TURNING THE CORNER ON 2020 Four years — and three Supreme Court picks later — it’s time to vote, PAGE 10
OCTOBER 30, 2020 • VOLUME 04 • ISSUE 44 • AMERICA’S LGBTQ NEWS SOURCE • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Gay Trump supporters march in WeHo ‘Joe Biden and Kamala Harris … are a drag’ By NOAH CHRISTIANSEN
West Hollywood has earned a reputation as one of the most prominent progressive LGBTQ-friendly cities in America. Because of this, it was quite surprising to some passersby that a Trump march was being held in WeHo on a Friday late night — and a gays for Trump march at that. The event was spearheaded by the Log Cabin Republicans who had asked people to show up in support for the “Gays and Housewives Take Over WeHo March,” in Facebook and Instagram posts. It took place as millions of Californians have already submitted their mail-in ballots with CHRISTIAN WALKER only days before the election on Nov. 3. (Blade Photo by Noah Christiansen) The march was fairly short, only spanning about one block. It started at the Paciﬁc Design Center at around 10 p.m., went up to Rocco’s (a gay bar and restaurant), and then turned around and headed back to the Paciﬁc Design Center. People ﬁrst started arriving at about 9:15 p.m. in their matching Trump gear. (hats, T-shirts, etc.). Some brought Trump ﬂags, LGBTQ Pride Flags, and a variety of patriotic gear to signify that they supported the president and that they were endorsing the idea that LGBTQ+ people also have the ability to support the president. Max Edwards, a supporter of the president and advocate for the march, told the Blade, “We’re here to support Trump and mostly the LGBTQ community to let them know they have more options than just voting.” When asked about his opinion about people who claim that Trump is anti-LGBTQ+, Edwards said, “I think they’ve got to do their homework. There’s a lot of proof, a lot of stuﬀ out there, that proves that’s not correct.” Before the march commenced there were approximately 15 minutes worth of short speeches
from internet personalities signifying their support for Trump and to say that the president is the best candidate for the LGBTQ+ community. Those included remarks from Instagram inﬂuencers David Leatherwood (@ realbrokebackpatriot) and Christian Walker (@christianwalk1r), and Lady MAGA, a drag queen personality who told the Blade that “she personiﬁes what it truly means to be ‘MAGA’.” Shouts of “USA…USA…” to “Four more years” from the assembled crowd of approximately 70 marchers were heard during the speeches. In her remarks, Lady MAGA compared the marchers’ patriotism to that of the soldiers who fought in wars such as D-Day. She went on to say, “Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and Ilhan Omar and these radical socialist communists are a drag…Represent the optimism and joy that president Donald Trump has given us. This movement is bigger than Donald Trump.” Christian Walker, the openly gay son of former Dallas Cowboys NFL running back Herschel Walker, was asked by the LA Blade about Trump’s track record regarding LGBTQ+ rights and what he has to say to those who call Trump anti-LGBTQ+. “Trump’s the only president that went into oﬃce as pro-gay. He’s the only president who supported gay marriage from the beginning of his presidency. He even supported it in the 80’s, so anybody who says that is clearly uneducated and needs to do a little more research,” Walker said. Walker led the march with a bullhorn and started a litany of chants as well as executing multiple backﬂips/somersaults to energize the crowd. The Blade asked Leatherwood what his thoughts were on the number of Trump supporters who had gathered. “Oh this is beyond expectations. Two years ago, I did a meetup here and there were ﬁve people that showed up, and this crowd is 100 times that. It’s amazing,” Leatherwood said. On social media posts late Friday night after the march into Saturday, after a photo of Los Angeles County Sheriﬀ’s deputies surfaced standing with a group of the marchers holding a Trump campaign sign, many commented that they were disconcerted to see LASD personnel in uniform supporting the president. This in light of what had been a contentious summer between law enforcement agencies in the LA area and the Black Lives Matter movement’s protests.
Log Cabin co-hosts unoﬃcial Rodeo Drive Trump rally ‘I do not think Biden loves America’ By NOAH CHRISTIANSEN
The Log Cabin Republicans chapter in Los Angeles is making every day matter in terms of turnout for Trump rallies and marches as Election Day draws near. On Oct. 23, the group sponsored a ‘Gays and Housewives Take Over WeHo’ march in West Hollywood, and in an eﬀort to keep the momentum going they held another pro-Trump event on Oct. 24 in Beverly Hills. The Trump rally held at 3 p.m. Saturday on a grassy area oﬀ Rodeo Drive was attended by several hundred people who all rallied around the president’s reelection bid. One of the Trump supporters who gathered, Jen (who refused to give a last name), was very explicit on why she supported Trump. She said, “I want to be around people that also love America… I think [Trump] loves America… I do not think Biden loves America.” The event in Beverly Hills wasn’t a march, but was as organizers categorized it as ‘a time for Trump supporters to come together and center the discussion around a common goal: Helping Trump get re-elected.’ Participants ranged in regards to age, race, gender, sexuality, etc. In terms of race, the crowd was predominately comprised of white people, but there were people of all races at the rally. Lynn McCluster, a black woman, told the Blade why she supported Donald Trump and why she feels like Biden is racist. “It’s such a beautiful turnout,” McCluster said, “It feels like freedom…We’re just about love and unity, and that’s why I’m here… I feel like [Biden] is being racist because why does [Biden] have to always indicate my skin color? Why do I always have to be a Democrat because of my skin color?” McCluster wasn’t the only black person at the rally who felt that way. The Blade interviewed Christian Walker, the gay son of former Dallas Cowboys NFL running back Herschel Walker, and an Instagram inﬂuencer. Walker had also participated in Friday 03 • OCTOBER 30, 2020 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
night’s Gays and Housewives Take Over WeHO march in West Hollywood. “Well, number one, Donald Trump is the ﬁrst and only president to support gays coming into oﬃce. Number two, he’s the most pro-black president we’ve had in years. His platinum plan is giving $500 billion to Black communities over the next four years,” Walker said. “He cares about Black Americans and he treats us all the same. Love him,” he added. It wasn’t just Black people attending the rally who expressed support for Trump. Trump’s rhetoric toward China is labeled as being racist, so the LA Blade asked Ruth McComey, a Hong Kong born Chinese-American, her thoughts on this. She didn’t see the president as racist and said that she agrees with his policies on China. “China said nothing about the coronavirus. We want China to be accountable,” she said. “I like Trump because he does what he has promised.”
