Losangelesblade.com, Volume 4, Issue 43, October 23, 2020

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LGBTQ youth driving #GOTV Record-breaking mail-in ballots, social media a game-changer for Biden Page 08



Workers from StreetsLA, a city agency formerly known as the Bureau of Street Services, have installed 77 ballot boxes and the Department of Recreation and Parks is installing 46 at sites it manages. (Image LAVotes.net)

An overview of ballot initiatives, races in SoCal Rent control, voting measures, school funding, and more

By BRODY LEVESQUE companies with independent-contractor drivers will be required to provide specified alternative This year’s election cycle has generated considerable interest not only due to the presidential benefits, including: minimum compensation and healthcare subsidies based on engaged driving race, but a complete slate of U.S. House, California Assembly and Senate, local city council races time, vehicle insurance, safety training, and sexual harassment policies. Restricts local regulation and some key ballot propositions including one (Prop22) that has been heavily lobbied by the of app-based drivers; criminalizes impersonation of such drivers; requires background checks. ride-sharing giants Lyft and Uber as a work around of the hugely unpopular Assembly Bill 5, Proposition 23: Requires at least one licensed physician on site during treatment at outpatient which implemented restrictions on the state’s gig economy. kidney dialysis clinics; authorizes Department of Public Health to exempt clinics from this The Blade is listing the ballot measures below and candidate races with the expanded requirement due to shortages of qualified licensed physicians if at least one nurse practitioner coverage to continue at losangelesblade.com. or physician assistant is on site. Proposition 24: Permits consumers to: (1) prevent businesses from sharing personal California 2020 Ballot Propositions information; (2) correct inaccurate personal information; and (3) limit businesses’ use of Proposition 14: Authorizes $5.5 billion in state general obligation bonds to fund grants from “sensitive personal information”—such as precise geolocation; race; ethnicity; religion; genetic the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine to educational, non-profit, and private entities data; union membership; private communications; and certain sexual orientation, health, and for: (1) stem cell and other medical research, therapy development, and therapy delivery; (2) biometric information. Prohibits businesses’ retention of personal information for longer than medical training; and (3) construction of research facilities. Dedicates $1.5 billion to fund reasonably necessary. Triples maximum penalties for violations concerning consumers under research and therapy for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, stroke, epilepsy, and other brain and central age 16. Establishes California Privacy Protection Agency to enforce and implement consumer nervous system diseases and conditions. privacy laws, and impose administrative fines. Requires adoption of substantive regulations. Proposition 15: Increases funding for K-12 public schools, community colleges, and local Proposition 25: If this petition is signed by the required number of registered voters and timely governments by requiring that commercial and industrial real property be taxed based on filed, a referendum will be placed on the next statewide ballot requiring a majority of voters to current market value. Exempts from this change: residential properties; agricultural properties; approve a 2018 state law before it can take effect. The 2018 law replaces the money bail system and owners of commercial and industrial properties with combined value of $3 million or less. with a system for pretrial release from jail based on a determination of public safety or flight risk, Proposition 16: Proposition 16 is a constitutional amendment that would repeal Proposition and limits pretrial detention for most misdemeanors. 209, passed in 1996, from the California Constitution. Proposition 209 banned the use of (Editor’s Note: The Los Angeles Blade supports all ballot measures EXCEPT 20 & 22. For more affirmative action involving race-based or sex-based preferences in California. information on California’s 2020 Ballot Propositions visit Ballotpedia.org.) Proposition 17: Proposition 17 is a constitutional amendment that would allow people on parole for felony convictions to vote in California. Local Government Candidates Proposition 18: Proposition 18 would allow 17-year-olds who will be 18 at the time of the next The City of West Hollywood has two open seats. The following candidates for those seats general election to vote in primary elections and special elections. are as listed on the ballot: Larry Block, John Erickson, Noemi Torres, John Heilman, (Incumbent) Proposition 19: The ballot measure would allow eligible homeowners to transfer their tax Sepi Shyne, Christopher McDonald, Tom Demille, John Duran, (Incumbent) Jerome Cleary, Marco assessments anywhere within the state and allow tax assessments to be transferred to a more Colantonio and Mark Farhad Yusupov. expensive home with an upward adjustment. The number of times that a tax assessment can The City Of Los Angeles has election races in Council Districts 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, and Los be transferred would increase from one to three for persons over 55 years old or with severe Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board of Education Districts 1, 3, 5, and 7. disabilities (natural disaster and contamination victims would continue to be allowed one transfer). Los Angeles Area U. S. House Races Proposition 20: Imposes restrictions on parole program for non-violent offenders who have California’s 25th Congressional District: Christy Smith (D) challenger. Rep. Mike Garcia (R) completed the full term for their primary offense. Expands list of offenses that disqualify an Incumbent. inmate from this parole program. Authorizes felony charges for specified theft crimes currently California’s 23rd Congressional District: Kim Mangone (D) challenger. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R) chargeable only as misdemeanors, including some theft crimes where the value is between Incumbent. $250 and $950. Requires persons convicted of specified misdemeanors to submit to collection California’s 26th Congressional District: Julia Brownley (D) Incumbent. Ronda Baldwinof DNA samples for state database. Kennedy (R) challenger. Proposition 21: Amends state law to allow local governments to establish rent control on California’s 27th Congressional District: Judy Chu (D) Incumbent. Johnny Nalbandian (R) residential properties over 15 years old. Allows rent increases on rent-controlled properties of challenger. up to 15 percent over three years from previous tenant’s rent above any increase allowed by California’s 28th Congressional District: Adam Schiff (D) Incumbent. Eric Early (R) challenger. local ordinance. Exempts individuals who own no more than two homes from new rent-control California’s 29th Congressional District: Tony Cardenas (D) Incumbent. Angelica Dueñas (D) policies. In accordance with California law, provides that rent-control policies may not violate challenger. landlords’ right to a fair financial return on their property. California’s 30th Congressional District: Brad Sherman (D) Incumbent. Mark Reed (R) Proposition 22: Establishes different criteria for determining whether app-based transportation challenger. (rideshare) and delivery drivers are “employees” or “independent contractors.” Independent California’s 32nd Congressional District: Grace Napolitano (D) Incumbent. Joshua Scott (R) contractors are not entitled to certain state-law protections afforded employees—including challenger. minimum wage, overtime, unemployment insurance, and workers’ compensation. Instead, LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • OCTOBER 23, 2020 • 03


Why young, gay Latino Arturo Castro works hard to pass Prop 21

Improving laws to protect renters results in stronger communities By KAREN OCAMB

Have you noticed? A new generation of LGBTQ people — especially LGBTQ people of color whose arms are tired of juggling so many different issues – are finding the America Dream vaporizing into COVID-19 air. They are getting PTSD in the middle of the pandemic, an experience known too well by those who survived the AIDS epidemic. And now, like then, quiet community heroes have emerged to help strangers survive the unrelenting chaos of 2020. One such community hero is Arturo Castro, the operations coordinator for the Yes on 21 campaign, who not only works to support the campaign team but also strives to help the hundreds of desperate people pleading for help as they deal with the beginning of an expected eviction tsunami in the deadly coronavirus environment. Like so many other LGBTQ people, Castro, 27, is a renter who needs Prop 21. He and his partner — who also does nonprofit advocacy work — live in Monrovia in the San Gabriel Valley. “We’re lucky that we are able to afford it,” he says. “But it’s still very far from where the [Yes on Prop 21] office is in Hollywood. I need about 45 minutes without traffic to get there. We wanted to move closer to our jobs, but there’s nothing that is within our price range. So, we’re out here in Monrovia. We’re willing to do that commute just so we can afford a place to live.” Settling is not what Castro expected for his shot at the California Dream. Both he and his partner did “what people call the right thing” — they went to college, got degrees, and got jobs. “And yet, we can’t afford it,” Castro says. “You can only imagine when people who are working two, three jobs that are minimum wage, how they’re struggling. If we’re struggling, they’re really struggling. We’re all just a paycheck away from not being able to afford rent, not being able to afford our bills. My partner needs access to certain medications, and we can’t easily move around just to find a new place that can provide that kind of medication.” And then there’s COVID, which is crippling even the promise of the California Dream. “The first thing that they told us when the pandemic first hit was to stay in your house and to do as little interaction with others as possible. How do you do that and stay in quarantine when you don’t even have a house to call home? Illegal evictions were still happening to families because they got laid off from work or they got impacted somehow from COVID and they couldn’t afford the rent and they still got kicked out,” Castro says. “Sometimes we overlook what people even consider a home,” he says. “Living on the street is what people consider homeless. But we overlook the fact of being a couch surfer, living in a car, even in an RV — those are people who also don’t have an established address. Yet we overlook that as being homeless because we have a stigmatize idea and stereotype of what a homeless person is and why they’re there [such as losing their job]… All of my friends are basically unemployed right now and not all of them receive unemployment assistance.” And COVID is not the only threat. Castro and his partner were 04 • OCTOBER 23, 2020 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM

