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


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1 Must qualify for $750 Lease Loyalty Program, Must be a current lessee of a 2015 model year or newer GM vehicle through GM Financial for at least 30 days prior to the new vehicle sale or Conquest Incentive, Must be a current owner or lessee of a 2005 model year or newer non-GM vehicle for at least 30 days prior to the new vehicle sale. $2,499 down plus 1st month, DMV, Dealer Fees and $650 acquisition fee. 10,000 miles per year. MSRP of $37,890. Closed-end lease. GM Financial must mu approve lease. Take retail delivery by 2/29/20. Lessee pays for maintenance, repair, excess wear and disposition fee of $595 or less at end of lease. Picture may not represent actual vehicle. Stock # L0119562. 2 Must qualify for $1,500 Lease Loyalty Program, Eligible customers who have a current Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet or GMC Lease through GM Financial and lease one of the new and unused GM models. $1,999 down plus 1st month, DMV, Dealer Fees and $650 acquisition fee. 10,000 miles per year. MSRP of $45,715. Closed-end lease. GM Financial must approve lease. Take retail delivery by 2/29/20. Lessee pays for maintenance, repair, excess wear and disposition fee of $595 or less at end of lease. Picture may not represent actual vehicle. Stock # LZ168978.

CADILLAC OF BEVERLY HILLS 8767 Wilshire Blvd Suite 101 Beverly Hills CA 90211 www.cadillacbeverlyhills.com

LOCATION 8767 Wilshire Blvd. Beverly Hills, CA 90211

SALES 424-477-2451 Hours Mon-Sat 9a-8p Sun 10a-7p

SERVICE 423-218-4811 Hours Mon-Fri 7:30a-6p Sat 8a-3p Sun closed


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On purchases with your Ashley Advantage™ credit card from 3/18/2020 to 4/6/2020. Equal monthly payments required for 40 months. Ashley Furniture does not require a down payment, however, sales tax and delivery charges are due at time of purchase. *See below for details.

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COLTON Exit Mt. Vernon Ave. 855 Ashley Way Colton, CA 92324 909-433-5303 facebook.com/ AshleyHSColton

BURBANK East of the 5 Exit Burbank Blvd 401 N. 1st St Burbank, CA 91502 818-840-5620 facebook.com/ AshleyHSBurbank

COLTON OUTLET 1601 Ashley Way Colton, CA 92324 909-572-2260 Mon. - Sun. 9am - 5:30pm facebook.com/ AshleyHSColtonOutlet

CANOGA PARK 21301 Victory Blvd. Canoga Park, CA 91303 747-226-6026 facebook.com/ AshleyHSCanogaPark

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LOS ANGELES South of the 10, Exit Convention Center 1810 S Broadway Los Angeles, CA 90015 213-745-2980 facebook.com/ AshleyHSLosAngeles LOS ANGELES In the Venice Crossroads Shopping Center 8985 Venice Blvd., Suite A-3 Los Angeles, CA 90034 310-596-4335 facebook.com/ AshleyHSWestLosAngeles MONTCLAIR Located South of Montclair Plaza 5055 S. Montclair Plaza Ln Montclair, CA 91763 909-625-4420 facebook.com/ AshleyHSMontclair

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*Offer applies only to single-receipt qualifying purchases. Ashley HomeStore does not require a down payment, however, sales tax and delivery charges are due at time of purchase if the purchase is made with your Ashley Advantage™ Credit Card. No interest will be charged on the promo purchase if you pay it off, in full, within the promo period. If you do not, interest will be charged on the promo purchase from the purchase date. The required minimum monthly payments may or may not pay off the promo purchase by the end of the promo period. Regular account terms apply to non promo purchases and, after promo period ends, to the remaining promo balance. For new accounts: Purchase APR is 29.99%; Minimum Interest Charge is $2. Existing cardholders should see their credit card agreement for their applicable terms. Promotional purchases of merchandise will be charged to account when merchandise is delivered. Subject to credit approval. ‡Monthly payment shown is equal to the purchase price, excluding taxes and delivery, divided by the number of months in the promo period, rounded to the next highest whole dollar, and only applies to the selected financing option shown. If you make your payments by the due date each month, the monthly payment shown should allow you to pay off this purchase within the promo period if this balance is the only balance on your account during the promo period. If you have other balances on your account, this monthly payment will be added to the minimum payment applicable to those balances. §Subject to credit approval. Minimum monthly payments required. See store for details. ‡‡Previous purchases excluded. Cannot be combined with any other promotion or discount. Discount offers exclude Tempur-Pedic®, Stearns & Foster® and Sealy Posturepedic Hybrid™ mattress sets, Hot Buys, floor models, clearance items, sales tax, furniture protection plans, warranty, delivery fee, Manager’s Special pricing, Advertised Special pricing, and 14 Piece Packages and cannot be combined with financing specials. Effective 1/1/2018, all mattress and box springs are subject to a $10.50 per unit CA recycling fee. †Subject to availability. Order must be entered by 4 PM. SEE STORE FOR DETAILS. Stoneledge Furniture LLC., many times has multiple offers, promotions, discounts and financing specials occurring at the same time; these are allowed to only be used either/or and not both or combined with each other. Although every precaution is taken, errors in price and/or specification may occur in print. We reserve the right to correct any such errors. Picture may not represent item exactly as shown, advertised items may not be on display at all locations. Some restrictions may apply. Available only at participating locations. Ashley HomeStores are independently owned and operated. ©2020 Ashley HomeStores, Ltd. Promotional Start Date: March 18, 2020. Expires: April 6, 2020.


LOCAL

Project Angel Food still delivering But volunteers needed to meet demand By KAREN OCAMB Project Angel Food is delivering three weeks of emergency shelf stable meals to their 1,600 clients who are living with critical illness. These meals include the Florentine Lasagna and Chicken & Noodles and staples including oatmeal, peanut butter, low-salt soups, low-salt tuna, fruit cups, applesauce, unsalted crackers and granola bars, says Project Angel Food Executive Director Richard Ayoub. But that comes at the high of $150,000 at a time when three fundraisers - projected to generate $250,000 -- have been postponed as a result of the coronavirus. “Project Angel Food is still open. We cannot shut our doors to the 1,600 people who rely on us for their food. And, it’s not just any food it’s medically tailored,” Ayoub tells the Los Angeles Blade. “The people most susceptible to the coronavirus are over 60, with heart disease, lung disease, diabetes and HIV. That is Project Angel Food’s population. In fact, 100% of our

clients are high-risk for COVID-19.” Ayoub says they are taking special precautions to ensure safety. For instance, chefs are practicing social distancing and “we are asking volunteers with even the sniffles to stay home and we are taking the temperature of every volunteer to ensure that no one has a fever.” Additionally, there are increased deep cleanings throughout the building, as well as adhering to their regular strict food safety protocols. “Project Angel Food has been asking for public support for emergancy funding and Angelenos are coming through in a big way,” says Ayoub. “The LA County of Public Health Division of HIV and STD Programs and City Councilmember David Ryu have already authorized funds to help the increased demand. We still need more dollars to fill the gap.” Folks who would like to volunteer please email volunteers@angelfood.org.

A volunteer having his temperature taken. Photo courtesy Project Angel Food

Here are the guidelines Project Angel Food is implementing: sick with fever – don’t come in runny nose/cough, even from allergies – don’t come in 65 or older, pregnant, chronic illness/

underlying health conditions – don’t come in you care for people who are high risk – don’t come in you have been in contact with someone who may have contracted the virus – don’t come in traveled and not quarantined for 2 weeks – don’t come in fever/symptoms of fever have not been gone for at least 24 hours without help of medication – don’t come in.” Additionally, these measures are also being implemented: 1. distancing in all areas of the building (at least 3 feet/arm’s length), including the kitchen 2. temperature taking as people enter the building 3. masks worn in the kitchen 4. continued vigilance in adapting to additional guidelines provided by WHO/ CDC. To make a tax deductible donation please visit www.angelfood.org/covid19

Los Angeles LGBT Center open with limited services AIDS Life/Cycle cancelled By KAREN OCAMB Despite news that the Center in New York City closed on March 13 due to the coronavirus, the Los Angeles LGBT Center is remaining open to continue limited service and provide care to their live-in clients such as seniors at Triangle Square and youth without homes at the Anita May Rosenstein campus. “We are making preparations for worse case scenarios but no, we simply could not take this kind of action [to shut down entirely],” Los Angeles LGBT Center Chief of Staff Darrel Cummings tells the Los Angeles Blade. “After

all, people live here and get vital services from us on a daily basis. People need food, housing, healthcare, medications and so many other services so closing entirely is out of the question.” However, the Hollywood-based Center is also adjusting to comply with the emergency restrictions imposed by both California Gov. Gavin Newsom and LA City Mayor Eric Garcetti to curtail the spread of the new virus COVID-19.   “We have and are continuing to have more staff working from home and we are talking to our clients to urge those who can postpone

04 • MARCH 20, 2020 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM

their appointments without any negative consequences to do that for now,” Cummings says. “Additionally, we are implementing telehealth and other kinds of appointments and services that can be delivered via a variety of platforms. These strategies allow for the continuation of services while reducing the numbers of people, staff and clients alike, within our physical structure and therefore less at risk for viral transmission.”   The Center has also cancelled major fundraising events, including their premier

AIDS Life/Cycle 2020, which they produce with the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. “We, along with AIDS/LifeCycle staff are heartbroken that our favorite week of the year will not be happening, but we remain focused on our commitment to our mission of raising critical funds for the clients of The Los Angeles LGBT Center and San Francisco AIDS Foundation,” organizers said in a March 17 press release. Continues at losangelesblade.com


