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J U N E 2 6 , 2 0 2 0 • V O LU M E 0 4 • I S S U E 2 6 • A M E R I C A’ S LG B TQ N E W S S O U R C E • LO S A N G E L E S B L A D E . C O M
Trans flag erased from WeHo intersection Activists call for John Duran’s resignation By BRODY LEVESQUE
A large trans flag painted at the culmination of the All Black Lives Matter march on June 14 was removed by the West Hollywood Public Works Department. The surprise art work at the intersection of San Vicente and Santa Monica Boulevards was power washed off the streets as part of “routine maintenance and ongoing graffiti removal efforts,” a source told the Los Angeles Blade. Apparently, the department was unaware of the growing controversy over the trans flag. They received neither word to leave it untouched nor word to remove it. The LA Blade has also learned that the WeHo Sheriff’s station had been notified about the art installation for the un-permitted march and visibly posted two squad cars to ensure there were no safety incidents. The controversy first erupted when WeHo Council member John Duran, who participated in the march, was surprised to find the un-permitted flag installation. Additionally, Duran argued at the council meeting that the presence of Mayor Lindsey Horvath during the secret overnight painting gave the appearance of the city’s tacit approval. Duran pointed out that when the city wanted to paint the rainbow flag in the intersection, the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans), which has jurisdictional control over Santa Monica Boulevard, rejected the proposal, saying no symbols or artistic expression outside of traffic control markings were allowed. The city then temporarily painted the sidewalks with rainbow colors for June Pride in 2012. Despite some public objection at the maintenance cost, the City Council subsequently approved making the installation permanent. “Due to California state laws regulating traffic control, the City of West Hollywood was unable to leave this in place,” city spokesperson Joshua Schare told the Los Angeles Blade. “The city must follow state laws establishing uniform standards and specifications determined by the California Department of Transportation, which prohibits signs or messages placed on the right-of-way by a private organization or individual.” Horvath confirmed that if the painting organizers had asked her, she would have proposed a temporary permit, which she believes the Council would have approved. “I applaud the city’s response to this demonstration, especially since it was not a permitted event,” Horvath said in an email to the Los Angeles Blade. “I am a proud ally of the transgender community, and I have marched in the streets in support of Black lives. If the organizers of this flag painting action had come to me in time, I
would have proudly drafted an agenda item of support for the Council to consider, and I would like to think the Council would have passed it.” Another controversy arose, however, when Duran tried to further explain why the city had no jurisdiction over the intersection or its content. After noting in his daily coronavirus Facebook update on June 16 that the installation organizers had not sought nor received city approval and that two previous city reports had noted the cost of maintaining an art installation on a highly trafficked street, Duran Screen grab of coverage of the All Live Matter march on June 14, 2020. stressed the city’s lack of control over the ability to regulate free speech. and forefathers whose sacrifices you benefit from today.” “Finally - although we may agree with the message “Another element which quite frankly speaks to your of this expression for transgender equality - we would tone-deafness to LGBTQ+ issues at large (which you not agree with the placement of a Confederate flag, or are part) is your equating the transgender flag to the a Greenpeace symbol or any other random expression Confederate flag, a symbol of white supremacy, exclusion in the middle of our public streets without public input, and oppression,” Demuir wrote. “The transgender flag proposal competition and a decision made at a public remains a symbol of inclusion and visibility for a part meeting,” Duran wrote. of the LGBTQ+ community which has historically been “If we allow this to stand and possibly continue - we may excluded; and, to be clear, this in comparison is a Trump not like the next painted message another group paints tactic used to spotlight your ‘concerns’ from a blatant on the asphalt,” Duran wrote. “If we remove one mural prejudiced and exclusionary perspective.” yet allow the other to remain - now we, the government, The Black LGBTQ+ Activists for Change asserted in are regulating content in expression. And that’s a big No the letter to Duran: “Your past and current actions, No.” sentiments, and lack of leadership have shown the City C. Chela Demuir, president of the LA-based Unique and the community that you do not represent LGBTQ+ Woman’s Coalition, issued a public “Hey John Duran” people, aim to erase the trans community, and are a poor letter saying Black LGBTQ+ Activists for Change took representative of the city and its residents, businesses, exception to Duran’s viewpoints. and guests.” They demanded his resignation from the Demuir excoriated Duran, reminding him of the history West Hollywood City Council. of the Gay Liberation Movement and the Stonewall riots Duran – who started his legal career defending LGBTQs that “made it possible for the City of West Hollywood and and ACT UP in Orange County and LA in the late 1980s and other LGBTQ+ cities like it to be what they are today. You has served on the boards of LIFE Lobby, Equality California may be disconnected from this reality; however, that and the National Association of Latino Elected Officials — reality is history—our history, your history,” she wrote in did not respond to a request for comment. the letter emailed June 20 to the Blade. “And because of Karen Ocamb contributed to this story. that, we will hold you accountable to our foremothers
JUNE 26, 2020 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Gerald Garth humbled by All Black Lives Matter march But there’s more work to do By KAREN OCAMB
Gerald Garth was “a little exhausted” but “feeling very good” after the unexpectedly massive, hugely successful All Black Lives Matter march on June 14. Garth, director of operations at The AMAAD Institute, and Urban Pride founder Brandon Anthony, created the Black LGBTQ+ Action Coalition that essentially saved the soul of LA Pride after criticism of past racism stymied Christopher Street West and plans for this year’s Pride parade and festival. The controversy seemed to dissipate after the marchers took over Hollywood Boulevard, where the first CSW Pride parade first occurred 50 years ago, swarmed Sunset Boulevard and gushed onto Santa Monica for an event that simultaneously exalted LGBTQ people and reconfigured Black trans people from outsiders into Black and LGBTQ history. 50 years after the first celebration of the Stonewall Rebellion, All Black Lives Matter underscored the oppressional against trans people of color, including the epidemic of murders. At the end of this march was an unexpected trans flag painted at the intersection of Santa Monica Blvd and San Vicente in West Hollywood and while the flag subsequently caused something of a controversy, when marchers arrived it seemed like the exclamation point at the end of an emphatic sentence! Garth says he feels humbled by the experience. “The first word that comes to mind is it’s so humbling, sort of moving, with this work,” Garth tells the Los Angeles Blade. A number of great individuals and collaborators intentionally created an event “to really amplify and highlight individuals who have helped to make this work possible…to really create and carve out a moment in history. It’s just been really, really humbling. I’m very grateful.” At the same time, Garth, 37, feel the weight of accountability and responsibility. “I live by the phrase, ‘To whom much is given, much is required.’ And even though this March was a beautiful monument on a momentous occasion, this is not the end. There’s a great deal to be done going forward.” “One of the points that’s really important to me, and the group at large, was to really look at how Black people and people of color, and more particularly, Black trans people and other trans people – such as Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera — really were the catalyst for what we recognize today as the start of the Gay Liberation movement,” Garth told the Los Angeles Blade after the march. “I consider it a responsibility to ensure that those individuals aren’t forgotten. Of course, we’re still fighting for a number of liberties. But we’re still taking time to honor and celebrate them.” They also recognize that there is an opportunity for more. “So, we talk about violence and lack of resources and the need for policy change, as it relates to Black people. But for folks who live in those spaces in the middle being Black and LGBT, they are definitely disproportionately represented in those spaces.” Garth was a leader in the Black and LGBTQ communities before he arrived in Los Angeles seven years ago. “Most of my work has really been centered around inequity and allocating resources,” often work that has gone unrecognized. But Garth is committed to the cause and to working in solidarity with others to tackle structural inequities. “We’re definitely moving forward with a number of round tables and town halls designed to look at some of the unique concerns that had been voiced as we were moving into the March,” Garth says. “So particularly, addressing some of the issues around historical racism within LGBT and LGBT-serving organizations, looking at how we’re building an effective strategy to engage new leadership and also looking at how are we creating opportunities for these new leaders, as well.” Garth says they are committed to looking at what effective collaboration would look like and intend to work with local leadership and other leadership at “how we’re surviving and develop strategies to really look at structural and institutional change.”