ARTURO CASTRO (Photo courtesy Castro)

on evacuation notice for two weeks with the Bobcat fire nearby. “We were devastated. We were like — if we do have to evacuate, we would lose our home. Our contingency plan was to move into one of our parents’ house. But then what would we do after that? So, we can only imagine what’s going to happen if Prop 21 doesn’t pass where landlords can just jack up the rent to make up for what is considered a loss in 2020.” For a good part of his day at the Yes on 21 campaign, Castro talks to people in crisis throughout the state. “Having people reach out to us is overwhelming. I’m not going to lie,” he says. “People asking for housing assistance, rental assistance, telling stories about getting evicted because they lost their job due to COVID and having two kids. Or their SSI couldn’t cover the rest of the rent after they got a rent increase. It’s really devastating,” especially because previous programs and resources are no longer available. “It really takes a toll on your emotional health and your mental health thinking that you’re trying your best to keep these people in their home,” says Castro, who connects them with tenants unions so they at least know their rights. “These are families who are trying their best. And you’re trying to help them as much as you can. It almost feels like guilt that I have a roof over my head and I have food to eat.”Coming home after a day helping people and working to pass Prop 21, Castro finds pets, family, and YouTube tutorials keep him and his partner centered and provide “a little joy of happiness. We will make the best of the situation.”


Los Angeles City Council member DAVID RYU and wife REGINA YOUNG. (Blade photo by Karen Ocamb)

Ryu stresses commitment to LGBTQ issues Opponent Nithya Raman positions herself as more progressive By NOAH CHRISTIANSEN

The election battle between incumbent Los Angeles City Council member David Ryu and his opponent is highly contentious and has even hit the national radar, which is unusual for local elections. Ryu, a Democrat who represents LA City District 4, is up against opponent Nithya Raman also a Democrat, who has positioned herself as a more progressive version of Ryu. What has struck politico observers is that Ryu garnered endorsements not only from U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, but also from former Secretary of State and 2016 democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Raman, on the other hand, was endorsed by Bernie Sanders. Ryu was interviewed by the Blade and asked about how it feels to be endorsed by Hillary Clinton, Ryu said, “It’s out of this world…Normally, city council races are more focused on local politics… I think [Hillary Clinton] sees me as the candidate who’s able to participate in the healing process. We have to win the presidency. After my election, the healing has to begin immediately. There’s too many issues at stake.” Ryu pointed out that there are many issues at stake from COVID-19 to race relations in America and not just on the national level but local as well.. Because of all of these issues, Ryu hoped to win his primary, so he could focus more on the general election, but Raman challenged him. “I really was hoping to win in the primaries cause I wanted to divert all of my energy, all of my resources, all of my fundraising capacity to not only take back the white house, but fighting for these seats, pivotal seats that we fought so hard for over the years,” he said. Ryu is facing Raman on November 3 because of the unique way that elections work in California which utilizes a top-two primary system, (In a top-two primary system, all candidates are listed on the same ballot. The top two vote-getters, regardless of their partisan affiliations, advance to the general election.) Ryu’s reflection on his record specifically in the area of homelessness, which is one of the issued that he isolates as being very important, he told the Blade; “Before I even ran for office, homelessness is a passion issue of mine. I have been working on homeless services for, now, about 17 years,” Ryu said. “In the past two years, I’ve built… 8 projects, totaling 300 beds in Council District 4. We have an additional 5-6 projects… built by next year,” Ryu said, “I have another one opening at the end of this year… We will have the largest percentage of beds for our homeless population.” Even though homelessness seems like a single issue, Ryu went on to talk about why it overlaps with other issues, LGBTQ+ issues being one of them. He spoke about LGBTQ youth in particular and how they are affected by homelessness by citing the well documented statistics; “7% of America’s youth are LGBTQ, 40% of America’s homeless youth are LGBTQ youth.” 06 • OCTOBER 23, 2020 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM

Ryu recently also won the private endorsement of Lori L. Jean, the CEO of the LGBT Center of Los Angeles who noted in her endorsement; “David Ryu doesn’t just show up for the marches and the Pride events. He fights to recognize and serve every member of our LGBTQ+ community, especially the most vulnerable. It was his legislation that brought hate crime data on transgender Angelenos and other groups to light, bringing citywide attention to the staggering rate of violence against trans individuals, and trans women of color in particular. His efforts helped spur new hate crime prevention legislation, and he launched the city’s firstever hate crime security fund to protect community spaces like the Los Angeles LGBT Center.” Recently, this past summer Christopher Street West/LA Pride announced that it had relocated its events from the City of West Hollywood to Los Angeles proper. When asked about the change in venues Ryu joked that he would still attend- “Even more so because now it’s in LA.” He went on to say, “Especially as an Asian American it’s even more necessary to celebrate in my community because of the anti-LGBTQ sentiment. And it’s not just Asian.” He went on to acknowledge that because he understands well that LGBTQ+ people are disproportionately affected by societal issues (such as through homelessness), supporting the community was of paramount concern to him. Even though Ryu is a perfect candidate for some within liberal circles, he is still facing some opposition from the people who support Nithya Raman. Raman positions herself as “the more progressive version of Ryu.” Ryu’s response to this is two-fold, the first being that it’s not about us as individuals solving the problem alone, and the second being that it’s about action – not the notion of progressiveness. “I think my opponent means well and I think she comes from a good place and bottom line is all these issues we are facing today i.e. homelessness, racial equity, hate crimes, housing, climate change requires all of us to come together to solve.,” he said. “There’s no one person that can solve all of this on their own. There’s no one solution. It’s about bringing everybody together… It’s not about who’s more progressive, who tweets more, or who talks more – it’s about action.” Los Angeles Blade asked Ryu as to what about him and Raman are the same – and different. According to Ryu, “The similarity is that we both come from a progressive place… As time passes her platforms are becoming very similar, if not almost identical to mine… After this election is over, I need her help… Had I known she was interested in these issues, had she approached me on these issues… I would’ve gladly embraced her.” On a closing note on the importance of voting and why this election is particularly key he told the Blade: “This is your future. This is your community’s future. This is your city’s future… Cast your vote because your life literally depends on it.”


