Losangelesblade.com, Volume 4, Issue 39, September 25, 2020.

Page 1

(Blade photo by Michael Key)

Our hero

RBG remembered as LGBTQ rights champion,


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Biden campaign hires LA County Democratic chair as state director Mark Gonzalez is long-time strategist and political operative By BRODY LEVESQUE

LOS ANGELES – Longtime Democratic Party strategist and political operative Mark Gonzalez, currently chair of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party, has been selected by former Vice President Joe Biden to be the California state director for his presidential campaign. Gonzalez in addition to leading what has been described the largest local Democratic Party entity in the nation, also serves on the board of the California Democratic party and is the District Director to Assembly member Miguel Santiago. The campaign also announced Sept. 21 that San Francisco-based Lizzie Heyboer. who worked on the presidential primary campaign of Massachusetts Democratic U. S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, will be the Biden Campaign’s state director of organizing. Heyboer previously had worked for the NextGen campaign for billionaire and former Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer. Gonzalez, who is gay, is well known in California Democratic circles having previously worked for several assembly members including out former Assembly Speaker John Pérez. California is an important source of campaign fundraising for Democrats. Although Biden lost the state in the primaries to Vermont U. S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, there are down ballot congressional races where turnout and organizing strength will matter and in this year against Trump congressional supporters in a couple of contested races, the former vice president having a strong presence can boost those candidates’ chances.

Vice presidential nominee, U.S. Sen. KAMALA HARRIS (left), Assembly member MIGUEL SANTIAGO (right) and LA County Democratic Party Chair MARK GONZALEZ (center to Santiago’s right) (Undated photo via Facebook)

DeGeneres returns to daytime TV with apologies Reports of ‘toxic’ workplace emerged over summer FROM STAFF REPORTS

BURBANK — The Ellen DeGeneres Show returned for its 18th season to a virtual studio audience on the Warner Brothers Studio lot in Burbank Sept. 21. The show’s return marked the first time since allegations of a toxic work environment on the show were disclosed earlier this year in Buzzfeed News magazine and in a series of Twitter threads by former staffers. DeGeneres opened the show joking; “If you’re watching because you love me, thank you. If you’re watching because you don’t love me, welcome.” She then deadpanned that she had a “great summer—super terrific.” Immediately addressing the issues that had plagued her as well as show executives DeGeneres noted “I take this very seriously and I want to say I’m so sorry to the people it affected,” and then added that the studio’s investigation had led to “the necessary changes” being made. Warner Brothers Studio distributes the Ellen Show and recently fired three of its producers amid allegations of misconduct and sexual harassment towards other employees. A spokesperson for Warner Brothers confirmed to the Los Angeles Blade that the studio had “parted ways” with executive producers Ed Glavin and Kevin Leman, and co-executive producer Jonathan Norman, in August. Speaking to the camera DeGeneres addressed the misconduct and sexual harassment allegations that emerged both online and in the Buzzfeed reporting. “I learned that things happened that should never have happened,” she said. “If I’ve ever let someone down, if I’ve ever hurt their feelings, I am sorry for that.” She acknowledged that she was “privileged” and as “a person in a position of power and privilege,” what happened to the staff of the show and others was ultimately her responsibility. “I know that I’m in a position of privilege and power, and I realize that with that comes responsibility, and I take responsibility for what happens at my show,” DeGeneres said.

ELLEN DEGENERES addresses a virtual studio audience as the show returns for its 18th season.

“We have made the necessary changes and today we’re starting a new chapter.” Addressing the Buzzfeed and Twitter allegations DeGeneres said, “The truth is that I am the person that you see on your TV”. She added: “I am also a lot of other things. Sometimes I am sad, I get mad, I get anxious, I get frustrated, I get impatient and I am working on all of that. I am a work in progress.” She also announced that her in-studio disc jockey, “Twitch”, had been promoted to the show’s co-executive producer. The Ellen Show has garnered 60 Daytime Emmy Awards since it first aired in 2003. LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • SEPTEMBER 25, 2020 • 03


It Gets Better turns 10 while Personal Stories Project documents LGBTQ lives Los Angeles-based effort has more than 70,000 videos By BRODY LEVESQUE LOS ANGELES – Ten years ago from the mid summer to the early fall of 2010 a pandemic of suicide deaths affected the LGBTQ community across the U.S. as nearly a dozen of adolescents killed themselves. Some identifying as gay, others Trans, and others subjected to horrific bullying because those young people were “perceived to be gay,” all ended their lives all too early. On July 9, just weeks after finishing his freshman year at Anoka High School in Anoka, Minn., 15-year-old Justin Aaberg killed himself in his bedroom; On Sept. 9, Billy (William) Lucas, a 15-year-old from Greensburg, Ind., was found dead in a barn at his grandmother’s home —he had hanged himself. Tyler Clementi a student at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J., jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge at the age of 18, on Sept. 22, after his roommate broadcast live video of Clementi ‘making out’ with another male in his dorm room. Tyler had informed his parents just days prior to attending Rutgers for the first time he was gay; Seth Walsh, 13 died Sept. 27, eight days after he was found on the ground after hanging himself from a tree on Sept. 19 in Tehachapi, Calif. An investigation later revealed he was a victim of bullying due to his ‘expressed homosexuality.’ The roll call of death continued on with many more young people. As a result, noted Seattle-based newspaper advice columnist, LGBTQ activist, and social commentator Dan Savage and his partner now spouse Terry Miller, were determined to make a difference and attempt to prevent other LGBTQ youth from killing themselves and to, as Savage later said, ‘give these kids hope.’ Savage and Miller uploaded an 8-and-a-half minute long video to YouTube on Sept 21, 2010, that had a simple but direct message to any LGBTQ young people in distress- “It gets better.” “If there are 14 and 15 and 16-year olds—13-year olds, 12-year olds—out there watching this video, what I’d love you to take away from it is, it really is that it gets better,” Savage said. The pair discussed the bullying and rejection they experienced as gay teens, and how life got better for them in the years after they graduated from high school. Their simple message went viral and within the days, weeks, and months that followed—hundreds and soon thousands of others uploaded their messages that life indeed did get better and a movement was born. Then- President Barack Obama also contributed a video of his own as an ally. That movement also spawned a non-profit. This week as the Los Angelesbased ‘It Gets Better Project’ turned 10 years old, it is now home to 70,000+ video 04 • SEPTEMBER 25, 2020 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM

stories from LGBTQ people and their allies. Brian Wenke, who took the helm as executive director in 2016, told NBC OUT that the organization is run by a small team of less than 10 people, but its reach includes a global affiliate network across 17 countries. At the heart of the ‘It Gets Better Project’ is the vulnerability of its storytelling NBC Out noted. Openly LGBTQ celebrities like such as singer Adam Lambert, actress Laverne Cox, actor Neil Patrick Harris, online social media stars like Gigi Gorgeous; and out politicos have all made videos to talk about their overcoming bullying, rejection and shame. Still, the nonprofit has struggled to find those willing to tell their most personal stories to the world Wenke told NBC Out. In the era of Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Discourse and now TikTok reaching LGBTQ youth at risk is even more challenging as “It Gets Better” enters its second decade. Making the task urgent is the fact that LGBTQ youth are four times more likely than their peers to consider killing themselves—with Trans youth at a higher percentage of the overall statistic according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System team. The greater levels of awareness and a willingness to take about mental health issues that affect LGBTQ youth however have greatly improved in the past decade Wenke told NBC Out. “I think when you look at the early stories of the It Gets Better Project, they were very much focused on overcoming trauma, and validating experiences of young people: ‘Look, I went through the exact same thing that you did, and this is what I did to get past that and this is where I am today,’” he said. “But what you’re finding today with people who are sharing stories is that there is an acknowledgment that trauma exists, and that there is trauma in the past, but that is not the main focus of the story that’s more about ‘This is what I’m doing now, and, yes, that happened, but it doesn’t define me. It has shaped me, but I’m bigger than that.’ And there’s a focus more on positive outcomes than trauma in younger generations today, which is encouraging.” Storytelling is also at the heart of another Los Angeles-based non-profit that records the stories of LGBTQ people, which was very much inspired by the ‘It Gets Better Project.’



