Losangelesblade.com, Volume 4, Issue 35, August 28, 2020

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QAnon’s growing threat to LGBTQ rights, Page 06

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Supporting queer youth in a pandemic Homelessness, hostile parents cited as growing problems By BRODY LEVESQUE LOS ANGELES – The coronavirus pandemic has created tremendous stress and anxiety as Angelenos navigate their way through the uncertainty of unemployment, health issues posed by the virus, and lack of a normal routine from shopping to recreational pursuits. But for the hundreds of thousands of students and their parents of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and other surrounding area school districts, trying to learn in a virtual setting via Zoom, email, and the web has presented unique and more often than not adversarial challenges. One parent told the Blade that having the children at home full time while still trying to maintain employment and juggle the needs of their children has been daunting. Adding additional burdens to this educational environment outside of the traditional brick and mortar settings has been a lack of resources for many students from lower income households to include limited or no Internet or WiFI access, or no computers or web capable devices. One demographic that has keenly felt the impact and in many cases a sense of disenfranchisement has been the thousands of LGBTQI+ students. For many LGBTQI+ students, school is more than just a place to learn, it can be a safe shelter with the opportunities to connect with others via GSAs, having access to affirming counselors, instructors, and staff, ultimately providing a safe space. Not having access to these resources, particularly if a student has a nonaffirming home life or a threatening, hostile anti-LGBTQ environment leaves those students with the potential for mental health crisis and little or no support. For Black and Latinx LGBTQ youth, especially trans youth, lack of support and outreach can have life-threatening consequences including homelessness or thoughts of self-harm. A source at the Trevor Project noted to the Blade that since the schools have closed down there has been a sharp uptick in calls to the Project’s helpline, nearly doubling since March. The challenge according to the LAUSD’s Educational Equity Compliance Office is ensuring that students know that even with schools not operating that the resources are still available. LAUSD is still barred from providing in-school instruction per the Health Orders issued by the Los Angeles County Public Health Department Director, Dr. Barbara Ferrer. California’s Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly told the Los Angeles Blade that he and Gov. Gavin Newsom are committed to providing state support to schools especially resources for mental health services for LGBTQ students who may be in crisis or simply need assistance. A spokesperson for LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner said via an emailed statement: “This has been a school year like no other, and we are working to support our students and families. With the start of the new school year, we are encouraging all students to take advantage of opportunities to reconnect with their teachers and classmates. Schools will soon resume online meetings of their GSA clubs, and we look forward to students being able to connect with their peers across the district. Los Angeles Unified also continues to operate the Mental Health Hotline for students and families (213-241-3840), and a Human Relations team has been assembled to support LGBTQI+ concerns.” Another consideration significantly affecting LGBTQI+ high school students is homelessness. In a study released this past April by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, found that between 20% and 45% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ, approximately 2 to 4 times more than the estimated percentage of all youth who identify as LGBTQ.

Los Angeles Unified School District is the nation’s second largest.

For these students school provides more than just educational opportunities, but lunches, personal hygiene, and counseling. All of which have been severely impacted by COVID-19. A source within the LAUSD said that through the volunteer efforts of many staff members, there has been limited outreach to these students. The LGBT Center of Los Angeles has also spearheaded efforts with its youth services concentrating on social services and housing. Dr. Ghaly acknowledges that another real concern is the impact of the virus on young people. Ghaly said about 66,200 total cases had been reported as of the first part of this month in youth up to age 18 or fewer than 10% of the total cases Ghaly noted that the age group makes up 22% of the state’s population. Of those cases testing positive for COVID-19, he said about 570 were admitted to hospitals and 60 were admitted to intensive care units. He added that the disease is disproportionately affecting Latino children, who make up 71.5% of the age 17 and under cases across the state. There is not currently an accounting of how many of those cases were LGBTQ youth. Earlier this month, LAUSD’s Beutner announced that the district is gearing up to roll out a planned program that eventually will test the approximately 600,000 students and 75,000 staff members of the LAUSD for COVID-19. The proposed plan, to be conducted in collaboration with several universities, private companies and insurers, and testing labs, represents the most ambitious plan proposed by any school district in the nation. Describing the testing plan in an op-ed published in the Los Angeles Times, Beutner said “an effort like this is not simple and the scale is daunting.” But, he said, if it works “it can be a model for the school districts and communities across the country.” In the meantime there remains the question of whether LGBTQ youth are really getting the support they need during this pandemic. LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • AUGUST 28, 2020 • 03


LAPD make arrests in Hollywood Blvd. attack on trans women 29-year-old man charged with hate crime and robbery By BRODY LEVESQUE Los Angeles Police Department Deputy Chief Justin Eisenberg said that detectives from the Hollywood Division have arrested 29-year-old Carlton Callway, charging him in the robbery and what is classified as a hate crime against three trans women that occurred last week. The attack on YouTube influencer Eden the Doll (Estrada) and two friends, went viral within 24 hours after mobile video footage was spread on Instagram and other social media platforms. Some of that footage was recorded and then posted online by onlookers prompting harsh criticism from Chief Deputy Eisenberg. “The group of three transgender women were viciously attacked on Hollywood Boulevard,” said Eisenberg in a press conference. “What was particularly callous about these crimes was the actions of the onlookers.” According to Eisenberg, LAPD detectives recognized another suspect in the attack, Willie Walker, a local homeless man from the mobile phone footage and arrested him Wednesday evening charging him with extortion. The deputy chief also said that LAPD investigators are searching for a third suspect, Davion Williams, who is wanted for assault in the incident. Detectives noted that “Both victims are transgender women, and the suspect made derogatory remarks about their status during the crime.” Investigators added that they worked alongside members of the LGBTQ community. Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell praised CARLTON CALLWAY, 29, was arrested by the efforts of the LAPD but also noted that crimes against LAPD in connection to an alleged hate crime. the trans community in particular have been occurring (PHOTO LAPD) for a period of time. “When I saw the video, like anyone who has seen it who believes in human decency, to see this level of violence celebrated gleefully, so much so that the perpetrator himself posted on social media, is like a sucker punch to all of us who believe in civilized behavior,” the councilman said. The attack occurred at approximately 2:15 a.m. on Aug. 17 while the three women, including Eden were waiting for an Uber in Hollywood. “It was absolutely the worst day of my life,” Estrada told reporters. Estrada said she was able to get a copy of the video and give it to police after witnesses uploaded it to social media and people tagged her. “I know that I’m so privileged, because I am a YouTuber and because people know who I am, but this happens all the time to women like me who aren’t on social media,” she said. “We need this to stop.” On Aug. 21, several hundred protesters marched down Hollywood Boulevard near the site of the attack while a Change.org petition calling for an end to violence against transgender women was signed by more than 190,000 people as of Wednesday this week. “In a very divisive world, especially in today’s social climate, let us not forget about the trans community, for they have the dimmest voices as they are not amplified enough and are often excluded,” the petition reads. “On behalf of all of the loved ones of Joslyn, Jaslene, and Eden, we demand this justice. All of the men involved and responsible for these inhumane acts of violence must be arrested, interrogated, and charged for assault, robbery, and attempted murder. Violence against all women should not be tolerated,” the petition continued. 04 • AUGUST 28, 2020 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM

