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LA Pride endorses BLM, PAGE 07

Darnell Moore on today’s ‘storm within a storm’

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LOCAL

Darnell Moore on feeling this moment’s ‘storm within a storm’ ‘To be Black and queer is to always be out of breath’ By KAREN OCAMB

Presidents can set or erode national standards. Andrew Johnson’s Reconstruction reversed freedoms for formerly enslaved people after the Civil War and Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. Woodrow Wilson’s praise for D.W. Griffith’s “Birth of a Nation” rejuvenated the Ku Klux Klan and legitimized terrorist white supremacy, Jim Crow laws, and lynching as the evil banality of systemic racism. President Lyndon B. Johnson, on the other hand, refuted his southern cronies, signed two landmark civil rights bills and announced “We Shall Overcome” to a shocked Congress. Today, there could not be a more profound moral and policy distinction between Donald Trump’s callous and cruel promotion of white supremacy and the fake machismo it inspires and the smart, heartfelt vulnerabilities evinced by Barack Obama, who lifts up caring and empathy as character strengths to be shared communally. Obama also thinks that inculcated toxic masculinity can be deadly in depriving Black men and boys of their human right to feel. Eliciting Obama’s vulnerability during a virtual town hall was queer activist and intellect Darnell Moore, author of  “No Ashes in the Fire: Coming of Age Black & Free in America,” a 2018 New York Times Notable Book. Acclaimed trans writer Janet Mock has said of him: “Darnell Moore is one of the most influential black writers and thinkers of our time.” Moore, a writer-in-residence at the Center on African American Religion, Sexual Politics and Social Justice at Columbia University, facilitated the June 5 intergenerational conversation sponsored by the Obama Foundation’s My Brother’s Keeper Alliance. He urged the panel to open up about the anguish of systemic racism felt by Black men and boys, especially in light of the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and “the loss of far too many Black lives to list.” “This conversation is meant to be intimate, communal and also a space for Black men, men of color to experience and model vulnerability,” Moore said. This moment is an “unprecedented time” of global pandemic and racial violence. “We are in what might be best described as a ‘storm within a storm.’ So many of us are not OK.” Obama shared how he was bereft of words in 2015

Darnell Moore Photo by Paul Stewart

after a white supremacist killed nine churchgoers during Bible study at Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. He felt his words after other mass shootings, including Sandy Hook, had not made an impact. But when the churchgoers forgave “this misguided hateful young man,” Obama focused on their grace. “It was their strength, not my strength that I was relying on. It was their grace that bathed me in grace,” Obama said. “Usually, when I’m overwhelmed, discouraged angry, depressed, what has lifted me up is when I don’t feel alone and I can connect what is going on with me to what is going on with us,” he continued. “It is a profound thing when you are able to recognize that whatever is happening to you, whatever you’re going through, it’s not just about you. And you’re not the only one going through it and that usually ends up being a source of power and sometimes you can turn pain into joy as a consequence.” Moore noted that “community healing requires

community. Community requires all of us,” adding that “our idea of community has to be so wide, so expansive.” And that means that “all Black lives matter, whether those Black folks show up as straight or LGBT.” Longtime civil rights activist, Rep. John Lewis, who has been battling Stage 4 pancreatic cancer, said he’s been incredibly inspired by the young marchers. Lewis was 25 on March 7, 1965, when he helped lead a march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama to commemorate Jimmie Lee Jackson, fatally shot 17 days earlier by a white state trooper as Jackson protected his mother during a civil rights protest. On what became known as “Bloody Sunday,” white police charged the 600 demonstrators on horseback and on foot, wildly swinging their billy clubs. Police cracked Lewis’ skull during his beating, captured by TV news cameras. “It’s all going to work out. But we must help it work out. We must continue to be bold, brave, courageous, push and pull, ‘til we redeem the soul of America and move closer to a community at peace with itself,” Lewis, a longtime LGBTQ ally, told Moore and the panelists. “But no one, no one, will be left out or left behind because of race or color or nationality.” Moore agrees. “I’m energized by the groundswell of people who are responding in this moment,” Moore told the Los Angeles Blade by phone on Sunday, June 7. “I’ve been describing it as a ‘storm within a storm.’ We are at once within the context of a pandemic that has devastated, in very real ways, people’s lives the way that we are typically a community. “But also,” he continues, “I think it’s important to think about the ways the pandemic, particularly within the context of the US, revealed what had already been -- and that is structural inequities like anti-Black racism, the class division, and also the impact of economic disparity on women of color and girls of color and trans folks.” All the old structural inequities have been exacerbated. “Even in a pandemic, we had Black and LatinX and Native American folk who were disproportionately testing positive and also dying,” he says. “And in the midst of all of that, we have continued forms of racial violence — both at the hands of law enforcement and at the hand of white CONTINUES ON PAGE 4 LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • JUNE 12, 2020 • 03


LOCAL

Moore: ‘Community healing requires community’

Screen grab of Darnell Moore moderating a panel for the Obama Foundation.

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 3

vigilantes — that ended in the deaths of Black people, like Ahmaud Aubrey, George Floyd and Breonna Taylor,” (for whom they held a moment of silence on what would have been her 27th birthday). Moore also feels the pressure of being LGBTQ. “For me, to be Black and queer within the context of this moment is to really always be sort of out of breath,” Moore says. “To see people in this way, take to the streets, to speak back the power, to express themselves, to organize, both on the ground and virtually, to contend with all of the things that are not right, the racism that we breathe like air within the concept of the country, the white supremacist ideology. And not ideologies. But also laws and regulations and policies, and the way that we have resourced government instrumentalities, like

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law enforcement, in ways that have done harm to Black communities. “So, in some ways, I have been overwhelmed — overwhelmed by the incessant deaths that we are confronted with, murders and killings. Overwhelmed by having to watch videos of folk being killed by law enforcement or chased down by white vigilantes. Tired and exhausted, emotionally and psychically exhausted of having to see that. And also exhausted because it often takes videos, evidence for many folks who are not directly impacted — in this case, for a lot of white folks — to even see this as a reality that they should also be linking themselves to, fighting on behalf of.” But, Moore says, “empathy has its limits. We should never have to list a litany of black deaths in order for people to feel.” Moore feels energized but “I’m also feeling the

JUNE 12, 2020 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM

complicated feelings of what it means to be in a moment that feels like a time loop. These iterations are part of a long struggle for black freedom that didn’t just start today. It didn’t start at Black Lives Matter, with the movement for Black lives of 2014. It didn’t start with Trayvon [Martin]. “It started the moment Black people were brought here as enslaved people — and that fight has been perpetual,” Moore says. “We shouldn’t have to fight so damn hard for a freedom that this country says it puts its belief in.” Moore says he’s energized by people speaking up. “And I’m energized by the folk who are committing to a process of self-reckoning — a practice of self-reflective analysis that is not only around analyzing all of the systems that we need to contend with, but folk who are saying, ‘Actually, let me take this mirror and turn it on itself as a white person. Let me examine the extent that I have put my face in whiteness. Let me think about the ways that I have —as non-queer people, right? — let me think about the ways that I have breathed this air of queer and homo antagonism and trans antagonism so cavalierly,’” he says. “What I love to see is when people get galvanized and pulled into movements like this and are able to assess themselves and do the work on self as a part of also transforming our world,” says Moore. “There’s a way, that in this country, to seem progressive, one of the formulas for that is to always be able to name whose feet are on our neck, right? We are good at naming the ways that we might be experiencing harm or impacted by oppression,” he continues. “But the work in this moment is about naming the necks that our feet are on. And after having done that work, taking your feet off. That to me is what equity looks like,” says Moore. Moore is now interested “in folk talking less, not pandering to the moment, not doing public relations stuff by putting up a Black Lives Matter tag or a black box in a Instagram post, or even naming it,” he says. “We’ve got to go beyond the words. We need action. And that action is about changing systems — but it’s also changing a self. And when I can begin to see that, that’s when I think I can be a bit more hopeful.” Read more of Moore’s interview at www.losangelesblade.com.