CONTINUED FROM PAGE 04 The brainchild of its Executive Director Charles Chan Massey and his husband Joseph Chan who serves as a Board Member and Treasurer, the Personal Stories Project documents LGBTQ people’s lives from all sectors of society around the United States and the globe. The difference though Chan-Massey told the Los Angeles Blade was that in addition to preserving the stories, he and his spouse wanted a way to increase donations focused on giving to LGBTQ-focused 501c3 organizations. Chan-Massey related his organization’s story in a phone call Sept. 22 with the Blade; “When we first started bouncing around the idea to form The Personal Stories Project in 2012, the It Gets Better Project was one of several that we looked to for ideas. I really liked what they were doing and how they focused on LGBTQ youth. We wanted to do that as well, plus serve as a resource and platform for the larger community, including our allies,” he said. “Our initial idea was to work with folks to share their written and edited stories and be 100 percent social media based, with a “call to action” at the end of each story which would direct readers to a particular organization’s donation page directly, allowing them to make a contribution if they were moved to do so by the story they had just read. “It didn’t take long for us to realize that this wasn’t necessarily the best business model to remain sustainable so we fine-tuned things a bit and once we became a 501c3 in our own right we modified the call to action asked readers to make a donation to The Personal Stories Project, a portion of which would be shared with an organization they could select from a drop-down menu, including a “fill in the blank” where they could name a charity of their choice. “We now have 20 organizations we donate to on an annual basis including PFLAG National, several PFLAG chapters, the Trans L@ tina Coalition, Stepping Stone, which is an LGBTQ-specific nonprofit alcohol and drug recovery organization, GLSEN, and The Utah Pride Center, among others. Each December our board of directors determines how much we are able to donate, based on the success of the previous year’s fundraising efforts. “As an organization we decided early on that we wanted to serve as a platform for “everyday folks” to share their stories. To that end, you’ll find stories including one about a mom from Texas who came from a religious background who shared in part that “before my beliefs could change my truth had to change” in regards to how she came to accept her two LGBTQ children; the father of a young trans girl from Montana; and a young man whose video proposal went viral, among others. Each of the stories we have shared have been “sourced,” for lack of a better way to say it, via our collective social media connections. “Most recently, in the age of COVID-19, we have obviously had challenges shooting video stories, so in June we came up with what became a “project within a project” and shared half a month’s worth of “What’s Your Pride Story?” short written stories. All our stories, video and written, are archived on our website: https:// personalstoriesproject.org/stories/. “We live in a world where there is room for all kinds of story sharing projects, from the It Gets Better Project, to I’m From Driftwood, to The Lavender Effect, and more. I don’t think of any of these organizations as competition, but rather as colleagues. We all have the same goal—to give people a platform to share their own personal stories to help others who may, in some way, identify with a story they might read or video they might watch,” he said. “As for my personal goal? I want to leave the world a better place than I found it. Most days I feel like I’m on the right track to do just that.”


CHARLES CHAN-MASSEY (left) and JOSEPH CHAN (right) (Photo courtesy of the Personal Stories Project)

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Williams Institute head confirmed to EEOC seat FROM STAFF REPORTS

WASHINGTON – The Senate voted 54-42 Wednesday to confirm Jocelyn Samuels, the executive director of the Williams Institute at the University of California Los Angeles School of Law, to a Democratic seat on the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. This action came one day after the Senate confirmed Andrea Lucas and Keith Sonderling to Republican seats on the commission. “I am humbled and honored to serve, and hope to be able to advance the rights of vulnerable communities in this new role,” said Samuels in an emailed media statement to the

Blade. “It has been a true privilege to work at the Williams Institute over the last 3-plus years, and I remain committed to doing all I can to support its vital mission.” Samuels has served as executive director of the Williams Institute since 2017. Before joining the Institute, she served as director of the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services Department and as acting assistant attorney general for civil rights at the U.S. Department of Justice during the Obama administration. Earlier in her career, she worked as a senior policy attorney at EEOC. JOCELYN SAMUELS (Photo Williams Institute)

Newsom signs executive orders on commercial evictions, launches new climate initiative FROM STAFF REPORTS

SACRAMENTO–California Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed an executive order to extend authorization for local governments to halt evictions for commercial renters impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic through March 31, 2021, and address a variety of issues in response to the pandemic. To protect local health officers and other public health officials on the front lines of the

fight against the virus, the order permits these individuals to participate in the Secretary of State’s address confidentiality program. The order also allows the Department of Managed Health Care to gather information to assess the impacts of the pandemic on health care providers and health care service plans. Additionally, the order extends provisions allowing certain posting, filing and notice

requirements under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to be fulfilled electronically. Emphasizing California must stay at the forefront of the fight against climate change, Newsom issued an additional executive order Wednesday to restrict new car sales in the state to only zero-emission vehicles by 2035 and threw his support on a ban on use of hydraulic fracturing by oil companies.

LA County Parks are looking for you FROM STAFF REPORTS

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation is looking for highly talented independent instructors to bring valuable expertise to the community and provide an opportunity for others to learn new skills, stay active and healthy, and have a great time. Recreation and enrichment classes promote personal well-being among the various communities of the county and improve the lives of Angelenos. Parks & Rec is recruiting now for the winter season, which is scheduled to begin on Jan. 4, 2021. The department is looking for a variety of classes for all

ages, such as Fine Arts, Dance, Music and Performing Arts, Virtual Classes, Photography, STEAM Classes, Fitness, Sports, Zumba and Yoga, Ballet and Folklorico, Crafts and hobbies, Outdoor Classes or any fun, unique sessions you propose! Parks & Rec noted in an email to the Blade; “As an independent instructor, you set the fees, dates, and times of your class—teaching on a weekly basis or as a 1 or 2-day workshop. You’ll have access to teaching at one of our fantastic recreation facilities at locations throughout Los Angeles County. Plus, we’ll help with


marketing and promoting your class or workshop. Apply online. (ContractClasses@parks.lacounty.gov.) Deadline for applications and class proposals is Oct. 9. To learn more about the Contract Class Program. We’re hosting information sessions on Monday, Sept. 28, at 6 p.m.. Sign up by email at contractclasses@parks. lacounty.gov.The folks commenting on the thread that followed Madril’s post universally expressed dismay and sadness over the loss of the beloved nightspot, some commenting that more closures are to come.


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Grenell defends global initiative to decriminalize homosexuality Former ambassador to Germany spoke with OutSports’ Cyd Zeigler By CHRIS JOHNSON

WASHINGTON — Richard Grenell, the former director of acting intelligence who has become the face of LGBTQ outreach to re-elect President Trump, defended on Sept. 21 the progress of the global initiative he led in the Trump administration to decriminalize homosexuality. Grenell, in a rare interview with the LGBTQ media with host Cyd Zeigler on the OutSports podcast, initially shifted blame to the Obama administration when asked about criticism of the effort to decriminalize same-sex relations in the 69 countries where it remains illegal amounted to nothing. “Well, first of all, I find very ironic that political types, partisan types will suddenly say that in the last couple of years, we were supposed to make progress on the 69 countries that criminalize homosexuality after eight years in the Obama-Biden administration,” Grenell said. “They did very little if anything to highlight this problem.” (The Obama administration did work to address human rights abuses against LGBTQ people overseas. Former President Obama in a U.N. speech in 2011 said “we must stand up for the rights of gays and lesbians everywhere,” eight years before Trump told the U.N. General Assembly his administration would work with countries to decriminalize homosexuality.) Rooting the problem in Islamic beliefs, Grenell also said the decriminalization of same-sex relations across the globe is an “incredibly difficult problem,” citing not only laws, but “ties to majority-Muslim countries who believe religiously in denying basic rights to gay and lesbians.” “And so, this has got to be peeled away from not just a civil society, but many religious societies that believe this is kind of a religious mandate,” Grenell said. “And so, it’s an uphill battle, but we are making incredible strides.” Grenell also repudiated the idea the global initiative accomplished nothing, saying the State Department launched the initiative worldwide and “we have seen incredible progress

