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Speaker Pelosi on Pride’s 50th anniversary LGBTQ history obscured by COVID-19 and civil unrest
Trans women take legal action against DTLA bar Lisa Bloom files complaint one year after ejection
By KAREN OCAMB
Amid the global coronavirus pandemic and the national civil unrest following the murder of George Floyd by a white police officer in Minneapolis, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a longtime ally of the LGBTQ community, issued a statement to commemorate what should be a massive moment for the LGBTQ community: the 50th anniversary of the peaceful Pride marches commemorating the Stonewall Rebellion. “For 50 years, during Pride Month, the LGBTQ community has marked the anniversary of the Stonewall riots, a turning point in the gay rights movement when LGBTQ Americans took to the streets to demand an end to the systemic violence and persecution inflicted on Speaker NANCY PELOSI at the Los Angeles them and their community. Five decades #ResistMarch June 11, 2017. later, Pride is celebrated around the (Photo courtesy Pelosi for Congress) world as a testament to the extraordinary progress we have achieved in the fight against bigotry and discrimination as well as a vital reminder of the work that remains to finally achieve full equality for LGBTQ people and all Americans,” Pelosi said. “Yet, in too many places, LGBTQ Americans endure continued violence and harassment, particularly trans women of color who suffer a disproportionately high rate of homelessness, drug addiction, HIV, sexual assault and murder. And shamefully, the Trump Administration remains committed to its cruel anti-LGBTQ agenda that has rolledback life-saving protections and undermined decades of hard-won progress,” Pelosi continued. “Despite decades of setbacks and obstacles, the persistent, dissatisfied voices of LGBTQ leaders, activists and allies have advanced the cause of freedom for all Americans by expanding hate crimes protections, repealing the hateful ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy, ensuring marriage equality and passing the landmark Equality Act to finally and fully end LGBTQ discrimination once and for all. Today, and every day, let us recommit to further securing the rights and dignity that all Americans deserve, regardless of who you are or whom you love. Hatred will never defeat pride,” said Pelosi. “Sadly, this year, we observe Pride Month as our nation cries out in pain and suffering,” Trump continued. “The unprecedented coronavirus crisis has inflicted a staggering loss on Americans’ lives and livelihoods while Americans across the country are peacefully marching and protesting to demand an end to the epidemic of police violence that has stolen too many innocent lives in the African American community. This Pride Month, what began in the streets outside the Stonewall Inn over half a century ago must continue to motivate us to demand an end to bigotry, violence and discrimination in all its forms and to secure the blessings of equality and justice that are the right of all people.”
By KAREN OCAMB
Lisa Bloom at a news conference with her trans clients.
It was a shock. Khloe Rios, a program manager at Bienestar Human Services, and a group of trans women and gay men were taking a dinner break at Las Perlas restaurant last Aug. 23 after working the opening ceremonies of the DTLA Pride Festival when a heterosexual couple approached them with anti-LGBTQ slurs. A confrontation ensued as the drunk man threatened to “kill all the faggots.” The group sought help and intersession from restaurant management, Rios told the Los Angeles Blade at the time. Las Perlas management asked the heterosexual couple to leave but then called the LAPD and bar security forcefully ejected the group of trans women and gay men, which Rios caught on video. A representative for Cedd Moses, CEO of the restaurant hospitality group Pouring with Heart which owns Las Perlas, subsequently released a statement on Instagram (@lasperlasla) defending the security staff and offering a financial gift to Bienestar. On May 28, attorney Lisa Bloom announced she was filing legal action on behalf of her trans clients Fernanda Celarie, Jennifer Bianchi, and Khloe Rios. During a Zoom press conference, Bloom said the complaint was the first known challenge to a bar’s liquor license on the grounds that it violated the civil rights of the LGBTQ community, ironically citing . Liquor laws and their “public morals” clauses that had often been used to shut down gay bars. In a press release and the complaint, Bloom describes what happened to the patrons as: “One was placed in a chokehold; another pushed through the door, causing her to stumble down the stairs. Outside, the transphobic man waved a large steel object and again threatened to kill them.” “Harassing, physically accosting and removing transgender women from a bar flies in the face of the principles of equality and respect that California stands for,” Bloom said. “It is an act of public immorality. That’s why we have now filed a complaint with the Alcoholic Beverage Control seeking to have the bar’s liquor license revoked.” Bloom says they have demanded an apology and accountability but neither the bar nor the security company has been forthcoming. For video of bar security forcibly ejecting the trans patroons, as well as full Zoom video of Bloom’s news conference and the full Complaint Against Licensee, go to www.losangelesblade.com.
