all night Wednesday and also serves excellent food. Show your Palm Cabaret ticket for 15 percent off. Up the hill are two roof top bars located in condos but open to the public which feature great views of the sunset. They are the Pinnacle Rooftop Bar and The Signature Lounge both which feature great happy hours. Old Town has 32 LGBT bars that are quite varied.

Getting there I took Southwest Airlines via Houston on the way down and via Denver on the way back. American Airlines and Alaska Airlines also has service to Puerto Vallarta as does United.

From the airport, catch the city bus for just 10 pesos (50 cents US) to town (look for the sign on the window saying Centro or Tunnel). You will find the stop just to the left as you exit the airport.

Where to stay I stayed at the Hotel Mercurio in the heart of Old Town. The rates are reasonable and the rooms surround the pool which has a great bar and restaurant. Sundays is the beer bust (Beer, Boys, and Burgers) which also features a drag and a strip show from 4-7 p.m. Happy Hour starts daily at 3 p.m. Book your room at hotel-mercurio.com. They also have a swim suit store. Even if you can’t stay there, stop by for a meal or drink or to buy a swim suit. You will find them and Francisco Rodriugez no. 168. I have also stayed at the 50 Callejon del Amendro condos (book at pvrpv.com which also offers other condos such as the V399 where my friends stayed). Other options include the La Terraza Inn and The Almar Hotel although the latter apparently now has a $8 resort fee. (I boycott hotels with such surcharges.)

Where to eat Daiquiri Dicks has great views of the beach as well as excellent Mexican and American Food. Barra Light features great salads and fresh carrot juice. Dees Coffee near the Pier and Vallarta Coffee Roasters both have excellent coffee drinks. The Hotel Mercurio has the best breakfast in town. The selection varies daily but is authentic local fare. My favorite was the beef picadillo, a beef hash with vegetables and lots of spices. Plus, the fresh fruit which included papaya.

Travel tips Puerto Vallarta is a bargain. Food and drinks are about half what you would pay at home and the hotels are much cheaper than other warm weather destinations. There are around 18 Mexican pesos to the dollar. One hundred pesos equals around $5. (Drop the zero and divide by two to go from pesos to dollars). Your ATM card will work in Mexico. Use it at the banks for the best rates. Pick up a copy of Gay PV or read it on line (gaypv.com). They also have a Gay Guide (gayguidevallarta.com). Out and About Puerto Vallarta (O&APV) is the monthly magazine filled with adventure ideas. This was my third trip to Puerto Vallarta and it won’t be my last. Bill Malcolm’s LGBTQ syndicated value travel column is run by publications around the U.S.


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The Blade’s Best of LGBTQ LA 3rd annual event brought VIP crowd to Rocco’s ALL PHOTOS BY DANIEL SLIWA Miss Tosh and her Beauties of Burlesque take to the stage at Los Angeles Blade’s 3rd Annual Best of LGBTQ LA Awards.

Tyler Booth, winner of Best Bartender

Los Angeles Blade’s Beverly Sparks and Washington Blade Editor Kevin Naff.

The Game Changer Award was presented to NFL Player Jeff Rohrer (center) by Charley Walters (left) of Gold Meets Golden and Joshua Vine (right), founder of Wheels and Wag.

Mirel De La Torre (left), Abbey assistant general manager, Abbey owner David Cooley and Todd Barnes (right), Abbey general manager

Los Angeles Blade Publisher Troy Masters with Runningbear Ramirez as they are introduced to the stage.

Vignesh Ganapathy, Head of Government Relations at Postmates Inc., addresses the crowd and introduces Hero Award presenter and Los Angeles Blade News Editor Karen Ocamb.

Howard Bragman, famed Hollywood publicist, greets Karen Ocamb.


More than 300 people were in attendance at Rocco’s.

West Hollywood Mayor Lindsey Horvath thanks Los Angeles Blade for her Best Public Official Award and greets Mike Aguilera of Congressman Adam Schiff’s office, the event’s Editor’s Choice honoree.

AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s Ged Kenslea accepts the Best Healthcare Provider Award as Kay Sedia and Freeda Lay look on.

Washington Blade Editor Kevin Naff, Blade Foundation Representative Lee Granados and Los Angeles Blade Sales and Marketing Director Stephen Rutgers

AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s Miguel Ortiz, Los Angeles Blade Representative Roman Navarett and trans activist Desiree Jade Sol

Jeff Consoletti accepting the Pat Rocco Award as LA Pride President Estevan Montemayor and LA Pride Executive Director Madonna Cacciatore observe.

Eva Ziegfield entertains the crowd

Publisher Troy Masters, Local Hero honoree Runningbear Ramirez and Richard Ayoub, executive director of Best Non-Profit winner Project Angel Food.

Publisher Troy Masters thanks Miss Tosh



Not again! Aaron Carter nude pics surface And the gay porn awards return to Vegas By BILLY MASTERS

Nude photos of Aaron Carter have surfaced. Again.