Log Cabin Republicans unoﬃcial Trump rally on Oct. 24. (Blade Photo by Noah Christiansen)
LA County hate crimes remain at elevated levels ‘The highest rate of violence in 12 years’ By BRODY LEVESQUE The Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations (LACCHR) released its annual report last week of hate crimes reported throughout Los Angeles County for the calendar year 2019. While hate crimes remain virtually unchanged from the previous year, increasing 523 in 2018 to 524 in 2019, this high represents a 36% increase since hitting a 30-year low in 2013. “It is troubling that hate crimes in L.A. County have been rising for six years in a row,” said Robin Toma, LACCHR Executive Director. “We also saw the highest rate of violence in twelve years.” “African Americans continue to be grossly over-represented in racial, sexual orientation and anti-transgender hate crimes,” said Commission President Guadalupe Montano. “We’re also alarmed about the record number of reported antitransgender crimes.” Since 1980, LACCHR has compiled, analyzed, and produced this annual report of hate crime data submitted by law enforcement agencies, educational institutions, and community-based organizations. “During this pandemic, it’s as important as ever to engage in ongoing dialogue and collaboration,” said the Chair of the LA County Board of Supervisors, Kathryn Barger. “I thank the Human Relations Commission for this important and timely work that seeks to protect life and property against crime in all of its forms.” Earlier this past year the Board of Supervisors, LACCHR and its partners have working to combat hate in LA County, launched the “L.A. vs Hate” initiative. “While the annual hate crimes reported remain steady this year, this number is still too high. Marginalized communities continue to be targeted and discriminated against. LA County must continue to combat racism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, and white supremacy,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, representing the First Supervisorial District. “I’m proud that the County launched the innovative LA vs. Hate campaign to urge residents to stand against hate. But this year’s hate crimes report show that we have more to do. We have to ensure that Los Angeles County is truly a place where everyone can be who they are without fear.” The report’s signiﬁcant ﬁndings include the following: There were 524 hate crimes reported in the County in 2019, a slight increase from the previous year. This is the largest number reported since 2009. For the past six years, hate
crimes have been trending upwards. The overall rate of hate-motivated violence increased from 61% to 65%, the highest percentage reported since 2007. After declining two years in a row, white supremacist crimes jumped 38% in 2019. Racially-motivated oﬀenses remained by far the largest category, constituting 49% of all hate crimes. African Americans only comprise 9% of L.A. County residents but make up 47% of racial hate crime victims. African Americans were also over-represented as victims of sexual orientation and anti-transgender crimes. Latino/as represented 25% of racial hate crime victims and were the most likely racial/ethnic group to be victims of violent racially-motivated crime (88%). Anti-immigrant slurs were used in 48% of anti-Latino/a attacks. Crimes targeting Asians and Paciﬁc Islanders increased 32%, and anti-Middle Eastern crimes rose from 7 to 17 (an increase of 143%). Anti-transgender crimes rose 64% from 25 to 41, the largest number ever reported. The rate of violence was the highest of any victim group (92%). 75% of racial hate crimes and 32% of religious hate crimes were violent. Crimes targeting gay men, lesbians, and LGBT organizations comprised 19% of all reported hate crimes. 79% of these crimes were violent. There were 48 crimes in which alleged perpetrators used speciﬁcally anti-immigrant language. This is the second largest number of crimes reported with such slurs since this report started tracking xenophobic slurs in 2001. Religious crimes rose 11% and made up 19% of all hate crimes. 89% of these crimes targeted the Jewish community, an 8% increase. The largest number of hate crimes took place in the Metro Service Planning Area, which stretches from West Hollywood to Boyle Heights, followed by the San Fernando Valley region. However, if one compares the populations of the areas to the numbers of reported hate crimes, the Metro region had the highest rate, followed by Western region (which includes West L.A., Beverly Hills, Culver City, and a number of aﬄuent beach communities). Hate crimes committed by gang members declined 37%. Anti-African American crimes committed by gang members plummeted 72%
04 • OCTOBER 30, 2020 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
“As stated in my July 21st motion to establish an antiracist policy agenda for Los Angeles County, Black people are disproportionately represented on the low end of several indices of social and economic well-being, including homelessness, COVID-19 fatalities, and joblessness. Sadly, racially motivated attacks are no diﬀerent. According to the 2019 Hate Crimes Report, Black people were targeted in 47 percent of racial hate crimes, while constituting only nine percent of the County’s population,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “For those who believe that racism is no longer a problem, I invite you to review the examples this report provides of these vile and cowardly crimes, more than 70% of which were classiﬁed as violent in nature.” “LA County has adopted and publicized a number of promising programs to promote inclusion, but the County cannot be fully insulated from the results of the torrent of hatred and intolerance that has emanated from the White House for four long years,” said Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. “I am deeply saddened by this year’s report, including recording the largest number of anti-transgender hate crimes ever, and I am hopeful that new national leadership will put this nation back on track to recognizing every person’s fundamental human rights.” In response to the rise in hate, the Board of Supervisors directed LACCHR to develop an initiative to prevent and respond to hate incidents in the County, which resulted in “L.A. vs Hate.” The initiative has three components: (1) a community-driven marketing campaign to encourage residents and organizations to unite against and report acts of hate; (2) the ﬁrst government hotline (via 211) for reporting acts of hate and providing assistance to hate victims; and (3) a network of community agencies that provide hate prevention and rapid response services. Since launching in June 2020, “L.A. vs Hate” content has been viewed over 186 million times and has been shared to a social media audience of over 7 million. Calls to 211-LA reporting hate acts have nearly doubled, from 60 in June 2020 to 118 in September. To view the complete report, including hate crime maps, graphs and tables, please visit hrc.lacounty.gov. For speciﬁc race/ethnicity data and examples, please click here for antiAfrican American hate crimes, click here for anti-Latino hate crimes, and click here for anti-Asian hate crimes.
L.A. County Supervisor Kuehl emphatic that ‘Prop 21 is good’ But opponents appear to have the edge By KAREN OCAMB
For decades, Sheila Kuehl’s house in Santa Monica has served as a hub for political networking, fundraising, and advocating for progressive issues, candidates, and campaigns with her close friend and senior advisor Torie Osborn. Renowned in California for her historic work fighting for gender and LGBTQ equality, Kuehl’s legislative career has long included representing renters in Santa Monica and West Hollywood. “Strongly” endorsing Prop 21, the Rental Affordability Act, is a matter of good governance. Prop 21 is the statewide ballot measure that puts limits on unfair, sky-high rent increases, reins in corporate landlord greed, and prevents homelessness. Top experts at USC, UCLA, and UC Berkeley agree that sensible rent limits are key for stabilizing California’s housing affordability crisis. That’s why Reps. Maxine Waters, Karen Bass and Barbara Lee, the California Democratic Party, the ACLU, the California Nurses Association, the California Alliance for Retired Americans, Black Lives Matter, the Los Angeles Times, and a slew of LGBTQ organizations and individuals — including LA City Councilmember Mike Bonin and LA Unified School Board member Jackie Goldberg — have thrown their full support behind Prop 21. Kuehl’s endorsement derives naturally from her long history of trying to bend the arc of the moral universe toward justice. Her historic election to the California State Assembly in 1994 as the first openly gay person in the state legislature (see the documentary “Political Animals” for more) was hailed as one of the only bright spots in the dark gloom that year as Newt Gingrich profoundly changed the Republican Party from moderate/conservative to unscrupulous extreme right-wing Bible-thumpers. But she kept focused on passing legislation that would expand human rights under law. And while much attention was paid to new Democratic Gov. Gray Davis signing the then-Assembly Judiciary Committee chair’s historic LGBT student bill, AB 537, on Oct. 2, 1999, before an historic ANGLE gala with President Bill Clinton, he also signed Kuehl’s Assembly Bill 1670 that expanded the Fair Employment and Housing Act to include: “Prohibiting a housing owner from harassing a tenant or prospective tenant on any basis protected under FEHA, such