GERALD GARTH (Photo Courtesy Garth)
Garth says he and members of the Black LGBTQ+ Action Coalition (BLAC), including Black trans artist Luckie Alexander, intend to work with LA City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell’s office on how to preserve the All Black Lives Matter art installation on Hollywood Boulevard. “I’m so honored to have collaborated with Rick and Trailer Park Group and Councilmember O’Farrell’s office to install my design on Hollywood Blvd,” said Alexander, who collaborated on the design of the art installation. “The art piece spoke to the intersections of being Black, sexual orientation, and gender identity that are included in this racial movement. It speaks volumes to the commitment our city has regarding inclusion and equity for the Black community, especially our queer and trans community of color. As a Black transman, our specific community has been continually overlooked and this gives me hope that we will continue to be heard here in Los Angeles. Hopefully we will also take the lead, as we always do, in creating that similar change across the country.” “BLAC is centered on effective partnerships designed to bring visibility and action to the unique needs of Black LGBTQ+ communities. Efforts like this, designed by BLAC member, Luckie Alexander, and in collaboration with Councilmember O’Farrell’s office, Trailer Park Group, and all other partners and individuals that came together to make this happen is true proof of collaboration. And for a new installation of some kind to live permanently becomes a symbol not just to the city, but to the world,” said Gerald Garth and Brandon Anthony, co-founders of BLAC & lead organizers of the All Black Lives Matter march. For more information, go to email@example.com.
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • JUNE 26, 2020 • 05
LA DA Lacey re-election in trouble Black Lives Matter protests making a difference By KAREN OCAMB
“Everybody is utterly shocked when they think California is still in trouble over the unrelenting about the number of people who have been killed coronavirus, Gov. Gavin Newsom said at a June 24 by police or while in custody since Lacey took office,” news conference in Sacramento. On Monday, June Melina Abdullah, co-founder of Black Lives Matter21, new statewide reported coronavirus cases were LA She told the Associated Press June 21. Abdullah 4,230; on Tuesday, they jumped to 5,019 new cases also criticized Lacey’s substantial financial support that day; on Wednesday, the highest single day from law enforcement organizations for appearing positive case numbers yet, 7,149. to be “a quid pro quo.” Los Angeles County, with its population of 10 Lacey is the first Black person and woman million souls, accounts for more than 40% of all to serve as Los Angeles district attorney. She is statewide cases. There were 2,364 new daily cases seeking a third term in November and has taken on Tuesday, June 23, bringing the total to 88,262, note of the recent crowds, saying “the weight of with 3,171 deaths. them and the number of people is substantial, to It is “highly likely” that the surge is connected say the least.” to mass protests over the death of George Floyd, But she is less concerned about the impact of said, Barbara Ferrer, L.A. County Director of Public demonstrations than about being misunderstood. Health. “I don’t want people thinking I’m biased or racist But for Black Lives Matter demonstrators and or afraid, or any of these very unflattering things allies, protesting Floyd’s murder by a Minneapolis that are said,” Lacey told The Associated Press. “We police officer and the need for institutional police shouldn’t assume that everyone who says ‘Black reform is worth the risk — especially for members lives matter’ isn’t concerned also about public of the Los Angeles chapter of Black Lives Matter safety. That’s a false choice that those are mutually who demand accountability from LA County District exclusive.” Attorney Jackie Lacey, who, according to critics, But with the increase in anti-Lacey demonstrators refuses to prosecute law enforcement officers and the national push for substantive police reform involved in fatalities under color of authority. LA DA JACKIE LACEY at Stonewall Democrats meeting in comes even closer scrutiny. Every Wednesday for nearly three years, Black Lives October 2019. For instance, on June 8, LAist reported how Black Lives Matter/LA has protested outside the Hall of Justice (Blade photo by Karen Ocamb) Matter activist Jasmine Richards was convicted of felony demanding Lacey prosecute the officers or resign. “Jackie “lynching” for attempting to stop what she perceived as Lacey must go!” they regularly chant. But their ranks swelled an unjustified police arrest. She could have received up to to thousands on June 3. four years in prison but a judge finally sentenced her to 90 days in jail. “She’s a woman, a black woman. She’s a marginalized population any way you slice Black Lives Matter and Lacey’s rival in the DA race, former San Francisco DA George it,” one protester told CBSLocal2. “The fact that she’s allowing this to happen to her own Gascón, have called for greater transparency, accountability and are also pushing away people, her own community is disgusting and I want her out of office immediately. Today from the focus on incarceration. would be great.” And the persistent challenge by justice reform activists to incumbent lawmakers who Lacey responded with a familiar refrain. “As an African-American woman, I’m always automatically endorse other incumbents may be having an effect. On June 20, Rep. seeking justice,” Lacey told KCBS2. “But oftentimes, I look at the facts of the case and they Adam Schiff and LA-based Assemblymember Laura Friedman both rescinded their are not prosecutable because maybe the person has a weapon or a gun or they shot endorsements of Lacey. someone or they knifed someone.” “This is a rare time in our nation’s history,” Schiff tweeted after calling Lacey. “We have That’s essentially the same reason Lacey gave at an Oct. 28, 2019 meeting of Stonewall a responsibility to make profound changes to end systemic racism & reform criminal Democratic Club in West Hollywood. What was different as she trembled before an justice. @LauraFriedman43 and I no longer feel our endorsement of Jackie Lacey a year audience unexpectedly filled with Black Lives Matter protesters and scores of family and ago has the same meaning. We have decided to withdraw it.” friends of victims of police assaults was an apology. “As the first African-American woman to hold the LA County DA’s office, I am proud of “I want to say something I should have said a long time ago. I’m sorry, to the Moore my record of taking on systemic racism and reforming criminal justice — from bail reform, family and the Dean family for the loss of their loved ones,” Lacey said, interrupted by cat to reducing juvenile cases by nearly 50%, to increasing our office’s focus on mental health calls of “too late.” treatment instead of incarceration,” she said. “I am singularly focused on doing the work The aerial shots of the massive protest in front of Lacey’s office belie the pain of those of the people of L.A. County during this time of crisis,” Lacey said in response. who’ve lost loved ones — more than 340 people have been killed by LA County law But with demonstrators willing to risk contracting COVID-19 because it is “worth it” to enforcement officers during Lacey’s eight years in office. call out the sitting LA DA, and with well-respected Democratic leaders grasping the need In every case but one, Lacey found the shooting justified or decided not to bring charges for change, Lacey may see more domino-endorsements fall before November. because she concluded the officer could win an acquittal at trial.
