Losangelesblade.com, Volume 4, Issue 11, March 13, 2020

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As streaming wars heat up who has the best queer content? Page 24

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


LGBTQ senior housing urgentlyneeded More than 1,200 apply for Ariadne Getty Foundation Senior Housing By GREG HERNANDEZ The rush was on after the Los Angeles LGBT Center announced it was accepting applications for 98 affordable units under construction in the Ariadne Getty Foundation Senior Housing complex at the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Anita May Rosenstein Campus. More than 1,200 LGBTQ seniors 62 years and over applied for studios, one-and-twobedroom apartments with rents up to $1,175 per month. Of the 98 units, only 72 will be leased through a lottery system; the remaining units will be set aside for individuals experiencing chronic homelessness whose rents will be paid for by county and city grants. “The lack of affordable housing in this country is at an all-time high and presents even greater hardships for the LGBTQ community given the many biases which continue to exist. It’s an even greater problem amongst LGBTQ seniors,” says Ariadne Getty, President and Executive Director of the Ariadne Getty

Foundation (AGF), who face “social isolation, family rejection or discrimination in traditional senior housing.” In response, the AGF donated $2.5 million to the Center to build the housing complex with a twofold purpose. “The first, and most important, is that we provide housing for LGBTQ seniors,” says Getty. “And, the second, is the AGF inspires others to donate to care for the elderly LGBTQ community who have faced so many obstacles and discrimination yet have gotten us to where we are today.” The lucky residents will also have easy access to Center programs specializing in HIV+ wellness, gender identity, and LGBT social and cultural support. Additionally, the Center provides other services, including meals, case management, employment training, and more than 100 monthly free or low-cost activities. “This application process can be a very daunting and anxious experience for many seniors,” says Tripp Mills, deputy director of

Senior Services. Luis Zapata appreciated the help. “I came in on the third day, and they assigned someone to me to help complete the application online because I’m not a computer guy,” said Zapata, 67, who recently migrated from living in an RV to bouncing among his friends’ residences. “I just want to go back to living in an apartment.” After a thorough review, the selected names will be posted at the Senior Center around May 5. And, beginning early summer, the prospective residents will be interviewed in person to submit proof of age, income, bank statements, and rental history. For more information about the Center’s Senior Services, visit lalgbtcenter.org/seniors. For more information about The Ariadne Getty Foundation, visit ariadnegettyfdn.org. Karen Ocamb edited and contributed to this article, which was originally written by Greg Hernandez for the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s LGBT News Now Blog.

A Center volunteer assists with an application for a subsidized apartment at the Ariadne Getty Foundation Senior Housing on the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s campus. (Photo courtesy LGBT Center)

Calif. prison system updates policy on trans inmates Advocates say changes don’t go far enough By CHRIS JOHNSON As scrutiny of the treatment of transgender inmates continues to grow, the California prison system has updated its policy on transition-related care, including gender reassignment surgery, although the new guidance is getting mixed reviews at best from transgender advocates. One transgender advocate said the document “appears to contain some important improvements,” but “there are still a few areas where the policy appears problematic or unclear.” Another said the

changes “do nothing to change” access to transition-related care for inmates. In defense of the policy, a spokesperson for the California prison system says the new guidance is “expected to improve access to care.” The California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation, which is credited with being the first state prison system to implement any policy granting transgender inmates access to gender reassignment surgery, shared the updated 30-page guidance and a summary with the Blade last week.


The new guidelines, developed by California Correctional Health Care Services, dedicate a full page to specific criteria for granting inmates gender reassignment surgery: Persistent gender dysphoria; being at least 18 years old; having continuously used hormone therapy for 12 months; full-time living in a new gender role and keeping any other medical and mental health conditions well-controlled. “Individuals may live successfully as transgender persons without surgery,” the guidelines say. “Gender affirming surgery may be considered for those individuals who are diagnosed with Gender Dysphoria and demonstrate

significant distress not attributable to conditions of confinement, mental illness or other factors, but are due to lack of reasonable response to available nonsurgical treatments and there are no available, additional treatments other than surgery that are likely to improve or alleviate their symptoms.” The updated guidelines come after a review period the California prison system announced when the Blade published data — obtained from a request under California’s Public Records Act — revealing few transgender inmates who requested gender reassignment surgery were granted the procedure. Continues at losangelesblade.com



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Coronavirus is officially a pandemic HRC’s LA Gala still on; GLAAD Awards in NYC cancelled By KAREN OCAMB The World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared the coronavirus a pandemic on March 11, meaning it’s a new super bug with no immunity, no vaccine, no cure and a threat to the public health system. But while Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus “rung the alarm bell loud and clear,” he also tried to forestall widespread panic. “All countries can still change the course of this pandemic,” he said, “if countries detect, test, treat, isolate, trace and mobilize their people in the response.” President Donald Trump’s self-obsessed magical thinking, however, continues to throw up inaccurate and contradictory barriers to the dissemination of important information, even that espoused by his own administration’s trusted health experts. On March 10, shaken after yet another precipitous sharp Wall Street stock decline, Trump went to Capitol Hill to discuss measures to stem feared financial fallout resulting from the increasing spread of the virus. He met with congressional Republicans who did not automatically fall in line this time – some were even supportive of an economic relief package Speaker Nancy Pelosi has prepared. Trump stopped to talk with reporters on his way out. “We’re doing a great job with it,” he said, despite news reports of just how badly the administration failed to act to contain the virus early on. “It will go away. Just stay calm,” Trump said. “It’s really working out. And a lot of good things are going to happen.” Meanwhile, on another part of Capitol Hill, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told the House Oversight Committee the very opposite. “We have got to assume it is going to get worse and worse and worse,” Fauci said, noting that the new virus will not just die off with warmer weather, as Trump insists. “We must be much more serious as a country about what we might expect,” Fauci added. “We cannot look at it and say, ‘Well, there are only

a couple of cases here, that’s good.’ Because a couple of cases today are going to many, many cases tomorrow.” Fauci also rebutted Trump repeatedly saying that the coronavirus is no worse than the flu. “People always say, ‘Well, the flu does this, the flu does that.’ The flu has a mortality of 0.1 percent. This has a mortality of 10 times that,” Fauci said. AIDS activists and LGBTQ people who lived through the HIV/AIDS crisis recognize Fauci as someone who started out as a slow-moving bureaucrat but eventually became an AIDS ally. He is now a trustworthy voice and -- perhaps a trait learned from AIDS activists -- he speaks truth to power, though the “power” might not listen. “I have never ever held back telling exactly what is going on from a public health standpoint,” Fauci told Rep. Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA) who suggested the expert be more forthright instead of just standing behind Trump at news conferences and rolling his eyes. Part of the problem is that even the experts don’t know the precise nature of the highly contagious novel coronavirus, nor its status in the U.S. because there hasn’t been enough testing. There are also questions about how many testing kits have actually been distributed, to whom, and when will more be available. NBC News reported March 11 that a company in Germany sent machines to the U.S. capable of producing hundreds of test kits – but they are sitting idle awaiting FDA approval. Meanwhile, considering that the virus can live on a surface for several hours and infectious incubation can be up to nine days without symptoms, officials extrapolate that every single person diagnosed with coronavirus probably had contact with up to three other people. Nearly 120,000 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus globally, as of March 11, mostly on the Chinese mainland where the outbreak originated nearly three months ago. The U.S. has reported 1,139 coronavirus cases in total across 38 states and Washington, DC. and 31 people in the U.S. have died from the coronavirus — 24 in Washington state, three


Handwashing is the best way to prevent Coronavirus. (Photo via CDC)

in California, two in Florida, one in New Jersey, and one in South Dakota. California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency and the state now has 157 cases, with thousands more people assumed to have been exposed. “We’re a nation-state,” Newsom said March 10. “This is not a small, isolated state. The state of California is 40 million strong, 58 counties. So, what we’re doing is a bottom-up process, not a top-down process. We’re providing guidance in concert, in collaboration with the federal government and we are sending that down … but each and every county is experiencing a different set of circumstances on the ground.” The Los Angeles County Public Health Department reported 24 cases in LA County, with one confirmed coronavirus-related death – a woman over 60 with underlying health issues, Public Health Department Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said, according to the LA Times. So far, Newsom has not called out the National Guard for containment but he has instead strongly encouraged organizations to consider canceling or postponing events with more than 100-250 people, admittedly an arbitrary number. California counties, businesses and nonprofits have reacted differently, some ordering bans and other forms of mitigation, others preferring alerts suggesting health protocols such as vigorously washing your hands for 20 seconds, using alcohol-based hand sanitizer; covering your mouth with a disposable tissue or your sleeve when coughing or sneezing; not touching your face; wiping down publicly used surfaces; and self-quarantining when not feeling well.

In particular, officials advise practicing “social-distancing” by avoiding being within three to six feet of people you don’t know (they could be asymptomatic) or who display signs of illness. Do not kiss or hug to either inadvertently spread or breath in those harmful droplets — instead bump elbows or feet. Or do an old spiritual acknowledgement: briefly join your hands in prayer and bow or clutch your heart like a 1930s motion picture singer. Health officials also recommend staying and working from home with a fever or cough and calling a doctor or clinic if the symptoms worsen or do not get better after several days. The elderly and those with underlying health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, chronic heart disease, respiratory conditions, cancer and compromised immune systems are particularly at risk. LA County health officials have issued new guidance to mitigate the spread of the virus. “It’s time to start thinking about limiting activities anywhere you have a lot of exposure to the general public,” Ferrer said March 10. She also said that health teams will start visiting all nursing homes and long-term-care facilities in Los Angeles County — roughly 300 — to enforce infectious disease protocols and prevention measures. The teams will also assess the 330 homeless shelters and numerous encampments throughout L.A. County to quarantine the sick from the healthy, she said. On March 11, the National LGBT Cancer Network and GLMA (Gay & Lesbian Medical Association) issued an open letter signed by more than 100 LGBT-affiliated organizations that offered culturally competent information

LOCAL to supplement recommendations put out by the CDC and local public health agencies. “As the spread of the novel coronavirus a.k.a. COVID-19 increases, many LGBTQ+ people are understandably concerned about how this virus may affect us and our communities,” they write. “Our increased vulnerability is a direct result of three factors: The LGBTQ+ population uses tobacco at rates that are 50% higher than the general population. COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that has proven particularly harmful to smokers. The LGBTQ+ population has higher rates of HIV and cancer, which means a greater number of us may have compromised immune systems, leaving us more vulnerable to COVID-19 infections. LGBTQ+ people continue to experience discrimination, unwelcoming attitudes, and lack of understanding from providers and staff in many health care settings, and as a result, many are reluctant to seek medical care except in situations that feel urgent – and perhaps not even then.” Additionally, they write, “there are more than 3 million LGBTQ+ older people living in the United States. LGBTQ+ elders are already less likely than their heterosexual and cisgender peers to reach out to health and aging providers, like senior centers, meal programs, and other programs designed to ensure their health and wellness, because they fear discrimination and harassment. The devastating impact of COVID-19 on older people – the current mortality rate is at 15% for this population – makes this a huge issue for the LGBTQ+ communities as well.” Darrel Cummings, chief of staff at the Los Angeles LGBT Center, says he did not get an invitation to sign onto the letter. However, the Center has initiated its own precautions at its senior housing facility Triangle Square in Hollywood in reaction to the outbreak. “For us, the primary client concerns are 1) those who are healthcare patients and who come to our McDonald/Wright building for a variety of healthcare services, 2) our senior services which include residents of Triangle Square but also the many others who come to the Campus for programs, meals, etc. and 3) our programs for youth that includes our drop in center services and housing through our emergency overnight beds and transitional living program,” Cummings tells the Los Angeles Blade. “The good news is that we now have tests on site and are prepared to administer those both at our clinic site but also off site at our other

facilities,” he says. “We have been providing, almost on a daily basis, the most up-to-date information to our staff and clients about the preventative measures they can take to protect themselves and others. “We have been following the guidelines for congregate care and living issued by the department of public health and the CDC and have plans in place for appropriately reacting to any identified case that we may identify in the clinic or at our other facilities, especially those in our seniors and youth programs,” he says. “We are prepared, as best we can be, to provide testing and any needed isolation. “Generally, we are encouraging people (staff and clients) who are exhibiting symptoms, not to come to our services and to call us or their medical provider for counsel. Obviously, we have masks and hand sanitizers throughout.