LOCAL

WeHo announces local emergency over COVID-19 Bars, nightclubs, gyms, schools closed By RANCE COLLINS By the time the West Hollywood City Council met Monday night, March 16, many city establishments had already shut their doors to the public. Earlier in the day, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health had sent out a series of strident health recommendations regarding COVID-19, which rendered some of the mandates drafted by the council moot. The city’s resolution had already circulated on social media that afternoon, and public comments, largely submitted online, had poured in throughout the weekend. A revised version of the full resolution will be posted when made available. What residents need to know is that the City of West Hollywood has followed the City of Los Angeles, LA County, the state of California and the federal government in declaring an emergency, which is currently scheduled to last 60 days, roughly until the end of April. Bars, nightclubs, gyms, schools, theaters, gathering spaces and restaurants throughout West Hollywood, as with the rest of the county, are closed, save for limited take-out, drive-through and delivery services. The amendment did not include recovery programs, although the West Hollywood Recovery Center has elected to voluntarily close and conduct meetings online via Zoom until at least April 1, a date initially posited as a beginning to the end of the crisis. City buildings will also be closed and those that work for the city will be allowed to work from home. Parks will remain open, but park facilities will close. Most public transit will not operate, but Dial-A-Ride and the city shuttle, which primarily cater to senior citizens, will continue to be available. It is stressed, however, that residents 65 and older stay home if at all possible. The council will be setting specific hours for senior citizens

to shop at local grocery stores, for both their safety and to help maintain social distancing. “I realize this is a lot of information,” said City Attorney Lauren Langer. “Everything is moving quickly. Staff has been working all day and all night to get these documents out to you.” Prior to the meeting, the LA Public Health Department stated there were five confirmed cases of the virus in West Hollywood. Representatives from the DHP were at the council meeting, practicing along with the few in attendance, the CDC recommended social distancing. The council members, too, sat a minimum of six feet apart, while Mayor John D’Amico, who did not feel well, phoned in remotely. D’Amico was unsure of his symptoms and was following the guidelines that suggest a person self-quarantine if they feel even mildly sick. Many community members had expressed concern over job losses and looming rents. The council voted to put a moratorium on evictions, allowing six months for tenants to repay their landlords any back-rent. There will also be financial services available for those out of work that might not qualify for unemployment, including for people who work in West Hollywood but live elsewhere in the county. A fund will be established that citizens can donate to for this purpose, as well. Details will be added to the city’s website as they become available. Some taxes will also be lowered for businesses with the agreement that they keep staff on the payroll. Councilmember John Duran suggested that this item might have to “go farther” if the crisis lingers. Originally, there was to be a four-week break between council meetings due to construction in the council chamber, but now the team will meet at either a yet-to-

West Hollywood City Council March 16. Screengrab

be-determined location or through virtual means on April 6. In the meantime, City Manager Paul Arevalo has been given authority through the emergency proclamation to make further amendments to the resolution if necessary before the council meets again. Arevalo stated that he would run any changes by the council and he and Langer would work to make sure their guidelines match with the ever-changing national recommendations. Arevalo has also been given the authority to work on gathering and moving the West Hollywood homeless population off the streets. Healthy volunteers will soon be called upon to deliver meals to older and atrisk residents, as well as provide assistance to Cedars-Sinai Hospital. Charitable organizations like Project Angel Food will, too, be working to close the gap and are in need of volunteers. The city is looking at training staff from local hotels for emergency outreach positions, too.

Hotels and retail stores have not yet been advised to close and they are encouraged to practice the recommended social distancing of 3-to-6 feet as they continue operation. “It’s an uncertain time, but we are making sure we can provide for our West Hollywood residents as best we can,” said Councilmember Lindsey Horvath. It should be noted that the measures, while extensive, are not yet to the lockdown level of Northern California cities like San Francisco, which has gone as far as to close all but essential businesses and placed curfews on residents. West Hollywood leadership does not yet feel such measures are necessary, but Duran said that the city is well-positioned for fluid change in the weeks to come. “This is all unprecedented,” said Duran. “There is no previous experience to base all of this on. But, fortunately, our small and nimble government can respond to issues quickly as they come up. We can constantly adapt as we move forward day to day.”

LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • MARCH 20, 2020 • 05


LOCAL

Seeking the truth during the COVID-19 war And what about sex, baby? By KAREN OCAMB Jewel Thais-Williams said she’d call back. She was on the other line and had been inundated with calls asking how she was doing after eye surgery. Three hours later, the almost 81-year-old LGBTQ icon was pumped, angry, going on and on about conspiracy theories – how “The Eyes of Darkness” had predicted the coronavirus in 1981 and how Donald Trump was using the virus or COVID-19 to spread fear and hate for his own political gain, just like in “The 9th Wave,” a book she read as a 12-year-old that still haunted her. The book is about political machinations that “frighten old people about having what they have now taken away that they vote for this guy.” And while one eye was patched from surgery that day, the other one was fixed on cable news as President Trump declared a state of emergency. “How do we really know what’s going on without having tests to let us know?” she asked insistently. And without widespread testing to know if the virus is real and who’s got it where and telling everyone to be afraid and shelter in place and not to have gatherings of more than 10 people, Thais-Williams added, “there are no more protests and law enforcement can just arrest people on the spot.” “This is happening to keep Trump in office,” she said. “Follow the money. We could have had pop up clinics by now. We could have converted Mobile HIV Testing vans to do coronavirus testing. But instead, Trump meets with bankers and other money men. What’s the alternative motive here?”

It was Tuesday night and former Vice President Joe Biden was cruising to victory in three more Democratic primary states. Thais-Williams was watching that, too. She’d switched from Elizabeth Warren to Michael Bloomberg, then back to Warren but was now fully onboard with Biden. “He’s the same decent, honest guy who looked me in the eye when we were talking,” she says, recalling their meeting at a White House Pride party. “Eyes are the window of the soul and that was the biggest thing between me and Joe – the dude is real. That’s what I see.” The phone call ended agreeing to disagree about conspiracy theories. But the next day, March 18, Trump took to the White House podium and insisted that the virus came from China, so it is “the Chinese virus,” a term he declared is “not racist at all.” Trump – a man who used “bone spurs” as an excuse to avoid service during the Vietnam War – also declared himself a “wartime president” in this war on the coronavirus, saying he was invoking the Defense Production Act “in case we need it.” The Korean War-era law enable presidents “to take extraordinary action to force American industry to ramp up production of equipment needed for national security,” according to Time.com. Knowing Trump listens to rightwing conspiracy theorists, it looks like Thais-Williams’ network of sources may not have been that far off. The plot of “Eyes of the Darkness” involves a Chinese military lab that manufactures a deadly virus in Wuhan city.

06 • MARCH 20, 2020 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM

JEWEL THAIS-WILLIAMS and VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN (Photo by Jamie McGonnigal)

Eerily, this theory feels like it might hatch into something akin to the fabricated “weapons of mass destruction” fiction that had America launch a first “Shock and Awe” strike against a foreign country and start the war against Iraq. The bottom line: with a president who consistently, boldly and unabashedly lies for his own self-aggrandizement, how is the American public supposed to believe anything he says – about anything, let alone a very real new virus that is claiming thousands of lives across the globe? All the respected experts say “test, test, test” to find out where

the virus is being spread. But the administration has failed on every front: containment is no longer applicable and mitigation is voluntary. And yet, the American people themselves seem to be taking on the historic and mighty task bungled by the Trump administration. Though still, confusion reigns. “This is serious. We have an emergency,” trusted Rep. Maxine Waters told MSNBC. “We have a real serious problem with testing. First of all, we have so many people who need testing who can’t get testing.” Continues on page 08


Proud to Serve the LGBTQ Community SANTA MONICA BUICK GMC HAS ARRIVED

At Santa Monica Buick GMC, we are proud to bring a large selection of new and used Buick, GMC cars, trucks and SUV’s to Santa Monica. We offer competitive lease specials, finance options and expert auto service for your vehicle. Our sales team is dedicated to providing exceptional customer service and will make sure you drive away in the vehicle that fits your style.

2019 BUICK ENCORE ESSENCE AWD

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LEASE FOR

299

159

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/MONTH

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Due at lease signing is $2,275 customer cash or trade-in equity and includes - $1,250 GM Select Market Incremental CCR, and $2,000 GM Lease Loyalty/Competitive Lease (Must qualify for either GM Lease Loyalty or Competitive Lease) FOR THIS OFFER Total Due signing $2,275 includes - first month payment, $650 Acquisition fee, $80 documentation fee, $30.00 Electronic license filing fee. Does NOT INCLUDE - sales tax, license fees, and any applicable government fees. MSRP:$33,380.00 Subject to vehicle availability, KB705907, KB714506, KB714889, KB715721. Must lease through GM FINANCIAL, on approved above average credit. Lessee is responsible for Excess wear and tear plus $.25 per mile for mileage over 10,000 miles a year. Disposition fee of $595 due lease end. $_0_Security deposit waived on Tiers A+/A. Picture may not represent actual vehicle. See dealer for detail

Due at lease signing is $0 customer cash or trade-in equity and includes - $600 GM Select Market Incremental CCR, and $1,500 GM Competitive Lease (Must qualify for either GM Competitive Lease) FOR THIS OFFER Total Due signing $2,075 includes - first month payment, $650 Acquisition fee, $80 documentation fee, $30 Electronic license filing fee. Does NOT INCLUDE - sales tax, license fees, and any applicable government fees. MSRP:$34,355.00 Subject to vehicle availability LL193069 . Must lease through GM FINANCIAL, on approved above average credit. Lessee is responsible for Excess wear and tear plus $.25 per mile for mileage over 10,000 miles a year. Disposition fee of $595 due lease end. $_0_Security deposit waived on Tiers A+/A. Picture may not represent actual vehicle. See dealer for detail

1717 SANTA MONICA BLVD SANTA MONICA California USA 90404-1906 santamonicabuickgmc.com

2019 GMC YUKON XL

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14,000

$

$64,675 NET PRICE

$64,675 Sale Price after $8,500 Santa Monica Buick GMC Discount, $5,500 GMC Standalone Cash on approved above average credit. - Prices Excludes - $80 dealer document fee, $30 Electronic license filing fee sales tax, license fees, and any applicable government fees. MSRP:$78,675.00 Subject to vehicle availability, KR257310. $64,675 sale price Can Not be combined with special APR 0% or other offers. See dealer for detail