RICHARD GRENELL defended progress in the global initiative to decriminalize homosexuality. (Photo public domain)

in some countries.” “I hesitate to ever—and this may be one of the problems why people don’t see the progress over the last couple of years—we’re very sensitive to not highlighting a country that is getting close or where we’re making progress because it only serves as a flashpoint for those who want to stop our progress, or the bad actors that would manipulate what we’re trying to do,” Grenell said. Indeed, at least two countries have made progress in recent months in decriminalize homosexuality. In July, Gabon decriminalized consensual same-sex sexual relations, becoming one of the few countries in sub-Saharan Africa to do so, and Sudan eliminated the death penalty for same-sex relations, although prison time from five years to life remains. There’s no evidence those changes happened as a result of the global initiative Grenell led. One challenge, Grenell said, is “there’s a big healthy debate” in the diplomatic community on whether or not the U.S. through its embassies “should speak up and confront say in the Middle East countries who criminalize homosexuality and do it from the U.S. embassies.” “The debate is let’s not make this an American thing, an American push, because many in the Arab (World) believe that being gay is an American idea and it’s from Hollywood, it’s from America

and its American values—and they say it in a very negative way,” Grenell said. For his part, Grenell said he’s been fighting within the State Department and the diplomatic community to say, “that’s a crazy idea” and the U.S. should be leading at the forefront of the issue. “We all know that being gay is not an American push, or an American idea, and so why would we be silent when confronting those who want to criminalize homosexuality?” Grenell said. “We should not play into this idea that it’s a Western thing. We should call it what it is, which is a crazy idea. There are gay people in every single country and they deserve to have their human dignity and their human rights. These are basic human rights, and I am one to want the U.S. to get much more aggressive in our embassies, and that is a controversial issue: Some don’t want to have the Americans leading the effort in these countries.” Grenell added the debate has “largely gotten past that” and U.S. embassies are “stepping out” and taking action, which he called “a change in the direction that many embassies have done.” “I still, though, have problems when certain ... embassies and countries don’t want to make this a Western push or an American push, but we do have greater support in the Trump administration to not back down from that fight,” Grenell said. Although Grenell faulted of the criminalization of homosexuality on Islamic beliefs, he added there has been progress both in the Middle East as well as the Caribbean, where he acknowledged the issue is also a problem. “Most people are shocked to know ... many countries in the Caribbean are just as bad on this issue as some countries in the Middle East,” Grenell said. “And so, we really need to make progress wherever we have the problem, and the 69 countries that criminalize homosexuality—it just means for the State Department and for the U.S. government—we have to work with our friends and allies to have 69 different plans because every single country is different.”

National LGBTQ Task Force executive director to step down Rea Carey has been with organization since 2003 By MICHAEL K. LAVERS WASHINGTON — The National LGBTQ Task Force on Sept. 23 announced long-time executive director Rea Carey will step down in early 2021. “From overturning discriminatory policies and passing LGBTQ inclusive laws to celebrating marriage at the Supreme Court, to being arrested alongside immigration activists, to the energy of our Creating Change conferences, it has been a remarkable ride,” said Carey in a press release. “Just to be alive during a time of such progress over the last many years has been astounding, and to serve the LGBTQ community in my 17 years at the National LGBTQ Task Force has been the joy and honor of a lifetime.” “We have faced down many obstacles together and made tangible progress for LGBTQ people and our families,” she added. “I have worked to ensure that we can be all of who we are in our multiple identities as immigrants, as people of color, as parents, as people experiencing homelessness, as voters, as

people of faith, as trans and bi, as workers. Together, we have fought to love who we want to love, for sexual freedom, to be free of violence and oppression in all its forms, to be seen, valued, and celebrated as fully human.” Carey has been with the Task Force since 2003. The press release notes the organization’s board of directors has unanimously chosen Deputy Executive Director Kierra Johnson to succeed Carey. Johnson will be the Task Force’s first Black executive director. “I am thrilled to join the long, proud legacy of the many powerful activists that have led this amazing organization,” said Johnson in the press release. News of Carey’s decision to step down comes against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic and associated recession that has left many LGBTQ advocacy groups struggling. The Task Force in March faced questions over its decision to hold its annual Winter Party in Miami Beach, Fla., even


National LGBTQ Task Force Executive Director REA CAREY (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

though local officials at the time had yet to recommend the cancellation of large events to curb the pandemic’s spread. Media reports indicate three Winter Party attendees died from the coronavirus and more than three dozen others became infected. A protest at the 2016 Creating Change conference in Chicago forced the cancellation of a reception with two LGBTQ activists from Israel. Carey faced calls to resign over the Task Force’s handling of the incident. Johnson is expected to officially succeed Carey on Feb. 1.


Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87 Justice was LGBTQ rights champion By CHRIS JOHNSON

“a force for good—a force for bringing U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth this country closer to delivering on its Bader Ginsburg, who joined major promise of equality for all.” decisions for LGBTQ rights on the bench “Her decades of work helped create and was known as the “Notorious RBG” many of the foundational arguments in progressive circles, died on Sept. 18 at for gender equality in the United States, the age of 87. and her decisions from the bench “Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg demonstrated her commitment to full died this evening surrounded by her LGBTQ equality,” David said. “She was family at her home in Washington, and will remain an inspiration to young D.C., due to complications of metastatic people everywhere, a pop culture icon pancreas cancer,” a Supreme Court as the Notorious RBG and a giant in the spokesperson said in a statement. fight for a more just nation for all. We Rea Carey, executive director of the extend our deepest condolences to her National LGBTQ Task Force, said in a family and loved ones.” statement upon Ginsburg’s passing she Among the rulings she joined were was “a giant of justice, a champion for Romer v. Evans in 1996, which struck equality and progress.” down Colorado’s anti-gay Amendment “Justice Ginsburg was an American 2, Lawrence v. Texas in 2003, which hero and pioneer, a voice for so many struck down state laws criminalizing marginalized people, leaving behind a sodomy. Both decisions were early legacy of courage, tenacity and historic indications the nation was beginning to impact in creating a better country and head into a different direction to accept a better world for all of us,” Carey said. U.S. Supreme Court Justice RUTH BADER GINSBURG gay people. “We are all so grateful for all Justice Ginsburg also joined rulings that Ginsburg has done for LGBTQ people, advanced same-sex marriage, including for women, for our ability to control our Windsor v. United States in 2013, which struck down the anti-gay Defense of Marriage own bodies, for all that seek to move freedom forward in this country.” Act; Hollingsworth v. Perry in 2013, which restored marriage equality to California after Ginsburg’s death will light a bonfire in an already tumultuous political season, as Proposition 8; and Obergefell v. Hodges, which struck down state bans on same-sex emotions are heated and civil unrest—even violence—has gripped the country ahead of marriage and extended full marriage equality throughout the country. the 2020 presidential election. The fate of Ginsburg’s seat, who was a strong proponent of For each of these rulings on marriage, justices were split 5-4, so if Ginsburg weren’t on abortion rights, will be seen as key to deciding whether or not abortion will remain legal the court, the decisions may not have come out in favor of the LGBTQ community. in the U.S. More recently, Ginsburg joined the decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, which found With a seat vacant on the Supreme Court, the responsibility falls to the president to anti-LGBTQ discrimination is a form of sex discrimination, thus illegal under Title VII of appoint a replacement who will be subject to Senate confirmation. For the time being that the Civil Rights Act. The broad ruling grants protections to LGBTQ people wherever there is Trump, who would have a Republican-controlled Senate evaluate his pick before the are laws against sex discrimination, including employment, housing, health care and election. education. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), flip-flopping from rules he set in 2016 Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said although when he refused to allow a vote on the confirmation of Merrick Garland, said in a statement former Justice Anthony Kennedy and current Justice Neil Gorsuch were the authors of the situation is different from 2020 and Trump’s pick will get a vote. major LGBTQ rights from the Supreme Court, Ginsburg was “the most important voice for “Americans reelected our majority in 2016 and expanded it in 2018 because we pledged LGBT people.” to work with President Trump and support his agenda, particularly his outstanding “As a civil rights advocate, she litigated and won the groundbreaking cases that appointments to the federal judiciary,” McConnell said. “Once again, we will keep our established strong constitutional protections for women,” Minter said. “As a Supreme promise. President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Court justice, she authored key sex discrimination decisions that paved the way for the Senate.” Court’s embrace of equality for same-sex couples in Obergefell and for LGBT workers in When conservative Justice Antonin Scalia died in 2016, McConnell struck a different tune, Bostock. She was our champion and the architect of an expansive vision of gender equality saying he’d let the people have their voice in the presidential election rather than allow the that was broad and capacious enough to include LGBT people. Without her influence and consideration of Garland, who President Obama nominated. legacy, none of those landmark decisions would have been possible.” “This vacancy should not be filled,” McConnell said at the time. “The American people Ginsburg herself became the first Supreme Court justice to conduct a same-sex wedding, should have their say on this issue, so let’s give them a voice. Let’s let the American people marrying Kennedy Center President Michael Kaiser and economist John Roberts in 2013. decide.” Kevin Jennings, CEO of Lambda Legal, said in a statement Ginsburg was an “irreplaceable Trump has recently updated his list of potential Supreme Court picks, which include giant” on the Supreme Court. anti-LGBTQ choices such as U.S. Circuit Judge Kyle Duncan and James Ho of the 5th U.S. “Throughout her entire legal career, including her 27 years on the Supreme Court, Justice Circuit Court of Appeals, as well as U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Ginsburg fought for the rights of those on the margins,” Jennings said. “From her time as Josh Hawley (R-Mo.). a lawyer with the ACLU Women’s Rights Project to her years on the Supreme Court, Justice ‘A force for good’ Ginsburg spoke with a clear and strong voice against inequality and gender discrimination. Appointed by former President Bill Clinton and confirmed in 1993, Ginsburg joined the A long-standing ally of the LGBTQ community, her unwavering support, both on and off majority for every decision for LGBTQ right from the Supreme Court. the bench, was a testament to her commitment to equality for all people.” Alphonso David, president of Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement Ginsburg was LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • SEPTEMBER 25, 2020 • 11