Coronavirus (Photo via CDC)

although these things can be in short supply so we have lots on back-order,” Cummings continues. “We have established a COVID-19 (aka coronavirus) management team that is meeting and talking on a very regular basis so we can act on or react to developments as they happen and are just assuming that the numbers of those identified with the virus will grow dramatically as more and more are tested.” POZ Magazine has also been reporting on HIV/AIDS and the coronavirus and notes that “the HIV population is aging, and nearly half are over 50. Those with low CD4 T-cell counts, indicating advanced immune suppression, are at greatest risk. People with HIV are more likely to develop cardiovascular disease and may do so at a younger age. Certain HIV medications, especially older drugs, can cause neutropenia, or depletion of immune system white blood cells

that fight infection.” “When you look at who’s been most profoundly ill, it tends to be people who are older, in their 60s, 70s and 80s. As you get older, your immune system doesn’t function as well,” Steve Pergam, MD, MPH, of the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, told POZ. Among people living with HIV, “it’s all based on level of immune suppression.” “For an HIV patient who is on stable antiretroviral therapy and has a normal CD4 count, their risk may be slightly increased. People often lump HIV patients with other immunosuppressed patients, but HIV is a different disease than it was years ago. For people who have a reconstituted immune system because of treatment, I think the risk is not going to be tremendously different,” Pergam told POZ. Individual LGBTQ and HIV/AIDS organizations are handling their responses with health safety protocols and their constituencies in mind. Equality California and the California LGBT Legislative Caucus, for instance, issued an advisory in advance of their March12-13 summit in Sacramento but decided to proceed with the event. The LA County HIV Commission, on the other hand, decided to cancel the March 12 2020 Commission on HIV meeting and special panel presentation commemorating National Women + Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day reschedule “at later date/time to be determined.” Other major events have canceled or postponed, as well, including the Los Angeles Times annual Festival of Books and Food Bowl. Goldenvoice announced the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival has been postponed until October. Also cancelled - RuPaul’s DragCon LA 2020. Universal Studios and Disneyland Resort are not closing, however, while they monitor the outbreak, communicate with health officials, and provide hand-sanitizing stations throughout Disneyland. The LA Times reports that “San Francisco announced it is banning large group events of 1,000 or more people.” “We know that this order is disruptive, but it is an important step to support public health,” said Mayor London Breed, noting that city officials were following advice from state officials. LA has not followed suit, so far. “We will get to a point, unfortunately, here in L.A. County, where we will be asking for events to close. But we’re not there yet,” said Public Health Director Ferrer.

The Human Rights Campaign intends to continue with its gala on March 28. “Our community’s health and safety are incredibly important to us,” reads an advisory emailed to the LA Blade. “The event is scheduled to take place as planned. We will continue to evaluate the situation and if anything changes, we will reach out to you right way. We are ensuring all possible steps are taken to provide a safe environment for all of our guests.” However, HRC adds, “For the well-being of all of our guests, if you are feeling ill, please stay home.” GLAAD, on the other hand, chose to cancel its 31st Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York. “Given GLAAD’s long-standing commitment to the safety of our members, sponsors, and guests, the GLAAD Media Awards will no longer take place on March 19th in New York City,” GLAAD’s Rich Ferraro, Chief Communications Officer and an Executive Producer of the GLAAD Media Awards, said in an emailed advisory. “The team at GLAAD has been in communication with the City of New York and is following the latest recommendations from Governor Cuomo. We were planning to unveil a historic get-out-the-vote campaign at the event because everything is at stake for LGBTQ Americans this election year,” he says, “and are hopeful that the program and GLAAD’s ongoing work to fight against anti-LGBTQ discrimination will continue to be supported and funded.” Ferraro notes that the loss of event funding will hurt their advocacy work. “We are beyond proud to honor Ryan Murphy and Judith Light, two trailblazing beacons of LGBTQ advocacy and inclusion, and we will ensure their game-changing work is rightfully recognized at another time. We are so thankful to our host Lilly Singh, performers Adam Lambert and Ben Platt, and all of the LGBTQ people who were working hard to ensure our stage show would once again send much-needed messages of LGBTQ acceptance around the globe,” he says. GLAAD will contact the nominees about plans on how the awards will be announced, “acknowledging that a GLAAD Media Award nomination or win can raise the bar for LGBTQ representation and serve as a catalyst for media executives to greenlight additional LGBTQ projects.” GLAAD is also speaking with public health officials in Los Angeles about next month’s GLAAD Media Awards dinner and stage show. Stay tuned.



LGBTQ politicos network at leadership summit Sacramento gathering also helps develop next generation By KAREN OCAMB

First, they had to make a decision. Gov. Gavin Newsom had declared a state of emergency in California in response to the spread of the coronavirus. But the second annual California LGBTQ Leadership Summit, co-hosted by Equality California and the California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus, had been long planned and Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara was scheduled to keynote with other LGBTQ advocates and legislative heavy-hitters — including from representatives from the Offices of the Governor, Speaker and Senate President pro Tempore — assigned panels where they could share their expertise with more than 150 LGBTQ+ elected and appointed officials from around the state. Organizers decided to proceed with the reception on March 12 and panels in Sacramento the next day, while also following recommendations by the California Department of Public Health created to reduce the spread of the virus. The LGBTQ Summit serves three purposes, Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur tells the Los Angeles Blade. One is to help “educate our LGBTQ elected and appointed officials across the state about the policy priorities and the challenges that our community is facing, from the perspective of Equality California and the LGBTQ caucus.” While many elected officials are experts on some areas, other LGBTQ appointed elected officials don’t have a broad grasp of LGBTQ civil rights and social justice issues. “So part of this is really to bring everyone up on the same page and help educate them about what we see the priorities for

Bisexual Palm Springs City Council member Christy Holstege, gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom, trans Palm Springs City Council member Lisa Middleton, Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California (Photo courtesy EQCA)

the community being, including what we’re doing this year in Sacramento,” he says. The second goal is to hear from them. “We’ve got all these LGBTQ elected officials that have served in all kinds of capacities. Some elected, some appointed, in cities and towns across the State. We want to hear from them,” Zbur says, “and the LGBTQ caucus wants to hear from them about challenges that the community is facing, that we may not be aware of, that we should be prioritizing as we develop our policy and our advocacy priorities.” The third goal is leadership development and leadership building in our community. “As we have started to consider endorsements at the local level, the purpose is to build a bench of LGBTQ people to run for State Assembly and State Senate in the Constitutional Offices in Congress so that we’re supporting people early in their


career,” says Zbur. “It’s really to try to make sure that we understand and know these folks, that they know us.” Equality California is teaming up with the Victory Institute to leadership and candidate “how to” training. “This is a great pool of candidates for appointment to state boards and commissions, where we still have a real dearth of representation for our communities,” Zbur says. There’s an unofficial fourth goal for the summit, too, Zbur says --- networking. “Folks in Southern California don’t know people in Northern California. And then we’ve got elected officials and appointed officials, even from small towns across the State, who may not know anyone,” he says. “So, this really is a network opportunity.” Key to the summit is sharing examples of dealing with the Trumpification of America through the intersectional experience

of the panelists and pros. “I think the panelists that we have, because of their race and gender identity, have faced some of the worst hate. Some of this is about giving folks firsthand experience about how their colleagues have dealt with these things,” he says. “Just the divisiveness that is part of being in public life these days -whether it comes from the left or the right -- it’s just a reality. And some of what we do at all of our leadership programs and the Leadership Academy is really try to help people understand what they’re going to be grappling with and what they’re going to face and what they need to think about as they’re considering public service for the broader community.” Equality California’s Leadership Academy talks a lot about the hard reality of that service and the summit features a diverse trailblazers panel of LGBTQ+ people of color and trans people who are serving in elected and appointed offices. “What we talk about with folks in all of these training programs is really, how do you navigate the world in which some of what you’re going to confront is both blatant and subtle and it’s LGBTQ biased? Sexism, racism, religious antipathy -- those are all things that LGBTQ people have always faced, members of communities that were part of this space -- and that is part of what we try to grapple with,” Zbur says. “And why it is we have diverse panelists, so that people can ask questions and we’ve got a broad range of perspectives.” Developing the next generation of backbenchers is so critical in this environment, it almost feels as if the LGBTQ Summit is designed to quietly develop leadership fit for the next existential crisis.


Log Cabin Club (Screengrab from ABC7)

In a divisive environment that could arguably drive any regular person to drink, 12 Steppers in the Los Angeles/West Hollywood area were thrilled to hear that the beloved broken down Log Cabin Club on Robertson Boulevard – the curious life-saving eyesore across the street from the posh Lisa Vanderpump-owned Sur restaurant – was rescued to save another drunk for another day. “We are in final negotiations for the sale of the Log Cabin property from Beverly Hills to West Hollywood. We were able to reach reasonable terms that depended upon the continued use of the site for public purposes,” John Jude Duran, a West Hollywood City Councilmember and longtime 12 Stepper, wrote on his Facebook page. “The lease with the Lions Club was terminated by [the City of] Beverly Hills and expires March 31. The property will be under new management effective April 1st. And we will need a capital campaign in the future to bring it up to code for ADA compliance and property improvements,” Duran wrote. Duran has been advocating for saving the Log Cabin for years and was especially effusive in gratitude for all those who lobbied the cities of West Hollywood and Beverly Hills to work out a deal. “Thank you to all of you who took the time to lobby the city councils of both cities to save the building. Your efforts have preserved the building for continued stories of experience, strength and hope,” said Duran.

“Enough is Enough. #LGBTQ hashtag. LGBT “Rights”. 1995: We want tolerance. 2005: We want equality. 2015: Bake the f##### cake, bigot. 2016: Say my pronouns or go to jail. 2020: Let me f### your 8 yo kid, pedophobe.” - Angela Stanton-King, Trump-pardoned convicted felon and former reality show star announcing her congressional challenge to civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis, via Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters blogger Alvin McEwen.

“I’d rather be free than fearful. I am like that. I can’t help it. That’s how I was born.” - Swiss swing wrestler Curdin Orlik, 27, coming out to the Swiss publication The Magazine, via OutSports.

“Jen Aniston should be killed.”

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– Former Hollywood bigwig producer and convicted rapist Harvey Weinstein in newly released court documents in which he incorrectly believed the “Friends” star had accused him of groping her, via the New York Times March 10.



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U.S. agency seeks to cut LGBTQ protections in union talks NLRB also wants to remove race, sex and religion provisions By CHRIS JOHNSON The National Labor Relations Board is seeking under the Trump administration to axe LGBTQ non-discrimination language — as well as protections based on race, sex and religion — from its union contract with professional attorneys within the U.S. agency as part of collective-bargaining negotiations, according to union representatives. The union, known as the National Labor Relations Board Professional Association, is made up of about 120 attorneys at the NLRB headquarters in D.C. “They’re taking it all out,” one NLRBPA member said. “They’re basically saying it’s duplicative, it’s covered by statute, so we don’t want to do anything through grievance and arbitration. If you think there is discrimination, then you need to a file complaint with the EEOC.” The NLRBPA is pleading with Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) to step in and urge the agency to keep those non-discrimination protections in place within the union contract. Individually, LGBTQ employees with concerns over removal of the non-discrimination protections also sought to meet with management on the issue, but were rebuffed, union members told the Washington Blade. For the time being, NLRB is required to maintain the non-discrimination protections from the previous contract, even though that contract expired last year. But that situation is expected to change soon. As a result of executive orders signed by President Trump last year, federal employee unions are required to engage in negotiations with their respective agencies to form new contracts. In a pair of letters dated March 5, the NLRPA calls on Raskin and Feinstein to engage in oversight of the agency as it seeks to eliminate those non-discrimination protections. One letter calls the proposal “a giant step backward in the fight to ensure that LGBTQ workers

receive equal treatment under the law.” “It is a mark of shame that employment discrimination against LGBTQ employees, including federal employees, has been tolerated for so long, and to callously take any protections away after so long a struggle for equal treatment would be unconscionable,” one letter says. “In that spirit, we would be most grateful for any oversight of the agency and help that you can provide to defend the workplace rights of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters.” The letters also express other concerns. Among them is NLRB proposing to eliminate a standing joint labor-management Equal Employment Opportunity Committee, a reversal the union says turns “historically a cooperative relationship between management and the union into an adversarial relationship.” The NLRB also proposes to undercut the grievance and arbitration system in other ways, the letter says. Raskin, in a statement to the Blade responding to the letter, said NLRB’s proposed removal of LGBTQ protections is unjust, especially from a U.S. agency charged with enforcing federal labor law. “Trump’s administration has tried from the start to purge all mention of LGBTQ rights from federal law and policy,” Raskin said. “Now, by proposing to eliminate protections for LGBTQ employees from its collective bargaining agreements, the NLRB — which is supposed to be a leader for workplace fairness—becomes the latest perpetrator of the administration’s political assault on equal protection and equal employment rights for the LGBTQ community.” NLRB, according to members of the union, justified its proposed removal of the nondiscrimination protections on the basis that employees could seek recourse against discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a federal law that bars discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex and national origin. But that law as it stands affords no protections based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Although the U.S. Supreme Court is considering litigation that will decide whether anti-LGBTQ discrimination is a form of sex discrimination, thus illegal under Title VII, there is no certainty that will happen.