The virtual campaign storm: LGBTQ youth driving #GOTV Record-breaking mail-in ballots, social media a game-changer for Biden By BRODY LEVESQUE

California has seen a record breaking return of mail-in ballots this election cycle and with only 13 days left to the elections, consulting firm Political Data’s ballot tracker showed that 4 million of the state’s voters have already submitted their ballots. Political observers and elections officials credit a large portion of this record-shattering rate of return to the coronavirus pandemic. However, many politicos also factor in a deeply unpopular president and his party which have mishandled the COVID19 crisis, seemingly aligned with the white supremacist movement, denigrated the Black Lives Matters movement, labeling its accompanying protests as domestic terrorism, and have become tone-deaf to the greater needs of country’s middle class and young people particularly. For LGBTQ people added in is the ramming through of a nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, a conservative appellate court judge with only two years of actual court experience and an established public record of opposition to same-sex marriage, women’s reproductive rights and choices, and a definite anti-trans stance. The war on transgender rights has been waged since Donald Trump took office ranging from the ban of Trans military service to rolling back federal protections in healthcare. The Blade spoke with several young LGBTQ Angelenos to get an overview of their concerns and what has motivated them through the 2020 election cycle, propelling them to actively engage in social media campaigning for the Democratic ticket of former Vice-President Joe Biden and California U.S. Senator Kamala Harris. Venice resident Curtis Galloway, 26, a portfolio manager for a boutique Beverly Hills real estate property firm is also the founder of the LA based non-profit; Conversion Therapy Dropout Network. Galloway is a survivor of the debunked pseudo-science reparative therapy that was foisted on him by his conservative christian family. For him, this election is deeply personal as many of Trump’s supporters are the same type of Evangelical Christians who tout the debunked therapy and also support Trump’s anti-LGBTQ actions. “Trump has to go. He is evil, they are evil, it’s the hypocrisy and its the white supremacy it’s all of it,” Galloway said. “My vote- what I am pushing for most is to get Trump the f*** out.” [Of office] Galloway also expressed anger at the way Trump has turned the United States into a quasipolice state with ‘secret police’ attacking Black Lives Matters protesters and then what he sees as the racist actions by the Trump administration on the Southern Border. Not content with solely registering his voice with his ballot in California, Galloway took to his social media accounts on as well as chats, texts, instant messages, and phone calls to help drive the ‘Blue Wave’ back in his native Illinois and in the greater St. Louis metroplex he called home before moving to LA a few years ago. Down-ballot races are crucial too he noted and he has lobbied hard with friends and family to assist. One target beyond the Republicans in the local races back in the Midwest Galloway 08 • OCTOBER 23, 2020 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM

says is also the current Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell. He expressed disgust over what he sees as amounting to yet another theft of a Supreme Court seat made worse by Trump’s nominee, Amy Coney Barrett’s abysmal anti-LGTBQ, anti-choice record. The Blade also spoke with young queer Latinx activist Edgardo Lopez Hernandez. In addition to motivating young LGBTQ LatinX to unite together to go out and vote in California, he spends considerable time on his social media reach to his relatives across the United States and friends urging them to vote. “I urge people my age, younger, and older to be proud of being a Latino living in the US. Be proud and be loud. Go out and vote for what matters most to you. Your rights and pursuit of liberty and happiness. Together, we can build a better future.” A majority of the engagement from young LGBTQ voters stems from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and to a lesser degree YouTube. However, on the platforms of Tik-Tok and Discourse increasing numbers of LGBTQ young people are also reaching out to one another across the nation. According to Vox magazine’s Recode, “[…] Biden is at a digital disadvantage compared to the Trump campaign, which is bolstered by networks of influential conservative personalities who stand ready to amplify its messaging — misinformation and all.” The magazine also noted that Trump has more than 30 million followers on Facebook and 85 million on Twitter, while Biden has just under 3 million on Facebook and just over 9 million on Twitter. The Biden-Harris campaign outreach extends beyond the large platforms Recode noted. “In September, the campaign debuted Biden-Harris campaign signs in Animal Crossing, the popular social video game that became wildly popular at the start of the pandemic. Some celebrities, like Andy Cohen and Dulé Hill, are fundraising for the campaign on Cameo, the video app, which allows them to post fan-requested video messages in exchange for donations.” Regardless of the social media platform outreach by the Biden-Harris campaign there is a sense of urgency to push Trump out of the White House at a grass-roots level. Those efforts are enhanced by influencers and celebrity endorsements such as Taylor Swift, who two weeks ago posted, ““Gonna be watching and supporting @kamalaharris by yelling at the tv a lot,” on her social media accounts. Galloway, Hernandez, and the other young Angelenos the Blade queried all stressed that because of the racism, the hatred, the lying, the hypocrisy, and the fact that Trump has so badly mishandled the COVID19 crisis, they will continue their efforts through their social media to get people to vote safely by mail or social distanced wearing masks, ‘there is too much at stake’ they both agreed. As of Monday, more than than 29 million Americans had voted early either in person or by mail according to the United States Election Project. Conversely, in the 2016 elections cycle only 6 million voters had cast their ballots early.


Texas to allow social workers to discriminate Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is facing mounting criticism for new regulations in his state allowing social workers to turn away patients because they’re LGBTQ or have a disability. Two Texas agencies — the Texas State Board of Social Worker Examiners and the Behavioral Health Executive Council — voted unanimously last week to change a section of code of conduct to remove non-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability. The decision was made at the last minute at the behest of Abbott, who cited objections to the non-discrimination policy claiming the protections went beyond state policy on social work, according to the Associated Press. As a result, social workers in Texas — at least under state policy — are now allowed to reject patients based solely on being LGBTQ or having a disability, a situation advocates for those communities say places already vulnerable communities at greater risk. Ricardo Martinez, Chief Executive Officer of Equality Texas, was among the advocates objecting to the change. “The social workers code of conduct previously helped ensure ethical treatment of all clients and prevented bias-motivated misconduct,” Martinez said in a statement. “Now with the removal of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression from the code, LGBTQ+ folks who experience discrimination could face more obstacles to getting the help they need.” Abbott’s office didn’t immediately respond to the Washington Blade’s request for comment on whether the governor stands by the change amid the criticism. An article in Yahoo News quotes Renae Eze, an Abbott spokesperson, as saying, “It’s not surprising that a board would align its rules with statutes passed by the legislature.” Emmett Schelling, executive director of the Transgender Education Network of Texas, said in a statement the change would be devastating for transgender people in Texas. “Many LGBTQ+ Texans struggle to access competent, quality and affordable health care as is,” Schelling said. “There is always a real possibility that trans Texans specifically could be turned away or dissuaded from accessing the medical resources they need. At a time when many in our community require services to make it through an isolating pandemic, attempting to grant providers a license to discriminate is abhorrent.”

Gov. GREG ABBOTT (Photo by Gage Skidmore; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

According to a joint statement from groups opposing the decision, Abbott’s request wasn’t included in agenda materials, and public comment on the change before the vote was allowed. Although the agencies stripped out nondiscrimination language on disability and LGBTQ status, they left most prohibitions against discrimination based on other characteristics, such as age, gender, race, religion or political affiliation, the statement says. The Texas agencies made the change after the state legislature failed to pass bills exempting social workers and mental health professionals from non-discrimination policies of the basis of religious objections. In Tennessee, former Gov. Bill Haslam signed legislation into law along those lines in 2016. CHRIS JOHNSON

Tiffany Trump dragged on Twitter over support for father Tiffany Trump, the daughter of President Trump who hasn’t been as visible a member of the Trump family as her half-siblings, trended on Twitter this week, facing criticism for promoting her dad as a supporter of the LGBTQ community, despite the anti-LGBTQ record he has built over his administration. Speaking in Tampa on Saturday at an event coordinated by Trump Pride, the political coalition within Trump’s re-election campaign, Tiffany Trump in video footage of the event addressed cheering fans, many of whom were wearing “Make America Great Again” hats. “It’s such an honor to be able to be here and speak truthfully, honestly and from my heart,” Tiffany Trump said. “I know what my father believes in. Prior to politics, he supported gays, lesbians, the LGBQIA+ community, OK?” Tiffany Trump noticeably omitted the “T” from the acronym for the LGBTQ community, which has born the brunt of the Trump administration’s anti-LGBTQ attacks, including the transgender military ban, removal of guidance from government websites on transgender workers and revocation of Obama-era guidance allowing transgender kids in schools to use the restroom consistent with their gender identity. “We unfortunately see social media, we see these fabricated lies,” Tiffany Trump said. “It’s saddens me. I have friends of mine who reach out and they say, ‘How (they make up stories) how do you support your father? We know you, we know your best friends are gay, we know your best friends are this, this, this. I say, ‘It’s because my father has always supported all of you.’” Tiffany Trump added her father has never supported these communities “for politics, and he’s not doing it for politics, and, unfortunately, I think there’s a lot of people out there and other politicians who do, OK?” an apparent reference to Joe Biden and the Democratic Party. 10 • OCTOBER 23, 2020 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM

