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GET OUT & VOTE Vote Proud seeks to boost turnout among LGBTQ Americans PAGE 08

F E B R U A R Y 2 8 , 2 0 2 0 • V O LU M E 0 4 • I S S U E 0 9 • 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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LOCAL

LA celebrates life of Kobe and Gianna Bryant Memorial also highlights women’s basketball By KAREN OCAMB This has only happened a few times in the past four decades: the 1984 Olympics, 9/11, and Monday, Feb. 24 – when the memorial service for Kobe and Gianna Bryant brought the city of Los Angeles to a virtual standstill in a transformative moment of shared unity. LA loved Lakers basketball star Kobe Bryant, 41, who was killed last month with his beloved daughter Gianna, 13, and seven others when their helicopter pilot apparently became disoriented by the fog and slammed into a hillside in Calabasas. What many in the LGBTQ community did not know until the memorial at the Staples Center — the house that Kobe built – was

DIANA TAURASI at Bryant memorial (Screen grab)

just how much Kobe embraced diversity and inclusivity. The Center was packed with about 20,000 family, friends and fans, as thousands more were glued to their TVs or streaming devices during the powerfully simple morning celebration of Kobe and Gianna (aka Gigi),

their love for the game and each other. The Bryants died on the way to their Mamba Academy in Thousand Oaks for a girls basketball game. Unbeknownst to many who lost track of the player after his moving retirement, Kobe prized his role as a proud “girl dad” and celebrated and supported women in basketball. And Kobe’s beloved wife Vanessa Bryant, who had been with the basketball star since she was 17 ½ years old, made sure the celebration emphasized family and featured scores of powerful women, not just Kobe’s legendary friends such as Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal. Out WNBA all-time leading scorer Diana Taurasi, whom Deandre Ayton called “the Michael Jordan of the WNBA” and Kobe dubbed “the White Mamba,” told of her admiration for Kobe. “Watching Kobe play the Great Western Forum as a rookie made this little girl believe she could be a Laker one day. It was like getting

to know myself every single day. He made it okay to play with an edge that borderlined crazy,” she said. “Gigi in many ways, represents the future of women’s basketball. A future where a young woman aspires to play in the WNBA. The same way I wanted to be a Laker.” NCAA great Sabrina Ionescu of the University of Oregon also shared her experience with Kobe and Gigi. “I wanted to be a part of the generation that changed basketball for Gigi and her teammates. Where being born female didn’t mean being born behind, where greatness wasn’t divided by gender,” she said. From the memorial, Ionescu flew to the Bay Area to rejoin her winning Oregon team and became the first player in NCAA history, man or woman, to reach 2,000 points, 1,000 assists and 1,000 rebounds – which she dedicated to Kobe.

Jackie Goldberg is under attack Right-wing PAC spending millions against progressives By KAREN OCAMB

Jackie Goldberg is under massive attack! She is being targeted by tycoon Bill Bloomfield  and the  Charter Public Schools PAC, Cal Matters reports. To date, they have spent nearly $6.4 million to defeat propublic school progressives, with incumbent Goldberg (Board District 5) receiving the most surreally beyond-the-pale missives.”  “Evil in the flesh, or so you’d believe from the fliers now landing in mailboxes across a wide swath of Los Angeles,” LA Times’ Steve Lopez wrote in his Feb. 22 column about Goldberg. “She stands accused of discriminating against Latino families, putting children in the line of fire because she’s sold out to the NRA, and

Out LAUSD Board member JACKIE GOLDBERG (Photo from Facebook)

being responsible for L.A. Unified’s horrible Miramonte Elementary School molestation scandal.” “As a person who’s been in public office a long time, I’ve received death threats and other sorts of terrible things in the mail, so it

04 • FEBRUARY 28, 2020 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM

doesn’t kill me,” said Goldberg. She fumed countering each “gross distortion, or a half-truth taken out of context for the sole purpose of running her out of office in the March 3 school board election.” Some of the allegations happened at times when “I wasn’t even on the board,” she said. Lopez cites one particular mailer that declares: “Jackie Goldberg doesn’t believe Latino families value education.” Lopez is beyond annoyed. “It’s so base and crude, it strikes me as an insult to Latinos,” he writes. “It presumes they aren’t astute enough to know better, or to do a little research and see how preposterous the claims are about an elected official who has spent her whole career standing on the left side of the political spectrum, railing against inequalities.” Perhaps one of the most egregious points Lopez makes his how as “reported by my colleague  Howard Blume, Bloomfield has spent more than $1 million to take down

Goldberg and support her opponent, Christina Martinez Duran.” “It was never my intent to do a character assassination. It was just to lay out the facts,” Bloomfield told Lopez, adding that he stands by everything in the mailers and claims he’s now the victim of misrepresentation by “the other side.” “I never gave a dime to the Koch brothers, nor did I give the Republican Party any money last year,” he told Lopez. “I do not favor cuts to education, I do not favor cuts to teachers’ healthcare, and I do not want to privatize schools.” And why has he spent millions to defeat Goldberg and $1 million to support Duran, who he’s never met? “Because someone whom I highly respect and is an expert in education has,” Bloomfield said, “and that person highly recommended her.” (See Jackie Goldberg for School Board on Facebook to read Goldberg’s 4-page rebuttal to the Bloomberg PAC.)


LOCAL

Sherry Powell seeking #97 seat on Superior Court Would be sixth lesbian on the LA court By KAREN OCAMB Out of nowhere, life throws a curve ball that changes everything. Undaunted, Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Sherry Powell stepped up to the unexpected and deftly handled an emotional courthouse crisis. That moment galvanized her into running for L.A. Superior Court, seat #97. It started as a regular day for gang unit prosecutor Powell until she was asked to handle a case for another DA. It was supposed to be perfunctory but when she went to court, she learned there was an issue. For some reason, the defendant was refusing to put on clothing or to come out of holding. “She was classified by gender as a male and was being denied estrogen. She was not being addressed as a female and was going through hormone withdrawal. She was in distress,” Powell tells the Los Angeles Blade. “No one in the courtroom understood the importance of being respected and recognized as one knows one’s self to be and not as how the other people might perceive that person. People in court, whether they are judges, attorneys, bailiffs, and other courtroom staff have difficulty understanding how someone appears to look to them does not necessarily reflect how that person sees themselves. They get confused.” As the prosecutor, Powell was not permitted to speak directly to the defendant but she found another way to deescalate the crisis. “I immediately started referring to her as ‘her,’ ‘she,’ and ‘Ms.’ through the open lock up door. She started to calm down and agreed to put on clothing,” Powell says. “She came out into the courtroom and I, again, just started using the correct pronouns over and over to reassure her that at least someone in that courtroom understood her and saw her. She would only look at me and she would only respond to me, even though I was the

Sherry Powell with her wife Janie Brackenridge and their dog Rudi. (Photo courtesy Powell)

prosecutor in the room.” Powell’s soul was unsettled. “I really felt bad for her,” says Powell, 51. Though Powell and her wife Janie Brackenridge believe society is “moving in the direction of understanding,” Powell felt the need to be more proactive and decided to run for LA Superior Court. While most eyes are on the March 3 Democratic presidential primary, the toooften-ignored judicial races are critical right now as impeached-but-not-convicted President Donald J. Trump believes he is above the law, abetted by his loyalists. “In just a few short years, the Trump administration, aided by Mitch McConnel and the Senate, has fundamentally changed the federal bench for the next generation,” Brad Sears, Associate Dean of Public interest Law, UCLA School of Law, tells the Los Angeles Blade. “With machine-like precision, they blocked appointments during the Obama administration and then have stacked the federal bench during the current term. The result: an increasingly less diverse bench in terms of race, gender and ideology; one that is hostile to individual rights and our social safety net; and one that is willing

to grant this President all the broad powers he seeks to take.” If elected, Powell — who came out to herself in her 20s — would be the sixth lesbian on the LA Superior Court, out of 477 LA prosecutors who responded to the 2019 survey conducted by the Judicial Council of California. Lesbians account for 1.5% in the entire California court system of 1,743 justices and judges. Like her chance encounter with a trans woman in county custody, Powell’s lived experience helps inform her actions. “Law is a second career for me,” Powell says, noting she worked 20 years in printing and educational publishing and then became an owner/operator of a graphic design business before putting herself through UCLA Law School.  “I decided to start from a blank slate and go to law school at the age of 35,” she says. “My entire legal career has been with the LAC District Attorney’s Office and I currently prosecute gang homicides.  In a prior assignment, I prosecuted rape, child molest, elder abuse, hate crimes, human trafficking and domestic violence.  The majority of my legal career has been spent serving victims of violent crime and families who have lost a

loved one to murder.” Powell has a slew of prominent endorsements, including Kevin Brazile, the Presiding Judge of LA County Superior Court, and Eric Taylor, the Assistant Presiding Judge, as well as I “the LA County judiciary, courtroom staff, the defense bar,” colleagues in the DA’s office, LA County Democratic Party, Stonewall Democratic Party and the highly regarded legal publication, Metropolitan News-Enterprise. In the nine contested judicial races for LA Superior Court, the LA Times endorsed only one woman. They also touted prosecutorial strength for one candidate but endorsed Powell’s opponent Timothy D. Reuben because he is “a breath of fresh air” civil litigator. “The Superior Court bench is disproportionately made up of former prosecutors, and it’s important for the court as a whole to have judges from a variety of backgrounds,” The Times opines, dinging Powell for being a prosecutor and failing to recognize her inherent diversity. Meanwhile, MetNews reported that January campaign finance filings show Reuben spent $519,202.87, “largely on a plethora of slate mailers,” while Powell’s expenditures were $917.75. Her grassroots campaign is buoyed by Superior Court judges Carol Najera, Emily Spear and Danielle Gibbons, who “are generally thought to have won election through their heavy use of social media.” Can Powell replicate their grassroots success? Surely, vulnerable minority defendants might hope so. “I think having LGBTQIA judges on the bench will help all judges serve our community with respect and just serve effectively and fairly,” Powell says. “That’s what I would like to contribute.”  See Powell’s website at  www.powellforjudge. com. 

LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • FEBRUARY 28, 2020 • 05


LOCAL

Torie Osborn’s team of grassroots resisters Activism focused on fundraising and door-knocking By KAREN OCAMB

High tech tricks and apps may delight digital campaign groupies but longtime lesbian organizer Torie Osborn is just as certain that the tried-and-true tools of fundraising and personal voter contact through door-knocking are the key to a grassroots campaign strategy. As founder and leader of the Los Angeles-based Team T.O. Resist and Rise!, her campaign tactics are being put to use in the existential 2020 elections. Concern is growing now, for instance, about how the Democratic nominee for president will impact down-ballot races. Some vulnerable Republicans have already started to link presumptive frontrunner Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a staunch democratic socialist, to their Democratic opponent. Arizona Republican Martha McSally – who received President Trump’s endorsement in her August primary – recently put out an ad featuring Sanders and her Democratic challenger, Mark Kelly. “Kelly and Sanders, too liberal for Arizona,” says the narrator in an ad entitled “Bernie Bro.” McSally campaign manager Dylan Lefler underscored the point: “[A] vote for Kelly is a vote for the Bernie Sanders socialist policies of government takeover of healthcare, open borders, and massive tax hikes on the middle class.” Kelly – a retired NASA astronaut and husband of former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, a victim of gun violence – has so far only said he would vote for the inevitable Democratic nominee. “Mark is an engineer, combat pilot, and astronaut running to be an independent voice in the Senate, and he will stand up to anyone in either party when it’s right for Arizona,” Kelly spokesperson Jacob Peters said in a statement making Kelly sound like the late Arizona Republican maverick

Sen. John McCain, whose seat McSally was appointed to fill. Right now, the Cook Political Report scores the McSally vs Kelly race as a “tossup” with Kelly ahead in money and the polls. It’s a key race for Osborn’s resistance group. “[Republican Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell is the death trap for any good legislation. We must flip the Senate, even if we lose the White House. If we flip the Senate, we can block the orange fascist,” Osborn tells the Los Angeles Blade. Osborn is a progressive organizer, a lesbian-feminist, idealistic-pragmatist who has a long history of serving the LGBTQ and AIDS communities through the LA Gay & Lesbian Community Services Center, the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, and Liberty Hill. Her paying gig now is as senior advisor/strategist to longtime friend, LA County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. “There’s a lot of firepower in our fundraising, but the truth is we’re a small group,” says Osborn, and they’re focused on Kelly’s race in Arizona as their part in flipping the Senate. Their fifth “Making Waves for Democracy” fundraiser in conjunction with Westside Democratic HQ, is scheduled for Sunday, March 22nd from 3-5pm at the William Turner Gallery at Bergamot,2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica. Former Rep. Gabby Giffords and Rep. Ted Lieu will be there. (Find tickets through ActBlue via their Facebook page.) “We’re a well-oiled machine on the fundraising at this point,” says Osborn. “We’ve already raised $137,000 with just weeks to go, which is phenomenal because this is a $50 fundraiser. I think we’re going to raise a quarter of a million dollars -and at a $50 event.” Their biggest fundraiser so far was for Blue Wave victors Katie Hill and Harley

06 • FEBRUARY 28, 2020 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM

Organizer TORIE OSBORN inspiring the troops. (Photo courtesy Osborn)

Rouda in 2018, with a haul of $220,000. In addition to Kelly, Osborn’s team is now also raising money and door-knocking for Rouda’s re-election in the 48th CD and for Assemblymember Christy Smith, who is running to fill the 5th CD seat vacated by Rep. Katie Hill. “Here’s the thing: I’m more interested in keeping people whole and teaching them skills for the long-term,” says Osborn. “At least half our people have never been active in anything before. They are newly woke, largely college-educated, largely women, many lesbians,” the unrecognized backbone of the 2018 resistance movement.

“That’s our people. Half of them have never done anything before. The other half are veterans of the women’s movement and maybe HIV/AIDS.” The monthly TTRR (Team T.O. Resist and Rise!) Sunday meetings in Mar Vista are a Trump-free zone. “We do not talk about Donald Trump. We talk about how to sustain. It’s sort of what I’ve learned from AIDS and over 50 years of activism. We don’t focus on the negative. We focus on the positive,” Osborn says. “It’s like a political community and we sincerely value selfcare. That’s really what I learned from AIDS: When you’re fighting


LOCAL

for your lives, when you’re fighting to build a movement, you must sort of lead from love, even if you have political differences,” she says. “And I learned this from fighting AIDS, the only antidote to despair and rage is action.” A lot of TTRR’s work “is teaching people that it’s the grunt work of politics that wins.” But there’s also the parable of the choir. “A chorus can sustain a note for a really long time because people stop and take a breath when they need to. Well, that’s what we do,” Osborn says. “You do not have to watch Rachel every night. You do not have to know what’s going on. You get to take a break.” TTRR members support different Democratic candidates for president – Osborn, for instance, supports Sen. Elizabeth Warren. But no one supports Sanders and they have not yet figured out how they will unite if Sanders is the nominee, especially since many have been angered by the online attacks of the “Bernie Bros” such as the mass snake attack against Warren. Osborn is willing to keep an open mind. “I’m not saying there aren’t angry young men who are participating, but for the most part that’s the Russians,” she says. “So, number one, you have to educate people about how they’re been manipulated. But number two, we have to keep in mind what’s happening. Our country has been stolen by the radical right and this minority of ultra-right, racist, misogynist, homophobic, transphobic people. “I mean, this is evil. We are up against fascism,” Osborn says. “So do you want Donald Trump or do you want whoever the Democrats end up putting forward?” Osborn has been “on the receiving end of the ugliness of some of the Bernie Bros and it’s really scary and it’s really awful and it’s really misogynist,” she says. “But

TTRR speakers: out LA City Council member MIKE BONIN, Rep. TED LIEU, out LA County Supervisor SHEILA KUEHL, and Rep. KAREN BASS (Photo courtesy Osborn)

I think there’s something going on that we haven’t yet identified or articulated or clarified, including myself. So I don’t really have words for it. But it is an undercurrent of rage at this system that Bernie [speaks to]. It’s kind of similar to what Trump tapped into on the right, but it’s getting people. “Remember 63 million people voted for Trump; 66 million people voted for Hillary and something like 100 million people didn’t vote at all,” Osborn says. “And it’s the nonvoters we’ll have to go after. It is the nonvoters that the people who maybe they voted for Obama. It’s young people; it’s immigrants; it’s people of color; it’s poor people; it’s people who are disaffected,” noting that 50% of Latinos who voted for Sanders in Nevada identified as moderate

to conservative. “This is something way beyond the Democratic Party and what the Democratic Party has been able to tap into. This is really an undercurrent of disengagement and disaffection with politics as usual.” So picking a candidate should be less like falling in love and more like riding public transportation. “If the best bus doesn’t take you right to your destination, you take the second best bus. That’s the way politics should work,” Osborn says. “And right now the thing is to stop Trump and to take the Senate. And there are people who don’t think that a Bernie candidacy can flip the Senate. And I just disagree with that. I think it’s all about the non-voter.” That’s how bisexual Katie Hill won her

conservative district by nine points. “How did she do it? She got nonvoters to vote. She had the passion of young people and queer people and women. And she put together a coalition of excited people, many of whom were new to politics and she got them door knocking.” LGBTQ need to remember what it was like being a nonvoter. “Think about what excited you,” Osborn says, “and then figure out how to get people out to vote. Because the future of our Republic is at stake. This is the most important election of our lifetime.”

LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • FEBRUARY 28, 2020 • 07


LOCAL

LGBTQ voter turnout imperative in 2020 New voting system raises concerns By BRODY LEVESQUE & JOHN PAUL KING Super Tuesday on March 3 is a showdown for Democratic presidential candidates with California’s rich 415 delegates the biggest prize headed into what may become a brokered convention this coming July in Wisconsin. But with so much on the line, there are growing concerns over a new statewide voting system in California that some politicos worry may end in confusion and chaos. Since the LGBTQ community, in particular, has so much at stake, given President Trump’s extensive and deplorable anti-LGBTQ record, the high percentage of LGBTQ adults who are not registered to vote has also raised grave concerns for both the presidential race and down ballot races, especially in critical congressional districts. An October 2019 study by the Williams Institute found that 21 percent of LGBTQ adults nationally are not registered to vote, this in contrast to the 17 percent of nonLGBTQ adults. “We’re going into this election year more motivated than ever, to make sure that LGBTQ people are registered and turning out to vote,” Zeke Stokes, GLAAD’s senior adviser for the organization’s 2020 voter engagement campaign, tells the Los Angeles Blade. “We know that 1 in 5 LGBTQ people have not registered to vote, according to the Williams Institute, but there are also a whole lot of us who are registered but who aren’t participating in the electoral process.” Stokes notes that the 2016 outcome in a number of states was very close with Trump carrying Michigan by about 10,000 votes. “If you presume that there are so many LGBTQ people who aren’t registered to vote or aren’t participating, you could very quickly do the math and see how if we could engage those voters, and make sure

Among a number of LGBT efforts is VotePoud.org, a celebrity driven messaging team that hopes to influence LGBT voter turnout. SHARON STONE, SIR ELTON JOHN, BILLY PORTER, SHANGELA and many others are involved in the effort, spearheaded by legendary songwriter BRUCE ROBERTS and former Oprah Winfrey Executive LISA HALLIDAY.

they get to the polls, that our community has the ability to actually decide important elections,” Stokes says. A new initiative making voting easier and more flexible for California’s 20.5 million registered voters was launched in 2016 with the Voter’s Choice Act. Sec. of State Alex Padilla also launched a new web-based online initiative — vote.ca.gov — which is designed to be a one-stop site to provide resources for voter registration, voter status, how to vote, election cybersecurity and voter’s rights in California. A spokesperson for Padilla also noted that California has ‘Same Day Voter Registration’ on the SoS website: “Eligible citizens who need to register or re-register to vote within 14 days of an election can complete this process to register and vote at their county elections office, polling place, or vote center. Their ballots will be processed and counted once the county elections office has completed the voter registration verification process.” There has been some concern over California’s new voter machines, however. In Los Angeles County — the state’s largest county with 5.4 million registered voters — the $300 million effort to overhaul and