LA installs mural commemorating All Black Lives Matter By BRODY LEVESQUE

For the past five days Hollywood Boulevard from Highland Avenue to Orange Drive has been closed to traffic as the Los Angeles Bureau of Street Services, (StreetsLA) worked to install a permanent street mural commemorating the June 14 All Black Lives Matter March. Crews worked at the direction and alongside of the mural’s artist, Luckie Alexander, a Black trans man. “The installation of the ALL BLACK LIVES MATTER commemorative sign on Hollywood Boulevard was extremely emotional for me as a Black trans man,’’ Alexander said. “This is something that will let our Black LGBTQ+ community, especially our Black trans siblings know they are seen, valid and valued.’’ In an emailed statement to the Blade, LA City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell wrote: “The project, which is a partnership with my office, Black LGBTQ+ Activists for Change (BLAC), StreetsLA, Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT), and other local community members, will involve the installation of a design similar to the original that is safer for vehicular traffic and will allow for the reopening of Hollywood Blvd near Highland Avenue.” The councilman who is gay also pointed out that Alexander’s mural is the first in Los Angeles as a dedicated memorial space to trans people of color. “Today, after years and years of violence against our Black and queer communities, we are creating the first memorialized space in Los Angeles dedicated to transgender people of color,’’ said O’Farrell. “As the site of the first nationally recognized Gay Pride Parade in the nation, Hollywood must be and will be the safe space designated for this landmark distinction.’ Last Friday, O’Farrell and LADOT took part in the installation of an official city of Los Angeles sign to also commemorate the march, that reads, “All Black Lives Matter March for all Black lives and Black LGBTQI+ Rights, dedicated to transgender people of color, June 14, 2020.” “Acknowledging the historic event in June, while elevating the conversation about the experiences of Transgender and Queer people of color, is critical as we progress in the movement to ensure the visibility of our community,” Karina Samala, Chair of the City of Los Angeles Transgender Advisory Council, said in an emailed statement.

All Black Lives Matter sign commemorates Juneteenth march in 2020.






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Analysis: Why QAnon is a threat to LGBTQ people

‘Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities’ By BRYNN TANNEHILL

One of the big questions the chattering class of American pundits has been asking recently is whether QAnon is the new Tea Party, after Marjorie Taylor Greene won her primary in Georgia and will likely become its first open supporter in Congress. Dozens of others ran for Congress (and won their primaries). However, the Tea Party isn’t a great analogy for QAnon. Despite coming from the same place politically, QAnon is far more unhinged, and far more dangerous than the Tea Party ever was. For those who don’t already know, QAnon is a sprawling conspiracy theory supported by the far-right fringe of the Republican Party. It asserts that powerful Democrats, such as Hillary Clinton, John Podesta, George Soros, and the “Deep State” run a shadowy, Satanic child kidnapping and pedophilia ring. They base their beliefs on cryptic posts from someone on 4Chan who goes by the handle “Q” and claims to be a government official with a top-secret clearance. They also believe that Donald Trump is playing some sort of four-dimensional game of chess with these forces of evil, and that at any time he will sweep thousands of Democratic elites up as part of “The Storm” and send them all to Guantanamo Bay, or some other prison camp. Greene, for example, wrote blog posts in 2017 and 2018 speculating that the 2017 white nationalist rally in Charlottesville that led to one counter-protester’s death was an “inside job” and promoted claims that Pizzagate is real. This movement is incredibly dangerous to LGBTQ people as well. In decades past, gay men were all suspected of being pedophiles who molested boys. Lesbians who worked with children were one of the primary targets of the “Satanic Panic” of the 80’s and 90’s.Today, transgender people are accused by these same conspiracy theorists of stealing and mutilating teen girls and autistic youth. If QAnon beliefs come to be the de facto position of an ascendant GOP, it is only a matter of time before they “save the children” by coming after LGBTQ people in ways that make the Lavender Scare look tame. President Trump was asked during a press conference on Aug. 13 if it was true that he was leading a secret government operation against a cabal of a conspiracy of pedophiles, cannibals and Satanists, he replied, “Is that supposed to be a bad thing? If I can help save the world from problems, I’m willing to do it.” QAnon believers are a staple at Trump rallies, and he has retweeted QAnon accounts hundreds of times. Hosts like Sean Hannity at Fox News will happily support whatever Trump says, even when they know it’s unfounded or even dangerous, and QAnon is no exception. This was the network that went all in supporting Trump’s most idiotic claims, from drinking bleach to cure COVID-19 to buying Greenland. This is the party of Trump, and when he signals his support for QAnon, the entire party apparatus will follow. While some senior Republicans like House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Congresswoman Liz Cheney have denounced QAnon as a “dangerous lunacy,” it is hard to imagine this resistance holding up. The number of QAnon followers has exploded since the beginning of the pandemic. Polling shows that 30% of Republicans believe it is mostly true, 16% believe it is partly true, and only 6% believe it is mostly false. Among Fox News viewers, those numbers are 36%, 15%, and 4% respectively. Accepting QAnon will become a matter of survival for most GOP members of Congress; you can’t win your primary if you start off with half your base believing you are protecting Satanic child molesting cannibals.

06 •


Q Anon’s influence in the Republican party is strengthening.

(Screen Capture CSPAN)

LOCAL Indeed, the conspiracy theory is likely to become the default tribal epistemology (things people in a group “know” to be true even if they are not) of the Republican base. This base of white evangelicals has a long history of believing in child-molesting Satanic plots. Thus, denial of QAnon would be political suicide for Republicans in gerrymandered districts where the only election that matters is the primary. Mainstream media pundits have finally grasped the more obvious dangers posed by QAnon. The FBI has designated QAnon a domestic terrorism threat. Facebook last week banned about 900 pages and groups and 1,500 ads tied to QAnon, part of a sweeping action that also restricted the reach of more than 10,000 Instagram pages and almost 2,000 Facebook groups pushing the baseless conspiracy theory. Facebook also took down thousands of accounts, pages and groups as part of what it called a “policy expansion,” seeking to limit violent rhetoric tied to QAnon, political militias and protest groups like Antifa, NBC News reported. The coming U.S. elections are likely to be rife with problems; Trump may not accept the results, it could take weeks to count all the votes, and it could come down to the Roberts court deciding the results. If Biden wins, and Democrats retake the Senate, then perhaps the QAnon = Tea Party analogy will apply—with QAnon being even more extreme, violent, and explicit in rejecting the legitimacy of President Biden than the Tea Party was of Obama. But relatively powerless. If Trump remains president, however, then the analogy falls apart completely. If the Tea Party had achieved its goals in 2010, the Affordable Care Act would have been defeated, and the U.S. would have implemented some sort of draconian austerity plan to slash the federal budget deficit. If Qanon has its way, thousands upon thousands of Democratic leaders and government workers will be sent to prison. This might sound far-fetched, but we’re already actively following the template for modern single-party states. Places like Russia and Belarus, which have already fallen into despotism, have followed a pattern. First they tear down the judiciary and rebuild it in their own image. Then they use these rubber stamp courts to arrest and imprison their political opponents. Twenty-five percent of federal judges are now Trump loyalists, and likely to be more than half before the end of a second term, including a 7-2 majority on the Supreme Court. And the Trump administration has long called for the arrest of his political opponents. Another related facet of democratic decline, as noted by Levitsky & Ziblatt in their book “How Democracies Die,” is the framing of political opposition as a morally corrupt enemy of the nation. This then justifies extraordinary measures against them, even measures that require the violation of democratic norms. This feeds directly into the belief of Trump’s white evangelical base that “the country would be better off if the “other side” ceased to exist.” At the same time, Republican leadership is realizing this movement can be exploited for their own gain. For example, the Texas Republican Party is now selling “We Are The Storm” merchandise. Republicans will inevitably realize they can unleash this force of violent craziness on their political opponents via stochastic terrorism (e.g. inspiring QAnon member to “SWAT” their opponents for supposedly having children locked in their basement). In a party where the only thing that matters is seizing sole-power of the U.S. government, and keeping their base happy, QAnon is just another tool to achieve those ends. Which brings us to a near-future where a vindictive, petty Trump is still president, and intends to stay there until he dies. The courts have been packed to give him whatever he wants, the guardrails of democracy have been torn down, and the Department of Justice has become the instrument of vengeance he desired. The Republican Party has the power it wants, and the only real threat to individual elected officials is losing a primary to someone who swings even harder right. The base is still howling for action to be taken against the enemies of America. If Trump gets a second term acting on QAnon’s wishes, it will be a win-win-win situation for Trump, Republicans, and the conservative base. As NBC News journalist Brandy Zadrozny noted this week: “We’ve seen what happens when we dismiss right wing extremism online—namely lots of murders. We’ve already seen examples of real-world violence from QAnon followers. What will it take for us to take them at their word?” Brynn Tannehill is a senior defense analyst and a founding former board member of SPARTA.