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Will George Floyd’s murder bring change? Even LAPD showed solidarity with protesters By KAREN OCAMB
Is this it? Could this be the moment when a new generation plants their morality in the fertile mission to eradicate racism? After months grappling with health scares, the economic devastation and lonely, isolated deaths wrought by the coronavirus global pandemic, an avalanche of deeply diverse, mostly masked young people cascaded upon the streets of America chanting “No Justice, No Peace” and “Say their Names.” The eruption was caused by the 8 minute and 46 second videotaped murder of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man who begged Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin to take his knee off Floyd’s neck. Floyd cried out for his mother as other officers pinned him down. “I can’t breathe,” Floyd said, echoing the words of Eric Garner, another black man pinned down and killed in a chokehold by New York City police officers in July 2014. His death was also captured on cellphone video. But it was the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown on Aug. 9, 2014, by white police officer Darren Wilson, in Ferguson, Missouri that roiled the nation for weeks and exposed the cauldron of civil unrest waiting to boil over. Protests in Ferguson were met with heavy militarized police action, almost as if the para-military units had been itching to go to war with their own citizens. After Brown’s killing, a Washington Post investigation revealed that the FBI undercounted fatal police shootings by more than half because police reporting is voluntary and, like hate crime statistics, many police departments fail to report. Since the launch of that investigation in 2015, there have been more than 5,000 police-involved shootings nationally. As of June 2, 2020, 1,028 people have been shot and killed by police in the past year alone, the Post reported. “The rate at which black Americans are killed by police is more than twice as high as the rate for white Americans,” the Post says. But it was actually the murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin on Feb. 26, 2012 that first jolted the country out of its racism coma. Martin was walking home from a convenience store after buying Skittles when cop-wannabe George Zimmerman, acting as a neighborhood watch volunteer touring the Twin Lakes community in Sanford, Fla., called 911 reporting a suspicious Black man in a hoodie. Though he was advised to not engage, Zimmerman subsequently shot the unarmed teen, claiming self-defense under the state’s Stand Your Ground law. Zimmerman was only arrested after protests over racial profiling. Following
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Former officer DEREK CHAUVIN kneeling on George Floyd’s neck, killing him.
an intense trial, he was acquitted on charges of seconddegree murder. Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton shared her feelings about watching Floyd die in a recent interview with ABC News. “I’ve been up and down. There have been times when I just cried,” she said. “When I heard George Floyd yell out for his mother, I cried because I imagined me being his mother, or my son being there and calling out for me and I wasn’t able to help him and he wasn’t able to help himself.” Black Lives Matter was founded on the streets of Los Angeles on July 13, 2013, protesting Zimmerman’s acquittal. Thousands gathered at Leimert Park, then shut down the 10 freeway, the important intersection of Hollywood Blvd. and Highland Avenue and USC. Three days later, out lesbian feminist Patrisse Cullors emerged as a key leader. She had been talking with lesbian Alicia Garza and ally Opal Tometi about how to build a “movement not a moment.” On July 15, 2013, about 30 organizers met at the arts site of St. Elmo’s Village and dedicated themselves to the intersectional struggle for Black freedom under the banner of J4TMLA — Justice for Trayvon Martin, Los Angeles. A few months later they adopted their hashtag #BlackLivesMatter as their identity. “I am part of a legacy of queer black women who have fought for the freedom of Black people across the globe,” Cullors, then-34, told HuffPost on June 11, 2018. ″The first Pride was a riot,” she continued. “We have to look at queerness as a means towards challenging normativity.” The diverse protests around the police murder of George Floyd looks and feels much like the post-John F. Kennedy assassination activism of the 1960s. Exiting the mid-1950s conformity, the civil rights movement carried a heavy weight of grief over the horrendous, brutal Aug. 28, 1955 beating and lynching of 14-year old Emmett Till and the acquittal of his killers. And there was the September 1957 effort by nine black students, known as the Little Rock Nine, who were enrolled at formerly all-white Central High School in Little Rock, Ark. They were a test case of Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark 1954 Supreme Court ruling that separate is not equal in segregated public schools. Gov. Orval Faubus called in the Arkansas National Guard to block the black students from entering the high school.
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Younger generation poised to bring change Later, President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent in federal troops to provide the Little Rock Nine with an escort, drawing national attention to the civil rights movement. Racial animus was as common as breathing, but the murder of Emmett Till and the Sept. 15, 1963 murder of four little Black girls — Addie May Collins, Carol Denise McNair, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Rosamond Robertson — in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Ala., shocked the conscious of white America. For a minute. Lynchings were happening every day and night in 12 states. Civil rights leaders tried to work with President Lyndon B. Johnson on his War on Poverty and demanded both the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. But Jim Crow laws that denied Blacks an education, the right to vote, find and hold down employment had been chiseled into law in the post-Civil War era and remained in place in some white supremacist areas until 1968. Young civil rights allies and anti-Vietnam War movement activists had their racial consciousness raised. A common bond developed, a shared sense of community oppression at the hands of brutal authorities and cultural dictates. With young people leading the way, adorned with makeshift flower tiaras, colorful outfits and love and service spiritually tattooed everywhere, the theme of brotherhood dominated the era’s rebellion against ugly banal bigotry and conservative Red Scare conformity. Closeted white Rev. Malcolm Boyd, for instance, left his heralded career as screen legend Mary Pickford’s producing partner to join the Episcopal priesthood in the early 1950s. By 1961, he was immersed in the growing civil rights movement and participated in a Freedom Ride from New Orleans to Detroit to integrate bus terminals and restaurants. In 1964, he traveled through the Deep South working on voter registration in Mississippi and Alabama with four young black men from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. That Freedom Summer was a moment of loving radicalization, which infused the attendees with countercultural beliefs about coalition-building, personal liberation, empowerment, oppression and the embrace of difference. “Many movements besides civil rights were taking shape, and several of those movements found both their roots and their future leaders in Mississippi that summer [of 1964],” civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis wrote in his memoir Walking With the Wind. “The atmosphere of openness and breaking down barriers that we developed that summer extended far beyond issues of race. They extended into everything from sexuality to gender roles, from communal living to identification with working