Should the Supreme Court rule Title VII doesn’t cover anti-LGBTQ discrimination, NLRBPA attorneys would have no recourse under federal law for LGBTQ discrimination claims. NLRBPA employees — even though they work within D.C. — also aren’t covered by the D.C. Human Rights Act. Although the law bars anti-LGBTQ discrimination, the D.C. Human Rights Act doesn’t have jurisdiction over federal entities, such as NLRB. Over the course of contract negotiations, one NLRBPA member said, management was unmoved by the argument LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections are needed in the union contract because the Supreme Court might be against them under Title VII. “There’s a possibility we’re not going to be covered by statute, so we will have no protections whatsoever,” the NLRBPA members said. “And my understanding was the agency response was, ‘We can’t control what the Supreme Court does.” According to the NLRBPA, nondiscrimination protections based on sexual orientation have been part of the NLRBPA contract since 2002 and non-discrimination protections based on gender identity have been part of the contract since 2017. Although that contract was terminated in 2019, the agency remains legally obligated to enforce it until a new contract agreement with the union is reached. “So you can imagine our dismay when we received contract proposals from management eliminating the contractual provisions prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and stating that any ‘prior MOUs, agreements, or settlements executed prior to the latest date below are not incorporated into this agreement,’” the letters say. Outside of union negotiations, the letter says, a group of LGBTQ employees sought to meet with senior management to discuss concerns over the removal of the non-discrimination language, but were unsuccessful. Adam Naill, an NLRB attorney and NLRB union official, affirmed to the Blade via email a group of LGBTQ employees were denied a meeting with management outside the negotiations.

The National Labor Relations Board under DONALD TRUMP wants to axe LGBTQ non-discrimination language — as well as protections based on race, sex and religion — from its union contract with professional attorneys.

“A number of LGBTQ folks at the agency attempted to meet with NLRB senior leadership to just express their concerns about the proposal and how they’re feeling — frightened and alarmed — about management’s position on this and were rebuffed, senior leadership said they wouldn’t meet with employees about the issue,” Naill said. The NLRB justified denying the meeting, one NLRBPA member said, by giving assurances the agency is committed to LGBTQ equality and saying the meeting would be inappropriate amid ongoing contract negotiations. But the NLRBPA member expressed doubt about that commitment to LGBTQ equality based on attorneys in the workforce overheard making homophobic statements. “Among some of the rank and file attorneys, those people who very likely in the coming years will probably be promoted to supervisors, there’s been several times overhearing some very problematic homophobic, misogynist statements coming from them,” the NLRBPA member said. The office of Feinstein didn’t respond Monday to the Blade’s request to comment on the proposed removal of LGBTQ protections. The NLRB declined to comment for this article, citing a practice of withholding commenting on contract negotiations with unions. Continues at losangelesblade.com



Aaron Schock finally comes out as gay Aaron Schock, the former Republican congressman who was long suspected of being gay, came out in an Instagram post on March 5. “The fact that I am gay is just one of those things in life in need of explicit affirmation, to remove any doubt and to finally validate who I am as a person,” Schock wrote. “In many ways, I regret the time wasted in not having done so sooner.” Schock, who served in Congress from 2009 to 2015, has been dogged by gay rumors for some time. The congressman resigned amid scandal involving his alleged use of campaign funds and was later indicted in connection with the imbroglio, but all charges against him were dropped last year. As an Illinois Republican, Schock built an

anti-LGBTQ voting record. Among his votes in Congress were against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal and hate crimes protections for LGBTQ people as well as affirmation of the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act. Under questioning from reporters in a video that later became a meme, Schock infamously replied when asked why he hadn’t come out in favor of same-sex marriage, “I just haven’t.” Throughout his time in Congress, Schock denied he was gay (as did his father). After his time Congress, photos allegedly of Schock at Coachella suggesting he was gay emerged on social media. A video also emerged of Schock in Mexico inserting money into the thong of a male dancer. In his coming out post, Schock appears to justify his anti-LGBTQ past as a congressman

AARON SCHOCK came out last week in an Instagram post.

by reducing LGBTQ rights to marriage equality, saying Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama once opposed it. “That fact doesn’t make my position any less wrong, but it’s sometimes easy to forget that it was leaders of both parties who for so long wrongly understood what it was to defend the right to marry,” Schock said. Schock in his Instagram post affirms if he were in Congress today he’d “support LGBTQ rights,” but doesn’t seem to drop his affiliation with the Republican Party. Schock was seen attending a fundraiser with President Trump in Beverly Hills two weeks ago, a Republican source familiar with the event told the Blade. CHRIS JOHNSON

Opponents of FOSTA law win Appeals Court victory In a little-noticed action, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on Jan. 24 overturned a lower court ruling dismissing a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a controversial federal law that holds websites criminally liable if found to “promote” or “facilitate” prostitution between consenting adults. The lawsuit charges that the law passed by Congress called the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017 known as FOSTA violates the First and Fifth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution by criminalizing protected speech and expression and holding someone liable for an action committed before the FOSTA law made it illegal. LGBTQ rights organizations have joined

civil liberties and sex worker rights groups in asserting that FOSTA has failed to bring about its intended purpose of curtailing human sex trafficking of adults and minors. Instead, critics say it has resulted, among other things, in internet sites refusing to accept ads from sex workers seeking consenting adults as customers, forcing sex workers to return to the streets where they are subjected to danger. The lawsuit was filed in 2018 by the D.C.based Woodhull Freedom Foundation, which advocates for decriminalization of sex work; the New York-based Human Rights Watch; and a massage therapist named Eric Koszyk, who says his massage business was wiped out when the FOSTA law prompted Craigslist to bar him from advertising on the site. Others that joined the lawsuit as plaintiffs


are the San Francisco-based Internet Archives, which serves as a digital “library” of websites that could be charged under FOSTA with promoting prostitution; and a sex worker advocate identified as Jesse Maley. At the request of the U.S. Justice Department, which defended FOSTA against the lawsuit, U.S. District Court Judge Richard J. Leon dismissed the lawsuit on grounds that none of the plaintiffs had legal standing to file the suit. Leon upheld the Justice Department’s argument that the organizations and individuals filing the lawsuit were not in actual jeopardy of being prosecuted under FOSTA. In his ruling dismissing the case, Leon did not make a determination of whether or not FOSTA is unconstitutional, only that the plaintiffs didn’t have legal standing to bring

the issue before the court. In its Jan. 24 decision to overturn Leon’s ruling, a three-judge panel of the D.C.based U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit held that at least two of the plaintiffs did have standing to challenge FOSTA. The judges said the two plaintiffs showed that they could possibly be subjected to criminal prosecution or harmful civil litigation made possible by FOSTA because of their efforts advocating for sex workers. The decision by Appeals Court Judges Judith W. Rogers, Thomas B. Griffith, and Gregory G. Katsas sends the case back to the District Court, where Judge Leon will be required to decide the case on the merits. LOU CHIBBARO JR.


Blade contributor released from ICE custody Yariel Valdés González endured inhumane conditions during 11-month detention By MICHAEL K. LAVERS FERRIDAY, La. — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on March 4 released from its custody a Washington Blade contributor from Cuba who won asylum in the U.S. This reporter picked up Yariel Valdés González at River Correctional Center, a privately run ICE detention center in Ferriday, La., shortly after 2 p.m. The two arrived in nearby Natchez, Miss., less than 30 minutes later before driving to New Orleans where they spent the night in the French Quarter. Valdés visited Bourbon Street and had drinks at Cafe Lafitte in Exile, which is one of the country’s oldest gay bars, while watching this year’s Super Bowl halftime show during which Shakira and Jennifer Lopez performed. Valdés then danced at Oz, a nearby gay nightclub. Valdés and this reporter on March 5 flew to Miami International Airport where he reunited with his aunt and uncle. “I really feel that I am alive now,” Valdés told the Blade on Sunday from the Miami suburb of Cutler Bay where he now lives with his aunt, María Valdés and his uncle, Julio Valdés. “It is a wonderful feeling to feel free and to be able to take control of your life and above all knowing that you will not be persecuted again because of your ideas or your work.” Valdés, 29, entered the U.S. on March 27, 2019, through the Calexico West Port of Entry between California’s Imperial Valley and Mexicali, Mexico. He asked for asylum based on the persecution he suffered in Cuba because he is a journalist. ICE transferred Valdés from California to the Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility, a privately run detention center in Tutwiler, Miss. Valdés was held at the Bossier Parish Medium Security Facility in Plain Dealing, La., for roughly eight months before ICE transferred him to the River Correctional

Center. This reporter visited Valdés on Feb. 1. Judge Timothy Cole last September granted Valdés asylum, but the ruling was appealed to the Virginia-based Board of Immigration Appeals, which the Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review oversees. The Board of Immigration Appeals on Feb. 28 dismissed the challenge. Valdés shackled during ICE transports Valdés interviewed a number of LGBTQ asylum seekers with whom he was detained. He also documented the harsh conditions he experienced while in ICE custody. “The American dream to live in absolute freedom; safe from the threats, persecution, violence, psychological torture and even death the Cuban dictatorship has imposed on me because of my journalistic work fell apart in my hands as soon as I arrived in Louisiana,” wrote Valdés in an article the Blade published last July 9. “The Cubans here who are also seeking protection from the U.S. government welcomed me to the Bossier Parish Medium Security Facility with an ironic surprise. They opened their arms and told me, “Welcome to hell!” Valdés since his release has begun to reveal additional details about his time in ICE custody. He told the Blade his hands, legs and waist were shackled each time ICE transported him to another detention center. One of these trips was a flight from California to Mississippi. It takes roughly five hours to drive between Tallahatchie County Correctional Center and Bossier Parish Medium Security Facility. River Correctional Center is nearly 200 miles southeast of Bossier Parish Medium Security Facility.

YARIEL VALDÉS GONZÁLEZ in Miami Beach, Fla., on March 6. (Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Valdés said guards at Bossier Parish Medium Security Facility, where he was detained for eight months before his transfer to River Correctional Center, subjected him and other detainees to racist and xenophobic abuse. Valdés also told the Blade that ICE protocol requires detainees who are sick to be placed in solitary confinement. Deputies at Bossier Parish Medium Security Center last Aug. 2 used force against detainees who were protesting their prolonged detention and sprayed pepper spray. Valdés confirmed these accounts during a series of messages he sent to the Blade on that day. He told the Blade in one message via an app to which detainees have access through a private company that “all the deputies came here and said they don’t care if we didn’t eat.” Valdés also said more than 20 detainees had been placed in “the SHU because they began to scream ‘freedom’ and make noise.” Valdés said guards removed microwaves and televisions from detainee dorms as a form of collective punishment. He also told the Blade that air conditioning units periodically did not work, even on days when the outside temperature was well over 90 degrees. ICE earlier this year ended its contract with Bossier Parish Medium Security Facility. Mother Jones last month reported a

private company that ICE uses to inspect its detention centers found the use of force on an unconscious detainee during the Aug. 2 incident “was a clearly inappropriate application of force.” “It has been an exhausting fight,” Valdés told the Blade. “But this country has opened its doors to me because justice exists and because true democracy will no longer be just a utopia for me,” he added. Valdés since he arrived in Florida has begun the process of applying for a Social Security number. He spent several hours on South Beach with this reporter on Friday afternoon after having breakfast with Tony Lima, the chief operating officer of Arianna’s Center, a South Florida-based organization that serves transgender women. Valdés on Sunday went to a supermarket and department store with his aunt. He said they ate at a Kentucky Fried Chicken before they returned home. “The only thing I want to do now is to start over again from scratch, getting rid of everything negative in my life in order to focus on my new future and on all of the opportunities that I have in this country with the support of the thousands of people who have shown their love and solidarity with me,” Valdés told the Blade.


Bidding adieu to the inspiring Mart Crowley And celebrating the impact of ‘Boys in the Band’

Michael Kearns is an actor, playwright and author.

“…If we…if we could just…not hate ourselves so much. That’s it, you know. If we could just learn not to hate ourselves quite so very much.” Perhaps it’s that line, spoken in the final moments of The Boys in the Band — written by Mart Crowley who died on March 7 at 84 years old — that has infused the 1968 play with its immortal reputation as the first gay play, like it or not, to depict us with a degree of verisimilitude. In retrospect, it’s interesting to note that my exposure to Crowley’s Boys occurred while I was studying acting at Goodman School of Drama at the Art Institute of Chicago, between 1969 and 1971. Rarely having seen more than one gay male character on the stage or the screen at a time, for an impressionable young actor to witness eight (or nine) of them was astounding. Not only could you see yourself up there on the stage or on the Silver Screen, you could see who you might become (ye gods) or, if you were an aspiring thespian, who you might one day portray. While Goodman was teeming with a homosexual population (staff, faculty, students), that didn’t translate to any form of gay liberation even as Stonewall came and went during my tenure there. The male acting students who flamed in the hallways butched it up in the classrooms (even under the tutelage of the most effete of instructors) and when playing a homo, they would play the character like they imagined a straight man would play gay so their portrayal resulted in an inauthentic mess which more often than not received high praise.