as race, ethnicity, gender, religion, or disability.” “If California is to serve as a model for America’s new and diverse society, every person must feel secure that their civil rights will be protected,” Kuehl told the LA Times, “especially where they live and where they work. Discrimination has no place in a just society.” “I was in the legislature in the early nineties with [Assemblymembers] Jim Costa and Phil Hawkins brought a bill to deny local government the ability to enact rent control ordinances. Before that, only eight local governments in the whole state had enacted serious rent control ordinances in modern times,” Kuehl says. “People forget that in World War Two, there were very serious rent control ordinances in California, especially in Southern California, because people were needed to work in the aircraft plants. And everybody was trying to make a bazillion dollars off the fact that everybody was moving to Southern California. So rent control was enacted. But under Costa-Hawkins, you could not enact a rent control ordinance in your local city, even if everybody was for it, even if the city council wanted it — in some cities for any housing that had been built after 1978 and in every other city, anything built after 1995,” says Kuehl. “Well, that is everything built in the last 25 years may not have rent control applied to it! So, what’s happened to us is we have a crushing homelessness problem.” “So, I am strongly for Prop 21, because all it does is to say that local cities and counties in the unincorporated areas can enact rent control ordinances if
L.A. County Supervisor SHEILA KUEHL. (Photo via Facebook)
their governing bodies want to do that,” says Kuehl, who was elected to the LA County Board of Supervisors in 2014, representing nearly two million people in the 3rd District. Kuehl doesn’t let her some of her former Democratic colleagues go unscathed, suggesting their fear and timidity helped defeat Prop 10, a previous attempt to repeal Costa-Hawkins. “I think if you see a lot of ads for something you should always vote the other way. It’s only entities with an interest, with a lot of money that are trying to convince you by telling you a lot of lies that something is bad,” Kuehl says. “Prop 21 is good. It is good for renters — and it is not bad for people who own rental housing, unless they want to price down because it allows for a reasonable return. It gives you the ability to pass through emergency repairs that you have to make. It simply helps to stabilize housing and help us get a handle on this huge homelessness crisis, which has made much worse by COVID.” LGBTQ renters, in particular, need Prop 21. Not only to avoid the risk of eviction during the COVID pandemic, but also because violent hate crimes in LA County are on the rise. “I think LGBTQ people have suffered greatly in the pandemic because we always were more vulnerable as a group, in terms of our revenue income, our ability to thrive,” Kuehl says. “I think we should be very concerned about each other as a community and making certain that people can stay in their housing in these very difficult and dangerous times.” LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • OCTOBER 30, 2020 • 05
Races to watch: LGBTQ candidates, issues on the line Congress could see new gay members; McBride making history in Del. By CHRIS JOHNSON | firstname.lastname@example.org
All eyes on election night will be on the results of the presidential race, but a number of races throughout the country have major LGBTQ implications. Here’s our rundown of races to watch while you’re awaiting the results of the presidential election: LGBTQ caucus in Congress could expand The U.S. House has a real opportunity to expand the caucus of LGBTQ lawmakers — from seven openly gay members to a total of 15 — if out congressional candidates prevail in competitive races. Non-incumbents running against Republican lawmakers are Jon Hoadley in Michigan, Pat Hackett in Indiana, and Tracy Mitrano in New York. Gina Ortiz Jones is running against a Republican candidate in an exceedingly close open House seat in Texas. Beth Doglio in Washington State and Georgette Gomez in California are running against fellow Democrats after the jungle primaries in their states. Meanwhile, Mondaire Jones and Ritchie Torres have won primaries in New York, both of whom are set to win their “blue districts” and become the first openly gay Black members of Congress. The competitive races in Michigan and Texas have gotten ugly. In Michigan, TV ads are being run against Hoadley based on blog posts he wrote in his youth referring to straight people as “breeders,” talking about wanting to learn about crystal meth and writing about a four-year-old wearing a thong out of context. Meanwhile, Jones is facing ads from the National Republican Congressional Committee denouncing her for supporting access to transgender surgeries for U.S. service members. U.S. Senate may flip to Dem control Passing the Equality Act, which would expand the prohibition on anti-LGBTQ discrimination in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, will likely require Democratic control of the House, Senate and White House — and all three may be achieved on election night. Republicans currently hold 53 seats in the Senate and Democrats would need four pickups to take the majority (or three if Joe Biden is elected and Kamala Harris becomes president of the Senate in her capacity as vice president.) Although Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) is likely to lose to a Republican, Democrats will likely take the seats of Sens. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), and have good chances of winning against Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). Additionally, Democrats have a chance for a pickup in Georgia, where Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) is running against Jon Ossoff and a jungle primary will determine the seat for retiring Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.). Pappas faces stiff GOP competition in N.H. While the LGBTQ caucus in Congress may be expanded, in terms of the incumbents one openly gay member at risk of losing his seat on Election Night is Rep. Chris Pappas (D-N.H.). Real Clear Politics recently changed the rating for the race between Pappas and Republican challenger Matt Mowers in New Hampshire’s 1st congressional district from “leans Democratic” to “toss-up,” even though Pappas has been consistently polling ahead of Mowers by single digits. Seizing on this apparent opportunity, Mowers during a recent debate with Pappas accused him of withholding from the public the fact he has been dating a lobbyist for Amazon. Pappas has denied the accuracy of that claim, and congressional ethics experts have told the Washington Blade he’s under no obligation to disclose his dating life under spousal rules for the U.S. House. Meanwhile, Mowers is facing a congressional ethics investigation for obscuring his past work for big pharmaceutical companies by illegibly writing that information on his disclosure forms. Transgender candidates poised to win historic victories Transgender candidates, which until Danica Roem’s 2017 victory in Virginia were virtually absent from public office, are poised to achieve historic wins in state legislatures. Sarah 06 • OCTOBER 30, 2020 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
From left, Michigan state Rep. JON HOADLEY (D-Kalamazoo), GINA ORTIZ JONES and San Diego City Council member GEORGETTE GÓMEZ. (Photos of Hoadley and Jones courtesy campaigns; photo of Gómez public domain)
McBride, the transgender advocate and the first openly transgender person to speak before the Democratic National Convention in 2012, is poised to win a state Senate seat in Delaware and become the highest-ranking transgender legislator in the country. Meanwhile, Stephanie Byers in Kansas, Madeline Eden in Texas, Jessica Katzenmeyer in Wisconsin and Taylor Small in Vermont would all become the first out transgender state legislators in their states. Another transgender candidate has higher aspirations and is seeking congressional office: Mia Mason is seeking to unseat Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) in an uphill battle to replace the Republican incumbent. Supreme Court to hear case on LGBTQ foster care We’re going to cheat a little bit here and include upcoming oral arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court in an important LGBTQ-related case. After all, the hearing will take place on the day after Election Day, when the world will likely still be awaiting the final tabulation of the results for the presidential race. Catholic Social Services, in the case of Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, is arguing a First Amendment right to refuse to place children with same-sex couples — even though it had signed a contract with Philadelphia agreeing not to engage in anti-LGBTQ discrimination through its taxpayer-funded activities. Acting U.S. Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall is set to represent the Trump administration and argue on behalf of Catholic Social Services, while the American Civil Liberties Union has intervened in the case. If the Supreme Court — which has a new 6-3 conservative majority in the aftermath of the confirmation of U.S. Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett — accepts the argument of Catholic Social Services, it would have implications beyond LGBTQ people and could weaken nondiscrimination laws and policies based on race, gender, religion and national origin.