“Man dies after getting attacked by his rooster on their way to a cockfight in India.” It may only be January, but we have a contender for best headline of 2020. I barely know who Calum Scott is, and yet I identify with him. The “Britain’s Got Talent” winner took to social media to discuss his weight fluctuation whilst on the road. He posted three shirtless pics from his 2018 tour which were only weeks apart but showed a drastic difference in definition. He added “I always yo-yo with my weight because I love wine and carbs but I learned that that’s ok. It’s about making sure you train hard and eat well, then the treats are well deserved. Who is getting fit in 2020?” He had me till he mentioned training hard and eating well! The U.S. Navy is investigating a series of videos of sailors taken in a bathroom. Allegedly, dozens of service members were surreptitiously videotaped. The theory is that the videos were taken through a peephole...shades of Erin Andrews. Of the sailors still in uniform, some have their name badges clearly visible. The videos also include some civilians - which begs the question, where is this bathroom with civilians frolicking with nude sailors? Speaking of gay porn, the hottest ticket in Las Vegas last week was the GayVN Awards - the most prestigious gay porn awards show. Once again, gay porn stars hit Sin City for a sexy, swanky event at the Hard Rock. Although I was once again a judge for these festivities, I wasn’t able to make it to Las Vegas. Still, I’m happy to report that many of my choices ended up winning. The show even managed to make history. DeAngelo Jackson won Best Actor - making him the first gay African-American actor to win such an award. Closer to home, there was a special revival of the camp classic “Women Behind Bars” staged at the Montalban Theatre in Los Angeles. Some of my younger readers may not know that this play was written by Tom Eyen - who also wrote the book for the musical “Dreamgirls.” My older readers probably remember this play from the legendary 1976 New York production starring Divine (who also brought the show to London the following year). I was delighted to see that one of the original producers - Alan Eichler - was a producer for this revival. The all-star cast included a surprisingly skillful Traci Lords, a scene-stealing Miss Coco Peru, and the legendary Mink Stole playing twins! I’d be remiss if I neglected to mention the presence of gay porn star Wesley Woods, who showed off some stage skin - and his penis. One of the performances was filmed - and that show was introduced by Kathy Griffin. We’ll keep you posted on where and when you can see it. In the meantime, you can check out Wesley’s wood on BillyMasters.com. Here we are, at the end of January 2020, and I haven’t published a celebrity nude OR an “Ask Billy” question. Well, brace yourselves - we’ve got one of each this week. First up, Aaron Carter. Last year, there was that quickie webcam glimpse we got of his nether regions. This year, a series of four shots of his penis at full staff surfaced - and I swear it has nothing to do with the Navy. But you can salute it at BillyMasters.com. Our “Ask Billy” question is about a subject I’d been following. Mark in Boston writes, “On Gavin Degraw’s podcast, Julianne Hough’s husband Brooks Laich recently said that he is taking a break from their marriage to ‘really dive into his sexuality’. WTF? He’s really hot, so if you have any nude photos, that would be great, too.” You may recall last year, Julianne defined herself as “not straight” - and I will once again remind you that this “not straight” woman once dated Ryan Seacrest...who I always thought was using Julianne to get to Derek, but that’s another story. Recently, Julianne’s hubby, hockey player Brooks Laich, posted on Instagram some of his goals for 2020: “I want to learn more about intimacy and my sexuality.” Perhaps he should call Ryan...or Derek. Needless to say, his comment to Degraw (on the podcast they co-host) didn’t surprise me. I wouldn’t be surprised if at the end of his exploration, he learned that he’s just a little bit gay. Still, I don’t think that’s a deal breaker for Julianne. Alas, no nudes have surfaced thus far. But he’s hot enough shirtless for me to run some of those pics on BillyMasters.com. When Julianne could possibly be someone’s beard...again, it’s definitely time to end yet another column. Check out the latest news and nudes on www.BillyMasters.com the site that’s a sure thing. If you have a question, send it along to Billy@BillyMasters. com and I promise to get back to you before one of those nude sailors competes on “Dancing with the Stars.” So, until next time, remember, one man’s filth is another man’s bible.



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Federal marijuana prosecutions declining: report Federal prosecutions for marijuana-related crimes fell significantly from 2018 to 2019, according to a recently released report from Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. The 2019 end-of-year report finds that the number of federal defendants charged with cannabis-associated crimes declined by 28 percent from Sept. 30, 2018 to Sept. 30, 2019. By contrast, total filings for drug crimes increased five percent over the same time period, totaling over 83,000 cases in 2019. Separate data compiled by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in July reported a decline in DEA-led marijuana seizures in 2018, but also showed an uptick in DEA-related arrests for marijuana violations. State-level arrests for marijuana violations have increased year-over-year since 2016, according to annual data reported by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation.

HIV patients see neuroprotection from cannabis SAN DIEGO — A history of cannabis use among people living with HIV is associated with a lower likelihood of neurocognitive decline, according to data published in the Journal of Acquired Immunity Deficiency Syndrome. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego assessed the association between cannabis use, neurocognitive impairment, and verbal and learning performance in patients with HIV and non-using controls. Investigators reported that HIV patients who used cannabis were significantly less likely to experience neurocognitive impairment as compared to those patients who had no history of marijuana exposure. They concluded: “Our findings present evidence that cannabis exposure was associated with lower odds of NCI (neurocognitive impairment) in the context of HIV. ... Our results are consistent with the idea that under some circumstances, cannabis might be neuroprotective.”

Cannabis aids sleep in pain patients: study HAIFA, Israel — The use of plant-derived cannabis is associated with improved sleep among older patients with chronic pain, according to data published in the journal BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care. A team of Israeli investigators examined the association between sleep problems and cannabis use in older (50+ years of age) chronic pain patients. A total of 128 patients were enrolled in the study. Of them, 66 used medical cannabis for at least one-year. Sixty-two were non-users. Researchers reported that cannabis use was associated with an overall “positive effect on maintaining sleep throughout the night.” They concluded: “This study is among the first to test the link between whole plant MC (medical cannabis) use and sleep quality. ... Our findings showed that MC patients were less likely to report problems with staying asleep compared with non-MC patients, independently of potential confounders. ... This suggests that MC may have a sleep-promoting characteristic in terms of minimizing awakenings during the night. ... These findings may have large public health impacts considering the aging of the population, the relatively high prevalence of sleep problems in this population along with increasing use of MC.” Cannabis Culture news in the Blade is provided in partnership with NORML. For more information, visit norml.org.

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