So, you can imagine when I saw some real queer actors, in addition to some actors who could really play queer, in roles that were written as authentically as any modern American gay voice ever to emerge from a typewriter. It was a turning point in my consciousness—a Stonewall moment, if you will—and the reason that I would spend the next 50-plus years defending Crowley’s brilliant play. While Boys is what Crowley is most celebrated for, he also spent time in Hollywood as a producer on Hart to Hart and wrote several other plays including a lovely memoir, A Breeze from the Gulf. The grousing that I heard about The Boys in the Band had a familiar ring to it, resembling the voices of the characters depicted in The Boys in the Band: the poisoned barbs, the wicked one-liners, the character assassinations when Michael throws a drunken birthday party for his bestie, Harold, the Queen of Mean. And most of these negative pronouncements came from my gay brethren. So what was the beef? “Those guys were so stereotypical, so gaaaaaaaay.” “They were so swishy.” “They were mean.” “They were selfloooooathing.” “I don’t want people to think I act like them.” From the time I first saw Crowley’s play and today, I cannot count the number of parties I’ve attended that have very closely, if not almost identically, resembled the one he so eloquently paints in The Boys in the Band. If there’s a difference—and I suppose there is—it’s that we live on an equal playing ground now with the knowledge that everyone hates themselves to a degree. From the innumerable talk shows devoted to the subject and the hundreds of selfhelp books, not to mention the television shows devoted to deliverance from low self-esteem, it is a catastrophic epidemic in this country and not exclusively the province of gay men. The condition that Michael and his cohorts suffer from is the human condition. This is not to suggest that Crowley didn’t intend


for Michael to have internalized this notion in 1968 (the year Boys takes place), five years before the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses. It was virtually impossible for us to believe, or behave, otherwise—again, something Crowley depicts with meticulous honestly. His “boys” ooze vulnerability. Over the decades, I had a spectacular ride with Boys, beginning in the early 1970s with a staged reading in Provincetown that was scheduled for one performance and lasted most of the summer. Later in the decade, after having seen the movie several times, I found myself in a windowless office in Hollywood doing temp work to pay the bills, gossiping with the cute guy in the adjoining office who was doing the same thing. His voice was so familiar. Oh my God, it turned out to be Frederick Combs, the accessible one in Boys—the one who brought LaCoste shirts into fashion, the one everyone fell in love with—and the one who directed me in Robert Patrick’s T-Shirts and Harvey Fierstein’s The International Stud (Part One of Torch Song Trilogy), the two oneacts that put me on the map. In the 1980s, I played Michael again—this time in Des Moines, Iowa, back-to-back on a bill with Robert Chesley’s Jerker in which I played J.R. Under the umbrella title Then & Now, it was a long and energizing evening. Finally, in the ‘90s, I did a celebrity reading fundraiser for the Victory Fund (again playing Michael) produced by Steve Tyler with Bruce Vilanch, Gordon Thomson, Chad Allen, Greg Louganis, and Michael Jeter. In 1998, I was honored to introduce Mart at the Palm Springs International Film Festival, which celebrated the 30th Anniversary of The Boys in the Band. And so now I bid adieu and express appreciation to an inspiring playwright who granted me permission to discover Michael by playing Michael at various junctures over three decades.

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Over the moon about Buttigieg Let’s not downplay historic nature of Pete’s campaign

Kathi Wolfe a writer and a poet, is a regular contributor to the Blade.

In these bleak times, I’ve stopped streaming “The Golden Girls.” Between the coronavirus, Trump, transphobia, and homophobia, even Bea Arthur doesn’t make me smile. Yet, Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign from its launch last April until its end days before Super Tuesday made my face light up and put a bounce in my step. Even when I thought that he had problems connecting with people of color or had been sexist toward the female presidential candidates in the debates. I’d wager that I’m far from alone – that many in the queer community were joyful about Buttigieg’s presidential bid. Why were so many of us over the moon about Buttigieg? Because he made history! Buttigieg was the first̀ out gay presidential candidate to be in a campaign debate for a major political party. Fred Karger, a Republican, was the first openly gay presidential candidate, Chris Johnson reported in the Blade. But Karger wasn’t allowed in debates. “History is the nightmare from which I’m trying to awake,” Stephen Dedalus says in James Joyce’s “Ulysses.” But, Joyce wasn’t gay and he didn’t know Buttigieg. Buttigieg’s campaign was so historic for so many LGBTQ folk that we may want to bask in this sweet

dream forever. You don’t often get to see history being made in real time. Yet, watching Buttigieg launch his presidential bid was as historic as seeing Obama become the first black president. Today, we have queer judges, bishops, teachers and football players. We can marry who we love. Grandmas love Ellen’s TV show. Grandfathers come out to their sons. Jared Polis, the governor of Colorado, is openly gay. Even so, when we can be fired in over half of the states in this country simply for being queer and far too many LGBTQ kids are bullied in schools – Buttigieg’s campaign for the highest office in the land was awe inspiring. Back in the day, when I was growing up in the 1960s in Southern New Jersey, I wouldn’t in my wildest dreams have imagined that an openly gay man would have run to be president of the United States. Few of us knew any LGBTQ people (if we did, they were closeted). Then, “queer” was what you called “perverts,” not what you proudly called yourself. As I’ve written before in the Blade, at that time an out queer person leading a city, letting alone running for president, “would have seemed more improbable than flying cars. (We’d seen flying car’s on the ‘Jetsons.’).” I don’t believe in voting for anyone just because they’re queer. I don’t know if I’d have voted for Buttigieg. He dropped out before I voted on Super Tuesday. I do know that from the get-go, I respected Buttigieg for his intelligence, decency, military service and thoughtfulness about how a more just society could be created. Above all, there was his husband Chasten. I’m not saying that all LGBTQ folk should rush to get married. Or that being married is superior to being single. But, that being said,

Buttigieg talking about his marriage and Chasten chatting about falling in love with Buttigieg was a powerful and prideful message to hetero and queer Americans. Some of the reaction to Buttigieg’s campaign (Rush Limbaugh’s homophobic comments) didn’t surprise me. Yet, I was surprised by (though perhaps, I shouldn’t have been) by the sniping against Buttigieg from our community. I’m talking about the flak he got for not being gay enough – for being married and a person of faith.

I don’t believe that LGBTQ people, politicos or not, need to be married or religious. We should be who we want to be. But, telling one another that we’re not queer enough is toxic. It’s important to hold queer politicians and candidates accountable for their political views and policies. Carping at Buttigieg’s perceived lack of gayness is eating our own. Rather than sniping at each other, let’s celebrate Buttigieg’s historic moment.


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ALEXIS BLEDEL as Emily, a lesbian character, in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ on Hulu. Photo courtesy Hulu

TV’s big paradigm shift Apple, Disney, others lock horns wth Netflix as streaming wars intensify — what does it mean for the LGBTQ consumer? By JOEY DiGUGLIELMO joeyd@washblade.com Streaming content — whether we’re talking about music or movies/TV — is, of course, nothing new. But on the movie/TV side, it’s ramping up to unprecedented levels. The New York Times compares it to the great entertainment industry disruptions of yore — silent films going to “talkies” in the ’20s, TV in the ’50s and the double whammy of cable TV and VCRs in the ’80s, which radically shifted the way consumers viewed content. Netflix started streaming movies and shows in 2007 and dominates the field with 166 million subscribers worldwide and a $12 billion budget for new content. Until now, the main old school media conglomerates — Disney, NBCUniversal and WarnerMedia — stayed out of it while Netflix (“Stranger Things,” “The Crown”), Amazon Prime Video (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” “Fleabag”) and Hulu (“The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Veronica Mars”) battled it out. The old companies now realize they’ll have to adapt to

survive. Disney Plus launched Nov. 12 for $6.99 a month offering content from Disney, Pixar, the “Star Wars” franchise, Marvel movies, reruns of “The Simpsons” and about 7,500 episodes of old Disney shows. WarnerMedia will launch HBO Max for $14.99 per month in May with 10,000 hours of available content such as “Friends,” “South Park, old Warner Bros. movies, CNN documentaries, “Sesame Street” and more. And Peacock, NBCUniversal’s imprint, will boast 15,000 hours of available content including reruns of “The Office,” “Frasier,” “Saturday Night Live,” Universal movies, a reboot of “Battlestar Galactica” and gobs more. It’s slated for an April 15 rollout. Others are taking the can’t-beat-‘em-join-‘em approach. FX on Hulu launched March 2 boasting its shows such as “Mrs. America,” “Better Things,” “Dave” and “Fargo” now available there. And Quibi, set to launch April 6, is focusing on short-form mobile video. Founder Jeffrey Katzenberg is said to have spent more than $1 billion for short-form

episodes of shows like a Steven Spielberg horror series “Spielberg’s After Dark” and “Kill the Efrons,” a survival reality series starring Zac Efron and his brother. Apple, of course, is no longer content to sit on the sidelines either. Apple TV Plus launched Nov. 1. That makes the likely big players Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Disney Plus, Apple TV Plus, HBO Max and Peacock, but that’s just for starters. There are, according to the New York Times citing data from Parks Associates, 271 online video services in the U.S. some of the more obscure ones offering highly curated content. For every mainstream one, such as ESPN Plus or NFL Sunday Ticket for sports, there’s a bounty of niche options like Crunchyroll and Hidive for anime, Hi-Yah! for martial arts or GAIA for yoga-themed content.

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At some point, viewers will have to make a choice, much as they did between VHS or Beta 30 in the ’80s, and not all the companies getting into the game will be successful as consumers are only willing to pay so much — $44 the Wall Street Journal reports citing its own polling — for about 3.6 streaming services (one in five plan to cut the cable cord within the year, the Journal reports). Gay entertainment writer/guru Greg Hernandez says it’s “a new frontier” for pop culture fans. “There’s so much more content, the sky’s the limit,” he says. “And that’s why this seems unprecedented. It feels like the biggest beneficiaries are the consumers. They have so many choices now. They’re being courted with really quality content from all the top stars, the best actors are going for roles on shows that are being streamed, so I think the consumer is the biggest beneficiary. It’s nice to be courted and nice to have so much of the top talent flocking to this form.” Cutting the cable cord?

Netflix headquarters in Hollywood. The company dominates the streaming industry and has more LGBT representation than its rivals, according to GLAAD. Photo courtesy Netflix

Navigating the deluge So much is now available, though, that consumers are overwhelmed. Although it’s changed some in recent years, one of the long-running complaints of cable TV or Dish satellite subscribers was having to pay for hundreds of channels they never watched. Well, now with streaming, the argument goes, they no longer have to. Just subscribe to the services you want. But it’s not that simple. Say you subscribe to Netflix and Hulu but then everybody starts buzzing about “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” winning a bunch of Emmys and being must-see TV and you’re faced with major pop culture FOMO. And if you have cut your cable subscription, as 5.5 million did in 2019 alone, what do you do when there’s a major event like the Olympics, the Academy Awards or the Super Bowl that none of the streaming services have the rights to? (The presidential debates, for example, are easy to stream for free online.) And what if you have one of those deals where your phone, home internet and cable are all under one umbrella like Xfinity in the D.C. market and it’s not as easy to get out of?

For Matt Chun, a gay Washington man who early in his career worked at ABC, the current system is both a blessing and a curse. “Digital and social media trends have changed just about everything in terms of the way we consume our content,” he says. “In some ways, we are more than ever in the driver’s seat with TV executives and music artists catering to our short attention spans, our schedules and our price points. In other ways, we’re spoiled brats imprisoned by our voracious appetites. And if not us, certainly the next generation of iPad-trained kids.” Chun canceled cable about three years ago because it was simply cheaper to pay for streaming. He had Xfinity internet and cable and got tired of the hikes — it started at $75, jumped to $116, then $139 and he said, “Enough.” Similarly, his parents’ Xfinity bill in Philadelphia hiked from $150-187. He now subscribes to AT&T TV, which comes with HBO GO, and Amazon Prime. The latter two are $63.60 per month (higher because they offer more of a hybrid experience with live TV and On Demand). Amazon Prime is $13 per month. He used to have Netflix but not currently. And yes, he says there are times there’s something he wants to watch on another service. “Often you’ll hear buzz about a show on social media but then realize it’s on the one you just cancelled,” he says. “For example right now, I’m curious about ‘The Circle’ on Netflix. There was a time that I would switch my services on and off, chasing the premiere of shows such as ‘Game of Thrones’ on HBO or the return of ‘Love’ on Netflix. But now there are just so many good shows that I just end up choosing one that I’m interested in on one of the services I have.” There are ways around the dilemma, too. “If there’s a show I really want to watch and don’t

have paid access to, I can often find a streaming site — likely illegal — to binge watch it. Sometimes the quality suffers or the streaming lags, but it’s good enough. Or I’ll binge watch in spurts when I’m at my friend’s house who has different streaming options. It seems like I’m never without options … and someone is always entering the market with lower costs.” “People share passwords with friends,” Hernandez says. “There are ways to see what you want to see.” Kenya Hutton, another gay Washington TV fan, subscribes to Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime in addition to his $165 monthly Xfinity bill, which he plans to keep. He says despite all that, there’s still a dearth of representation. “It would be great to see more quality LGBTQ programming from people of color,” Hutton says. Where are all the queer shows? There’s voluminous queer content on the major platforms. Four years ago, GLAAD started gathering data on streaming original series for its annual “Where We Are on TV” survey and the numbers have mostly gone up every year since then. For the most recent survey, released last November, GLAAD found 109 regular LGBT characters on original scripted series on Amazon, Hulu and Netflix, the three platforms it monitors. That was an increase of 34 from last year’s tally. There are also 44 recurring LGBT characters, up from just seven the previous year. Gay male characters make up 42 percent, lesbians 30 percent, 14 percent bi women and nine percent bi men. The one dip was in trans characters at seven percent, down four percentage points from the previous year. That’s likely a hiccup, GLAAD’s Megan Townsend, lead author of the report, says as shows such as “Transparent” and “Orange is the New Black” have ended and some shows she knows of in development with trans characters haven’t yet launched. “I think maybe that was just a one-off year,” Townsend, who’s bi, says. “The bigger problem will be if this becomes a trend.” The 109 LGBTQ characters on the streaming platforms compares to 90 on scripted shows on broadcast TV networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX and The CW) and 121 on scripted primetime cable shows. So while it’s not as if there’s a deluge of LGBTQ characters and storylines on the streaming shows, it’s right up there in the same league as the network and cable shows. Some might even argue it’s a tad underwhelming when you consider streaming has unlimited volume potential whereas network and cable have limited daytime/ prime time hours to program. Of Amazon, Hulu and Netflix, Netflix had the most LGBTQ characters as has been the case every year CONTINUES ON PAGE 20