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classes. And they live on today.” Lewis continued: “I have no doubt that the Mississippi Summer Project, in the end, led to the liberating of America, the opening up of our society. The peace movement, the women’s movement, the gay movement – they all have roots that can be traced back to Mississippi in the summer of ’64.” Black Panther co-founder Huey P. Newton recognized the intersectionality of oppression and liberation. “We have not said much about the homosexual at all, but we must relate to the homosexual movement because it is a real thing,” Newton said on Aug. 15, 1970 in a speech in New York City. “And I know through reading, and through my life experience and observations that homosexuals are not given freedom and liberty by anyone in the society. They might be the most oppressed people in the society.” That didn’t last. The liberation movements siloed and lost connection as the opportunistic religious right merged with conservative white America to form a loose coalition rooted in repealing Roe v. Wade and promoting Second Amendment gun rights that may have enabled the callous racial shooting spree of the past three decades. But like the Freedom Summer of 1964, this movement seeking justice for George Floyd and initiating real police reform feels different. It feels real, like something really is happening here, even if it’s not exactly clear. “The thing that is most obvious is that people are grieving and they’re mourning and they’re angry and they’ve been angry for a very long time,” BLM’s Cullors told KTLA after the first two nights of protest with looting and suspected agitators. “I just watched the 1992 footage [of the riots after the acquittal of four LAPD officers accused of beating black motorist Rodney King] and this idea that police brutality has ended in Los Angeles or any other city is a false idea. And it’s unfortunately because many of our elected officials are not holding law enforcement accountable so we just keep going through the same cycle.” Cullors said BLM has been working for seven years in LA County “specifically to challenge law enforcement -- both LAPD and the Sheriff’s Department -- for the hundreds of deaths that have happened since 2012. We’re interested in accountability and we’re also interest in a reprioritization of how dollars are spent in our city, in our county.” Indeed, every Wednesday, BLM has held protests outside DA Jackie Lacey’s office demanding accountability for numerous police shootings caught on tape and not prosecuted. (See Jasmyne Cannick’s op-ed on this.) On June 3, thousands joined BLM for a very long protest downtown. “I think that we were able to galvanize people seven years ago to challenge white racism and white supremacy, in particular. But I think in the last four years since Trump
LAPD Commander CORY PALKA, kneeling at West Hollywood/ LA protest June 2. (Screengrab from KABC reporter Veronica Miracle’s video)
has been elected into office, we’re seen the worst kind of white nationalism, the worst kind of white racism – I think that’s impacted people greatly,” Cullors said. “People are demoralized. People feel that they don’t have a leader in office that speaks for them. And this moment – this George Floyd moment — is actually the moment where folks cracked open. “And it’s not just Black communities,” she continued. “I think all communities right now are upset and suffering and I think that’s important because we didn’t have everybody on our side seven years ago. I think we have way more people on our side now. And now we need the elected officials to show up and we need them to do two things: we need them to hold law enforcement accountable and we need them to start prioritizing the
A scene from the LGBTQ solidarity march on June 3. (Photo by Michael Ferrera)
defunding of law enforcement so we can put that money back into our communities.” That has started to happen. On June 2 after the first few days of peaceful protests and nights of looting and clashes with police, LAPD Chief Michel Moore made it clear that he supports the protesters but must also find a way to protect people and property when protesters break the law such as defying the order to disperse after an unlawful assembly has been declared in accordance with the LA curfews. But during a news conference with LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, Moore also told the LA Blade that there was a moment before the violence broke out where a dialogue between protesters and police seemed possible. He is looking for a way to creatively employ community policing for a new normal. At a protest late that afternoon on Sunset Blvd and Laurel Ave, Moore’s vision became reality. LAPD Commander Cory Palka approached a crowd of protesters without his helmet — a sign of peace. Protesters surrounded him and he talked about how his daughter didn’t want him to go to work, fearing he might get a rock thrown at his head as happened to another officer. “I don’t want to be hurt or to hurt you,” Palka said, noting that there were a number of children present.
His sincerity caught some off guard. Everyone laughed when he got the curfew time wrong. Then the crowd started chanting “take a knee,” as a number in front quickly kneeled down. “If I take a knee with you guys will you give me your verbal acknowledgement that this is a peaceful rally,” he asked. They replied with cheers. Palka paused – perhaps wondering what the image of an kneeling LAPD commander would look like. But he did it, bowing his head briefly as if giving a quick prayer, then looking at a young girl in front of him before talking to protesters. “We stand together,” Palka said. “Within the next 30, 40 minutes if you peacefully go out and return to where you came from, I give you my commitment and honor that you will not see police officers in front of you. Fair enough?” An hour later, they dispersed. This might not seem like much, but this once was Daryl Gates’ LAPD. Think Trump’s fake smug toughness, only real, in a crisp uniform and willing to knock heads. Since then, Palka has become a reliable goodwill ambassador to whichever community’s he’s with. Several National Guard and LAPD officers have also taken knees though LA County Sheriff’s deputies have been more stiff.