JUNE 26, 2020 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
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Becerra adds Idaho to state travel restrictions California balks at anti-trans laws By KAREN OCAMB
LA County: LGBTQs are a demographic Region needs LGBTQ data collection amid COVID-19 By KAREN OCAMB
‘Where states legislate discrimination, California unambiguously speaks out,’ said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.
Effective July 1, California will restrict state-funded travel to Idaho as a result of two antitrans bills signed into law despite “significant concerns” from that state’s attorney general, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s office said in a press release. Idaho Gov. Brad Little signed HBs 500 and 509 into law on March 30. Restrictions on statefunded travel resulting from another state’s anti-LGBTQ laws have been in place since 2016. House Bill 500 repeals protections that enabled transgender students to compete on athletic teams consistent with their gender identity and House Bill 509 prohibits the amendment of birth certificates to be consistent with gender identity, says the release. “Where states legislate discrimination, California unambiguously speaks out,” said Becerra. “The State of Idaho has taken drastic steps to undermine the rights of the transgender community, preventing people from playing sports in school or having documentation that reflects their identity. Let’s not beat around the bush: these laws are plain and simple discrimination. That’s why Idaho joins the list of AB 1887 discriminating states.” The press release notes: “Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden had raised concerns about the bills’ compliance with equal protection and privacy laws. House Bill 500, among other things, runs contrary to existing guidance by the National Collegiate Athletic Association that encourages equal opportunity for transgender students to participate in athletics. Dubiously named the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act,” House Bill 500 overrules existing local school policies in Idaho and directly works to ban transgender girls and women from school sports. Similarly, House Bill 509 not only authorizes but actually requires discrimination by prohibiting the amendment of birth certificates consistent with gender identity, a right previously recognized by an Idaho federal court on equal protection grounds. The laws are currently set to go into effect in Idaho on July 1, 2020. AB 1887, which took effect beginning in 2017, restricts state-funded travel to states with laws that authorize or require discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. AB 1887’s restriction on using state funds for travel applies to California state agencies, departments, boards, authorities, and commissions, including an agency, department, board, authority, or commission of the University of California, the Board of Regents of the University of California, and the California State University. Each applicable agency is responsible for consulting the AB 1887 list created by the California Department of Justice to comply with the travel and funding restrictions imposed by the law.” For the list of states subject to Ab1887 provisions, visit: www.oag.ca.gov/ab1887.
JUNE 26, 2020 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Los Angeles County may have just opened the door to better government policy and resources for the LGBTQ community. During their June 19 Public Health news conference on COVID-19, LA County Board of Supervisors (BOS) Chair Kathryn Barger noted that the Public Health Department has added sexual orientation and gender identity questions (SOGI) to their testing questionnaire, a move she helped put into effect working with Supervisor Sheila Kuehl and Equality California. “LGBT people experience disproportionate rates of underlying illness, poverty, homelessness and discrimination,” Kuehl told the Los Angeles Blade a day earlier. “Knowing how COVID-19 is affecting LGBT populations will allow us to appropriately allocate resources and address needs within the community.” “I completely support really looking at the numbers and allowing us to get a better feel in terms of the COVID crisis and what it’s doing to the LGBTQ community,” Barger said in response to a question from the Los Angeles Blade at the Friday news conference. “I’m also in support of Sen. Wiener’s bill [SB 932 COVID-19 data collection] that is moving forward, as well.” But Barger went one significant step further – acknowledging what almost every politician and campaign director asking for money, votes and volunteers knows – that LGBTQ people are a real demographic, a distinct minority, a people with a culture and history, rather than an odd collection of individuals whose only shared characteristic is a casual sexual attraction to others of their own gender. After the LA Blade pointed out that the Williams Institute estimates 1.7 million LGBT adults live in California, almost a half million of whom live in LA County, Barger said, “Yeah, I think that in this county, we recognize that we are moving in a way that we have to be more cognizant of all demographics, so obviously this board is committed across the board.” Barger, a Republican, said she and Kuehl, a Democrat, have “asked for the testing and a break down on the testing to be done for the LGBTQ community and we are adding questions.” “The big issue has been making sure we’re collecting that information in lots of different ways and we’re collecting it in ways that are appropriate and feel culturally acceptable to people so they feel safe enough to answer,” said Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer, who has received death threats over the mask policy. “So, I do know, across the board, we are making efforts to improve our data collection system so that we’re actually able to more accurately reflect information about sexual orientation.” Once the department has better information,” Ferrer said, “it’s demographic information that we need to be able to share. We have other information that shows elevated levels of risk for other diseases – and also – for stigma, for being stigmatized and discriminated against. So, in this fight for equity, we really do need to make sure that we have the kind of information that helps us better understand everyone’s experiences and then use that information to make the changes we need.” The SOGI questions are included on the County’s COVID-19 portal, where the testing sign up site includes demographics on its questionnaire. After at least one week of LGBTQ data collection, the testing data will be regularly posted on the county’s website.