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Traditional outlets no longer sitting on streaming sidelines CONTINUED FROM PAGE 19

streaming has been included in the GLAAD survey. So if queer representation on original streaming shows is your main interest, Netflix, home to “Grace and Frankie,” “Tales of the City” and the new RuPaul series “AJ and the Queen,” not to mention reality juggernaut “Queer Eye” (not counted in the GLAAD report) is your best bet. So how did Netflix end up being the industry leader and also the best at LGBTQ representation? Brian Wright, Netflix’s vice president of original series: young adults/family, says the GLAAD report and other industry report cards are important, but the representation just happened on its own. “I’m happy to report that it all truly comes out of an organic process,” Wright, who’s gay, says. “It’s about finding incredible storytellers and letting them do their best work. There’s no additional layer of, ‘Well, can you make this person this or that person that?’ We don’t have to do that because it’s already there in the storytelling, in the fabric of these shows. I would say that this great result we’re seeing with GLAAD is just a result of us attracting incredible talent to reflect the world back to the world.” Wright has been with Netflix for six years and says there’s strong queer representation among its employees. Comparable, he says, to what he experienced at previous jobs with Viacom, Disney and Lifetime — “I’ve bounced around the Hollywood gauntlet,” he says. He oversees shows such as “Stranger Things,” “13 Reasons Why,” “Fuller House,” “The Umbrella Academy,” “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” and the Ryan Murphy Netflix shows, the latest of which, “Hollywood,” launches in May. He says the industry gatekeepers at Netflix — those with the power to greenlight a pitch — are more unencumbered than their counterparts in network. “We don’t have a lot of handcuffs,” he says. “We’re not handcuffed by advertising considerations, we’re not handcuffed by a conservative standards and practices group. … We hear pitches all day long and we go toward the ones that are the most pure in vision and where we feel like, ‘Wow, this person has a story to tell and they totally understand what it is in their bones.’ It’s just not uncommon that there’s a gay person or people that are central to the story.” There are, however, even gayer (albeit smaller) options. Dekkoo, which started in late 2015, offers movies and TV — both original and non — geared toward gay men for $9.99 per month.

“When we launched, we had no delusions of grandeur or trying to beat Netflix or even pretending we could play in that field,” says Brian Sokel, Dekkoo president who, ironically, is straight having started the platform with his gay business partner Derek Curl. “But what we realized is that we could fill a void that was missing in the marketplace and probably do it very well and operate as a complementary service that’s all-inclusive for one type of audience.” He says the big platforms are analogous to Blockbuster Video 20 years ago. “I remember going there years ago and being bummed out because the selection was one geared to the largest, most homogenous audience possible,” he says. “You wouldn’t find any really deep selections of any genre, you really were just scratching the surface. That’s what made On Demand and Netflix, back when it was DVD by mail, so great was that suddenly you found this individual, independent content and all this incredible stuff you didn’t even know existed.” Don’t go to Dekkoo looking for major titles like “Moonlight” or “Love, Simon.” Dekkoo, which is about 10 percent original content, Sokel says, is for the “queer independent fare that is really driving the queer cinema universe.” “You can find gay stuff on all the main platforms,” he says. “It just depends on the user and what they’re looking for. The casual viewer could go on Amazon or Netflix and say, ‘Oh great, there’s a gay movie to watch.’ But for the person who’s really passionate about queer cinema where that’s not gonna cut it for them, that’s why we exist.” Sokel declined to share how many subscribers Dekkoo has. WOW Presents Plus (World of Wonder) is $3.99 per month after a seven-day free trial and offers “all things drag” with “UNHhhh,” “Werq the World” and “RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 12” (also on VH1). WOW Presents Plus media department did not respond to multiple requests for comment this week from the Blade. Looking ahead So where’s it all headed? Is network dying a long, slow death? How does Netflix plan to stave off the competition? Wright says the beauty of the new paradigm — Netflix is seven years into its original content creation — is the chance for non-U.S. content to take off and have a global

FELIX MARITAUD in ‘I Am Jonas,’ a Netflix original movie about a passionate gay teen romance. Netflix is not only the industry dominator, it has the most queer content overall. Photo courtesy Netflix

impact. He cites “Money Heist” (“La casa de papel”), a crime drama/thriller from Spain (part four with eight new episodes drops April 3), as a strong example. “It’s become massive,” he says. “I don’t believe in a pre-Netflix world that would have connected with millions of joyful fans all over the world. I think that’s a trend that we’re gonna see continue.” He says his company always knew competitors would emerge in time. As for how long streaming and broadcast can co-exist, he says it’s “anyone’s guess.” “I think that streaming is absolutely from a behavioral and technological perspective, it’s so good for the consumer and consumer control is something that’s more and more gonna be considered as the stakes keep moving forward. There are gonna be a lot of different choices out there and we just want to be the that people continue to feel is a must have.” Chun enjoys all the options and still binge-watches certain shows, but says as a consumer, he has no strong opinions about streaming usurping traditional TV. “I’m a bit numb and agnostic to it all,” he says. “Mergers are happening and Emmys are being won and I’m just like, ‘Alright, maybe I’ll check you out but I’m already bored thinking about the effort it would take and all my funds are tied up with multiple ‘cheap’ subscriptions. Oh yeah, and we haven’t even talked about porn yet.”

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Queery: Stephen Macias The PR and marketing powerhouse answers 20 queer questions By TROY MASTERS

How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell? I’ve been out of the closet since Reagan’s second term and the hardest person I had to tell was myself. Stephen Macias Photo courtesy Rogers & Cowan PMK

Stephen Macias certainly got everyone’s attention last week when it was announced that the entertainment PR powerhouse Rogers & Cowan PMK had hired a new multicultural communications division to be headed by the veteran executive. It’s likely your life has already been touched by Stephen. He’s a ubiquitous force and powerhouse where marketing, corporate communications and public relations intersect with LGBTQ visibility (not just in Los Angeles) for more than 20 years. Stephen’s diversity and inclusion team has been recognized for its work bridging inclusive corporate values with an ever-diverse consumer base: connecting with consumers and communities in an evolving landscape of diversity in the national and international marketplace is one of Macias’s great areas of pride. Macias was most recently senior vice president, diversity and inclusion practice lead at MWWPR, overseeing a team working with companies like Comcast, FX, Netflix, Amazon Studios, Kellogg’s, and Hilton Worldwide. Before that, he was the founder of Macias Media Group LLP, which became one of the leading “boutique” PR firms focused on LGBTQ+ markets. He has worked as executive vice president and GM for Here Media Inc., and as entertainment media director for GLAAD, as well as for nonprofits like the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Outfest, Equality California, the U.N. and the Global Equality Fund. He serves on the board of directors for Equality California. His areas of focus have included communities of color, gender equality and the LGBTQ community and has worked with Fortune 500 companies, travel and tourism, entertainment and media and national and grassroots advocacy organizations. Brian Pendelton, the entrepreneur, philanthropist and creator of 2017’s ResistMarch, a reformatting of LA Pride, who worked closely with Stephen says Macias’s passion and skill know no bounds. “Stephen Macias is someone I’ve had the honor of working with on several occasions. He served with me on the boards of Outfest, Gay Men’s Chorus and the Victory Fund always bringing enthusiasm and solutions to every conversation.” “The work he did with me during ResistMarch was invaluable. He set us up to have the important conversations with the media outlets that mattered, that could propel our message through diverse communities,” he said. That an enterprise as key to the entertainment industry around the world, Rogers & Cowan PMK would empower him to execute his vision of elevating “LGBTQ+ communities, communities of color and female-driven initiatives” is a profound validation of much more than Stephen. It is a validation of our community and a signal of inclusivity that means more high-level partnerships, more inclusive coverage, better marketing messaging and greater brand awareness and LGBT marketing. His elevation comes as good news and just in time for the 50th anniversary of LA Pride. It would be a mistake to see Macias only through the lens of his career. He is a relentlessly optimistic person who always perseveres in the face of adversity, something that has defined him to his family and friends. And that is an inspirational lesson we all need right now.


Who’s your LGBTQ hero? My LGBTQ hero is Ellen. What’s Los Angeles’ best nightspot, past or present? Best current nightspot is Precinct in DTLA and past was the Parlour Club when Mario Diaz was throwing parties there.

Celebrate that I was born this way to begin with. What do you believe in beyond the physical world? Karma. What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders? Run your organizations like a business, empower the next generation and welcome communities of color to leadership positions.

Describe your dream wedding. My dream wedding would be in my hometown of Fresno.

What would you walk across hot coals for? To ensure the safety of my family, friends and strangers who needed help.

What non-LGBTQ issue are you most passionate about? The environment and climate change. This is a 911 and should be everyone’s issue.

What LGBT stereotype annoys you most? That we are a monolithic group. We are not one size fits all and are as diverse as the general population.

What historical outcome would you change? Trump being sworn into office. What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime? Discovering the drag culture during my first trip to Fire Island years ago. On what do you insist? I insist on a warm welcome to anyone coming to my home. What was your last Facebook post or Tweet? My last Facebook post was about how much I liked Dr. Jill Biden. If your life were a book, what would the title be? A Blessed Life If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?

What’s your favorite LGBT movie? “Brokeback Mountain” and “The Wizard of Oz.” What’s the most overrated social custom? Fist bumps. What trophy or prize do you most covet? My Outie from Outfest recognizing my eight years of Board service. What do you wish you’d known at 18? I wish I knew not to spend so much precious time worrying about things out of my control. Why Los Angeles? Because of its diversity in culture and business, because LA is in California and because of the proximity to my parents, brother, nieces and extended family in Fresno.


The art of LA Metro Highlights from the wide selection of installations in popular stations By JOHN PAUL KING

A gallery is not the only place to see art – especially in a world-class metropolis like LA. Here in the City of Angels, art is integrated into our daily lives, whether from the paintings and photography bedecking the walls of our favorite stores and restaurants or the many public artworks commissioned and displayed by the city itself. As anyone who utilizes the city’s public transit system can tell you, the LA Metro system has long been a leader in bringing art to its patrons’ everyday lives, incorporating cultural programming into its planning in order to enhance the customer experience, encourage ridership, and build connections between the people, sites and neighborhoods of Los Angeles County. With the sunny SoCal spring weather comes a plethora of outdoor activities that can be enjoyed throughout the city, and the Metro system offers a convenient and environmentally friendly way for urban explorers to make their way from place to place – observing proper health and hygiene protocols for public interaction, of course. The Blade has put together a few highlights from the wide selection of artistic installations to be found at some of the popular stations and hubs you’re likely to be passing through, to help deepen your appreciation for the touches of cultural embellishment you will be encountering on your journeys around the city. Hollywood/Vine Station: The station beneath the most famous intersection in the world houses, appropriately enough, “Hooray for Hollywood,” an environmental installation designed by artist Gilbert “Magu” Lujan in collaboration with architects Miralles Associates, Inc. It showcases 240 hand-glazed art tiles that add color, whimsy, and a taste of the Latino culture so important to the city’s heritage, while artifacts from Hollywood’s past, such as film reels and vintage movie cameras, serve to remind us that we are deep in the heart of the world’s biggest Dream Factory. Musical notes in the handrails provide

The city’s Metro stations include an array of artistic installations.

the finishing touch by marking out the iconic tune to “Hooray for Hollywood.” Hollywood/Highland Station: The attraction at this busy tourist hub is the design of the station itself, officially known as “Underground Girl.” Created in collaboration with Dworsky Associates, Architects, the location was influenced by the design team’s question, “What sleeps beneath the city at the corner of Hollywood and Highland?” and explores the place, the street, the industry, myth, fantasy, and spectacle of a distinct culture known throughout the world. From the sweeping metal canopy that opens to travelers as they enter the station, to the telescoping, organic form of the railway interior, to the sculptural forms attached like organisms to the platform columns, the location gives the sense of being in the depths of a giant creature – while representing a dramatic complement to Hollywood’s cultural past as well as a prominent salute to its future. 7th St./Metro Center Station: A key stop on the DTLA commute, 7th St./Metro boasts two long and narrow hand-painted ceramic tile murals by Joyce Kozloff, “The Movies: Fantasies and Spectacle.” Resembling an unfolding filmstrip, the murals use imagery from hundreds of films to celebrate the quintessential LA art form.