But Tiffany Trump didn’t get a kind reaction on Twitter, where users mocked her for affiliating herself with her dad, downplaying his anti-LGBTQ record and speaking at an event where video footage shows a small audience. Outspoken, the media project of Log Cabin Republicans, reported an estimated 150 people were in the audience. “When my father decided to run for the Republican nomination, I can say I was a little bit worried just TIFFANY TRUMP promoted her father’s record on based on previous — the past, the LGBTQ issues. Queer Twitter wasn’t happy. past Republican establishment on how their views maybe were towards this community, towards gays, lesbians,” Tiffany Trump said. “But guess what? My dad cannot be bought off. He’s not going to let anyone change his views and he’s done that.” Photos reveal others in attendance at the event were Richard Grenell, the former acting director of national intelligence for Trump who has become the face for LGBTQ outreach in Trump’s re-election campaign; Rob Smith, a member of the pro-Trump student group Turning Point USA; and Trump’s former spouse and Tiffany Trump’s mother Marla Maples. CHRIS JOHNSON


Election a matter of ‘survival’ for LGBT Latinos Lima, who is based in Miami, echoed Zaldivar. A group of LGBTQ Latino activists from across the TransLatin@ Coalition Vice President MARIA ROMAN-TAYLORSON “The queer and trans Latinx vote is the most important country who participated in a virtual roundtable last (Photo by Jonathan Timmes) thing as Latinx people that we could be talking about week said the election results are a matter of “survival.” right now,” said Lima. “We are at a moment where our for their respective communities. lives absolutely depend on this coming election.” “As a trans person, these elections are critical for our Heng-Lehtinen, whose mother is former U.S. Rep. survival,” said Maria Roman-Taylorson, vice president Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), among other things said and chief operation officer of the TransLatin@ Coalition President Trump “is really systematically trying to chip who is based in Los Angeles. “It’s not only the presidency, away at all of the health care access that we (trans but our health is on the ballot. us living authentically is people) have.” Roman-Taylorson in her remarks noted on the ballot.” the White House reinstated the ban on openly trans Roman-Taylorson spoke alongside National Center for servicemembers. Transgender Equality Deputy Executive Director Rodrigo “Our lives are on the line here,” said Heng-Lehtinen. Heng-Lehtinen and URGE: Unite for Reproductive Florida and North Carolina among the states that and Gender Equity Executive Director Kimberly Inez will likely determine the outcome of the presidential McGuire during the panel that the Latino Institute, the election. The panelists stressed state and local races Latino Equality Alliance, the Hispanic Federation, the are equally as important. Washington Blade and Los Angeles Blade sponsored. McGuire noted state legislatures in recent years Hispanic Federation Director of North Carolina and have sought to restrict access to abortion, implement anti-LGBTQ sex education curricula Mid-South Operations Daniel Valdez and Louie Ortiz-Fonseca, founder of Gran Varones, a and pass religious freedom bills and other measures that discriminate based on sexual project that documents issues through Black and Latino LGBTQ lenses, also participated orientation and gender identity. in the round table. “We all want justice at home, which means if you are queer, if you are trans, if you are Tony Lima, chief operating officer of Arianna’s Center, a South Florida-based organization an immigrant, you should not have to feel like your home is a hostile place,” said McGuire. that advocates on behalf of trans Latina women, was the moderator. Richard Zaldivar, Valdez agreed. founder and executive director of The Wall Las Memorias Project in Los Angeles, spoke at “We have seen our Latinx and immigrant communities vilified, our trans and queer the end of the roundtable. communities used as scapegoats to win elections,” he said. “We have the opportunity to “The election in November will be the most important election of our lifetime, in the change that in this upcoming election to let them know that kind of divisiveness is not history of our nation,” said Zaldivar. “Either we can live with this authoritarian leadership going to work.” of this president or we can raise our voice and objections to his bigotry, racism and defeat MICHAEL K. LAVERS this dance with fascism that we are experiencing today.”

Chilean group withdraws from marriage pact with gov’t An LGBTQ advocacy group in Chile has withdrawn from an agreement it reached with the country’s government over marriage and adoption rights for same-sex couples. The Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation (Movilh) in 2012 filed a lawsuit with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on behalf of three samesex couples who were seeking marriage rights in Chile. A law that allows gays and lesbians to enter into civil unions took effect in 2015. The government of former President Michelle Bachelet — who is now the U.N. high commissioner for human rights — the following year said it would introduce bills to extend marriage and adoption rights to same-sex couples as part of an agreement between it, Movilh and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The Chilean Senate in January advanced a marriage equality bill that Bachelet introduced in 2017. Chile’s Constitutional Court in June ruled against a lesbian couple who sought recognition of their marriage in Spain. Human Rights Watch and other advocacy groups noted the decision, among other things, says the inability for same-sex couples to legally marry in Chile does not constitute discrimination because “a homosexual person can contract marriage in Chile if they do it with a person of the opposite sex.” Human Rights Watch also points out the ruling compares marriage equality to “marriage of African countries” and says allowing same-sex couples to marry would mean the “destruction” of marriage. The Senate’s Constitution, Legislation and Justice Committee on Oct. 16 held a hearing on the marriage equality measure. Movilh on the same day in a press release noted its withdrawal from the agreement with the government.

“If President Sebastián Piñera reverses course, we are willing to resume the dialogue with the government to reactivate the agreement that the State signed with Movilh,” said Movilh spokesperson Oscar Rementería in the press release. Hunter T. Carter, a New York-based lawyer who represents Movilh in their Inter-American Commission on Human Rights lawsuit, on Sunday told the Blade he is “very pleased that Movilh has convinced the chairman of this (Senate) committee to take up the bill.” Carter nevertheless added he and Movilh “remain concerned about a number of poison pill amendments that have been offered and by the fact that the president’s representative couldn’t make the time to come to this important meeting and the president couldn’t give this important project the priority that is due.” La Tercera, a Chilean newspaper, reports the bill has 25 amendments that marriage equality supporters and opponents have proposed. Jaime Bellolio, a spokesperson for the Piñera administration, was invited to testify at the hearing, but he did not attend. “The president and his ministers have so thoroughly failed to uphold their government’s obligations under an agreement signed with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights that we have terminated that agreement and the commission will proceed to hear our client’s complaint that Chile is failing to uphold its obligations under international law to guarantee marriage equality,” said Carter. Carter noted to the Blade that “all of the commissioners present made strong statements about Panama’s obligations, and so we are confident of success there and ultimately in the Inter-American court.” Carter also cited media reports that suggest Piñera’s government is reconsidering its position towards marriage equality in Chile. MICHAEL K. LAVERS LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • OCTOBER 23, 2020 • 11

VOLUME 04 ISSUE 43 LORRI L. JEAN is CEO of the Los Angeles LGBT Center.

LA LGBT Center’s Lorri Jean endorses Council member David Ryu

Incumbent ally facing insurgent challenger in Fourth District Council race By LORRI L. JEAN The LGBTQ+ community in Los Angeles is one of the most diverse and vibrant in the world. Our different stories and intersecting identities make the LGBTQ community stronger and more dynamic. Though we may have different backgrounds or speak different languages, we share common challenges and a common cause: The liberation and protection of all LGBTQ+ people. We are not free until we all are free, and we are not safe until we all are safe. Since I first became CEO of the Los Angeles LGBT Center 27 years ago, I have seen just how far we have come. But I can also see the work ahead, and the truth is, we still have a long way to go. We need leaders who have proven their commitment to the LGBTQ+ community. People who not only see us but who will work alongside us until we achieve true justice and equality for every LGBTQ+ Angeleno. I almost never make endorsements (and the Center never does), but in the race for Los Angeles’s Fourth Council District, the choice is clear. I am proud to support David Ryu, because David Ryu supports us. David Ryu doesn’t just show up for the marches and the Pride events. He fights to recognize and serve every member of our LGBTQ+ community, especially the most vulnerable. It was his legislation that brought hate crime data on transgender Angelenos and other groups to light, bringing citywide attention to the staggering rate of violence against trans individuals, and trans women of color in particular. His efforts helped spur new hate crime prevention legislation, and he launched the city’s first-ever hate crime security fund to protect community spaces like the Los Angeles LGBT Center. David Ryu understands that homelessness is an LGBTQ+ issue. When the Los Angeles LGBT Center wanted to build the nation’s first multi-generational homeless housing campus and service center, we didn’t even have to ask – David was our fiercest ally. He knew that homelessness disproportionately affects LGBTQ+ youth, and he got to work. He cobbled together multiple funding sources, put city agencies to work, and never once took “no” for an answer.