T h e L o s A n g l e s L a ke rs a re p ro u d t o s u p p o r t L A P R I D E a n d t h e LG B T C o m m u n i t y.
Trump admin sued over anti-trans health care rule Supreme Court ruling countermands discriminatory policy By CHRIS JOHNSON firstname.lastname@example.org
Harper Jean Tobin, center, speaks at a rally for transgender health in front of the White House on May 29, 2019. Washington Blade photo by Michael Key
With the Trump administration refusing to take back its rule permitting anti-transgender discrimination in health care following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on LGBTQ rights effectively countermanding it, LGBTQ legal advocates are returning to the courts to bring the federal government into compliance. The LGBTQ legal group Lambda Legal sued the Trump administration Monday over a rule from the Department of Health & Human Services permitting health care workers to refuse service to transgender people, including transition-related care and gender reassignment surgery. The case and the 85-page complaint is now pending before the U.S. District Court for D.C. Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, a senior attorney at Lambda Legal, said in a Zoom call with reporters Monday the lawsuit was necessary because the Trump administration has used the law as a “weapon to target and hurt vulnerable communities, particularly the LGBTQ community.” “They are seeking to harm those who have already experienced alarming rates of discrimination when seeking care,” Gonzalez-Pagan said. “Even now, in the midst of a global pandemic, their actions are simply wrong, they are callous, they are immoral. More importantly, for purposes of today, they are illegally indefensible.” The Trump administration rule change was based on Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, which bars discrimination on the basis of sex in health care. During the final year of the Obama administration, HHS issued a rule interpreting the definition of “sex” to apply to cases of discrimination in health care against transgender people, women who have had abortions and patients with limited English proficiency. However, in defiance of widespread legal precedent
affirming anti-transgender discrimination is unlawful — and refusing to wait until later in the month, when the U.S. Supreme Court would issue the final word on the issue — the Trump administration revoked those regulations earlier this month with a rule change based on a narrow interpretation of the word “sex.” The move prompted an outcry from transgender advocates who said it would enable widespread discrimination in health care during the time of a global coronavirus pandemic. LGBTQ legal advocates had threatened to sue over the reversal, which came to pass on Monday. Chief among the reasons cited in the lawsuit for the unlawfulness of the Trump administration’s action was the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, which determined anti-LGBTQ discrimination is a form of sex discrimination, thus illegal in the workplace under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Even though the Supreme Court ruling was based on employment, the lawsuit says the Bostock decision applies to the Trump administration’s health care rule, calling it “not in compliance with the law” in the aftermath of the landmark decision. “To be clear, Bostock’s holding that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or transgender status constitutes discrimination on the basis of sex forecloses HHS’s attempts to deny the full protection of Section 1557 to LGBTQ individuals and patients in health care settings,” the lawsuit says. The lawsuit also seeks an injunction against the Trump administration rule change on the basis of it being arbitrary and capricious, in excess of statutory authority, in violation of due process and equal protection under the Fifth Amendment and in violation of freedom of speech and religion under the First Amendment. “The Revised Rule violates the Establishment Clause by creating expansive religious exemptions for health care providers, plans, and employees at the expense of third parties – namely, plaintiffs, other providers, and most importantly the patients and the individuals whom plaintiffs serve,” the complaint says. “It invites health care providers, including insurance companies, hospitals, doctors, and nurses, to deny LGBTQ patients necessary medical treatment based on their religious beliefs.” Although the lawsuit challenges the Trump administration rule change on legal grounds, representatives of plaintiffs in the lawsuit made an impassioned plea for reversal of the Trump administration
JUNE 26, 2020 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
rule change based on immortality and widespread harm of denying health care to LGBTQ people. Naseema Shafi, CEO of the D.C.-based Whitman-Walker Health, said many D.C.-based LGBTQ patients come to the clinic because they experience marginalization and rejection in health care. “Too often we learn of examples, such as a transgender patient who is subjected to hostile questions about who they are when seeking help from a hospital emergency room for deep pain, questions that may have long-term impact on whether that person seeks care when they are in pain again,” Shafi said. Other examples Shafi cited were a transgender woman with cancer who was refused an ultrasound after being openly mocked by a technician performing the procedure, or patients trying to fill a prescription for PrEP for HIV prevention being denied service at a pharmacy. “This type of discrimination is routine, and as health care providers we are obligated to do better and to rectify a history of upholding barriers to health and well-being,” Shafi said. According to a 2017 survey conducted by the Center for American Progress, about 29 percent of transgender people reported being denied health care because of their actual or perceived gender identity. Eight percent of survey respondents reported being denied health care because of their sexual orientation. Terra Russell-Slavin, deputy director of the Policy and Community Building Department at the Los Angeles LGBT Center, said on the Zoom call the Trump administration rule change is particularly reprehensible during the coronavirus pandemic. “Many of our clients come to the center because they face discrimination and dehumanization when they seek basic medical care from other providers,” Russell-Slavin said. “That our government would seek to restrict access to care during a worldwide pandemic is yet another attack on their humanity.” It should be noted that regardless of the outcome of the lawsuit, the underlying law on which the HHS rules are based, Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, is still in place, as is its language prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex in health care. If LGBTQ people feel they experienced discrimination in health care, they can still sue in court, even if they can’t take it up with the HHS Office of Civil Rights under the Trump administration regulations. CONTINUES AT LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
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Court blocks Trump from ending DACA