SALES (424) 257-2066 Mon to Sat. 9:00 am 8:00 pm SUNDAY 10:00 am 7:00 pm

SERVICE (424) 257-6428 Mon to Fri 7:30 AM to 6:00 PM Sat 8:00 AM 3:00 PM Close Sundays


LOCAL Continued from page 06

Leading California politicos weigh in on coronavirus Waters, a political powerhouse and the first woman and first AfricanAmerican Chair of the House Financial Services Committee, is a longtime LGBTQ ally, having been in Los Angeles and elected to Congress during the Second Wave of AIDS. The story she told MSNBC is akin to thousands of other stories of people or friends of people who have been sick or frightened and looking for help, found none. Her friend, at least, has powerful friends. “I have a friend that I happened to call today,” she told MSNBC, “and she had gone to UCLA after having real symptoms. They gave her a test for influenza and then told her she didn’t have influenza. And she said, ‘What about the coronavirus tests?’ And they said they were not giving that test. She called a friend who has great influence and they told her to stay there, don’t leave,” Waters said. “And this friend with great influence at UCLA forced them to give her the test. So, they gave her the test, but they couldn’t give her the results in any short period of time. So, they sent her home,” Waters continued. “When I talked to her at home, she was in great pain, had terrific headaches, coughing and a fever. And she was waiting on the results from the test that they had been forced to give her at UCLA.” Waters paused. “I don’t know what’s happening. I’ve got to check back to see if she ever got the results of that test,” she said. “But I do know this: she and her daughter are basically alone and I had to inquire about - did she have food in the house, or what was going on? She said someone was going to bring some food and leave it on the doorstep.” This, Waters says, “is a situation, I think, that is typical of what is happening in this country.

Unfortunately, we were not prepared. The greatest country in the world was not prepared for this pandemic.” Not unexpectedly, having dealt directly with the Trump administration, Waters knows many people do not trust Trump. “One of the problems that we have is that there’s not a lot of trust from the average American in the president of the United States,” she says. “Unfortunately, he has been documented to have lied so many times, to distort, to change the story.” But lack of credible leadership results in real harm to real people in real time – and that time is now. “I am worried about people with low income and the minimum wages that are going to be stopped from work. They’re not going to have jobs. They’re going to be fired. The business is going to close down, and they don’t have anywhere to go,” Waters says. “So, we’ve got to make sure that for those who do have unemployment insurance, that we expand that and that is what is being looked at….We’ve got to make sure that we give additional support to Medicaid and that was being proposed….So, we’ve got a lot of work to do.” Another political powerhouse who is also a strong friend to the LGBTQ community is Rep. Adam Schiff, who represents Burbank to West Hollywood. As the leader of the House Impeachment committee, he has been getting very real death threats. Now he is facing another threat and is practicing the recommended “self-isolation” at home with his family after his lead investigator, counselor Daniel Goldman, recently tested positive for the coronavirus. “I would be taking precautions anyway to limit my social interactions,” Schiff tells the Los

08 • MARCH 20, 2020 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM

Empty grocery shelves (Photo by Karen Ocamb)

Angeles Blade in a phone interview. “First, we began canceling large events, and then we began canceling smaller events, doing constituent meetings by phone instead of inperson. I scaled way back on my travel plans, and I think we had to cancel all of my constituent meetings before the situation with Dan, but I’m taking some additional precautions,” he says, adding that Goldman was likely infected after he left Schiff’s office in early March. “But out of an abundance of caution, we’re still being careful.” As have many others, Schiff has noted the oddity of having Trump onstage with Vice President Mike Pence – who has not been tested – clumped together with his coronavirus team for photos and television – and not exhibiting the social distancing of three-to-six feet they insist on for others. “It is incongruous to hear the president talk about social

distancing while he’s not social distancing. And people are standing around him and he’s leaning over to whisper to Mike Pence,” says Schiff. “There’s kind of a conflicting message, especially with what we’re saying. But it is certainly important to note that the degree that we are able to take precautions now and do sensible social distancing will significantly flatten the curve at which this virus spreads [to prevent overwhelming the healthcare system], and help protect those with compromised health, or seniors.” The significance of social distancing, especially with news that the infection can be spread “silently” by people who are asymptomatic, is that individuals must accept responsibility for themselves and prevent serious health consequences that could end up costing a lot of people their lives. This is the frightening scenario, as more infections occur. “If you


LOCAL

don’t flatten the curve, everyone gets this virus at one time, hospitals are besieged, there aren’t enough ventilators to go around, healthcare workers are getting sick, and you have an even worse crisis on your hand,” says Schiff. “So here, the public is really empowered to do something major to affect the severity of this crisis by taking some important steps that are going to be difficult for people,” he says. “We’re a social creature and we like going out to restaurants, and we like joining in public places and now we’ve been asked to move away for a period of time. So, things are moving very, very quickly, and steps that we thought were aggressive two weeks ago now, it’s been way too... It’s substantial. And who knows where it will be tomorrow. “But I think that the advice to avoid a gathering in places with more than 10 people, the advice to order carryout from a restaurant rather than go and expose yourself to people, the advice to try to postpone even family gatherings over a certain size,” he says, “that’s going to be tough news to take, but I think it’s in everyone’s best interest.” Jeffrey King, founder and executive director of In The Meantime Men, is very direct, raising the issue of having sex during the coronavirus pandemic. “The coronavirus has us all making major adjustments in our lives,” King says in a video posted on his Facebook page. “I want to encourage you to stay connected, and to consider your risk. Many of us are still engaging in sex. Our sex clubs and gay-specific social venues are closing now. Our social dating apps, however, are in full effect. Again – I want you to consider your risk and to act responsibly.” King shares information provided by the Commission on HIV in Los Angeles County for individuals

In The Meantime Men Founder JEFFREY KING (Screengrab)

living with HIV and their possible concerns regarding the coronavirus. The Commission advises, in part: “The novel coronavirus is understood to spread mainly from person-toperson through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or when a person touches a surface with these droplets and then touches their eyes, nose, or mouth. Common symptoms in a person with the novel coronavirus infection include fever, dry cough and shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. “Persons living with controlled HIV (i.e. normal CD4 count and undetectable viral load) do not appear to be at greater risk than the general public for either acquiring or becoming ill with the coronavirus. “Persons living with HIV, however, may be at increased risk for an adverse response to the

infection if they have: Low CD4 cell counts, particularly under 350 cells/ml (considered not virally suppressed and therefore at higher risk); 60 years of age and older; heart, lung, or kidney disease; other poorly managed health conditions, including hypertension and diabetes. “Public Health recommends that individuals at higher risk for serious illness associated with COVID-19 take the following actions and precautions: Practice regular hand washing (20 seconds with soap and hot water); “Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands. If you do not have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow; Have a 30-day supply of all medications; Remain fully adherent to all regularly prescribed medications; Make sure

all your vaccinations are current, including against influenza (“flu”) and pneumonia; “Practice social distancing (this means limiting the time you spend in public and keeping a 6-foot distance between yourself and strangers when you are in public); Stay home if you are even mildly sick; Call your health care provider before seeking medical care so that appropriate precautions can be taken.” King is pointed and nonjudgmental. “As we engage in sex, I want you to consider the choices and the decisions you’re making as mature adults and to be as responsible and to make sober, conscious decisions. We got this,” he says. “Many of us have lived through traumatic pandemic experiences to include the introduction of the AIDS virus to America and the Black community,” King tells the Los Angeles Blade. “We will be able to rise above the fear of the unknown relative to this new man-made viral construct we now call the coronavirus. The question remains: will we ever end the coronavirus? “In The Meantime has cancelled its annual scholarship fundraiser, halted its mobile HIV testing efforts, and we are implementing an amplified sanitation protocol at our facility,” he says. “We will continue to show up for our clients hosting smaller groups implementing social distancing.” But the too-familiar refrain remain: what’s happening? What’s true? What are the facts? Who can we trust as we bounce between one conspiracy theory and another? We are learning again to count on one another, lean on one another, be kind, understand sacrifice for the Greater Good, which is about saving humanity, not Donald Trump’s disastrous political career.

LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • MARCH 20, 2020 • 09


NATIONAL

Real Men. Real Hookups. VISIT WWW.SQUIRT.ORG AND CHECK OUT OUR NEW FEATURES:

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John Erickson on Jan. 17, 2020. Photo by Richard Settles for the City of West Hollywood

LGBTQs: Don’t be erased, get counted! U.S. Census is in the mailbox, online FROM STAFF REPORTS Given how the world has turned upside down in just a few short weeks, it may seem absurd that the U.S. Census 2020 will officially take place on April 1, April Fool’s Day. But even if the in-person portion of the important survey is cancelled or postponed to save Censustakers from going door-to-door during the coronavirus pandemic – it is important to answer the questionnaire anyway, especially for single LGBTQ people who will not find themselves identified on the questionnaire. The U.S. Census, taken every 10 years, attempts to count every single person in the United States from the just-born, to the undocumented, to the crusty old people-hater in rural America. The federal government then uses the final count to allocate electoral boundaries, funding for social services and an understanding of demographic populations. “The census provides critical information,” said West Hollywood Mayor John D’Amico on Jan. 21, at the launch of the city’s “Be Counted West Hollywood” campaign. “A complete count will help to ensure that West Hollywood receives a fair share of federal funding and investments and, on a state level, the count will determine California’s apportionment in the U.S. House of Representatives. It’s so important that people in our community take part and be counted.” While there is no LGBTQ-specific question, there is finally a question about same-sex relationship status. The Williams Institute has been extrapolating on the number of LGBT people in America based on gender and martial status. Having this one marker will help tremendously. “The census matters because it helps ensure federal funding to our state and local communities for critical programs. Although we’re not being counted as an LGBTQ-specific demographic, it’s important that we’re counted where we congregate in large numbers because it further helps elected officials delineate and grant services to those areas,” says John Erickson, Planning Commission, City of West Hollywood and Member of the West Hollywood Complete Count Committee. “In time where we must all come together and make sure we’re not undercounted, let’s all come together and take the census to ensure that West Hollywood and the Greater Los Angeles area are counted!” For more information, go to www.weho.org/census2020.

