F E B R U A R Y 0 7 , 2 0 2 0 • V O LU M E 0 4 • I S S U E 0 6 • A M E R I C A’ S LG B TQ N E W S S O U R C E • LO S A N G E L E S B L A D E . C O M
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04 • FEBRUARY 07, 2020 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Changes to make voting easier this year And there’s an app for that By KAREN OCAMB Every election cycle politicos beseech voters to get to the polls for the most important election of their lives. And those elections have been important, flipping the House of Representatives from Republican to Democratic control in 2018, for instance, putting the Speaker’s gavel back in the hands of San Francisco Rep. Nancy Pelosi. The 2020 elections are even more critical, not only the general election in November where Donald Trump is seeking re-election but the primary where Democrats pick Trump’s opponent, as well as six contested congressional seats to help determine which party controls the House. Additionally, LA County will elect the next
District Attorney, three seats on the Board of Supervisors, seven LA City Council seats, and several important initiatives are on the ballot, including one regarding rent control. This year the primary will be held on March 3, moved up from June, and will have a number of changes to the voting process. For the first time, voters in Los Angeles County and Orange County can go to any regional polling place,
instead of having to go to the usually assigned neighborhood polling spot. Voters can find a convenient polling location on a map at the L.A. County Registrar’s website, www.lavote.net. Also new - some voting centers will be open for four days (Feb. 29 - March 3); others will be open for 11 days (Feb. 22 to March 3), according to a Voter Game Plan, developed by LAist. Voters can “get help in multiple languages, replace a lost or damaged ballot, and register to vote or change your voter registration sameday.” Voting itself is also different, using new tablet computers, similar to an iPad, and there is an app enabling voters to pre-select choices with a code to scan to print the ballot and double check before officially casting the ballot. Earlier voting has already started. The deadline to request a vote-by-mail ballot is Feb. 25. Other important reminders: when voting
for president, the options are limited to the political party for which the voter is registered. For instance, registered Democrats will only be able to select among Democratic presidential candidates. IMPORTANTLY: for the many voters registered as No Party Preference (California’s second largest voting bloc), NPP voters must request a ballot to vote for the Democratic Party, American Independent Party, or Libertarian Party presidential candidates; the Republican Party only allows registered Republicans to vote in their primary. If a No Party Preference voter has not yet received information on how to get a vote-by-mail ballot with preferred presidential candidates on it, get information at vote.ca.gov. Voters can change political party affiliation or update or re-register to vote at: registertovote.ca.gov.
LAPD told to develop hate crimes prevention tools Council calls for increased security and hotline By RANCE COLLINS On Jan. 30, former delivery driver Joshua Ebow, 30, was charged with several felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon and battery in what the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Offices believes to be a series of hate-motivated attacks against the LGBTQ community over the 2019 holidays. The charges underscore a recent report by the Los Angeles Police Department showing that hate crimes were up 19 percent in 2019, a rise for the fourth year in a row. On. Feb. 4, the LA City Council passed a Public Safety Committee report that instructs the LAPD to develop prevention tools and work to decrease hate-motivated crimes. “We will not give in to fear or cynicism. We will not accept this as the new normal,”
Los Angeles City Council member DAVID RYU and wife REGINA YOUNG. Blade photo by Karen Ocamb
Councilmember David Ryu said in a statement. “We will stand together, across communities and across neighborhoods, as one of the most diverse cities on Earth and make Los Angeles a national leader in hate crime prevention.”
The fight for prevention legislation began in 2017, when Ryu, with councilmembers Paul Koretz, Bob Blumenfield and Mitch Englander responded to hate targeting the LGBTQ, Jewish, African American and Muslim communities. In 2019, Ryu launched the Hate Crime Security Fund to provide grants to institutions in the Fourth Council District susceptible to hate crimes. Koretz, a longtime LGBTQ ally, says the approach is multi-faceted, including more protection for religious centers, such as mosques and synagogues, and vulnerable cultural centers. “The first [step] is shoring up physical infrastructure security at institutions. The second is closing the gap of communication with law enforcement and relevant agencies. The third is educating our community on a regular basis on how to report acts of hate and take action,” Koretz said. “We must combat hate wherever it rears its ugly head, and fight for more funding for hate crime prevention.”
The LAPD must also establish a single communication tool that “would serve as a single point of contact for critical incident coordination,” as well as a prevention hotline. The council’s decision drew praise from community leaders, including the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Terra Russell-Slavin, the Director of Policy and Community Building. “Year after year, LGBT people continue to experience violent hate crimes at disproportionately high rates,” said RussellSlavic. “The targeting of LGBT people—and other marginalized communities—has steadily increased under the Trump administration, and it should surprise no one that this ongoing contempt for vulnerable populations has violent consequences. The Los Angeles LGBT Center commends the City Council, under the leadership of Councilmember Ryu, for taking active steps to address the rising level of hate crimes, and for stepping up where our federal administration has failed.”
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • FEBRUARY 07, 2020 • 05
Newsom pardons LGBTQ and Black icon Rustin New initiative takes on ‘historic homophobia’ in justice system By KAREN OCAMB It was a patch of blue in the dark storm stalled over the divided states of America. On Feb. 5, California Gov. Gavin Newsom parted the pall and pardoned Bayard Rustin, mentor to Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and chief organizer of the 1963 March on Washington. Though President Barack Obama posthumously awarded Rustin the Medal of Freedom in 2013, the gay civil rights icon still had the stain of a 1953 “morals charge” arrest in Pasadena on his lifetime of achievement. “In California and across the country, many laws have been used as legal tools of oppression, and to stigmatize and punish LGBTQ people and communities and warn others what harm could await them for living authentically,” Newsom said in a statement. “I thank those who advocated for Bayard Rustin’s pardon, and I want to encourage others in similar situations to seek a pardon to right this egregious wrong.” Rustin’s pardon launches a new clemency initiative for people who were prosecuted in California for being gay, a crime that devastated many until 1975 when Gov. Jerry Brown signed the Consenting Adult Sex Bill. But those original convictions remained on the record. Newsom’s announcement acknowledges the systemic persecution of LGBTQ people and offers legal reparation. “In California and across the country, charges like vagrancy, loitering, and sodomy have been used to unjustly target [LGBTQ] people. Law enforcement and prosecutors specifically targeted LGBTQ individuals, communities and community spaces for criminal prosecution. Now, as a proudly LGBTQ-allied state, California is turning the page on historic wrongs,” says the press release. That the pardon comes at the beginning of Black History Month is notable. On the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington, Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. wrote on The Root: “I ask that if you teach your children one
new name from the heroes of black history, please let it be Bayard Rustin.” “For decades, this great leader, often at Dr. King’s side, was denied his rightful place in history because he was openly gay,” said Obama, giving Rustin’s medal to his longtime partner, Walter Naegle on Aug. 8, 2013. “No medal can change that, but today, we honor Bayard Rustin’s memory by taking our place in his march towards true equality, no matter who we are or who we love.” Born in 1912, Rustin knew he was gay in high school, he told Peg Byron, reporter for the Washington Blade, on Feb. 5, 1986. But he remained closeted until 1947 after an encounter with a child on a bus trip in the South. He realized he was “aiding and abetting the prejudice that was a part of the effort to destroy me.” The only way to be free was to face the shit,” Rustin told the Washington Blade. The incident for which Rustin was pardoned happened in 1953. By now a respected organizer, Rustin traveled around the country giving speeches. After a speech one January night in Pasadena, police officers found him having sex with two white men in a parked car. Rustin was arrested, sentenced to jail for 60 days and registered as a sex offender for the “morals charge.” The backlash severely damaged his career. He was forced to cancel speaking engagements and resigned from his leadership position with the Fellowship for Reconciliation. He struggled to find work, resorting to manual labor as a furniture mover, Naegle said later. “I know now that for me sex must be sublimated if I am to live with myself and in this world longer,” he wrote in a March 1953 letter. Rustin eventually found his way back into the civil rights movement but was constantly humiliated and threatened over his sexuality. In 1960, after his friend Coretta Scott introduced him to Rev. Martin Luther King Jr, whom he mentored about Ghandi’s philosophy of non-violent resistance, Rustin was forced to resign from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference he co-founded after the powerful New York Rep. Adam Clayton Powell Jr. threatened to tell the press that he and King were lovers. “That was around 1962,” Rustin told the Washington Blade. “And, naturally, I took the
1950s publicity photo of BAYARD RUSTIN. Via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, LC-DIG-ppmsca-38045, courtesy Making Gay History
position that if people feel that I am a danger to some important movement, I would leave. But the thing which distressed me was that if… if Martin had taken the strong stand then that he took a year later, in ’63, vis-à-vis Strom Thurmond, he could have overcome it and kept me. But I understand his doing it, and I hold no grief with him about having done it. I just wish that he had shown the strength in ’62 that he showed when he backed me completely in ’63. But he was a year older and had another year’s experience.” A. Philip Randolph brought Rustin back into the fold to organize the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom but NAACP’s Roy Wilkins saw Rustin as a liability and forced
him to take a deputy position. But rabidly anti-gay South Carolina Sen. Strom Thurmond – who had secretly fathered a child with his African-America maid – went public, trying to destroy the march by denouncing Rustin as a gay communist and placing his arrest record in the congressional record. King did back him up this time and the march made history – but Rustin was disinvited from the small group that went to meet President John F. Kennedy at the White House to celebrate. That 1953 public arrest record hung like an invisible chain around Rustin’s neck. Now he is really finally free.