Coronavirus leaves LGBTQ Salvadorans even more vulnerable SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador — In the months since the coronavirus pandemic began in China, it has affected the entire world and El Salvador is no exception. Apart from not acquiring this virus and taking necessary sanitation measures, there are also concerns over the violation of human rights and the lack of support for the most vulnerable people who have been affected by the country’s mandatory lockdown. One of the vulnerable groups that has been affected has been the LGBTQ community. El Salvador since March 11 has been Aspidh Arcoíris Trans, a transgender rights group in El Salvador, has helped under a mandatory national lockdown vulnerable LGBTQ people during the that has, among other things, closed down national lockdown. the country’s businesses and face-to-face Photo courtesy of Aspidh Arcoíris Trans academic life. The situation has already had a significant impact on the Salvadoran economy. “At the beginning, the situation in the country was handled correctly, such as the decision to close the airport in a timely manner; but there was poor planning,” Karla Guevara, a lawyer who is executive director of Colectivo Alejandría, told the Blade. Guevara adds quarantine centers became “the epicenter of the pandemic” in El Salvador because they were “poorly … managed.” They have also been accused of violating the human rights of those who have been sent to them. One such case involves a transgender man whose gender identity was not respected. The El Salvador Transgender Men Organization (HT El Salvador) told the Blade a trans man returned from Guatemala on March 13, the day the country’s state of emergency took effect. Authorities detained him and temporarily sent him to a quarantine center in Usulután Department. “He spent a few days in that place with other LGBTI people who had arrived in the country,” an HT El Salvador representative told the Blade. “At no time was trans people’s gender identity respected.” The trans man was then transferred to another quarantine center in Chalatenango Department, which did not have adequate conditions. People who were housed there were not healthy and were not given food. “HT El Salvador later brought food and personal hygiene kits to this man that could also be distributed to more trans people isolated there,” said HT El Salvador. The organization does not know whether the kits were distributed to trans people, which led them to file complaints with El Salvador’s human rights ombudsman’s office. “It was a clear violation of human rights for those people who allegedly violated the lockdown to be in quarantine centers,” Erick Ortiz, an openly gay National Assembly candidate for the Nuestro Tiempo party, told the Blade. “It was more complex for the LGBTI community, since there were no protocols in those quarantine centers that guaranteed an environment free of discrimination and violence; and there were unfortunately cases of discrimination and violence against gay men, lesbian women and trans people within these quarantine centers.” ERNESTO VALLE
The U.S. Supreme Court last week in a 5-4 ruling blocked the Trump administration from ending a program that allows young undocumented immigrants to remain in the U.S. and obtain work permits. More than 600,000 immigrants have benefitted from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program since the Obama administration enacted it in 2012. The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law notes this figure includes 39,000 LGBTQ “Dreamers.” The Trump administration in 2017 announced it would end the Obama-era program, but this effort was challenged in court. “Undocumented LGBT young adults are a particularly vulnerable population,” said Williams Institute Research Director Kerith J. Conron in a statement. “DACA helps many of them to get an education, find employment, and support themselves and their families while contributing to the U.S. economy.” The Human Rights Campaign and the National LGBTQ Task Force are among the LGBTQ advocacy groups that welcomed Thursday’s ruling. “Today, the Supreme Court put a speedbump in the road for Trump’s attempt to use the lives of undocumented immigrants to drive his nationalist agenda,” said National LGBTQ Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey. “The Supreme Court did the right thing by upholding the right of hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients, many of whom are LGBTQ, to stay in the U.S. to work, attend school and be protected from deportation.” The Supreme Court issued its DACA decision three days after it ruled Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 bans employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra — who is among the attorneys general from 20 states and D.C. who challenged the Trump administration’s efforts to end DACA — praised the ruling. “Today, justice prevailed for every ‘Dreamer’ who has worked hard to help build our country — our neighbors, teachers, doctors and first responders,” said Becerra in a statement. “Today, America told the Dreamers that this is their home.” MICHAEL K. LAVERS
Activists demand cancellation of Puerto Rico gossip show Advocacy groups have joined calls for a Puerto Rican gossip show to be cancelled after its host mocked a lesbian woman of African descent. Antulio “Kobbo” Santarrosa, host of “La Comay”, which is hosted by a life-sized puppet with the same name that he voices, mocked Ana Irma Rivera Lassén, a lawyer who is running for the Puerto Rico Senate, on the June 12 program. WAPA, a Puerto Rican television station, aired Santarrosa’s “SuperXclusivo” program when Pedro Julio Serrano, founder of Puerto Rico Para Tod@s, a Puerto Rican LGBTQ advocacy group, in 2013 launched a boycott after La Comay mocked a gay man who was murdered. WAPA subsequently cancelled “SuperXclusivo.” Mega TV has aired “La Comay” since January 2019. Serrano on Friday told the Blade that 11 of the program’s 12 advertisers have pulled their ads in response to Santarrosa’s comments against Rivera. “We already took Kobbo off of WAPA TV in 2013, now we have to get him off of Mega TV and out of television forever,” said Serrano in a statement he released on June 14. “Transphobia, racism, misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia and any other form of discrimination has no place on our television and much less in our society. We therefore demand that Mega TV remove Kobbo from television and cancel the program ‘La Comay’ for promoting hate.” MICHAEL K. LAVERS
JUNE 26, 2020 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
WEEKEND RITUALS THE INTERSECTION OF LIFE
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Bostock’s bisexual erasure From elation to disappointment It’s happened again. The Supreme Court has, much to the surprise and relief of millions of LGBTQ people, affirmed LGBTQ rights again, this time in an employment context. My initial response to the news was pure elation. But as I read the opinion, the joy was quickly tempered by the disappointing realization that, yet again, bisexuals have been erased from the latest historic Supreme Court LGBT-rights opinion. I am left reeling with disconcertingly conflicting emotions — my immediate celebration tempered by the frustration of yet again being erased by the Supreme Court. The blatant bi erasure begins in the opening paragraph of the Supreme Court’s opinion: “Today, we must decide whether an employer can fire someone simply for being homosexual or transgender,” and continues through the opinion’s final ruling: “An employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law.” Gay or transgender? Homosexual or transgender! I’m sure there are some lesbians and gays who are less than thrilled about being lumped together under the antiquated term “homosexual,” but think about how we bisexuals feel, we who are excluded completely from this framing. Whatever happened to the “B” in LGBT? It is simply gone. As an initial matter, the Supreme Court’s summary of the question it was asked to decide is simply inaccurate. The original Bostock petition asked the question, “Whether discrimination against an employee because of sexual orientation constitutes prohibited employment discrimination ‘because of . . . sex’ within the meaning of Title VII.” Furthermore, bisexuals and other sexual minorities can be assured that Bostock will apply to them for many reasons, including that its ruling affirmed the Second Circuit’s Zarda v. Altitiude Express decision, which recognized that sexual orientation discrimination, broadly speaking, is a form of sex discrimination, not just in cases involving gay people. Why does it matter that bisexuals were erased from the actual text of Bostock? First, bisexual inclusion strengthens LGBTrights arguments. As a bisexual woman, if I