GOP convention reaches out to gays, bashes trans people Log Cabin project seeks to duplicate success of Grenell video By CHRIS JOHNSON | cjohnson@washblade.com

“seems to be embracing a theme of weaponizing Much has changed since 1992, when Pat Buchanan religion to discriminate against LGBTQ people.” used the stage of the Republican National Convention “Cissie Graham Lynch is sadly not alone in her bigoted, to demonize LGBTQ people. The event in 2020 avoided inaccurate beliefs, as the Trump administration has anti-gay animus and reached out to gay voters, been working hand-in-hand with anti-LGBTQ activists although the transgender community remains in the like her from day one,” Ellis said in a statement. GOP’s crosshairs. The Republican Party is making some overtures to Grenell video inspires more gay voters, most notably with plans at the largely virtual There’s plenty more where that video of Ric Grenell event for an openly gay speaker, a vague reference from calling President Trump the “most pro-gay president” a high-profile Republican congressional candidate and ever came from. undoing its decision to renew an anti-LGBTQ platform. Six more, in fact, according to Charles Moran, Richard Grenell, who has the distinction of being managing director of Log Cabin Republicans, whose the first openly gay Cabinet member after Trump organization produced the first video, and continues named him acting director of national intelligence, to shrug off assertions it inaccurately maligns Joe was set to address the Republican convention on Biden as anti-LGBTQ and trumpets President Trump Wednesday night. He’ll be the third openly gay speaker as a hero to the community. at a Republican convention, following former Rep. Jim “We’ve got about another six videos in the hopper,” Kolbe in 2000 and entrepreneur Peter Thiel in 2016. Moran said in an interview Tuesday. “Not Ric, but other In terms of gay visibility, Grenell will be filling the Log Cabin seeks to duplicate the success of the RICHARD GRENELL video with people who are gay conservatives and then lending role Thiel played at the 2016 Republican convention, additional clips. (Screen capture via Twitter) their voice to our effort, articulating their message.” although he indicated on Twitter his focus would be Grenell was the star of the first video, but Moran foreign policy and not innovation. said the upcoming six videos will be different. As the Trump administration official who in his dual capacity as U.S. ambassador to Some will be of notable LGBTQ conservatives, some will be a montage of the larger LGBTQ Germany spearheaded its global campaign to decriminalize homosexuality, that topic may conservative community, Moran said. well be a component of his speech as well as his own identity as a gay conservative. “We’ve actually sourced a larger community of gays and lesbians and encouraged gay Sean Parnell, a Republican congressional candidate in Pennsylvania who landed a highconservatives to actually send us video of them being outspoken on telling their stories about profile spot Monday at the convention, made a vague reference to gay people when arguing what it’s been like for them to try to present an opposing viewpoint in their friend circles, or communities traditionally affiliated with Democrats, but disaffected by the party, should come on campuses or in their social networks,” Moran said. to the other side. But Moran is keeping mum about the identities of the participants. When asked who exactly Parnell, among other things, called for people to join Republicans regardless of “who you would be featured in the final videos, Moran said he doesn’t have a final list of participants. love” — a term of art Democrats have used in the past to incorporate the gay community into It’ll be a tough act to follow — both in terms the slick presentation of the Grenell video speeches. and its visibility. The Grenell video had 6 million views as of Tuesday, Moran said. That’s in no “It doesn’t matter what you look like, who you love, how you worship, your gender or your small part a result of Trump himself retweeting out the video last week, saying the praise he job,” Parnell said. “If you are a traditional Democrat who has become disillusioned with how received from Grenell was his “great honor.” radical your party has become, then stand with us! You are most welcome. America needs all Grenell in the video makes the case Trump is an ally the LGBTQ community and Biden has her patriots to rush to her defense.” worked to harm it, despite long records from both suggesting the opposite is true. The Republican National Committee also changed course amid consternation over its “There are millions of patriotic gay Americans who are sick of being told to sit down and decision last month to renew its 2016 platform — which included anti-LGBTQ planks, including shut up by those who want control us, those who are afraid of our voice,” Grenell says in the an endorsement of a constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage, opposition to video, hinting at more videos to come from Log Cabin. transgender people using the bathroom consistent with their gender identity and veiled The videos are part of the new Outspoken project — a new media platform Log Cabin is support for widely discredited gay conversion therapy. gearing up to launch the same week as the Republican National Convention takes place. Instead of creating a new 2020 platform, the Republican National Convention adopted a A few recent posts on the Outspoken website criticize the left for coming after gay resolution to support Trump’s second-term agenda, blaming the media for distorting coverage YouTube personality Randy Rainbow for 10-year-old jokes about race and gender, hail the on its renewal of the 2016 document in lieu of the platform committee meeting during the establishment of Trump Pride as an official Trump campaign project and lambast the Human coronavirus pandemic. Rights Campaign for snubbing Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) to endorse her Democratic While the convention may have eased up on gay people, the transgender community challenger Sara Gideon. wasn’t so lucky. The project, Moran said, is intended to be a forum not only for gay conservatives, but also Cissie Graham Lynch, granddaughter of evangelist Billy Graham, lambasted Democrats for the “larger LGBT community to engage with conservatives and Republicans,” who have said supporting transgender youth in her remarks, drawing attention to Obama-era regulations their voices are being silenced in cancel culture. allowing transgender kids to use the restroom consistent with their gender identity, which the “We knew that the one common theme that we as LGBT conservatives have had is that, Trump administration revoked. especially over the last four years of President Trump’s administration, is we believe that the “Democrats pressured schools to allow boys to compete in girls’ sports and use girls’ locker left has actually tried to cancel our voices,” Moran said. “We talk about cancel culture, we talk rooms,” Lynch said. about diminishing diversity and thought and it just kind of became clear that we needed to Lynch praised Trump for his anti-trans reversal, saying once he came to the White House, create that space for gay conservatives to have a voice to get that voice out there.” he “withdrew the policies that put our little girls at risk.” Sarah Kate Ellis, CEO of GLAAD, said Lynch’s remarks are evidence the Republican convention 08 • AUGUST 28, 2020 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM


LGBTQ Democrats want to do more than defeat Trump Gay Supreme Court justice, Cabinet member among goals By CHRIS JOHNSON | cjohnson@washblade.com