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LOCAL

Will CSW/LA Pride survive? CSW, Black LGBT community controversy points to cultural revolution By KAREN OCAMB

The deep-seated racism exposed by the coronavirus pandemic and the slow chokehold murder of George Floyd by a white Minneapolis police officer has had a political and cultural impact globally. The country will probably know soon if the massive protest marches are contributing to what looks like an earlier than expected beginning of the second wave of COVID-19. On June 10, for instance, Los Angeles County Public Health announced 1,275 confirmed new cases, bringing the total in the county to 67,064 confirmed positive cases with a total of 2,768 deaths. Just a little over two weeks earlier, the nation gasped as the New York Times marked “a grim milestone” in the outbreak: the names of almost all of the 100,000 lives lost to COVID-19. By June 10, the death toll jumped to 114,000 with no fanfare; with 2.04 million confirmed cases in the United States. The number of deaths globally passed 412,000. The Trump administration no longer holds daily briefings on the coronavirus. But speaking at a virtual conference held by the Biotechnology Innovation Organization on June 9, Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious diseases, said of the coronavirus pandemic: “In a period of four months, it has devastated the whole world. And it isn’t over yet.” The economic and health impacts of the virus in the Black and Brown communities go beyond the devastating numbers, compounded by Floyd’s senseless death. In fact, the reaction to Floyd’s death has sparked what some have cautiously called a “revolution,” given the mass intergenerational and diverse protests, the abrupt cultural and political shifts, and the real possibility of significant police reform. One LGBTQ cultural institution that is hanging on by a thin thread is Christopher Street West, which would be celebrating its 50th anniversary of LA Pride had not some “missteps” occurred that roiled some leaders in the LGBTQ Black community. Since West Hollywood has prohibited large in-person gatherings until late December – but spontaneous inperson, mostly masked protests against racism were occurring around Los Angeles, two young Black gay leaders — CSW Board Treasurer Gerald Garth and club promoter Brandon Anthony – came up with the idea to hold a CSW/LA Pride solidarity march to support Black

Lives Matter. They intimated in their initial announcement that they had the approval of Black Lives Matter, which they did not. That infuriated several Black LGBTQ leaders. “CSW’s initial announcement that it would organize a Black Lives Matter solidarity march to protest racial injustice, systemic racism, and all forms of oppression — except for their own,” says longtime lesbian Black activist and politico Jasmyne Cannick, prompting her to hold a Zoom conference on the history of Black people and LA Pride. “This moment and movement for Black lives will not exclude the white LGBTQ community’s decades of antiBlack actions and culture of white supremacy—especially here in Los Angeles,” says Cannick. “They do not get a pass. They will not co-opt this movement.” But not everyone is on board with the outrage over the new All Black Lives Matter solidarity protest – especially in light of the June 1 videotaped homophobic/transphobic beating of 21-year-old Black trans woman Iyanna Dior by more than a dozen Black men at a St. Paul convenience store. They emphasize that all Black lives matter, not just straight Black men, and protests should underscore the lack of Black LGBTQ rights, too. Additionally, several local Black activists want to be supportive of Garth and Anthony, noting that the

recent protest marches are organized and led by a new generation of activists. The role of youth in the movement for both Black pride and LGBTQ equality – as well as the health and economic toll taken by COVID-19 on the Black community, was the subject of In The Meantime Men’s regular Tuesday night #ItsOurRevolution Zoom chats, moderated by In The Meantime Men Executive Director Jeffrey King. The June 10 events featured panelists Charity ChandlerCole, President of BLAYD, Malcolm Harris, Community Organizer, and Nijeul Porter, Community Activist. The #ItsOurRevolution conversation opened with a reading of the Ten Points of the Black Panther Party – including the quote by Black Panther Party co-founder Huey Newton: “”The revolution has always been in the hands of the young. The young always inherit the revolution.” The controversy over the solidarity march to show CSW/LGBTQ support for Black Lives Matter and the end to racism after the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis has so roiled and confused the LA LGBTQ community there is a real question of whether CSW/LA Pride will survive. On Monday, June 8, CSW/LA Pride apologized directly to BLM organizers and announced that it was in the process of turning over direct control of the protest march to the Black LGBTQI+ advisory board. “On June 7, 2020, an Advisory Board, made up of all Black LGBTQ+ leaders was formed to move forward in organizing the All Black Lives Matter solidarity march on Sunday, June 14, 2020 at 11:00am PT in Los Angeles. The protest is in direct response to racial injustice, systemic racism, and all forms of oppression,” the letter said. “We must acknowledge and recognize the many tireless years of service and action by Black LGBTQ+ people. The LGBTQ+ community must extend its support to unite against oppression, police brutality, racism, transphobia, and the many other disparities disproportionately impacting the Black community. We are here to amplify Black Queer voices and come together in solidarity.” But the controversy over the solidarity march has so roiled and confused the LA LGBTQ community there is a real question of whether CSW/LA Pride will survive what may be the sweep of a new cultural revolution.

LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • JUNE 12, 2020 • 07


LOCAL

Supervisor Kuehl on Pride and LGBTQ data collection Coming out now not as dangerous for gays By KAREN OCAMB

Out Los Angeles County Supervisor SHEILA KUEHL

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Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl is not as visible as she once was – the trailblazer who turned heads when she entered a room, the lesbian who made history in 1994, winning her race for the Assembly at a time when right-wing Republicans ruled the legislative roost. Sheila James Kuehl, the 1950s teen TV star turned prominent law professor whose quick-wit and subtle cunning could cut or curdle anyone’s smug superiority. But now that fierce frontline activism seems more muted, more content taking a deep dive into policy behind the scenes to get things done. Kuehl thinks through problems, seeking solutions with the same intent deliberation as a detail-focused designer selecting his star’s jaw-dropping outfit for a gala. The absence of her public LGBTQ leadership is felt. There is much going on – the coronavirus pandemic, the ongoing protests against racism following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. But even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — a strong advocate for the LGBTQ civil rights bill, the Equality Act — remembered to issue a statement about Pride. Kuehl did not, even though this June marks the 50th anniversary of the first Christopher Street West Pride Parade commemorating the Stonewall Riots of 1969. Then again, issuing statements is not her thing. “I feel the same about Pride that I have always felt — that it’s extremely important to remember the momentous events in our movement, the progress that we’ve made, the progress we still have to make,” Kuehl tells the Los Angeles Blade during a recent phone interview. “It’s never, for me, been a struggle between or among our movement and other movements. The movement for social justice is so aligned across so many different communities. And this is a moment when we recognize the significant and different experiences of the African-American community.” There are different histories, different struggles, different injustices, Kuehl says. “And yet, I don’t think that anyone in the Black Lives Matter movement would say, ‘We want you to forget your own movement and only talk about us.’ So, Pride is as important today as it’s been every year.” Kuehl complained about the lack of lesbian visibility in the LGBTQ movement, noting in particular Shane Murphy Goldsmith, President and CEO of Liberty Hill Foundation and a member of the LA Police Commission, and Patti Giggans, Executive Director of Peace Over Violence, and Kuehl’s appointee to chair the Sheriff’s Civilian Oversight Commission. But their online biographies do not state