08 • FEBRUARY 28, 2020 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM

modernize the voting system has drawn criticism. The overhaul included elimination of the county’s traditional neighborhood polling places, replacing them with Vote Centers. On Feb. 22, 232 centers opened for early in-person voting with another 700 scheduled to open on Feb. 29. But there were glitches in getting the new touch screen machines to work. The LAist reported, “The system stumbled a bit early on opening day— election workers had early problems. Staff couldn’t log into new ballot marking machines to get voting started because they lacked the necessary barcodes.” Reuters reported that the city of Beverly Hills filed a lawsuit in January demanding changes to the new touch-screen system, which displays just four candidates at a time, raising concern that not all voters will be able to navigate the “confusing series of steps” to see the other candidates, the lawsuit alleges.” Mike Sanchez, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk, declined to discuss the lawsuit but told Reuters that the office had held a mock election in September to test the new

equipment and made improvements based on user feedback, including upgrades to the buttons that help voters navigate the candidate lists. Officials are investigating possible fixes. Despite the glitches, Padilla expressed confidence in the LA County system, known as Voting Solutions For All People. “I appreciate Los Angeles County’s efforts to engage a broad range of stakeholders and to seek community input during their years long design and testing process. Elections officials have a duty to make voting both as secure and as accessible as possible,” Padilla said in a statement. Early voting started Feb. 3 with 16 million-plus ballots mailed out to voters. On Feb. 21, CNN reported that, “more than 1.3 million vote-by-mail ballots have been returned in California since February 3.” The initial tabulations by political statistics and research company Political Data Inc.’s online results tracker however, showed that as of the last week of February, 15%, or over 2,356,406 of the mailed ballots had been returned. “Ahead of Super Tuesday, Equality California Votes — the super PAC aligned with Equality California — will launch a $100,000 statewide campaign to turn out pro-equality voters for [endorsed presidential candidate Pete] Buttigieg,” Equality California spokesperson Samuel Garrett-Pate tells the Los Angeles Blade. “Separately, the group will also launch Grindr ads in California’s 25th Congressional District in an effort to boost turnout for Christy Smith and two proequality state legislative candidates with overlapping districts.” Garrett-Pate also noted that Equality California will specifically target LGBTQ and allied voters via Facebook ads, robocalls, and direct mailers on behalf of the organization’s endorsed candidates. However the message is sent to LGBTQ voters, the imperative is clear: VOTE as if your life is on the line – because it is. The Los Angeles Blade is joining Radio. com’s Channel Q for a free public Super Tuesday Watch Party at their new sound stage. Check the losangelesblade.com for details.


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Voter suppression is apparently not enough for conservative Republicans. Now the Republican National Committee is distributing misleading documents labeled “2020 Congressional District Census” to Californians just before the real official nationwide count of the country’s population begins. “Critics say the misleading mailers — in envelopes labeled ‘Do Not Destroy. Official Document’ and including a lengthy questionnaire on blue-tinted paper similar to the type used by the real census — are designed to confuse people and possibly lower the response rate when the count begins in mid-March,” reports the Los Angeles Times. Residents have to look closely to find the disclaimers that the mailers were “commissioned by the Republican Party,” a request for donations and a notice paid for by the Republican National Committee. A pro-Trump letter accompanies the document but would respond to The Times. Democratic National Committee spokesperson Daniel Wessel called the RNC mailer “intentionally deceptive” and “reprehensible.” Rep. Katie Porter told The Times her office has received complaints from children with confused elderly parents. The popular Democrat from Irvine said she feared people would “toss their actual census envelope because they’ve already filled this one out.” “We want everyone to be responding to the actual 2020 census,” Porter told The Times. “There is a real risk of harm here.”

“We are asking the American public to prepare for the expectation that this might be bad.”

- Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, about the likelihood the coronavirus will hit the US, via the New York Times Feb. 25.

“It’s like a combination of relief and a kind of gratification, if that makes any sense. For a man as powerful and monied, with this machinery behind him and so much publicity — it is remarkable that he was convicted.”

- “Star Trek: Discovery” actor Anthony Rapp, who alleged sexual harassment by Kevin Spacey, upon hearing that former movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was found guilty of sexual assault and third-degree rape, via Variety on Feb. 24.

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“You have to accept some responsibility and ask yourself what it is about your campaign in particular that seems to be motivating this behavior more than others.”

– Out former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg to rival Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders about the Bernie Bros who cruelly attack him and his husband, Chasten, during the Nevada Democratic debate.

LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • FEBRUARY 28, 2020 • 09


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NATIONAL

Steyer talks LGBTQ issues on eve of S.C. primary Says trans immigrants should be released if not given care By CHRIS JOHNSON Tom Steyer, the San Francisco-based businessperson who helped energize the drive to impeach President Trump before running for president, may be a longshot candidate for the White House, but he wants LGBTQ people — including transgender asylum seekers — to know he’s on their side. One concern for LGBTQ rights supporters, if not a marquee issue, is treatment of LGBTQ asylum seekers in immigration detention. At least two transgender women — Johana “Joa” Medina Leon from El Salvador and Roxsana Hernández from Honduras — died after being placed in immigration detention. Asked by the Blade if trans immigrants in detention should be released, as a group of congressional Democrats recently urged, Steyer said “they should be released” if they can’t be held safely and given medical care. “Well, look I’m not in favor of these extended detentions for anybody,” Steyer said. “And I think that there’s no question that transgender asylum seekers have got to be treated, specifically differently to protect them and to make sure they’re OK, and if they can’t be protected, then they should be released.” Transgender asylum was just one issue discussed last week in a wide-ranging interview with the Blade days before the South Carolina primary, where Steyer is polling comparatively well among other candidates. “One thing I can say about my record is the campaign itself is over 50 percent women, it’s over 50 percent people of color and it’s over 30 percent LGBTQ,” Steyer said. “So, I can say that we have an extremely diverse campaign and, in particular, there’s a very high percentage of LGBTQ.” In an interview with the Blade, Steyer also ticked off support for the LGBTQ group Equality California (whose executive director, Rick Zbur, was his college classmate), a Los Angeles-based anti-bullying program called the Compton Kidz Club and support for AIDS hospice work as examples of his support for the LGBTQ

community. In terms of the future, Steyer’s campaign recently unveiled a 27-point LGBTQ platform, which includes major objectives sought by LGBTQ rights supporters, such as the Equality Act and overturning President Trump’s transgender military ban. “The Equality Act is the important piece, right? That’s the biggest thing, extending civil rights protections for all the basic stuff: Housing and employment and credit and public accommodations,” Steyer said. “That’s a thing that really hits in terms of impact in society.” In the aftermath of video of Michael Bloomberg referring to transgender people as “it,” Steyer said those remarks were “almost unbearable” to watch. “It hurts me to hear it, to be honest, and I’m sure he regrets it,” Steyer said of the video, in which Bloomberg also blamed transgender people for Democratic losses in 2016 Although Steyer isn’t among the frontrunners for the Democratic nomination, he has polled comparatively well among others in South Carolina, which will hold its primary on Saturday. A strong showing in the Palmetto State could translate into success the following week on Super Tuesday. Zbur, whose organization Equality California has endorsed Pete Buttigieg for president, said Steyer nonetheless has been a strong ally to LGBTQ people in California. “Tom is a friend and has been a champion for LGBTQ+ civil rights and social justice in California and a longtime supporter of Equality California’s work — including at a critical time in the organization’s history,” Zbur said. The full interview follows: BLADE: What in terms of your record on LGBTQ issues distinguishes you from the other presidential candidates? TOM STEYER: Well, one thing I can say about my record is the campaign itself is over 50 percent women, it’s over 50 percent people of color and it’s over 30 percent LGBTQ. So, I can say that we have an extremely diverse campaign and, in particular, there’s a very high percentage of LGBTQ. I’ve been supporting the premier LGBTQ group in California, Equality California, for years. It’s run by a guy who was my college

BLADE: Yeah, I want to ask you about it. I have to ask you about it because he’s your competitor for the nomination. There was a video of him, describing transgender people, as “it,” and blaming them for Democratic losses in 2016. Have you seen that video and what’s your reaction to it? STEYER:  I simply was told he referred to a transgender person as it, and I almost couldn’t look. One of the things that’s true about Equality California is that they have — I don’t know if you’re familiar with them, are you with them? TOM STEYER at the CNN and Des Moines Register’s Democratic presidential debate last week. (Photo courtesy CNN/Des Moines Register)

classmate who’s been my friend for over 40 years named Rick Zbur. Equality California, we supported that for years. We’ve also supported an anti-bullying program — that’s not explicitly about LGBTQ bullying, but is very substantially about that — for years through a guy named Fred Martin down in L.A., who runs something called the Compton Kidz Club. There are various other things that we’ve done as a family that my wife and I have done to support — in terms of specifically AIDS hospice work, and there’s a whole bunch of policies that we’ve supported, but I think in general you can say in terms of things that actually point to activity, things, actions, things accomplished, those are some things. Let me ask my my wife a question. Hold on one second. [pauses] I was just about to say we run a community bank … that has had a very high percentage of LGBTQ people, but I don’t think we’ve ever measured it. But it’s something that — we live in San Francisco, Calif., which has — the bank is actually headquartered in Oakland — but it is still a place where — the bank has a very high percentage of LGBTQ people… BLADE: Right. Well speaking of records, there’s been some news about Mike Bloomberg just yesterday in which a recently — STEYER: … so bad …

BLADE: Yes. STEYER: They do a gala twice a year one in L.A., and one in San Fran, and because Rick’s my friend, I try to always go to them, and he gives me the chance to speak as well. And one of the things that happens at those galas is he tries to make sure every time to get a transgender young person to speak, usually somebody around 16 to 18 years old. They tend to be very polished, like a normal high school kid. Somebody who’s done public speaking, who’s very, very good. But I remember years ago learning from one of those speeches that half of transgender people under 21 try to commit suicide, and I have always felt ever since that anyone whose heart does not go out to that community, must have a heart of stone. That’s a level of suffering that nobody can fake and I know in San Francisco that 10 percent of the homeless population are transgender young people. It’s obviously grossly disproportionate. So I know that you know that there’s a reason that’s true and I know what they’re going through on the street and the level of violence associated with it, and sex trafficking. So in that context, to use that word, is really almost unbearable. I just — it hurts me to hear it to be honest, and I’m sure he regrets it. … I think it’s important to stand up against prejudice so that other people know that not everybody goes along with it, that other people feel really strongly the other way. And I try to do that with regards to every kind of person, and specifically if I know that people are suffering, I think it’s really important that they know that there are people on the other side pushing back hard. It just made me sad. Very sad.

LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • FEBRUARY 28, 2020 • 11


NATIONAL

Pete’s predicament: Winning over Black voters on Super Tuesday Next week could be do or die for several candidates By CHRIS JOHNSON With Super Tuesday just a few days away, Pete Buttigieg will be required to make wins among Black and Brown voters to stay in the game as a viable presidential candidate — a Herculean effort given polls showing poor support among voters of color. After the Democratic primary Saturday in South Carolina, the states that will hold contests on Tuesday are Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont and Virginia. Unlike Iowa and New Hampshire, where the gay candidate had success early on in the Democratic presidential primary, South Carolina and the Super Tuesday states have a significantly higher population of racial minorities. Kyle Kondik, managing editor for “Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball” at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, said the Black vote will be key for Buttigieg, which could prove challenging for him. “Many of the states voting on Super Tuesday have significant non-white populations, including the two ‘megastates’ that award nearly half of all the delegates that day, California and Texas,” Kondik said. “Buttigieg has thus far not demonstrated much of any ability to win significant support from nonwhite voters. In order to be a real threat to be the nominee, this cannot continue.” Despite Buttigieg’s overtures to Black and Brown voters, which include plans for a massive “Douglass Plan” aimed at breathing new life into racial minority neighborhoods and showcasing Black support, such as an endorsement from Rep. Anthony Brown (DMd.), polls show Buttigieg struggles in that community. In South Carolina, where the Black electorate has considerable sway in the Democratic primary, an NBC News/Marist poll on Monday found Buttigieg has support from 9 percent

of likely Democratic voters, compared to 27 percent support for Joseph Biden, 23 percent support for Bernie Sanders and 15 percent for Tom Steyer. The poll had a margin of error of plus-or-minus 6 points. Nationwide, Buttigieg polls worse among Black voters. A Feb. 10 poll from Quinnipiac University found Buttigieg has just 4 percent support among Black voters, compared to 27 percent support for Biden, 22 percent support for Bloomberg, 19 percent support for Sanders, 8 percent for Warren and 4 percent for “someone else.” In Virginia, his prospects are still not good. A Monmouth poll dated Feb. 18 placed Bloomberg and Sanders on top with 22 percent each, followed by 18 percent for Biden and 11 percent for Buttigieg. Matt Corridini, a Buttigieg campaign spokesperson, pointed to a Feb. 25 campaign memo for Super Tuesday, emphasizing efforts will consist of minimizing Sanders’s wins and drawing out support. “We are maximizing delegate accumulation by districts, not states, and this informs our strategy as outlined in the memo,” Corridini said. “As we have already shown, we’re going everywhere and talking to everyone in order to build a broad, diverse coalition.” Issues with Buttigieg cited by Black community advocates are his handling as South Bend mayor of the shooting last year of a black man by a white police officer, his termination of a black police chief who was investigating racism on the police force and a housing initiative that eliminated low-income homes, many in Black or Brown neighborhoods. But Buttigieg is trying hard to win them over. In the Democratic debate on Tuesday, Buttigieg was at the the forefront of the candidates expressing a commitment to racial justice. “I’m not here to score points,” Buttigieg said. “I come at this with a great deal of humility because we have had a lot of issues, especially

12 • FEBRUARY 28, 2020 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM

PETE BUTTIGIEG faces his toughest challenge in the coming week.

when it comes to racial justice and policing in my own community, and I come to this with some humility because I’m conscious of the fact that there’s seven white people on this stage talking about racial justice.” Buttigieg continued that none of the candidates on stage have the experience of walking “in a mall and feeling eyes on us regarding us as dangerous without knowing the first thing about us just because of the color of our skin.” Jennifer Victor, associate professor of political science at George Mason University, identified those remarks as a good moment “in a catfight of a debate.” “I don’t think he hurt himself at all.” Victor said. “He either stayed neutral or helped himself a bit. He was very cognizant of the African-American audience and may have swayed some voters with his statements on racial justice.” As for Super Tuesday, Victor said a third place win in South Carolina is all but essential for Buttigieg. “Assuming the top two vote-getters in Saturday’s contest [in South Carolina] are Biden and Sanders (in some order), the third place finisher will be key,” Victor said. “Whoever finishes third can make a reasonable case for staying in through Super Tuesday, especially

Buttigieg because he already has a fair number of delegates. A third place finish would be great for him. But if he finishes lower than that, I think it makes it much harder for him — or anyone else who is fourth or lower — to make a case about staying in.” Victor added most candidates have enough invested in Super Tuesday that she doesn’t expect anyone to drop out before then, but by this time next week when all the votes are tallied “the field will almost certainly be smaller.” But in the same debate in which he called for racial justice, Buttigieg made other remarks that raised eyebrows. Criticizing Bernie Sanders, who praised the Cuban government’s literacy programs despite its authoritarian nature, Buttigieg rejected “nostalgia for the revolutionary politics of the 1960s,” comparing it to Trump policy seeking the social order of the 1950s. Buttigieg tweeted that debate line out from his campaign account, then deleted it shortly afterward. Although the context was criticism of Sanders’s praise for Cuba, one might take away from those remarks he was referencing the Civil Rights movement, which also took place in the 1960s. A Buttigieg campaign spokesperson subsequently tweeted “the Civil Rights movement wasn’t implied nor referenced.”


NATIONAL

Md. House holds hearing on name change bill Seven candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination were among respondents to an LGBTQ survey the nation’s leading LGBTQ group unveiled on Monday, but Tulsi Gabbard — who has been criticized for having an anti-LGBTQ past — wasn’t among them. The seven current candidates who responded — Joseph Biden, Michael Bloomberg, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, Tom Steyer and Elizabeth Warren — responded affirmatively to each of HRC’s questions on LGBTQ issues, including whether they support the Equality Act, oppose President Trump’s transgender military ban and will commit to tackling anti-trans violence. The lack of response from Gabbard sticks out, especially because she faced heavy criticism during the start of her presidential campaign for her opposition to LGBTQ rights as a Hawaii state legislator. At the time in the early 2000s, Gabbard denounced LGBTQ rights supporters seeking to legalize civil unions as “homosexual extremists” and touted working for her father’s

anti-gay organization, which fought marriage equality and promoted widely discredited “exgay” conversion therapy. Although Gabbard had previously apologized after winning election to Congress, she issued after the start of her presidential campaign another apology via video, saying her anti-LGBTQ remarks “were very hurtful for people in the LGBTQ community and to their loved ones.” “I’m deeply sorry for having said that,” Gabbard says. “My views have changed significantly since then and my record in Congress over the last six years and reflect what is in my heart.” Gabbard since her election to Congress has endorsed marriage equality and become a co-sponsor of the Equality Act, legislation that would bar anti-LGBTQ discrimination under federal law. But her record on LGBTQ issues isn’t spotless. The Hawaii Democrat was among a handful of congressional Democrats last year who  didn’t sign a friend-of-the-court brief  urging the U.S. Supreme Court to rule

Homeless trans woman murdered in Puerto Rico A homeless transgender woman was brutally murdered in Puerto Rico early Monday. Pedro Julio Serrano, founder of Puerto Rico Para Tod’s, a Puerto Rican LGBTQ advocacy group, confirmed media reports that said the victim, who was known as Alexa, was killed in a park in Toa Baja, a municipality that is about 15 miles west of San Juan. Serrano told the Blade that police on Sunday night responded to a report Alexa was “peeping” on people in a public restroom. David Begnaud of CBS News reported the person who filed the complaint declined to press charges against Alexa after they learned she was homeless. Alexa was killed a few hours after police responded to the report. Local media outlets indicate Alexa’s murder was captured on video. “We’re urging authorities to investigate the hate angle in this horrific case,” Serrano told the Blade in a statement. “We don’t know all the details yet, but she was harassed, hunted and brutally killed.”