Today, the LGBT Center’s Anita May Rosenstein Campus in Hollywood is providing shelter, services and healthcare to hundreds of LGBTQ+ youth and will soon open 98 units of permanent supportive housing for LGBTQ+ seniors. This Center serves as a national model for affordable and homeless housing for the queer community, and it would not have happened without David Ryu. If that wasn’t enough, David personally ensured that our new senior center, which provides meals, programming and community to LGBTQ+ seniors, was included in the City budget. We’ve had lots of supportive city council members over the decades, but I have never seen anyone work as hard or fight with such determination for the Center and our community as David Ryu. Before the City Council, he spent decades working in homelessness nonprofits and social services, helping build housing and healthcare clinics in our most underserved communities, including HIV/AIDS clinics in South LA. In office, he has been one of our closest and most dedicated allies. Finally, in addition to the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s headquarters in David’s district, my wife and I live in his district. For more than two years now, our neighborhood has been fighting a developer who has wanted to build highdensity, expensive rental housing that would require zoning variances and be completely out of scale for our block of single-family-homes. He also has neglected his property, allowing it to become an eyesore and a hub for dangerous criminal activity. David’s staff have been incredibly responsive and helpful. When the developer wouldn’t respond to the local residents, David’s team got involved. Not only did they help us get the developer to clean his property up and thereby stop the criminal activity, but thanks to the involvement of David’s team, the developer has reduced the scope of his project to stay within applicable zoning. We need David Ryu on the Los Angeles City Council. On or before November 3rd, vote David Ryu for LA Council District Four.


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Sen. SCOTT WIENER is chair of the California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus. He represents San Francisco and parts of Northern San Mateo County in the California State Senate.

State Sen. Weiner on voting in 2020

Chair of Legislative LGBTQ Caucus makes his 2020 ballot initiative picks By SCOTT WEINER

The 2020 election is a critical one, and it’s already happening. With ballots sent to every registered voter in California, people across the state are already voting. Turnout is expected to be bigger than usual this year. These votes – your votes – will determine the future of our state. There is much at stake both on a national scale and here in our local community. As we are voting in the midst of COVID-19 and a federal battle over US Postal Service service cuts, voting itself has seemed more fraught this year than ever.This is quite possibly the most important election of our lifetimes, and your vote matters. You can track your ballot at california.ballottrax.net/voter to make sure your ballot has been received and will be counted. There are many reasons your vote is so important this year. There are also many reasons why as members of the LGBTQ community, it’s critical we exercise our voices through our ballots. As we mourn the passing of legendary Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, we must also recommit in our fight to an open and accessible democracy for all. Republicans are trying to jam through the confirmation of the anti-LGTBQ, anti-choice Judge, Amy Coney Barrett, to the Supreme Court. This would be an unmitigated disaster. If confirmed, her presence on the highest court in the land could mean a serious rolling back of rights for LGBTQ people and other marginalized groups. Importantly, our trans siblings are among the most vulnerable and need to be protected against anti-LGBTQ policies. Of all the many reasons to vote for Democrats up and down the ballot, we need to flip Congress (which means flipping the Senate), and get Donald Trump out of office. We must ensure the Supreme Court does not fully become a body that can overturn critical LGBTQ protections and other important protections for marginalized groups. Additionally, as strange as it is to say: COVID-19 is on the ballot this year. A vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris is a vote for a thorough, science-based response to the coronavirus – which has upended our lives in every single way possible. We need real leaders who will guide us with a steady hand, and who will trust expertise from our top medical professionals. We can’t expect a president who throws a superspreader event at the White House, getting himself and a


bunch of his inner circle sick, who called COVID-19 a “gift from God,” to actually help us out of this mess. Not to mention, this has been a devastating year not only healthwise, but also for our economy. LGBTQ people are more likely to work in sectors impacted by COVID-19, and we need to put people in charge who understand the importance of helping folks get back on their feet in this time. Americans should not be left unemployed, struggling to feed themselves or their families, or homeless – and certainly not during a pandemic. And of course, we need to act fast on climate change, as the window to stop its catastrophic impacts is closing. We’ve seen that firsthand in California, with a terrible wildfire season, smoky air, and orange skies. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to vote for people who support real climate action, like limiting and eventually phasing out our use of oil, investing in public transit and clean energy, and building housing near jobs and transit. Locally, as California voters, there are many other important issues to consider this election cycle. On our ballot, there are many propositions that deserve your support. I encourage you to vote yes to fund schools and communities (Proposition 15), reinstate affirmative action (Proposition 16), allow parolees the right to vote (Proposition 17), and end our bail bond system (Proposition 25). These important progressive changes are just a few that are up for a vote this fall. And of course, there are some controversial measures that I’ll be voting against, like Proposition 22, which rolls back worker protections and healthcare for front-line, gig economy workers (many of whom identify as LGBTQ). I’m also voting no on Proposition 20, which would further entrench our system of mass incarceration by lengthening the list of violent felonies for which early parole is not allowed. At a time in which we need to unequivocally state that Black Lives Matter, and in which it’s become increasingly clear we need to incarcerate people less, not more, we should not be increasing prison sentences and jail time. This is a critical election that will determine the fate of our country and our state. We must vote like our lives depend on it – because this year, they truly do.

I am fighting to defeat COVID-19, help struggling families and businesses, expand healthcare, and protect our democracy. • Expand testing, tracing and PPE to fight COVID-19. • Get financial help to struggling families and small businesses. • Protect and expand our healthcare. Everyone deserves universal, affordable care. • Take action on Climate Change before it’s too late. • Build back better, addressing systemic racial injustice and inequality. • Build affordable housing and address the root causes of homelessness.

There is so much more to be done. I would be honored to have your vote November 3rd. – ADAM SCHIFF

Vote Adam Schiff FOR CONGRESS

VOTE by Mail | VOTE Early in Person | VOTE Tuesday, November 3


10/4/20 9:58 PM

The liability of honesty

In 2003, it was said Michael Passons was leaving his hit gospel group Avalon to pursue ‘other things’; he was actually fired and now he’s finally explaining why By JOEY DiGUGLIELMO | joeyd@washblade.com