am dating a man, I am less likely to face discrimination at the workplace than when I am dating a woman. The only thing that has changed in the two scenarios is the sex of the person I am dating, not my sexual orientation, illustrating that sexual discrimination orientation is a form of sex-based discrimination prohibited under Title VII. Second, bi erasure in LGBT-rights litigation has tangible, serious harms. As a legal matter, the failure of lawyers and courts to recognize bisexuality as a valid sexual orientation can have tragic, even life-or-death, repercussions. Too often, family courts deny parental rights to bisexual parents whom them deem as intrinsically unstable. In an asylum context, bisexuals seeking refuge from countries that persecute queer people are disbelieved and treated with suspicion for not being “gay enough,” at times even denied asylum and sent back to countries where they risk persecution for their sexual orientation, because asylum adjudicators do not understand bisexuality. In criminal cases, bisexual defendants risk losing their freedom and even life when prosecutors or jurors judge bisexuality as an indicator of deceptiveness and criminal behavior. Bisexuals already face severe disparities, disproportionately suffering from comparatively high rates of employment discrimination, mental and physical health disparities, and violence, for example. The more invisible bisexuals remain, the more we are misunderstood and erased by courts, lawmakers, and broader society, aggravating those dangerous disparities. Finally, the LGBT movement loses some credibility and standing to condemn second-class treatment of people and to demand equal respect, when the “B” contingent of the LGBT population is itself denied equal respect in LGBT-rights discourse, which relegates bisexuals to second-class status. The cruelty of bi erasure in LGBT-rights discourse ripples through decades of litigation and legislation such as the “Gay and Trans Panic Defense Bans” that dishonor the lives of bi people who are killed for their sexual orientation too. Bostock was brought to assert the rights of
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Nancy Marcus, LL.M., S.J.D., is an attorney, co-founder of BiLaw, former constitutional law professor and scholar, author of ‘Bridging Bisexual Erasure in LGBT Rights’ and Discourse (2015)
all LGBT people, not just the named plaintiffs. But bi erasure has occurred in every LGBT-rights Supreme Court decision since the historic 1996 Romer v. Evans decision, which broadly affirmed “gay and lesbian” rights for the first time. Horribly, in Romer, it was the advocates who erased us. The actual text of the Colorado Amendment ultimately ruled unconstitutional had explicitly included bisexuals in those it was denying rights to. But the parties challenging the Amendment dropped all references to bisexuals from their briefing, choosing to instead define the class of people harmed by the Amendment as solely “gays and lesbians.” The Supreme Court followed in kind, describing the class in that case as solely “homosexual persons or gays and lesbians.” From that point forward, bisexuals have been almost entirely erased from the face of Court opinions and LGBT-rights impact litigation. It hurts to be erased by our own community and advocates. But the harms when we are erased by courts themselves are even more devastating. As a constitutional scholar and member of the LGBT community, I am, of course, thrilled for the broader victory for equal rights represented by decisions like Bostock. But until my existence as a bisexual woman is acknowledged alongside the lives and rights of the “G, L and T” members of the LGBT community, there will always be a sting accompanying the sweet honey a historic Court decision like this produces.
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SCOTUS delivers win for LGBTQ workers Gorsuch’s sweeping ruling extends job protections to millions Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 bars discrimination against LGBTQ workers. It was a sweeping and unexpected ruling from a conservative-majority court. The seeds for that milestone victory were planted nearly 50 years ago in 1974, when Rep. Bella Abzug (D-N.Y.) introduced the original Equality Act, an expansive measure that sought to amend Title VII to ban discrimination “on the basis of sex, marital status, or sexual orientation in public accommodations, public facilities, public education, federally assisted programs, housing, and financial services.” That bill failed, of course, as did several others in the intervening decades, leaving millions of LGBTQ workers vulnerable to harassment and discrimination on the job. I experienced that discrimination firsthand while working for a large telecommunications firm in 2001, when my boss, who displayed a Bible on his desk, openly blamed gays for the 9/11 terrorist attacks. When he realized I was gay, the retaliation began; I was disinvited from meetings, work assignments dried up and eventually I was made to report my whereabouts to the office secretary anytime I left my desk, even for a trip to the bathroom. Despite filing complaints with HR and hiring a lawyer, there was nothing I could do as no federal law prevented employers from harassing and firing their gay workers and fewer than half of the states had such laws on the books. It’s a problem that affects untold numbers of workers around the country. Then along came three plaintiffs: Aimee Stephens, a transgender funeral home director; Donald Zarda, a gay skydiving instructor; and Gerald Bostock, a Clayton County, Ga. official. All three were fired for being gay or trans. Bostock was fired after his supervisor learned he had joined a gay recreational softball league. Their combined cases led to the historic court ruling that determines antiLGBTQ bias is a form of sex discrimination, thus prohibited under Title VII. “An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex,” Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote. “Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids.” At a time of increasing attacks and rolling back of LGBTQ rights at the federal level, the decision — notably penned by Trump-appointee Gorsuch — is a well-timed Pride month reminder of how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go. The ruling should apply to laws other than Title VII, including the Fair Housing Act, the Affordable Care Act
Kevin Naff is national editor of the Los Angeles Blade. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
‘An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex,’ Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)
and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1964. That would mean LGBTQ people now have federal protections not only in employment, but also in housing, health care and in school systems. As the Blade reported, because no federal law prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in public accommodations or federal programs, the ruling does nothing for LGBTQ protections in those areas. For example, Colorado baker Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop, who refused to make a custom wedding cake for a same-sex couple and narrowly won a previous case before the Supreme Court, would still be able to refuse service to LGBTQ customers under this ruling. No federal law prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in the U.S. military, so President Trump’s ban on transgender military service will remain in effect. So the road ahead for the LGBTQ movement will include efforts to finally pass the Equality Act, which remains bottled up in the Senate. It will likely take a Democratic Senate and president to finally realize Rep. Abzug’s dream of nearly 50 years ago. In the meantime, LGBTQ Americans can finally report to work as first-class citizens, confident they will be judged by their performance and not based on whom they love.