JUNE 12, 2020 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM

that they are lesbians, only that they have worked on LGBT issues. And here’s the Catch 22: in 2020, not centering an LGBTQ identity when other identities or callings are more significant seems acceptable in a busily intersectional world. But it’s also a world where respect for an individual’s chosen pronouns matters. “I think there’s more liberation everywhere and I have been very, very happy to see, over the course of my lifetime, the importance of being out,” says Kuehl. “National Coming Out Day was a somewhat radical idea at the time that it started. It was the idea that you have to see us — which is congruent with every other movement saying, ‘We matter.’ I think it’s brilliant of Black Lives Matter to use that word because it’s not only meaning ‘of consequence,’ but in a way, it’s about visibility.” Kuehl came to the attention of the LGBTQ political movement during the height of the second wave of AIDS, when gay men were dying daily and lesbians were emerging as both their brothers’ keepers and as leaders of organizations and activist groups. “In our own movement, we have recognized the detriment of being silent and being invisible,” Kuehl says. “It’s a lot easier for a gay or lesbian person to be invisible — that is, to hide our identity because you could pretend to be straight — and it worked for a while. It was very damaging mentally and in one’s psyche, but you could ‘pass,’ as it were.” But there has been noticeable progress. “I think it is not as dangerous, at least in most of our country, to be out as it was,” she says. “But to some extent, I think it’s taken for granted almost like, ‘Yeah, I’m queer. So what. I’m working in this other aspect of the movement.’ And I think we need to remember how radical it has always been to be out, to say, ‘Society has oppressed this crowd pretty much throughout history.’ And we need to keep saying ‘And I am gay.’ ‘And I am lesbian.’ ‘And I am deeply ingrained in this other movement.’” But that same emphasis on identifying as LGBTQ does not seem to transfer a sense of urgency to collecting LGBTQ healthcare data around the COVID-19 crisis, despite reports and data from the Williams Institute and the Human Rights Campaign and multiple letters to legislators signed by 170 LGBTQ organizations begging for the data since LGBTQ people are at high risk for several underlying medical conditions, among other reasons. CONTINUES ON PAGE 12


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LOCAL

Supervisor SHEILA KUEHL at LA Pride. (Photo by Karen Ocamb)

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 10

Kuehl on data collection amid COVID-19 California Gov. Gavin Newsom told the LA Blade that the state public health department is ready and anxious to collect the data but refuses to issue an executive order mandating it. Newsom says he’s working with State Sen. Scott Wiener on SB 932, a bill that would require LGBTQ data collection through posing two voluntary questions on the existing health questionaire. But that collection has to be done through providers and then given to county public health departments, all of which operate independently. And that — as well as the sluggishness of government — is one of the reasons such data is not being collected, says Kuehl, who passed her own measure last year requiring coroners to collect LGBTQ death data. “Part of the problem is there are a lot of different touch points to gather data in the pandemic,” says Kuehl, noting that LA County Public Health is “a bit overwhelmed.” “We are working every day to incorporate SOGI (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity) data in everything,” she says. But there are several issues, starting with the fact that “there is no one place where we gather data about everything related to the pandemic.” There’s testing information, infection and hospitalization information and the county is using

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five or six different testing laboratories. “So you have to gather the information at the point of test. And there is a question if you’re going to a drive in free test -- how the information is gathered when you’re in a line of 500 cars… and you swab it yourself, and then you put it into a container as your car moves forward, like almost picking up food,” Kuehl says. And in gathering the data, “people are worried about ‘why do you need this information about me in order for me just to find out if I’m sick?’ And they’re suspicious of it,” Kuehl says. “It’s not an easy question to ask regular people. ‘Thank you for asking for a test. And by the way…would you check a box?’” And people are angry already because of the hassle of getting tested. “There are a lot of things going on at the same time, but our office has been diligently pushing and trying to get through every question,” Kuehl says. “And I have no doubt that we will be able to gather the data. But when people say we ought to be able to get it, they don’t imagine how it’s to be gotten….I think every shift forward is important. I have been the only one pushing to get this data into the public health arena.” “The other question that probably policy has to answer is why do you want the information and what do you do with it? The information when it’s related to race, which is sort of the big difference now, really

JUNE 12, 2020 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM

also then relates to geographic areas because you can concentrate resources in a geographic area that has been neglected. It’s further proof that South LA doesn’t have enough testing sites.” Meanwhile, the Trump administration is very deliberately erasing any reference to LGBTQ or gay or lesbian or bisexual or transgender or sexual orientation or gender identity from public policy, regulations or political playbook. “All I can say, in a truncated version, is we are pushing very hard to have this data collected. And I think we will be successful,” Kuehl says. “But it’s a kind of a shiny toy at the moment, I have to say, because I have to understand what I am going to do with that information when I have it.” Kuehl suggested that LA County may come up with a source for LGBTQ data collection — the LA County website, which is at the moment run by LA City, not County, though the two are collaborating on sharing data. A possible, promising development. However, Kuehl says, “We have not gotten them yet to agree on what the online question should be.” Perhaps the question will help measure how much pride LGBTQ people have in their queer identity — and whether that means anything to the data collectors and policy makers.


NATIONAL

‘Our country is at a crossroad’ Biden’s LGBTQ outreach director talks campaign, road ahead By CHRIS JOHNSON

As LGBTQ+ vote director for Joseph Biden’s presidential campaign, Reggie Greer has his work cut out for him. After all, he’s charged with marshaling LGBTQ support for the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate amid a deadly coronavirus pandemic and tremendous unrest over racism and police brutality. In an interview with the Blade on Monday, Greer said he relies heavily on his upbringing and passionate belief in inclusion in confronting the challenges he faces in the 2020 election. “I am a gay Black man who grew up in the South and has been lucky and fortunate to have been impacted and influenced by many LGBTQ leaders and my parents and teachers, who really instilled in me that kindness and inclusion and the power of your own voices is something that you ought to cherish,” Greer said. “And I think every day in this role, given that this campaign cycle has been so unique, I’ve leaned in on that.” Greer, who’s 33 and remains a D.C. resident, is charged with serving as liaison between the Biden campaign and the LGBTQ community — a role that involves conference calls and highlighting issues important to people, such as passing into law long-awaited federal LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections in the form of the Equality Act. In a prior role, Greer was director of community engagement for the LGBTQ Victory Institute, where he served as point person for the nation’s more than 850 openly LGBTQ public officials. Although Greer declined to say whether Biden would name his Cabinet members before Election Day, including any LGBTQ appointments, Greer pledged Biden “will prioritize the appointments of LGBTQ people in an administration.” Bolstering Greer’s work is “Out for Biden,” a newly created steering committee in the Biden campaign that seeks to motivate the estimated 11 million LGBTQ adults to vote for Biden. Among the goals for “Out for Biden” is strengthening collaboration across intersectional lines, honing communications for a cohesive movement and providing unprecedented access to our country’s most prominent LGBTQ+ leaders. High-profile LGBTQ members of “Out for Biden” include Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.); Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David; Mara Keisling, executive director, National Center for Transgender Equality Action Fund; and Pennsylvania State Rep. Brian Sims. Greer said the LGBTQ steering committee would be