Rep. TULSI GABBARD (D-Hawaii) ignored an LGBTQ survey from the Human Rights Campaign. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

anti-LGBTQ discrimination is a form of sex discrimination, therefore illegal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Cullen Tiernan, a Gabbard campaign

spokesperson, said via email to the Blade the candidate never obtained the LGBTQ survey, accusing the Human Rights Campaign of “spreading falsehoods.” “We never received the questionnaire from HRC,” Tiernan said. “For HRC to claim that she did not respond to a questionnaire which she was never sent is false, and they should apologize for spreading falsehoods. Tulsi  also deserves an apology from those outlets who used this falsehood to attack her commitment to equal rights for all.” But HRC stood by its initial claim that it sent a survey and the Gabbard campaign didn’t respond. Lucas Acosta, an HRC spokesperson, denied the allegation from the Gabbard campaign his organization never sent the survey. “This is categorically false,” Acosta said. “HRC sent our presidential questionnaire to candidates, including Tulsi Gabbard, on Jan. 12, 2020. As we’ve stated publicly before, we will happily receive and post her responses should she send them.” CHRIS JOHNSON

Va. House passes genderneutral driver’s license bill “There’s no doubt that transphobia and intolerance had much to do in this case,” added Serrano. “Trans people are human beings that deserve to live with respect, peace and dignity.” Investigators have yet to classify Alexa’s murder as a hate crime, but Gov. Wanda Vázquez in a tweet  said, “no motive will be discarded.” Vázquez also urged anyone with information to contact the Puerto Rico Police Department. “The (Puerto Rico Police Department) will work with the diligence and sensibility that this case merits,” she said. The  Human Rights Campaign  and  Lambda Legal  are among the groups that have condemned Alexa’s murder. Puerto Rico’s hate crimes and nondiscrimination laws include both gender identity and sexual orientation. Anti-LGBTQ violence and discrimination are nevertheless commonplace in the U.S. commonwealth. MICHAEL K. LAVERS

The Virginia House of Delegates on Tuesday passed a bill that requires the Department of Motor Vehicles to offer “nonbinary” as a sex option on driver’s license applications. Senate Bill 246, introduced by state Sen. Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax County), previously passed the Virginia Senate in a 21-18 vote on Feb. 5. The House approved the bill 57-43. The measure requires the DMV to offer “the option to mark ‘male,’ ‘female’ or ‘nonbinary’ when designating the applicant’s sex” on applications for driver’s licenses or state identification cards. If the bill becomes law, Virginia will join a growing number of jurisdictions that offer a third-sex option on government-issued ID cards. Though Fortune magazine in 2019 reported the “huge expense” state DMVs incur by implementing a nonbinary option, the Virginia Department of Planning and Budget 2020 Fiscal Impact Statement for SB 246 states,

The measure approving a nonbinary gender option for Virginia driver’s licenses now heads to the desk of Gov. RALPH NORTHAM. (Blade photo by Michael Key)

“This legislation will not result in a significant expenditure increase for the agency.” The bill now heads to Gov. Ralph Northam’s desk for signature. PHILIP VAN SLOOTEN

LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • FEBRUARY 28, 2020 • 13


All queer folk ain’t kinfolk Buttigieg moves beyond gayness like Obama moved beyond Blackness

Jonathan Mathias Lassiter, PhD is a licensed clinical psychologist, professor, and author. His book ‘Black LGBT Health in the United States: The Intersection of Race, Gender, and Sexual Orientation’ won the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association’s Achievement Award in 2017.

Pete Buttigieg happens to be a gay man. Being gay appears less to be a central part of his identity and more of an added feature. I am not implying that one’s sexuality should be the totality of them or the thing that they lead with. Nor do I think that there is a certain way to be gay. However, being part of a marginalized community should imbue one with a commitment to the most marginalized members of society. It should fundamentally inform one’s worldview. I’m not sure this is the case with Buttigieg. It is probably unrealistic to have a president like the one described by Zoe Leonard: “a dyke..fag..crossdresser.” But is it unrealistic to have a Democratic president who does not willingly cede to the center? Is it unrealistic to want a president who unapologetically owns their minority status, sees it as a strength, a way to connect with the most vulnerable, and a motivation to lead based on conviction not consensus? Pete seems to view his minority status as something he overcame, not through shunning but through taming it. His approach to being gay reminds me of Barack Obama’s approach to Blackness. Pete is the white Obama wannabe. He’s a Harvard alum, Rhodes Scholar, a veteran, a Christian, and a married man in a monogamous relationship. He’s a symbol of gay exceptionalism just like Obama was a symbol of Black exceptionalism. He is not the norm. He moves beyond his gayness like Obama moved beyond his Blackness. His appeal to most is not that he is a queer with radical ideas but that he is not like those marching rainbow gays. He’s safe, and being gay is a bonus that centrist voters can feel good about. See, I’m open-minded. It’s a sort of colorblindness that many people applied to former President Obama. Is this queerblindfolding? Are people happy to pretend that sexual orientation does not make one different from another? That LGBTQ people don’t have different experiences of life than heterosexual people? As people proclaimed the world

14 • FEBRUARY 28, 2020 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM

post-racial after Obama’s election, will they announce that we’ve overcome homophobia if we have a President Pete? But more than being post-queer, Pete’s ideas are a bigger problem. He is not progressive; he’s a centrist. While his policies like the Douglass Plan and Medicare for All Who Want It are fine enough, when put alongside his record of gentrification, poor race relations in South Bend, and cozy relationships with billionaires, they ring hollow. He apes a pristine homonormative identity – privileging heterosexual norms and ideals within a LGBT context. These norms often emphasize corporate interests and market values. These are the characteristics that make him popular among cisgender, able-bodied, middle-class and affluent gay white men. If Pete is elected he will be the most heterosexual gay president possible, the same as Obama was the whitest Black president possible. Pete’s homonormativity makes him suspect among LGBTQ people who do not share a desire to move beyond queerness. As a Black same-gender-loving man, I am just as enthused about Buttigeig as I was about Obama the second time around. After Obama’s first term he had failed to close Guantánamo Bay, sent more soldiers to Afghanistan, hosted a “beer summit” to address police racial profiling, and paid lip service to the murder of an unarmed teenager remarking: “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.” Furthermore, by some estimates, Black Americans, in particular, were worse off than they were before his election. Obama was a symbol of post-racialism more than anything else. And progressives like me wanted more substance than symbolism in 2012. I want more substance now. Many older generations of Black Americans used to say “all skin folk ain’t kinfolk.” This saying highlighted the fact that belonging to (or claiming membership in) a group does not mean that you will fight for that group. Pete Buttigieg may be a gay man, but is he kin?

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GAY MEN’S CHORUS OF LOS ANGELES PRESENTS


Why I’m running for elected office Democrats have taken Black votes for granted for too long

Jasmyne A. Cannick is a candidate for County Central Committee. Learn more at voteforjasmyne.com. (Photo courtesy Cannick)

For the first time in my life, I am running for elected public office. Yes, when you vote for president, there’s a chance you will see my name on your March 3 ballot! If you’d have asked me before if I was ever going to run for any type of public office, my answer would have been no. But then a few things happened. In 2017, 26-year-old Gemmel Moore was found dead of a meth overdose in the West Hollywood home of Democratic donor Ed Buck. Buck was 63 and white, a longtime political donor, a one-time West Hollywood City Council candidate and a well-known figure in LGBTQ political circles. Moore was Black and gay and had worked as an escort. Ed Buck contributed thousands of dollars to the California Democratic Party, candidates running for office and those in elected office. At the time of Moore’s death, the California Democratic Party and the Los Angeles County Democratic Party was being led by one of Buck’s longtime friends—Eric Bauman—someone who I believe helped to protect Buck with his silence and willingness to look the other way. A year and a half later, another Black man was dead from the same cause in Ed Buck’s apartment. His name was Timothy Dean. I believe that California’s Democratic Party–at all levels–is in the middle of an integrity crisis. Our party no longer reflects the interests of the people it serves and many of its members are disillusioned. I know because I am one. Black people have been complaining for years about how the Democratic Party takes our votes for granted. That’s not the kind of political party I want to belong to. One that sees the lives of Black people as expendable. As Democrats— particularly Black Democrats–that is not the type of return we expect on our years of investing in the Democratic Party with our time and our votes. So I am running for a seat on the County

16 • FEBRUARY 28, 2020 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM

Central Committee. The people who function essentially as the Board of Directors for the Los Angeles County Democratic Party are known as County Central Committee Members and they are elected by a vote of the People every four years. These local offices are extremely important because it’s the County Central Committee Members who get to vote on who gets the endorsement of the Party, financial support and what issues the Party addresses. For example, when it was time to decide on who was getting the Democratic Party’s endorsement in the District Attorney’s race, I felt bad when members of the community showed up to the meeting thinking they could come and vote simply because they were registered Democrats. While the monthly meetings of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party are open to the public for any registered Democrat to attend, only County Central Committee Members are allowed to vote. That’s right. Just being a registered Democrat does not make you a part of your local Democratic Party.  You have to pay your dues, be in good standing and be elected to the County Central Committee to have a vote that matters and more importantly counts. These positions are not highly publicized by the Party and that’s why the status quo keeps getting elected and re-elected. In California, County Central Committee Members are elected by registered Democrats via our 80 State Assembly Districts. This means, that the Assembly District you live in will dictate the seven County Central Committee Members who you can vote for to represent you. I live in Assembly District 53. And let me be clear. My district is not a Black district. Thanks to gentrification and the high cost of rent, Black people live everywhere, not just in South L.A.  Black people should run wherever they live. We do not just have to run for public office in

Black districts only because we have a stake in whatever community we find ourselves in. Only registered Democrats who live in Adams-Normandie, Boyle Heights, Downtown Los Angeles, East Hollywood, Hancock Park, Huntington Park, Koreatown, Larchmont Village, Pico-Union, Westlake, Wilshire Center and Vernon can vote for me. But whether you can vote for me is not my point. My point is that everyone, no matter what Assembly District you live in, will have the opportunity to vote for members of their community to represent them in the Democratic Party.  Too often the County Central Committee seats are treated the same as candidates for judge—skipped over.  We’ve seen what years of doing that has done to our criminal justice system. Well, it’s had the same effect on the Democratic Party. As voters, we have to do our research and stop taking this critical elected office for granted. There is no compensation for this elected office and the members volunteer their time to help run the party. Only the top seven vote-getters will be elected from each Assembly District and only registered Democrats or No Party Preference voters who request a Democratic ballot, can vote for County Central Committee Members to be elected to the Los Angeles County Democratic Party. In closing, you want to elect County Central Committee Members whose votes and silence cannot be bought. You want to elect County Central Committee Members who will hold the Los Angeles County Democratic Party leadership accountable to the people and not to their favorite elected officials. Most importantly, you want to elect County Central Committee Members who will look out for and represent everyone with integrity. These seats are very important and directly impact the makeup of your local Democratic Party.