LGBTQ activists around the world fear second Trump term Biden victory ‘would reignite hope’ By MICHAEL K. LAVERS | email@example.com
Beegun and Sales spoke with the Blade hours after U.S. Supreme Activists around the world say President Trump’s reelection would Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s ceremonial swearing-in at the constitute a serious setback for the global LGBTQ rights movement. White House. They both noted the highly partisan conﬁrmation Ricardo Sales, founder of Mais Diversidade, a São Paulo-based process that took place weeks after the-late Justice Ruth Bader consultancy that promotes diversity and inclusion throughout Latin Ginsburg’s died. America, on Tuesday told the Blade during a Zoom interview that he “It was something we are used to seeing in Latin America checks Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight blog several times a day to see the unfortunately, but I did not think we would see that in the U.S.,” said latest poll results in the U.S. presidential election. Sales, referring to Barrett’s rushed conﬁrmation. “What you do in the The blog as of 11 p.m. ET on Tuesday predicts Joe Biden has an 88 U.S. aﬀects the whole world.” percent chance of defeating Trump. Matthew Blaise is a non-binary queer activist in Lagos, Nigeria. “I’m very, very, very anxious about the results of this election They are among those who are participating in protests against the because what happens in the U.S. inﬂuences so much what happens Special Anti-Robbery Squad, a unit of the Nigeria Police Force known in Brazil,” said Sales. by the acronym SARS that is responsible for widespread human Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, a close Trump ally, has been rights abuses in the country. sharply criticized over his rhetoric against LGBTQ Brazilians and Blaise on Monday told the Blade via Facebook that Nigerians other marginalized groups since he took oﬃce in 2019. Bolsonaro, “rejoiced” when the Trump administration rescinded protections for like Trump, have also faced serious questions over his government’s transgender people under the Aﬀordable Care Act. response to the coronavirus pandemic. “It is crazy that most Nigerians look up to the U.S. for direction, Both Bolsonaro and Trump have contracted the disease. and emulate them,” said Blaise. “I know this is likely due to vestiges of “If Trump wins, unfortunately, I have no good feelings at all because colonialism and racism, the idea that they are superior. So, whatever if Trump wins, I think Mr. Bolsonaro will be re-elected in two years,” happens in the U.S. greatly aﬀects us in Nigeria.” said Sales. “If Trump gets re-elected, it will aﬀect the LGBTQ+ community Other activists around the world with whom the Blade spoke also in Nigeria negatively,” they added. “Fellow citizens would be more expressed concern over the prospect of Trump’s reelection. Activists say President Trump’s reelection would hostile to us because now they have both foreign and domestic Anjeelee Beegun is the director of Collectif Arc-En-Ciel, an LGBTQ constitute a serious setback for the global governments backing their agenda of hate.” advocacy group in Mauritius, an island country in the Indian Ocean. LGBTQ rights movement. Beegun told the Blade that Mauritians closely followed President She, like Sales, are among the activists from around the world who Obama’s election in 2008. participated in this year’s Human Rights Campaign Global Innovative The promotion of LGBTQ rights abroad was a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy during Advocacy Summit, which took place virtually because of the pandemic. Obama’s second term. Bianca Rodríguez, director of COMCAVIS Trans, a trans advocacy group Beegun on Tuesday told the Blade during a Zoom interview that LGBTQ rights activists in in El Salvador, noted to the Blade that Obama “did more for the U.S. and had a good record with Mauritius are following the presidential election “with interest.” the LGBTI community.” “People look up to other countries, look up to the West to see what is happening,” she said. “It is logical to think that Biden will maintain the same line,” said Rodríguez. “And when you see that in all these countries that we consider as developed countries that they Stern told the Blade that OutRight Action International “can expect to see LGBTIQ rights are saying we should oppose LGBTQ people, you are kind of worried about what messages the become a priority to the U.S. government at home and abroad again” if Joe Biden and Kamala general population is receiving when they see a developed country like America is refusing LGBT Harris win the election. Sally Goldner — a veteran transgender, bisexual and pansexual activist persons, then why should we accept that.” in Melbourne, Australia — agreed. The White House in 2019 tapped then-U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell to lead “My ﬁrst thought is that people, whether consciously and/or subconsciously, do follow the an initiative that encourages countries to decriminalize consensual same-sex sexual relations. example of those in positions of ‘power’ and inﬂuence,” Goldner told the Blade in an email. “So, if Grenell — one of ﬁve openly gay ambassadors under the Trump administration — and U.S. Biden wins, one would hope there would be greater respect for LGBTQ (I+) rights abroad, which Ambassador to the U.N. Kelly Knight Craft later that year organized an event on the sidelines of might at a minimum be a buﬀer against social conservatism around the world.” a U.N. Security Council meeting that focused on eﬀorts to make homosexuality legal around the Goldner added she hopes Biden’s election may help reduce the number of trans women of world. color who have been killed in the U.S. ILGA World Executive Director André du Plessis on Tuesday during a telephone interview with Peter Tatchell, a prominent British activist, on Monday in an email to the Blade noted Biden the Blade from Richmond, Va., questioned the campaign’s eﬀectiveness. Du Plessis also said over the last decade “has been a strong ally of the LGBT+ community.” Tatchell added the former there “has been nothing but concern during the last four years of the U.S. administration for U.S. vice president “is committed to support the international LGBT+ struggle.” LGBTIQ rights.” “His victory would reignite hope that the U.S. will become a global champion against “Trump or the administration has had a huge impact on unleashing hate, unleashing homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and intersexphobia,” Tatchell told the Blade. intolerance well beyond America’s borders,” he said. Du Plessis largely agreed, although he cautioned the world is “at a diﬀerent place now than it OutRight Action International Executive Director Jessica Stern agreed. was” four years ago when Obama and Biden left oﬃce. “Another Trump administration would mean more funding for U.S.-based right-wing “One thing that we did appreciate about the Obama administration is that there was a genuine, organizations to spread homophobia and transphobia globally,” she said on Monday in a meaningful exchange with defenders on the ground to say how can we be helpful, how can we statement to the Blade. “It would mean more opposition to life-saving global institutions that use the vast resources and networks of the U.S. government to help bring about change in your serve LGBTIQ people, like the World Health Organization. It would mean more examples of the country which is going to be long-term, sustainable and safe for you,” said du Plessis. “That tone U.S. forging coalitions to oppose social justice movements and equal recognition of the family and that type of leadership is what is desperately needed globally at the moment.” with some of the most conservative countries in the world.” “I cannot tell you how much that would be welcomed,” he added. “It would be hugely “Positions across U.S. foreign policy have been ﬁlled with conservative political appointees,” welcomed.” added Stern. “This means that if Trump is re-elected, we can assume that the politics will be what Ernesto Valle contributed to this article from San Salvador, El Salvador. they were in the ﬁrst term, but on steroids.” 08 • OCTOBER 30, 2020 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Congress CA 25
Congress CA 39
L.A. County Supervisor 2
George Gascón L.A. County District Attorney
L.A. County Community College 5
Culver City Council
John Erickson West Hollwood City Council
EQUALITY CANDIDATES U.S. President/Vice President Joe Biden & Kamala Harris
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
California State Senate
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*
Los Angeles County Offices
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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With just days to go, a critical election for LGBTQ Americans Equality Act on the line as Biden, Trump enter ﬁnal days of campaign By CHRIS JOHNSON | firstname.lastname@example.org