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CITY OF WEST HOLLYWOOD

ADVISORY

The City of West Hollywood has proclaimed a local emergency in response to coronavirus (COVID-19). The City recommends social distancing. Seniors 65+ and people with underlying medical conditions should self-isolate. It's essential that we all take action and stay informed. Follow @wehocity on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram and turn on notifications for up-to-date information. Subscribe to the City’s E-Notifications at www.weho.org/email. For regular updates, visit www.weho.org/coronavirus.

BOLETÍN INFORMATIVO DE LA CIUDAD DE WEST HOLLYWOOD La Ciudad de West Hollywood ha declarado una emergencia local en respuesta al brote de coronavirus (COVID-19). La Ciudad recomienda mantener un distanciamiento social para evitar nuevas infecciones. Personas de 65 años o más y aquellas con condiciones médicas preexistentes deberían autoconfinarse y aislarse. En este tiempo de crisis, es esencial que todos tomemos precauciones y nos mantengamos informados. Siga las redes sociales de la Ciudad de West Hollywood @Wehocity en Twitter, Facebook e Instagram y suscríbase a las notificaciones para recibir información de ultimo momento. También puede suscribirse para recibir emails de la Ciudad en www.weho.org/email. Para recibir actualizaciones sobre el nuevo coronavirus, por favor visite www.weho.org/coronavirus

ГОРОД ЗАПАДНЫЙ ГОЛЛИВУД ВАЖНАЯ ИНФОРМАЦИЯ Город Западный Голливуд обьявил чрезвычайное положение в связи с пандемией коронавируса. Мы рекомендуем соблюдать дистанцию и избегать встреч с другими людьми. Людям в возрасте 65 лет и старше, рекомендуем не выходить в места скопления людей и оставаться дома. Очень важно, чтобы мы все принимали необходимые меры и были в курсе происходящего. Вы можете следить за развитием событий на @wehocity on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram или подпишитесь на получение электронных сообщений от города на странице Интернета www.weho.org/email. Для получения дополнительной информации воспользуйтесь страницей www.weho.org/coronavirus.

WEHO.ORG | @WEHOCITY | (323) 848-6400


NATIONAL

Dr. Anthony Fauci: From reviled to revered Target of ACT UP protests in ‘90s wins praise for coronavirus response By CHRIS JOHNSON Dr. Anthony Fauci, a leading voice of medical authority as the world confronts the coronavirus, is no stranger to viral epidemics — nor protesters who once displayed him in effigy in frustration amid new infections and rising death tolls. At the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis in the early 1990s, Fauci was at the frontlines as director of the National Institutes of Allergy & Infectious Diseases, a role he began in 1984 and continues to this day. During that time, Fauci’s research contributed to the understanding of HIV’s destruction of the immune system and therapy that has significantly contained the disease in more recent years. Now, as a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, Fauci has provided sage advice, calmed fears, and — at times — acted as voice of accountability for the Trump administration amid efforts to contain COVID-19. As the coronavirus epidemic began to unfold, Fauci himself compared the situation to the early days of the HIV epidemic — as well as other diseases — because “there’s still a lot that’s unknown.“ “It’s not that different than the very early years of the HIV epidemic, of the anthrax attacks, of the concern about the prepandemic bird flu,” Fauci said March 9 on CNN’s “New Day.” “Everything has a little bit of a different twist to it. It’s not exactly the same, but there’s always that uncertainty that gets people very anxious.” Under Fauci’s leadership, NIH in 1987 developed AZT, or zidovudine, the first antiretroviral approved for the treatment of HIV, although the epidemic continued. After more research, when combinations of drugs were seen to be effective against HIV, NIH cleared the way for more effective therapy in 1996. Carl Schmid, executive director of the HIV & Hepatitis Policy Institute, was among the advocates fighting HIV/AIDS who hailed Fauci’s work both then and now. “No one does a better job at explaining and

conquering infectious diseases, whether it is HIV/AIDS or coronavirus, than Tony Fauci,” Schmid said. But it wasn’t always a happy relationship with HIV/AIDS activists. As the HIV/AIDS epidemic raged and continued to the claim the lives of thousands of gay men, Fauci was the target of activists who accused him of not moving quickly with new medicines to fight the disease. ACT UP, the grassroots network that held “die-in” protests to draw attention to mass fatalities from HIV/AIDS amid silence from the U.S. government, held a massive demonstration at the National Institutes of Health on April 21, 1990, as reported at the time by the Washington Blade and published in a subsequent article now available in the archives. According to the article, written by veteran Blade reporter Lou Chibbaro, Jr., more than 1,000 demonstrators marched through the sprawling grounds of the NIH “using placards, costumes, bull horns and red-colored tape to draw attention to their demand for faster government action on AIDS research programs.” One photo taken at the event by the Blade — but never published until now — shows three protesters dressed in black robes and skull masks in the style of the Grim Reaper. The three hold a large coffin-like box with letters reading, “Fauci: Resign Now — Release Compound: O.” Another holds a sign reading, “120,000 AIDS Deaths, Courtesy NIH.” Another holds up a pole within a bloody head mask on top and a sign underneath designating the effigy as “Fauci.” “Scores of drugs and alternative treatments languish untested while more than 200 new cases of AIDS are diagnosed each day,” stated ACT UP in papers distributed at the demonstration. Police reportedly arrested 61 protesters during the four-hour demonstration and charged them with trespassing, including five members of ACT UP/D.C. Following the demonstration, Fauci reportedly said he was sympathetic to ACT UP’s cause, but believes its allegations were

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ACT UP protest at the National Institutes of Health on April 21, 1990. (Washington Blade archive photo by Doug Hinckle)

untrue. Further, Fauci was quoted as saying NIH implemented recent changes to direct more resources to fight infections diseases like HIV/AIDS. A chief critic of Fauci was Larry Kramer, a longtime HIV/AIDS activist who helped found ACT UP in the late 1980s and remains hostile to this day. As recently as 2015, Kramer in an op-ed for The Advocate faulted Fauci for failing to live up to his promise to find a cure for HIV infection. (Kramer didn’t respond to a Blade email this week to comment on Fauci’s approach to the coronavirus.) Kramer’s harsh words may be persiflage. Fauci was quoted in a 2012 article in the New Yorker about Larry Kramer as saying he’s come to regard the activist as a friend, crediting his work with instituting a major change in medicine against infectious diseases. But to say the relationship between HIV/AIDS activists and Fauci was entirely frosty would be inaccurate. On Dec. 22, 1990, also as reported by the Blade, when President George H.W. Bush met with gay men with AIDS at NIH, Fauci was among those who took part in the discussion. Also at the meeting was first lady Barbara Bush and George Bush, Jr., otherwise known as future President George W. Bush. It was the first time “a sitting U.S. president formally met with open gays,” the Blade reported at the time. The presidential party, Fauci reportedly

said, listened to the gay men in attendance and sat in on a support sessions for people undertaking NIH’s experimental AIDS drug trials. Some of the men had HIV, some had developed AIDS, the Blade reported. The elder Bush shook hands with each of the men and presented them with a commemorative presidential tie pin, according to the Blade. “He was really touched,” Fauci was quoted as saying. “This was not just a formality. He was really interested.” The meeting, Fauci reportedly said, was open to the White House press corps and news photographers took photos of the elder Bush shaking hands with the men. “But much to his disappointment, Fauci said, almost all the photos appearing in the nation’s daily newspapers the next day were of a different part of the NIH visit — when the president cradled babies with AIDS in the NIH pediatric ward,” the Blade reported. Asia Russell, executive director of the New York-based group HealthGAP, was among the HIV/AIDS activists at the time and told the Blade this week that work was responsible for pushing Fauci into supporting the community. “Dr. Fauci has been the target of AIDS activists’ campaigns and protests in the past, and those protests delivered results — they helped him see how access to the benefits of science is not neutral, it’s driven, or hindered, by politics, and that remains true today,” Russell said. Thirty years after the massive protest at NIH, the nature of the virus inspiring fear among the public and responsible for the deaths of thousands worldwide has changed, but Fauci’s work has not. Russell said Fauci in his role within the White House Coronavirus Task Force has brought to the fore shortcomings in the Trump administration’s approach to COVID-19, which she said “has been a disgrace.” “It’s an embarrassment that Dr. Fauci, a trusted voice in public health, has to testify before Congress and make the rounds on the Sunday shows to contradict the lies the president is telling,” Russell said.


TO OUR LGBTQ COMMUNITY AND ALLIES In these dark and uncertain times, I know it is ever more important to be grateful for what sustains us. And what sustains me — what drives our work at the Human Rights Campaign and inspires, enriches, and gives us hope every day — is you. I draw inspiration from the giants who came before us — footsoldiers for justice like Bayard Rustin and Sylvia Rivera who wrestled with discrimination and oppression and a government who did not care about our lives. These leaders built our movement and drew strength from each other in the face of incredible obstacles.