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again shortly after.] GREER: As I was saying, I am deeply passionate about the LGBTQ community, LGBTQ issues, LGBTQ voices and want to be part of a growing movement that includes us in the increasingly diverse American electorate. Vice President Biden has made it clear that LGBTQ people are a big part of his coalition and as someone that really values engagement, I’m really excited to bring this approach to this work. I am a gay Black man who grew up in the South and has been lucky and fortunate to have been impacted and influenced by many LGBTQ leaders and my parents and teachers, who really instilled in me that kindness and inclusion and the power of your own voices is something that you ought to cherish. And I think every day in this role, given that this campaign cycle has been so unique, I’ve leaned in on that. I leaned in on the idea that every person has a voice, and if any of us can fight to ensure those voices are heard, that’s what we ought to be doing. Reggie Greer is LGBTQ+ vote director for the Biden campaign. Blade photo by Michael Key

welcome to undertake campaign efforts to motivate LGBTQ voters in the 2020 election. “Through ‘Out for Biden,’ which we launched today, we’ve been working to increase our efforts to collaborate with LGBTQ organizations and leaders at the local, statewide, federal level, to ensure that voters have the tools they need to be a part of the process, and also improve the communication between all these different entities that are doing really important work to register voters, get information to them about mail-in voting, to get them involved in some of the local races and statewide races and that also are important to ensuring that we have a proequality government up and down the ticket,” Greer said. BLADE: Let me start off with a very basic, but important question: Who is Reggie Greer? REGGIE GREER: Who is Reggie Greer? That’s a very good question. I’m glad that you started off there. I am someone who is deeply passionate about the future LGBTQ Americans have — and I want to be part of a growing movement of people trying to ensure that [Phone line disconnects, but Biden campaign calls

JUNE 12, 2020 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM

BLADE: Tell me about some of the specific goals you have as LGBTQ+ vote director for the Biden campaign. GREER: Absolutely. I think, given the fact that our country is at a crossroad right now, and we have COVID-19 impacting our communities in so many ways, and this election season is so unique, the main goal is clear that LGBTQ people, no matter where they live, no matter their background, and pro-equality voters are able to not only interact with this campaign, but able to be a part of the electoral process in a way that’s substantive. So, through “Out for Biden,” which we launched today, we’ve been working to increase our efforts to collaborate with LGBTQ organizations and leaders at the local, statewide, federal level, to ensure that voters have the tools they need to be a part of the process, and also improve the communication between all these different entities that are doing really important work to register voters, get information to them about mail-in voting, to get them involved in some of the local races and statewide races and that also are important to ensuring that we have a pro-equality government up and down the ticket. So, that’s the main goal is really to give voters the tools they need to be a part of this process. CONTINUES ON PAGE 16


NATIONAL

Reggie Greer talks Trump and what’s at stake in election CONTINUED FROM PAGE 14

BLADE: I think many Americans, including LGBTQ people are increasingly concerned about racism and police brutality. How do you see that playing out in your role? GREER: Absolutely. Systemic injustice, and racism are issues that we’re going to have to address head on, and we’re going to have to do it through leadership. Vice President Biden has spent his whole life fighting against systemic issues, and working to change the system in ways that benefit and work for everyone, and has shown this kind of leadership that we need to actually get things done. Right now, as we speak, the vice president is down with the family of George Floyd, paying tribute to his life and really bringing comfort to a nation that can’t understand why we don’t have leadership now willing to address these issues head on. When we look at COVID-19, which is another problem that is complex enough, not to be solved by through rhetoric and bluster, but really requires someone to understand how government works, requires that you need experts at the table to get things done. Vice President Biden has really leaned in on ensuring that he’s surrounded himself with the people who know how to get things done. And I think for me, personally, again, as someone who’s Black, gay, has a disability, I know full well how important it is to have a government that values and includes diverse voices, appoints people to important positions within the government that can bring those lived experiences to these very tough issues. And the promise really of a Biden presidency is something that we’re working on now, as a campaign which is including as many voices from around the country as possible, so that we can have a government that that sees us, that includes us, and fully represents us. BLADE: How has the coronavirus hampered your work personally? GREER: So, the campaign has completely shifted digital, and even through the launch of “Out for Biden,” we are empowering LGBTQ people and those who support our campaign to engage virtually. For now, because this is the main priority is ensuring that people remain safe and keep their attention on caring for those around them. Of course, organizing virtually has been challenging but it’s certainly opened up the campaign in a way that has allowed us to reach across the country faster and people, the kinds of conversations that we’re having around all the issues that we care about. In this time, I feel like we’ve been able to raise raise awareness faster through some of the roundtables that we’ve hosted. The last national call that we did was on the impact of COVID-19 on LGBTQ people. And the people who watched were from all across the country, and after the

16 •

call, and after any of the virtual events that we’ve done, I’ve gotten messages from all across the country talking about how they’ve shared that with their networks and with their friends and their neighbors and their family members. So, this is a very interesting time to do electoral organizing virtually, but certainly you know we’re leaning in on trying to get the vice president’s message out there as far and as wide as possible. Because I do think LGBTQ people know what’s at stake. There are 11 million eligible LGBTQ voters around the country, there are millions more pro-equality voters, and they see this administration for what it is. They understand that this government has intentionally attacked transgender Americans, has rolled back protections for LGBTQ youth, has diminished our standing in the world on LGBTQ equality, and they are also leading and responding to the call to get out the message of not only our campaign but for everyone really fighting for LGBTQ equality. That’s part of the reason why I’m hopeful, I think LGBTQ people because we are in every other community, quite literally understand how to build coalitions better than any other community and I’m proud to be a part of it. BLADE: Four years ago, Hillary Clinton was the first presidential candidate to march in a Pride parade. Of course, Biden won’t have the same opportunity. What has been under discussion about ways Biden could recognize Pride? GREER: That is good you asked that. Obviously, given the moment that we’re in, we’ve been really respectful of things that we’re rolling out, but please stay tuned. We have a lot of exciting Pride initiatives coming up. Today, the launch of “Out for Biden” being the start of that. I think we’re trying to ensure with all plans the rolling out from Capitol Hill and from the campaign around racial equity, around the economy, plans around how to continue to address the impact of COVID-19, we certainly have been working with each other to figure out when best to roll everything out, but please stay tuned, we’re going to have some pretty fun announcements about how we’re going to mark Pride Month. Because, again, the vice president has spent his entire career fighting for LGBTQ people, and he was the highestranking official to come out in favor of marriage equality when he did in 2012 and as a private citizen has made LGBTQ equality, a priority through making it one of his hallmark pillars at the Biden Foundation and starting initiatives like “As You Are.” And even on this campaign, the plan that he rolled out, the plan to advance equality is comprehensive and really will push the well-being and equality forward if we can get Joe Biden elected as president. So stay tuned for some announcements, I promise you they’ll be great.