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August Getty wears his colors out, loud, and proud Bold, independent, and wise beyond his 26 years By MICHAEL MUSTO
I have a natural distaste for high society and I never got fashion (just look at me), but August Getty has me rethinking both things. The great grandson of late oil magnate J. Paul Getty and the son of famed Italian-born activist, LGBTQ Ally and business executive/philanthropist Ariadne Getty and her former husband actor Justin Williams, 26-year-old August is far from a spoiled rich kid coasting on his bloodline. For one thing, he’s an out, proud gay man who’s vocal about rising against oppression and aligning with various groups to build up a rainbow of communities, not just LGBTQ. He’s also honest about having felt like an outcast and a loner as a child, though elevated by the support of his mom and eventually the community itself. As for fashion, he doesn’t just throw his work onto a runway and expect it to explode. Having founded his womenswear brand August Getty Atelier at 18, he’s proceeded to show his clothes in highly untraditional ways rather than play by the old guidebooks. Being confident enough to proceed as a self-taught designer paid off. At age 18, August became one of the youngest designers to ever debut at Mercedes Benz New York Fashion Week. In 2014, Getty premiered his Spring/Summer ’15 line — inspired by his fantasies of European heiresses — at NYC’s Fashion Week. The next year, he collaborated with photographer David LaChapelle for Thread of Man, an art installation at Universal Studios, which included scenes like an altar, a car accident, and a commentary about Donald Trump. (Yes, he gets political.) August also presented his couture collections at the last three seasons at Paris Haute Couture Week. These collections include “Confetti” in January 2019, “ΣNIGMA” in July 2019, and most recently his Spring/Summer 2020 collection “The White Hart” in January 2020. Stars who have worn Getty’s creations range from Lady Gaga and Cher to Jennifer Lopez and Shangela. What’s more, he dressed Bebe Rexha, thereby furthering her conversation about size inclusivity. And by the way, he’s also done clothes for Gigi Gorgeous, who happens to be his sister-in-law. (Gigi
in my brain when expressing myself and my art, so I like turning everything into an experience. Whether it’s a runway show or an artistic presentation incorporating outside elements like scents or creating visual effects, I always want to immerse the audience into my world—the world of the GettyGirl. MUSTO: Your inspirations have come from designers like Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen. What do you appreciate—their boldness and originality? GETTY: Their craftsmanship takes no prisoners. They are authentic to who they are. [The late] Gianni and Donatella Versace are also huge inspirations in my life, being raised with Italian culture and working with your family. They’ve taught me to be bold, original, and to never steer away from my artistic vision.
‘As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been fortunate to find a community and friends who love and accept me for who I am,’ said August Getty. Photo courtesy Getty
married August’s sister Nats in July 2019). I talked to Getty about his heady achievements and his place in a wildly changed world where both fashion and society have been radically redefined. MICHAEL MUSTO: Hello, August. You always seem to favor artistic presentations rather than just straightforward shows. Do you like making your fashion into an event? AUGUST GETTY: I want to use every aspect of creativity
MUSTO: What do you think fashion accomplishes other than making people look good? Can it be life changing— and is it still as relevant in the crises we’re living through? GETTY: Fashion is cyclical, but finding your own personal style can be life changing because fashion is a form of self-expression, as well as a reflection of our current times. During hard times, people tend to dress less extravagantly so they wear more basics, a lot of times in darker colors, because they are not as creatively inspired when there are so many other things going on in the world. I use my love for fashion as a vehicle for my imagination. It’s an artistic medium to tell stories, so I guess you could say I’m more of a storyteller than a fashion designer. I like to live my life somewhere between fantasy and reality at all times. MUSTO: Does a Getty worry about money in a recession? GETTY: Un uomo Italian non discute mai dei suoi affair finanziari. MUSTO: Bene! Your birthday is in Pride month. How does that feel every year? Continues on page 22 LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • JUNE 26, 2020 • 19
Nats Getty unmasked An artist for a new generation By KAREN OCAMB
Nats Getty was an artist long before she her mother’s last name, learned the family knew it. Her soul was forged in the fight history and embarked on the life of a between the fire of freedom and the cold socially conscious philanthropist with her dictates of a society she tried mightily to own art studio and street wear clothing understand and follow, only to fail and line ironically called Strike Oil. fall into rebellion, a fury of authenticity “Nats has an unmistakable energy, that still feeds her art and serves her kind of a magnetic force, that makes her independent, progressive, philanthropic seem exciting and a bit dangerous: Come spirit today. too close and you might get zapped, for Of course, it took the model, design and better or worse. Tattoos on her arms social justice activist much of her young read, ‘Forgive me father, for I have sinned’ lifetime to realize that real freedom and and ‘Things turned out so evil,’” reads an the path to true self-esteem results from a excerpt from a June 23, 2018 New York healthy dose of “fuck them” thinking. Times Style article intended to counterBorn Natalia Williams on Nov. 30, balance the film and TV shows capitalizing 1992, the month Bill Clinton was elected on the famous Getty name, fortune and president, ushering into power the mythology. Boomer Generation and the promise The Times also took note of Nats’ to end AIDS, Nats was a skateboarding, engagement to Gigi Gorgeous, “who surfing tomboy in Santa Monica before became a YouTube star by documenting being sent to a boarding school in Oxford, her gender transition.” England. Her creative brother August, who Nats started modeling in 2013 as used to design dresses for his Barbie dolls, something she would try. She was signed was sent to England, as well. up right away and requested for numerous Nats was 9. She tried to be a good events. But she actually wound up in her kid and got straight As and but with the brother August Getty Atelier’s high-end low drinking age in England and lots of fashion show with David LaChapelle by freedom, she also got into trouble. Nats accident. was also bullied as an outsider from the “David didn’t know I was related to U.S. and had no one to talk to about her August, and he didn’t see a professional growing attraction to other girls. head shot picture of me. He just saw a Nats dropped out and moved back to selfie of me by mistake when they were LA at 16. Her mother, Ariadne Getty, with showing him the models to pick from. He whom she is extremely close, tells the said I want to base the show around this story of how Nats came to her one day, girl, around her hair and her look. August ‘Being gay is a political statement, it should have nothing to do with politics, but sadly it does,’ extremely nervous, itching to reveal a said, ‘Wait, that is my sister, that picture says NATS GETTY. (Photo courtesy Getty) secret. Ariadne prayed that it wasn’t asking wasn’t supposed to be in there.’ I didn’t permission to get a tattoo. Soon Nats even know I was in the show at that point. came out with it, disclosing that she was He ended up picking me and having me gay. Ariadne was relieved. “Of course, I know you’re gay,” remains that way still. be the core of it,” Nats told Black Chalk Magazine in 2015. she said. Nats wished she had said that sooner. Nats turned tomboy into a punk androgynous look and But that was that. Nats was gay. August was gay. And flexed her authentic artistic ability to relax and kick back Ariadne became the loving, protective momma bear. It with the family or strike a photographic pose. She took Continues on page 22 LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • JUNE 26, 2020 • 21
Continued from page 19
Continued from page 21
August Getty on his family’s fight for LGBTQ rights GETTY: I’ve been going to Pride since I was 14, and I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to go at a young age. I look forward to June every year but not just because of my birthday. This month of celebration is a beautiful time, and it unlocks a lot of creativity and positivity in me. I see all aspects of life together, not just the pride of the LGBTQ+ community—the intersectionality of gender, race, sexual orientation, class, and other social and political identities is important to keep in mind, so we need to have Pride for all communities, including Black Trans Pride, because Black Lives Matter. Instead of the usual Pride Parade in Los Angeles this year, our community marched in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and in support of Black Trans Pride, and it was one of the most inspiring experiences of my life. MUSTO: Is being gay part of your creative DNA? GETTY: Being gay my whole life, I’ve felt ostracized and outcasted by society, especially as a young child, so I spent a lot of time on my own. This alone time in my formative years helped my creativity flourish by pushing me to explore and see the world on my own, which helped feed my imagination. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been fortunate to find a community and friends who love and accept me for who I am, so I’m more social now than when I was a kid, but I still cherish my alone time, as it’s special and sacred to me. MUSTO: When did you first know you were gay? GETTY: Inception. [Laughs] MUSTO: Not in the womb? GETTY: Yes, in the womb. I had a notepad in there, and I was sketching away! MUSTO: How did your family react to a 14-year-old at Pride? GETTY: I was a very colorful 14 year old, and my family was extremely welcoming. My mom is a fierce ally. Our family members are all allies. It was meant to be our path to teach others how to give and receive the same love that my mother showed my sister and I at an early age.