The perspective there’s more to electing Biden than getting rid of Trump stands in contrast Jason Rae, who as the first openly gay secretary for the Democratic National Committee made to the general public, according to a recent survey from the Pew Research Center made public his national debut last week reading the roll call for states in the formal nomination of Joe Biden, last week. has a personal anecdote to tell about the presidential nominee. A majority of Biden supporters — 56 percent — say their top reason for backing the candidate When Rae was in a different role as a page in 2003 for the U.S. Senate, Biden, then a U.S. is “He is not Trump.” Other factors, including leadership, personality and policy, didn’t even senator representing Delaware, introduced Rae to an important visitor. break 20 percent. “Then Sen.-Joe Biden came and said, ‘Hey, hey, come here, I got to show you something. I want For Trump supporters, the reasons for backing him were more spread out: 23 percent cited you to meet somebody,’” Rae said. “And he came and introduced us to the Dalai Lama. Here’s a leadership, 21 percent cited policy, 17 percent said he’s for American values. “He is not Biden” 16-year-old kid — fresh in D.C. from Wisconsin for me — and here’s the senator who is wanting came in at 19 percent. to make sure that we get these experiences and having such interest in that.” Glen Paul Freedman, an Atlanta-based gay delegate for the Democratic convention, said In addition to his duties as DNC secretary, Rae was one of 635 LGBTQ delegates to last week’s getting rid of Trump is “a top priority,” but “it’s not just so much” that goal, citing among other 2020 Democratic National Convention. An uncommitted delegate representing his home state issues the president’s authority to appoint justices to of Wisconsin, Rae hails from Glendale, Wis., a suburb the Supreme Court. of Milwaukee and just outside the city where the half“There’s other things that are outside LGBTQ rights, virtual, half-live convention took place. whether it be for you know personally for health care, For many Biden supporters across the country, the or just in a society that treats people with dignity and goal for the election is simple: Defeating President respect,” Freedman said. Trump and removing him from the White House. Rae, With Biden continuing to lead in the polls against however, said from his perspective there’s more to it. Trump, LGBTQ advocates are also beginning to pile Rae, now 33, said the election for him is about making on the demands they want to see upon election of the sure “we’re really going to move our country forward on Democratic nominee to the White House. a number of issues, including LGBTQ rights.” The LGBTQ Victory Institute, which trains LGBTQ “I know Joe Biden’s still gonna push to pass the Equality political hopefuls and seeks to ensure LGBTQ people Act within his first 100 days, reverse Trump’s ban on obtain appointments in the U.S. government, identified transgender military service, really push in a holistic last week four specific goals for the next administration. way,” Rae said. “I think the Biden-Harris administration • Appoint a Senate-confirmed openly LGBTQ Cabinet understands that LGBTQ equality is a civil rights issue, member for the first time; and that they are going to take the concerns of our • Nominate an openly LGBTQ U.S. Supreme Court community forward.” justice for the first time; Rae is among LGBTQ delegates who spoke to the • Appoint openly LGBTQ woman ambassadors, Washington Blade and said they don’t just want the Jason Rae read the roll call as DNC secretary and LGBTQ delegate. LGBTQ ambassadors of color, and transgender election to be about getting ridding of Trump and (Photo by Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons) ambassadors for the first time; and anticipate results once Biden and his running mate • Ensure openly LGBTQ people receive equitable Kamala Harris are elected. representation among presidential appointees and that they reflect the full diversity of the Earl Fowlkes, a D.C.-based gay Black activist and chair of the Democratic Party’s LGBTQ LGBTQ community. Caucus, said “of course there’s more” than beating Trump and making that case will be a winning Annise Parker, former mayor of Houston and CEO of LGBTQ Victory Institute, said in a element to Biden’s election. statement a coalition of 31 organizations will support the effort. “I think we made a mistake in 2016 of believing saying that I’m not Trump is a winning formula,” “Presidential appointees have tremendous influence over the policies and direction of federal Fowlkes said. “People have to have a reason to vote. It’s not just because of Trump and who he agencies and the executive branch, so it is essential LGBTQ people are included both in highis, but because of what we offer in response to Trump’s policies. We’re offering comprehensive level positions and throughout the next administration,” Parker said. “There is an LGBTQ person inclusive policies that will lift up all Americans, especially those who are most vulnerable, such as qualified to fill nearly every position in the next administration and this coalition is determined our transgender sisters and brothers and people who are poor.” to help them navigate a complex appointments process to ensure we are well represented.” Fowlkes also said promises from Democrats have to be more than just talking points and Democrats are making promises they plan to deliver. Among them is Rep. David Cicilline must be acted upon swiftly in the next administration. (D-R.I.), who was among the high-profile speakers at the convention’s LGBTQ Democratic caucus “It has to be really instituting policy changes, and in the first 100 days of the administration,” last week. Fowlkes said. “It has to happen.” Cicilline in his remarks envisioned passage of the Equality Act, legislation that would update The 635 delegates at the 2020 Democratic National Convention, which includes 30 transgender the Civil Rights Act to expand the prohibition on anti-LGBTQ discrimination under the law. delegates, make up a sizable portion of the 3,979 delegates who are part of the event. “With Joe Biden as our president, it will become the law of the land, so this is an important It’s also the most LGBTQ delegates ever at a Democratic convention, and by a sizable margin: election for our count,” Cicilline said. “It is not an understatement to say our very democracy In 2016, for example, the number was 515, and in 2012 the number was 550. depends on it, but our community has a special interest in this, because we can elect a president Fowlkes conceded his interaction with the LGBTQ caucus was limited because of the and a vice president who have a long record committed to full quality for our community, and virtual nature of the convention, but was hopeful it would nonetheless infuse delegates with we’re fighting against a president who has in every way undermined full equality.” enthusiasm just before the election. Other high-profile speakers at the LGBTQ caucus were Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who “We won’t have these huge rallies when you’ll be able to say the candidates all fell flat, or represents the largest city to elect an openly LGBTQ mayor, as well as lesbian Sen. Tammy there’s a lot of enthusiasm people are carrying more than they’re sure before,” Fowlkes said. Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.). The virtual caucus had 5,390 page views from “We don’t have that so we’re gonna have to do really one-on-one and use social networks to 3,050 unique devices, a spokesperson for the Democratic National Committee told the Blade. really drill down deep and convince queer people to vote.” 10 • AUGUST 28, 2020 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM

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Fight against HIV/AIDS ‘goes across party lines’ Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón and former U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) on Monday stressed the fight against HIV/AIDS remains a bipartisan issue. “This is a health issue,” said González during a Zoom call that AIDS United organized. “This is not about a certain group of the community. This is not about a specific gender. This is about health care. This is about health.” González is a Republican non-voting member of the U.S. House of Representatives who is a member of Puerto Rico’s prostatehood New Progressive Party. California Congresswoman Barbara Lee, who chairs the Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus, late last year named González co-chair of the group. González on Monday said more than 40,000 people in Puerto Rico live with HIV. She also noted she and Lee in March introduced a bill that would repeal laws that criminalize people with HIV/AIDS and discriminate against them. “This is something that goes across party lines,” she said. “This is something that affects everybody … we should be doing something about it.” Ros-Lehtinen, who was born in Cuba, in 1989 became the first Latina elected to Congress. She represented portions of South Florida in the House until her retirement in 2019. Ros-Lehtinen co-chaired the Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus until Lee named González as her successor. “Jenniffer understands the issue,” said Ros-Lehtinen on the call, referring to González. Ros-Lehtinen acknowledged the HIV/AIDS pandemic has “heavily impacted” South Florida. Service providers in South Florida with whom the Blade recently spoke said the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated existing health and economic disparities for people with HIV/ AIDS. Puerto Ricans with HIV/AIDS have struggled with the same disparities that Hurricane Maria, which devastated the U.S. commonwealth in 2017, and the current pandemic have made more acute. González herself announced hours after she participated in the AIDS United call that she had tested positive for coronavirus. Ros-Lehtinen noted she and Lee had vastly different positions on a variety of issues, but “on this subject and on many other subjects, there are no party labels.” “You have the disease, there’s no discrimination,” said RosLehtinen. González agreed. “I believe in equality,” she said. “I’m living in Puerto Rico where 3.2 million Americans are disenfranchised. They cannot vote for president. They cannot vote for their senators. They don’t have equal representation in Congress. I can’t be selecting how equality is going to be defined or what issues are equal or what not.” “Equality is equality,” added González. “Health care is equality and in that sense I should be representing my island and all the people, including the people with HIV.” The AIDS United call coincided with the first day of the Republican National Convention. President Trump in his 2019 State of the Union address vowed to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic within a decade. Advocates with whom the Blade spoke at the time expressed