Netflix revisits ‘Trials of Gabriel Fernandez’ in docuseries Parents murdered 8-year-old son perceived to be gay By JOHN PAUL KING

The name of Gabriel Fernandez still hangs heavy over the City of Los Angeles. From the day the 8-year-old was found by Fire Department personnel on the floor of his Palmdale home after they responded to a 911 call from his mother, his story loomed large in the daily news. The paramedics had found Gabriel badly bruised and unresponsive, with profound injuries – broken ribs, a cracked skull, missing teeth, burnt skin, and BB bullets imbedded in his lungs and groin – that didn’t fit with the explanation they had been given for his condition. His mother, Pearl Sinthia Fernandez, and her boyfriend, Isauro Aguirre, claimed the boy had been injured by falling over a dresser and hitting his head. Gabriel was pronounced brain dead at the hospital on that same day, May 22, 2013; he was taken off life support and passed away two days later. That tragic incident was the beginning of a sevenyear ordeal for Gabriel’s family, his community, and the city itself. The child had been the victim of horrific and systematic abuse, perpetrated by his mother and Aguirre and allegedly motivated at least partly by Aguirre’s belief that the boy was gay; worse yet, other family members, as well as Gabriel’s teacher, had notified Children and Family Services multiple times over concerns that he was being mistreated, yet social workers had found, in every case but one, that their reports were unfounded – despite what seemed in retrospect to be clear indications to the contrary. Fernandez and Aguirre were charged with firstdegree murder in the death of Gabriel, with a special circumstance for torture, and in an unprecedented move, county prosecutors also charged four county social workers with one felony count each of child abuse and falsifying records. The case dominated headlines as the ensuing investigation and court proceedings revealed ever more disturbing details about Gabriel’s short life and cruel death. The prosecution sought the death penalty for both of the perpetrators, who admitted to killing the child but claimed it had not been a pre-meditated act. Finally, in 2018, Aguirre was found guilty of the first degree changes and sentenced to death; Fernandez avoided the death penalty by agreeing to plead guilty. In January of 2020, the charges against the four social workers were thrown out by a three-justice

GABRIEL FERNANDEZ would have been 15 this week. (Photo Justice For Gabriel Facebook)

panel of the 2nd District Court of Appeals. Now, Netflix is set to unveil “The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez,” a six-part docuseries which examines the case as it was laid out by LA County prosecutors, as well as chronicling journalistic efforts to track the weaknesses within the government agencies devoted to children’s welfare that permitted such a heartbreaking act to take place. Directed by documentarian Brian Knappenberger (“Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press”), it’s a gripping (and grim) deep dive into the case that may well be the most intense and upsetting true crime series the streaming network has produced so far. Casting lead prosecutor Jon Hatami in the role of avenging hero, Knappenberger’s chronicle of the court case carefully avoids straying into sensationalism without shying away from the gruesome facts of Gabriel’s life. Through trial footage, interviews, and footage shot specifically for the show, we are given as comprehensive a look at the story as is possible in six hours of television, with the benefit and clarity of hindsight to assist in offering an overarching view of not only what happened, but of the systemic problems

that led to a failure by those charged with protecting at-risk children to prevent the worst from happening to Gabriel. Perhaps most effectively, it repeatedly reminds us, through photos, footage, and the words of those who knew him, that Gabriel was a kind, loving, and gentle child who deserved much better treatment at the hands of those who should have been his caretakers. As for the assertion that homophobia was a factor in Aguirre’s brutal beating and killing of his de-facto stepson, it doesn’t offer a lot of detail – prosecutors chose not to pursue a hate crime charge for strategic reasons, so that angle was only supplemental in proving a case for pre-meditation based solely on factual evidence – but it makes sure we hear about it in both through Hatami’s court statements and from the mouths of family members, who assert that Gabriel had been taken by the couple from his uncle and same-sex partner (previously given custody when his mother “didn’t want him” at birth) because they didn’t approve of a child being raised by gay parents. By all reports, Gabriel experienced the happiest and most supportive environment of his short life when he lived with them. The Netflix series spends considerable time hammering home the shocking reality of the violence suffered by little Gabriel (described by Los Angeles Judge George G. Lomeli at Aguirre’s sentencing as “horrendous, inhumane and nothing short of evil”), and rightly so; to do anything less would be a disservice to his memory. Once it has done that, however, it sets its sights on the deeply shrouded county bureaucracy of Child and Family Services, the uniquely autonomous and powerful agency that oversees child welfare, and paints perhaps an even more disturbing picture of an organization overworked, understaffed, hamstrung by the financial priorities of privatization, and cloistered in a stubborn veil of secrecy that resisted not just inquiries from the press but from prosecutors as well. It also makes clear that law enforcement officials were well aware of the prior history of reported abuse in the Fernandez home before that fateful day when Gabriel’s life came to an end. Continues at Losangelesblade.com

F E B R U A R Y 2 8 , 2 0 2 0 • V O LU M E 0 4 • I S S U E 0 9 • 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 • 1 7


QUEERY

Queery: John Gile The politico and LGBTQ advocate answers 20 queer questions By TROY MASTERS

JOHN GILE has followed the Pete Buttigieg campaign since its inception, including canvassing in the snows of his home state of New Hampshire. (Photo by Tim O’Leary)

Gathered on the sidewalk outside a posh West Hollywood private fundraiser for Equality California, John Gile was in his element, happening upon, as he exclaimed, “Some of my favorite people!” And it was a kind of defining clutch of personalities, a group that in many ways sums up Gile’s impressive ability to bring important people together: Cecilia Cabello, California State Director for Pete Butigieg’s presidential campaign (perhaps the busiest political influencer in Los Angeles); Bruce Roberts, one of the music world’s most prolific songwriters (if you are humming Barbra Streisand, Donna Summer or Dolly Parton, he probably wrote it) and currently launching Vote Proud with former Oprah executive Lisa Halliday, a major national Get Out the Vote effort for the LGBT community; and Kevin James, president of the powerful Los Angeles Board of Public Works. In other words, some of the most well connected people in the country, all waiting on a Lyft or an Uber or a private driver, and, like Gile, off to the next event. “We’ll see you later,” he says with hugs and kisses all around as everyone dashes away. Gile himself was just whizzing through the Birds Street event in the Hills that included a disarming array of not-to-be-named celebrity donors, political mavens, candidates for California Senate, future and former mayors of West Hollywood and Los Angeles. It truly is Gile’s element. And he is good at it. During a career that spans more than 20 years, Gile has mastered the art of bringing the world of philanthropy and politics together and in the process served as a CEO of Project Angel Food in Los Angeles and the Muscular Dystrophy Association. He has developed a consulting practice that now operates bicoastally in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, and Washington, D.C. He is a prolific volunteer for the Buttigieg campaign and ambassador to Project Angel Food, an adviser to San Francisco’s Gay Men’s Chorus’ National LGBTQ Center for the Arts, served as 2016 Co-Chair of Hillary Clinton for President, Co-Chair of the DNC LGBT Leadership Committee, President of the Friends of Runyon Foundation and was adviser to President Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign. And that’s for starters. “Please don’t tell him I said this,” said one of his many admirers requesting anonymity, “but without John lots of us would just never show up. And a lot of our agencies would suffer a power outage. I go where he advises me to go. And I do it because he is so damned charming and handsome and smart.”

18 • FEBRUARY 28, 2020 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM

How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell? I came out late — at 25 — and it was most difficult to tell my girlfriend. But we remain best of friends and I am her son’s godfather. Who’s your LGBT hero? Pete Buttigieg. What’s Los Angeles’ best nightspot, past or present? Revolver and certain nighttime AA meetings.

From Harvard and Dartmouth to Chico State If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do? I’m proudly gay and will stay that way. What do you believe in beyond the physical world? I believe we can all access our Higher Power. What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders? Work together.

Describe your dream wedding. West Street Beach Laguna (Orange County’s most popular gay beach).

What would you walk across hot coals for? To remove the current occupant of the White House.

What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about? Electing Democrats.

What LGBT stereotype annoys you most? I don’t like this question. I think it’s important to get out of our comfort zones.

What historical outcome would you change? The 2016 election. What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime? Elizabeth Taylor’s 65th birthday party at Pantages Theater, a night that will never be forgotten. On what do you insist? Honesty. What was your last Facebook post or Tweet? On Feb. 24, I posted on Twitter and Facebook about the Democratic primary popular vote so far. If your life were a book, what would the title be?

What’s your favorite LGBT movie? “Brokeback Mountain.” What’s the most overrated social custom? I try to be mindful of people’s differences. What trophy or prize do you most covet? A World Series ring. What do you wish you’d known at 18? All will be well. You can have a really great life living sober. Why Los Angeles? It’s five minutes from anything and perfect weather.


MUSIC

The Bieb is back New album ‘Changes’ catches heat but only on repeated spins By THOM MURPHY

Justin Bieber has bragging rights unique to most pop singers of his stature. He has never put out a bad album. Granted, like many performers who rose to fame in early adolescence, it’s unclear what should be considered his first “real” album. Mid-month, he released “Changes,” his first new record in five years. Admittedly a former “Belieber,” I mark the beginning of Bieber’s mature musical production with the release of “Believe” in 2012. The popular single “Boyfriend” certainly feels like the work of an artist that has reached a degree of musical maturity. But his first truly great album is undoubtedly “Purpose” (2015). And in many ways whatever followed it was bound to be something of a disappointment. The same can be said of a number of popular singers. “Changes,” a well-timed Valentine’s Day release, debuted at no. 1 on Billboard and Bieber now has more monthly listeners on Spotify (around 64 million) than any other artist, beating Ed Sheeran’s previous record. He now has seven Billboard no. 1 albums and at age 25, he surpasses Elvis as the youngest person to do so. Listening, however, things get going slowly. For me, it wasn’t until about spin five that things started to jell. In part, it’s difficult to appreciate the new album because it’s hard to see what makes it distinct. “Purpose” had a very distinctive sound — a break-up album with masterful production, snappy rhythms, stronger but restrained electronic influence and significantly cleverer lyrics. “Love Yourself” is the undisputed crown jewel. On a first listen, the new album “Changes” largely sounds like songs that did not make the cut of the last. But give it a little time and the criticism does not seem entirely fair. Unsurprisingly, the production is fantastic and, yes, his voice is as angelic as ever. The first track on the album “All Around Me” sets the tone. “Changes” is not about any sort of music adventuring but rather is biographical. Troublemaker pop star party boy becomes devoted husband: “Never thought I could ever be loyal/To someone other than myself/I never thought I could ever be a spoiler/ Guess anything is possible with your help.” It’s like R&B without the rhythm, which sounds like criticism but isn’t. A partly improvised-sounding melody over