With just days remaining before the presidential election, the LGBTQ community is anxiously awaiting the outcome in a showdown between President Trump and Joe Biden with a winner unlikely to be known until days after Election Day next Tuesday. There’s a lot on the line for LGBTQ people in this election, given the key diﬀerences between Biden and Trump in their approaches to LGBTQ issues. Biden is considered a longtime champion of the LGBTQ community, especially because of his comments on marriage equality on “Meet the Press” in 2012, while Trump has an built an anti-LGBTQ record over his administration. The Equality Act, which would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to expand the prohibition on ant-LGBTQ discrimination, remains a key diﬀerence between Biden and Trump. Biden has said it would be his No. 1 legislative priority and he’d sign it into law with his ﬁrst 100 days in oﬃce, while Trump opposes the legislation based on unspeciﬁed “poison pills” in the measure. National polls have, with few exceptions, shown Biden in the lead over Trump — sometimes by double digits. An IBD/TIPP poll published Wednesday found Biden leading Trump by 4.6 points, 50 percent to 45.4 percent in a four-way presidential poll of likely voters. But the national vote doesn’t determine the election, the Electoral College does. As a result, more attention is focused on state polls to determine where voters stand in competitive states. Some polls show states in the South, such as Texas, North Carolina and Georgia, may be winnable for Biden, as are traditionally “blue” Midwestern states Trump won in 2016, including Michigan and Pennsylvania. In Texas, a surprising University of Texas, Tyler poll on Sunday found Biden had a 48-45 lead over Trump in the traditionally Republican state, while subsequent polls have given Trump a slight edge. In Georgia, new polls from Monmouth University have predicted a Biden victory regardless of whether or not the state has high or low turnout in the election. In Michigan, a Zia Poll and a Trafalgar Group poll had Trump with a single-digit lead in the state, while subsequent polls by the Glengariﬀ Group found Biden had a comfortable double-digit lead. Pennsylvania polls have also been close in states where conservatives anticipate riots in the aftermath of a police killing of a black man will encourage voters to back Trump. Malcolm Lazin, a Biden supporter and executive director of the Philadelphia-based Equality Forum, said he thinks at the end of the day Pennsylvania will hand Biden a victory. “I anticipate that Pennsylvania will provide Joe Biden its electoral votes,” Lazin said. “With most Pennsylvanians voting down ballot, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives will be in Democratic control and Republican control of the Pennsylvania Senate will be diminished.” The full results for the presidential race will likely remain unsettled on the night of the election given voters amid the coronavirus pandemic are taking advantage of voting by mail, which has a history of taking longer to count. In Pennsylvania, the U.S. Supreme Court has allowed the counting of mail-in ballots so long as they are postmarked by the day before the election, allowing votes to come for three days after Election Day. If Biden wins the election, his running mate Kamala Harris — who has built a record as an LGBTQ ally and refused to defend Proposition 8 as California attorney general — will also achieve an important victory as the ﬁrst woman and ﬁrst person of color elected vice president. Kris Perry, the plaintiﬀ in the case against California’s Proposition 8 who wed her partner with Harris oﬃciating in 2013 when the Supreme Court ruled against the anti-gay measure, expressed conﬁdence in the electorate with days remaining before the election. “I’m conﬁdent that the American people aspire for a more perfect union and that they want leadership in the White House that reﬂects the best part of themselves,” Perry said. “We are a nation full of diversity and capable of great compassion. I’ve seen ﬁrst hand the power of federal judges, elected oﬃcials and voters and believe Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will prevail on Nov. 3 and will work diligently to protect the most vulnerable among us.” Biden performs well in ﬁnal debate In the ﬁnal 2020 presidential debate, President Trump had his microphone muted when it wasn’t his turn to talk to keep him from interrupting as he did during his previous one-onone with Joe Biden, but ironically that made him fare worse because he wasn’t able to block 10 • OCTOBER 30, 2020 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
The matchup between DONALD TRUMP and JOE BIDEN is in its ﬁnal days. (Images public domain)
Biden from giving a more sophisticated performance. From the ﬁrst question in the debate on the coronavirus until the end, Biden showed a range of maneuverability in being able to talk about policy issues to being able to appeal to emotion when the moment demanded it and even slammed Trump with a zinger or two. Trump, on the other hand, didn’t show the same range, often resorting to talking points and hammering Biden with payments from foreign countries for which there is little evidence. At the start of the debate, Trump downplayed the impact of the coronavirus had on the United States, saying without his policies that 2.2 million people would be dead, and backtracked on his promise to have a vaccine ready by Election Day, while Biden recognized the 220,000 who’ve died and said to prepare for a “dark winter” because the death toll is likely to rise. Biden was able to make an appeal to emotion when he said separating children who came across the border from their families “makes us a laughingstock and violates every notion of who we are as a nation,” while Trump insisted the children “are so well taken care of” and “they’re in facilities that were so clean” as he insisted many were brought by coyotes, not their parents. When the issue came to health care, Trump (who has yet to come up with a health care plan he has promised for years) said Biden wanted to end private health insurance, which would be inconsistent with Biden’s plan to build on the Aﬀordable Care Act. Trump went on to say Bernie Sanders had tried that health plan in Vermont, but it didn’t work out, giving Biden an opening for a zinger. “He thinks he’s running against somebody else,” Biden said. “He’s running against Joe Biden, I beat all those other people because I disagreed with them.” All throughout the debate, Kristen Welker of NBC News, who served as moderator, kept both candidates to the rules and asked questions on news of the day. Trump tried to shake things up with a developing news story on alleged Hunter Biden emails indicating he set up with his dad meetings with the head of a Ukrainian energy company and arranged for cash payments from China. Biden, however, said he hasn’t “taken a single penny from a foreign source ever in my life,” denying the story for the ﬁrst time, then rejected the entire premise as irrelevant to voters. “There’s a reason why he’s bringing up all this malarkey,” Biden said. “There’s a reason for it. He doesn’t want to talk about the substantive issues. It’s not about his family and my family. It’s about your family, and your families hurting badly.”
Biden has said he’d make the Equality Act his No. 1 legislative priority and would sign it into law within his 100 days in ofﬁce.
Trump (who once said he supported amending the Civil Rights Act to include sexual orientation) opposes the Equality Act, citing unspeciﬁed “poison pill” amendments.
Biden delivered strong words on “Meet the Press” in 2012 still remembered for advancing marriage equality at crucial moment when the issue was on the ballot in four states.
Trump said he’s “ﬁne” with the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in 2015 for marriage equality and considers the matter “settled,” which his supporters have retconned as him supporting same-sex marriage.
Biden, who has denounced anti-LGBTQ human rights abuses, has said he’d reinvigorate U.S. leadership on the issue
Int’l LGBTQ human rights
Trump brought up at a speech before the United Nations his administration’s global initiative to decriminalize homosexuality, which was led by former U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell.
Biden has said he’d lift the transgender military ban, comparing it to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and calling the policy discriminatory.
Transgender military ban
Trump imposed the transgender military ban via tweet in 2017, declaring transgender people would be ineligible to serve in the armed forces “in any capacity.”
Biden has denounced as “unacceptable” ongoing anti-transgender violence, pointing out the murders of at least 33 transgender people and saying he’d prosecute anti-transgender violence.
Biden has set 2025 as the target year to beat HIV — which would beat Trump by ﬁve years — with a plan that includes promises to renew the National AIDS strategy and full ﬁnding for the Ryan White Care Act.
Biden has pledged transgender or non-binary people should have the option of changing their gender marker to “M,” “F,” or “X” on government identiﬁcations, passports, and other documentation.
Non-binary gender marker on IDs
Biden has said he'd reverse the rule, arguing taxpayerfunded agencies shouldn't be able to discriminate against LGBTQ families, nor LGBTQ youth.
Adoption by LGBTQ families
Trump hasn’t commented on the issue.
Trump has launched an initiative to beat HIV/AIDS by 2030 by targeting 48 counties, D.C., and San Juan, Puerto Rico, as well as rural areas in seven states that have been hardest hit by the epidemic. HHS also made PrEP free to those with a prescription who are uninsured. Trump hasn’t commented on the issue and no changes were made in his administration.
Trump has said he'd allow religious adoption agencies to place children consistent with their religious beliefs, eliminating a federal rule requiring them not to discriminate on LGBTQ status.