We must draw strength from this legacy — and know that we can never stop fighting. We cannot stop fighting a federal administration that treated COVID-19 like a political stunt and endangered the lives of millions — an administration that continues to invoke xenophobia and division at the very moment unity is so essential. We cannot stop fighting anti-equality lawmakers who — while we are facing a national crisis — are moving ahead with dangerous, discriminatory legislation in the states that harms our most vulnerable. We cannot stop fighting until all communities achieve equity and equality. Now and always, we are going to do our very best to make sure that our community at large gets the resources and support that it needs. We are creating and sharing resources about this pandemic and its impact on our community — as well as drawing attention to incredible work being done by our partners in the movement. We are advocating for federal government relief for our community as legislation moves through Congress. And we continue to work on defeating Donald Trump and Mike Pence in November. For more resources and information, please go to hrc.org. Our thoughts are with you and your loved ones during these unsettling times. Together, we will weather this crisis as we have weathered crises before — by taking care of one another, by supporting each other, and by ensuring we are doing all that we can to protect and empower the most vulnerable among us. In Unity, Alphonso David President of the Human Rights Campaign He/Him/His

For more resources and information, please go to hrc.org


NATIONAL

Coronavirus leaves LGBTQ elders particularly vulnerable Years of discrimination lead to anxiety, isolation for many By PHILIP VAN SLOOTEN

ROI BARNARD on the roof of his business Salon Roi. Washington Blade photo by Michael Key

During the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis, D.C.’s Salon Roi remained open while other shops shut down due to the epidemic. But coronavirus has forced former owner Roi Barnard to put down his shears to protect himself and his community. “My goal is to take very good care of others, such as my clients at Salon Roi who are older,” the 82-year-old gay stylist told the Blade. “We are holding each other up and I am being as careful for them as they are for me.” According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, coronavirus is a respiratory illness first identified in a December outbreak in Wuhan, China. It spreads easily from person to person through small droplets expelled during coughs or sneezes. The World Health Organization as of Wednesday reported more than 200,000 confirmed cases globally with a death toll of more than 8,200. Nearly 3,500 of those cases are in the U.S. with 114 deaths reported so

far. The virus has hit Washington state the hardest with 41 deaths, most occurring at the Life Care Center nursing home in Kirkland. CDC guidance regarding high-risk populations states, “Older people with severe chronic conditions should take special precautions because they are at higher risk of developing serious COVID-19 illness.” LGBTQ elders, like Barnard and many others of the “Stonewall Generation,” survived decades of historic repression, trauma and epidemic; however, this new threat is stalking them at a far more vulnerable time in their lives. “It’s the history of discrimination, it’s the history of unemployment — all of this has impacted how they age,” David Vincent, chief program officer for SAGE, an LGBTQ senior advocacy and services organization, told the Blade. “They often don’t have a community that will take care of them.” Last December, Stonewall House, New York’s first LGBTQ-friendly affordable senior housing, opened to fill the growing needs of this aging generation. This complex follows the model of Philadelphia’s LGBTQ-friendly John C. Anderson Apartments and others like it being established around the country. Vincent pointed out the lingering economic impact LGBTQ seniors continue to live with as a result of being fired for being gay and other discriminatory policies such as the military’s former “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy and the continued ban on open transgender service. Additionally, many faced other forms of harassment, such as arrests and legal restrictions against marrying or adopting children. The result is they are now socially and economically as well as medically vulnerable in their senior years. These historical realities, coupled with the loss of peers during the AIDS crisis, means LGBTQ seniors are particularly vulnerable to isolation and loneliness. This is one factor not mentioned

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in the open letter to U.S. public health officials released on March 11 by more than 100 LGBTQaffirming organizations when assessing the increased risk LGBTQ individuals, particularly seniors, face when confronting the coronavirus. “These are very vulnerable, very low income individuals,” Vincent said. “They come to us not only for socialization … they come to us for a meal.” And this can be a problem in cities with infrastructures stressed by a global crisis. With 950 reported cases so far reported in New York, the state has taken extreme measures, like much of the country, including the closure of LGBTQ community centers that serve as a medical, nutritional and emotional lifeline to many LGBTQ seniors without other support. “In New York City, we run five senior centers,” said SAGE Senior Communications Director Christina Da Costa. “Some of these folks not only depend on the centers for social programming, but also for nutritional purposes. For some, this is the one meal a day they receive.” “When we closed our state centers, we did so with a heavy heart,” Vincent added. “We knew it would impact the social system for our seniors.” But he felt the seriousness of the current situation left them with little choice. “We knew it was detrimental to their health to be in such a large public setting,” he explained. Similarly, in Maryland, Elizabeth Weglein, CEO of the Elizabeth Cooney Care Network, which specializes in LGBTQ-friendly senior services, is facing tough choices during this current crisis. “Social isolation was already the highest risk for seniors, even surpassing heart disease and cancer,” Weglein said. “This forced isolationism is causing unprecedented anxiety.” Weglein told of a senior who called her network to say he had all of the coronavirus

symptoms, but refused any medical care. “After working with him, we realized he was just extremely fearful of having anyone with him and felt all alone at the same time,” she explained. “Ultimately, he is stable and well, but his mental health well-being is unbalanced and stressed due to the current heightened COVID-19 environment.” Mark Segal, an over-65 gay man in Philadelphia who is fortunate to have his husband with him during this period of social restriction for seniors, was surprised when a medical provider discriminated against him in a way that is similar to what gay men faced during the AIDS crisis. “Fear breeds discrimination,” he said, upset by a doctor’s office staff who refused to treat him, or anyone else 65 and over because of what they understood to be CDC guidelines, “but they were wrong.” Segal said he was scheduled to have a nonemergency outpatient procedure to relieve two herniated disks and “a sciatic nerve issue” on Monday. He told the Blade the doctor called him the night before to confirm his appointment. But as a sign of quickly changing situations due to the virus, the doctor’s office called him on Monday morning and abruptly cancelled the procedure. “They told me they weren’t treating anyone over 65,” he said, still surprised. “I asked what about someone who was 64 and in bad health. They said that person would be treated, but not someone who was 65 and in good health … This is age discrimination.” Part of Segal’s hurt arose from memories about doctors decades ago turning patients away because they were gay and assumed to have HIV or AIDS, “Now, they turn me away because I’m old,” said Segal. Continues at losangelesblade.com


NATIONAL Attendee at Miami dance party tests positive for coronavirus An attendee at a fundraising dance party in Miami for the National LGBTQ Task Force has tested positive for the coronavirus, the organization informed participants in a letter shared with the Blade. The organization — best known for its annual “Creating Change” conference — informed attendees of the event Sunday night about the attendee who tested positive for coronavirus via a letter from Rea Carey, executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force. “I was informed that one of our Winter Party Festival guests tested positive for COVID-19 in the week following our event,” Carey said in a news statement Monday. “We are grateful to them for alerting us, particularly given that they were not experiencing symptoms during WPF and had traveled elsewhere, but wanted to make sure we were aware of this development.” The Winter Party, which took place this year March 4 to 10, is a week-long celebration of beach parties and nightclub dancing in Miami. According to the Task Force, the official number of attendees at the event was 5,500 people. It’s unknown how the attendee was infected. The Task Force as of Wednesday morning had yet to report other cases of attendees testing positive for coronavirus. Carey said in the letter “there are many places people could have been exposed before and after Winter Party as this virus has developed.” But coronavirus infection among event attendees doesn’t appear to be isolated to one individual, based on an account of one participant at the event. The attendee, who spoke to the Blade on condition of anonymity, said Monday he had direct exposure to one friend who subsequently tested positive for the coronavirus. “Within my group of friends, 10 or so of us have flu-like symptoms,” the attendee said. “I’ve chatted with acquaintances who in most cases say that they have many sick friends within their groups as well.” CHRIS JOHNSON

Winter Party Miami, in early March, promises endless gay parties in a balmy Florida setting. Photo courtesy the event

Md., Ohio primaries postponed until June Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Tuesday announced the state’s April 28 primary will now take place on June 2. Hogan, however, said the special election to fill the late-U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings’ seat in Maryland’s 7th Congressional District will take place on April 28 as scheduled by mail. “I have two main priorities,” Hogan at a press conference in Annapolis. “Keeping Marylanders safe and protecting their constitutional right to vote.” The governor announced the Maryland State Board of Elections must develop a plan by April 3 to conduct the primary in a way to address coronavirus concerns and prevent further spread of the disease. Kweisi Mfume, a former Democratic congressman and former NAACP president, is competing against Republican Kimberly Klacik to serve out the rest of Cummings’ term that ends in January 2021. In the Baltimore mayoral race, state Sen. Mary Washington (D-Baltimore City), the state’s first openly LGBTQ person of color elected to the Maryland Senate, has suspended her campaign to focus on statewide efforts to combat the coronavirus spread.

Meanwhile, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine defied a court ruling late Monday and announced that the state’s health department would order all polling stations to close for Tuesday’s election to protect voters and staffers from COVID-19, according to media reports. Ohio’s primary will likely be rescheduled for June. Arizona, Florida and Illinois held their primaries this week. Former Vice President Joe Biden swept the contests, giving him a nearly insurmountable lead over last remaining rival Sen. Bernie Sanders. PHILIP VAN SLOOTEN

ICE urged to release those at risk for coronavirus Several LGBTQ advocacy groups on Tuesday called for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to release all detainees in its custody and to close all of its detention centers because of coronavirus. “People in ICE custody are vulnerable to getting COVID-19 given the close proximity of detained people to each other,” reads a press release the Transgender Law Center, the Black LGBTQIA+ Migrant Project, the Black Alliance for Just Immigration and

Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement issued. “ICE officers, guards and other staff are also likely to transmit the virus.” “Worldwide, epidemiologists are advising social distancing as a way to mitigate the spread of the novel COVID-19,” say the groups. “Prisons, jails and detention centers cannot accommodate this advice. Solitary confinement further impedes access to necessary medical care. Given ICE’s history of inadequate treatment and the recent deaths of eight immigrants in ICE custody in the last five months, it is clear that ICE is not ready nor equipped to handle a COVID-19 outbreak in any of its facilities.” Immigration Equality Executive Director Aaron Morris on Tuesday told the Blade during a telephone interview that ICE should release detainees with HIV/AIDS on parole because of the threat of coronavirus. “Any communicable disease that is introduced into a detention facility spreads way faster than in the general population,” said Morris. “People are sandwiched in there. They are over-populated. They have no privacy and that is just a recipe for disaster.” Roxsana Hernández, a transgender Honduran woman with HIV, was in ICE custody in New Mexico when she died on May 25, 2018. Johana “Joa” Medina Leon, a transgender Salvadoran woman who was also living with HIV, died at a Texas hospital on June 1, 2019, three days after ICE released her from its custody. A group of more than two dozen trans women who were in ICE custody at the Cibola County Correctional Center, a privately run detention center in Milan, N.M., in a letter they sent to Trans Queer Pueblo, a Phoenixbased group that advocates on behalf of undocumented LGBTQ immigrants, last summer noted detainees with HIV did not receive “adequate” medical attention. Hernández was in ICE custody at the detention center before her death. The New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator concluded Hernández died from Castleman disease associated with AIDS. Arianna Lint, chief executive officer of Arianna’s Center, a South Florida organization that serves trans women, on Tuesday said ICE should also release trans women with HIV as a way to protect them from coronavirus. “We are at the most risk,” Lint told the Blade during a telephone interview. MICHAEL K. LAVERS

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INTERNATIONAL

Coronavirus devastates LGBTQ travel industry Cruises, flights cancelled as world grapples with pandemic By MICHAEL K. LAVERS The coronavirus has inflicted a serious blow to the LGBTQ travel industry. Atlantis Events, which caters to gay men, has cancelled a cruise on the Celebrity Summit that was scheduled to leave San Juan, Puerto Rico, on March 21, and would have made stops in St. Maarten, Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao before returning to Puerto Rico on March 28. Virgin Voyages has postponed Atlantis Events’ Virgin Caribbean Cruise that was to have departed from Miami on May 31. The cruise was scheduled to sail to Key West, Fla., Cozumel and Costa Maya in Mexico and Bimini in the Bahamas before returning to Miami. Atlantis Events Vice President of Marketing Jim Cone on Monday told the Blade in an email the company’s Club Atlantis Resort in the Mexican resort city of Cancún “is still scheduled to operate as planned” on April 25. Media reports that emerged last week before Atlantis Events cancelled its Southern Caribbean Cruise indicate customers who cancelled their reservations were unable to receive refunds. “We are currently working on accommodating our guests with options relative to cancellations,” Cone told the Blade. “Once we have this updated information I’ll be able to share.” Olivia Travel, a company that caters to lesbian travelers, has a cruise on a Holland America ship that is scheduled to leave San Diego on April 23 and make stops in Santa Barbara; Calif., San Francisco; Astoria, Ore.; and Seattle before arriving in Vancouver on April 29. Holland America has suspended operations through April 14. Olivia Travel Strategic Marketing Director Maggie Beaumier on Monday told the Blade during a telephone interview from San Francisco that “everything is still in flux.”

The iconic Eiffel Tower in Paris is among the world’s many tourist attractions that remain closed. Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers

“We are addressing this trip by trip,” said Beaumier. Beaumier told the Blade that Olivia Travel is also “proactively reaching out to our guests.” “It’s a very complex situation,” added Beaumier. The World Health Organization on Wednesday said there are at least 200,000 coronavirus cases in more than 100 countries. Statistics also indicate the virus has killed 6,606 people around the world, with 1,808 of the reported deaths in Italy. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday announced his country will close its borders to anyone who is not a citizen, permanent resident or an American. Germany, El Salvador and Kenya are among the dozens of other countries that have also their closed their borders in an effort to curb coronavirus’ spread. The State Department on Sunday issued an

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advisory that Americans should “reconsider travel abroad” because of coronavirus. “Many areas throughout the world are now experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks and taking action that may limit traveler mobility, including quarantines and border restrictions,” it reads. “Even countries, jurisdictions, or areas where cases have not been reported may restrict travel without notice.” The State Department on March 9 also urged Americans not to travel on cruise ships. “In order to curb the spread of COVID-19, many countries have implemented strict screening procedures that have denied port entry rights to ships and prevented passengers from disembarking,” reads the advisory it issued. “In some cases, local authorities have permitted disembarkation but subjected passengers to local quarantine procedures. While the U.S. government has evacuated some cruise ship passengers in recent weeks, repatriation flights should not be relied upon as an option for U.S. citizens under the potential risk of quarantine by local authorities.” President Trump last week announced the U.S. will ban foreign nationals from entering the country from Europe and the U.K. for 30 days. The U.S. last month issued a ban on foreigners who had previously been in China and Iran. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also urged Americans to “avoid discretionary travel.” Airlines in the U.S. and around the world continue to cancel flights and waive cancelation fees. Axel Hotels, which caters to LGBTQ travelers, on Monday announced its hotels in Spain and Italy will remain closed through at least April 30. The company on its website says it will provide guests with bookings with a voucher for “the total amount of your booking” that is valid through April 30, 2021. The International LGBTQ+ Travel

Association has postponed its annual convention that was to have taken place in Milan from May 6-9. The LGBTQ travel group on Monday shared a tweet from the Brazilian Association of Travel Agents that urges travelers to postpone their trips. Pride in the Americas, which was to have taken place next month in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is among the myriad events that have been cancelled and postponed because of coronavirus. Officials in Fort Lauderdale and Miami Beach on Sunday announced beaches will remain closed until April 12 and restaurants and bars must operate at 50 percent capacity and close by 10 p.m. Miami Beach officials have also imposed an 11 p.m. curfew in the city’s entertainment district. Hotel Gaythering, a complex in Miami Beach with a gay clientele, on Sunday closed its bar after officials announced the curfew. “It is with a heavy heart and sadness, but we feel that this is the best action we can take to protect our beloved staff and patrons,” reads a statement on the Gaythering’s Facebook page. Bear Tavern PR, a gay bar in San Juan’s Ocean Park neighborhood that reopened eight days after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in September 2017, will remain closed until April 2 because the island’s governor, Wanda Vázquez, has imposed an island-wide curfew and ordered non-essential businesses to close. “The decision is not easy, but we understand it is the best thing for our employees, clientele and country,” wrote the bar on its Facebook page. “It’s important to stop the mode of transmission.” “Puerto Rico has experienced various tragedies in recent years,” adds the post. “We do not want more deaths.” YARIEL VALDÉS GONZÁLEZ contributed to this story


VOLUME 04 ISSUE 12

COVID-19 panic: We need to calm down Seven tips for how to do that

Frank Sanchez, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist. Photo courtesy Sanchez

Taylor Swift’s “You Need To Calm Down” seems to play on a loop in my head. As a clinical psychologist, treating dozens of people paralyzed in panic over the COVID-19 pandemic, I’m thinking it might not be so bad to consider the psychological wisdom in the lyrics of this hit pop song. We also might do well to recall words of President Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Great Depression: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” As the COVID-19 threatens our health, our financial stability, our ability to socialize and connect, it is the anxiety because of the disease that could be more damaging to our health than disease itself. Panic is spreading more rapidly than the actual virus. So, alright, we need to calm down. But how? Here are seven strategies I share with my clients. Limit your television news consumption. I am not suggesting that you should not stay informed. But there is a difference between getting information and being obsessed. Being glued to cable news coverage or your social media feed, with messages about just how bad it is and how it is going to get worse does nothing but fuel our anxieties. Give yourself a limit. I recommend no more than 30 minutes a day. And never watch the news or surf your newsfeed before going to sleep. You never see a headline that says, “Calming News.” It’s always “Breaking,” “Warning,” “Alert”

- all of which make anxious bedfellows in your head as you are trying to get some sleep. Get plenty of sleep. Exhaustion can compromise our physical immune system and our mental health. So, get at least seven hours of sleep each night. Don’t buy into the hysteria. I know this is easier said than done. There is a drumbeat of “lack” and “not enough.” We hear the news that there is a shortage of toilet paper, bottled water and food so people flock to Costco, Walmart, and their local markets to have their worst fears come to life. The drama is alluring. “OMG! There is no Purell! We are all going to die!” I saw one woman in her pajamas frantically throwing items in her cart, terror stricken that someone else might get that last can of Pork ‘N Beans before she did. Breathe. Hysteria breeds hysteria. Avoid the supermarkets and superstores if you can. If you can’t, then make a regular shopping list, go shopping during nonpeak hours, recognize in advance that you may not find what you are looking for today, and be kind to others. Also, ask yourself, why do you feel compelled to go shopping at this moment? Is it a real need or are you propelled by fear? Take inventory. This is a good time to go through our shelves and our freezer and take stock of what we actually have. It will help reduce anxiety to know the facts. “Right now, I have four bars of soap, ten cans of soup, five packs of spaghetti, three frozen chicken breasts and a can of pumpkin pie filling.” Whatever it is, it is real; it is tangible; and that knowledge can be reassuring. It is also a good time to take inventory of the things you have to be grateful for. Taking inventory of the things that you appreciate -- writing a gratitude list is always a good thing. It creates peace of mind. Set a Schedule. Many working in the hospitality industry have been laid off, people are working from home, there is nothing normal about our current experience. Creating and keeping a schedule provides

predictability. Some people react to stress stimuli by shutting down. This “one foot in front of the other” approach helps us keep going. It also helps our minds to stop spinning into a world of imagined “what might be” scenarios that only freak us out. Waking up at a certain time, lunch at a certain time, bed at a certain time helps create certainty in an uncertain world. It is also key to get showered and get dressed in the morning like you would normally do. We are creating behavioral anchors to generate stability and calm. Stay connected. We are social animals. Therefore, social distancing can have devastating consequences. This is especially true for the elderly in the LGBTQ+ community who often feel isolated and alone anyway and may be scared as they hear the warnings that being of a certain age and having depressed immune systems put them at greater risk. Make a list of five to 10 people in your life who are your touchstones to humanity: your best friends, relatives, colleagues from work. Then, add to it, two or three others who might need someone: a friend who just moved away, an elderly neighbor, that guy from your AA meeting. Now, commit to yourself to call them, not texting, but calling, a few times a week just to touch base. Research shows that when we talk to another person and share our stories, the negative psychological impacts of challenging experiences are lessened. This will help you and those to whom you reach out remember we are not alone. Cut yourself some slack. We did not wake up and suddenly become the Dalai Lama, so finding our inner peace in the Coronavirus chaos may elude us from time to time and that needs to be okay. With the COVID-19 pandemic we are navigating uncharted territory and these are anxious times. Our goal is not perfect serenity but taking baby steps toward mental manageability. In other words, we need to calm down.