JUSTIN BIEBER’S new album ‘Changes’ breaks a long-standing Elvis industry record. Image courtesy Def Jam

electric guitar and synth works surprisingly well. It’s spacey and warm, as is the whole album. “All Around Me” glides seamlessly into “Habitual,” where the bass begin to thump regularly a slow, sensuous beat. Track order is crucial and transitions are not far from the level of a concept album. So far Bieber has released three singles, the best of which is “Intentions.” The song features Quavo and a great tune. It’s hard to describe but it sounds something like cotton candy tastes. It’s fluffy, sugary but interesting, though the lyrics, forgivably, tend toward the banal. The lead single “Yummy” has had sustained radio and streaming play since its release just after the new year, but it takes the banal a step too far. The horrendous chorus in which Bieber just repeats “Yummy” is unforgivable. It sticks in your head, but

you’ll hate yourself for it. Even in 2020, a chorus needs more substance than two syllables of seminonsense. “Forever,” which features Post Malone and Clever, sounds like slightly faster “Intentions.” The more appealing, sexier songs on the album are scattered all about. “E.T.A.” and “Changes” are fantastic acousticheavy tracks that offer a needed break from the slow bass groove and break up tracks that are remarkably similar. And the collaboration with rapper Lil Dicky on “Running Over,” which sounds like it samples Super Mario World, is another gem. On the whole, the album perhaps rides the line between continuity and sameness a little too closely. It is not particularly easy to dislike, but it does little that is novel or notable. “Changes” more of a sustained mood than a new concept.

LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • FEBRUARY 28, 2020 • 19


BOOKS

Author finds room for queer inclusion in mythic African fantasy A Tolkein-esque exploration of identies By JOHN PAUL KING

Marlon James didn’t start out wanting to be an epic fantasy writer. His career as a novelist has been built on stories derived from the history of his birthplace, Jamaica, exploring the effects of religion, supernaturalism, sexuality, violence, and colonialism on the struggle to find a Jamaican identity in a post-colonial world. There have always been threads of allegory and surrealism woven into his work, to be sure – his first novel, “John Crow’s Devil,” was a politically provocative parable about the archetypal struggle between good and evil. As for epic, his third effort, “A Brief History of Seven Killings,” was a sweeping – and scathing – political thriller that was awarded the prestigious UK Man Booker Prize for its depiction of several decades’ worth of social unrest, violence, intrigue, and instability through the voices of 12 separate narrators. Even so, it was something of a surprise that his most recent work, “Black Leopard, Red Wolf,” published in early 2019, turned out to be a surreal, full-blown epic fantasy novel, derived from the folklore and mythology of ancient African culture and jokingly referred to by its author as “an African ‘Game of Thrones.” The joke may have been on him, in a good way, because the book (which he says is the first of a planned trilogy) has garnered raves from critics and fans as all that and more. In the words of New York Times critic Michiko Kakutani, it’s “the literary equivalent of a Marvel Comics universe—filled with dizzying, magpie references to old movies and recent TV, ancient myths and classic comic books.” James, who spoke with the Blade ahead of an appearance at UCLA on Thursday, February 27, can’t remember a specific inspiration that sparked his ambitious foray across genres – “It was so many years ago,” he says, somewhat incredulously – but he does recall early discussions with friends around the subject of Tolkein-esque fantasy epics in which he argued their irrelevance. “’The Lord of the Rings,’” isn’t real,’” I would tell them. ‘You can do what you want with [those kinds of stories] – it doesn’t matter if a hobbit is Chinese, nobody cares.’” Ironically enough, “Black Leopard” has been praised by no less a giant of fantasy literature than Neil Gaiman as containing “a fantasy world as well-realized as anything Tolkien made.” And James is now quick to point out that he’s not disrespecting Tolkien – indeed, he now gives lectures on the much-revered author, who created Middle Earth as a realm imagined from the heritage and folklore of its author’s own Germanic roots, partly to provide a gap he perceived in the mythic underpinnings of his family’s adopted homeland of Great Britain. That’s something to which James can relate profoundly. “When you’re a black person in diaspora, you don’t realize how big the gap is in that part of your life,” he tells the Blade. “Part of the emotional history of a people and of a country is their mythology, and to grow up without it, which I did, means I never had all of that.” It was to fill that gap that James began a deep dive into African mythology and folklore. “Before I ever thought about writing a single word,” he says, “I was reading these books just to connect with my own cultural legacy, to fill that void which I didn’t even know was there.” The book that grew out of that research has drawn praise for filling that void on a cultural level, by creating a gloriously non-traditional, unabashedly African point of intersection in a genre traditionally – and overwhelmingly – dominated by white, Euro, usually hetero male 20 • FEBRUARY 28, 2020 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM

MARLON JAMES appeared this week at CAP UCLA’s Words and Ideas series. Photo courtesy James

authors writing about themes and characters appealing to white, Euro, usually hetero male readers. Salman Rushdie (another literary lion) called it “a fabulist reimagining of Africa,” in a Time Magazine review, and Entertainment Weekly lauded its “astonishingly realized” precolonial setting that “crawls with creatures and erects kingdoms unlike any I’ve read.” Another surprise of James’ novel, perhaps, is that its inclusion extends to the LGBTQ experience as well. There are “a number of queer characters” in “Black Leopard,” enough so that some commentators have suggested the author was layering a contemporary statement into his fantastical ancient world. On the contrary, says James, “it was in going back to the mythologies and the histories that I found a far more open-minded view of African queerness than the present day would lead us to believe.” Nevertheless, the importance of depicting queer existence in these fictional realms is not lost on James, who agrees that the LGBTQ community has long had to make a leap of mental transference in order to identify with the characters in the stories they were told in their favorite fiction. He’s also heartened that, even in the short space of years that positive queer visibility has been rising in popular media, the representation is making a difference. “You see in younger queer people, where there are some things they do take for granted which we didn’t, which I never could, certainly, and it’s kind of glorious.” He tells a story about speaking recently at a college in Jamaica, where he was addressing a campus LGBTQ association. “I was prepared to give my whole ‘it gets better’ speech to these kids,” he says. “And they were like, ‘We don’t want to hear that bullshit, do you know Beyonce?’ “They refuse to be denied a childhood, they refuse to be denied the fun and the mess of just being a teenager and doing dumb crap.” He laughs, “Where the biggest issue is ‘do you buy Cardi B or do you buy Nicki Minaj?” CONTINUES AT LOSANGELESBLADE.COM


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BOOKS

Queer biz The path to LGBT acceptance in the workplace was long and convoluted By TERRI SCHLICHENMEYER

Delivery for your company’s product isn’t what it used to be. No, you can unequivocally say it’s better. With the internet, great shipping partners, better routing and better internal handling, you get product out faster and more efficiently. People sometimes resist, but change is good and in the new book “The Queering of Corporate America” by Carlos A. Ball, you’ll see another benefit of moving forward. In the days before Stonewall, not many places would accept advertisements for organizations that worked primarily with gay or lesbian customers. Many B2B companies were also reluctant to work with LGBT-friendly entities. That was common because, in the beginning of business in America, corporations were often at least partially funded by the state in which they operated; in many cases, a corporation couldn’t be created without the assent of the state legislature. By the latter 1960s, there was more leeway in forming a corporation and legalities were looser but, Ball writes, businesses had to tackle racial discrimination before they considered issues of discrimination against LGBTQ people. In the years post-Civil Rights Movement and following Stonewall, corporations continued to deny jobs to “homosexuals,” not recognizing that LGBTQ employees were quietly toiling in their offices and factories all along. It was in the 1970s that activists and organized groups began to target corporations through boycotts and demands that they stop discriminating against gay and lesbian individuals. Ball says that many corporations went from a stance of anti-gay rights to being allies in the space of a decade or so, in part because they recognized that it was good business. Even so, the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s set things back some, as fearful workers put their employers in positions to revisit discrimination in the workplace. This led to scrutiny over discrimination in the granting of benefits in the workplace and domestic partnership laws. By the beginning of this century, Ball writes, most corporations finally realized that being a public advocate for LGBTQ rights made business sense. It is “reasonable,” he says, to believe that activism was one of the main catalysts. Although it’s dry as the Sahara Desert, “The Queering of Corporate America” has interesting moments of small histories: imagine, for instance, spotting a stealthy protester holding a sign behind the news anchor on live TV; or watching, with modern eyes, early and very clumsy attempts to examine the life of a “homosexual.” These are the nuggets worth looking for inside this quite-scholarly book. Without them, it may take a concerted effort to stay focused, since this history book doesn’t seem aimed at entertainment. No, it’s really more of a thin, quick education: author Carlos A. Ball is an expert on LGBTQ rights, and his knowledge helps to make sense of a subject that turns out to be surprisingly complicated in many ways. If you’re looking for a covers-and-a-cuppa kind of book, this probably isn’t it; it’s got tidbits of surprise but it’s more erudite than not. If you need a thorough business history book, though, “The Queering of Corporate America” delivers.