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • OCTOBER 30, 2020 • 11
VOLUME 04 ISSUE 44 YARIEL VALDÉS GONZÁLEZ is a regular contributor to the Blade.
In awe of my first presidential election after fleeing Cuba Enjoying first taste of political freedoms By YARIEL VALDÉS GONZÁLEZ In my 30 years, I have never elected the president of my country, and it is not something I say with pride, but rather with shame. I should have voted for at least three presidential candidates at this point in my life, but that possibility where I come from was exterminated like a deadly pandemic. There are no presidential elections in Cuba, but rather elected members of the National Assembly who elect the president themselves. This deceptive and convenient electoral system was manufactured several years after the triumph of the 1959 revolution and allowed the same man to govern for 49 years. Fidel Castro fell so in love with power that only a deadly disease could take it from him in 2008. At that time, he transferred the reins of power to his brother, Raúl Castro, who established five-year presidential terms. The president was allowed to run for re-election, but the same electoral system remained in place. How convenient! At the age of 87 and tired of steering a ship aimlessly for a decade, Castro appointed Miguel Díaz-Canel, a 58-year-old engineer who he previously trained, as a presidential candidate. My homeland’s president-designate, however, is a carefully stitched marionette puppet who is handled by very thin strings that tell him what to do or say, since it is the Castro dynasty that truly commands the Communist island’s destinies behind the scenes. Díaz-Canel, therefore, did not have to win the applause of the masses with government proposals. He did not run against opponents for months; nor did he face them in nationally televised debates. Díaz-Canel was elected mechanically and unanimously by 605 National Assembly members locked in a room, not by the more than eight million Cubans registered to vote. As a journalist in Cuba, I was accused by the dictatorship of being part of “subversive campaigns” that independent media launched against the dictatorship and that, according to them, seek a regime change, when in truth I only wanted to show the world the harsh reality of my people. I spent 11 months in U.S. Immigration and Customs
Enforcement prisons after I asked for asylum in this country. My departure to true freedom, just seven months ago, has coincided with the epilogue of the presidential election in the United States, in which I still do not have the right to participate. Even so, being a spectator of this process is extremely exciting. Coming from a dictatorship without presidential elections to a country with one of the strongest democracies on earth is a 360-degree turn, one to which I am still assimilating and beginning to understand. For the moment, my vote, like that of millions of immigrants, will be excluded. That does not mean, however, that I cannot join the electoral fervor prior to Nov. 3. One of my first contributions was to place a banner in support of Joe Biden with my boyfriend in the garden of our apartment. That small poster was, for me, the unequivocal sign of the political freedom that I now have and that for so many years was taken from me. In some way, supporting the candidate who I think is the right one is my way of doing something good for this country, of returning the favor for it welcoming me, of saying thank you: Thank you for allowing me to choose, thank you for protecting me from intolerance, thank you for setting me free, thank you for letting me grow, dream, live. In this country voting can make a difference, especially in Florida, a state that has been key in the last presidential races and where a large immigrant community resides, which grows stronger every day. Proof of this is the sum of the current electoral contest of more than 23 million naturalized immigrants in the United States who are eligible to vote, according to a report by the Pew Research Center, which represents approximately 1 in 10 eligible voters in the United States. A new record. I will not be able to vote in the next election either, but I will be closer. Meanwhile, I will continue to raise my voice for myself and on behalf of the millions of excluded. My contribution may not be taken into account now, but definitely no one will be able to silence it anymore.
12 • OCTOBER 30, 2020 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
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is a long-time resident of the City of Montclair, and a sociology Ph.D. student at the University of Southern California. Broadly, Thuận’s research work explores topics such as race, racism, and race relations in U.S. society, and the development of small American cities.
Anti-LGBTQ candidate advancing in Montclair Lopez has history of attacking our community By THUAN NGUYEN Ben Lopez is a candidate running for city council in Montclair, Calif., a small suburb located about 34 miles east of Downtown Los Angeles. Lopez has a history of making anti-LGBTQ remarks, supporting anti-LGBTQ policies, and associating with an anti-LGBTQ organization. His anti-LGBTQ stance is dangerous to Montclair and surrounding communities. I have lived in Montclair since the early-1990s. Despite having come out as gay in the early-2000s while I was a sophomore in high school, there is still a general lack of recognition and awareness of Montclair LGBTQ residents’ issues. So, on Oct. 5, I attended a virtual Montclair city council meeting. I asked that the city formally recognized the month of October 2020 as LGBTQ History Month and October 11th, 2020, as National Coming Out Day. Such city-level recognition is important because LGBTQ youth often feel unsafe at school and are at higher risk of encountering interpersonal violence and experiencing suicidal tendencies than their heterosexual peers. Nationwide, there has also been an increase in hate crimes against LGBTQ people, particularly gay men and transgender people. LGBTQ History Month provides an opportunity for the City of Montclair to recognize LGBTQ residents who are our families and friends, neighbors, educators, business owners, and everyone in between. It also provides an opportunity for the city to signal to the surrounding areas that Montclair is a welcoming place for LGBTQ folks. However, Ben Lopez’s anti-LGBTQ views stand directly in contrast to the welcoming and accepting place that Montclair could and should be. In a 2010 article by the Pasadena Star-News about samesex marriage, Lopez expressed his anti-LGBTQ views when he stated, “Gays want to boast and brag that they are making inroads—no, they are not. . . . Go to my community. They will be rejected here soundly.’” Lopez also has a history of associating with an anti-LGBTQ organization. According to a 2007 article by the Orange County Register, Lopez once served as a spokesperson for an Anaheim-chapter of Traditional Values Coalition, a designated anti-LGBTQ hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Lopez’s statement is problematic and harmful because of the implication that LGBTQ Montclair residents are outsiders coming into the city. His words reﬂect an 14 • OCTOBER 30, 2020 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
exclusionary outlook and a rejection of Montclair LGBTQ residents. However, Montclair LGBTQ residents are not outsiders making “inroads” into Montclair because we grew up here. We attended grade school and high school in Montclair, held after-school jobs at the local John’s Incredible Pizza restaurant, hung out with our families and friends at the local mall, and watched movies at the local drive-in theater. Like many LGBTQ people across Southern California, we are community members who have always existed and lived among you. Lopez may reject LGBTQ folks, but I reject his statement and the implication that LGBTQ Montclair residents exist outside of the Montclair community. We are as much part of this community as anyone else. We matter, and the issues that aﬀect us also matter. During the 2020 Montclair Council Candidates’ Forum, Lopez also stated, “There are issues that I have been very good at representing that are pertinent to the day-to-day lives of Montclair residents without making them partisan.” Lopez argued that his political leaning is irrelevant to how he would serve as a city councilperson. That is, of course, unless residents identify as LGBTQ, then his view is anything but non-partisan. A rejectionist view toward LGBTQ residents demonstrates a highly partisan position in which he does not have residents’ interests at heart. Should he be elected to the city council, his anti-LGBTQ stance can have tremendous symbolic, material, and political consequences, such as the city’s ability to recognize LGBTQ History Month and National Coming Out Day and to allocate potential resources to support Montclair LGBTQ residents. Suppose Lopez’s position regarding LGBTQ issues and people has changed since 2010. In that case, he needs to make an unequivocal public statement about how he has changed and the views he now holds. But until then, Ben Lopez and his dangerous anti-LGBTQ stance do not deserve a Montclair City Council seat. Montclair residents, if you care about our LGBTQ neighbors, friends, and families, if you care about our LGBTQ youth, if you consider yourself an LGBTQ ally, then I urge you to consider electing an oﬃcial who has a track record that is not rooted in the rejection of our Montclair LGBTQ residents.