Tijuana authorities criticized over handling of trans woman’s murder Jeanine Huerta López found dead on Aug. 28. By MICHAEL K. LAVERS

The morgue released The family of a Huerta’s body to Jiménez transgender woman who on Sept. 2. She was buried was murdered in Tijuana in Puerto Vallarta the next last month has sharply day. criticized the way that local López told the Blade authorities have handled her mother and Huerta’s the case. JEANINE HUERTA LÓPEZ brothers were able to Local media reports (Photo courtesy of Diana Jiménez López) attend the funeral. López indicate Jeanine Huerta said she could not travel to López’s best friend found Mexico because she is undocumented. her dead in her apartment in Tijuana’s Francisco Authorities have not made any arrests in Villa neighborhood on Aug. 28. Her sister, Diana connection with Huerta’s murder. The U.S. Jiménez López, on Sept. 15 told the Washington Embassy in Mexico in a Sept. 1 tweet urged them Blade during a telephone interview from California to thoroughly investigate it. that Huerta had stab wounds throughout her “We are shocked by the murder of Jeanine, body. an activist for the rights of the LGBT community, Huerta was reportedly last seen at a Birthday in Baja California,” reads the tweet. “Authorities party on Aug. 24. should carry out a thorough investigation to find Jiménez told the Blade her sister was born in those responsible and give justice to Jeanine.” Puerto Vallarta, but grew up in San Bernardino Centro de Servicios Ser A.C. in a lengthy County. Jiménez said she moved to Tijuana around statement echoed the embassy’s call for a 12 years ago after she graduated from high school. thorough investigation. The group also urged Baja Huerta worked for Centro de Servicios Ser A.C., a California lawmakers to add a formal recognition group that provides health care and other services of murder based on gender identity to the state’s to the LGBTQ community and people with HIV/ Penal Code. AIDS in Tijuana. Jiménez told the Blade her sister “I don’t feel like the authorities are putting was also a sex worker. much effort into her case because she was trans,” “She was a kind-hearted soul,” said Jiménez. Jiménez told the Blade. “They started off the “She really helped others whenever she could.” investigation, trying to brush it off as maybe it’s just Huerta’s mother, Dolores López, told the Blade another case. It’s just not another case. She was that Huerta bought food for people during the my sister and just because she was trans doesn’t coronavirus lockdown in Tijuana. López also said mean she should be treated unequally.” her daughter previously worked as an interpreter The Blade has reached out to the Tijuana for a Mexican telephone company. Municipal Police Department and the Baja “She was an activist,” López told the Blade. “She California Attorney General’s office for comment. was a very, very hard worker.” ‘We seek justice for Jeanine’ Jiménez said it took a week for her to claim her Centro de Servicios Ser A.C. on Aug. 30 held sister’s body because authorities identified her by a memorial service for Huerta at their Tijuana her birth name, even though the friend who found offices. Many of the activists who attended wore her provided them with the correct spelling of her t-shirts that read, “we seek justice for Jeanine.” name. Centro de Servicios Ser A.C. in the statement Jiménez said she had to identify her sister’s it issued after Huerta’s death also noted Mexico “decomposed body” twice “just so they would is the second most dangerous country in Latin release the body to me.” Jiménez also told the America for LGBTQ people. It cited statistics that Blade the morgue did not properly store her indicate more than half of the 473 reported victims sister’s body. of anti-LGBTQ hate crimes in the country between “When I had to see my sister, it was a horrific 2012-2018 were trans women. smell,” she said. “There were worms crawling on “Jeanine, we promise you that we are going to her. She had no hair. It was just the worst thing that keep your fighting spirit and fervent conviction anybody should have to see.” that our lives must be respected and lived with “I’m not sure why I had to see my sister’s body dignity alive,” reads the Centro de Servicios Ser A.C. twice in order for them to release her to me,” statement. “We are in pain. We are sad, but we added Jiménez. are also angry and not powerless because we will López echoed Jiménez’s anguish. fight to ensure that no other transgender woman “It’s been hard because of all the things that has to suffer the agony that you suffered and that Diana had to go through to recover her body,” said deprived you of your hopeful smile.” López. “[It’s been] very painful.” 12 • SEPTEMBER 25, 2020 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM

Cuban authorities threaten to arrest LGBTQ activist, journalist

Jancel Moreno summoned to police station on Sept. 16 By MICHAEL K. LAVERS

An LGBTQ activist and journalist in Cuba says authorities on Sept. 16 threatened to arrest him. Jancel Moreno, who contributes to ADN Cuba, an independent website, in a Facebook post said he arrived at a police station in Matanzas, a city on the island’s northern coast that is roughly 60 miles east of Havana, at around 2 p.m. after he received an order to do the day before. Moreno wrote a major with Cuba’s National Revolutionary Police showed him a file with “more than 40 publications from my profile, also telling me that I am a follower of” José Daniel Ferrer, head of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), and other opposition figures. “It was really impossible to enter into a debate, because neither he will change his position, nor will I,” wrote Moreno. Moreno said the major told him he summoned him to the police station “to alert me that I can face four charges for his publications.” These include “enemy propaganda” and “disrespect (specifically because of my way of not showing respect for authorities, Mariela Castro’s name comes out …)” Mariela Castro is the daughter of former Cuban President Raúl Castro who spearheads LGBTQ-specific issues in Cuba as director of the National Center for Sexual Education. Mariela Castro is also a member of Cuba’s National Assembly. Cubans on Sept. 8 honor the country’s patron saint, the Virgin of Charity of Cobre. Moreno publicly criticized Mariela Castro after she evoked her to defend the 1959 Cuban revolution that brought her uncle, Fidel Castro, to power. Moreno in his Facebook post wrote the file he saw at the police station had copies of his public criticisms of Mariela Castro, including a hashtag that mocked her. Moreno said the mayor also told him he could face charges of “incitement to commit a crime (because I supported women who entered military officers’ houses last Saturday)” and “spreading a pandemic” that he concedes “is not very clear to me.” Moreno wrote he could face between 3-4 years in prison “for simply publishing on social media networks.” Moreno, 21, is the latest in a series of independent LGBTQ activists and journalists who the Cuban government has targeted.

JANCEL MORENO (Photo courtesy of Jancel Moreno)

Leandro Rodríguez García and his mother, Tania García Hernández, say a state security official on Sept. 11 threatened them at their home in Villa Clara province in Central Cuba. A judge last September granted asylum to Yariel Valdés González, a Blade contributor who faced persecution in Cuba because of his work as an independent journalist. The Cuban government on May 8, 2019, detained this reporter for several hours at Havana’s José Martí International Airport after he tried to enter the country. Authorities three days later arrested several people during an unsanctioned LGBTQ rights march that took place near the Cuban Capitol in Havana. Dayana Mena López, a transgender woman of African descent who is from Villa Clara province, fled Cuba in December 2018 because of persecution she said she suffered because of her gender identity and her opposition to the Cuban government. She won asylum in the U.S. in August 2019 and she now lives in Jacksonville, Fla. Yanelkys Moreno Agramonte and her girlfriend, Dayana Rodríguez González, suffered harassment and discrimination in the small town in Central Cuba where they lived because they are lesbians. The two women asked for asylum in the U.S. last November, and an immigration judge the month ruled in Moreno’s favor. Jancel Moreno’s former partner, Victor Manuel Dueñas, asked for asylum in the Netherlands in 2018. Dueñas said authorities threatened him when he publicly questioned police mistreatment of LGBTQ people in Cárdenas, a city adjacent to Matanzas. Rodríguez and Maykel González Vivero, director of Tremenda Nota, the Blade’s media partner in Cuba, are among those who the Cuban government has prevented from leaving the country.