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LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • FEBRUARY 07, 2020 • 07
Bloomberg’s moment Pete strong in Iowa, but billionaire ramping up after caucus debacle By KAREN OCAMB
The word got out early. President Donald Trump wanted Republicans to acquit him in his Senate impeachment trial before his big Fox Super Bowl Sunday interview, certainly before the obligatory State of the Union address. That didn’t happen, though Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did promise and deliver an acquittal in the Feb. 5 final vote. Like a hurricane blowing through Legoland, critical historical moments just kept piling up, one on another, leaving politicos and regular voters alike gasping for understanding. After turning the once revered ceremonial address to the nation into a reality TV game show, Trump is now expected to fully flaunt his attorney Alan Dershowitz’s anti-impeachment argument. “If the president does something that he thinks will help him get elected, in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment,” Dershowitz argued on the Senate floor. Even millionaire Mitt Romney, the Republican Utah senator with a long personal history of public service, said he expects punishment for breaking ranks and voting for Trump’s impeachment on abuse of power in order to live with his conscience and oath to God. “In some quarters I will be vehemently denounced. I’m sure to hear abuse from the president and his supporters. Does anyone seriously believe that I would consent to these consequences other than from an inescapable conviction that my oath before God demanded it of me?” Romney said in an historic moment to his Senate colleagues. “If you say you can’t hold a president accountable in an election year where they’re trying to cheat in that election, then you are giving them carte blanche,” lead Democratic House impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff said in his closing argument. With the accountability argument looming
New York Mayor MICHAEL BLOOMBERG at the 2013 Pride Parade. Photo courtesy City of New York
large, the nation turned their frightened eyes to Iowa to see who the Democrats would choose to go up against the empowered imperial president. But instead of a clear cut winner backed by momentum and a movement, the Democrats dissolved into chaos as their inept caucus system failed. Out former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg had a slight delegate lead over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who had the larger popular vote heading into the Feb. 7 Democratic debate. But the big Iowa story was presumed front runner Vice President Joe Biden limping into New Hampshire for their Feb. 11 primary as a loser looking to the next contest. Meanwhile, almost as a New York tabloid distraction, attention darted to the tantalizing spat between Trump and fellow New Yorker, former three-time New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg. The two billionaires spent $11 million on political Super Bowl ads with
Bloomberg teeing up the fight featuring a viral ad mocking Trump’s infamous cheating at golf (there’s already a whole book out about that.) As mayor, Bloomberg had hired Trump to build a golf course. “That’s true,” Bloomberg says in the ad featuring unflattering photos of Trump. “But he was the only bidder and running a golf course is the only job I would hire him for.” Trump didn’t seem to care, spending Super Bowl weekend at Mar-a-Lago, to the tune of $3.4 million, according to a Huffington Post analysis. That brings “the taxpayer-funded total for his golfing hobby to $130.4 million.” But it turned out Bloomberg had gotten under Trump’s skin. In his pre-Super Bowl interview with Fox friend Sean Hannity, he criticized the Democratic National Committee for its rule change enabling Bloomberg to participate in the Las Vegas debate, then snarked about Bloomberg’s height (the former
mayor is about 5-foot-8 inches tall.) “He wants a box for the debates, why should he be entitled to that?” Trump asked rhetorically. “Does that mean everyone else gets a box?” “The president is lying. He is a pathological liar who lies about everything: his fake hair, his obesity, and his spray-on tan,” Bloomberg’s campaign spokesperson Julie Wood retorted on Twitter. Trump “lies about everything.” Bloomberg announced his candidacy on Nov. 24, 2019, too late to qualify for the first for Democratic contests. But he came to play, spending $30 million in December alone and running so many ads in Iowa, apparently some voters thought he had a caucus team.
Continues on page 10
10 • FEBRUARY 07, 2020 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Screengrab of Bloomberg’s anti-Trump golf ad.
Bloomberg ramps up campaign after Iowa debacle Continued from page 07
In fact, Bloomberg is already running a national campaign with a hard focus on Super Tuesday, March 3, and the swings states where Trump could win the Electoral College. “Iowa and New Hampshire have 65 delegates,” said Bloomberg’s national spokesperson Galia Slayen. “California, Michigan and Pennsylvania have 726.” Bloomberg was at an East LA campaign stop with former LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa when he clapped back at Trump about the box business. “I stand twice as tall as he does on the stage — the stage that matters,” Bloomberg said. “I think Donald Trump knows that I can beat him, and that’s why he comes back with those kinds of comments.” That stage is Bloomberg’s real wealth as a billionaire, not just marketing pronouncements without evidence. Axios’ Jonathan Swan reports that Trump takes Bloomberg more seriously than his campaign advisors. “A senior administration official, who told the president that Bloomberg has no hope of winning the Democratic nomination, said Trump replied: ‘You’re underestimating him,’” believing in the
power of Bloomberg’s money. “[Bloomberg’s] outsized wealth and outsized ego are matched by his overwrought jealousy and spitefulness towards the president,” senior Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway told Swan. “Jealousy is a dangerous motivator for people, leading them to confuse with a sugar high that money can buy with substance that voters demand to hear.” “Mike got into this race with the singular goal of defeating Donald Trump and a strategy of contrasting his record of accomplishment with Trump’s lies and broken promises,” Bloomberg adviser Howard Wolfson responded. “Clearly it’s working.” “Bloomberg’s fortune dwarfs Trump’s wealth and has played into a number of insecurities Trump has long held about the former mayor, according to two presidential conﬁdants who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations,” AP’s Jonathan Lemire reported Jan. 24. “Not only is Bloomberg vastly richer than Trump, but he has also had an easy entry into the most elite Manhattan social circles, the same ones that looked down on Trump as a tabloid creation and reality TV star.” That contrast was supposed to play out in the head-to-head of expensive Super Bowl ads but was quickly forgotten with one tweet after the Kansas City Chiefs won the Super Bowl, beating the San Francisco 49ers 31–20. “You represented the Great State of Kansas,
and, in fact, the entire USA, so very well,” Trump tweeted, suggesting another #SharpieGate by putting the Chiefs in Kansas, not Missouri. “It’s Missouri, you stone cold idiot,” tweeted former Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill. Bloomberg fans looked forward to Sanders doing well in Iowa to propel him into New Hampshire; he’s already doing well in Nevada and extremely well in California. Democratic establishment fears of Sanders’ socialism makes Bloomberg the more likely moderate candidate to overcome Sanders for the Democratic presidential nomination and just head directly to November to defeat Donald Trump. And the polls are starting to reﬂect that assessment. The University of California, Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll shows Sanders leading in the mega Super Tuesday state by 26 percent of likely primary voters, with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren second with 20 percent; former Vice President Joe Biden with15 percent; former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 7 percent. But Bloomberg, who has blanketed the states with ads, is at 6 percent after roughly two months in the race. Bloomberg – who has been a Democrat, a Republican an Independent and now a Democrat again – has already spent over $300 million on TV, radio and digital ads, according
to tracking ﬁrm Advertising Analytics. With the Iowa ﬁasco, his campaign announced he intends to double his self-ﬁnanced spending and increase his staff to 2,100. “After more than a year of this primary, the ﬁeld is as unsettled as ever. No one has made the sale or even come close to it,” AP reported Bloomberg spokesperson Sabrina Singh as saying Feb. 4. “Meanwhile, Mike is taking the ﬁght to Trump every day, doubling down on the national campaign strategy we’ve been running from the beginning.” AP reports that the campaign will open 125 new offices and have staff in 40 states and territories, “including 450 workers in the battlegrounds of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Arizona, Florida and Michigan.” “If Donald Trump wins re-election, he will make extorting a foreign head of state for campaign purposes look like child’s play. Bloomberg said about impeachment on Dec. 18, 2019. “2020 is not just an election. It’s a referendum on whether to save our Constitution – or let Trump light it on ﬁre. That’s why it’s so important we nominate the candidate who gives us the best chance to defeat Trump and bring our country back together.” Bloomberg’s campaign pumped out press releases about the former mayor’s positions after Trump’s lie-ﬁlled State of the Union address. But they primed the pump foretelling Trump’s misuse of the House’s invitation to speak in a very strong pre-speech ad using images on an enraged president. “The Real State of the Union? A nation divided by an angry, out of control president. A White House besotted by lies, chaos, and corruption,” the narrator says. “It doesn’t have to be this way. Next year we can have a leader who will bring people together. Mike Bloomberg will get it done.” Bloomberg is also doing his own version of retail politics, racking up a slew of endorsements. In addition to Villaraigosa, whom Bloomberg helped with the former LA mayor’s charter schools initiative, he’s backed by San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo and San Francisco Mayor London Breed. And apparently, a number of black mayors have accepted his apology for his damaging “stop and frisk” policy as mayor. “I was wrong,” Bloomberg told the congregation at a black megachurch in Brooklyn last November. “And I am sorry.” One of the latest endorsements comes from Washington DC Mayor Muriel E. Bowser. She stood next to Bloomberg and declared the former mayor “the only candidate who will unify the country and defeat Donald Trump.”
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • FEBRUARY 07, 2020 • 11
“I think Mike has demonstrated the commitment to be in this race until the end and put the necessary resources in to get it done,” Bowser added. She joins Stockton, California Mayor Michael Tubbs, Columbia, South Carolina Mayor Steve Benjamin and former Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Mayor Michael Nutter, among others, in Bloomberg’s “Mayors for Mike” campaign. Jeffrey Slavin, the gay mayor of the Montgomery County, Md., town of Somerset, was also in attendance and told the Washington Blade that “he is among a growing number of LGBTQ city and town officials from across the country that are supporting Bloomberg for president.” Bloomberg, who two days earlier released his plan for LGBTQ+ Equality, touted his record of support for LGBT rights. “Well just to address that one community, my recollection is…I went and got the Republican Senate of the State of New York, as well as the Democratic House, to pass a law permitting gay marriage in New York long before anybody else that I know who’s running for office ever even thought about it or certainly said anything about it,” Bloomberg told the Washington Blade’s Lou Chibbaro Jr. “My credentials among the LGBTQ- plus community, I think, are impeccable and would not be overstating it if you ask people from New York City.” Bloomberg and his campaign reached out specifically to the LGBTQ community, pitching his platform to regional LGBTQ publications in a conference call on Jan. 28. His team also noted announced endorsements from former “Project Runway” judge Tim Gunn and designer and performer Isaac Mizrahi who joined Bloomberg’s National LGBTQ+ Leadership Council. Gay City News’ Matt Tracy was not particularly impressed, noting that Bloomberg’s LGBTQ platform essentially matches his rivals. Most importantly, he qualified Bloomberg’s record on marriage equality, which the gay newspaper closely covered over the years. “[Bloomberg] painted a rosy picture of what was a far more complicated record on marriage equality. While Bloomberg indeed endorsed marriage equality in 2005, he simultaneously appealed a state ruling that same year declaring that city clerks must issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. He later poured money into the fight in Albany, but despite his being the largest donor to the Republican Senate majority at the time, there is no indication he helped bring around the four GOP votes that won the day for marriage equality in 2011.” Bloomberg is still a hero to many same sex couples, such as Jonathan Mintz and John
Mayor MURIEL BOWSERannounces her endorsement of Bloomberg. Photo by Michael Key for the Blade
Feinblatt who Bloomberg mentioned on the call. “Like so many things in life, where you stand on Bloomberg’s contribution to the LGBT movement depends on where you sit,” Kerry Eleveld wrote in The Advocate in 2013, after Bloomberg eft office. “Those who championed the 2011 marriage equality push consider him a hero for helping persuade state Senate Republicans to listen to their better angels. Those who work on issues of poverty and homelessness, which disproportionately affect LGBT youth, dismiss him as an impervious economic elitist who has largely turned a blind eye to New York’s record homeless population and an inadequate shelter system.” Bloomberg told LGBTQ reporters on the call that LGBTQ rights “really does mean a lot to me” so he wanted to speak directly rather than through a surrogate. He talked about convincing Republican state senators to vote for marriage equality in 2005 “and I asked them to listen to their families and especially their children. That’s what I did, and that turned enough votes to pass it. Marriage equality passed in New York State,” Bloomberg said. “In the years after, I worked to spread marriage equality around the country,” by which he meant funding the winning marriage equality campaigns in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington.