skepticism and noted, among other things, Trump in 2017 abruptly fired all members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS without explanation. The Trump administration’s record on LGBTQ rights issues has been sharply criticized. Outgoing Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced, who is a member of González’s party, has also faced intense criticism from activists in the U.S. commonwealth and elsewhere over her administration’s LGBTQ rights record. Ros-Lehtinen on the call noted former Vice President Biden, like Trump, has also pledged to end the HIV epidemic. “This is a human issue,” said Ros-Lehtinen. “It’s not a Republican problem or a Democratic problem. We’ve got to come together to solve it.” AIDS United President Jesse Milan, Jr., who has lived with HIV for 38 years, agreed. “Ending this epidemic is clearly a bipartisan issue,” he said.

Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner JENNIFFER GONZÁLEZ COLÓN and former U.S. Rep. ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN (R-Fla.) (Photo of González Colón public domain; Blade photo of Ros-Lehtinen by Michael Key)


Coronavirus reveals disparities for Floridians with HIV FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — HIV/AIDS service providers in Florida say the coronavirus pandemic has further exacerbated health care and economic disparities that many of their clients face. Tatiana Williams is the co-founder and executive director of Transinclusive Group, a Fort Lauderdale-based organization that serves transgender people in South Florida. Williams is also the co-chair of South Florida FLUX, which advises AIDS Healthcare Foundation on trans-specific issues. Williams told the Blade during a telephone interview from Fort Lauderdale the pandemic “just really highlighted some of the challenges that are happening within the transgender community.” “A lot of our clients were already dealing with unemployment, dealing with a lack of access to health care, dealing with a lot of these issues,” she said. Williams said her organization’s Transinclusive Emergency Crisis Fund has been able to provide clients emergency housing and a host of other services that include help paying utility bills and medications. “You had a lot of our clients working in these nightclubs that were closed down, so a lot of them immediately went into a position of survival mode and not having access to a lot of things,” she said. “With COVID, it just turned their lives upside down.” Williams said problems with Florida’s unemployment system delayed payments to many Transinclusive Group clients who lost their jobs because of the pandemic. Williams told the Blade they “were behind” once they began to receive unemployment checks, and this delay created “gaps” in their medications. “A lot of health care providers weren’t working at full capacity,” she said. “A lot of them weren’t even returning calls, so a lot of the clients, especially HIV-positive clients, hadn’t received care, so we had to go into the telemedicine mode and we were linking people back to care.” Other HIV/AIDS service organizations in Florida have made


similar adjustments in response to the pandemic. Arianna Lint is a Peruvian woman with HIV who founded Arianna’s Center, a Wilton Manors-based organization that serves trans women with HIV. She told the Blade during an interview at her office the pandemic has made her organization’s work “more difficult because we have (had) to invest more time” with teaching clients how to use technology to access health care. Lint said Arianna’s Center has also had to visit clients at their homes. Stephen Fallon, co-founder and director of Latino Salud, another Wilton Manors-based organization that serves LGBTQ Latinos with HIV, during a July 23 Zoom call with other HIV/AIDS service providers that AIDS Healthcare Foundation organized said the majority of health care providers in his area remained open “to some extent” during the lockdown imposed when the pandemic began. Fallon said testing agencies were closed during this period. “We were getting deluged with all the folks who needed testing services who couldn’t go anywhere,” he said. Scott Pridgen is executive director of AH Monroe, an organization that serves people with HIV/AIDS in the Florida Keys. AH Monroe has offices in Key West, Marathon, Tavernier and Key Largo. Pridgen told the Blade during a telephone interview from Key West the pandemic has forced his organization to operate its offices virtually, “which is new because a lot of our case management, especially our older population that is living with HIV have other co-morbidities that require more of a physical, hands-on type of care versus doing it virtually.” “We’ve had to take that into consideration,” said Pridgen. The pandemic began during the height of the Keys’ tourism season, which Pridgen said is “when people make their money to carry them through during the slow season.” MICHAEL K. LAVERS

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Rent control measure offers lifeline for 17 million Californians

The California dream is dying and only the voters can save it By MICHAEL WEINSTEIN In every election season we listen skeptically when we are told that this is the most consequential election for an eon. Only this time it is true and then some. It is doubtful that our democracy will survive if the current administration is vindicated by winning re-election. In fact, the world is at grave risk if Donald Trump remains. Given how focused we are on that outcome, it is easy to forget the MICHAEL WEINSTEIN other critical matters is president of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. that are before you as a voter in November. Important issues ranging from criminal justice, taxation, affirmative action and economic justice will be before you as voters. But one initiative touches people’s personal lives more than any other: Proposition 21, the rent control measure. California has 17 million renters who have little or no protection from skyrocketing rents. We are the epicenter of homelessness in America; have the highest poverty rate as measured by the cost of living and many renters pay half their income or more in monthly rent. But even if you are a homeowner, housing affordability hits you hard. People priced out of the big cities commute long distances snarling traffic and polluting our air; children remain living at home long after they or their parents want them to; the apocalypse of homelessness scars our communities and reflects poorly on our values as a society. Likewise, gentrification has run amok. Traditional people of color communities are being run off by luxury developments that include few, if any affordable units. Pundits rail against ballot initiatives because they believe that a relatively uneducated electorate should not do the job of legislators. All well and good, but what are citizens to do when Sacramento is so bought and paid for that no renter protections can overcome the millions of dollars in campaign money showered on legislators by Big Real Estate. We are in severe crisis. A UCLA study found that as many as 365,000 more people will become homeless in Los Angeles