In fact, in two separate videos, deputies have allegedly fired rubber bullets at running teenagers and three deputies were seen wailing on a protester behind a wall in Hollywood. The coronavirus pandemic, the blatant dictatorial tendencies of Donald Trump and this painful but extraordinary George Floyd moment have cracked open the tombs of silence around racism and a whole host of inequities. And it looks like Garcetti is primed to use the moment to propose a progressive police reform agenda that aligns closely with the demands of community protesters. Now the nitty-gritty work begins, keeping everyone’s eyes on the prize of real full equality and pulling out the roots of the deadly ubiquitous weed of racism killing the kind of garden activists might want to grow during this Freedom Summer. Otherwise, all of this, the marching, the yelling, the hugging, just gets siloed off as yet another hashtag. LA Pride is holding a solidarity march on Sunday, June 14, beginning at 10 a.m. Gather at Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue, near the site where the first-ever permitted Pride parade took place.
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • JUNE 05, 2020 • 07
‘It means giving up some privilege’ Black leaders on how gays can fight racism By CHRIS JOHNSON firstname.lastname@example.org
As anger over the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis continues to rage — with protests, #BlackOut posts on social media and even violence — some are asking what action is needed from the LGBTQ community. The LGBTQ community is no stranger to discrimination — and LGBTQ people who are black live at the intersection of the two communities — but as institutional racism has risen to the fore, what concrete actions can LGBTQ people take, especially white gay men? Black leaders who spoke with the Blade said identifying the intersectionality between the communities is a first step, but acknowledging the systematic problems that enable racism is next. Earl Fowlkes, a D.C.-based black gay Democratic activist, called on the white gay community to “stand in solidarity with the black community to promote the end of racism in our country.” “That means, first of all, to acknowledge racism exists, and I think that’s very difficult for some people to do, and to also recognize every white American benefits from racism in some form, and to acknowledge that,” Fowlkes said. Fowlkes called for empathy and for white gay people to sit down and listen to the issues facing black Americans, which he said “means also giving up some privilege, but in the long haul, we’ll have a better country.” “It means that, for example, to ensure that through public and government funds that the institutions that serve black Americans are funded fully,” Fowlkes said. “Racism has caused inequities around health, social and economic issues, and education.” As an example, Fowlkes said the D.C.-based WhitmanWalker Health is important, but urged contributions to other groups like Us Helping Us, which seeks to improve the lives of gay black men. Fowlkes also pointed out in D.C. during the coronavirus pandemic, 70 percent of the people who have tested positive for coronavirus have been African Americans, although black people make up 42 percent of the population. “It means that you have to put resources in the African-American communities to close the gap of health disparities, and that means to invest money, it means to shift money around that has traditionally gone to large institutions and putting them into the black community,” Fowlkes said. Protests in the days after Floyd’s killing continued throughout the country. In D.C. on Tuesday, despite D.C. Mayor Muriel Bower’s curfew order, peaceful protesters demonstrated at the now heavily fenced-in White House
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Protesters defy curfew order to demonstrate at the White House. (Blade photo by Chris Johnson)
throughout the night. Among the signs they carried read, “Abolish Police,” “Defund the Police,” “Blue Lives Murder” and “White Silence is Violence.” The death of Floyd, who was killed by Minneapolis police officers by asphyxiation, is but one incident in the news generating anger over persistent problems with racism in the United States. Others are the killing of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia; the death of Breonna Taylor in a shooting with police in Louisville; a white woman in New York City calling the police on Christian Cooper, a black gay man who told her to obey the rules in Central Park and leash her dog. David Johns, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, said recognizing the totality of the problem of racist acts is important. “Well-intentioned white gay folks are learning how to say George Floyd’s name, fewer are saying the name of Breonna Taylor,” Johns said. Johns also identified Tony McDade, a black trans man who was murdered by police in Tallahassee, Fla., as a victim of racist police violence. McDade was killed on May 27 when a Tallahassee Police Department officer was responding to a deadly stabbing incident, according to a report by ABC News. Tallahassee Police Chief Lawrence Revell is quoted as saying the police came across McDade, whom he said matched the description of the stabbing suspect. McDade allegedly pointed a gun at the officer, who fatally shot him, Revell reportedly said. Johns said McDade had experiences common for black transgender people, such as past trouble with the law, but
said his death should be recognized. “Tony, less than 24 hours before he was murdered, was a victim of a hate crime,” Johns said. “As a result of him living as a black trans man, he has been incarcerated and has experienced a lot of the things that we know sadly have come to be reflected publicly in the lives of trans folks, which may explain people’s silence, but saying his name is one of the most powerful things people can do at this moment.” With annual Pride celebrations cancelled this year as a result of the coronavirus, John said resources intended for those events “should be invested in organizations that are backed by native, indigenous black queer folks.” “The fact that there are literal fires did not obscure the fact that our country has been on fire for a long time, especially for black trans folks in particular,” Johns said. The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee and President Trump are offering starkly different approaches to the problem, to say the least. Joseph Biden, in a speech in Philadelphia on Tuesday addressing the unrest, said “the moment has come for our nation to deal with systemic racism,” but conceded it may take a generation to achieve. As an intermediate step, Biden identified legislation introduced by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) to ban police from using choke holds, saying