“Those days were special because there were major victories, both political and personal, and in a fight that started for so many people in the village in Sheraton Square back in 1969,” Bloomberg said on the call. “Now, we’ve come a long way since 1969 when Stonewall happened. Back then, New York and virtually every other state had laws on the books that made samesex relationships a crime. Think about that. You could go to prison for years just for being intimate with a person you loved in the privacy of your own home. But for all the progress we have made on equality since then, we’re faced with new reminders of just how much farther we still have to go every single day,” Bloomberg said. “Just as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 did not eliminate racism,” he continued, “the Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality did not eliminate bias and hatred towards the LGBTQ+ community. The march for equality and justice has always been too slow, but I will say it has never stopped, and I think it’s up to the president to help pick up the pace,” leading into a long recitation of his LGBTQ platform. While his platform sounds similar to his Democratic rivals, Bloomberg repeatedly emphasized his personal connection. “This is a fight and a cause I care deeply about. These expanding freedoms and rights is
what America is all about. It’s what makes our country the place where the world wants to live. I did it all when I was in New York City. You can look at the record,” Bloomberg said. “I’m going to be a president for all Americans, and you can be sure of that, all orientations and identities, all colors and creeds, and I’m going to bring our country back together and start repairing the damage that this president has done. Thank you so much for your time. I’m a believer, and I’m going to get it done.” But LGBTQ voters, like their Democratic counter-parts, really want one thing: to beat Donald Trump. And longtime HIV/AIDS and LGBTQ politico Diane Abbitt thinks Bloomberg’s the one. “I have decided to endorse Mike Bloomberg for President,” Abbitt, whose credentials include co-chair of MECLA, APLA and Equality California, told the Los Angeles Blade. “His positions and history of fighting for full equality for the LGBTQ+ community, his 100% support of a woman’s right to choose, his accomplishments in the areas of healthcare, homelessness and economic equality reflect my values. His commitment to defeating Trump is self-evident by the fact that he is investing his own hard-earned money to fund his campaign. And defeating Trump is my top priority.”
12 • FEBRUARY 07, 2020 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Who shows up for living history? Unlike his predecessor Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist who decided not to attend the State of the Union address while presiding over the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton in 1999, Chief Justice John Roberts had no qualms attending impeachment defendant President Donald Trump’s SOTU speech on the eve of Trump’s assured acquittal. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has never attended a SOTU speech given by a Republican president and this year at least eight Democrats joined in the unofficial boycott: Reps. Al Green (Texas), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Ayanna Pressley (Mass.), Maxine Waters (Calif.), Steve Cohen (Tenn.), Earl Blumenauer (Ore.), Hank Johnson (Ga.) and Frederica Wilson (Fla.). “To think that I would attend the #SOTU to hear the message of an IMPEACHED president is a thought that in no way would be consistent w/ my fight and struggle against this dishonorable president. I will certainly NOT be there!” tweeted Waters, who has long advocated for impeachment. “On the eve of Senate Republicans covering up transgressions and spreading misinformation, I cannot in good conscience attend a sham State of the Union when I have seen firsthand the damage Donald J. Trump’s rhetoric and policies have inflicted on those I love and those I represent,” Pressley, who recently revealed she lives with the hair loss disease alopecia, said in a statement.
“I’m gonna fucking blow your brains out you fucking piece of shit.” - Jan Peter Meister, 52, an Arizona registered sex offender/gun owner, in a voicemail to Rep. Adam Schiff’s Washington, D.C. office after watching Fox News, via The Informant Feb. 4.
“Your activism has pushed the councils back to the negotiating table to work something out to ensure that the meetings continue both in the short term beyond the March 31, 2020 original deadline and in the long term - a more detailed discussion between the 2 cities about the future of 621 N. Robertson The Log Cabin.” – WeHo City Councilmember John Duran on his Facebook page about the fate of the 12 Step haven.
“Are you saying that he has a same-sex partner? Pete? Are you kidding? Then I don’t want anybody like that in the White House. So can I have my card back?... How come this is never been brought out before?”
-Unidentified woman Iowa Caucus-goer to Democratic precinct captain Nikki van den Heever via TMZ Feb. 4, about former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • FEBRUARY 07, 2020 • 13
Buttigieg clings to victory after fiasco in Iowa ‘We are on a journey to elect the first openly gay president’ By CHRIS JOHNSON DES MOINES, Iowa — It wasn’t supposed to be this way. In the aftermath of the Iowa caucuses, Pete Buttigieg wanted to be able to declare he was the first openly gay person to win a state primary contest for a major party nomination — or at least definitively declare he did well. Instead, amid reports of technical difficulties during the Iowa caucuses — including reports of precinct captains not following the rules for counting votes, an iPhone app that failed in its job to collect votes from those who couldn’t attend the caucuses and assurances from the Iowa Democratic Party the delay was the result of a “quality check” — Buttigieg is left clinging to a dubious victory based on an estimated 71 percent of results that keep trickling in. Although precisely no results of the Democratic Iowa caucuses were known on Monday night, that didn’t stop the former South Bend mayor from declaring victory in his speech that night. “So, we don’t know all the results, but we know by the time it’s all said and done, Iowa, you have shocked the nation because by all indications, we are going on to New Hampshire victorious,” Buttigieg said. Ignoring the fiasco, Buttigieg proceeded with an uplifting speech that energized his supporters cheering him on and maintained the upcoming election is a battle for the soul of America. “We have a belief that in the face of exhaustion and cynicism and division, in spite of every trampled norm and every poisonous tweet, that a rising majority of Americans is hungry for action and ready for doing,” Buttigieg said. Annise Parker, CEO of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, which has endorsed Buttigieg, echoed the sense that Buttigieg pulled off a victory in the caucuses despite issues in recording the votes. “The messy Iowa reporting process should not distract anyone from the historic moment that played out last night,” Parker said. “Pete – running against 10 opponents including some of the bestknown names in American politics – overcame the obstacles and the odds to land in one of the top spots, if not the top spot, in the Iowa caucuses. It is an incredible achievement for an openly gay
PETE BUTTIGIEG claimed victory in Iowa with 71 percent of precincts reporting two days after the caucuses.
candidate and speaks to his ability to build a broad coalition among voters in cities, suburbs and rural areas. It forever changes how the media, pundits and voters view the electability of openly LGBTQ candidates.” Parker also expressed disappointment the results took away from Buttigieg’s speech on Tuesday night, which she called “the most powerful speech I’ve heard during this campaign season.” “It was a speech that would have captured the minds of Americans and secured days of headlines, but instead we are talking apps and ‘quality control,’” Parker said. “Fortunately, the results will come, Pete will get the post-Iowa bump he deserves, and he will head into New Hampshire a favorite. There is now no question we are on a journey to elect the first openly gay president of the United States – and that is astounding.” But the nature of the Monday speech was arguably tone-deaf amid anger over the botched Iowa caucuses. Buttigieg also faced a backlash on Twitter for declaring victory when none of the results were known, prompting #MayorCheat to trend on Twitter. Here’s what we know as of Wednesday afternoon based on the limited numbers the Iowa Democratic Party has provided so far two days after the caucuses. With more than 70 percent of precincts reporting, Buttigieg has won a plurality of 26.8
percent of the delegates, followed by 25.2 percent for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), 18.4 percent for Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), 15.4 percent for former Vice President Joseph Biden and 12.6 percent for Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.). The popular vote in the Iowa thus far tells slightly a different story. Iowa recorded the sheer vote tallies among caucus-goers at precincts both at the start of the caucuses, then after realignment. In both cases, Sanders has a slight lead, with 24.4 percent for the initial vote an 26.2 percent for the vote after realignment. The next down is Buttigieg, then Warren and Biden. In a later speech in New Hampshire on Tuesday, Buttigieg was visibly choked up as the results came pouring in and showed an openly gay candidate had won the plurality of delegates. “It validates for a kid somewhere in a community wondering if he belongs or she belongs or they belong in their own family, that if you believe in yourself and your country, there is a lot backing up the belief,” Buttigieg said. A win in Iowa for Buttigieg was all but necessary for him to go forward in pursuing the Democratic nomination. After all, if Buttigieg couldn’t pull off a win in the Midwest near his home state of Indiana, making the case for his nomination would be a lot harder in the rest of the country. Spencer Kimball, a professor in political and sports communication at the Boston-based Emerson College, told the Blade before the initial results, “if Pete goes on to a top-two finish it
might make him the alternative to Bernie.” “But if Joe drops to fifth that keeps Elizabeth and Amy in the race,” Kimball added. “If Amy falls behind Joe that would be a problem for her. However, because of the issues with the caucus I think all five are still in for New Hampshire which will make the debate a decisive event like it did in 2016 in the GOP nomination.” Asked whether a Buttigieg victory in Iowa would even be seen as legitimate given the fiasco in reporting the results, Kimball replied, “Not by everyone.” The full results for the Iowa caucuses remain to be seen. Despite assurances all votes cast in Iowa will be counted, it’s possible many of the outstanding 29 percent votes not yet counted will never be recorded. Other lingering questions are whether the Iowa delegation at the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee will be fully seated and the fate of Iowa Democratic Party Chair Troy Prices, who was charged with overseeing the Iowa caucuses. Although the Iowa caucuses have traditionally been the first gateway in the nation selecting its presidential nominees, it seems highly likely change is forthcoming, such as the abolition of the Iowa caucuses altogether, or at least allowing another state to go first in the process. Tom Perez, chair of the Democratic National Committee, said in a statement Wednesday “what happened last night should never happen again.” “We have staff working around the clock to assist the Iowa Democratic Party to ensure that all votes are counted,” Perez said. “It is clear that the app in question did not function adequately. It will not be used in Nevada or anywhere else during the primary election process. The technology vendor must provide absolute transparent accounting of what went wrong.” The Washington Blade has a placed a request with the Democratic National Committee seeking comment about any additional fallout after the Iowa caucus, including whether it will allow the Iowa caucuses to go first during the nomination process in future years. For his part, Buttigieg during his victory night speech told his supporters he’ll take the fight “to New Hampshire, which has a way of making up its own mind, to Nevada, to South Carolina and beyond.” “And as we do, we will be building a movement that not only will win the election against Donald Trump, but win the era for our shared values,” Buttigieg said.