alone if action is not taken soon. In 2018, Proposition 10, a similar rent control measure was voted down by 59% of the voters. So why is AHF doing this again? Because the situation has gotten so much worse. The California dream is dying and only the voters can save it. A lot has changed since 2018 but you can sum it up by this saying: ‘when rents go up, tents go up’ and the pandemic is making it much worse. This year’s initiative has three major differences from 2018. First, we explicitly exclude new construction; second, we exclude two homes owned by an individual; and third, we allow landlords to raise rents by 15% when a unit is vacated. But the biggest difference is the nature of this year’s electorate. The passion to rid ourselves of Trump will motivate infrequent voters, many of whom are people of color and the young, to vote. Plus, it has never been easier because a ballot will be mailed to every registered voter for the first time. If you believe that the arc of history bends toward justice, then the time will come for renters’ rights – it is inevitable. Look at how long same-sex marriage took or legalization of marijuana? And AHF is not quitting this battle. I was drawn to the issue by seeing my neighborhood, Hollywood, simultaneously become gentrified as Latino families were pushed out to make room for luxury apartments. I saw AHF’s clients becoming homeless and our staff having to travel longer and longer distances to get to work. Much like the moral outrage of AIDS in the ‘80s when few cared that our brethren were dying in the hallways of the county hospital, our government seemingly doesn’t care that low-and middle-income people can no longer afford to live here and often wind up on the streets. AHF has jumped in with both feet. We are fighting gentrification, trying to enact rent control and buying buildings to house the homeless. AHF has purchased eight hotel or motel properties that include 791 rooms; many more are in the pipeline. We’ve done it cheaper and faster by far than our government. In the great tradition of AHF’s mission of services and advocacy, we are not just telling them what to do we are actually showing them. But we cannot do it alone. We need everyone’s support and 17 million renters need your help. Donate, volunteer and VOTE! Proposition 21 is sponsored by Yes on 21 – Renters and Homeowners United to Keep Families in Their Homes, Sponsored by AIDS Healthcare Foundation, with significant funding by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. To learn more, visit yeson21ca.org.


VOLUME 04 ISSUE 35 ADDRESS 5455 Wilshire Blvd, 21st Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90036 PHONE 310-230-5266 E-MAIL tmasters@losangelesblade.com INTERNET losangelesblade.com PUBLISHED BY Los Angeles Blade, LLC PUBLISHER TROY MASTERS tmasters@losangelesblade.com 310-230-5266 x8080 (o), 917-406-1619 (c) SALES & MARKETING SALES EXECUTIVE ROMAN NAVARRETTE roman@losangelesblade.com 310-435-3022 PALM SPRINGS ACCOUNT EXEC BRAD FUHR, 760-813-2020. brad@gaydesertguide.com NATIONAL ADVERTISING RIVENDELL MEDIA sales@rivendellmedia.com, 212-242-6863 MARKETING DIRECTOR STEPHEN RUTGERS srutgers@washblade.com, 202-747-2077 x8077 EDITORIAL CONTRIBUTING WRITER KAREN OCAMB karenocamb@losangelesblade.com NATIONAL EDITOR KEVIN NAFF knaff@washblade.com, 202-747-2077 x8088 INTERNATIONAL EDITOR MICHAEL K. LAVERS mlavers@washblade.com CONTRIBUTORS



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EBONY AVA HARPER, based in Sacramento, is a human rights activist and founder of The National Alliance for Trans Liberation and Advancement.

UK ‘detransition’ advocate opposes California trans legislation Taking on TERFS as a black trans woman By EBONY AVA HARPER Growing up in South Central Los Angeles in the ‘80s was traumatic for a Black trans kid. I have vivid flashbacks of being in the Black church having the “gay demon” prayed out of me. I was rejected and beat relentlessly until I had welts all over my body. Those that were supposed to protect me brought me great harm, to my core. Finally, at 13 years old, I hopped on the 212 bus to Hollywood and found my tribe. Most Black trans women I know have similar stories. We know hardship, but we also know resilience. Thanks to California legislators, a few of us can live somewhat healthy lives. It wasn’t like that even five years ago. However, a growing campaign of hostility and manipulation is in our midst. Amid a global health crisis, the continued murder of Black trans women, civil unrest due to racism, and the Trump administration continually attacking the civil rights of transgender Americans, we are witnessing a different kind of British invasion. No, it’s not the pleasant tunes of Sade, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Estelle, Adele, or George Michael. It’s a separatist culture threatening the rights and advancements of transgender, gendernonconforming, and intersex Americans. Unsurprisingly, it harms Black trans women the most. UK’s Exclusionary Feminism is harmful to Black trans women This invasion is called the “Gender Critical Movement.” One of the movement leaders, Charlie Evans, has positioned herself as the authority on “detransitioning,” or as they call it, “detrans” for short. Evans is frolicking with what is known colloquially as Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists, or “TERF” for short, taking their radical exclusionary stances on trans women and practicing their deceptive moves right here in our California politics to fuel her organization’s development. The Gender Critical Movement is partnering with fringe-right Christian groups including the California Family Council to attack our vulnerable, yet resilient, trans community. The founder of the British organization, Detransition Advocacy Network, Evans, is now an international manipulator, a grifter roaming to feed off the vulnerable. What’s also troubling is Evans and her newly formed British organization is in California opposing Assembly Bill 2218 (AB2218), a bill supported by Bamby Salcedo, The TransLatina Coalition, California TRANScends, Gender Health Center, and a coalition of trans-led organizations throughout the state. AB2218 would support trans-led organizations and

programs through this global health pandemic. We’re not seen as a priority, and we need support to help our community members. We’re already under-resourced. The California trans community has a high percentage of trans people of color living in despair. COVID-19 has exacerbated disparities among an already vulnerable population. The Detransition Advocacy Network has been harassing our state legislators on Twitter for weeks. You know why? Because Evans sees an easy path to getting money from our state. When you delve into Charlie’s background (with a simple Twitter search), you find out Charlie is quite the polarizing personality when it comes to treatment and behavior toward trans populations. One can even argue that Charlie doesn’t care about trans people at all; they’re a provocateur and indeed anti-trans while pushing a TERF agenda, supported by religious fanatics no less. And look at the attention Charlie is enjoying, what with the queen of anti-trans rhetoric herself, J.K. Rowling tweeting about Charlie and her article’ “Inventing Transgender Children.” That must feel like incredible validation. California’s Black trans community isn’t going back to pump parties in hotel rooms and relying on painful underground transition “medicine” as our primary source of transitionrelated care. I have silicone pumped all over my face because that’s all I could afford 20 years ago. Now, half of my face is disfigured. No, I will fight anyone that stands between a trans person getting quality care. Especially if they don’t even live in our country, let alone in California. While I have no judgment about people who may choose to transition and then feel that it’s not right for them, transitioning may not be for everyone, for whatever reason. What I cannot stay silent about is these individuals falling into the trap of a harmful organization that will further isolate them. Similar to crisis pregnancy centers, with their own manipulative motivations trying to catch those in most need, that’s what this movement does. In Black communities in America, we say, “don’t fall for the Okie Doke or the ole one-two.” They want you to pay attention to one fist while they’re coming over with that right hook. Yes, we need to find a better way to support the various ways that transitioning shows up, medically and socially. We don’t need a separatist movement to do so. We need better language around this that doesn’t sound violent or hasn’t been co-opted by TERF and antiLGBTQI fringe religious groups. I can’t support the language, but I support the journey. LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • AUGUST 28, 2020 • 15

Palm Springs plans to keep Pride alive in 2020 Live, socially distant events coming to the desert By JOHN PAUL KING