Congress should pass it and “put it on President Trump’s desk in the next few days.” “There are other measures: To stop transferring weapons of war to police forces, to improve oversight and accountability, to create a model use of force standard — that also should be made law this month,” Biden said. “No more excuses. No more delays.” Trump, who has faced criticism over Floyd’s death and for forcibly removing protesters in Lafayette Square to arrange a photo opportunity at St. John’s Church, has yet to articulate a vision for the national issue. During an interview on “Fox & Friends” Wednesday morning, Trump said “police departments have to do better” when asked about distrust of police in the black community, but didn’t identify what that should be, according to CBS News reporter Weijia Jiang. A dark side of the unrest is the violence, destruction of property and looting that have occurred throughout the country concurrently with the protests. In D.C. the headquarters for the AFL-CIO and the historic St. John’s Church were set on fire, and U.S. monuments and private property were damaged and defaced. CONTINUES AT LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
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OK, you’ve marched in the street. Now what? We need more concrete actions in wake of another killing As a Black woman, I get it — the collective anger and rage after watching the killing of yet another Black man by the police. I, too, have witnessed how the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has touched off a new firestorm of protests against police killings of Black people around America. But when this round is all said and done with, when everyone has gone home, when the media has stopped their over-sensationalized tone-deaf coverage — what are we left with? A week — maybe two — before we wash, rinse, and repeat the cycle with a new video, a new dead Black body at the hands of the police and a new name to mourn. In 2020, it’s not enough for police chiefs to fire the police officers involved in these egregious situations. This generation is no longer pacified by lip service. What we demand is that those police officers who recklessly and with no regard for human life kill Black and brown people face the same criminal charges any civilian would in the same situation. But the reality is, protesting will only get us so far. To effectuate any kind of long-lasting change in this country when it relates to human and civil rights it has almost always required one of two things — a court ruling or legislation. Facts. There are serious conflicts of interest at the heart of our criminal justice system. The solution? From state to state, county to county, it’s time to remove the decision on whether or not to prosecute police officers involved in disputed police killings out of the district attorney’s office once and for all and create an independent prosecutor’s office. Independent prosecutors don’t take money from police unions and should not be appointed by people who do or anyone who is elected for that matter. Now granted, even with an independent prosecutor’s office, not all force is going to be deemed excessive, and not all fatal shootings are going to dictate criminal charges be filed against the officer involved. But with the removal of any conflict of interest, the public can have faith in the process and an unbiased investigation. That doesn’t exist currently.
As long as prosecutors, elected sheriffs, local and state lawmakers — both Democrats and Republicans — are the recipients of obscene amounts of money from police unions, they will continue to be reluctant to push for any meaningful change when it comes to prosecuting police officers. In Los Angeles, police unions have donated over $2.2 million to help re-elect the current district attorney Jackie Lacey. The Los Angeles police union alone chipped in over $1 million dollars. (Full disclosure: I used to work for a police union.) Lacey, who oversees the largest prosecutor’s office in the U.S., has been under fire for her eight-year record of failing to prosecute police officers involved in controversial fatal shootings and excessive use of force cases. And that’s just the district attorney. Police unions have their tentacles spread far and wide. From city hall to the legislature in every state — it’s the reason why lawmakers do very little other than pay lip service and create powerless commissions in response to the cries for justice from their constituents. There are only one of two ways we’re going to get independent prosecutors — legislation to create and fund the office in each state or direct democracy. But it’s up to the people to fight for what they want to happen. As a political strategist, I’m all about the end game — how do we make long-term change after the protests so that future generations don’t have to pick up this mantle of fighting police brutality and killings? This fight against police accountability — whether it be the sheriff, constable, watchmen, slave patrol, or slave overseer — has been a burden to every generation of Black people since the first one of us was pushed off the ship that brought us here. Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results. Complaining does not work as a strategy. If the prosecution of police officers is truly what the protesters want, then it’s time to get out of the street and participate in civic engagement and change the law. It’s time to either vote the people out of
JASMYNE A. CANNICK is a political strategist, journalist, and media commentator in Los Angeles. Find her online at iamjasmyne.com.
office who won’t take on the police unions or circumvent them altogether and take it straight to the ballot. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy — but then again neither is watching police officers who commit blatant murder walk away and retire from the job with their pension intact. Some of the politicians who take the police union’s money are our friends, people we voted for — African American themselves. It’s time to get off the fence. Consider this, it’s been 50 years of marching, chanting, and protesting and we’re still fighting the same fight. Believe me when I tell you that the police unions are counting on y’all to stay out in the streets protesting. At the end of the day, all of those protests are helping their members make out like fat cats from the overtime they’re being paid. Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Lauryn Hill once said, “See fantasy is what people want, but reality is what they need. And I just retired from the fantasy part.” If the same people in the streets of America protesting over George Floyd’s death put their money where their mouth is, pooled their resources, and showed up on Election Day, they could have had the change they’re calling for.