with another Christian group, but only in the band. I play keys Fans of the Christian pop group Avalon always wondered for Point of Grace. I wanted to keep my foot in the water … why founding member Michael Passons resigned abruptly in but I didn’t want to be the front guy … so I really hadn’t been 2003 and then seemed to drop off the face of the earth. approached by journalists at all until now. There was talk of a solo album but none materialized. The official word was that he was “moving on to other things.” BLADE: You tell in the podcast about how they came to The group had had a wildly successful run. Founded in the your house for a meeting in 2003 and this all came to a head. mid-’90s, Avalon released its self-titled debut album in 1996 How had they known you were gay in the first place? What led on Sparrow and four more (“A Maze of Grace” in 1997, “In a up to that meeting? Different Light” in 1999, “Joy: a Christmas Collection” in 2000 PASSONS: Well at that point I was 38 years old, I wasn’t and “Oxygen” in 2001) as well as a hits collection with new married, I wasn’t dating, (so) rumors begin to swirl when you material (“Testify to Love: the Very Best of Avalon”) in 2003 have that type of scenario and we had discussions about racking up 19 No. 1 singles on the Billboard gospel charts, it several years before. So that’s when … they said to me I two RIAA-certified gold albums, six Dove Awards, an American needed to go to therapy. It really was in 2002 that they wanted Music Award and three Grammy nominations. me to go to reparative therapy or at least go see a counselor Initially there was a blond male and female singer and a or some guy who said his credentials were counseling gay brunette male and female singer to round out the foursome people. So I did that to appease them but I knew it was a in ways that were both visually and sonically appealing. There fruitless effort, and as I say in the podcast, that didn’t last very was regular turnover in one of the “female” slots but Passons, long. I told them I wasn’t going back to that. It had been a Janna (nee Potter) Long and Jody McBrayer formed the group’s conversation for about a year or so before 2003. backbone all through its early and most successful years. After years of silence, in September, Passons came out as BLADE: Did you have a pretty good relationship with them gay on Josh Skinner’s “Jonah and the Whale” podcast and said otherwise? he was fired from the group for declining to continue with PASSONS: Well over the course of the eight years we were “reparative” therapy. The podcast generated significant media traveling together, I saw those people more than anyone buzz and was aggregated in mainstream outlets like Billboard MICHAEL PASSONS today. else. Our schedule was so demanding and we toured almost and People. (photo courtesy Passons) nonstop. … So we did at the time have this family-type Though candid and forthcoming in the podcast, there was relationship but … groups often have a shorter shelf life than more to the story. Passons, a 54-year-old Yazoo City, Miss., solo artists because there are multiple people with multiple goals and aspirations and so native, was chatty and candid in a 45-minute phone interview from his Nashville home unless all four of us aligned, there were always going to be these times where one wants on working in the CCM (contemporary Christian music) bubble, hiding his sexuality for to do a solo deal or they think we should do this or go in this direction and so we kind of so many years, why he opted to come out now and about the Dove Award he nabbed started growing apart in our vision. Jody and Janna wanted to do solo records and I thought from Whitney Houston at the 1998 ceremony. His comments have been slightly edited for that was something that was going to fracture the group and our brand and that did cause length. Read the full conversation at washingtonblade.com. some tensions because the other two members really wanted to focus our efforts on the Avalon brand because that’s what was familiar to everyone. So over the years we became WASHINGTON BLADE: It was great to hear the podcast. It felt like you’d just kinda not as close and then of course you add something like this which kind of draws a line and vanished. you have to choose what side of the line you’re going to be on. MICHAEL PASSONS: I understand that people would see it that way because you’re just kind of out of the public eye when you’re not making music, not putting music out and BLADE: Bear with me a sec, but I’m going to read you Jody’s quote to CCM Magazine in doing interviews, and I had not done any of that pretty much in 17 years. And I didn’t really April, 2004 when he said: “We had a meeting at Michael’s house one day and he told us he expect this podcast to get the attention that it did get. It was a bit of a surprise to me that was going to move on to other things. We sat and cried and felt like the rug had been pulled there was so much of an interest in a 17-year-old story. out from under us. Things had felt great with the new group and Michael seemed to get along and blend vocally with (then-new member) Melissa (Greene) really well. But Michael BLADE: Why did it feel like now was the right time? How did it come about? had been with us from the beginning and just felt it was time for him to do something else. PASSONS: It wasn’t some calculated move, I was approached by a friend who introduced It’s weird but since his departure, it seems everyone is looking for some scandalous thing me to Josh Skinner who has a podcast Jonah and the Whale and said would you like to be to have happened there. It makes me just want to say, ‘Look, I’m sorry to disappoint you a guest? This particular podcast deals with an underwater moment in your life and I had that we don’t have some juicy gossip or ‘Dynasty’ episode happening here.” Based on what previously had conversations with my family just a couple months earlier, just about my you shared in the podcast, that was a gross mischaracterization of how it went down. Did life and the truth of my life so I thought, “Well now is the perfect time,” so it really wasn’t you read that at the time? How did it make you feel? planned out far in advance. An opportunity landed in my lap and I decided to tell the story. BLADE: Had you been approached before? PASSONS: Well, I’ve been pretty under the radar. I’ve been traveling the last 15 years



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James Beard biography a luscious feast

‘The Man Who Ate Too Much’ chronicles chef’s iconic life By KATHI WOLFE

‘The Man Who Ate Too Much: The Life of James Beard’ By John Birdsall

c.2020, W.W. Norton & Company $35/464 pages


“The Man Who Ate Too Much,” the biography of James Beard by the queer writer John Birdsall released on Oct. 5, is a luscious feast. “The Man Who Ate Too Much” clocks in at more than 400 pages. Yet, you won’t want to put it down. You’ll want to spend still more time with James Beard, the gay chef, cookbook writer, teacher and TV personality known as the “dean of American cookery,” and his circle of queer and non-queer friends and colleagues. You’ll long to taste a bit of ham or to savor the flavor of raspberries. Whether you’re a fabulous cook who loves to entertain, or, like me, an introvert who relishes a dinner of popcorn and ice cream, you’ve been influenced by Beard. The wide scope of Beard’s influence in our culture is evoked in a quote from the restaurant critic Gael Greene in the preface of “The Man Who Ate Too Much.” “In the beginning, there was James Beard,” Greene writes. “Before Julia [Child], before barbecuing daddies...before...chefs as superstars, and our great gourmania...there was James Beard, our big Daddy.” Beard, who was six-feet-three and weighed around 300 pounds was a celebrity decades before chefs were celebs. Born in Portland, Ore., in 1903, he was a constant presence on the cultural scene from the 1950s until his death in 1985. Beard wrote numerous cookbooks, including “Cook It Outdoors,” “How to Eat Better for Less Money,” “Delights & Prejudices: A Memoir with Recipes” and (the kitchen bible) “James Beard’s American Cooking.” He hosted one of the first TV cooking shows. For years, (being a great showman), Beard ran and taught at his cooking school. Today, many of us take farmers markets for granted. We want to cook with local, fresh fruits and vegetables whenever we can. Yet in Beard’s day, when Beard came of age, “the industrialization of American food was well underway,” writes Birdsall, who grew up near San Francisco and learned to cook at Greens restaurant in that city. Beard resisted this industrialization. He encouraged Americans to appreciate American foods – from Kentucky hams to California wines. Beard wanted people to grow corn on fire escapes and to buy eggs from free-range chickens. Larry Forgione, Alice Waters, Jeremiah Tower, and Bradley Ogden were among the many chefs who found a mentor in Beard. Beard was a national character, Birdsall says. “He was usually genial in public, prone to cornball puns and a folksy delivery that tended to make his audiences lose their anxiety about making a proper soufflé or buying a bottle of wine,” he adds,”Beard made it look fun.” Yet, beneath this avuncular, easygoing public persona, Beard was uncomfortable in his own skin. From the age of 7, he knew that he liked boys. “To the small circle of New York’s food world, the fact that James Beard was gay was an open secret,” Birdsall writes. Yet, Beard was terrified that people would find out that he was queer. His terror of being outed wasn’t unreasonable. He was expelled from Reed College as a freshman for committing “an act of oral indecency” with a professor. He knew that his mother, a lesbian, had to keep her love for a woman named Stephanie under wraps. In the 1950s, during the “Lavender Scare,” queers were targeted as “deviants.” To everyone other than his circle of queer friends and allies, “the people who bought his cookbooks and read his articles and showed up to his cooking classes — his queerness would have been problematic,” Birdsall writes. Beard was a fabulous mentor and good friend to many. Yet, as Birdsall reports, there were darker elements to his personality. He often used the recipes of others in his cookbook without attribution. On more than one occasion, he reportedly exposed himself to men who worked for him. Birdsall, who won a James Beard award for his “Lucky Peach” article “America, Your Food Is So Gay,” was inspired by his uncles Pat and Lou, a gay couple who helped raise him. Birdsall gives us a portrait of Beard that is neither a take-down nor hagiography. Pat and Lou would love “The Man Who Ate Too Much.”



Proven leadership, for change.