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Showing our best (and worst) in a crisis Besides a virus, a chaotic White House

Richard J. Rosendall is a writer and activist. Reach him at rrosendall@starpower.net.

Amid the worldwide health crisis caused by the novel coronavirus, encouraging signs include creative responses to event cancellations. Broadway star Laura Benanti tweeted on March 13, “If you were meant to perform in your High School musical and it was cancelled please post yourself singing and tag me. I want to be your audience!!” She suggested the hashtag #SunshineSongs. The result was a delightful assortment of kids’ performances. In Italy, quarantined tenor Maurizio Marchini serenaded his neighbors in Florence by singing Puccini’s “Nessun Dorma” from his balcony. If our short-fingered vulgarian (to use Graydon Carter’s apt phrase) decides to sing from the Truman Balcony to celebrate being virus-free, perhaps he should sing about why we should trust the White House physician. Trump declared March 15 a National Day of Prayer. In the interest of not overloading the Secret Service, it might be best to keep the particulars of our prayers to ourselves. I marvel at the obsequiousness of Mike Pence and other administration officials who assuage Trump’s fragile ego with endless “Dear Leader” hosannas. If you think bullshitting doesn’t get a person anywhere, please tell us how this president got to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. When you read about “dens of discord, with officials with varying portfolios feuding over policy or even simply power and position,” (hat tip to The Washington Post), does it describe some banana republic? Maybe so, but specifically it refers to Pence’s daily task force meetings. Nor is that the executive mansion’s only center of viral activity. Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, with no relevant expertise, has inserted himself into the #CoronaChaos. And with the prez between chiefs of staff, “People just show up in the Oval and spout off ideas,” according to one of the 19 senior administration officials interviewed by the Post. Trump’s inability to admit a mistake, his compulsive lying, and his pathological narcissism are not lapses but character traits. He over-promises, exaggerates, and says, “It’s going to be just fine” after Dr. Anthony Fauci says it’s going to get worse. His Rose

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Garden appearances, as the Post observes, display “the sort of behaviors health experts and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have advised against.” Many businesses, state and local governments, and individuals are addressing transmission risks more seriously. But too many people echo Trump’s denialism. In D.C. on Sunday, the Hill Restaurant Group vowed to defy Mayor Muriel Bowser’s directive restricting bar and restaurant operations. A megachurch pastor in South Florida rejected fear of COVID-19 exposure as “a demonic spirit.” It is easy to say we will get through this, but the pain is unevenly distributed. Those on the lower economic rungs, such as restaurant workers, will suffer most. Chinese restaurants were the earliest targets, due not to rational concerns but to fears that anything or anyone Chinese might be deadly simply because the outbreak began in Wuhan. After weeks of putting his polling numbers ahead of the public health, Trump finally declared a national state of emergency on March 13. He previously refused test kits from the World Health Organization. In 2018, he shut down the National Security Council’s pandemic office, for which he denies responsibility. The Post on Sunday relayed a German newspaper report that Trump was trying to get German biopharmaceutical firm CureVac to develop a vaccine “only for the USA.” CureVac responded by affirming its commitment to “help and protect patients worldwide.” A compromise bill to provide coronavirus relief, which Trump agreed to sign, was passed by the House in the wee hours of March 14 under Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s leadership, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, some of whose Republican colleagues tried to insert anti-choice provisions into the measure, sent senators home for the weekend. As we rise to this crisis, let us keep one eye on helping those most adversely impacted by it, and the other on the Nov. 3 election, when it will be time to send Donald, Mitch, and their heedless, heartless crew home permanently. Copyright © 2020 by Richard J. Rosendall. All rights reserved.


Will the coronavirus make us better? A return to valuing competence and knowledge

Khelil Bouarrouj is an activist who writes about LGBTQ issues.

If we were living in biblical times, the coronavirus pandemic would serve as a lesson on greed, ignorance, and cruelty in the age of Trump. Paid sick leave is essential right now as most Americans have few savings to fall back on, but Trump and the Republicans have forced a compromise on the sick leave mandate that will exempt companies with 500+ employees and give Trump a waiver for employers with less than 50 employees. That leaves only 20% of the workforce with guaranteed coverage. Waivers for small businesses are understandable, but corporate America has massive cash reserves; they also have masses of lobbyists, hence the exemption. This is probably less about short-term profits and more about avoiding a precedent. The conservative Wall Street Journal editorial board worries that the crisis might lead to an expanded “welfare state” with new mandates and urges only temporary relief. That view is probably shared by many company bosses and shareholders. For example, Whole Foods, owned by Amazon, rather than extending the company’s paid sick time, has told its employees to share their paid time off. (And this comes after Whole Foods ended health insurance for part-time employees.) After the coronavirus, will we recognize that we need better protections for workers so that our economy and livelihoods are not severely disrupted whenever we have a public health crisis? Then there’s the pride in ignorance amongst the president’s sycophantic base. These people feel no shame about a reality TV host holding the most important office in the country. Instead, they think it’s a riot that the president is “owning the libs” by dismissing basic facts, floating absurd theories, and expelling career officers in an institutional brain drain they mistake for “draining the swamp.” Their world is upside-down: Trump’s profiting off his properties billing taxpayers, but the real problem is FBI career officers part of a “Deep State” conspiracy to take down their man. Rather than being repulsed, they find Trump’s buffoonery

endearing. The upheaval from this virus is a small taste of what awaits the world if we don’t avert catastrophic climate change. But they mock the science on climate change, and they mocked the concerns over this virus — portraying it as a hoax to harm the president — until denial became too much even for Fox News. To amend Neil deGrasse Tyson’s famous axiom, the tragedy of science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it. The bill for ignorance and ineptitude will eventually come due. After the coronavirus, will we again value competence and knowledge? We will listen to the scientists who are warning us about an even bigger calamity on the horizon? Trump’s ushered in the ugly side of America with a vengeance. The president’s first major act was the Muslim ban, which includes war-torn Syria. Trump has expanded the ban to include Myanmar, where hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims have been displaced due to the regime’s genocidal actions. There are 65 million refugees around the world today; more than at any time since World War II. But Trump repeatedly halved refugee admittance and capped it at 18,000, the lowest level since Congress created the program in 1980. In October, we admitted zero refugees. The president has attacked desperate migrants seeking asylum on the southern border as an invasion. He has separated children from parents and locked them in cages where some have died from medical neglect, including from the seasonal flu. And he has ended a program to let sick immigrants, including children, to stay in the country. After the coronavirus, will we have more empathy for people seeking shelter from war, violence, and disease? Let’s hope for good health, but also that this moment might have salutatory effects. More of us might vote for a competent government this November and start demanding that Congress improve employment laws and support asylum and refugee policies that reflect our better selves.

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THE CITY OF WEST HOLLYWOOD IS WORKING TO ACHIEVE A COMPLETE CENSUS COUNT IN CENSUS 2020. It’s important that we’re all counted in order to ensure our community’s fair share of federal funding for vital services and to determine California’s accurate apportionment in Congress.

AN INITIATIVE OF THE CITY OF WEST HOLLYWOOD IN SUPPORT OF THE CENSUS 2020

Learn more at weho.org/census2020


John Waters won’t get to do the Dinah Filmmaker tapped as first male keynote speaker at postponed event By ED GUNTS

The annual Club Skirts Dinah Shore Weekend in Palm Springs is mostly a lesbian affair, but this year the organizers invited a man to the party. Filmmaker and writer John Waters, whose movies include “Female Trouble,” “Serial Mom” and “Hairspray,” was scheduled to present a stand-up comedy show during the event, written just for the occasion. The title was “John Waters Does The Dinah.” “It just got announced that I am the first male keynote speaker” at the annual gathering, he said during a recent radio interview. “I’m a lezbro!” Organizers of the event announced its postponement last week due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. It was scheduled for April 1-6. The event will now be held Sept. 16-20. An organizer of the event told the Blade that it’s too soon to say who will be in the lineup for September and that Waters is not confirmed as new agreements need to be signed with all talent. If he does appear, Waters said he knows what he’s in for at the event. “It’s like a lesbian Woodstock,” he said on WIYY-98 Rock’s Justin, Scott and Spiegel show in Baltimore. “I mean, they’re dancing topless, drinking, partying, and it’s great.” Named after a singer and TV personality who was popular in the 1940s and 1950s and who lived in Palm Springs (Leonardo DiCaprio bought her house after she died), The Dinah is a music festival and getaway that caters to the lesbian community. Marking its 30th anniversary this year and billed as the largest lesbian event of its kind in the world (even though Shore wasn’t a lesbian), The Dinah typically draws more than 15,000 and features pool parties, dancing, concerts, comedy sets and other activities. It coincides with the annual ANA Inspiration golf tournament in Rancho Mirage, one of the five major championships on the Ladies Professional Golf Association tour and known for many years as the Colgate-Dinah Shore Golf Tournament. Other performers this year were to include: Saweetie, Ally Brooke, Jozzy, Yung Baby Tate, Layton Greene, Madison Paige, UMI, Lion Babe, SWSH and Sophia Messa, as well as comediennes Gina Yashere,

JOHN WATERS was to give the keynote at this year’s Dinah Shore Weekend, which was postponed from April to September. No word yet on whether he will make the rescheduled event.