Union Station: The transit network’s central hub in DTLA is a historic piece of art in itself, but it houses several of the Metro’s installations as well. The most recent addition, in its Passageway Art Gallery, is “Untitled (Questions),” a series of large-scale queries, alternating between English and Spanish, that bring the artist’s “provocations/ interrogations, which are indeterminate and open to subjective interpretation, into physical proximity with the public.” Created by Barbara Kruger, who honed “her fluencies with pictures and words” in the design department of Condé Nast. Also featured is “A-Train,” by artist Bill Bell, who has installed 12 vertical light sticks producing varying patterns of light and color above the escalators to the subway rail platforms, allowing passersby to discover unexpected images hidden in the light patterns. The A Line (Blue), 7th St/Metro – Downtown Long Beach: Featured along the entire railway, “More People Than You Know” is a rotating exhibition featuring portraits of patrons created by artists connected to the neighborhoods served by the Blue Line. Expressing the simultaneously personal and universal stories that can be found on the faces in the series on digital screens at every

stop (and even on special limited edition TAP cards), it recognizes “that the visibility of an artist’s well-honed craft in the new digital landscape improves the customer experience through perceptive considerations of people and place.” Chinatown Station: One of the most popular stops on the Gold Line features artwork based on the ancient Chinese book of I Ching (English: The Book of Changes), which was written more than 3,000 years ago and describes 64 states of human situations. “The Wheels of Change,” created by Chusien Chang, is located on the station’s plaza level; comprised of a 34-foot Ba Gua (an octagonal Chinese symbol), 64 granite pavers depicting the hexagram symbols from the I Ching, four benches containing Italian, Croatian, Latino, and Chinese images reflecting the communities of Chinatown today, and a granite-inlay I Ching dial with a glass-encased compass in the center. Downtown Santa Monica Station: Located at the end of the Metro’s Expo Line is “LA Sonata,” 24 art panels by artist Judithe Hernández depicting a composite of global mythologies. The images, layered to create metaphors for day and night as well as the seasons, are described by the artist as “a visial symphony, a magical dreamscape.”

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Michelangelo ushers in spring at the Getty A rare chance to experience the artist from an intimate perspective By JOHN PAUL KING

Art appreciation is not a seasonal activity, especially in a city like Los Angeles, where there’s a vibrant, year-round, everchanging art scene full of delights for every taste. Even so, if there was ever a cultural experience designed to be had in the spring, it’s a trip to the Getty Center, an LA institution that has been one of the city’s most popular attractions since it opened the doors to the architectural and scenic showpiece in the hills above Brentwood that has served as its home since 1997. With breathtaking views of Los Angeles, meticulously designed and executed landscaping, and five two-story towers to house its permanent and touring exhibitions, it’s as much a draw for the experience of being there as it is for the overwhelmingly dense collection of art it has on display – and at no time of year is that experience as complete as when its central garden, designed and conceived by artist Robert Irwin, is in full bloom. “Michelangelo: The Mind of the Master,” now on display in the Center’s Exhibitions Pavilion, offers what could be a oncein-a-lifetime chance to view a traveling collection of drawings by the biggest superstar of the Renaissance – and it’s only going to be there until June 7. Comprised mostly of 25 pieces from the Teyler’s Museum in Haarlem, the Netherlands, which are being shown in the U.S. as a group for the first time, the touring exhibit is geared toward tracking the genius artist’s creative process as he worked to perfect his own skills even while creating some of the most monumental masterpieces of Western art. Exploring Michelangelo’s work as a painter, sculptor, and architect through his extraordinary drawings, it includes sketches and designs

he executed for celebrated projects such as the Sistine Chapel ceiling, the Medici Chapel tombs, and the painting that many art historians consider his masterwork, “The Last Judgment.” With the studies and sketches serving as a window into the artist’s mind (and, in the case of those connected with paintings, displayed in juxtaposition to vivid recreations of the masterpieces for which they were drawn), the exhibition becomes an informative and fascinating deep-dive into just why this artist’s name continues to tower above so many others. It reveals not only the remarkable skill with which he was able to render three-dimensional objects – especially the human form – but also the breathless scope of an imagination that could conceive in intricate detail the finished form of an epic creation and work methodically to bring it into existence. The dazzling brilliance of his anatomical drawings is self-evident, of course; he was a pioneer in the representation of the human body, almost single-handedly pulling art into the age of realism with the mathematically precise proportions of his figures and the empirical accuracy with which he captured the physics of motion. It’s when the scholarly expertise of his art is placed within the context of his activity as an artist – something “Mind of the Master” does in an immersive and visceral way – that the brilliance of his imagination becomes as apparent as the magnitude of his technical prowess. An interactive display connects the figures in one set of drawings to the ones with which they correspond in the finished version of “The Creation of Adam,” the iconic central panel of the Sistine ceiling in which God’s finger touches Adam’s to bestow the gift of life; another series of drawings are


The Michelangelo exhibit at the Getty closes on June 7. Photo courtesy of John Paul King

shown alongside a life-sized section from “The Last Judgement,” demonstrating the fully developed forethought deployed by the artist in bringing his vision to life; and penciled designs of his architectural and sculptural works, based in the certainty of science, hint at the hard work behind his uncanny ability to conceive and create objects in three-dimensional space. The collection also sparks insight

through context. We are told, going in, that Michelangelo had ordered the destruction of most of his drawings before he died – “so that no one would see his labor or the attempts of his genius, and so that he would not appear anything less than perfect,” according to Giorgio Vasari, writing of the artist in CONTINUES ON PAGE 31

MICHELANGELO MIND OF THE MASTER Through Jun. 7, 2020 Getty Center Image: Studies of the Upper Body of a Man; Separate Studies of an Arm, a Hand, and an Ear; Sketch of a Tree (recto, detail), 1511–1512, Michelangelo Buonarroti. Red and black chalk. Teylers Museum, Haarlem. Purchased in 1790. © Teylers Museum, Haarlem. Text and design © 2020 J. Paul Getty Trust

Organized by the Teylers Museum in collaboration with the Getty Museum and the Cleveland Museum of Art. The exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

FREE ADMISSION | getty.edu

Something old, something new on TV ‘Little Fires Everywhere,’ ‘Feel Good,’ ‘Lazy Susan’ among debuting queer series By BRIAN T. CARNEY

The spring television season will be a chance for LGBT fans to say goodbye to some old favorites and to try out some interesting new broadcast and streaming movies and shows. After 11 successful seasons, the ABC sitcom “Modern Family” is going off the air April 8. The extended eccentric Pritchett clan included gay attorney Mitchell (played by out actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and his husband Cam (Eric Stonestreet), a flamboyant teacher and football coach. A spin-off series is reportedly in the works, but it’s not clear whether or not Cam, Mitchell and their adopted daughter will be involved. On April 9, the ground-breaking NBC series “Will & Grace” will shutter after 11 seasons (eight in its initial run and three in revival). Although some LGBT audiences objected to what they considered stereotypical characters, the series made huge strides in the representation of gay people on the small screen. Other shows with significant LGBT characters that are scheduled to end this spring include “Empire” on Fox (May 12), ABC’s “How to Get Away with Murder” (May 14) and “Supernatural” on the CW (May 18). The final episode of the award-winning comedy “Schitt’s Creek,” written by and starring out artist Daniel Levy, will air on Pop TV and the CBC on April 20. Netflix has not yet announced when it will air the final season of the popular show. Netflix is also ending “GLOW” and “Dear White People” although final air dates have not yet been announced. ABC is shutting down “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” sometime this year. Meanwhile, the spring television season is off to a horrific start with “Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street.” The documentary examines the homoerotic

overtones and homophobic reception of the 1985 thriller “Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge” and features out actor Mark Patton who starred in the controversial (and campy) horror classic. The movie has dropped on several streaming platforms and may get a theatrical release. Also underway is the darkly comic “These Thems” which explores the intersectional issues facing marginalized communities. The show features queer, trans and nonbinary actors playing queer, trans and nonbinary roles and every crew member identifies as a member of a marginalized group. PBS will run a 50-minute documentary March 27 about nationally renowned Chef Patrick O’Connell and his empire The Inn at Little Washington in small town Virginia. “The Inn at Little Washington: a Delicious New Documentary” follows the gay-owned Inn’s “quirky cast of characters on their journey to obtaining a third Michelin star.” Over on Dekkoo (and other platforms), “Strange Hearts” examines the unexpectedly interconnected lives of three queer characters from wildly different backgrounds. Created by Kevin James Thornton, the web series premiered March 12. Out writer and actor Lena Waithe joins the cast of “Westworld” when it returns to HBO for season three on HBO on March 15. Set at the intersection of the near future and the imagined past, the acclaimed series is set in a Wild West theme park where human-like androids fulfill the fantasies of the human guests. On March 16, the six-episode mini-series “The Plot Against America” premieres on HBO. Based on the novel by Philip Roth and starring John Turturro, Zoe Kazan and Winona Ryder, the show depicts an alternative history where xenophobic populist Chares Lindbergh defeats Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1940 presidential election and turns the


From left: KERRY WASHINGTON and REESE WITHERSPOON in ‘Little Fires Everywhere.’ Photo by Erin Simkin; courtesy Hulu & BLAIR UNDERWOOD and OCTAVIA SPENCER in ’Self-Made.’ Photo courtesy Netflix

United States towards fascism. Freeform’s “Motherland: Fort Salem” also explores an alternative version of American history. Set in a present-day America where gender roles are flipped and witches ended their persecution by forming an elite fighting squad to protect the country, the 10-episode dramatic series follows three female recruits through basic training and deployment against a terrorist threat. Lesbian relationships are featured prominently. Based on the best-selling novel by Celeste Ng, Hulu’s “Little Fires Everywhere” (March 18) follows the intertwined lives of Elena Richardson (Reese Witherspoon) and the enigmatic Mia Warren (Kerry Washington) who reveals dark family secrets. Mae Martin is the creator and star of Netflix’s “Feel Good” (March 19). In this semi-autobiographical six-part series, Mae plays a stand-up comic and recovering addict gingerly entering into a new relationship with George (Charlotte Ritchie). The show is a touching and funny portrait of two young women navigating the modern-day landscape of love, addiction and sexuality while and trying to form a meaningful and lasting connection. Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer stars in Netflix’s “Self Made,” a fourepisode biographical mini-series inspired by the life of the famous African-American entrepreneur Madam C.J. Walker. Directed by Kasi Lemons (“Harriet”) and DeMarie Davis, the supporting cast includes Blair Underwood, Tiffany Haddish, Carmen Ejogo and Garrett Morris (March 20). Two movies featuring LGBT talent are slated to start streaming on April 3. Written by and starring Sean Hayes (“Will & Grace”), “Lazy Susan” is about a spectacularly

unmotivated women for whom doing nothing is absolutely exhausting. “Almost Love,” a popular offering from the queer festival circuit, is an ensemble comedy about romance in the smartphone era. Both movies may also get theatrical releases. On the lighter side, HBO’s “We’re Here” is a six-part unscripted series that brings drag shows to small-town America. In each episode, renowned drag queens Bob the Drag Queen, Eureka O’Hara and Shangela Laquifa Wadley recruit small-town residents across America to participate in a one-nightonly drag show. The famous performers will inspire and teach their own “drag daughters” to step outside their comfort zone for a night of no-holds-barred, full-on drag. Also inspired by true events, the HBO movie “Bad Education” stars Hugh Jackman and Allison Janney as Long Island high school administrators who get caught up in an embezzlement scandal (April 25). Out director Alice Wu helms “The Half of It” which premieres on Netflix May 1. In this intriguing gender-bending take on the wellknown Cyrano story, a smart and introverted Chinese-American teen girl is befriended by a sweet but dimwitted football player in the hopes she will help him woo the most popular girl in school. The teen girl reluctantly agrees, but soon realizes she may have her own romantic feelings for the popular girl. Also dropping on Netflix on May 1 is the latest series from gay media mogul Ryan Murphy. “Hollywood” exposes the divisions of race, gender and sexuality behind the camera during the Golden Age of Tinseltown. The cast includes out actors Holland Taylor, Jim Parsons and Joe Mantello as well as Mia Farrow, Dylan McDermott, Darren Criss and Patti LuPone.