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LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • FEBRUARY 07, 2020 • 15
Trump renews pledge to beat HIV in speech In a speech touting economic growth and promising “the best is yet to come,” President Trump in the State of the Union address Tuesday renewed his pledge to beat HIV by 2030. Trump made a call to beat HIV/AIDS to cheers from lawmakers in the joint session of Congress during a portion of the speech dedicated to health initiatives under his administration. “We have launched ambitious new initiatives to substantially improve care for Americans with kidney disease, Alzheimer’s and those struggling with mental health,” Trump said. “And because Congress was so good as to fund my request, new cures for childhood cancer, and we will eradicate the AIDS epidemic in America by the end of this decade.” The cross-agency initiative under the Department of Health & Human Services seeks to eliminate at least 90 percent of new HIV infections in the United States within 10 years with a PrEP-heavy focus on diagnosis, treatment, prevention and response. Trump renewed his call to beat HIV one year after announcing his plan in last year’s State of the Union address. The administration’s subsequently sought in its budget request a $300 million increase in HIV/AIDS funds to implement the initiative (although the request significantly slashed global HIV/AIDS programs). Congress agreed to those funds in the fiscal year 2020 budget approved late last year. The Partnership to End HIV, STDs &
A shot from the 2019 State of the Union speech. Blade photo by Michael Key
Hepatitis said in a statement after the State of the Union the coalition of groups — AIDS United, NASTAD, the National Coalition of STD Directors, NMAC and the AIDS Institute — applaud Trump’s “commitment to this issue and stand ready to work with the administration to end the HIV epidemic in the United States by 2030.” “The progress we’ve made as a country is encouraging, but we know the most difficult work still lies ahead,” the statement says. “We have the tools to end HIV once and for all, but we must back it up with sound and sensible
policies that expand access to stigma-free care, lift up vulnerable populations like our Black and Latinx communities, protect LGBTQ individuals from discrimination and address rising STD and viral hepatitis rates. Only then will we rise to the challenge and truly eradicate this epidemic.” But Trump’s call to beat HIV/AIDS has fallen on skeptical ears to those keeping tabs on his anti-LGBTQ record, including administrative actions enabling anti-LGBT discrimination in the name of religious freedom. Trump made a reference to his support for
religious freedom in the State of the Union address without enumerating specific actions that have enabled anti-LGBTQ discrimination. “My administration is also defending religious liberty, and that includes the constitutional right to pray in public schools,” Trump said. “In America, we don’t punish prayer. We don’t tear down crosses. We don’t ban symbols of faith. We don’t muzzle preachers and pastors. In America, we celebrate faith, we cherish religion, we lift our voices in prayer, and we raise our sights to the Glory of God.” Trump’s speech, which lasted slightly more than one hour, ignored the pending impeachment trial. The U.S. Senate was expected this week to acquit Trump on charges he improperly withheld U.S. funds to Ukraine in exchange for investigations into his potential political opponent, Joseph Biden. A key portion of the speech was Trump declaring he’d bestow the Medal of Freedom to Rush Limbaugh, a longtime conservative talk radio show host who recently announced he was diagnosed with lung cancer. A staunch critic of Presidents Clinton and Obama and defender of President George W. Bush and Trump, Limbaugh also made known his opposition to LGBTQ rights. LGBTQ advocates were unimpressed with the speech. Also apparently displeased was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who appeared to rip a copy of Trump’s speech at the end of the State of the Union address. CHRIS JOHNSON
New hate crimes bill introduced in U.S. Senate U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Ala.) on Jan. 28 introduced a bill calling for strengthening the enforcement of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 by clarifying the law’s language related to the motive of people charged with a hate crime. The newly introduced bill, the Justice for Victims of Hate Crimes Act of 2020, calls for amending the Shepard-Byrd law to make
it clear that prosecutors must prove that bias or hate was a “substantial motivating factor” for the crime rather than the sole motive. The Klobuchar-Murkowski bill follows a proposal by the U.S. Attorney for D.C., Jessie K. Liu, in June 2019 that the D.C. City Council consider amending the District’s hate crimes law to make a similar clarification over the motive of a hate crime. “Since the passage of the Matthew
Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crime Prevention Act in 2009, federal courts have split on the interpretation of the motive requirement in the law,” according to a statement released by Klobuchar’s office. “In 2014, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals interpreted the law to require that hate crime prosecutors must prove that bias against a protected characteristic was the sole motivation for the crime – a standard that is difficult to prove and could
chill the enforcement of the federal hate crimes law,” the statement says. “The Justice for Victims of Hate Crimes Act clarifies that prosecutors must prove that bias against a protected characteristic was a substantial motivating factor for the crime,” the statement says. LOU CHIBBARO JR.
16 • FEBRUARY 07, 2020 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Trans Salvadoran woman mourns best friend murdered last year 3 police officers charged with homicide By MICHAEL K. LAVERS & ERNESTO VALLE Camila Díaz Córdova, a transgender Salvadoran woman, left the house in which she lived with relatives of her best friend, Virginia Gómez, on the afternoon of Jan. 30, 2019. Gómez, who is also a trans woman, on Jan. 25 told the Blade during an exclusive interview in El Salvador that her aunt the next morning realized Díaz had not returned home. Gómez said she was not initially worried, but she became increasingly concerned throughout the day because Díaz had not called or texted her. Gómez told the Blade she called hospitals and even the morgue over the next few days in an attempt to locate Díaz. Gómez said on Feb. 7, 2019, eight days after Díaz disappeared, she learned an ambulance brought her friend to a public hospital in the Salvadoran capital of San Salvador. Two trans rights activists were with Gómez when a doctor at the hospital told her she was critically injured when she arrived at around 5 a.m. on Jan. 31, 2019. Gómez said the doctor told her that Díaz had serious injuries to her liver and other internal organs. Gómez told the Blade the doctor also said Díaz had likely been hit by a car. “She had to have several surgeries not because she came in with internal bleeding, but because her vital organs were in very bad shape,” said Gómez, recalling what she said the doctor told her. “She told me they operated on her.” Gómez began to cry when she said the doctor told her Díaz died on Feb. 3, 2019. “It was very difficult for me when she told me that she had died,” said Gómez as she used a napkin to wipe the tears from her eyes. “I didn’t even want to believe it.” Friday marks a year since Díaz was found on the side of a highway in Soyapango, a municipality that is just east of San Salvador.
CAMILA DIAZ CORDOVA was murdered near the Salvadoran capital of San Salvador on Jan. 31, 2019. Photo courtesy of Virginia Gómez
Three Salvadoran police officers have been charged with aggravated homicide as a hate crime and depravation of liberty by an agent of authority in connection with Díaz’s murder. They are expected to go on trial next month. Díaz is originally from a small town in rural El Salvador. Gómez said Díaz’s deeply religious family disowned her because of her gender identity. Gómez also told the Blade that Díaz was attacked several times because she was trans. Gómez said Díaz in 2014 fled to Guatemala after she barely survived a brutal attack. Gómez told the Blade that Díaz also sought refuge in Mexico several times, but returned to El Salvador after a few months. Gómez said Díaz and another trans Salvadoran woman in early 2017 decided to travel to the U.S. Gómez said they spent several months in Mexico City, working in restaurants, before they arrived in the Mexican border city of Tijuana in June of that year, roughly five months after President Trump took office. Gómez said Díaz on Aug. 8, 2017, asked for asylum in the U.S. Gómez told the Blade that U.S. Customs and Border Protection immediately took her into custody and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detained her at a facility in California.