JUNE 12, 2020 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM

BLADE: Can you give us a flavor of what they’ll be? GREER: I can’t right now. I would love to, but I can say that we’re thinking about what I was talking about earlier, the intersection of our community, and the diversity within our community, uplifting the voices of lesbian, gay, bi, trans, queer, folks of color, youth and veterans and people who are small business owners, artists, advocates, activists. We’re really now as a program thinking through how to do that effectively, but throughout Pride Month, we’re certainly going to be featuring all of our community. BLADE: You’re pretty close to Biden. Do you have a favorite memory of an interaction with him or anecdote along those lines? GREER: I do, I do. The vice president has a level of empathy and has the amazing ability to care for people. His ability to empathize with people I think this is — it can’t be matched by very many other people, and it’s something I really value about him as a person, and as a leader. And I was talking to him about LGBTQ equality, just as in preparation for an event and he stopped me and he said this is something I really want to do. This is something — this is what I want to make the hallmark of my administration. And I think that shows that he has a level of commitment to LGBTQ equality, that is paramount. Also, thinking about the recent passing of Aimee Stevens. In some of the folks that whenever he was asked about it, whenever he was attending an event, he had attempted to call her, but unfortunately she passed earlier in the day and you could tell that her death has impacted him, but he really took time to talk through her legacy and why her passion and her commitment to fighting that should be something that all of us should be inspired by, something that deeply touched me because it demonstrated not only who he is as a person, but that he has always been a leader and who he will be as president. BLADE: Any day now the Supreme Court is going to rule on LGBTQ rights. Is the Biden campaign doing any contingency planning for possible outcomes in that decision? GREER: We are actively monitoring the Title VII rulings, and as with any decision that the Trump administration may be coming coming down with. Specifically for Title VII, we have been very grateful to be working with LGBTQ movement leaders to understand the scope and impact of those rulings potentially and will be ready on decision day to inform and to help be a part of talking about what we need to do moving forward after the decision. CONTINUES AT LOSANGELESBLADE.COM


NATIONAL

Trans woman attacked by mob in Minnesota Police in St. Paul, Minn. are urging a 21-year-old transgender woman who was attacked and beaten on June 1 by more than dozen men at a St. Paul convenience store that was captured on video to report the incident to police, who are eager to apprehend the attackers. According to St. Paul police spokesperson Steve Linders, the victim, who identifies herself on Facebook as Iyanna Dior, never contacted police about the incident. Linders told the Blade that he is unaware of either an employee or another customer at Sana’s Market convenience store at 1541 Maryland Iyanna Dior was attacked in St. Paul, Minn., and the incident was caught on camera. Avenue East in St. Paul having called Photo via Facebook police about the incident. Most social media accounts of the incident incorrectly reported it took place in the neighboring city of Minneapolis and that it occurred at a gas station. Linders said there is no gas station located at the site of the convenience store where the incident took place. A video that captured the incident and which has gone viral shows at least a dozen if not many more mostly men and one or two women punching and kicking Dior inside a store while shouting and screaming at her. One or two people who appear to be store employees standing behind a counter appear on the video to be trying to help Dior by separating her from the attackers. Although unconfirmed reports on social media have said the incident started after a “fender-bender” car accident at or near the convenience store, Linders said police have yet to determine what triggered the attack. “Our investigators are doing everything they can to find her,” said Linders. “So hopefully we can reach her and hopefully she wants to make a complaint and then we can move forward with the investigation,” he said. “What was shown in that video is beyond troubling,” Linders told the Blade. “And we want to do everything we can to first make sure that she’s OK and second find the people who assaulted her and hold them accountable. And we’re working many different angles to make that happen.” The Blade sent Dior a Facebook message asking to speak with her to get her first-hand account of what happened. She had not replied as of Friday afternoon. The attack against Dior occurred at a time when protests, some of which have become violent, erupted in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area and across the country over the death of African American Minneapolis resident George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer. A video capturing that incident shows the officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck as Floyd shouted that he could not breathe. Prosecutors in Minneapolis have charged the police officer who placed his weight on Floyd’s neck, essentially choking him to death, according to authorities, with second-degree murder. Three other officers on the scene have been charged with accessory to a murder. Linders said St. Paul Police would not speculate on who it was that committed the attack until they compile the evidence they need to make an arrest. “I don’t want to do a disservice to her by speculating on how this happened until we talk to her and find the people responsible,” he said. “So I don’t want to speculate on what people heard online. We need to talk to her to find out with precision why this happened

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JUNE 12, 2020 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM

and make sure she’s OK first and foremost.” Out Front Minnesota, a statewide LGBTQ rights organization, issued a statement on June 3 condemning the attack and assault on Iyanna Dior, calling it yet another in a long list of attacks on transgender women of color in recent years. “In 2019, at least 26 transgender people were murdered in the United States, and the vast majority of those killed were Black transgender women,” the statement says. The statement identifies by name each of the trans people killed in 2019, including two black trans women who were shot to death in Prince George’s County, Md., just across the D.C. line – Ashanti Carmon and Zoe Spears. “This violence has got to stop,” said Tori Cooper, director of community engagement for the Human Rights Campaign’s Transgender Justice Initiative, in an interview with Rolling Stone. “Black lives matter and that includes trans, nonbinary, queer, cis and straight black lives,” Cooper told Rolling Stone. “All of our hearts should hurt watching the video of this young trans woman being hit by a group of people,” she said. LOU CHIBBARO JR.

Stuart Milk praises protests against racism FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The nephew of Harvey Milk on Thursday expressed his support for those who are protesting against police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s death. “I’m inspired by the protests,” Stuart Milk told the Blade during a brief interview at a Fort Lauderdale restaurant. “I am really hopeful that maybe we can create some systemic change.” Milk spoke with the Blade less than two weeks after Floyd died after then-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck. Minnesota prosecutors have charged Chauvin with second-degree murder in connection with Floyd’s death. The Associated Press notes the three other now former police officers who were with Chauvin face charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Christopher Street West, the group that organizes Los Angeles’ annual Pride parade, has announced it will hold a march “in response to racial injustice, systematic racism and all forms of oppression.” Milk told the Blade he “would like to see more of that and hopefully one day we can do that on our global scale.” “It’s been nine days … sometimes we see these things really light up and then fizzle out and then we move on to something else,” he said. “It’s my hope and desire that we don’t move on and that we as an LGBTQ community keep that fire burning.” “Unless there is justice for everyone in the United States there is justice for no one,” added Milk. Milk on Thursday also talked about the Trump administration’s campaign to encourage countries to decriminalize consensual same-sex relations. The White House last year tapped outgoing U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell to spearhead the initiative. The U.S. Embassy in Germany last summer hosted a group of LGBTQ rights activists from around the world. Grenell and U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Kelly Knight Craft late last year organized an event on the sidelines of a U.N. Security Council meeting that focused on efforts to decriminalize homosexuality around the world. “The campaign has had some deep back door discussions that I think are important,” Milk told the Blade. “It’s important that we keep global LGBT rights moving forward.” Milk added “it’s just totally unacceptable that we have over 70 countries where it’s still illegal and criminalized to be LGBT.” MICHAEL K. LAVERS


Unhappy Pride Protests, pandemic, and a detestable president

KEVIN NAFF is national editor of the Los Angeles Blade. Reach him at knaff@washblade.com.