Adam, Sam, Rufus, Gaga and more Uber-queer spring brings spate of highly anticipated new albums By THOM MURPHY

The excitement for upcoming new music releases is palpable and much of the blame can be pinned on Lady Gaga. The surprise release of her single “Stupid Love” foregrounds her new album “Chromatica,” which will be released in April. But that’s not the only musical event worth our attention in the coming months, although it’s certainly the biggest. Today (March 13) Niall Horan releases his album “Heartbreak Weather.” This is the second solo album by the former One Direction member, who has continued to put out successful hits, including “Slow Hands” and “This Town,” after the boy band’s split up. Saturday, March 14 sees the release of the queercore band Middle-Aged Queers’ debut album, “Too Fag For Love.” On Friday, March 20 Adam Lambert is set to release his fourth studio album, entitled “Velvet.” The fantastically talented Lambert, who has toured with Queen+Adam Lambert (comprised of original members of Queen with Lambert serving as lead vocalist), remains something of a gay icon since appearing on “American Idol” in 2009. On the same day, “ALICIA,” Alicia Keys’ latest album, will be released. So far three singles have been released from the new album, “Show Me Love,” “Time Machine” and “Underdog,” which was released earlier this year along with a new music video. The pop-punk boyband 5 Seconds of Summer (or 5SOS) will release its fourth studio album, “Calm,” on March 27. Touring early on with One Direction, the group has continued to made their own way well after One Direction dissipated. So far they have released four singles, including the popular “Easier,” which has nearly 200 million streams on Spotify. Also on March 27, Sufjan Stevens will release “Aporia,” his first full album in five years. That isn’t to say that the Brooklyn-based

singer has not been busy in the meantime. His music is everywhere lately. He has worked on the soundtrack for a number of recent film projects, including Luca Guadagnino’s 2017 “Call Me By Your Name.” And the song “Chicago” from his fantastic 2005 album “Illinois” serves as the theme for Ryan Murphy’s Netflix show “The Politician,” starring Ben Platt. Vanessa Carlton is expected to release her sixth studio album, “Love Is An Art,” on the same day. It’s unlikely there’s a single person who doesn’t know “A Thousand Miles,” her monster hit. In fact, her debut album “Be Not Nobody” (2002) is the only one of albums to enjoy major success. Carlton has nevertheless continued to produce music. On April 3, Nina Simone’s album 1982 “Fodder On My Wings” will be re-released widely in digital and physical format. It offers a chance to become reacquainted with one of the iconic R&B singer’s lesser-known albums. Queer New York-based artist Stefan Alexander releases his sophomore EP “Cry Again” on April 3. The highlight of the spring album releases is without a doubt Lady Gaga’s “Chromatica” on April 10. Nearly every project she has been involved in has been a success, including her starring role alongside Bradley Cooper in “A Star Is Born” (2018). The song “Shallow,” sung by Gaga and Cooper, won Best Original Song at the Golden Globes and Oscars. But if the new single “Stupid Love” is any indication, “Chromatica” will be something of a return to an earlier iteration of Gaga, something more akin to the musical style of “Born This Way” (2011) than to the more experimental “Art Pop” (2013) and “Joanne” (2016). Her highly limited spring tour isn’t coming to Washington. Peggy Lee’s centennial year is being celebrated with various events. “Ultimate Peggy Lee” drops April 17 and features a 57-year-old unreleased track. On April 24, Rufus Wainwright’s new

STEFAN ALEXANDER & LADY GAGA are among artists prepping spring album releases. Photos courtesy Michael George, Mighty Real Agency, Donovan PR and Jeremy Cowart respectively

album “Unfollow The Rules” will be released. In anticipation of the new record, the gay singer-songwriter released singles “Damsel In Distress” and “Trouble In Paradise” earlier this year. Indigo Girls release their new album “Long Look” on April 24, their first since 2015. They’ve reunited with producer John Reynolds who produced their ’99 album “Come On Now Social.” They play Rehoboth May 2. Sam Smith, a gay artist who recently came out as non-binary, will release “To Die For” on May 1, a follow-up to the widely successful “The Thrill Of It All” (2017) and “In The Lonely Hour” (2014). Four singles have been released thus far, including “Dancing with a Stranger” and the eponymous “To Die For,” released earlier this year. The ’80s rock band The Psychedelic Furs will put out a new album, entitled “Made Of Rain,” also on May 1. The group, which continues to tour the world, has enjoyed renewed interest after their hit song “Love My Way” from the 1982 album “Forever Now” was featured in “Call Me By Your Name.” Additionally, ’90s rocker Alanis Morissette will release her ninth studio album, “Such Pretty Forks in the Road,” on that day. It’s her first album since “Havoc and Bright Lights” in 2012. Hayley Williams, lead singer of the pop rock group Paramore (the song “Misery Business” was one of their most popular), will release her first album as a solo artist on May 8, entitled “Petals For Armor,” following after the EP “Petals for Armor I,” which was released in February. MAX’s new album “Colour Vision” drops May 22. He’s straight but has headlined at Capital Pride as an ally. In addition to the officially scheduled

releases, there is still a number of possible releases. The French singer Christine and the Queens recently the EP “La vita nuova.” And we might also expect a forthcoming album from transmasculine artist Jakk Fynn, who released his debut EP, entitled “Cancelled” back in February. Hope remains for new music from The Dixie Chicks, Rihanna, Adele and Cardi B. Janet Jackson has announced a summer U.S. tour and teased new music but nothing concrete yet album wise. There’s lot of cool stuff slated for release on vinyl, too. Among highlights: • Whitney Houston’s eponymous debut album is out in a 35th anniversary edition on “peaches-and-cream”-colored double vinyl with a deluxe booklet for $70. • ABBA “Live at Wembley Arena” is a tripleLP set out today. • Perfume Genius’s fifth album “Set My Heart on Fire Immediately” is out on double “Coke-bottle green” vinyl May 15. And there are several cool releases planned for Record Store Day (April 18): • Britney’s “Oops! … I Did it Again (Remixes and B-sides)” • Destiny’s Child’s “Say My Name” on 12” picture disc • Two k.d. lang albums debut on vinyl — “Drag” and “Angel With a Lariat” • Bob Mould’s “Circle of Friends,” music from the concert film, debuts on vinyl for the first time • Robyn’s eponymous debut makes it vinyl debut on double LP • Sam Smith’s cover of Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” gets a 12” picture disc release • Tegan and Sara’s “Tonight in the Dark We’re Seeing Colors” on “violet with black splatter” vinyl


Novels, bios, kids’ books and more From ‘Rust Belt Femme’ to ‘Confessions of a Gay Priest,’ spring memoirs weave compelling sagas FICTION Set on a reservation in northern Minnesota, “This Town Sleeps” by Dennis E. Staples (Counterpoint, March 3) chronicles the story of Marion, a Ojibwe man who enters a relationship with a white, closeted former classmate and investigates the murder of a young Ojibwe basketball star. Staples drew from his own cultural background to write this novel, which “Finding Hope in the High Country” author Pam Houston promises “will haunt you with the beauty, despair and hope of the characters whose lives it bears witness to.” In “Under the Rainbow” by Celia Laskey (Riverhead Books, March 3), a group of LGBT social activists move to the fictional town of Big Burr, Kansas — which has recently been labelled “the most homophobic town in the U.S.” — as part of a grand plan to make a dent in its close-minded culture. Newcomers and long-time residents struggle to see eye to eye in Laskey’s novel, which “Mostly Dead Things” author Kristen Arnett describes as “a timely look into what it means to be queer in spaces that aggressively refuse you.” For what The White Review calls an “inventive and heady mixture of Spanish and English,” check out “Fiebre Tropical” (Amethyst Editions, March 4) by Juli Delgado Lopera, a San Francisco-based Colombian author. Delgado Lopera’s novel stars a 15-year-old Colombian immigrant named Francisca, whose move to Miami becomes complicated when she wades into evangelicalism to get closer to a pastor’s daughter. This entry comes with a trigger warning for sexual assault, but if you are looking for trans representation, you’ll find it in “Somebody Told Me” by Mia Siegert (Carolrhoda Lab, April 7). In Siegert’s novel,

which “How We Fall” author Kate Brauning describes as a “heart-wrenching and hopeful look at faith, gender and sexuality,” 17-yearold Aleks/Alexis — still processing their own traumatic experience — strives to uncover the identity of a priest they overheard confess to molesting a parishioner. “The Subtweet” by Vivek Shraya (ECW Press, April 7) explores the relationship between struggling musician Neela and web sensation Rukmini, which devolves when Neela — jealous of how far Rukmini has gotten by covering her song — vents her frustrations on Twitter. “Buffy SainteMarie: The Authorized Biography” author Andrea Warner calls Shraya’s novel “a smart, funny, incisive, heart-crushing interrogation of art, race, friendship, social media and the music industry.” DC and Marvel fans seeking solid LGBT representation may want to try “The Extraordinaries” by TJ Klune (Tor Teen, May 5), which Kirkus Reviews describes as “hilarious, sweet and absolutely super.” Klune’s novel follows a popular fanfiction author named Nick as he bonds with his best friend and fawns over a local superhero. Non-binary folks can look forward to “Vanishing Monuments” by John Elizabeth Stintzi (Arsenal Pulp Press, May 5), which centers on Alani Baum, a middle-aged, non-binary photographer and teacher who is compelled to reconnect with their ailing estranged mother. Their emotional journey in search of closure is described by musician and poet John K. Samson as “a beautiful puzzle of place and belonging, identity and vocation, duty and love.” “Felix Ever After” by Kacen Callender (Balzer+Bray, May 5) focuses on Felix, a black transgender boy who doesn’t know what love feels like until his plan to get revenge on an anonymous transphobic bully goes awry. “Red, White & Royal Blue”


author Casey McQuiston touts Callender’s novel as “refreshingly real” in its portrayal of “queer kids who live and breathe and swear and love and make messy mistakes.” In “Boys of Alabama” by Genevieve Hudson (Liveright, May 19), Max — a German expat finding his niche in America’s Deep South — becomes intrigued by his goth physics classmate and the lore that surrounds him. “Whip Smart” and “Abandon Me” author Melissa Febos describes Hudson’s novel as “a love song to outsiders of all kinds, a queer love story about the ways we find to heal ourselves and each other, and proof that there can be magic amid the burdens of masculinity.” Set in the Manhattan neighborhood of Little Syria, “The Thirty Names of Night” by Zeyn Joukhadar (Atria Books, May 19) details the personal journey of a closeted Syrian American transgender boy, chronicling his hunt for a new name, the real reasons behind his mother’s death and the revolutionary truths linked to the name “Laila Z.” The author of “The Atlas of Reds and Blues,” Devi S. Laskar, breaks the novel down as “part ghost story, part history, part art, all magic.” NON-FICTION If you’re looking to further educate yourself on LGBT issues, check out “Bodies and Barriers: Queer Activists on Health,” edited by Adrian Shanker with a foreward by Rachel L. Levine and an afterword by Kate Kendall (PM Press, March 1). This compilation of essays from 26 LGBT activists, according to National LGBTQ Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey, serves to “shine a spotlight on how and why good health care for LGBTQ people and our families is such a challenge.” “Everything is Beautiful and I’m Not

Afraid” (Andrew McMeel Publishing) by Yao Xiao is a graphic novel about searching for belonging as a young, queer immigrant. It was released March 3. “Poor Queer Studies: Confronting Elitism in the University” (Duke University Press) by Matt Brim was released March 6 and explores how queer education often happens in poor and working-class environments. In “Rust Belt Femme” (Belt Publishing, March 10), writer Raechel Anne Jolie explores how her sense of self was shaped not only by her identity as a queer femme, but also by the working-class upbringing she struggled through and the 1990s alternative culture she experimented within. “Candyfreak” author Steve Almond refers to Jolie’s memoir as “a love song to the family and friends, the songs and sacred places, that helped Raechel Anne Jolie grow into the fierce thinker and passionate writer she is.” Glennon Doyle, Christian author of The New York Times bestsellers “Carry On, Warrior” and “Love Warrior,” is now out with her third book, “Untamed” (The Dial Press, March 10). In this memoir, which Publishers Weekly reviews as a “testament to female empowerment and self-love, with an endearing coming-out story at the center,” Doyle dives into how she came to accept that she loved women — while still married to the father of her children. Those interested in reading about what life was like for an LGBT man during the AIDS crisis may want to look into “Later: My Life at the Edge of the World” by prolific author Paul Lisicky (Graywolf Press, March 17). In his latest memoir, which Them magazine describes as “a ruminative guide to an exhilarating queer utopia, one reeling from the impact of a dystopian age,” Lisicky chronicles his experiences living in Provincetown, Mass., in the early 1990s.