Non-binary Cuban artist is born again in Spain Communist government too prudish to appreciate queer art By YARIEL VALDES GONZALEZ
was a problem when trying to ﬁt in a macho and homophobic society. Where I ﬁrst tried to Nonardo Perea lives break through was in writing. I started by attending literary workshops, where I won several in Michel’s body. He uses contests quite quickly. I was never exempt from criticism and rejection of the themes that my it at will to be vulgar, angelic or narrations addressed, which almost always focused on LGBTQ issues and dirty realism. Many diabolical, male or female. Nonardo times I felt that being the way I am made many uncomfortable. But despite the rejections can be whatever he wants. Michel, shy and and bad times that I lived in various periods of my life, I continued doing narrative, and I also withdrawn, hides behind that alter ego that began to write articles about social issues for the Havana Times digital newspaper. Then, over lends him his face and hands to show the world his time, I had the opportunity to apply to a video journalism workshop in Prague organized by claims as an artist. the People in Need organization, and thanks to a woman I love very much, Clara González, Nonardo is an invention that comes to life in photographs, who saw some potential in me, I was accepted to participate video art, performances, NONARDO PEREA belongs to a group of independent artists and in the course, in which I learned some video editing, and stories, installations, journalistic intellectuals who ﬁght for a democratic Cuba. received help with equipment that helped me to start doing articles, ceramics, and whatever other (Photo courtesy of Nonardo Perea) audiovisual work with better quality. All my creative works format is possible, since Nonardo long ago have been done empirically, and above all I am an artist who lost any limits. His mind lost that ability as he works based on improvisation. reinvented himself as an empirical artist, as no one ever gave him the opportunity to attend art school. BLADE: You have ventured into artistic genres as diﬀerent He has been greatly misunderstood, mainly because his as writing, journalism and acting. How do you deﬁne yourself pieces overﬂowed with eroticism and Cuba is still too prudish as an artist and why? to appreciate his queer art and his other works the regime PEREA: I am a person who cannot be inactive. I spend has labeled as “politically incorrect.” Michel and Nonardo every day of my life thinking about doing something new. were discriminated against by society and the dictatorship Sometimes I have so many things on my mind, and the fact that governs the country and represses anyone who does that I can’t do everything I want to do makes me feel a bit not agree with its dogmas. frustrated. I have no words to deﬁne myself, I can only say Nonardo nevertheless overcame those barriers and began that in some way my creative processes have helped me to creating, without anyone’s guidance. He was ﬁrst a writer cope with the life that I had to live, everything I have done and received some tools once he graduated from the Onelio and do has served as a way of escape from reality and Jorge Cardoso Literary Training Center in Havana. He won everyday life, I could no longer live without creating. several competitions, such as the 2017 Franz Kafka Prize for his work “Los amores ejemplares” and the 2012 Félix Pita Rodríguez Prize for the novel “Donde el diablo puso la mano.” BLADE: In a recent interview you precisely declared that your art was a process of liberating In the visual arts, where he is usually very restless, he won the third prize for photography at yourself. What exactly do you free yourself from when you create? the GendErotica Festival for “La casa por la ventana 2014” with his Vulgarmente Clásica project. PEREA: I free myself from the day-to-day, the everyday, my fears and censorship. He participated in the Bienal 00, organized by independent artists, with his “En la cama con Nonardo” project and presented Vulgarmente Clásica at Madrid’s La Neomudéjar Museum in BLADE: In most of your visual works you work with your own image. Why? 2019. PEREA: I use myself as an artistic object because in Cuba I lived in solitude for a long time. Nonardo belongs to the San Isidro Movement, a group of independent artists and I somehow isolated myself and created a space of comfort in my home, a place where I felt intellectuals who ﬁght for a democratic Cuba. That battle has also been fought through his art more free. The conﬁnement somehow helped me to stay away from society that did not tire and in pursuit of LGBTQ rights, such as marriage and adoption rights for same-sex couples, of making me feel bad about my obvious homosexual condition in much of my youth. My and an end to gender violence that remains a problem on the island. literary proposals and art in general, on the other hand, were not taken into account. I always Due to his work and political activism for a truly democratic Cuba, Nonardo suﬀered police perceived that most people underestimated me, and proposing someone to collaborate with harassment and Cuban state security agents threatened him with jail. Fearing for his life, he me on erotic photographs without receiving anything in return was complicated, took refuge in Spain, from where he spoke with the Blade. and still is. I have control over my body. If I want to undress in a photo or in a video, even if I feel sorry, I strip myself of complexes and do WASHINGTON BLADE: Those who follow your art on social networks and oﬀ of them know it. If I want to take a photograph that is too vulgar, I also do it. I you as Nonardo, but few know that your real name is Michel. How and why was Nonardo do not have to request permission from anyone to do so. I Perea born? don’t put up barriers. I take a risk, then I think that they NONARDO PEREA: I remember starting my writing career and I needed another name that say what they want. I understand that I am doing was not so common. I did a big search and I didn’t like any of them. I wanted a unique name if a job where I express my personal and social possible. One afternoon I was sitting in the living room of my house with my father and I told problems, as a human being. him about the need for a name. It was he who proposed Nonardo. At ﬁrst it sounded a bit ugly For more of this interview and to me, but then with Perea it seemed a little better. It had strength. I liked it because it began samples of the artist’s work, visit with “no”, denial, and was followed by “nardo”, ﬂower, that is, Nonardo had a lot to do with me. washingtonblade.com. Since then I started using it for all of my work, both literary and audiovisual. BLADE: How does your artistic training take into account that you are an empirical creator? PEREA: My artistic creation from the beginning was always very complicated, taking into account that I had to abandon my studies at an early age for inclusion reasons, so I have no academic training; then add to that that I am a very obvious gay. At one point in my teens I was seen as a person who was too feminine. The fact of looking like a woman LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • OCTOBER 30, 2020 • 15
A devastating reminder of AIDS crisis
‘Plague Years’ is heartbreaking yet hopeful By TERRI SCHLICHENMEYER
Cover your nose and mouth. Wash your hands with soap and water. Stay six feet away from strangers and those you think might be infected; better yet, stay at home. And that’s how you squash a pandemic – more or less – although, as in the new book “Plague Years” by Ross A. Slotten MD, sometimes it’s not that easy. It wasn’t until he saw his former lover, Art, that the reality hit him. Dr. Slotten hadn’t even considered that he’d be at risk for AIDS, though he’d been ministering to AIDS patients for several years by then. He knew the risks, of course, and had taken precautions, but Art was in his far past. There was a time when Slotten thought he was straight, had dated girls, had imagined life as a husband and father. That changed in college and though he was desperate for love then, he was careful with his heart. He fell for Art, and believed he was in love, but Art slept around with countless men and one night, he broke Slotten’s heart for good. That was at the beginning of the AIDS crisis. It was a lifetime ago, back when Ronald Reagan ignored the disease, before treatment was available, before Art was dying. In med school, Slotten hadn’t intended to specialize in AIDS medicine but as a gay man, how could he ignore those who came to him after he’d opened his Chicago practice? How could he turn his back on them, as did the nurse who placed a gauze pad between her fingertips and a pulse, or the co-worker who felt relief at having avoided mouthto-mouth resuscitation on a dying AIDS patient? On his rounds, there were times that the best Slotten could do was to give comfort, or a hug, or to keep vigil. He tried to be truthful, always, but denial was a real thing – including denial for Art, who slept with the wrong man or men. Though you may not notice it at first, there’s one thing in “Plague Years” that will eventually sneak up on you, tap you on the shoulder, and crush you: So. Many. Names. Before you learn any of them, though, you need the tonesetting biography and background here, and you need to claw your way past the harrowing parts in which author Slotten battles the idea that he might’ve gotten AIDS from a man he once loved. You’ll be well and firmly invested in this book once you get through that, and exhausted, as though you just finished watching a Kubrick movie with a dream sequence set in a full morgue, and there’s more story left. This is a devastating book, made more so by Slotten’s viewpoint as both gay man and doctor, and by casual reminders of the things we didn’t know then, and the things we know now. “Plague Years” is profane and blunt and nail-biting and heartbreaking and hopeful, and that pretty much covers it.