What a difference a year makes. Twelve months ago, we were preparing for the city’s annual Pride celebration and marking 50 years since Stonewall with parades, galas and Madonna performing in New York City. At the Blade, we were also celebrating 50 years since the newspaper’s founding in 1969. A year later, more than 100,000 Americans are dead of coronavirus, a pandemic that brought the world to a standstill. Unemployment is at Great Depression-era levels. Small businesses everywhere are hanging on by a thread. Police brutality against black citizens continues, triggering mass protests after George Floyd was murdered by a cop on video. And the president of the United States, hiding in a bunker and surrounded by fences, turns law enforcement officials against his own people, gassing peaceful demonstrators in service of a clumsy, cheesy photo op. We are living through unprecedented times. As we reflect on Pride this week, we should remember that our own modern movement for equality began as a protest against police violence and raids on our bars. I can think of no better tribute to Pride than joining the movement for racial equality and the protests against police brutality and racism. As the peaceful protests continued this weekend in communities large and small and in countries around the world, many asked what’s next for the movement. Many ideas are being floated, from investing more in mental health to outright defunding police departments. But one thing we should

all agree on: On Nov. 3, we must clean house of the Republican Party and send not just Donald Trump packing, but all of his enablers in Congress who have turned a blind eye to this president’s criminal abuse of power, his cruelty, and his tactic of dividing the American people at a perilous time. Trump didn’t create the coronavirus, but his incompetent response and delayed action unnecessarily cost thousands of American lives. Trump didn’t create racism or police brutality, but his heartless and cowardly response to Floyd’s murder served to exacerbate the exploding tensions. At a time when the country needed unity, our president doubled down on division and used the Bible as a prop to excite his shrinking base. The time is now for Republicans everywhere to earn an ounce of redemption by condemning Trump, endorsing Joe Biden and actively campaigning for him. We don’t need coy innuendo from George W. and Laura Bush, who have issued vague statements hinting they won’t vote for Trump. They should publicly endorse Biden and then actively campaign all over Texas for his election. Polls show that Texas may be winnable for Biden. Imagine if the Bushes spent the summer crisscrossing the state for him. That may be a pipedream, but imagine. The same is true of congressional Republicans who have cowered in fear of Trump’s twitter attacks and enabled this madness. The cracks are starting to appear, as Sen. Mitt Romney declared this weekend, “Black Lives Matter.” Sen. Lisa Murkowski, too, is hinting that she will oppose Trump’s re-election.

Polls show that Sen. Lindsay Graham, a target this weekend of sex worker tweets alleging all sorts of things that have long been rumored about his sexual orientation, is vulnerable in South Carolina. He must go, along with the ultimate toadie, Sen. Mitch McConnell. They and so many other Republicans have shirked their responsibility to the Constitution in service of a racist, sexist fake president.

So in honor of Pride, LGBTQ Americans should resolve to vote in November and to protest against racism and police brutality. Let’s look forward to an unprecedented celebration next year of a new, pro-equality president, a favorable Supreme Court ruling expected any day now on LGBTQ workplace rights, and the sight of Donald Trump being led away in handcuffs.

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VOLUME 04 ISSUE 24

White LGBTQ community must fight racism Spread the wealth and fund black organizations

Akil Patterson is a community activist and former candidate for Baltimore City Council.

On Monday, June 1, the night before the election in Baltimore City, most people were making calls and counting votes. I was working to protect my city from outsiders who wanted to see our city burn like so many others. Many of them were young white individuals looking to start a revolution in a black town that would then get labeled thugs and terrorists. We saw it in 2015, and many of us were committed to never seeing the horrors of those nine days. We spoke with youth, and we gave them a platform to join in unity with my friends Stokely Cannady, Aaron Maybin (former NFL first round pick), and Catalina Byrd. She was running for mayor of Baltimore as a Republican. We stood on the front lines as black leaders of varying backgrounds to protect our youth from the violence that once hurt so many in 2015 and communities that still have not recovered. Yet we had people calling for more hate, more anger, and more aggressive actions. We, the leaders

of our city of Baltimore, find it difficult to be worried about our sexual orientation or our gender identity as black people in a moment that our youth are at risk. As we began to wrap up the program, a group of younger college people came up to us and began to yell about how could we not give space to LGBTQ people at this protest, as I tried to interject I kept getting cut off. The shocking part is all I wanted to say to them is that we did have LGBTQ people speak and that I can introduce them to all of them. Sadly that was not the intention of this group. This group, like so many others, only wants to see themselves or hear themselves because, well, because they are angry with society. Nearly everything in my life has been about service to others since I got off cocaine some 10 years ago, and I enjoy fighting for causes, but I am tired of struggling to go and fight. We must recognize the trauma that we may cause transgender men and women who are often not heard or who are beaten within an inch of their lives, black men who are arrested, shot, or murdered, trans black men and women who are killed, and yet we talk about who has it worse when it comes to our narratives. So what does some of our black trauma look like? Most times, it is the person you do not want to have sex with; it is the person you walk past, not even asking how they

22 • JUNE 12, 2020 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM

are doing. It is walking into JR.’s and feeling like white people look at you like you are a freak. It is getting DMs on Facebook from white men who want you to breed them, and older women ask to see that BBC and every time we have to smile. It is time for the white LGBTQ community to stop the never-ending assault on others because we stood with them when they yelled for marriage. White brothers, sisters, and siblings, we do not ask your permission to grow. We are demanding that you learn that you cannot ignore our narratives anymore. What can you do to help rectify these actions of your family’s past? End qualified immunity for police, and start the practice of allowing community policing. Start by funding black organizations with ethical practices and stop giving money to your groups that do not include black senior leadership. Find people who have nothing and help them come up with you. Reach back and grow communities and spread the wealth, and you will see less crime. We must create a better world after COVID-19 — this is that chance the God or Gods you follow have given us to hit the reset button, and it comes when they have forced you to bear witness to the horrors that black and brown people have been telling you for years that happen.  

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Momma is an Angel Even heroes a need a little help sometimes By BILLY MASTERS

As Worthie Paul Meacham and as Momma, he is changing the world as ambassador for Project Angel Food.