A judge subsequently denied Díaz’s asylum claim and the U.S. on Nov. 7, 2017, deported her to El Salvador. Gómez said the U.S. deported Díaz two days before her birthday. Gómez told the Blade she found out about Díaz’s deportation when she called her from El Salvador’s international airport after her flight landed. “They deported me,” said Díaz, according to Gómez as she recounted the phone call. “She told me that yet another killer avalanche has come.” Gómez said Díaz arrived in El Salvador wearing the same clothes she wore when she asked for asylum in the U.S. Gómez also told the Blade that Díaz said the staff at the ICE detention center where she was detained discriminated against her and other trans women. “They told us that we were not women, that we were men,” said Díaz, according to Gómez. Díaz on Jan. 29, 2019, met with Mónica Linares, executive director of Asociación Aspidh Arcoiris Trans, a trans Salvadoran advocacy group in San Salvador, and asked for help to leave sex work. Linares told Díaz to return to her office the next day but Gómez said she “disappeared.” “We are already at one year after her death, and it is outrageous to see how the courts have
still not prosecuted her death,” Linares on Thursday told the Blade in a statement. Ambar Alfaro, an independent trans activist who was with Gómez at the hospital when she learned Díaz had died, echoed Linares. “A year from the date on which they attacked and practically kidnapped Camila, the only thing that I can really say is that it is clear that our country’s judicial system remains obsolete,” Alfaro told the Blade. “Beyond that there is also the feeling of impunity surrounding hate crimes, as well as with Camila’s murder.” The State Department’s 2018 human rights report notes “public officials, including police, engaged in violence and discrimination against sexual minorities.” It also indicates LGBTQ Salvadorans have stated the National Civil Police and the Attorney General’s Office “harassed transgender and gay individuals when they reported cases of violence against LGBTI persons, including by conducting strip searches.” Karla Aguilar, a trans Salvadoran activist, in 2017 fled to Europe because of threats she and her family received. Johana “Joa” Medina León, another trans Salvadoran woman who worked as a private nurse, fled El Salvador because she had also been threatened and attacked because she was trans. Medina died at a hospital in El Paso, Texas, on June 1, 2019, three days after ICE released her from their custody. Briyit Michelle Alas is one of several trans women who have been reported killed in El Salvador in recent months. President Nayib Bukele, who was elected on the same day Díaz died, has yet to publicly condemn these murders or violence based on gender identity that remains rampant in the country. Gómez herself is in the process of seeking asylum in Canada. She asked the Blade not to publicly disclose the city in which she is currently living because she is afraid for her life. “It is very dangerous,” said Gómez. In the meantime, she continues to remember Díaz as “a happy and sincere” person. “She was noble,” said Gómez. “She wasn’t a bad-hearted person.”
18 • FEBRUARY 07, 2020 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
VOLUME 04 ISSUE 06
Sexist Academy snubs Gerwig at Oscars Iconic ‘Little Women’ resonates today, deserved director’s nom
Kathi Wolfe is a regular contributor to the Blade and winner of the 2014 Stonewall Chapbook competition.
In the iconic movie “All About Eve,” theater critic Addison DeWitt confronted Eve about the lies she told. “I know nothing about Lloyd [her illicit lover] and his loves,” he tells her dismissively, “I leave those to Louisa May Alcott [author of ‘Little Women’].” “Little Women,” a novel embedded in the DNA of generations of hetero and queer women, was published in 1868. Greta Gerwig’s 2019 movie of “Little Women” received an Oscar nomination for Best Picture. The Oscar ceremony will be held on Feb. 9. In case you’ve lived under a rock: The novel, set during the Civil War and its aftermath, tells the story of The March family, who live in Massachusetts in gentile poverty. The father’s away – serving as a Union Army chaplain. The mother raises their daughters – Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy. Unlike, as is the case, with most American fiction, women are center stage in the book. Meg, though she marries for love, is an actress. Tomboy and writer Jo is a crush for every lesbian and author I know. Amy marries, but doesn’t give up her art. Beth gets sick and dies. But she plays the piano beautifully! “Little Women” has been made into movies, Japanese anime, opera and more than one TV mini-series. Today, I’d like to believe that after seeing Greta Gerwig’s stunning adaptation of “Little Women,” DeWitt would change his tune. That he’d admire gender-bending Alcott. “Little Women,” the book and Gerwig’s movie of the novel, have garnered critical acclaim. The film received a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 95 percent. Yet, “Little Women” continues to be dismissed. Usually by men. “Little Women!” a straight male friend snorted recently when I mentioned the Alcott
novel, “I never could get through it!” Seeing the Gerwig movie appealed to him as much as going for a root canal. His dismissal of “Little Women” reflects our cultural misogyny. Art featuring male characters should be respected by everyone; works like “Little Women,” featuring mostly female characters aren’t worth pursuing. They’re just “for girls.” Despite this sexism, this year, Gerwig’s “Little Women” received several Oscar nominations: not only for Best Picture but, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Costume Design. Yet, Gerwig, wasn’t nominated for Best Director. “All this goodness must somehow have assembled itself without any guiding hand at the helm,” the film critic Dana Stevens wrote in Slate. Only five women have been nominated for Best Director since the Oscars began 92 years ago. Kathryn Bigelow is the only woman who’s won the Best Director Academy Award, highlighting the Academy’s sexism. Why do I care so much about “Little Women?” Because, though written 151 years ago, it resonates today: to gender-bending LGBTQ folk, feminists, families, writers and seekers of justice. (Alcott often signed her letters “Yours for reforms of all kinds.”) Gerwig’s film brings “Little Women” and Alcott vividly to life. It maintains the spirit of the book by going gloriously meta. We see Jo, Alcott’s avatar, become a writer. Jo, the author, tells the story of the March sisters. Laurie, the dashing boy next door, is hetero but he loves being around the March girls. He loves hanging with them and even swapping clothes with Jo, while Jo wears boys clothes and walks like a guy. At the end of the movie, you wonder: Does Jo marry? Or did Jo write a marriage scene because her publisher believed female characters must either marry or die? “I am more than half-persuaded that I am a man’s soul put by some freak of nature into a woman’s body,” Alcott, who never married said in an 1883 interview, “because I have fallen in love with so many pretty girls and never once the least bit with any man.” We’ll never know for certain if Alcott, who died in 1888, was queer. But Jo March will be a queer icon forever.
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LOSANGELESBLADE.COM •FEBRUARY 07, 2020 • 19
TV has never been more important for accelerating LGBTQ acceptance Changing hearts and minds through inclusive storytelling
Sarah Kate Ellis is the president and CEO of GLAAD.
Despite incredible levels of progress for the LGBTQ community over the past decade, the current state of political and cultural division in America has been a serious threat to the advancement of LGBTQ equality and acceptance. Since taking office in 2017, the Trump administration has rolled out over 130 attacks on the LGBTQ community in both policy and rhetoric, ultimately putting LGBTQ Americans at greater risk of discrimination and violence. In the face of these unprecedented attacks, it is cultural institutions like television that take on the crucial role of changing hearts and minds through diverse and inclusive storytelling. More than ever before, our stories and issues must be visible, and we must continue to showcase the full diversity of the LGBTQ community in shows that are connecting with audiences in unique and personal ways. When I was growing up, I never saw myself represented in the media. I never saw portrayals of powerful lesbian women succeeding, and therefore, it made it difficult to believe that it was a possibility in the first place. Luckily, through the work that GLAAD does inside Hollywood, we have witnessed a significant increase in LGBTQ representation on-screen, especially within recent years. As I sat to watch the premiere of CBS’ new series Tommy this week, I was overwhelmed with what it means to personally experience this cultural shift. In the series, Edie Falco plays the role of Abigail “Tommy” Thomas as she becomes the first female police chief of Los Angeles. However, there is another important detail about Tommy: she is a lesbian. In seeing a powerful lesbian women in a lead role on a broadcast television show, it was so clear to me how much I wished I was able to see someone like Tommy on television as a young girl. Series like Tommy continue to remind
us how incredible it feels to see yourself represented on screen, and the impact that can have on LGBTQ lives everywhere, especially for future generations. In GLAAD’s most recent Where We Are on TV report, which tracks the presence of LGBTQ characters on television, we found several new record highs for LGBTQ representation and visibility. Last year, GLAAD called on television broadcast networks to ensure that 10 percent of primetime broadcast scripted series regulars were LGBTQ by 2020. In just one year, networks met and exceeded this call, with a record high of 10.2% of LGBTQ series regulars appearing on broadcast scripted primetime this season. We are also seeing a rise in the visibility of different LGBTQ identities and intersectional LGBTQ characters. For the first time, LGBTQ women outnumber LGBTQ men among broadcast characters. For a second year in a row, LGBTQ people of color outnumber white LGBTQ people on broadcast. We have also seen a growth in the visibility of transgender men on television - a part of the community that has a history of being largely underrepresented. In addition to accelerating LGBTQ acceptance, inclusive and diverse storytelling about LGBTQ people and issues is crucial for sending affirming messages to LGBTQ youth at a time when the government is systematically attempting to erase our rights. We know from our own research at GLAAD that at least 20% of millennials identify as LGBTQ, and that these young people represent various backgrounds and identities. That’s why shows like Pose, Special, Euphoria, Schitt’s Creek, One Day at a Time, Tommy, Work in Progress, Dear White People, and The L Word: Generation Q are crucial: they continue to bring light to LGBTQ identities and issues that have been largely underrepresented on television, and continue to push the needle
forward to truly reflect the reality of the diverse world we live in. Many of these LGBTQ-inclusive series have also included episodes that go even further to highlight how our current political climate uniquely affects LGBTQ people - a type of visibility that is specifically important in educating non-LGBTQ Americans. Through the GLAAD Media Awards, which has become the most visible LGBTQ awards show, we have recognized many of these shows for raising the bar for diversity and inclusion in Hollywood. In turn, this helps to push these creators and others in Hollywood to produce future LGBTQ content that is cutting-edge and connects with diverse audiences in unique ways. As we look ahead, it is now crucial to recognize the need for diversity and inclusion to be institutionalized at every level of the production and creation process - from those in the writer’s room, to directors, to the stars on-screen, to those working in various behindthe-scenes roles. In doing so, we will bring new voices to the table, ultimately uplifting a diverse set of perspectives with the power to create nuanced stories and portrayals of LGBTQ people like never before. With television leading the charge, we are able to see how entertainment and media have the power to shift culture and combat the negative and dehumanizing messages we continue to face from the White House. Through media, we have the responsibility to help give visibility to LGBTQ stories - ones that will inspire LGBTQ people and youth to live freely and authentically, and give hope for a future where we are all treated equally. Representation matters more than ever, and with the help of Hollywood, we have the ability to send a strong message to those in power that we are here, we matter, and our voices will never be silenced.