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM JUNE 05, 2020 • 09
LA Pride changes course, announces June 14 Solidarity Protest March Event’s 50th anniversary celebration reborn on Hollywood Boulevard By JOHN PAUL KING
Since Christopher Street West announced the postponement then cancellation of this year’s landmark 50th annual LA Pride in early May, we’ve been left to wonder if they would find a way to safely celebrate this important community occasion in the world of COVID-19; but with their announcement last week of the city’s first-ever televised Pride celebration, we thought the wondering had come to an end. We were wrong. CSW — the non-profit group that organizes the annual LA Pride Parade and Festival — last Friday dropped the news of its plan to televise the “LA Pride 50th Anniversary Celebration,” presented in partnership with popular SoCal television station KABC and scheduled to air live on ABC7 June 13. In addition, CSW announced it would, through a new multi-year partnership with iHeartMedia Los Angeles, kick off Pride Month with an “#iHeartLAPRIDE LGBTQ+ celebration,” aimed at bringing Pride to the comfort of individual’s homes virtually and across social platforms throughout June and beyond. It was the long-awaited revelation of Pride’s virtual path forward in its all-important milestone year. But over the weekend, that path took an unexpected turn. By Monday (the first day of Pride month), our city – and the nation – had undergone an upheaval due to the protests over the brutal murder of George Floyd. The tone had changed; suddenly, the idea of a joyous celebration commemorating LGBTQ+ progress in the fight for equality seemed hard to reconcile with the solidarity that felt imperative for us to display. That morning, GLAAD issued a statement from President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis, invoking “the spirit of Pride” in a pledge to devote Pride month to “centering and lifting up” Black LGBTQ voices. “There can be no Pride if it is not intersectional,” wrote Ellis. “We are Together in Pride.” That same evening, and presumably in the same spirit, the CSW Board voted to approve a way for LA Pride to stand in solidarity with the Black community. On Wednesday morning, the organization announced that despite having “previously cancelled all in-person
A generic promotional ad for LA Pride’s June events. (Courtesy LA Pride)
events due to COVID-19,” it would hold “a solidarity protest march in response to racial injustice, systemic racism, and all forms of oppression.” The event, according to CSW’s statement, will allow participants to “peacefully assemble” for “a protest in solidarity with the Black community.” Scheduled for Sunday, June 14 – the same day the LA Pride Parade would have been held – the protest will begin at Hollywood and Highland in Los Angeles, “near the site where the first ever permitted Pride Parade took place,” and then proceed in a march to West Hollywood ending at the intersection of San Vicente and Santa Monica Boulevards. The statement also included comments from Estevan Montemayor, President of the CSW Board of Directors: “Fifty years ago Christopher Street West took to the streets of Hollywood Blvd in order to peacefully protest against police brutality and oppression. It is our moral imperative to honor the legacy of Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, who bravely led the Stonewall uprising, by standing in solidarity with the Black community against
systemic racism and joining the fight for meaningful and long-lasting reform.” In announcing the protest, CSW reminded protestors to follow California Department of Public Health recommendations that “participants engaging in the march should wear face coverings at all times.” Some voices online asked CSW to seek endorsement for their plan from Black Lives Matters. The organizers had previously announced they were scheduling the city’s first televised Pride Celebration, through CSW’s ongoing partnership with KABC, to air June 13. But new dates will soon be announced. The “LA Pride 50th Anniversary Celebration” will be a 90-minute primetime special exclusively on ABC7, a virtual event honoring the Pride journey and celebrating the central role of the LGBTQ+ community in the culture and history of Los Angeles. It will spotlight local Queer culture through historical vignettes and in-depth interviews with unsung heroes and community activists, and will include never-before-seen footage of iconic moments, dating from “the first-ever permitted Pride parade on Hollywood Blvd. to last year’s unforgettable floats along Santa Monica Blvd. in West Hollywood,” that will “bring to life all the achievements LA’s LGBTQ+ community throughout the years.” CSW and LA Pride co-founder Rev. Troy Perry will serve as Community Grand Marshal for LA Pride 2020, with Project Angel Food as Organizational Grand Marshal. The celebration promises a hefty lineup of celebrity participants, with performances and appearances scheduled by Alex Newell, Amara La Negra, Asher Entertainment ft. The House of Ninja, Bob the Drag Queen, Carson Kressley, Erika Jayne, Greyson Chance, Hayley Kiyoko, Jake Borelli, Jordy, Justin Tranter, Lance Bass, Lee Daniels, Leslie Jordan, Megan Hilty & Brian Gallagher, Mj Rodriguez, Neve Campbell, Sandra Bernhard, Shea Diamond, The Pussycat Dolls, Trixie Mattel (presented by Virgin Fest at Rocco’s), and the cast of the upcoming Hulu series, “Love Victor.” It will also feature local businesses and non-profits – and Drag Queens, of course – with more participants to be announced. CONTINUES AT LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • JUNE 05, 2020 • 11
Reworking the rainbow U.S. cities think outside the box for Pride 2020 amidst pandemic By KAELA ROEDER