As our coronavirus woes continue onward into the waning months of 2020, with still no certain end in sight, the idea of having a chance to celebrate Pride at all this year – as we know it, anyway – seems more and more like a lost cause. While it’s been inspiring to see the efforts made by Pride organizations across the nation and the world to take the party to the virtual world, nobody can deny that the opportunity to have at least one real-life, in-person party before RON DEHARTE, president of Palm Springs Pride (Photo courtesy DeHarte) the year runs out would feel like a victory. With summer running out, however, and with it the timeframe for most traditional Pride celebrations, it’s become clear that is no longer a reasonable possibility. Still, there’s still reason to hang on – with managed expectations, of course – to a thread of hope. For the past five months, the Palm Springs Pride organization has been exploring its options for how to proceed – if at all – with its own Pride festival, which happens annually in November, thanks to the sweltering heat of the desert summer. Now, after carefully assessing its opportunities for bringing the city’s residents, leisure travelers, and business partners a reimagined, safe, socially distanced Pride Week celebration, Ron deHarte, president and CEO of Greater Palm Springs Pride, tells the Blade the organization is moving forward. “Supporting our community will come in various platforms this year and we are excited to give supporters of Palm Springs Pride multiple virtual, safe, and socially distanced ways to be involved,” de Harte tells the Blade. He also is quick to remind everyone that this is still a re-imagined experience, designed to be compatible with life in the Age of Covid. “During COVID-19, the county, state, and city do not allow any large parties, live entertainment, or for tens of thousands of people to gather for a parade,” deHarte says. “Even if it was permitted,” he adds, “during this time of crisis who really wants to take a risk and go to a large-scale event or gathering? What all that means to us is that we still have one more Pride to look forward to, and one more chance to get at least a taste of the kind of community event we have been largely denied in 2020 – even if we will still only be able to enjoy it from afar. The Palm Springs Pride website has posted a list of planned events for its scheduled dates of November 6-8, 2020). Though it’s preceded by a statement that reasserts deHarte’s stress on working within public health guidelines, it also points out: “We are watching for updates to state, county and city guidelines and expect to post our list of 16 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • AUGUST 28, 2020

Pride Week Programs toward the end of August 2020. Of course we know you will understand parties and large gatherings just cannot occur during this health crisis.” This might be an indication that further plans might still be in the works. In the meantime, the already-listed events reveal some “out-of-the-box” alternatives in the mix that shift the celebration, at least a tiny bit, tentatively back into the real world. Here’s the line-up announced so far for the free virtual experience:

Friday, Nov. 6:

Flag Raising Interfaith Pride Kabbalat Shabbat (online) – 6:30 pm Drive-in Movie Night Nov 6 at the Palm Springs Cultural Center Light Up The Night - Go Rainbow citywide effort to encourage displaying pink lights and rainbow theme decorations to show solidarity and support for the LGBTQ community

Saturday, Nov. 7 - Pride Car Caravan (free to participate)

10am - Noon, Pride Caravan (no street closures, no floats, no walking only passenger cars following posted traffic laws). Details Coming Soon Front Runners Pride 5K run and walk (check website for details) Retail Sales Events – we invite sales promotions with Main Street, Uptown, and Arenas Rd. Watch online via YouTube and Facebook (details to come) Drive-in Movie Night at the Palm Springs Cultural Center Light Up The Night - Go Rainbow citywide effort to encourage displaying pink lights and rainbow theme decorations to show solidarity and support for the LGBTQ community

Sunday, Nov. 8:

Pride KGAY T-Dance (free online event) Note that details about the Car Caravan – in effect, the reimagined festivals equivalent of a parade – are still forthcoming. It’s likely those details will involve opportunities for individuals, organizations, and businesses to register for participation; it’s also likely that those opportunities will be snatched up fast, so keep checking the Pride website in order to jump on yours quickly. Also a probable hot ticket is the Drive-in Movie Night (the film to be screened is yet to be announced), another indicator that this old-fashioned all-American outing from our past might be part of the path forward out of the isolation of social distancing; it’s heartening to see this emphasis on progress in the face of obstacles reflected in the plans for the festival, which also includes a plan to “light up the city” with pink and rainbow lights – helping in yet another way to move Pride back into the outside world, at least in spirit, where it has always belonged and where it will surely be able to be again, As more details emerge about the announced events, along with any additional announcements that come along in the days and weeks ahead, the Blade will keep you updated. For more information about the Greater Palm Springs Pride organization itself, and how you can become involved as a donor or a sponsor, visit them at www.pspride.org.

Two Eyes, is the August 28 Outfest Under The Stars festival closing film | Dir. Travis Fine | USA | 2020 | English | World Premiere | 96 mins


8 great movies you can still catch at Outfest virtual festival

World’s largest LGBTQ film fest becomes a drive-in experience By DAN ALLEN

Outfest 2020 is already entering its final stretch, but thanks to the flexible format of its firstever virtual lineup, there’s still plenty of excellent queer cinema and related programming on tap in the coming days—and indeed in the coming year, since the all-access pass grants access not just to the 11-day festival itself, but also to a full 12 months of Outfest Now, its new year-round screening platform. For those who are itching to safely get out of the house and catch some choice LGBTQ flicks on the big screen, the festival is also presenting several select movies under the banner “Outfest LA Under the Stars,” with six more drive-in screenings this weekend at the beautiful Calamigos Ranch in Malibu. Access to this year’s virtual Outfest screenings can be purchased individually, but the all-access pass is a steal at just $49.99—especially since it also includes the year-long access to Outfest Now. Digital screenings (available for 72 hours from time of release) can be viewed at OutfestNow.com and across most popular platforms, including iOS, Android, FireTV, AppleTV and Roku. Tickets for drive-in screenings are $30 per vehicle, plus $8 per occupant. Here are our top picks for the films still on tap at Outfest 2020:

The Capote Tapes

Truman Capote was one of the most famous—and infamous—gays of the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s, the talented writer of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and “In Cold Blood” whose addictions to booze, fame, high society and bitchy gossip left his continued literary promise unfulfilled. Based on a series of never-before-heard audio interviews made by George Plimpton for his 1997 oral biography of Capote, this enlightening documentary, at turns deliciously fun and darkly tragic, illuminates one of the 20th century’s most fascinating queer figures. Available on Outfest Now from 12:01am on Friday, August 28 until midnight Sunday, August 30

The Obituary Of Tunde Johnson

To call director Ali LeRoi’s debut feature timely would be a colossal understatement. Filmed last year but eerily set on May 28, 2020—the same week as George Floyd’s murder—this is the powerful tale of Black Los Angeles teenager Tunde Johnson, stuck in an unending “Groundhog Day”-like loop of coming out to his parents in the morning, hooking up with his female best friend’s boyfriend during the day, and being gunned down by LAPD officers in the evening. As he continues to live out the same fateful day, Tunde finds that he can change his behavior, but probably not the racism that shapes his destiny. Available on Outfest Now until midnight Saturday, August 29

Ahead of the Curve

Just over 30 years ago, 23-year-old Franco Stevens envisioned a successful glossy magazine written by the world’s lesbians for the world’s lesbians. Franco’s funding path may have been unconventional (she pulled cash from several brand new credit cards, then took that wad to the racetrack), but her betting prowess and her subsequent tenacity resulted in the longest-running global lesbian magazine of all time, Curve (or Deneuve, as it was known until a 1996 lawsuit by the same-named French actress). Looking back on the three decades since, Franco and others (including current editor Merryn Johns) reflect on the magazine’s legacy and its future. Available on Outfest Now from 12:01am on Friday, August 28 until midnight Sunday, August 30. Also screening live at “Outfest LA Under the Stars” on Friday, August 28 at 7:45pm

P.S. Burn This Letter Please

After a box of juicy old letters is discovered in the storage bin of a recently

passed Hollywood luminary, filmmakers Michael Seligman and Jennifer Tiexiera set about finding the letters’ long lost writers—and in doing so uncover the vivid underworld of 1950s New York City drag royalty. Originally slated for world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival until the pandemic struck, this tender and truly fascinating doc reveals a real-life cadre of fierce and brazen big city queens, as remembered by their still-feisty and powerfully endearing octo- and nonagenarian selves. No longer available on Outfest Now, but screening live at “Outfest LA Under the Stars” on Saturday, August 29 at 8:00pm