ANTONIO BANDERAS wins a Dorian Award last weekend. He’s up for an Oscar as well but faces stiff competition. Photo by Brandon Riley Miller/Karel Media
Not-so-queer Oscars this year Unlike recent competitions, little gay content among this year’s nominees By DAN ALLEN
After a career spanning nearly four decades and including numerous gay roles, Antonio Banderas will finally be in contention for his first Best Actor award at this Sunday’s Oscars, for his heart-wrenching performance as a lonely and drug-addicted gay director in Pedro Almodóvar’s semi-autobiographical “Pain and Glory.” The Spanish-born Banderas has embraced gay characters virtually from the start of his career, when he played a gay Islamic terrorist in Almodóvar’s 1982 film “Labyrinth of Passion.” He would go on to greater gay acclaim for his steamy performance in Almodóvar’s “Law of
Desire” in 1987, and later appeared as Tom Hanks’ lover in “Philadelphia” in 1993, as well as the queer vampire Armand in 1994’s “Interview with the Vampire.” Banderas faces stiff competition at the Oscars this year from Best Actor favorite Joaquin Phoenix in “Joker,” but he’s already taken several trophies for his heart-wrenching “Pain and Glory” performance, including a Best Actor Dorian Award from GALECA, the Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics. Banderas made a special surprise appearance to accept his prize at last Sunday’s Dorian Awards toast in Hancock Park. The Oscars will be handed
out at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles Sunday night. ABC will air the hostless broadcast. Banderas’s well-deserved nomination is the shining exception among 2020’s Academy Award selections, which are undeniably less queer this year than they’ve recently been. Oscar’s queer presence had flourished in the years since “Moonlight” won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2017, first with “Call Me By Your Name” and “A Fantastic Woman” receiving nominations in 2018 (not to mention “The Shape of Water,” which many saw as a queer love story, and “Lady Bird,” which featured a gay character). Last
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year was arguably the queerest Oscars ever, with both Best Actor and Best Actress awards going to thespians in gay roles (Rami Malek in “Bohemian Rhapsody” and Olivia Coleman in “The Favourite,” edging out Melissa McCarthy in another lesbian role in “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”), as well as queer representations (and sensibilities) in “A Star Is Born” and “Mary Queen of Scots.” This year’s Oscar nominations, then, came as somewhat of a queer letdown, completely overlooking several LGBTQ-themed films that should (or at least could) have made the cut, including the gorgeous French lesbian romance “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” and the acclaimed coming-of-age (and lesbiancharactered) comedy “Booksmart,” both also Dorian Award winners last weekend. A few bright lights did shine through. Despite the Oscar snub of Taron Egerton for his acclaimed and Golden Globe-winning performance in the Elton John biopic “Rocketman,” “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” from that film, written by John and longtime collaborator Bernie Taupin, is nominated for Best Original Song. Many see “Little Women” and its rebellion against the trappings of heteronormativity as a queer movie, and it’s nominated for six Oscars this year, including Best Picture, though shamefully, Greta Gerwig was snubbed for Best Director. And while it’s not an LGBTQ role per se, Renée Zellweger is the heavy favorite to pick up the Best Actress Oscar for her titular
GRETA GERWIG wasn’t nominated for Best Director in a snub that drew widespread criticism.
role in “Judy,” the biography of beloved queer icon Judy Garland. Tangentially, “Bombshell,” which includes “SNL’s” Kate Mckinnon in a minor lesbian role, is nominated for Best Makeup and Hairstyling. A bit more tangentially, a couple of actors who’ve appeared in prominent LGBTQ roles before are nominated for Oscars this year. “Bombshell” Best Actress nominee Charlize Theron is a previous winner in the category for her chilling portrayal of serial killer Aileen Wuornos in 2004’s “Monster,” while Leonardo DiCaprio, nominated this year for “Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood,” played queer poet Arthur Rimbaud in 1995’s “Total Eclipse.” George MacKay, star of this year’s likely Best
Picture winner “1917,” was also the star of the 2014 LGBTQ-themed British movie “Pride.” For a queerer 2020 awards show than the Oscars, check out the 35th Film Independent Spirit Awards, airing live from Santa Monica at 2 p.m. this Saturday, Feb. 8. IFC subscribers can stream the show on ifc.com, while others can watch the show live on Twitter via @ifc or @filmindependent. Here, “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” is nominated for Best International Film, while “Booksmart” is nominated for Best First Feature (for Olivia Wilde), and the lesbian-themed Emily Dickinson romance “Wild Nights with Emily” is nominated for the John Cassavetes Award, for best feature made for less than $500,000.
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DON’T MISS ARTISTIC DIRECTOR DAVID IVERS’ DEBUT “WOW!…Golden age musicals don’t get more CHARMING or TUNEFUL or ROMANTIC or DELIGHTFUL”
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book by Joe Masteroff music by Jerry Bock lyrics by Sheldon Harnick based on the play by Miklós László directed by David Ivers
One kind deed can open up a world of possibilities in this romantic musical comedy based on the same story as You’ve Got Mail. RECOMMENDATION: Ages 12 & above. Contains recorded gunshots.
Brian Vaughn & Erin Mackey. Photo: Jordan Kubat
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • FEBRUARY 07, 2020 • 23
‘Jose’ finds hope in Guatemalan drama Torn between love and commitment to family By JOHN PAUL KING
’Jose’ opens in LA on Feb. 7.
There’s a sequence in Li Cheng’s movie “Jose” when its title character rides down the highway on a rented motorbike while entwined in the arms of his boyfriend, who huddles close on the seat behind him. Moving forward in delicate balance, existing for the moment in a bubble where taboos against intimate contact between men are suspended by necessity, he bathes in the sensual delight of the experience, and the giddy feeling of freedom that comes with it. The scene sticks with you for at least two powerful reasons. Most obviously, it’s because the expression on the face of the film’s lead performer, Enrique Salanic, exudes a dazzlingly authentic bliss that draws us so deeply into the moment that it feels like we are experiencing it first-hand. It’s a high point in a performance that has rightly earned the youthful actor star-making accolades at film festivals around the world. On a more subtle level, however, the sequence stands out as one of very few joyful moments in a drama that paints a very bleak picture of life as a young gay man in Guatemala City. Presented by the Chinese-born American filmmaker in a gritty documentarian style that evokes the post-WWII neorealism of Italian directors like Vittorio De Sica and Roberto Rossellini, “Jose” follows the day-to-day life of a teenage boy who lives with his street-vendor mother in a life of oppressive poverty. His existence is mostly a thing of routine; he divides his time between working at a café to
help support the household and stealing away for hookups with men he meets through phone apps. One of these encounters is with Luis, a temporary transplant from the Caribbean coast who is in Guatemala City for a construction job. Something clicks between then, and as the relationship blossoms, Jose begins to see a chance to escape the isolation of the closet for a life of contented happiness he never dared hope could be possible – if only he can free himself from the guilt imposed by his responsibility toward his aggressively pious and manipulative mother. To American audiences – contemporary ones, at least – Jose’s choice might feel like a foregone conclusion. But Jose and Luis are not in New York City, or even Lubbock, Texas – they are in Guatemala City, a place where deeply embedded homophobic bias places overwhelming social and cultural obstacles against anyone trying to live an openly LGBTQ+ life, and where conservative religious values exert crushing pressure to conform not just to traditional boundaries around sexuality, but to the strict adherence of maintaining family and household roles. In such an environment, his decision becomes much less of a no-brainer. What makes Jose’s dilemma even more grim is the inescapable reality of his poverty. Unlike the protagonist of another recent Guatemalan queer film, “Temblores” (“Tremors”), who faces a similar choice from the perspective of wealth and privilege, he is faced with the certain knowledge that leaving his mother is to be responsible for placing her even deeper into hardship; couple this with the lingering specter of his own father’s abandonment of the family when he was a child, and Jose’s conflict becomes monumentally difficult to resolve. Li Cheng’s movie doesn’t try and find an easy or moralistic way out of this situation; in fact, it is far less interested in finding a way out than it is in exploring the many-tiered system of social repression behind it. Through Jose’s eyes, she shows us a lifestyle that is forced to exist in the shadows, in squalid, rent-by-the-hour sex havens during hours stolen away from the rigid mandates of work, church, and family; she shows us a repeated generational cycle in which men, chafing from the yoke of their responsibility to home and family, leave women and children behind to cope with the trauma of being abandoned by their provider to fend for themselves; she hints at a subtle, real-world social network through which friends and family exert hidden influence to manipulate events behind the scenes to “protect” their loved ones; most of all, she reveals, without narrative embellishment, the heartbreaking atmosphere of resigned hopelessness that exists for so many LGBTQ+ people in
Guatemala – and by extension, any of the too-many other places around the world where ancient prejudice combines with social hierarchy and government policy to repress and erase them. “Jose,” for all its refusal to shy away from the disheartening reality it is trying to convey, isn’t just a cold, hard statement of fact, however. Through the narrative flourishes she does allow herself, the director (who also co-wrote with George F. Roberson) also provides a faint undercurrent of hope to bubble up to the surface, as well as an unmistakable push for the acceptance of LGBTQ+ people. These are most apparent in the scenes between Salanic and Manolo Herrera, who plays Luis; the two have a sweet, infectious chemistry that is hard to find even between the most gifted of Hollywood A-listers, and the authenticity they each bring to their roles keeps it from ever seeming manufactured. They are fully nude in many of their scenes together, and their sexuality is explicitly portrayed – but far from seeming exploitative, the “realness” of these intimate scenes underscores the inherent humanity of sex, no matter the genders of the participants. Additionally, perhaps, it not-so-gently confronts audiences with the fact of non-heteronormative sex, in an effort to normalize it through familiarity within a wider culture. “Jose” won the prestigious Queer Lion Prize at the 75th Venice Film Festival in 2018, and it was lauded on the international festival circuit both for its director’s austere-yet-passionate cinematic vision and Salanic’s performance. As an ominous footnote to its success story, however, the charismatic young actor – who trained in the US on a scholarship as a teenager but now lives with his family in his native Guatemala – was denied a US entry visa to attend the film’s US premiere in New York last week; in the grip of Trump’s nationalist fever, it’s just another reminder that America, instead of being the beacon of hope it once aspired to be, is in danger of becoming just another systemic obstacle in the path of freedom for all. Li Cheng’s movie, at least, does give us something to cling to. Riding on that motorbike, her protagonist – and the audience, by extension – gets a taste of the freedom that happens when you are able to live your life in the open, without fear. Because he experiences it, he knows it is real – and because it was real, he now knows that it is possible to achieve. Though the film’s slice-of-life conclusion leaves Jose facing an uncertain future, regretting a missed opportunity and despairing over lost love, that’s something that the rest of us, at least, can call hope.