VOLUME 04 ISSUE 39 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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For Joe Biden, push relentlessly until Nov. 3 Trump administration no friend to LGBTQ community By PAUL SCHINDLER, Gay City News Among the many compelling reasons to make sure that Donald Trump and Mike Pence are not reelected on Nov. 3, perhaps the 26 most compelling are the transgender Americans—most of them trans women of color—known to have been murdered this year. We needn’t be simple-minded in making this argument. Trump and Pence did not pull the trigger, and those who did must, of course, bear the consequences for their horrific acts. But the all-too-toxic environment which too many of our transgender siblings have endured in their lives has gotten immeasurably worse over the past four years. For this reason and many more, in an historic move, the 12 newspapers of the National LGBT Media Association (NGMA), which represents the nation’s oldest and most established LGBTQ publications with a combined circulation of more than one million readers, are issuing this joint endorsement of the Joe Biden/Kamala Harris ticket this week. From the start, Donald Trump has used the trans community as a punching bag to prove his toughness to his socially conservative base hungry for a strongman willing to turn back the clock. He has denied trans folks the ability to serve openly in the military, sought to strip them of nondiscrimination protections in healthcare, worked to rob trans youth of dignity in their schools, and battled to take away the right of student athletes to compete in sports. And against the trans community as well as lesbian, gay, and bisexual Americans, Trump’s administration fought tooth and nail to prevent the pivotal advance we won at the Supreme Court in June—the recognition that we enjoy employment nondiscrimination protections thanks to the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Still, Trump and his see-no-evil GOP Senate allies refuse to move the Equality Act, which would extend those nondiscrimination protections across the board in areas like housing and public accommodations. For them, the nation’s most embattled minority are bigots who want to enshrine their right to discriminate under the cloak of “religious liberty.” As in every other aspect of this endorsement, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris offer a stark and redemptive alternative. After Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell denied President Barack Obama federal judicial appointments in his last year in office, he and his colleagues have rubber-stamped an unprecedented number of judges—many of them viciously right-wing, others lacking in even the most elementary judicial qualifications—whose influence will last for decades to come. The cornerstone decision in protecting reproductive freedom—Roe v. Wade—may already be doomed by the Trump court’s configuration. Give him another chance or two to name a member to the high court and the ball game will definitely be over. Trump’s governing has been much like his court

| Courtesy of National LGBT Media Association

appointments—where he is not cruel, he is merely incompetent. Mexican and other Latin American immigrants have been slurred in overtly racist terms, and their children have been caged. Muslim newcomers to America have also been stigmatized where they have not been blocked outright. The damage is not limited to the newcomers. Latinx and Muslim-American citizens have faced increasing levels of hostility and hate crimes. Trump saw “very fine people, on both sides” during the 2017 neo-Nazi invasion of Charlottesville, but he’s been snide in reacting to the Black Lives Matter movement, telling Bob Woodward, in response to a question about why he can’t bring himself to empathize with African-American citizens, “You, you really drank the Kool-Aid, didn’t you?” The coronavirus’ most recent surge—in the Midwest—and the wild fires raging through wide swaths of the West are only the most calamitous indicators of Trump’s refusal to accept the basic facts of science, a posture at one with his hostility to fact-based discourse on almost any public policy issue. It’s no surprise that the nation’s free press and the unfettered right of Americans to vote—the twin jewels of American democracy— are, in his mind, enemies of the people. Meanwhile, Trump is most at ease with fellow authoritarian figures around the globe, whether Russia’s Putin, North Korea’s Kim, Turkey’s Erdoğan, or Brazil’s Bolsonaro. Since Hillary Clinton lost the presidency in 2016 even while winning almost three million more votes than Trump, the Democratic Party has undergone an internal battle of sorts for its soul, pitting insurgent, left-leaning candidates, many of them young newcomers, against more moderate establishment figures—on issues from racial justice to healthcare policy, economic inequality, and climate change action. Those are all areas on which debate is legitimate, indeed needed. But here’s the thing: With four more years of Trump, there is no real consequential venue for having those debates. Trump and his enablers are draining the oxygen out of our democracy. Debating between left and center in the House of Representatives is no substitute for regaining the White House and the Senate. Only then can we have our debates, lick our wounds, and set a course for a better tomorrow. This election will be decided in a small number of states— perhaps as many as a dozen, more likely just a handful. In all of the battleground states, LGBTQ activists and our progressive allies are on the ground working to elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Especially in a year when much of the campaign will be carried out on the air and online rather than in person, all of us—everywhere across the nation—can pitch in to help in those states where a boost for Biden is most needed. Grab a bucket, adopt a state, and dive in to the battle. None of us should wake up Nov. 4 wishing we had done more.


A suddenly perilous moment for LGBTQ rights

RBG’s likely SCOTUS replacement called transgender women ‘physiological males’ and trans rights ‘a strain on the text’ of law By TROY MASTERS and BRODY LEVESQUE LOS ANGELES – During an engagement with reporters in the West Wing Cabinet room Wednesday afternoon, after being asked about the election and also his pick for a nominee to replace the late Associate U. S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, President Trump said: “I think this will end up in the Supreme Court—I think it’s very important that we have nine Justices. I think the system is going to go very quickly. I’ll be submitting at 5 o’clock on Saturday, the name of the person I chose for this most important of positions.” There’s been a plethora of alarmist rhetoric on all social media platforms and in most queer media outlets generally warning that a Trump second term will end LGBTQ rights as the legal arguments put forth by the anti-LGBTQ organizations, law firms, and politicians for “religious liberties” will be advanced and onto a Supreme Court that is likely going to sign off on them. In regards to the court? Trump’s choice will now become a reality thanks to the hypocrisy and corruption of Senate Republicans led by Mitch McConnell. Once Sen. Mitt Romney declared Tuesday his support of his party’s efforts to secure Trump’s nominee regardless of who that person was, the math was entirely in McConnell’s favor. The damages to LGBTQ rights will likely not be readily apparent although there are cases pending in the fall term where the ‘religious liberties’ arguments will play a major role. Trump’s top two choices? A brief synopsis as provided by the Human Rights Campaign: Seventh Circuit U.S. Appeals Court Judge Amy Coney Barrett is the odds on favorite to be nominated by Trump. Barrett’s history tells a story of anti-LGBTQ ideology, opposing basic rights thought to be settled law, and an anti-choice ideology out of step with popular opinion. She defended the Supreme Court’s dissenters on the landmark marriage equality case of Obergefell v. Hodges, questioning the role of the court in deciding the case. She says Title IX protections do not extend to transgender Americans, claiming it’s a “strain on the text” to reach that interpretation. She misgendered transgender people, referring to a transgender women as “physiological males,” while casting doubt on transgender rights. Barrett has consistently demonstrated opposition to reproductive rights. She called Roe an “erroneous decision” and a “dramatic shift.” She refused to rehear a racial segregation case, raising concerns about her approach to civil rights issues. Trump’s other leading choice is in many ways worse. Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Allison Jones Rushing’s long, close affiliation with the Alliance Defending Freedom, a group designated an anti-LGBTQ hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, proves she will be anything but impartial when judging cases with LGBTQ parties or about LGBTQ rights. Rushing justified the Defense Against Marriage Act, which defined marriage as between a man and a woman for federal purposes and allowed states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages from other states. Jones Rushing worked at the Alliance Defending Freedom and returned to the organization multiple times as a panelist and speaker. To footnote Rushing’s ADF connection, ADF believes in the re-criminalization of homosexuality in the U.S. and across the globe. In a 2003 amicus brief in landmark LGBTQ equality case Lawrence v. Texas, ADF stated: “Defining the criminality of certain forms of sexual conduct ... is a policy issue that has historically and properly been left to the state legislatures.” Over the last decade, ADF has praised court decisions criminalizing sodomy and supporting criminalization efforts in India, Jamaica and Belize. In Belize and India, same-sex activity was worth a 10-year stint in jail. 14 • SEPTEMBER 25, 2020 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM

The Trump-Pence administration allegedly has a program aimed at decriminalizing homosexuality across the globe, but there has been no concrete action other than officials saying it exists. Tragically for women’s reproductive rights and as well the entire LGBTQ community one of the two of these anti-LGBTQ women is now guaranteed a spot on the nation’s highest court. But beyond the court and past the fact that the Trump administration has targeted Trans military personnel, rolled back protections for healthcare for Trans people as well as other protections for the LGB people in the United States there is the greater danger. During the Wednesday evening press briefing this alarming exchange occurred: Reporter: “Win, lose or draw in this election, will you commit here today for a peaceful transferal of power after the election?” President Trump: “We’re going to have to see what happens. He then followed up with “You know that I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots, and the ballots are a disaster. Get rid of the ballots and we’ll have a very peaceful— there won’t be a transfer, frankly. There will be a continuation.” There is a pile-on. He’s not going to honor two centuries of peaceful and democratic transition. He has a corrupt hand-picked postmaster general who has ensured that chaos will take place over the next two months by crippling postal operations. He has an attorney general at his beck and call to keep him in power by attempting to disenfranchise not only American voters but the Congress itself simply by ignoring the very document he has sworn to protect. Worse—he has total Republican support in both Houses but importantly in the Senate. He has now packed the highest court and actually numerous other lower courts with judges who reek of that peculiar brand of conservatism espoused by Christian extremists in right wing circles. Many who are flat out racist and xenophobic let alone homo/Transphobic. His incompetency has directly resulted in 200,000 Americans needlessly losing their lives to the coronavirus. He has disparaged Jewish Americans, Black Americans, called American veterans and deceased service members losers. There’s virtually no bar to how low this Mafioso masquerading as the president of the United States will go. Everyone who reads this has heard the phrase “Elections Matter.” We would argue that this country and our state is beyond that point—”This election is critical.” Trump was here at the beginning of the month to see first hand the massive damages wrought by the wildfires that have burned over 2 million acres and sent so many pollutants into the air that it is dangerous to breath causing Air Quality Index warnings to be issued daily across the state and here in LA County especially. As he was being briefed he literally argued that climate change was not real. There are business failures brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic including some in West Hollywood much beloved by the LGBTQ community. Trump’s incompetent management of this crisis which is now cranking up for another surge is directly responsible. We could on, but to the larger point—every reader of this editorial, every member of the greater LGBTQ community must work to restore a sense of decent and transparent government for the American nation or the results of another Trump election to another term in office would plunge the country into a chaos that frankly looks to be violent as well as economically devastating. Your vote matters, your vote counts, your voice needs to be heard. If you have not registered to vote you have until Oct. 19. Troy Masters is the publisher of the Los Angeles Blade and Brody Levesque is editor-at-large.

Netflix doc puts us on the horns of a ‘Dilemma’

‘Nothing vast enters the life of mortals without a curse’ — Sophocles

By JOHN PAUL KING What, exactly, is a “dilemma?” from our phones and other devices – SKYLER GISONDO in a scene from ‘The Social Dilemma’ (Photo courtesy Netflix) According to Webster, it’s “a usually each consciously designed to achieve undesirable or unpleasant choice,” or “a maximum dopamine-dumping efficiency situation involving such a choice.” in conditioning you to respond reflexively It might seem odd to begin a film to their influence—reshape our behavior review with a dictionary entry, but a clear by rewiring our unconscious impulses. This understanding of the word itself might just is, of course, one of the same mechanisms be an essential factor in getting to the heart which make drug addiction so hard to of “The Social Dilemma,” Netflix’s buzzy break, a parallel the movie explores. new exploration of our culture’s complex It also helps to shed light on the relationship with social media—and the uncomfortable reality to which the unforeseen effects of that relationship that movie inevitably brings us—a world in have snowballed into a crisis unlike any we which personal and political polarization, have ever faced before. driven by “fake news,” social bubbles, Part documentary, part sci-fi-tinged conspiracy theories, ideological extremism, dramatization, it’s a movie that plays like propaganda and worse have left us no a presentation. Carefully assembled from concept of “truth” upon which we can all on-camera interviews, whirlwind clips agree. of news and other media, soothingly animated interstitial sequences, and “re-enactments” It’s a scary place, to be sure, in which the youngest generations, who have been raised with of a hypothetical scenario in which a typical American family is torn apart by its own phone a constant flow of input from screens, suffer alarmingly high rates of anxiety, depression, and addiction, some of it works better than others (the so-called “dramatic” sequences are frankly a suicide, and Tristan Harris, along with the other industry alarm-sounders enlisted to participate, bit embarrassing, like an “Afterschool Special” merged with a bad dystopian tech thriller). wants us to be scared. All of us. Even so, it’s efficiently designed to lead you to a conclusion—namely, that the once-seemingly For that reason, “The Social Dilemma” walks a fine line. It eschews any discussion that might beneficent technological advancement known as social media has become a juggernaut that is be seen as partisan, presenting real-world examples from both the left and right of the political fast destroying the very foundations of our civilization. spectrum and taking pains to avoid pointing fingers at any particular side—though a stress on To get you there, it first explains how it all happened, as told by an array of tech insiders, all the threat of authoritarian abuse of social media platforms and the inclusion of several key prominent former and current execs from the likes of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google, and conspiracy theories as examples (“Pizzagate,” anyone?) tend to tip us off as to which way the the other giant companies that dominate our screens for more time every day than we like to movie’s sentiments lie. admit. Whiffs of impartiality notwithstanding, the film’s intention is to draw the maximum number of The tale they weave is ominous; young geniuses, driven (mostly) by idealistic naiveté, built viewers—after all, what good is a warning if only a small fraction of the people who need to hear and shaped an industry in which a world-changing service was provided free of charge and it are willing to listen? monetized by charging advertisers for access to potential customers, only to powerlessly watch That may also be the reason why it contains very little direct reference to the LGBTQ+ as the genie they let out of the bottle slowly revealed an increasingly terrifying dark side. community, but make no mistake, the call to action being sounded here is going out to everyone. “There’s a problem happening in the tech industry, and it doesn’t have a name,” says Tristan The dire consequences faced should we ignore this exponentially growing threat will be more Harris, former design ethicist for Google and now co-founder of the Center for Humane dire still for those in any disenfranchised or at-risk communities, and only the most naïve could Technology, who serves as the movie’s central voice. That may be true, but he does provide one believe that doesn’t include us. for the behemoth that has made the problem possible: Surveillance Capitalism. As depressing as all this might seem, “The Social Dilemma” eventually leaves us with a This distinctly euphemistic term was already coined to describe the financial engine which surprising amount of hope. There are things we can do, it tells us, to counteract the control of drives social media. In a nutshell, by charging advertisers for access to its billions of users, a Artificial Intelligence has over our lives, and reminds us, frequently, of the vast benefits that social platform can turn a profit while providing “free” access to its services. As another of the film’s media bestows. prominent experts (computer scientist and “founding father of virtual reality Jaron Lanier) points Most reassuringly, perhaps, it shows us that there are voices within the industry—not just out, however, “If you’re not paying for the product, then you are the product.” low-level observers, but individuals who move in the highest levels—calling for change; it is their He goes even further, saying it is the “change in your own perception and behavior” that’s the commitment to spreading the message that ultimately keeps this smart but unsophisticated product—and that reveals the nature of the real problem being presented to us here. little movie from becoming just another doom-and-gloom propaganda video to be watched on The algorithms designed to shape our online experiences show us what we want to see, but the internet. they also leave us susceptible to manipulation by anyone who wants to use them to target us; That’s good, because the purpose of the presentation is not just to help us understand the aggressive ads are easy enough to ignore, when we are aware, but what about the influence problem; it’s to help us understand the choice with which we are faced if we are going to solve exerted by bad actors who utilize these platforms to spread misinformation and propaganda? it. Pandora’s Box cannot be closed, so we are left with only two courses of action—to ignore the The 2016 election should surely have been enough to open the eyes of almost anyone not pestilence it has released in the unlikely hope that we can adapt to it and survive, or to rise above already wise to that danger. our ever-magnifying differences and work together to bring it to heel. Being aware, however, is not enough to eliminate this complex phenomenon. It’s not even Neither option is very pleasant, but one is definitely bleaker than the other—and we’ve been enough to make us immune to it. After showing us how it all works, “The Social told from the beginning that this is a dilemma, Dilemma” goes on to convince us, in no uncertain terms, that the subtle prompts It’s right there, in the title. LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • SEPTEMBER 25, 2020 • 15

DAN LEVY, CATHERINE O’HARA, and NOAH REID in ‘Schitt’s Creek.’