Worthie Paul Meacham may be able to travel anonymously among many of the younger members of our community. But to those in the know, Worthie is Momma - a larger-than-life drag presence who was not only on the front lines in the fight for equality, but a champion of the underdog. That Momma could now be the recipient of the very causes she supported is a twist nobody could have predicted. The year was 1994. Worthie, a native of Hermosa Beach and member of a religious family, burst onto the scene at the long-lamented Dragstrip 66 in drag. Why? “To get over my fear of drag queens!” That night, he entered the amateur contest and won. When the host asked his name, Worthie laughed, saying, “I’m old enough to be your mother.” The character and the name stuck. As Momma’s notoriety grew, so did Worthie’s desire to use his platform. “There is something deep in me that IS

Momma. Momma is not a drag queen - she is a complete persona.” And that persona has a nurturing side. “I have enormous empathy. I’ve always identified most with people in need. So when I saw the attention Momma was getting, I thought why not use that to help causes and organizations I believe in? When I put on Momma’s outfits, people want to listen. It gave me a great platform, and I used it anyway I could.” Prime among the organizations close to Momma’s heart is Project Angel Food. The Los Angeles-based charity was founded in 1989 by inspirational speaker (and brief presidential candidate) Marianne Williamson. The main purpose was to reach out to people with life-threatening illnesses, and the volunteers were committed to providing nutritious meals to members of our community who were primarily suffering from HIV/AIDS. Since then, the

group has grown by leaps and bounds, and currently provides nutritious meals to over 2,000 people living with critical illness each and every day suffering from a variety of ailments. Two of the recent volunteers delivering food were Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Momma’s involvement began during those grassroots days. “I actually started volunteering for Project Angel Food in 1992. Lots of my friends were sick or dying of HIV, and the biggest problem was that they needed food. When I learned that Project Angel Food was stepping up and getting meals to people, I knew that was a perfect fit. Not only could I help my friends, but I could help even more people. You could see how much they depended on us - both for the food and the companionship. We made sure people didn’t feel forgotten.”

Continues on page 26 LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • JUNE 12, 2020 • 25


Continued from page 25 It’s ironic that Worthie now depends on Project Angel Food for sustenance during his current health crisis. “It’s a long, stupid story,” Meacham says with a sigh. “The short version is I got flesh eating bacteria on my foot in 2015. Totally random - I got a blister from walking all over the San Diego Zoo. It broke, and became infected with MRSA. We’ve tried lots of different treatments, but nothing’s worked because they’re resistant to drugs. I’ve even had numerous procedures, some of which have caused even more problems. But what can I do? I try to keep a good attitude. Yes, I may have one foot in the grave, but I’m doing what I can to keep the rest of me from joining it!” Last year, Worthie downsized and sold most of his costumes. “25 years of drag and history! It was time to pass it on. I was amazed how many younger people came by - not even to buy anything, but to just say thank you and visit. It’s easy to feel sorry for yourself, but moments like that help more than people know.” That’s another way the Project Angel Food can help. Volunteers actually fight for the opportunity to deliver food to Worthie. While Worthie was initially uncomfortable being the recipient of aid, he quickly changed his tune. “I gave everything I could to an organization that is now there for me. How lucky am I? There is no shame in needing help. I don’t believe in shame. Keeping secrets was the old me. Once Momma was born, I was free of any shame. I became a spokesperson for people who were brought up in shame. I’m Momma. And I’m Worthie. And, believe it or not, I am worthy of help. We all are.” Richard Ayoub, executive director of Project Angel Food, said, “I have known Worthie for more than a decade. His generosity is legendary in LGBTQ circles. When I was on the Trevor Project Board of Directors, he hosted a Momma’s Day brunch for us, and at Project Angel Food, he was the bride in a Bob Mackie wedding dress at the end of the Divine Design Fashion Show. He’s graciously appeared at events whenever we asked. We are honored to give back to him the way he has selflessly given to the community.” For many years, Momma was prominently featured on Project Angel Food’s float during the LA Pride parade. In many ways, she became their most visible volunteer and ambassador. Momma became even more visible. For seven consecutive years, the LA Pride show was cohosted by Momma and me. We have a long history of performing together - primarily at charitable events. In fact, there is nobody I’d rather perform with. We’re a welloiled machine. It just works. We like performing - we’re hams - but we also like giving back. Being onstage with Momma in front of thousands of people at LA Pride took on special meaning in 2008. That year, Momma received the Harvey Milk Humanitarian Award. Meachan said, “It is probably the

most unbelievable thing I’ve ever received. I want my life to make a difference. I just want to make this world a happier place for everyone.” But a surprising thing happened - when Momma took the stage that year, the ovation moved her to tears. “I didn’t expect it. Well, that’s not completely true - I expected people to be nice. But the energy and love I felt from the audience that night...well, that was really special.”

Is Worthie as encouraged today as he was back then? “I don’t know. It’s a different time. We’ve come so far - and yet we have so far to go. The fact that we talk about things more openly now is a big difference. And the fact that places like Project Angel Food exist means those of us in need don’t have to suffer. I just wish people would just be kinder. I wish people would be more understanding. And, damn it, I wish people were having more fun.”

LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • JUNE 12, 2020 • 26


THE

LOS A N G E LES DODGER S SALU T E T HE EN T I RE L G B T Q + C O M M U NI T Y AT T H I S H I STO RI C MO M ENT IN OU R C O U N T RY’ S H I S TO RY.


A Reminder from the City of West Hollywood

COVER THAT FACE! Beginning May 23 Cloth Face Coverings are Required While in Public

Children Under 2 and People with Certain Medical Conditions are Exempt and Kids Ages 2 to 8 Should Only Wear Face Coverings with Adult Supervision


BUSINESS

Business slowly resumes in West Hollywood Halting steps toward new normal amid pandemic and protest panic By SUSAN HORNICK

Feeling the pressure of an ailing economy, West Hollywood businesses are anxious to finally re-open, after several weeks of closures. Amid new safety rules, the long term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and recent civil unrest have resulted in a mix of fear and uncertainty within the community, “I am excited for our businesses but worried for them as well,” acknowledged Genevieve Morrill, president and CEO of the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. “While it almost feels impossible to move forward without fear of the pandemic or fear of looters, many are.” Morrill is concerned that WeHo establishments are able to manage all the necessary protocol to keep employees and the public safe, and at the same time, break even and not take more losses. “Nevertheless, I am happy that many companies can begin to generate revenue. They were shut down for months, only to reopen one day and close again due to threats of vandalism,” she noted. “The marches and protests are needed and our business are supportive of the Black Lives Matter movement and want to be involved. But they are also stretched to the max they need immediate relief.” Morrill is hopeful about more jobs coming to the area. “Some businesses have received PPP loans allowing them to rehire. With the recent amendment to the PPP loan policy, this has been a much needed adjustment to allow rehiring to happen,” she claimed. West Hollywood restaurants and bars are opening with cautious optimism, warns hospitality recruiter Wendy Tuttle. “They will be assessing the demand and hiring/bringing back staff appropriately. Most are chomping at the bit to get back to work. There are others that may have underlying health issues or live with family members that might be hesitant to return out of fear of contracting Covid-19.” Tuttle’s clients are “anxiously waiting” receiving those calls to come back to work. “My people want to hear ‘we’re open. We have all the plans in place to keep you and guests safe.’ so that they can get back to work, doing what they love—creating great food, while offering an amazing experience with friends, family and community.” Restaurants like Conservatory are looking at fully opening their venues, with a full food and beverage menu, servers, a host/hostess. “Conservatory is excited about opening up to the community again, and are taking every measure to ensure safety for our employees and guests,” said owner Paul Kalt. Kait feels “lucky” that the restaurant’s street-side cafe with a pick up window has been open. “That has allowed guests to enjoy keeping their daily routines for coffee, cocktails and food, take out and delivery. While we have very much missed our full restaurant capabilities, we have been able to maintain continued service and as much of a sense of normalcy as possible, during these unprecedented times.” For Pride Month, Conservatory have created specialty cocktails for the month of June. For their For The Love Wins package—all six cocktails offered in a package for $70– a percentage of proceeds will be donated to the Human Rights Campaign. George Figares, general manager at Fiesta Cantina Weho is equally thrilled to be back.