MUSTO: How political are you as a gay man? I know you go to Pride, but are you a protester in spirit? GETTY: I am very political. I believe in using every forum and every platform to stand up for yourself and for others. Use your voice! MUSTO: What do you think of how we LGBTQs are doing considering the actions of the Trump administration? GETTY: It’s truly heart wrenching to witness their actions and to see the new policies they are constantly trying to set in place, attacking the rights and safety of our community. It is disheartening, but something positive that has come from this is that we are showing each other how strong we all are together and that our voice matters. We are survivors, and when we support each other and project love, we are unstoppable. MUSTO: Your family is involved in the Los Angeles Blade and Washington Blade. Why are they behind these papers? GETTY: My family is very active in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights and the advancement of our community, so we are proud to support these prominent papers. Los Angeles is one of the most populated cities in our country, yet LA Blade is our city’s only LGBT weekly. The Washington Blade, the nation’s oldest LGBT newspaper, is the only LGBT media member of the White House Press Corps. We need more representation like this in the media landscape to actively drive conversations and create positive change. MUSTO: Your store in Beverly Hills was your first boutique? GETTY: Yes, but it wasn’t an opportune time to open it, so we reorganized our process and became in-house and redirected to couture. MUSTO: And finally: What’s it like to be the brother-in-law of and collaborator with the fab Gigi Gorgeous? GETTY: Simply gorgeous. Both Gigi and Nats are great role models for myself and our generation. I’m very blessed to have such strong women in my life. And of course, there’s my mom!
22 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • JUNE 26, 2020
‘Being gay is a political statement’ Nats married trans activist and social media influencer Gigi Gorgeous in 2019, with a lavish and adoring engagement party in Paris, documented and posted on YouTube. An unhighlighted subtext is Ariadne Getty’s unconditional love and acceptance for her daughter’s new spouse. This family of four – Ariadne, August, Nats and Gigi — now think how best, wisely and responsibly to contribute the family fortune to good, worthy causes. They have been major donors to GLAAD, the Los Angeles LGBT Center, the Trevor Project – and they have contributed to the Blade Foundation. “During the last few months, Gigi and I have been unified in our views and passion for the issues that we’ve all been trying to navigate. We’ve been each other’s rock,” Nats told the Los Angeles Blade. “There are so many important issues that have been pushed to the forefront, and Gigi and I have looked at ways to use our platform for good, to offer comfort and influence positive change.” They are particularly disgusted by the Trump administration’s efforts to roll back LGBTQ rights, especially targeting trans rights. “It’s appalling,” says Nats. “Systemic intolerance of the trans community has plagued this country for too long and this presidency has done nothing but further that. Trans people, especially trans people of color, have been vilified and faced terrible discrimination that has led to horrific violence within this community.” Nats Getty is also horrified by the systemic racism exposed by the murders of Black men by police and the inequities in healthcare exposed by the coronavirus pandemic. She has created art work, street war and most recently, COVID-19 masks to benefit Black Lives Matter and the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank. “Trump’s actions have made it easier for this discrimination and violence to exist. It’s time for change, and it’s time for every human to be treated as equal,” Nats says about her United Against Racial Injustice initiative. “I wanted to give back and support my community,” she noted. “Philanthropy — and advocacy — is something that is very important to me. I made 600 masks that were donated to hospitals and nursing
homes on the frontlines, and 400 masks for the Strike Oil website, where 100 percent of proceeds have gone to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank,” she says. Nats also participates in “Wellness Wednesdays” events with LA CAN, creating/distributing 1,000 masks along with hygiene kits. “Our plan is to continue making masks for 100 percent non-profit, so we’re able to raise funds and support the organizations that matter to us,” Nats says. “Everything I create from a jacket to an art piece has a story and serves a purpose in my personal journey,” Nats tells the Los Angeles Blade. “I’m currently designing new pieces for my collection, producing a photoshoot, and planning a trip to England. I will be shooting content while I’m there for an exciting new venture I can’t disclose just yet,” she says. “I’m working on some new designs that are more pointed and focused on the current social issues we are all living through,” Nats says. “My pieces represent a social commentary, inspired by the injustices we fight every day. I’m also mindful of utilizing left-over fabrics from previous garments to create something new, so we minimize waste. I love to breathe new life into something old.” Meanwhile, before Pride Month slips completely by, Nats has some thoughts. “For me, Pride means self-love and self-acceptance,” she says. “When I was younger, I felt shame and self-loathing of my sexuality. I wasn’t at a place to embrace it and be confident in who I am. But eventually, through personal growth and the people I surrounded myself with, especially my wife Gigi with her infectious positive influence, I have found my community, ‘my tribe,’ and I am proud of who I am.” Nats continues: “Being gay is a political statement, it should have nothing to do with politics, but sadly it does. Getting out and voting and using my platform to encourage others to go and vote is something else I am very passionate about.” Nats is also passionate about Gigi. “We’re approaching our first-year anniversary of being married and continuing to live our authentic life together,” she says. “We want to start a family someday and be positive role models for our community.” Susan Hornik contributed to this report.