Pride festivals around the U.S. have been moved to virtual platforms, postponed or canceled altogether due to the coronavirus and social distancing requirements. Because many events are being moved online, LGBT people and allies now have the option to attend Pride events all over the country. Some organizations have opted for an extensive list of events for the entire month of June — such as Houston, Seattle and Los Angeles — while others have postponed the festivities or completely canceled events for the year, like Phoenix and Philadelphia. New York City: The “NYC Pride Special Broadcast Event” is Sunday, June 28, from noon2 p.m. EST. This broadcast on ABC7 will feature performances by Janelle Monáe, Deborah Cox, Billy Porter, Luísa Sonza and others. The grand marshals of this year’s NYC Pride include writer and producer Dan Levy, The Ali Forney Center and LGBT activists Yanzi Peng and Victoria Cruz. This year, NYC Pride “is committed to saluting front-line workers.” For more information, visit nycpride.org. San Francisco: The “S.F. Pride 2020 Online Celebration” will be held on Saturday, June 27 from 1-9 p.m., and Sunday, June 28 from 2-7 p.m. PST. The virtual event will include performances from celebrities, speeches from LGBT activists, DJ sets and drag performances. Learn more at sfpride.org. Phoenix: The “40th Annual Phoenix Pride Festival” has been delayed to be celebrated in-person on Nov. 7-8. The festival is expected to have 150 entertainment performances and over 300 exhibitors displaying food, shopping and community resources. Learn more at phoenixpride.org. Dallas: The “Dallas Pride 2020” board of directors has announced the event is going virtual and programming and dates are to be determined. Learn more at dallaspride.org. Houston: The “2020 Houston LGBT+ Pride Celebration” in-person events have been moved to fall with dates to be announced. But there are several virtual events throughout the month of June, such as a Pride film festival on June 20 at noon, the “Rights of Human” conference with breakout sessions and presentations focused on transgender rights, 12 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • JUNE 05, 2020
immigration rights and more, “Pride Stars,” an LGBT talent competition and many other digital functions. Learn more at pridehouston.org. Philadelphia: “Philly Pride” organizers have canceled the PrideDay Parade and Festival, and no virtual events have been scheduled. “OutFest,” an LGBT film festival scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 11, is still tentative. Learn more at phillygaypride.org. Chicago: The Northalsted Business Alliance will host “Boystown’s Virtual Chicago Pride Fest” on June 20-21 from 7-9 p.m. CST streaming on the platform Twitch. The event will feature a lineup of entertainment and speeches from LGBT activists. The event is free but will be accepting donations benefitting the Center on Halsted, an LGBT community center, and Howard Brown Health, and LGBT health services center. Learn more at northalsted. com/pridefest. Seattle: Seattle Pride has a series of events planned throughout June, like Pride book clubs in partnership with the Museum of Pop Culture and “Sans Bar Where You Are” hosted by DRY Soda & Sans Bar on June 19 at 5 p.m. PST on Facebook Live featuring drag queen karaoke and a panel discussion on the issues of sobriety in the LGBT community. There are also events for a younger crowd: “Youth Pink Prom & Pride 2020” hosted by Lambert House on Saturday, June 27 from 5-11 p.m. is specifically for ages 13-22 on the gaming platforms Minecraft Java Edition and Discord. Learn more at seattlepride.org. “Trans Pride Seattle” organizers have scheduled virtual events for June 26-28, featuring live performances, workshops and film screenings with more details to be announced. Learn more at transprideseattle.org. Portland: Portland Pride has scheduled virtual events throughout June. The Portland Pride Virtual Festival will take place on Saturday, June 13 from 4-6:30 p.m, featuring performances from local artists, speeches from elected officials and local LGBT organizations. Organizers will stream a recording of the 1999 Portland Pride Parade on Sunday, June 14 from 11 a.m.1 p.m in “Parade Like it’s 1999!” Other events include karaoke events and performances from local drag queens. Learn more at portlandpride.org.
‘It’s gay Pride, fool!’ Discovering my first Pride in LA changed me forever
BRIAN WENKE is executive director of the It Gets Better Project.
I was 17 years old when I came out to my mother. We were watching TV. As she adjusted the pillows during a commercial break, I blurted out, “mom, I’m gay!” She froze as she was tucking a pillow between her legs and stared at me for what felt like an eternity. Her face softened a bit, and she said, “I support you, and I love you no matter what…but, I am afraid for you. The world is a scary place for gay people.” I am afraid for you. It was an unintentional punch to the gut, and it stuck with me for years. But, I understood her concern. It was a dark time for gay men. HIV infection rates were on the rise, and the disease was
quickly becoming a leading cause of death for young men. Everyone was afraid, and it was a dominant feature of my coming out experience. It took me what seemed like a lifetime to acknowledge my sexual orientation and many more years to feel safe with the physical expression of it. The next few years were difficult. I grappled with my own internalized homophobia and depression, but I persevered by clinging to a shred of hope that there was meaning to be found. And, sure enough, it was – and it landed on my lap in California. I discovered Pride in 1997. I had recently
moved to Los Angeles and found an apartment on the edge of West Hollywood. As June approached, I noticed an upswing in activity all around me. Businesses were hanging rainbow flags and signs with messages of support for residents. During a local happy hour, I asked a bartender what it was all about and was flashed a look of shock before he responded with a laugh, “it’s gay Pride, fool!” It was the beginning of a tidal change in my life. I stumbled into the meaning I was looking for. I compare my first Pride experience to Dorothy stepping out from her black and white life in Kansas into the technicolor world of Oz. There was beauty, weirdness, and joy all rolled up into a giant celebration of life. It was overwhelming, but it gave me a profound sense of community. It opened me up to the simple fact that I was not alone. There were others, just like me, who fought or were fighting their own battles to own and celebrate their worthiness. Pride was the forum I needed to release my fear, to fill the reserves of hope, and to embrace my true self in the company of others doing the exact same thing. I now get to help other young LGBTQ+ people find the joy in their personal journeys through the work of the It Gets Better Project, a nonprofit dedicated to uplifting, empowering, and connecting LGBTQ+ youth around the world. I reflect daily on how my life has unfolded, and I feel truly blessed to have the means to bring community to young LGBTQ+ people every day. Coming out is tough, but no one has to do it alone. Whether online or in-person, Pride has the power to connect all LGBTQ+ people to a deeper sense of meaning for themselves and their community. For more information and to support the work of the It Gets Better Project, visit www.itgetsbetter.org.