(Photo courtesy Pop TV)

Emmy’s big night was virtually a first RuPaul makes history, ‘Schitt’s Creek’ wins big By SUSAN HORNIK Sunday night’s virtual Emmy Awards was a bright light amongst the darkness and unpredictability Hollywood has faced over the past several months due to COVID-19, civil unrest and wildfires. Minus the elaborate red carpet full of photographers, journalists, a celebrity-laden audience, etc. the 3-hour event had a more intimate feel. Los Angeles Blade is here to tell you about all the highlights! The Wins –“Schitt’s Creek”—a marvelous series that honors LGBTQ love, kindness, inclusivity—won an impressive seven awards; including best lead actor, best lead actress, and best comedy. Therefore making Emmy history sweeping all the comedy categories. “Our show is about the transformational power of love and acceptance — and that is something that we need more of now than we’ve ever needed before,” said co-creator/director/ writer/producer/star Daniel Levy in his acceptance speech. During the virtual pressroom, he talked about importance of the series’ finale, in which the same-sex marriage of David (Levy) and Patrick (Noah Reid) took place. “I think getting to write that storyline was incredibly cathartic for me for many reasons,” said Levy. “One, I don’t get to see those kinds of relationships depicted on TV so I felt that it was an incredible responsibility to be given the opportunity and to try to tell it as authentic as I possibly could.” He added: “We made a decision to not include the conversation of homophobia or bigotry on our show. By projecting a sweeter, gentler world, I feel that it was a political statement. It seemed to have an incredible effect on people.” –During the creative arts Emmy, RuPaul also made Emmys history for the most wins in the competition host category. “I’ve always said, every time I bat my false eyelashes, I’m making a political statement. Well, tonight, the only political statement I want to make is this: Love.” Urging Emmy viewers to vote, Ru dedicated his victory to Chi Chi DeVayne, the season 8 queen who died last month. “Love for our LGBT brothers and sisters, love for Black queens and Brown queens, and love for the United States of America, where a little gay boy with nothing more than a pussycat wig and a dream can build an international platform that celebrates sweet, sensitive souls everywhere.” Last night, “RuPaul’s Drag Race” also won for outstanding competition program –Zendaya won her very first Emmy for outstanding lead actress in a drama series for her riveting performance as Rue, a recovering teen drug addict who is in love with a trans girl in HBO’s “Euphoria.” “I know this feels like a really weird time to be celebrating, but I just want to say there is hope in the young people out there. I know that our TV show doesn’t always feel like a great example of that, but there is hope in the young people. And I just want to say to all my peers out there, doing the work in the streets, I see you, I admire you, I thank you, and, yeah, thank you so, so much.” –Tyler Perry and his foundation were given the Governor’s

Award for outstanding achievement in the arts and sciences. During his speech, the filmmaker highlighted the importance of telling diverse stories, including LGBTQ stories. Laverne Cox Laverne Cox was amongst the few who appeared live at the awards show, presenting the award for outstanding writing in a drama Series. While making a joke about her lack of Emmy wins, it appeared as if ABC had censored what she was saying. “I am living proof of the American dream that anyone in this country can lose the Emmy four years in the same category and yet somehow end up on this stage presenting an award to someone who probably didn’t … ,” Cox said before cameras cut her off. The Television Academy eventually posted the entire video on YouTube. Cox said she was “presenting an award to someone who probably didn’t effing vote for me.” While not profanity, effing was bleeped out for broadcast television. The Emmy Drink Ketel One Vodka created a spectacular at home viewing experience with the help of the Emmy nominee Billy Porter, Cocktail Courier and mixologist Charles Joly. “The Seven Minute Martini is meant to be both classic and innovative, elegant and celebratory and showcase the versatility of Ketel One vodka,” enthused Joly. “It is familiar with its base of the iconic martini, but becomes interactive and complex with the rapid infusion. You can serve several people at once, so there is a communal aspect, pouring small sips and watching the cocktail evolve as you go.” As part of the brand’s commitment to create a marvelous world where people are seen and heard as equal, Ketel is donating to organizations that champion representation in Hollywood, including GLAAD. “Ketel One Family Made Vodka has been a long-standing partner to many LGBTQ organizations and in GLAAD’s mission to accelerate LGBTQ acceptance,” said GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “Kicking off Emmy weekend by centering the iconic Billy Porter and trailblazing creator Daniella Carter is just the latest step in our joint commitment to amplify Black queer voices and move diverse LGBTQ representation forward.” Emmy Gift Bags A veteran in the production of star-studded events, Nathalie Dubois, president and CEO of DPA, has proven herself to be exceptionally innovative and successful in the realm of celebrity gift suites. Due to the COVID-19 worldwide crisis, DPA paused its lounge operations, delivering Emmy nominees a very full gift bag. Brands represented in the gift bags are: Miami Cocktail Company, Heavensake, Pearson Brothers winery, Carvery Kitchen, Jaci Haircare, Lisa Stardust, Sarah Potter, Indigo Collagen, Treedom, Asea Renu28, Sparti Scents, Blumenes


CBD products, Chipz Happen, Kesaine Walker, Renee Watt, Narayana Montufar, Fly by Jing, Mantra Mask, Nupeutics, Luxie, and Good Dee’s. Celebrity astrologer Lisa Stardust gifted nominees a free astrology reading, along with her fellow readers. “With all of the uncertainty in the world, it’s more important than ever to look within and to align with our spirituality,” she asserted. “Then, we can guide ourselves, with the healing help of a reader, towards our destiny.” “Carvery Kitchen offered Emmy nominees and presenters a gift certificate and gift bag for their restaurant,” said Mela Gallegos. “We enjoy every minute of it. It’s a great pleasure to let people try our food and know how much they enjoy it. Some of the guests come to the restaurant after the event or order catering.” Carvery has many amazing dishes on the menu. “Ours are the most popular items, according to everyone who tried our food is signature beef brisket, pulled pork, chicken caprese, spinach and salmon roll, meat pie, avocado salad and mashed potatoes, just to name a few!” The restaurant is open for patio dining and is expanding their catering and delivery orders, while adjusting to the new customer friendly way of service. “We continuously work on new specials as well as creating exciting, full and simply delicious virtual events, like wine tasting and food pairing,” said Gallegos. This year’s Emmy nominees were celebrated with a “Best of Quarantainment” bag by Distinctive Assets, which featured gifts from minority and female-owned companies that give back to their communities. “With everything going on the world right now, we wanted to honor these amazing nominees who helped entertain us during the quarantine with gifts that also serve a higher purpose,” enthused founder Lash Fary. Nominees like Jim Parsons, Billy Porter, Zendaya, Kerry Washington, Mahershala Ali, Daniel Levy and Issa Rae received a plethora of fantastic gifts. Some of Fary’s favorites include the subscription box Baketivity (“I personally love baking and this makes it fun for kids to learn early. And it is a perfect quarantine activity.”); Isa Lazo natural facial oil (“The product is incredible but truthfully, I mostly love the luxe bottle it comes in!”); PETA vegan snack bag, Stretchy Stack volcanic bracelets and EON Sanitizing Mist (“By far the best I’ve tried so far!”) Fary’s next project will be doing a gift bag celebrating small businesses, which will be delivered to 50 top celebs the week before Small Business Saturday. “We are hoping to leverage celebrity social media support to bring attention to a slew of small businesses for holiday shopping and such. Then it will be GRAMMYs and our Everyone Wins for the Top Oscar nominees as usual.”