TV HEATHER MATARAZZO with SHANNON PURSER in ‘Equal.’ (Photo courtesy HBO Max)

For Heather Matarazzo, ‘Equal’ is still a cause worth fighting for ‘We all desire to be seen, and held, in our humanity’ By JOHN PAUL KING

The HBO Max docuseries, “Equal,” which debuted this week, is designed to shore up our education by profiling various pioneers in a movement for LGBTQ equality that might never have happened if not for their refusal to stay invisible. It’s “infotainment” in the best sense of that term, blending real-life archival footage with newly filmed “re-enactments” to deliver a concise overview of preStonewall history. That means in addition to giving us a queer history lesson, “Equal” also gives us a host of queer actors paying homage to their forebears by standing in for them in the newly filmed sequences. There’s a long list: Cheyenne Jackson and Anthony Rapp (as Dale Jennings and Harry Hay), Jamie Clayton (Christine Jorgensen), Samira Wiley (as Lorraine Hansberry), and Hailie Sahar of “Pose” (as Sylvia Rivera) are some of the better known – but among these familiar faces is also someone who is something of an icon in her own right. Heather Matarazzo’s breakthrough performance at 13 as middle school outcast Dawn Weiner in Todd Solondz’s 1995 counter-culture classic, “Welcome to the Dollhouse,” made her a touchstone for a whole generation of traumatized teenagers. Later, she won a new flock of fans as BFF Lilly in “The Princess Diaries” movies, as well. Now, she is appearing in “Equal” as Phyllis Lyon – who with partner Del Martin (played by Shannon Purser) co-founded the Daughters of Bilitis in 1955. The pair went on to become the first LGBTQ couple married in San Francisco in 2008. Playing Lyon seems a natural fit for Matarazzo, given her own history as a vocal advocate for feminist and LGBTQ social justice issues, which were still very much on her mind as she spoke with the Blade last week about her participation in “Equal.” Our conversation is below. BLADE: How did you feel about playing Phyllis? Was there a sense of personal connection? HEATHER MATARAZZO: It’s such an interesting question, right? Because history is history is history and so on, and so it goes. I got to feel safe enough to come out thanks to those who came before me, and put their bodies and their reputations on the line, in order for me to say, “Yes, I’m a lesbian,” and be able to say that publicly. I mean, really, I came out because I clearly didn’t have any other choice. It was so spontaneous, and it was so honest, and it was in the moment - and yet, within that, I get to look at those that came before me, in one way or another, and I get to see how their bravery allows me to be brave, too. BLADE: And now you get to be that for others. MATARAZZO: I do my best to receive any praise that I’m given, especially by those who say that my coming out helped enable them to come out – especially people that are younger than me, that knew me from “Princess Diaries” and whatnot, and then were like, “Oh my god, Lilly’s a LESBIAN?” I receive it as best as I can, because at the end of the day – and I say this in the most grounded of ways – we really, truly are all lights for each other. BLADE: Like links in a chain. MATARAZZO: Yeah, exactly. It’s a collective. BLADE: What was your takeaway from playing Phyllis? MATARAZZO: I think both she and Del were wonderful women who really stuck their necks out in order to build a safe community of lesbians. I was just talking about this with my wife the other night, about pre-Stonewall, and the risks that were continually taken in order for us, as members of the LGBTQ community, to be able to organize and meet with each other, in order to have a semblance of “normalcy.” 20 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • OCTOBER 23, 2020

That’s what I love about Phyllis and Del, their ability, seemingly, to exhibit defiant joy. There’s a lot of joy that I see in their interviews together, about their story, how they met, the sneaking around… it almost becomes like a “Great Muppet Caper.” You know? Where it’s “We’re gonna do whatever it is we have to do to get to wherever it is we desire to be.” And I’m grateful that they both got to have that full experience before they passed, unlike so many that didn’t get it, or haven’t gotten it yet. BLADE: Do you think it’s important to tell their stories for a generation that maybe doesn’t have it as hard? MATARAZZO: The older I’ve gotten, on one hand it doesn’t seem like being out is that big of a deal anymore – and yet, even as I say that, we are looking at the fucking clown show that is this Supreme Court nomination process. Let’s be clear, the United States is abysmal in its human rights practices. That’s not something that went away when we got marriage equality. I mean, look at all of the Black trans women that have been murdered here, this year alone? And I don’t think that we can talk about sexual orientation without also talking about race, without also talking about gender – there are so many different intersections, because when you talk about one, you can’t NOT talk about the other. We all desire to be seen, and held, in our humanity. And we shouldn’t have to spend so much time fighting for our humanity and our fucking right to exist. Every single person deserves to feel safe, and not fear for their lives simply based upon one’s sexual orientation, or the color of one’s skin, or one’s religion, or one’s gender identity, or one’s – there are so many things. So, for me, it’s all so connected, it’s a microcosmic experience of something much larger. BLADE: That ties in with your first-hand experience with sexism in Hollywood. You spoke up in support of Rose Byrne when she helped bring #MeToo and the Harvey Weinstein scandal into the spotlight. What would you say about that subject now? MATARAZZO: I’m glad Weinstein’s in jail. I hope he stays there, and I hope he rots. Here’s the thing, we still have a long way to go. Because again, MeToo was pretty much cis-gender, hetero white ladies speaking out about it, and so, you know, it’s synonymous now with cis-gender, hetero fucking white ladies – when the movement was founded by fucking Tarana Burke. And when you have 63 percent of white women voting for a fucking person who literally said, “I grab women by their pussies?” I mean, I think that white women just need to shut the fuck up, and finally listen to black women, for once. Right now, the truth is that we are living in precarious times – we always have been, to one degree or another, depending on where you are in the disparity that is this American caste system. BLADE: Do you hope that the current resurgence of the equality movement will help bring about change in those who oppose it? MATARAZZO: Sure. Or, we could just leave them by the wayside.

PRESS PASS The Washington Blade

The Washington Blade is the only LGBTQ media outlet accredited for the White House press corps. Without the Blade, LGBTQ voices and relevant news would be absent from the White House Press Briefing Room. We cannot afford to let this happen and must keep both The Washington Blade and Los Angeles Blade solvent. Please help ensure the critical freedom of the press extends to LGBTQ people. Join us in donating to the Blade Foundation or buy an ad. Vivian Mayer, Ally and Principal of Mayer & Associates, and Rich Ferraro, GLAAD’s Chief Communications Officer, support LGBTQ and diverse media. Join us in ensuring all voices are heard.