24 • FEBRUARY 07, 2020 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
LOVE WINS: A VALENTINE’S GIFT GUIDE Cupcakes, wine, cologne, candy and more with a queer twist By MIKEY ROX Spread the love any which you want this Valentine’s Day with one of these gifts from your swole queer heart.
Guy Fox Cologne
Festive Fiesta Dinnerware
His pheromone will jolt your testosterone when he splashes on one of the muskycrisp colognes from Guy Fox California. It’s customizable to create a signature scent that’ll have him smelling good enough to eat. $54.50, guyfox.com
Iconic heart-shaped Fiesta Dinnerware — available in an assortment of rainbow-plus colors — serves up a bellyful of appreciation from the oven or microwave. The five-year chip-replacement warranty doesn’t mind if you’re a little rough around the kitchen. $24.99, fiestafactorydirect.com
Loud-and-Proud Statement Clutches Left-of-center clutches from Good Vibrations lets bae be even bolder with word designs that include Queen, Slut, Cunt and Feminist. The pronoun “They” mini-clutch serves a worth-more-than-its-price purpose. $29, goodvibes.com
The Self-Care Bucket List There’s no love like self love and you can shower yourself with affection throughout February and beyond with this collection of cards that suggest healthy, goodfor-you actions like unplugging devices for a day, taking a family member out for a meal to show appreciation, decluttering your social media accounts and relaxing to an album from beginning to end. $39.99, flowjo.com
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • FEBRUARY 07, 2020 • 25
Red, White and Bubbles
Wicked Good Cupcakes
Big Heart Tea Co.
Curate an at-home wine list for your budget V-Day dinner with selections like the Mionetto Prestige Brut or Rosé Extra Dry, 2016 Gundlach Bundschu Cabernet Sauvignon and Weed Cellars’ Pride Edition Chenin Blanc Viognier. $14-55.
Dessert’s done and delivered to your door in three decadent cupcake-in-a-jar flavors including dark chocolate/white chocolate raspberry, Cupid’s Vanilla Confetti, and Valentine Red Velvet Heart. From successful “Shark Tank” alum Wicked Good Cupcakes. Special holiday two- to six-packs include a 3-D Lovepop greeting card. $30.4569.45, wickedgoodcupcakes.com
Slip off your 2(X)IST underwear and slip into its new line of face care, including a charcoal wash and exfoliating scrub, shave cream and moisturizing gel, for softer, smoother skin slappin’. $22-35, 2xist.com
Valentine’s breakfast in bed requires a Cup of Love — a mild, naturally sweet rose tea with organic tulsi — featuring biodegradable bags made from woven Soilon mesh (derived from cornstarch) to please your ecoconscious snuggle bunny. $8.99, bighearttea.com
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LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • FEBRUARY 07, 2020 • 27
Largely relegated to the margins of history and contemporary conversation, the social justice work of Black cis and trans women, as well as cis and trans women of color, gets the front-and-center placement it merits, in “Metanoia: Transformation Through AIDS Archives and Activism.” On view through April 5 at the ONE Gallery in West Hollywood, the archival exhibition’s collection of posters, newsletters, pamphlets, and other ephemera invites viewers to contemplate communitybased responses to the AIDS crisis. As noted by the curators, “Metanoia” seeks to “draw out the larger context in which Black women with HIV in prison were changed into agents of transformation for themselves, their communities, and all people living with or affected by HIV.” Culled from the holdings of the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives at the University of Southern California Libraries alongside those of NYC’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center (where “Metanoia” debuted in 2019), the assembled materials focus on the work of those who “strongly advocated for health, well-being, access to HIV medication, and compassionate release for themselves and their sisters experiencing incarceration in the early to mid-1990s.” “It is not an exhaustive show,” notes NYC-based activist, artist, journalist, and “Metanoia” co-curator Theodore “Ted” Kerr. “It’s not trying to tell all the history of AIDS activism in California and Los Angeles. It’s trying gesture to two experiences: One, of Katrina Halslip, a Black woman living with HIV, in Bedford Hills [Correctional Facility for Women], who helped change the definition of AIDS to include women, in 1992. And for me, the object that most invites that is a beautiful black and white photograph of taken from a video about women involved in AIDS activism.” The other experience, notes Kerr, “is about Joann Walker, a Black woman who, once she was incarcerated, found out about her HIV status, and then started advocating for the compassionate release of women living with HIV, so they could die with dignity at home, rather than the hell of prison.” Walker, notes Kerr, was released from prison “a mere two weeks before her death, barely able to walk.” The item that best exemplifies Walker’s power, he says, is an iPad containing the letters exchanged by Walker and Judy Greenspan (whose holdings are in the ONE Archives). “In these letters,” says Kerr, “we learn that Joann Walker is a smart and funny and fierce woman who is fighting for freedom, for herself and other people.” “Metanoia” seeks to rectify the marginalization of prison reform advocates by the art world and historians—but it’s not just about legacy: The exhibition also champions the work of contemporary activists in and around the greater Los Angeles area. “The LA commission made lots of sense to us,” says Umi Hsu, Director of Content Strategy at the ONE Archives Foundation, “because the historical papers [in the NYC version] featured the activism work of two important collectors, Judy Greenspan and Judy Sisneros. They were instrumental in the HIV/AIDS movement, within incarceration activism, and led a lot of work here in California.” With Greenspan residing in Oakland and Sisneros in Los Angeles, “It was our wish to kind of bring it home, in a sense,” says Hsu, noting that the bulk of the exhibition comes from the ONE Archives’ collection of materials gathered by Sisneros, while objects from Greenspan’s collection came from The Center in New York. Hsu add that the West Coast iteration of the exhibition is imbued with elements meant to “connect the show and its history to the present. The curators did a really fantastic job of reaching out to HIV activists working in Los Angeles county, that are doing really important work in our current day… so we have these dialogues of past and present.” In that manner, “Metanoia” sends “a message to the people of California, that there are strong and powerful women, men, and people among them who are doing amazing AIDS activism, who have done amazing AIDS activism,” says Kerr, who curated the NYC and LA exhibitions alongside Katherine Cheairs and Alexandra Juhasz—all of whom are members of What Would an HIV Doula Do?, a collective of artists, filmmakers, writers, and activists committed to, they note, “ensuring that community plays a key role in the current AIDS response.” “I’m a Canadian living in New York [City],” says Kerr, who “grew up craving more information about HIV/AIDS, in terms of activism, education, and culture. And there wasn’t a lot, and what was available was often about New York City—which of course is such an important epicenter of AIDS activism and culture. But it’s not the only place. So to have an exhibition about California AIDS activism in California is important, to put those people on the historical record.” What’s more, says Kerr—who teaches a class at NYC’s The New School, on how to memorialize AIDS while it’s still ongoing—the conversation around HIV/AIDS activism is too-often viewed within the context of past efforts. “Metanoia,” he notes, “connects to what’s being done now, because archives are only as powerful as the people who use them, and how they’re activated in the present… Diving into the most urgent concerns of the present is the best form of memorial, because it’s ensuring that nobody died in vain, and that all the activism of the past is being carried forward, for the benefit of the future.”
‘Metanoia’ connects past AIDS activism to the present Highlighting work of cis and trans women of color By SCOTT STIFFLER
Photo by Lolita Lens Photography Courtesy of the ONE Archives
28 • FEBRUARY 07, 2020 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
The Superfine! Art Fair, which returns to Los Angeles this weekend for the second year in a row, isn’t the stuffy gallery experience that comes to most people’s mind when they think about shopping for an original work of art. The brainchild of partners Alex Mitow and James Miile, Superfine! was launched as part of Miami Art Week five years ago, after the couple had grown frustrated trying to navigate the conventional art world, Miile as an emerging photographer, and Mitow as a collector. The pair were convinced that the traditional assumptions about buying and selling art were shutting out enormous numbers of potential buyers; they believed that by providing an atmosphere where “regular people” could connect directly with artists – and where they could take home work they loved no matter what their budget – that they could inspire would-be collectors with the joy and excitement of what Mitow calls “the art of collecting art.” Superfine! was the result – a sort of “pop-up” marketplace bringing together a diverse array of exhibitors and collectors in an unpretentious environment, and which has evolved into a major annual event in an ever-growing list of cities around the country. Since making its Miami debut, it’s added editions in New York, Washington DC, and Los Angeles – where it returns from February 6-9 at The Reef in DTLA. The Blade checked in with Mitow ahead of this year’s LA show, to discuss where the festival is coming from and where he sees it going. Our conversation is below.