Dana Goldberg and Dinah Leffert, and a “battle” of regional DJs from queer and lesbian clubs. The complete 2020 lineup and other information is available at TheDinah.com. Past performers have included Lady Gaga, Tegan and Sara, Ke$ha, Katy Perry and Lizzo. Mariah Hanson, organizer of the event, approached Waters after learning that he talked about The Dinah during one of his performances in 2017. “I have always taken a stance that The Dinah is a lesbian event or a queer-women event, but that if you’re best friends with a guy, bring him. I just don’t believe in that kind of separatism. So we always have a few good men at The Dinah,” Hanson said in an Outtake Voices podcast interview with Charlotte Robinson. “I had heard that John Waters was talking effusively

about The Dinah in a show he performed a couple years ago in Palm Springs and I thought, wow, that’s kind of cool, he’s an icon,” she continued. “And I got him on the phone and he was so excited about the possibility of doing a one-man show, The Lezbro Show, specifically for The Dinah. That is the content of this show.” Hanson said she admires what Waters has done for the LGBTQ community and believes it’s fitting to bring him to The Dinah. “I love the messaging of inclusivity and that we can keep a very respectful balance and yet we should every now and then celebrate the men in our lives that make a difference for us,” she said on the podcast. “John Waters is definitely at the top of that apex of men who really care about the community as a whole, who normalize the fringe, who make a really grand statement about being all we can be, exactly as we are.” Waters said in a phone interview with the Blade that he’s honored to be one of the first men asked to appear at a typically all-women event. “I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “I think it’s going to be exciting. I’m proud to have been asked. I’ve always been against separatism. I’m proud to be crossing the barrier.” He said he remembers watching Dinah Shore’s television shows, which were sponsored by Chevrolet, when he was growing up. “I loved Dinah Shore when I was young. She was kind of a square. See the USA in your Chevrolet.” He said he loves the irony that a lesbian-oriented event is named after someone who wasn’t a lesbian. “She wasn’t a lesbian. She dated Burt Reynolds for a while. He looked like a lesbian. Maybe that’s where this got started.” Waters says he’s aware he’ll be in the minority if he appears. “As a proud ‘lezbro’ who’s never been scared of women smarter than me, I’m happy to be the comic relief in a sea of partying, ‘all-girl’ music festival fans,” he said in a statement released with the event’s press materials. “Thanks to The Dinah, I will finally be a true outsider.”

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AUTOS

Cozy crossovers New ’20 models offer sleek design, range of tech features By JOE PHILLIPS

From the pandemic to Wall Street pandemonium, the world is getting scarier by the day. All this talk about hand washing and sani-wipes reminds me of a recent study by the insurance company NetQuote. It noted the average rideshare vehicle has 35,000 times more germs than a toilet seat. Yikes! Luckily, driving your own vehicle doesn’t seem so risky. As for the three compact crossovers I test drove below, all are affordable, reliable and, yes, extremely clean. KIA SOUL $22,000 MPG: 27 city/33 highway Kia certainly has a winning formula with the Soul: Funky, fun-to-drive and super affordable. Completely redesigned this year, this is the thirdgen Soul since it was introduced almost 10 years ago. The design — a big leap from previous versions — is now showier, more like a Range Rover Evoque. Both have a thin strip of wraparound headlights, a snub-nosed hood and a pronounced grille that juts out like Jay Leno’s chin. Yet the heart and soul of the Soul is pure bohemian, with backlit door panels that pulse to the beat of your favorite music. The perky 147-hp engine and precise handling are both a plus. So is the sky-high roof, which allows for plenty of visibility, cargo space and headroom. While the base-model Soul starts at $17,490, splurge a little for the X-Line with its special exterior trim and added safety features. Inside, the techy cabin is trendy and inviting, with dual-zone climate control, smartphone compatibility and a flat-bottomed steering wheel. A 7.0-inch touchscreen comes standard, though a new 10-3-inch widescreen display is available on upper models. Yes, there are a few quibbles: a bit more engine noise than expected and no all-wheeldrive option. But it’s hard to beat such panache at this price. MAZDA CX-3 $22,000 MPG: 29 city/34 highway While the Kia Soul is a hip hauler, the Mazda CX-3 is more of a hot hatchback. It sits low to the ground and has a sexy design that still seems fresh after being introduced a few years ago. Unfortunately,

the severely sloped roof creates cramped rear seating and limited cargo space. But the front seats are soothing and well-bolstered. Overall, the cabin is quiet and upscale, with Bose stereo, smartphone compatibility and steering wheel paddle shifters. A raised infotainment screen in the center of the dash helps keep your eyes on the road, and the power liftgate is a nice touch. Crash-test scores are stellar, and various active safety features are now standard: head-up display, adaptive cruise control, adaptive/automatic headlights, lane-departure warning, blind-sport monitor, forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking. For 2020, the CX-3 is only offered in one trim level and competes with the all-new, slightly larger and more expensive CX30. Translation: This is your chance to snag a great deal on a well-appointed CX-3. TOYOTA C-HR $22,000 MPG: 27 city/31 highway For decades, Toyota played it safe when it came to vehicle design. But with the cutesy C-HR two years ago, the automaker went from mild to wild. The choppy, in-your-face styling gets a slight refresh this year, with a sleeker front bumper, grille and headlights. There’s also an edgier spoiler and wheel treatment, as well as optional silver roof. Inside a new gray headliner helps make the interior feel more spacious. Alas, the pokey engine stays the same. For anyone with a lead foot, this probably means fewer speeding tickets. For me, even though the C-HR is no dynamo, it’s perfectly fine for puttering around town. It also rides smoothly over most road surfaces and fits in the tightest of parking spaces. Gas mileage for the C-HR is also good. What’s most striking is the laundry list of standard features, even on the base model: LED headlights, power/heated side mirrors with integrated turn signals, 8-inch touchscreen, stolen-vehicle locator and more. Other models add more luxe-like features, such as auto-folding side mirrors, puddle lamps and ambient lighting. Basically, what the C-HR lacks in performance, it makes up for in flair, features and fuel efficiency.

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KIA SOUL

MAZDA CX-3

TOYOTA C-HR


MUSIC

Niall’s sophomore solo effort One Direction alum releases middling album anchored by killer title cut By THOM MURPHY Boy bands aren’t meant to last. The Korean group BTS is everywhere at the moment, but eight years ago, One Direction was selling out shows almost instantly and packing concert venues all over the world. Since their hiatus in 2016, the five boys have turned to solo work and this week sees the release of Niall Horan’s sophomore album “Heartbreak Weather,” which debuted at no. 1 spot on Billboard. Of the original One Direction lineup (Harry Styles, Liam Payne, Zayn Malik, Niall Horan and Louis Tomlinson), all have put out solo albums. Harry Styles (as in the One Direction days) remains the most prominent with two solo albums (“Harry Styles” in 2017 and “Fine Line” last year), followed closely in popularity by Zayn, who put out “Mind of Mine” in 2016 and “Icarus Falls” in 2018. Liam’s debut album, “LP1,” was released in December and Louis’ first full album entitled “Walls” came out in January. In many ways, Horan has found a middle road between the most prominent former One Direction members and the least. Unlike Styles and Malik, he was not of the most popular members in the group, both of whom have struggled to break free from their prior association. But he has also managed to stay relevant, unlike Payne and Tomlinson, whose only claim to fame is their association with the group. With the release of his debut solo album, “Flicker,” in 2017, Horan managed to score a number of major hits. The album landed at no. 1 on Billboard and the singles “Slow Hands” and “This Town” are still played relentlessly. “Flicker” is nevertheless a solid if unremarkable album — a safe play for a young artist charting out a solo career for the first time. But as always, the real test comes with the second album. I didn’t have high expectations for “Heartbreak Weather,” an album I feared would be another safe bet and already several years out of date. It only took the first track to change my mind completely. The eponymous single “Heartbreak Weather” and first track on the new album is a fantastic up-tempo pop dance tune that feels like an ’80s tribute. The gated reverb on the drums (that characteristically ’80s drum sound) with the feel-good guitar riff feels pressingly nostalgic, reminiscent of late ’80s pop hits like Belinda Carlisle’s 1987 “Heaven Is A Place On Earth.” Yet the song feels especially ripe for pop music right now. It’s a beautiful, conscious throwback and no doubt the best pop song released this year to date. For Black Mirror fans, it’s quite like the beautifully decorated (with Ryan Murphy-level attention to detail) ’80s tribute of the Series 3 episode “San Junipero” (which uses Carlisle’s song as its theme). So dizzying is the effect of the first track that it is hard to think critically about the subsequent songs. (Odd marketing choice to release “Heartbreak Weather” with the album and to lead instead with more generic singles.) Despite what the cover art leads one to believe — it looks like again ’80s-themed tribute, not unlike the promotional material for the Netflix series “Stranger Things” — the album does not commit to this new direction. Instead, it’s something of miscellany. But not necessarily in a bad way. It gives Horan a chance to show off his versatility. And his raspy baritone (far deeper than his youthful One Direction tenor) rises to the occasion. The next best single, after “Heartbreak Weather,” is “No Judgment,” which has something of an Ed Sheeran flavor. Lead single “Nice To Meet Ya” is a few years past its expiration date, though “Put A Little Love On Me” is a good, piano-

NIALL HORAN, formerly of One Direction, is just out with his second solo effort, which, like his first, went to Billboard No. 1. (Photo courtesy Capitol Records)

driven song. But again, the best of the album is hidden from plain view. “Bend The Rules” is an excellent track with long, effective build up — it sounds like an updated version of a song that could have been written by The Script (think their 2011 album “Science & Faith”). The album is good as a whole, perhaps wobbles at a few points, but when it kills, it kills. With a single like “Heartbreak Weather,” Horan may have set a new course for the year, maybe even the decade.

LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • MARCH 20, 2020 • 23


Profile for Los Angeles Blade

Losangelesblade.com, Volume 4, Issue 12, March 20, 2020  

Losangelesblade.com, Volume 4, Issue 12, March 20, 2020

Losangelesblade.com, Volume 4, Issue 12, March 20, 2020  

Losangelesblade.com, Volume 4, Issue 12, March 20, 2020

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