‘I Have Something to Tell You’ not typical, political puff piece Chasten Buttigieg memoir a frank look at history-making campaign By KATHI WOLFE

As a tween, if you’d said that one day a gay man, with his husband as First Man, could be president of the United States, I’d have thought you were nuts. I’m glad Pete Buttigieg, 38, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., proved me wrong! In April 2019, he became the first openly gay major presidential candidate. Buttigieg dropped out after losing badly in the South Carolina primary due to his failure to connect with Black voters. You may or may not like Buttigieg’s politics. But I’d bet that if you’re queer, you were awed by the history he made by entering the presidential race! One of the most moving parts of the campaign was Buttigieg’s marriage to Chasten Glezman Buttigieg. “Nothing in my life, from shaking hands with a president to experiencing my first rocket attack,” Pete Buttigieg wrote in his memoir “Shortest Way Home,” “matched the thrill of holding Chasten’s hand for the first time.” Chasten Buttigieg, 31, who has more than 400,000 Twitter followers, was a major asset to Pete Buttigieg’s campaign. Chasten, who was raised in Traverse City, Mich. and calls Pete Buttigieg “Peter,” has written a funny, touching memoir. Often, memoirs of political campaigns are merely pablum. “I Have Something to Tell You,” released on Sept. 1, is far from a hard-nosed take on the Buttigieg campaign. How could Chasten be objective about his husband? From the moment when Chasten and Pete eat Scotch eggs on their first date, Chasten is totally smitten with Peter. Peter is intelligent, unflappable and caring. “The only thing that’s annoying about Peter’s lifestyle is how reasonable and laid back he is about, well, everything,” Chasten writes. It’s clear that since the campaign ended, Pete Buttigieg has been working to extend his brand. His 20-episode podcast “The Deciding Decade” premiered on Sept. 9, and his new book “Trust: America’s Best Chance” comes out on Oct. 6. Chasten’s memoir fits into the effort to build Pete Buttigieg’s political future. Yet, “I Have Something to Tell You” isn’t your typical, political puff piece. It’s often refreshingly candid. It gives us a ringside seat to what it was life to be the first spouse of the first gay presidential candidate. Chasten realized how important he and Pete Buttigieg (as a presidential candidate and spouse) were to the LGBTQ community two weeks before Buttigieg officially announced he was running. An older woman, recognizing the political couple, stopped them as they walked down 14th Street in Washington, D.C. “I’m the mother of two gay children,” she told them, “and what you’re doing for this country and for them ... I am just so proud of you and so happy you’re getting out there.” Life during the campaign was, in some ways, the same for Chasten as it was for the spouses of the other candidates. As was the case for them, Chasten knew that there was “only one star” in his campaign—and it was his husband Peter—not him. Along with the other spouses, he sat in the front row, watching the candidates’ debates. Sometimes, the spouses exchanged small talk. In other ways, being a gay candidate’s spouse was different for Chasten. After the Buttigieges kissed at the campaign launch, a commentator said, “something like ‘Of course, I don’t mind if they kiss in public’ ... ,” Chasten writes, “but ... ’real Americans’ elsewhere wouldn’t stand for it.’” It isn’t Chasten’s job to be a political analyst. Yet, his failure to acknowledge Pete Buttigieg’s disconnect with Black and Latinx people is a glaring omission. Especially, after the George Floyd protests. This being said, “I Have Something to Tell You” is well-worth reading. The Buttigieg campaign is the main point of historical interest. Yet, the memoir is, also, a riveting account of Chasten’s life. Chasten movingly describes his experiences of sexual assault and domestic violence (issues seldom talked about in the queer community) as well as his struggle to go to college while holding several jobs and acquiring student debt. For a frank, inside look at a campaign that made history, check out “I Have Something to Tell You.”

‘I Have Something to Tell You: A Memoir’ By Chasten Buttigieg


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The Biden Rule or off with their heads! Billy Masters, desperately missing the red carpet By BILLY MASTERS “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.” - Ruth Bader Ginsburg, as said to her granddaughter Clara Spera. I am most certainly no politico. But I am an innately curious person. Remember when Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died nine months before the 2016 election? Mitch McConnell blocked hearings for a replacement, saying, “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.” Do you know where McConnell got that idea? Joe Biden! Way back in 1992, Senator Biden asserted that if a Supreme Court justice died while George H.W. Bush was president, the seat should remain vacant until after the election, or the Republican president should nominate a moderate to placate the Democratic Senate. McConnell cited the so-called “Biden Rule,” and I can’t see why it shouldn’t be employed again right now. Obviously I can hold my own with political pundits. During this pandemic, I’ve been holding my own more than usual ... but that’s another story. If this were a normal September, I’d be in Hollywood, filing this report from the Emmys. But this is no usual September, and the Emmys took place virtually. During the endless Creative Arts Emmys, “Queer Eye” won outstanding structured reality show for the third year in a row, while RuPaul was once again crowned best host for “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” After imploring people to get out and vote, she dedicated her fifth win to the late Chi Chi DeVayne. BTW, “Drag Race” also won outstanding competition series. The Primetime Emmy Awards were hosted by Jimmy Kimmel—and I enjoy any show that kicks off by almost being burned to the ground by Jennifer Aniston. Obviously it was a “Schitt’s Creek” sweep—which is a perfect allegory for these times. I must single out sexy Andrew Cividino, who may possibly be a little person, and who shared his Emmy with Daniel Levy, who was wearing a skirt. Speaking of outfits, did you notice that 73-year-old Eugene Levy was wearing skinny pants? And was rockin’ them. Kudos to Tracee Ellis Ross for paying tribute to her mother’s 1971 ABC special by wearing all of Miss Ross’ 17 costumes simultaneously. You know where you can count on hilarity? On “Billy Masters LIVE.” We started these twice-weekly shows to keep you entertained during the pandemic. And we just hit a milestone—our 50th episode! For this special show, we celebrated the 35th anniversary of “The Golden Girls.”

RUPAUL can turn the world on with his smile ... and his recording winning Emmy run. (Photo courtesy Emmy)

Our guests were Jim Colucci (author of “Golden Girls Forever”), Stan Zimmerman (writer from season one of the series), Frank DeCaro (writer, comedian and Jim Colucci’s husband) and Dr. Melinda McClanahan—esteemed academic, researcher and sister of Rue McClanahan! Viewers chimed in from around the world. You can check out all of our shows on Billy Masters TV on YouTube, or on BillyMasters.com/TV. We’re live every Tuesday and Thursday at 3 p.m. Eastern. Or anywhere TV Guide is sold! What if I told you Harry Styles was gay? You’d believe me, right? That’s what producer Greg Berlanti is counting on. He signed Styles to play the lead in the upcoming film “My Policeman”—which is about a cop who falls for a (male) museum curator. Since the action takes place in the 1950s, the cop marries Marion, a local schoolteacher. Wait a second ... isn’t this the plot of “The Music Man”? A few months ago, we reported that Hallmark would include some gay storylines in their endless parade of holiday movies. But, the original gay television network— Lifetime—has gone one better. They’ve put their first LGBTQ holiday flick into production as part of their “It’s a Wonderful Lifetime” collection. “The Christmas Setup” will star real-life couple Ben Lewis and Blake Lee. Ben plays a big-city lawyer, while Blake has a high-tech job in Silicon Valley. They both go to Milwaukee for the holidays, and Ben’s mother sets them up. And his mom is played by our pal (and the most popular guest

on “Billy Masters LIVE”), Fran Drescher! Only on Lifetime Television for Women ... and Gay Men. This week’s “Ask Billy” question comes from Ashley in Kansas City: “I was watching ‘Two and a Half Men’ and thought Jake’s friend Eldridge was so cute. Whatever happened to him?” You have a good eye, Ashley (who is of undetermined gender.) Eldridge was played by Graham Patrick Martin, who had good bone structure and a great head of hair. He later turned up on “The Closer” and “Major Crimes” as Rusty, a teenage hustler. Although straight in real life, he enjoys most of his same-sex scenes—with one exception. “What took me back was that I’d never felt a beard on my face. I said, ‘Bro, if you don’t shave that thing, I’m making sure they never write a kissing scene for us again!’” That would be a shame, since Graham has grown up to be quite a looker—who is not afraid to show some skin, as you can see on BillyMasters.com. When half a man is better than no man at all, it’s definitely time to end yet another column. I don’t typically settle for less than two men at a time ... but there’s a pandemic going on. Thank God for www.BillyMasters.com—the site that always has some spare studs hanging around. If you’re hung and horny, write to Billy@BillyMasters.com, and I promise to get back to you before the Supreme Court vacancy is filled by Judge Judy! So, until next time, remember, one man’s filth is another man’s Bible.


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