‘Superfine!’ art fair is shaking up the market Where ‘regular people’ can connect directly with artists By JOHN PAUL KING
Los Angeles Blade: Superfine started out with an intention to disrupt the traditional art marketplace. Is that still what you’re trying to do? Alex Mitow: Definitely that’s still our ethos, for sure. We’ve done a lot of data gathering over the last year – 75% of our visitors say that their favorite aspect of coming to the fair is meeting and connecting with the artists, meeting them and buying from them person-to-person. We’ve polled the last three fairs, and they all come up with that statistic. That undermines the conventional art wisdom that if you’re an artist you need a gallery to sell your work. I mean, we kind of knew it already, but it’s great to find out that the numbers are backing it up. It’s not just something that we thought, it’s actually true. Blade: How much do you think the fair’s success has to do with your efforts to make it so diverse? Mitow: It’s not so much that we go out and engineer our fair to be as LGBTQ and as female as it is, it’s more of an organic outgrowth of how we run it, and how we run the business. It’s very very transparent, everyone gets the same deal – and that plays exceptionally well to our communities of artists because they typically aren’t getting the exposure that some straight, male artists are getting. Our fairness really speaks to these underrepresented communities, so we get a lot of artists from them. It transfers to the collectors as well. The typical idea of a collector is older, white people – in a gallery, you can see the sellers all perk up when an older white couple walks in. But we’ve really shown that art collectors are just as diverse as he artists. We have all ages, college students buying their first work of art and young nesting families, but also Latino and black collectors – all different communities and demographics. And when you’re an artist and you see people who are more like you wanting your art, or if you’re someone who maybe hasn’t been viewed as a collector before and you come to a show with such a diverse population of artists, I think it really empowers both sides. Blade: Whatever the reason, it seems to be working. Superfine has grown tremendously even in the past year. Mitow: We’ve done some expanding, for sure – we’re adding a fair in Seattle and one in San Francisco, and we’re doing our fourth year in New York. We’re actually hosting a series of three fairs in a row there this spring, with the title “Woman, Myth and Magic.” The first one is all women artists, and the third one is all LGBTQ. The middle one is all surrealist art, that’s the myth part. We have a ton of surrealists that show in our fair, so we wanted to have an event that focused on them, as well. In 2021 we’re expanding to St. Petersburg, Florida, which is kind of an unusual choice, but it has a lot of the markers of the demographics that we look for – it’s got a huge
A work by SCOTT FROSCHAUER on display at Superfine! For more information and for ticket packages, check out https://superfine.world/.
gay community, and there are a lot of younger, affluent couples who are settling there. Chicago is a big one for us in 2021 also, with a lot of similar markers. Going forward past that, there are a lot of cities in the country that are underserved by what we do and by art fairs in general, and we’re really looking at them – cities in Texas, Colorado, Oregon – a lot of places that we’re going to try and take the model to. Blade: What would you say to encourage someone who might have an interest in art but doesn’t think of themselves as a collector. Mitow: I would argue that everybody actually collects art – we all put things on our wall, we all have things that we treasure. I think it’s a really neat feeling when you buy those things from people that you meet and connect with, and you know what the story is behind it and why they made it. It’s much different than having a piece of décor – you become a part of that person’s life and they become part of yours, and that just goes on forever, it’s something that pass on to your kids, to your family, and so on. I’ve had friends who have come to our fairs that never thought they would buy art, and now they have seven or ten pieces in their house that they’ve bought over the years. We see that happen more often than not, and as the organizers, and this being our message, it’s a great feeling.
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30 • FEBRUARY 07, 2020 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
CANNABIS CULTURE Austin won’t prosecute low-level pot offenses AUSTIN, Texas — Members of the Austin City Council have unanimously approved a resolution that forbids city officials from spending funds for the purpose of prosecuting low-level marijuana possession offenses. The sponsor of the resolution called the measure necessary in order to reprioritize limited police resources and to arrest the racial disproportionality in marijuana arrests. Texas NORML Executive Director Jax Finkel praised the change in municipal policy. “Austin officials should be doing the absolute most they can within their discretion to prevent these arrests,” she said. “This resolution prevents taxpayers’ funds from being wasted on enforcing this failed policy and refocuses monies where they belong, protecting our city from violent and property crimes.” The local ordinance also applies to activities involving the personal possession of cannabis concentrates, edibles, or vapor cartridges. Under state law, low-level marijuana possession offenses are classified as criminal misdemeanors, punishable by up to 180 days in jail, a $2,000 fine, and a criminal record. Annually, Texas police make over 60,000 marijuana possession arrests – one of the highest totals in the nation.
Cleveland Council moves to decriminalize pot possession CLEVELAND — Members of the Cleveland City Council have approved municipal legislation de-penalizing marijuana possession offenses. The measure now awaits final approval from the city’s mayor. Under the proposal, activities involving the possession of up to 200 grams of cannabis will no longer be punishable by an arrest, a fine, or a criminal record. Marijuana will still be defined as contraband and will be confiscated by local law enforcement. The measure is similar to those approved in several other Ohio cities, including Athens and Columbus, which also reduce or eliminate municipal penalties for the possession of up to 200 grams of marijuana. Under state law, the possession of marijuana in amounts above 100 grams but below 200 grams is punishable by up to 30 days in jail. WHEN LIFE HAPPENS. CREATIVE HAPPENS.
Missouri awards medical cannabis dispensary licenses JEFFERSON CITY, MO — State regulators last week began issuing the first licenses for medical cannabis providers. Under the provisions enacted by a 2018 voter-approved ballot initiative, officials with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services must license a minimum of 24 dispensaries in each of the state’s eight congressional districts. Regulators have already registered 27,000 patients to participate in the cannabis access program. Licensed dispensaries are expected to be operational by this spring.
Marijuana not associated with low infant birth weight: study
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LONDON — Cannabis smoking during pregnancy, absent concurrent tobacco smoking, is not associated with lower birth weight outcomes, according to data published in the Journal of Perinatal Medicine. A team of investigators from Kings College in London assessed the association between the maternal use of tobacco and cannabis on infant birth weight and head circumference. Researchers reported that self-reported tobacco smoking during pregnancy, as well as the combined use of tobacco and cannabis, was associated with reductions in birth weight and head circumference. By contrast, “cannabis use alone was not associated with a significant reduction in birth weight or head circumference.” The study’s finding is consistent with those of prior studies, including a metaanalysis which concluded, “Maternal marijuana use during pregnancy is not an independent risk factor for adverse neonatal outcomes after adjusting for confounding factors.”
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • FEBRUARY 07, 2020 • 31
Inside Aaron Hernandez’s mind New docu-series devotes too much time to sexuality By BILLY MASTERS
A new docu-series spends a little too much time on AARON HERNANDEZ’S sexual orienation. Image courtesy of Netflix
“I better hear no lip-syncing tomorrow.” — Lady Gaga, from the stage of her Miami show on All Super Bowl’s Eve. She added, “I love you, J. Lo. I love you Shakira.” I think she may love them a little less today. Shakira didn’t even attempt to hide her lip-syncing, while Lopez spent most of her stage time pole dancing. My favorite part of the Super Bowl is the commercials. This year, we had Molly Ringwald hawking avocados, Winona Ryder doing something in the snow, MC Hammer selling Cheetos, a “Queer Eye” pushing Pop Tarts, Ellen and Portia extolling the virtues of Alexa, and a trio of Bostonians (Chris Evans, John Krasinski and Rachel Dratch) endorsing Hyundai. I was excited when I heard Sofia Vergara was in a commercial called, “When We Come Together.” Alas, it was nothing like I expected. Then there was the spot for Sabra hummus starring Kim Chi and Miz Cracker. Many media outlets reported that this was the first time drag queens appeared in a Super Bowl commercial. Not true. Way back during the 2000 Super Bowl, RuPaul starred in a commercial for WebEx, a video conferencing site. Since the supermodel of the world wasn’t yet a household name, the commercial began with her saying, “This meeting is a real drag.” Check it out on BillyMasters.com. Many of you have asked me about the Netflix docuseries, “Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez.” There’s been a lot of criticism that the show focuses too much on the former tight end’s sexual orientation. It even kicks off with the song “I’m Always Chasing Rainbows.” Subtle. In addition to his brain injuries, there is conjecture that his being outed on the radio led to his suicide two days later (an allegation echoed by Aaron’s brother). The doc spent an inordinate amount of time blaming his violent tendencies on his internal sexual conflict. I’ve previously told you the allegations of former Marine, Dennis SanSoucie. He claims to have had a “relationship” with Aaron from 7th grade until they were juniors in high school. He also states that while Hernandez didn’t want to be gay, he “participated” with many people. “I was a small piece of Aaron’s sexual activity.” And yet, to the best of my knowledge, no other “participants” have come forward. Dennis says Aaron was terrified of his father finding out. “Mr. Hernandez was wellknown as a man’s man; a father that slapped the faggot right out of you.” However, Mr. Hernandez died when his son was 16. It seems that rather than free Aaron, it made him snap. Of course, his mother shacking up with his favorite cousin’s husband probably didn’t help. I don’t think the doc ever mentioned Aaron having beards or girlfriends - aside from his fiancée, Shayanna Jenkins. In a recent interview, Shayanna weighed in on all the speculation. “You can’t describe someone’s sexuality without them being here. Although I’ve had a child with Aaron, I still can’t tell you what he was feeling inside.” Her words came back to me during a sequence in the documentary where they played a prison call between the couple. When he mentions being in “an all-male jail...besides ‘those things’”, Shayanna chastises him. “Stop calling them ‘those things.’ Stop it. That is so rude. They are called transgender. Don’t call them ‘those things.’” Across the pond, “Doctor Who” is making history. For those of you who don’t know, the titular character of the venerable series has been played by 13 actors since 1963. I read an article that “Doctor Who” is being played by Jodie Whittaker. Well, I got all excited - the little boy from “Family Affair” finally got a gig! Then I realized Johnny Whitaker PLAYED Jody (with a Y) on the show, twin to Buffy who died of an overdose as a teen. This Jodie Whittaker is a woman, and she’s been Doctor Who since 2017. The person playing the latest incarnation is actually Jo Martin, which is historic because Jo is the first Doctor Who of color (to say nothing of a female Doctor Who of color). And how clever of the Brits to do this right in the middle of Brexit and Megxit. By the by, guess who returned to “Doctor Who?” Our very own John Barrowman - as Captain Jack, naturally. Why did it take Barrowman 10 years to rejoin to the franchise? Apparently the previous showrunner was not a fan. However, Chris Chibnall was recently hired - and he had previously been the showrunner for “Torchwood” (the “Doctor Who” spin-off starring Barrowman as Captain Jack). So that led the way to his return. Although Barrowman’s appearance was a oneoff, I am told he could be back in the future. When I can write so much about the Super Bowl without ever mentioning the game, it’s time to end yet another column. Let me quickly remind you to check out www.BillyMasters.com - the site that sticks to what it knows. If you have a question, drop an e-mail to Billy@BillyMasters.com and I promise to get back to you before Meghan Markle is cast as the next Doctor Who! Until next time, remember, one man’s filth is another man’s bible.
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