AFI Fest goes virtual for 2020

Bringing buzzy LGBTQ cinema to your TV screen By DAN ALLEN

Pandemic life notoriously doesn’t come with a whole lot of perks, but here’s a big one for LA movie lovers: Since the excellent AFI Fest has been forced like most of the world’s film festivals to go virtual this year, you’ll have the unique chance over the coming week to watch some of 2020’s most exciting and awards-buzzy global cinema, all from the comfort and pants-optionality of your own home. AFI Fest’s roster always includes strong LGBTQ representation—and this year is no exception, from an epic gay immigrant love story to the profile of a famed trans jazzman to a lesbian cinema classic. In all, this year’s festival lineup includes more than 120 titles, all screening virtually in limited scheduling windows running anywhere from a few hours to several days through the end of the festival on October 22. Screening access can be purchased individual films, or with festival-wide passes starting at $100. Here are the LGBTQ-themed films not to miss at AFI Fest 2020: I CARRY YOU WITH ME: Deftly merging narrative and documentary elements, this sweeping, tender and timely film follows the decades-long real-life love story of Ivan and Geraldo as they meet in Pueblo, Mexico, emigrate to the United States, and settle into New York City life, facing the enormous challenges and dangers of homophobia, racism and injustice along the way. A conversation with director Heidi Ewing and actor Armando Espitia follows the film. Screening Tuesday, October 20 at 12pm to Thursday, October 22 at 11:59pm NO ORDINARY MAN: Billy Tipton may have had five wives, but he led a relatively tame life by jazz musician standards, settling down in Spokane and even adopting three children. It wasn’t until he passed away in 1989 and it was revealed that he was a trans man that his name was splashed across national tabloid headlines. This thoughtful documentary—seen here in its American premiere, fresh from the Toronto International Film Festival—looks back on Tipton’s life with the help of keen insights from several trans men. Screening Sunday, October 18 at 12pm to Thursday, October 22 at 11:59pm UNCLE FRANK: South Carolina native Beth shares a special relationship with her “different” Uncle Frank, which only grows stronger when college brings her close to him in New York. Just as Beth is discovering Frank’s just-post-Stonewall gay world of the early 1970s, a death in the family sets them off on a road trip back to South Carolina and a reckoning with their family and their pasts. A talk with director Alan Ball and actors Paul Bettany, Peter Macdissi and Sophia Lillis follows the film. Screening Sunday, October 18 at 12pm to Thursday, October 22 at 11:59pm WHIRLYBIRD: Anyone who lived in Los Angeles in the 1980s and ‘90s remembers Zoey Tur, then known as Bob, who pioneered TV helicopter journalism from high above the city alongside wife and fellow journalist Marika Gerrard, and brought us iconic footage like the start of the 1992 riots and the slow-speed chase of O.J. Simpson. This fascinating documentary looks back on the couple’s insatiable journalistic drive, which unfortunately also took a harsh toll on their marriage and family life. Following the film, their daughter Katy Tur (now a renowned correspondent and anchor herself) leads a conversation between director Matt Yoka and subject Marika Gerrard. Screening Friday, October 16 at 12pm to Thursday, October 22 at 11:59pm MY LITTLE SISTER: Switzerland’s official entry for this year’s International Feature Film Oscar, this graceful drama (here in its American premier) tells the story of two twins, former playwright Lisa who’s now a stay-at-home mom in a small Swiss town, and Berlin-based stage actor Sven, who’s suddenly stricken with leukemia. As they navigate the fallout from Sven’s disease, their shared passion for theater draws them even closer together. Screening Tuesday, October 20 at 12pm to Thursday, October 22 at 11:59pm SISTERS WITH TRANSISTORS: Electronic music owes an enormous debt to its female pioneers, as revealed in this celebration of unsung innovators in technological sound like Clara Rockmore, Bebe Barron, Eliane Radigue and Pauline Oliveros, the last of whom also came out as a lesbian in the 1950s. Iconic avant-garde composer Laurie Anderson delivers the poetic narration. Screening Saturday, October 17 at 12pm to Thursday, October 22 at 11:59pm


‘The Watermelon Woman’ is a lesbian film classic from 1996.

THE WATERMELON WOMAN: This lesbian movie classic from 1996 appears here as part of AFI Fest’s annual Cinema’s Legacy series, chosen by guest curator Racquel Gates this year as a film that also reframes the notion of “classic” through a Black perspective. Aspiring filmmaker Cheryl (played self-referentially by writer/director Cheryl Dunye) embarks on a documentary project about an unidentified Black actress from the 1930s and ‘40s, as she meanwhile embarks on a romance with a white woman, Diana (Guinevere Turner). Screening Friday, October 16 ONLY from 12pm to 11:59pm; FREE A number of LGBTQ-themed shorts are also part of this year’s AFI Fest, including CHILD OF THE LAND (about a queer 16-year-old girl navigating life on the streets after suffering abuse from her stepfather) and IN FRANCE MICHELLE IS A MAN’S NAME (about a young trans man’s return home to the rural American West following years of estrangement from his parents), both screening as part of SHORTS PROGRAM 3; as well as French trans-themed DUSTIN and lesbian coming-of-age tale PILLARS, both part of SHORTS PROGRAM 2. This year’s AFI Fest also features a partnership with NBC’s “Meet the Press” that showcases a series of short documentaries, two of which have queer subjects: VOTE NEIL, which follows openly gay Marine veteran Neil Rafferty as he runs for Alabama’s State Legislature, and TALL TALES WITH TRUE QUEENS, which examines the power and controversy of drag queen story hour events.

Christy Smith

Congress CA 25

Gil Cisneros

Congress CA 39

Holly Mitchell

L.A. County Supervisor 2

Nichelle Henderson

George Gascón L.A. County District Attorney

L.A. County Community College 5

Freddy Puza

Culver City Council

John Erickson West Hollwood City Council

EQUALITY CANDIDATES U.S. President/Vice President Joe Biden & Kamala Harris

U.S. Congress








CA 23 - Kim Mangone CA 25 - Christy Smith CA 26 - Julia Brownley* CA 27 - Judy Chu* CA 28 - Adam Schiff* CA 29 - Tony Cardenas* CA 30 - Brad Sherman* CA 32 - Grace Napolitano* CA 33 - Ted Lieu* CA 34 - Jimmy Gomez* CA 35 - Norma Torres* CA 37 - Karen Bass* CA 38 - Linda Sanchez* CA 39 - Gil Cisneros* CA 40 - Lucille Roybal-Allard* CA 43 - Maxine Waters* CA 44 - Nanette Barragán* CA 47 - Alan Lowenthal


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Senate District 21 - Kipp Mueller Senate District 27 - Henry Stern* Senate District 33 - Lena Gonzalez* Senate District 35 - Steven Bradford*

California State Assembly AD 39 - Luz Rivas* AD 41 - Chris Holden* AD 43 - Laura Friedman* AD 44 - Jacqui Irwin* AD 45 - Jesse Gabriel* AD 46 - Adrin Nazarian* AD 48 - Blanca Rubio* AD 49 - Ed Chau* AD 50 - Richard Bloom* AD 51 - Wendy Carrillo* AD 52 - Freddie Rodriguez* AD 53 - Miguel Santiago* AD 54 - Sydney Kamlager-Dove* AD 55 - Andrew Rodriguez AD 57 - Ian Calderon* AD 59 - Reggie Jones-Sawyer* AD 62 - Autumn Burke* AD 63 - Anthony Rendon* AD 64 - Mike Gipson* AD 66 - Al Muratsuchi*

Los Angeles County Supervisor LACSup 2 - Holly Mitchell LACSup 4 - Janice Hahn*

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District Attorney - George Gascón Superior Court Judge 72 - Steve Morgan Superior Court Judge 80 - David Berger Superior Court Judge 162 - Scott Yang

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Burbank City Council (2 seats) Konstantine Anthony Nick Schultz Burbank Unified School District (3 seats) Dr. Armond Aghakhanian* Dr. Emily Weisberg Burbank Treasurer Lindsey Francois Culver City City Council (3 seats) Yasmine Imani McMorrin Darrel Menthe Freddy Puza Culver City School Board Anne Allaire Long Beach City Council Seat 8 Tunua Thrash-Ntuk Los Angeles City Council LACC 4 David Ryu* LACC 10 Mark Ridley-Thomas LA Unified School District Board LAUSD 3 Scott Schmerelson* LAUSD 7 Patricia Castellanos Los Angeles Community College Board of Trustees LACCD 1 Andra Hoffman* LACCD 3 David Vela LACCD 5 Nichelle Henderson LACCD 7 Mike Fong* Pasadena Mayor Victor Gordo Celeste Rodriguez Santa Monica City Council Special Election Kristin McCowan* Santa Monica City Council (4 seats) Gleam Davis* Ana Maria Jara* Terry O’Day* Ted Winterer* Santa Monica Rent Control Board Caroline M. Torosis*

Anastasia Foster* Santa Monica School Board Jen Smith Jason Feldman West Hollywood City Council (2 seats) John Erickson

Statewide Propositions Prop 14 SUPPORT Borrowing for STEM Cell Research Prop 15 SUPPORT Schools and Communities First Prop 16 SUPPORT Repeals Proposition 209, ending the ban on affirmative action Prop 17 SUPPORT Free the Vote, grants the right to vote to people on parole Prop 18 SUPPORT Allows 17-years olds to vote if they turn 18 by the general election Prop 19 SUPPORT Property Tax Breaks and Wildfire Fund Prop 20 OPPOSE Tougher on parole, property crimes Prop 21 SUPPORT Rent Control Prop 22 OPPOSE Repeals AB 5, classifies ride-hall, other app-drivers as self-employed Prop 23 SUPPORT Regulates dialysis clinics Prop 25 SUPPORT End Cash Bail

Los Angeles County Propositions Measure RR LAUSD Bond SUPPORT Measure J Reimagine LA County SUPPORT

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