After a nearly three-month pause, Los Angeles allows businesses to reopen and owners are hopeful crowds will return. Photo provided by City of West Hollywood

‘WeHo has been dark for too long and we are happy to bring back Fiesta to WeHo!” They offer a 4-8 PM happy hour everyday. Making sure guests feel comfortable is Figares’ number one priority. “First and foremost, public safety is our top priority. Keeping everyone safe throughout our reopening is essential. We want everyone to come out and enjoy the community, but in a way that does not encourage the spread of the pandemic.” He continued: “We are hopeful that with following the strict guidelines set by the State and County Health departments that we will be able to operate in a way that is safe for our employees and guests.” Many bars in West Hollywood have found a way to open, serving food and observing social distancing rules. Rocco’s, The Abbey, Beaches, Fiesta Cantina and others have reopened with social distancing rules in place and food as the centerpiece. David Cooley recently told the Los Angeles Blade, “We scan everyone’s temperature, require masks and have social distance table rules in place,” he said. On a recent mid-day walk through WeHo, every bar we visited was strictly imposing the new rules, too. But the crowds are huge. At least one such business has been cited for being over-capacity since implementation of the new reduced census rules. “RJ Holguin, director of marketing and outreach at My 12 Step Store, has mixed feelings about Weho businesses reopening. “I’m in favor but I think it’s best to move forward with great caution. People are so anxious to be out that they are willing to take a risk,” Holguin said. The store has remained open online and that has been Holguin’s saving grace. “We are now open for instore purchase with all the guidelines, but still recommend people to order online and pick up or use our curbside service. It’s very challenging to maintain in store shopping with the regulations and operate with less employees.” Last summer, the store was expanded, to offer a better shopping experience. CONTINUES AT LOSANGELESBLADE.COM LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • JUNE 12, 2020 • 31


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FOOD

A Californian conquers the kitchens of ‘MasterChef Spain’ Michael Salazar rejected by his mother because he is gay By YARIEL VALDÉS GONZÁLES

A chill went through Michael Salazar’s body when, at 16, his mother asked him if he was a “faggot.” He said yes and got kicked out. Salazar, 51, is competing now on “MasterChef Spain,” a culinary talent show. He was born in Costa Rica and moved to the U.S. with his family when he was 7. He grew up in Long Beach, Calif., a city he calls his hometown. In a Washington Blade chat, he explains how that harrowing formative experience affected him. His comments have been edited for length. A full transcript of this conversation is at washingtonblade.com. LOS ANGELES BLADE: How do you remember life with your family in the U.S.? SALAZAR: My family life, if you can call it that, was not very loving. Sometimes, I try to remember something fun or something that makes me feel nostalgic and it only comes to mind when the Costa Rican team arrived in Los Angeles to play a soccer game. My mother threw a party with her friends to celebrate, but I don’t remember if she won or who she played against. As a child, I imagined that I was adopted and that someday my real parents would come to take me. I saw the families of my friends as if they were on TV, both love and affection, and made me want to stay and live with them. In those years, my mother did not like the fact that I was such an effeminate child. It was a cultural and religious issue of the time. She once told me that I was the “family’s disrepute.” I didn’t know what the phrase meant at the time, but I knew it wasn’t good. I was about 8 or 9 years old, but it stuck with me. BLADE: How did feeling discriminated against by your family affect you? SALAZAR: For many years, I felt guilty and I shouldn’t say that I was gay. But I met such good people who helped me understand that it wasn’t my fault and taught me to love myself. Today, I am a happily married man and I see life with optimism. I know there are things that I will not be able to change, but I do my part to be a better person every day. BLADE: How much has your life changed since then? SALAZAR: Having gone through that situation has made me more sensitive to other people who experience any form of discrimination. As a teacher, I instill respect in my students. I understand that there are situations that we cannot change, but what we can do is have a more optimistic view of things. I am a living example that everything can improve in life if you give it a chance. BLADE: You said that when your mother kicked him out of the house, the California government placed you with a gay father. How different was everything from there? SALAZAR: The Department of Human Services together with the Gay and Lesbian Center in Los Angeles formed a group called Pink Project, which works to place homeless gay and lesbian youth with gay or lesbian parents because other families almost never

understood us. I had to live in Burbank, Calif. The one who welcomed me was one of those angels in my life who treated me with great respect and affection, and although I only stayed at his house for a few months, he left such a positive mark on my life that I dare to say that I am who I am, thanks to him. BLADE: Have you ever felt discriminated against again? SALAZAR: Unfortunately, yes. In my case, I have been discriminated against Michael Salazar Photo courtesy of RTVE on many occasions for three reasons: For being Hispanic, gay and dark, everything that racists hate. I was very sad at first, because I felt it was the never-ending story. Afterwards I developed a thicker skin and I didn’t let it affect me so much. I am happy with who I am and I have people who love me just the same. BLADE: And how did you end up living in Spain? SALAZAR: I was working for a great phone company in Victorville, Calif. I made a lot of money, but at the same time it was very hard and I had a lot of stress. I had no life, I was not happy there, I wanted a change. I started traveling within the continent (North America) and nothing. So, I decided to seek out Europe. I went to London, to Paris and when I got to Madrid I said, “Oh! This is it!” I had an immediate connection to Spain and decided to come live here. That was in 2010 and, by the end of 2012, I was already living here in Barcelona. BLADE: However, you also fell in love with your husband … SALAZAR: Fernando and I met online. I had already planned to go to Barcelona and, once there, we met. That was at the end of 2012 and since then we started seeing each other almost every day. It was very nice. After a few months, we moved in together. On Aug. 4, 2017, we got legally married here in Barcelona. We have been a couple for eight years and married for three years. BLADE: Where does your passion for cooking come from? SALAZAR: I always liked cooking, but before I only did it more out of necessity than pleasure. For about 15 years now I started to try out new recipes and cook with different mixtures of flavor and textures, but always focusing on the traditional. CONTINUES AT LOSANGELESBLADE.COM LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • JUNE 12, 2020 • 33


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property. Information is obtained from various sources and will not be verified by broker or MLS. Sellers will entertain and respond to all offers within this range. Buyer is advised to independently verify the accuracy of that information.

©2020 Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties (BHHSCP) is a member of the franchise system of BHH Affiliates LLC. BHH Affiliates LLC and BHHSCP do not guarantee accuracy of all data including measurements, conditions, and features of

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property. Information is obtained from various sources and will not be verified by broker or MLS. Sellers will entertain and respond to all offers within this range. Buyer is advised to independently verify the accuracy of that information.

©2020 Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties (BHHSCP) is a member of the franchise system of BHH Affiliates LLC. BHH Affiliates LLC and BHHSCP do not guarantee accuracy of all data including measurements, conditions, and features of

4392 AVANT WAY, PALM SPRINGS 3BD/4BA • $939,900 Richard Burt, 818.203.9797 LIC# 01344361

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Profile for Los Angeles Blade

Losangelesblade.com, Volume 4, Issue 24, June 12, 2020  

Losangelesblade.com, Volume 4, Issue 24, June 12, 2020

Losangelesblade.com, Volume 4, Issue 24, June 12, 2020  

Losangelesblade.com, Volume 4, Issue 24, June 12, 2020

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