By Ross A. Slotten, MD
c.2020, University of Chicago Press $20.00 / 214 pages 16 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • OCTOBER 30, 2020
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FILM ‘God’s Own Country’ is one of many queer ﬁlms featured on Outfest’s new streaming platform, Outfest Now. (Photo courtesy Orion Pictures)
Renowned queer ﬁlm fest goes global with ‘Outfest Now’ New streaming platform features movies, series, and much more By JOHN PAUL KING
When John Ramirez and Stuart Timmons started an on-campus gay ﬁlm festival at UCLA in 1979, they would not have been able to imagine that, 41 years later, it would be showcasing the work of queer ﬁlmmakers right in the living rooms of people around the world. Known since 1994 as Outfest, the festival was oﬃcially founded (under the accurate but unwieldy name of “The Gay and Lesbian Media Festival and Conference”) in 1982 and has been a ﬁxture in the cultural life of LGBTQ Los Angeles ever since. Now grown into a non-proﬁt global arts, media and entertainment organization, it not only continues to oﬀer two annual world-class queer ﬁlm festivals in LA every year (Outfest and Outfest Fusion, which highlights diversity in the LGBTQ community by featuring the work of people of color), but lives up to its stated mission – to “create visibility to diverse LGBTQIA+ stories and empower storytellers, building empathy to drive meaningful social change” – through mentorship, education programs, a screenwriting lab, workshops, fellowships, a robust Young Filmmakers Project and more. In addition, the organization partners with the UCLA Film and Television Archive for a Legacy Project, the only program in the world dedicated to the archiving and restoration of LGBTQ ﬁlms, which has to date established a collection of more than 41,000 items “and growing.” As if all that important work were not enough, Outfest has expanded itself once more by taking on another operation – and in so doing, has also expanded its reach by entering the quickly proliferating industry of streaming entertainment. Outfest Now, which launched Oct. 20, is the festival’s very own streaming platform, touted in their oﬃcial description as “a year-round, always-on destination to meet the increasing demands for fresh storytelling with new perspectives within the LGBTQIA+ community.” What that means is that subscribers get access to a “carefully curated collection” of feature-length and short-form narrative and documentary ﬁlms, episodic series, and exclusive conversations. It represents a creative vanguard of queer voices along with a celebration of the community’s legacy. What it also means – and what makes the new platform signiﬁcant – is that Outfest has made itself accessible to global audiences. For the ﬁrst time, the content the organization oﬀers can easily reach viewers anywhere, bringing stories, both true and ﬁctional, that express diverse LGBTQ experiences from all across the community and elevate the visibility of many unrepresented identities and voices. Much of this material never ﬁnds commercial distribution; it makes a tour of the festival circuit and then struggles to self-market in the digital world, never gaining the opportunity to reach many of the viewers that might need to see it most. Outfest Now changes that dynamic and bridges the gap, which is good for the ﬁlm artists, whose work becomes available to a much-expanded audience. And because they get to see that work, which they would otherwise never have seen, it’s good for the audience, too. There’s another beneﬁt embedded in the deal, as well, and it’s arguably the most important of all in terms of long-term eﬀect. As the ﬁrst mission-driven platform of its kind, Outfest Now’s revenues go directly to Outfest itself; that means anyone who subscribes will be helping to support and sustain the festival’s year-round programs – including its work in promoting and enabling the work of LGBTQ+ ﬁlm artists around the world, in nurturing and enabling the talent of new and exciting LGBTQ+ storytellers, and in preserving and archiving the legacy of queer cinema for future generations. As Outfest Executive Director Damien S. Navarro puts it, “By subscribing, you are giving back while also gaining access to an ever-rotating exhibition of the best in queer cinema, television, 18 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • OCTOBER 30, 2020
music, stage and digital content - all handpicked for you, by one of the most renowned organizations in the world.” Such support is more vital to the organization now than ever, perhaps. Like all non-proﬁt arts organizations, Outfest has been hard hit by the COVID crisis. Thanks to digital technology, the organization’s 2020 summer ﬁlm festival in Los Angeles was able to go on, as scheduled, through virtual presentations and a handful of socially distant live events (such as drive-in screenings), but with no end in sight and no certainty of how the long-term disruption of a global shutdown will impact the future of ﬁlm and television content, shoring up support for the future is essential. The organization’s director of digital strategy, Tarah Malhotra-Feinberg, stresses the importance of staying ahead of the curve, telling us, “Outfest is doing vital work to increase representation, access and visibility across underrepresented and marginalized communities, which is more important than ever right now. Outfest is embracing technology and innovating its business model; that’s why we continue to lead during the pandemic.” She also points out, “These aren’t just great queer stories. This is some of the best content I’ve ever seen, full stop.” Outfest Now oﬀers subscriptions on either a monthly or annual basis. It’s aﬀordable ($5.99 a month, with a 10 percent discount on the yearly option), at a time when many potential audience members might be keeping a careful watch on their budget, and it includes not only access to a year-round selection of content from Outfest’s diverse library of short and feature ﬁlm titles, but also episodic series, curated collections, and live streamed events – such as conversations with creators, casts and crews every Tuesday, and watch parties every Thursday, “presenting a yearround supplement to the content that is sorely lacking in the community,” according to Outfest’s oﬃcial publicity. Subscribers can customize their own experiences with a personalized watch list, on-demand viewing, the ability to download for oﬄine viewing and the same kind of simple navigation that has come to be expected as standard for any leading streaming service. Among the major ﬁlm titles available on launch are the critically acclaimed, BAFTAnominated “God’s Own Country,” Outfest LA’s 2017 winner “Saturday Church” (starring Indya Moore and Mj Rodriguez of “Pose”), Jonathan Lisecki’s Spirit Award-nominated “Gayby,” and the Emmy-nominated series “Razor Tongue,” created by and starring Rain Valdez. In addition, there are curated ﬁlm collections grouped under such categories as “Family Matters,” “Coming Out and Coming of Age,” “Brief Encounters,” and – just in time for your seasonal entertainment pleasure – “HallowKWEEN.” While it’s true that the selection available at launch might seem a bit slim in comparison to streaming giants like Amazon and Netﬂix, there are plans to “exhibit an ever-growing rotation of contemporary as well as historical works,” in the words of Farhaad Virani, Outfest board member and Associate General Counsel at Amazon Studios, so subscribers can rest assured that a steady stream of new and exciting queer content will be coming their way each month. If you’re looking for a full listing of the line-up available, you can ﬁnd it by going to the platform’s website – outfestnow.com – and clicking on “browse.” While you’re there, you can ﬁnd out more details about Outfest and its mission. And, of course, you can also subscribe, making yourself an oﬃcial supporter of one of the most respected and inﬂuential LGBTQ+ ﬁlm festivals in the world, right from the comfort of your own couch.
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