A scene from last year’s LA Pride.
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM JUNE 05, 2020 • 13
Gaga just so-so on new album ‘Chromatica’ Indigo Girls shine on new album By JOEY DiGUGLIELMO email@example.com
Lady Gaga Chromatica (1/2 out of four) Streamline/Interscope Although Lady Gaga has never had an out-and-out bomb, she lost her footing a bit with her 2013 album “Artpop.” Her fans point to its decent chart performance (it debuted at no. 1 and went platinum) and say that’s more perception than reality, but she was starting to experience a law of diminishing returns. The danceclub hits and outrageous fashion upon which she built her brand, didn’t resonate the same way five years into her career. She wisely recognized that and veered hard left making an album with Tony Bennett (of all people; 2014’s “Cheek to Cheek”), recapturing the pop culture zeitgeist with movie debut “A Star is Born” (pleasantly, she actually can act) and go mellow and subdued with her last studio album, 2016’s more singer/songwriter-oriented “Joanne.” “Chromatica” (out May 29) is her official return to form. It all goes down breezily enough — it’s an easy, catchy listen — yet it’s also not quite the reclaiming of the pop diva throne she clearly
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intended it to be. It’s good, not great; her fans will love it and it will make a respectable chart dent but creatively she’s painted herself into a corner. You can’t build a whole career on stunt casting — the meat dress! the Tony Bennett duets! “American Horror Story”! a “normal” album from kooky Gaga! Eventually you have to return to the business of doing what it is you supposedly do and a decade in to her admittedly impressive career, it feels like she’s reaching the bottom of her bag of creative tricks. “Chromatica” suggests to me we’ll look back on her in 50 years more as a Petula Clark (the singer of a decent string of era-defining standards)-type figure rather than a Bette Midler or, heck, even a Kelly Clarkson. Gaga takes the “Confessions on a Dancefloor” approach her — there’s not a ballad in the batch. Track after track — first single “Stupid Love,” “Plastic Doll,” “Replay” and dozens more — are full of big, luscious, vaguely ’80s-tinged club beats courtesy of producer BloodPop (Justin Bieber, Britney Spears), et. al., and melodies that take advantage of her impressive set of lungs. The lady can sing — nobody is arguing otherwise. But it all gets a little samey sounding by the album’s end and a trio of orchestral interludes (dubbed “Chromatica,” “Chromatica II” and “Chromatica III”) sound like they were yanked off some poor man’s Ralph Vaughan Williams imitation attempt and tacked on for contrast and gravitas. They backfire though, sounding like ludicrous non sequiturs. Lyrically there’s nothing terribly interesting happening but the guest spots — Ariana Grande on second single “Rain on Me,” K-pop girl group Blackpink on “Sour Candy” and Elton John on “Sine From Above” — work slightly better than you’d think. She doubles John’s vocal an octave above to pleasant effect. Glammy, campy (but fun!) final song “Babylon” had me picturing the “Queer as Folk” cast on the dancefloor. Indigo Girls Look Long (1/2) Rounder Records It’s easy to take the Indigo Girls for granted. Although it’s been five years since their last studio album (2015’s “One Lost Day”), they keep busy with constant (preCOVID-19) touring, regular solo outings from both members (Emily Saliers and Amy Ray, both lesbians) and even a live symphony album “Indigo Girls Live with the University of Colorado Symphony Orchestra” (2018). Their new album “Long Look,” (May 22) however, is a pleasant reminder that not only are they greater vocally than the sum of their parts — their harmonies are truly heavenly — their songwriting is so assured and mature, they’re doing some of their best work now ages after aging (sadly) out of commercial relevance. John Reynolds, who also produced their 1999 album “Come On Now Social,” is back at the reins. Standout cuts are the groovey, swampy opener “Shit Kickin,’” dance-around-the-campfire-esque “Howl at the Moon,” the plaintive title cut (in which they sound vocally as lovely as Emmylou Harris) and sonic curveball “Favorite Flavor.” Musically overall, this is Americana. Topics are lyrically varied. “Feel This Way Again” is an urge to teens to savor emotions, album closer “Sorrow and Joy” is a well-crafted examination of ‘80s-era politics and it varies outward from there. Only occasionally (the chorus of “Flavor” or the slightly cloying “Country Radio”) do things feel a tad forced.
Losangelesblade.com, Volume 4, Issue 23, June 5, 2020