Samuel H. Levine from the London and New York stage hit “The Inheritance” stars in this portrait of David, a 1980s Brooklyn Yeshiva student whose coming of age coincides with the advent of the AIDS crisis. Director Eric Steel’s first narrative feature delicately explores David’s quest to balance family, tradition and his own budding identity, as showcased through the subtle cinematography of Ole Bratt Birkeland, who also shot last year’s “Judy.” Available on Outfest Now from 12:01am on Friday, August 28 until midnight Sunday, August 30. Also screening live at “Outfest LA Under the Stars” on Friday, August 29 at 7:45pm

Freedia Got A Gun

Already a veteran documentee through her Fuse series “Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce,” here New Orleans’ Big Freedia turns her attention directly toward the issue of gun violence, made very personal by the tragic 2018 murder of her younger brother. Freedia walks us through her journey, and shares how gun violence has impacted her life—not limited by any means to her brother, as Freedia estimates that she’s known between 60 and 70 people killed by guns—and the lives of so many other Black residents of New Orleans. The film is executive produced by New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow, who also provides wider context for the ongoing national plague of gun violence. Available on Outfest Now until midnight Saturday, August 29

Ellie & Abbie (& Ellie’s Dead Aunt)

In this comically haunted twist on the coming out story, Australian teen Ellie seems to be at the top of her game, pulling perfect grades and mustering the courage to ask out her classmate Abbie. The sudden arrival of the ghost of Ellie’s dead lesbian aunt seems at first to turn her world upside down, but ultimately her new “fairy” godmother helps Ellie navigate the timeless trials of learning to live honestly and falling in love. Available on Outfest Now from 12:01am on Friday, August 28 until midnight Sunday, August 30

Two Eyes

Outfest 2020’s Closing Night film is the world premiere of Travis Fine’s long-anticipated directorial follow-up to the 2012 Alan Cumming-starrer “Any Day Now.” In this trio of interwoven Western stories, a young artist finds inspiration from the perceptions of his Native American guide while exploring 19th century Montana; a questioning teen in 1970s Barstow finds motivation in the free spirit of a newly-arrived exchange student; and a trans teen in presentday Wyoming finds solace in the understanding of his non-binary therapist (played by the iconic Kate Bornstein). The connective tissue of these three stories speaks to the healing power of community, especially among queer people. Available on Outfest Now from 12:01am on Sunday, August 30 until midnight Tuesday, September 1. Also screening live at “Outfest LA Under the Stars” on Sunday, August 30 at 8pm LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • AUGUST 28, 2020 • 17


‘Boys in the Band’ is back!

Bomer and crew return in new Ryan Murphy Netflix film By BILLY MASTERS

Filth – disgustingly offensive dirt, garbage, anything viewed as grossly indecent or obscene. Roughly a quarter of a century ago, that definition opened my very first column - which was, for a time, called “Filth.” Now, 25 years later, I’d like to share another definition with you: schadenfreude – pleasure derived by another’s misfortune. That’s how Mr. Webster defines “schadenfreude,” and who would argue with him? I don’t typically wish ill on people - primarily because I can’t be bothered. That being said, I’ve derived enormous pleasure in the prosecution and sentencing of Lori Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli. The so-called Operation Varsity Blues has held us hostage for well over a year but, to be completely honest, I really don’t care what Loughlin and Giannulli did. The fact that they dragged this out by stubbornly proclaiming their innocence, only to take the deal the feds offered from the start, strikes me as a big waste of time. Does it really matter to me? I suppose not. Will I get over it? Sure. The question remains - will either of them serve the allotted jail time given the pandemic? To maneuver these crazy days, one needs a steady hand. And that’s what we deliver on “Billy Masters LIVE” - every Tuesday and Thursday at 3 p.m. Eastern/ Noon Pacific. This week’s guests are author Christopher Rice on Tuesday and Funny Gay Males on Thursday. Last week featured two huge episodes. On Tuesday, we paid tribute to “Naked Boys Singing!” - the musical review that started in 1998 as a way to keep West Hollywood’s Celebration Theatre afloat. Former artistic director Bob Schrock joined composers David Pevsner and Mark Winkler, choreographer Travis Payne, publicity guru Ken Werther, and original stars Brian Beacock and Tod Macofsky for a trip down memory lane. Check it out on YouTube.com/BillyMastersTV. On Thursday, we had a first - Nikki Blonsky, Tracy in the film adaptation of the musical “Hairspray,” alongside the Link of the television version, Garrett Clayton. And what an amazing show it was. The two of them had never even met before - but both were fans of the other. Since the show made its Broadway bow 18 years ago last week, we had to do something special. In addition to having stars of the film and TV version, we were joined by Linda Hart (the original Velma on Broadway), Bruce Vilanch (original Edna for the National Tour and a Broadway replacement), Chester Gregory (replacement Seaweed on Broadway and National Tour), Charlo Crossley (original Motormouth Mable for the National Tour), and the marvelous Marc Shaiman - composer and co-lyricist. We even did a scene from the show - with me again playing Penny as well as Amber, because if someone was gonna play Garrett Clayton’s love interest, it was gonna be me. It was a VERY special episode, which you can watch on BillyMasters.com/TV. Ryan Murphy’s film remake of “The Boys in the Band” will hit Netflix on Sept. 30. This is based on the 2018 Broadway production and that entire cast is back - Jim Parsons, Matt Bomer, Zachary Quinto, Andrew Rannells, Tuc Watkins, Robin de Jesus, Brian Hutchison, Michael Benjamin Washington, and Charlie Carver. We hear that the film will include at least a bit of nudity - specifically Matt Bomer’s shower scene at the top of the show, and Tuc and Rannells’ sex scene at the bottom.

MATT BOMER returns to ‘Boys in the Band’ next month.

There was quite a hubbub about some old Tweets from Randy Rainbow that appear to be racist and transphobic. For several days, he made no statement, which only intensified the criticism. Finally, he issued a lengthy response. Here is part of it: “Twitter has recently reminded me about 10 years ago, in my maiden quest to be funny, I tweeted some jokes that were completely offensive and insensitive to look back on them now, especially with no context or nuance and through the prism of where we are in 2020 with racial inequality and the fight for social justice, which I’m proudly a part of...In light of issues that are now at the forefront, which I’m passionate about and have spoken up about over the years, these tweets just sound racist and awful. I’m embarrassed by them. They make me sick to my stomach, in fact, and I deeply apologize to anyone I offended.” He adds, “I am in no way a racist. I am in no way transphobic. I’m a gay Jew who was brought up in a very open, accepting family.” If he’d like to clarify further, he has an open invitation to appear on “Billy Masters LIVE”. Our “Ask Billy” question comes from Oscar in Santa Cruz: “Did I hear Lil Nas X is doing another CK underwear shoot? How much will he show? He’s so hawt.” I have the photos from the poolside shoot. If you are a fan of Lil Nas X, you’ll enjoy them. Of course, why let Calvins come between you and the singer when you can see every inch of him in action on BillyMasters.com. When we’ve come full circle, it’s definitely time to end another column. This was such a jam-packed week, I barely have time to remind you to check out BillyMasters.com - the site that, like its owner, doesn’t look its age. If you have a question, drop a note to Billy@BillyMasters.com, and I promise to get back to you before Randy Rainbow calls. So, as we go into our next quarter of a century, remember, one man’s filth is another man’s bible.