Don’t miss ‘Michelangelo’ at the Getty CONTINUED FROM PAGE 26

1568. That makes the rarity of these few surviving examples a key underpinning of our appreciation of them. Then there’s the unavoidable queerness of Michelangelo’s work. Though it’s debated whether the artist had physical relationships with men, proof of his sexuality can be found in his extensive poetry, which includes intensely homoerotic expressions of love for other men. Confronted with so many examples of Michelangelo’s reverence for the naked male form, it’s impossible not to imagine him, five centuries ago, being aware of the contrast between the sensuality of these images and the sacred scenes they are employed to depict; history tells us he was a devout Catholic, and that male nudity was commonly celebrated during his time for its aesthetic alone, without intentional sexual connotations – yet one is tempted to imagine, in the sea of supple male bodies that surround virtually every panel on the Sistine ceiling, that the artist was deliberately creating a proud celebration of his own queerness right in the heart of the Roman church. Such musings aside, the most impactful aspect of seeing these drawings – crowded into whatever space was left available on the page, often on both front and back – is to stand inches away from them and feel a connection across time to the man who made them, five centuries ago. Those lines on that paper were put there by his hand, a physical act we can imagine ourselves doing – and in so imagining, experience Michelangelo as human, instead of just the name behind some of the most familiar images in our culture. It should be said that none of the original pieces on display here are “masterpieces,” although the perfection of their artistry still stands unrivaled. To see most of Michelangelo’s finished work firsthand, one has to travel to Europe - and considering the current health risks, even the most passionate art lovers might want to hold off on that. Still, don’t let the lack of “big ticket items” fool you – “Michelangelo: The Mind of the Master” is still a powerful experience,

offering a rare chance to experience the artist from an intimate perspective, and is more than worth getting on that tram up the hill to the Getty – and even if it weren’t, the Center itself, now coming into the full blossom of its springtime beauty, would be reason enough.

Photo courtesy of John Paul King

Photo courtesy of John Paul King

Photo courtesy of John Paul King



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Photo credit: Kevin Scanlon



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Cinematic spring Regional filmfests, family-friendly fare and long-delayed ‘The Hunt’ In this hotly contested election year, it seems appropriate that the spring movie season kicks off with “Slay the Dragon,” a hard-hitting documentary about gerrymandering. Directed by Chris Durrance and Barak Goodman, the film opens today. While there are some great theatrical releases on the schedule, the spring cinematic calendar in the region is dominated by several outstanding film festivals that showcase a wide variety of movies from the United States and around the world. The Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital, which showcases films that promote a message of urgent action on climate, runs through March 22. While the schedule does not include much LGBT content, it does include the legal ecothriller “Dark Waters” from queer auteur Todd Haynes (“Carol”). The closing night film is the world premiere of “Jane Goodall: The Hope,” a celebration of the renowned anthropologist. A full schedule is available at dceff.org. Running March 26-29, the Annapolis Film Festival features an unbeatable combination of gorgeous scenery, delicious seafood and great films. As of press time, the schedule for 2020 has not been announced, but full details will be released at annapolisfilmfestival.com. Running April 23-May 3, Filmfest D.C. (filmfestdc.org) squeezes 80 films from 45 countries into 11 days for one great celebration of international cinema. The festival always spotlights exciting LGBT films. This years entries will include the Polish film “Black Mercedes,” a detective story set in Nazi-occupied Warsaw that hinges on secret identities; “The Capote Tapes,” an American documentary about the famous gay author directed by former Obama White House staffer Ebs Burnough; and the short film “There You Are” by the talented Lisa Donato, which will run as part of the Lunafest program. Throughout the spring, Reel

Affirmations, D.C.’s international LGBTQ film festival, will host monthly screenings at Landmark’s E Street Cinema. Information will be available at thedccenter.org/ reelaffirmations. With a board of directors that incudes John Waters and an advisory board that include Edward Norton and Barry Levinson, the Maryland Film Festival (mdfilmfest. com/festival) features an amazing variety of films, including a special screening hosted by Waters himself. This year’s festival runs April 29-May 3 with movies and events taking place in a variety of Baltimore locations. Finally, JxJ is a multi-disciplinary arts project that encompasses the Washington Jewish Film and Music Festivals. Running May 7-24, the hybrid arts programming will again include the popular “Rated LGBTQ” films. Movies will be screened throughout the Metro D.C. area, including the new state-of-the-art cinema at Cafritz Hall in the Edlavitch D.C.-JCC. The full schedule will be announced at the end of March at jxjdc.org. Meanwhile, the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in downtown Silver Spring (afisilver.afi.com) continues to present an unbeatable combination of contemporary independent films from across the country and around the globe, as well as carefully curated collections of classic films from Hollywood and the international cinema. Upcoming special engagements include a memorial retrospective on the groundbreaking and genre-bending French filmmaker Agnes Varda (March 20-April 21); “Welcome to the Bong Hive: A Bong Joon Ho Retrospective” (March 28-April 23), a sampling of works by the Academy Award-winning director of “Parasite” that includes the enigmatic “Snowpiercer” starring queer icon Tilda Swinton; and a collection of historic silent films (with live musical accompaniment) from the Fox Film Corporation, including the classic “Sunrise: A Story of Two Humans” directed by the great gay German filmmaker F. W. Murnau (“Nosferatu”).

From top: DAKOTA JOHNSON and TRACEE ELLIS ROSS in ‘The High Note.’ Photo by Glen Wilson; courtesy Focus Features & DANIEL CRAIG in ‘No Time to Die.’ Photo by Nicola Dove; courtesy United Artists Releasing

Pulled from its original 2019 release date, the controversial “The Hunt” finally hits screens today. The “satirical thriller” is about a band of 12 strangers under attack by a group of elite hunters. The cast includes Betty Gilpin, Emma Roberts and Hilary Swank. Two very different dramas are slated to open on March 20. Directed by John Krasinski, the sci-fi thriller “A Quiet Place Part II” picks up the story of the Abbott family (Emily Blunt, Noah Jupe and the magnificent Millicent Simmonds) following the death of John Abbott (Krasinski, who will appear in newly filmed flashbacks). Written and directed by Eliza Hittman, who helmed the queer coming-of-age story “Beach Rats,” “Never Rarely Sometimes Always” tracks two teenage girls forced to travel from rural Pennsylvania to New York City to seek medical help in the wake of an unintended pregnancy. On the family front: “Mulan,” yet another live-action remake of an animated Disney classic, opens March 22. There’s also “Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway” (April 3); “Trolls World Tour” (April 17); “Scoob!” which fills in the backstory about how the canine detective met his crime-busting friends; “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run” (March 22); and, the much-

delayed “Artemis Fowl” (May 29). More relationship dramas will be released March 27, including “The Climb,” the story of a long-term male friendship; “The Truth,” a French family saga starring Catherine Deneuve, Juliette Binoche and Ethan Hawke; and “Military Wives,” the emotional comedy about a group of women who form a choir while their husbands are deployed overseas. Kristin Scott Thomas stars and Lara Rossi plays a lesbian hairdresser. The biggest release of the spring movie season is undoubtedly the 21st installment in the James Bond franchise, “No Time to Die” (April 10). Daniel Craig plays 007 for the last time. The glittering cast is rounded out by Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, out actor Ben Whishaw, Léa Seydoux, Rami Malek, Christoph Waltz, Jeffrey Wright, Billy Magnussen and Ana de Armas (“Knives Out”). While they’re waiting for the summer blockbuster action movies, superhero fans can enjoy “The New Mutants” (opening April 3) and “Black Widow” with Scarlett Johansson, which opens May 1. May 1 is also the release date for “John Lewis: Good Trouble,” a masterful cinema verité documentary about the long-time civil rights leader.



Aaron’s not-so-Schocking news Anti-gay congressman finally comes out By BILLY MASTERS

This may be the last column you read from me. In just a few days, I will be going under the knife. I know what many of you are thinking - it’s about time! However, this is not elective surgery. While I have every confidence in my surgical team, anything can happen. If we’ve learned nothing from Auntie Joan and Donda, it is possible to come out of a minor procedure... DEAD! So, should that happen, well, it’s been a great couple of decades. Of course, the last thing I want to do is be spending time in a hospital ground zero for the coronavirus. They say the people most at risk are the old and the infirm. I may not be old, but it doesn’t get more infirm than being sliced open like a sturgeon. But you know who is really at risk? The Pope. The last time the Pontiff was seen in public, he was sneezing and coughing and hacking. He has since cancelled everything on his schedule. While the official word is that he’s been tested and is negative, there has been a single case of the coronavirus reported within Vatican City. And that got one of my friends thinking - if something happens to the Pope, how will they have a Conclave of Cardinals? I say they vote by app - perhaps they can hire those geniuses who made the one for the Iowa Caucus. Then we can see white or black smoke on our cell phones. That’s me - always thinking ahead. He’s been quiet for a while, but last week Aaron Schock surfaced in Rio. And he was all over sexy Eliad Cohen. Now, I know what you’re all thinking - Aaron Schock is dating that little Cuban boy who came to America on an inner tube? No, that was Elián González, who I believe is currently working on Bernie Sanders’ campaign. This is Eliad Cohen - a successful Israeli circuit party promoter (and occasional actor and model). If you didn’t know who they were, you’d probably think Aaron and Eliad were just another hot gay circuit couple. But, of course, people do know who they are, and photographed them...as one does. And, as this one does, I’ll post them on BillyMasters.com - along with all those other photos (and videos) of every inch of Aaron. And then Aaron did something unexpected - he came out. In a long, rambling essay. I really would have preferred some illustrations - as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. But, OK, I read it. Here’s my two cents. I don’t really care one iota about Aaron Schock. His minor political career didn’t interest me; his conservative views don’t interest me; and his voting record on anti-LGBTQ initiatives doesn’t interest me (but, should you like details, he supported DOMA and opposed DADT repeal). I realize I’m in the minority in my apathy - if social media means anything. The gays posting online are livid that in Schock’s statement, he never said the words, “I’m sorry.” Here’s my question - why does anyone need to hear “I’m sorry” from someone so insignificant in their lives? Why are you elevating him to that importance? If you read his missive, it’s clear he’s a damaged person from a very dysfunctional family. He has demons he hasn’t even dealt with - again, not my problem. However, even I, the apathetic Billy Masters, can imagine the horror when he telephoned his mother to tell her he is gay just before going home for Easter, only to be told that he should turn around - he wasn’t welcome. I have no idea what that would feel like, but I’m willing to imagine


AARON SCHOCK finally came out last week.

it wouldn’t be fun. I suspect if he were less attractive, he’d probably get a bit more empathy from most gay men. And, if those haters were really honest, they’d admit that given half a chance, they’d sleep with him. Continuing her string of appearances in this column, it’s time for yet another RuPaul story. For those of you who have been waiting to binge watch “AJ and the Queen,” be forewarned - this is not only the first season, it’s the last. Netflix cancelled it last week. RuPaul Tweeted, “End of the road for ‘AJ and The Queen.’ Netflix has decided to not extend our trip across America. Thank you for all the love & support. We’re so very proud of the work.” Onto news about a reboot you’ll be able to see wherever you are. Amazon Prime Video is producing new episodes of “The Kids In The Hall.” Actually, it’s being produced by Canadian Amazon Original Series, which only makes sense since the original show originated in Canada. The entire cast has signed on for eight episodes. With that, it’s time to end yet another column Even when I’m gone, my website will carry on. So check out BillyMasters.com - the site that can (hopefully) raise the dead! While I am certain I’ll survive this major operation, one can never be too sure. So, if you have a question, you have two options: hold a séance, or send an e-mail to Billy@BillyMasters.com. Either way, I hope to get back to you before Danny Newman slides into Schock...literally. So, until next time, remember, one man’s filth is another man’s bible.

CANNABIS CULTURE Two-thirds of Latinos back legalizing marijuana SANTA MONICA, Calif. — More than two in three U.S. Hispanic adults support legalizing marijuana, according to nationwide polling data compiled by the digital media firm H Code. Pollsters surveyed a nationally representative sample of over 1,300 English- and Spanish-speaking U.S. Hispanic respondents. Sixty-eight percent of those polled said that they are favor of legalizing marijuana in the United States. That percentage is consistent with other nationwide polls of U.S. adults, such as those here, here, and here, finding that two-thirds of respondents believe that the adult use of cannabis ought to be legal. By contrast, prior polls of Hispanic-only voters had often reported that Latinos were less likely than the general population to express support for legalizing cannabis.

Smoking cannabis is most popular method of ingestion SEATTLE — Adults who consume cannabis are most likely to smoke it, according to data compiled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence. Researchers analyzed data from over 6,100 adult cannabis consumers in 12 states. Ninety-one percent of respondents acknowledging having smoked herbal cannabis, with 59 percent reporting that inhalation “was their only mode of marijuana use.” By contrast, only 25 percent of respondents reported having ever used cannabis-infused edible products, and only 20 percent reported ever having vaporized cannabis. Five percent of subjects reported exclusively consuming marijuana edibles, and two percent said that they only vaped cannabis. The data is consistent with prior studies, such as those here and here, showing that the majority of people who self-report consuming cannabis do so by methods that involve smoking the substance.

Medical cannabis is Maine’s 3rd largest economic market AUGUSTA, Maine — Patients purchased an estimated $112 million worth of medical cannabis-related products in 2019, according to newly released Maine tax data. The annual revenues related to medical cannabis are more than the total revenues generated by the sales of blueberries, maple syrup, apples, herring, and oysters combined. Only the state’s lobster industry and potato industry bring in more annual revenue. Some three-quarters of the revenue generated from medical cannabis (85.3 million) came from sales by caregivers to patients. Although the state’s medical cannabis access program has been operational for some two decades, Maine officials only began tracking caregiver-related tax revenue in February of 2019. Licensed retail adult-use marijuana sales are anticipated to begin in June. Cannabis Culture news in the Blade is provided in partnership with NORML. Visit norml.org for more information.