‘The Queering of Corporate America’ By Carlos A. Ball Beacon Press $28.95 256 pages Photo courtesy Beacon Press

22 • FEBRUARY 28, 2020 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM


GOSSIP

Caitlyn Jenner to pose nude for SI And Greg Louganis gets biopic treatment, again By BILLY MASTERS

“Madonna Is The First Musician To Hit No. 1 On The Dance Chart In Five Different Decades.” — You know what that means? Boy, is she old! If there’s one thing I know, it’s when a group of people are gonna pile on me - I tend to wear Velcro on those occasions. Meanwhile in Nevada, Michael Bloomberg seemed completely surprised. You know what surprised me? In spite of his lackluster debate performance, he earned the endorsement of Clint Eastwood that crazy old man who talked to an empty chair during the Republican convention. That Clint is no longer supporting Trump doesn’t shock me completely. I’m just surprised he didn’t switch to that other crazy old man, Bernie. It’s been said that most black people voted for Barack Obama, and only about half of the women voted for Hillary Clinton. That got me thinking: Where does that leave Buttigieg with gay voters? Believe it or not, there is a group out there called Queers Against Pete. On their website, they state, “We cannot in good conscience allow Mayor Pete to become the nominee without demanding that he address the needs and concerns of the broader Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and Asexual communities.” Oh, geez, now I’m supposed to care about the asexuals? I’d say get your own group, but if they could, they probably wouldn’t be asexual! To all of you out there, may I simply say this - calm the fuck down. No candidate is gonna check every box for every voter. Caitlyn Jenner is about to make history by posing nude on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Well, not completely nude - she’ll be draped in an American flag. Believe it or not, that’s not the controversial part. Caitlyn will be sporting the Olympic medal Bruce won, which rubs some people the wrong way. But let’s move onto a real Olympic hero — Greg Louganis. Do you realize that we have Greg to thank for Mario Lopez? Mario broke into adult roles by playing the lead in “Breaking the Surface: The Greg Louganis Story” for the USA Network (my dear friend Patrick David played Greg during his early years). So, who will be the next Mario Lopez? More accurately, who will be the next Greg Louganis? A new biopic about the diver is in development - this time for theatrical release. Once again, we’re told that two actors are being sought to play the diver at various ages. I am more than willing to begin auditioning people ASAP. If you lived in Hollywood in the ‘80s, you couldn’t miss countless billboards featuring a buxom blond named Angelyne. The “model” had reportedly courted a wealthy sponsor to bankroll the billboard blitz, and a legend was bought...er, born. Angelyne was soon seen in ads, at events, and on red carpets. She even ran for governor of California in 2003 (she finished 28th). The problem is, she never really did much of anything except show up places, including in supermarket parking lots where she can still be seen selling T-shirts out of the trunk of her aging pink Corvette. So I was shocked to learn that NBC’s streaming Peacock platform is producing a series about her life. Don’t get me wrong, there have been biopics about people with less going for them (although, for the life of me, I can’t think of anyone off the top of my head). Angie will be played by Emmy Rossum (who I know has done things, but for the life of me, I can’t think of anything off the top of my head). Our “Ask Billy” question comes from Stephen in Delaware: “Do you know that hot nude chef on TV named Franco? He really sizzles – even with an apron on. Do you have any pics of him totally nude? Is he gay?”

CAITLYN JENNER plans to pose partially nude for Sports Illustrated. Screenshot via YouTube

His name is Franco Noriega, and he’s a former professional swimmer from Peru. He moved to New York City to go to culinary school. Along the way, he became a model and opened his own restaurant, Baby Brasa, which specializes in organic Peruvian cuisine. I’m told it’s particularly busy when Noriega is behind the grill. As to his personal life, he’s cagey. Although Noriega is known for showing off virtually every part of his anatomy, he’s stopped short at his penis. But that didn’t stop us from finding it. During a live Twitter video, he was showing off a mixed drink in his hand. Across the room, a framed photo acted as a mirror and reflected every inch of his anatomy. It may have been fleeting elsewhere, but you can have a taste at BillyMasters.com. When we’re able to quench your thirst, it’s definitely time to end yet another column. This one had a little bit of everything. Kinda like www.BillyMasters.com - the site that is like an all-you-can-eat buffet. If you’ve got a question, send it along to Billy@BillyMasters.com. So, until next time, remember, one man’s filth is another man’s bible.

LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • FEBRUARY 28, 2020 • 23


CANNABIS CULTURE L.A. to dismiss 60,000 felony marijuana convictions

D.A. JACKIE LACEY said the city will dismiss thousands of marijuana convictions.

LOS ANGELES — The Office of the District Attorney for Los Angeles County has announced that it will dismiss an estimated 66,000 marijuana convictions. Some 53,000 people are anticipated to have their records expunged. Nearly 60,000 of the cases under review are marijuana-related felony convictions, some of which date back to the 1960s. “The dismissal of tens of thousands of old cannabis-related convictions in Los Angeles County will bring much-needed relief to communities of color that disproportionately suffered the unjust consequences of our nation’s drug laws,” D.A. Jackie Lacey said in a news release. “I am privileged to be part of a system dedicated to finding innovative solutions and implementing meaningful criminal justice reform that gives all people the support they need to build the life they deserve.” Los Angeles County is one of several California counties participating in a pilot project that automatically reviews and expunges marijuana-related criminal convictions. To date, District Attorneys in other counties, such as Contra Costa, Sacramento, and San Francisco, have dismissed more than 85,000 marijuanarelated convictions.

Blade photo by Karen Ocamb

Pot use linked to weight loss: study QUEBEC —The use of marijuana is associated with a smaller waistline and lower levels of triglycerides, according to data published in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research. An investigator from the Canadian National Public Health Institute assessed the relationship between cannabis use, waist circumference, and triglyceride levels. Data analyzed in the study was extracted from a nationally representative database (the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey). The researchers reported that those subjects who consumed marijuana at least four times a week typically possessed a smaller waistline and lower triglycerides than either non-users or former consumers. The finding is consistent with several prior studies, indicating that marijuana use is associated with lower rates of obesity, BMI, and cholesterol levels.

Legal marijuana industry employs 240,000 SEATTLE — Jobs in the state-licensed cannabis industry rose 15 percent during the past 12 months, and the industry now employs over 243,000 full-time workers, according to data compiled by Leafly.com. According to its 2020 report, the regulated cannabis industry added 33,700 new jobs over the past year. States adding the greater number of new cannabisrelated jobs were Massachusetts (10,266 jobs) and Oklahoma (7,300 jobs). Overall, the total number of full-time jobs in the licensed cannabis industry has doubled since 2017. “The refusal [of the federal government] to acknowledge the existence of legal cannabis jobs is a powerful act of shaming and stigmatization,” the report concludes. Cannabis Culture news in the Blade is provided in partnership with NORML. Visit norml. org for more information.

LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • FEBRUARY 28, 2020 • 24


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Christy Smith

Congress CA-25

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Holly Mitchell

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George Gascรณn LA County DA

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EQUALITY CANDIDATES VOTE MARCH 3, 2020 Congress

CA 08 - Chris Bubser CA 10 - Josh Harder* CA 21 - TJ Cox* CA 25 - Christy Smith** CA 25 - Special Election Christy Smith CA 26 - Julia Brownley* CA 27 - Judy Chu* CA 28 - Adam Schiff* CA 29 - Tony Cardenas* CA 30 - Brad Sherman* CA 32 - Grace Napolitano* CA 33 - Ted Lieu* CA 34 - Jimmy Gomez* CA 35 - Norma Torres* CA 37 - Karen Bass* CA 38 - Linda Sanchez* CA 39 - Gil Cisneros* CA 40 - Lucille Roybal-Allard* CA 43 - Maxine Waters* CA 44 - Nanette Barragรกn* CA 45 - Katie Porter* CA 47 - Alan Lowenthal* CA 48 - Harley Rouda* CA 49 - Mike Levin* CA 50 - Ammar Campa-Najjar **On March 3rd vote for Christy twice! For the Special Election & the Primary.

California State Senate

SD 21 - Kipp Mueller SD 27 - Henry Stern* SD 29 - Josh Newman SD 33 - Lena Gonzalez* SD 35 - Steven Bradford*

California State Assembly

AD 38 - Brandii Grace AD 39 - Luz Rivas* AD 41 - Chris Holden* AD 43 - Laura Friedman* AD 44 - Jacqui Irwin* AD 45 - Jesse Gabriel* AD 46 - Adrin Nazarian* AD 48 - Blanca Rubio* AD 49 - Ed Chau* AD 50 - Richard Bloom* AD 51 - Wendy Carrillo* AD 52 - Freddie Rodriguez* AD 53 - Miguel Santiago* AD 54 - Sydney Kamlager-Dove* AD 57 - Ian Calderon* AD 59 - Reggie Jones-Sawyer* AD 60 - Sabrina Cervantes* AD 62 - Autumn Burke* AD 63 - Anthony Rendon* AD 64 - Mike Gipson* AD 66 - Al Muratsuchi*

Los Angeles County Supervisor LACSup 2 - Holly Mitchell LACSup 4 - Janice Hahn* LACSup 5 - John Harabedian

Los Angles County

District Attorney - George Gascรณn Superior Court Judge 42 - Linda Sun Superior Court Judge 72 - Robert Jacobs Superior Court Judge 76 - Emily Cole Superior Court Judge 80 - David Berger Superior Court Judge 97 - Sherry Powell Superior Court Judge 129 - Ken Fuller Superior Court Judge 145 - Adan Montalban Superior Court Judge 150 - Tom Parsekian Superior Court Judge 162 - No Consensus

San Bernardino County

Pasadena

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Whittier City Council

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LACC 2 - Paul Krekorian* LACC 4 - David Ryu* LACC 6 - Nury Martinez* LACC 8 - Marqueece Harris-Dawson* LACC 10 - No Consensus LACC 12 - Loraine Lundquist LACC 14 - No Consensus

LA Unified School District Board LAUSD 1 - George McKenna* LAUSD 3 - Scott Schmerelson* LAUSD 5 - Jackie Goldberg* LAUSD 7 - Patricia Castellanos

Glendale City Council Dan Brotman Ardy Kassakhian

Mayor - Victor Gordo

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Ballot Measures

CA State Measure 13 - YES LA County Measure FD - YES LA County Measure R - YES

*Incumbent LGBTQ+ Stonewall Democratic Club @StonewallDemsLA @stonewalldemsla www.StonewallDems.org

Huntington Park City Council Eddie Martinez Graciela Ortiz* Marilyn Sanabria*

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Profile for Los Angeles Blade

Losangelesblade.com, Volume 04, Issue 09, February 28, 2020  

Losangelesblade.com, Volume 04, Issue 09, February 28, 2020

Losangelesblade.com, Volume 04, Issue 09, February 28, 2020  

Losangelesblade.com, Volume 04, Issue 09, February 28, 2020

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