Losangelesblade.com, Volume 4, Issue 51, December 18, 2020

Page 1

(Photo courtesy the California governor’s office)

COVID-19 vax arrives What’s the plan for LGBTQ+ Californians? PAGE 04



San Diego’s new mayor makes LGBTQ history Gloria sworn in, marking several firsts for city


In a pandemic zoom-style virtual inauguration ceremony presided over by the President pro Tempore of the California State Senate, Toni Gayle Atkins, former Democratic State Assemblyman Todd Gloria was sworn in as the 37th mayor of the City of San Diego on Dec. 10 before the San Diego City Council. San Diego’s new mayor made history across a spectrum of significant firsts as in addition to being the first openly gay person to lead the city, Gloria, “the son of a hotel maid and a gardener” is also the first person of color in the mayor’s chair. Gloria is a thirdgeneration San Diegan of Filipino, Native American, Puerto Rican, and Dutch descent. In a March 2019 interview with San Diego Mayor TODD GLORIA gives his inauguration address during a journalist Karen Ocamb, Gloria told virtual ceremony. the Blade that he officially came out to (Photo courtesy of the Office of San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria) his parents at 18, though he jokingly says he was never “in” the closet since he and apparently everyone at school knew he was gay. But he survived those difficult times to go on and graduate summa cum laude from the University of San Diego, having majored in history and political science. In his inauguration address after he took the oath of office, Gloria thanked his parents, Linda and Phil, and his brother and his family. Gloria also thanked his partner, Adam. He paid tribute to his political mentors and then the people who helped get him elected. He then addressed his city as the duly-elected Mayor for the first time; “My fellow San Diegans, it is with pride that I stand before you today as the 37th mayor of our city. I’m humbled by your support; I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve; I’m hopeful about the future of our city,” Gloria said. “Today is the day that we start building a San Diego that is truly for all of us.” “As a kid who grew up in Clairemont, I didn’t see people who looked like me leading practically anything — let alone the 8th largest city in the United States,” Gloria said at his inauguration Thursday. “But today, I stand before you as the first person of color and LGBTQ person to ascend to our city’s highest office.” “This is a testament to what we all know: San Diego is a unique place, with incredible people, where anything is possible,” he continued. “It is the birthplace of California and a bridge between two nations. It’s the home of artistic creativity, groundbreaking innovation and research that changes the world. It is the place where the son of a hotel maid and a gardener, a Native American, Puerto Rican, Dutch gay guy has just become your mayor.”


As Gloria outlined his plans for his first 100 days in office, he stressed that his greatest priority is the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. “We will be rolling out an aggressive strategy to address the worsening public health crisis in COVID-19,” he said. “The economic crisis that is impacting San Diego’s families, small businesses, and our city budget. The housing and homelessness crisis that has become even more dire.” The Mayor then promised San Diegans that he and his team would build a coalition effort to work across all sectors of the city to accomplish the goals he was outlining. “If we dream big, work together and believe in San Diego, we can accomplish anything. We will change the narrative — not just for the privileged few, but for everyone — especially those who have traditionally felt unheard,” he said. Gloria addressed the issues of racial equality and the Black Lives Matters movement. “We will center racial justice and equity not just in public safety but in everything we do recognizing that Black Lives Matter,” he said. “I believe in us, San Diego,” the mayor said. “I know who we are and who we can be. I am so proud to be the mayor of this great city but I’m even more excited about what we can accomplish together. Because together, I know we will build a San Diego for all of us.” “If we dream big, work together and believe in San Diego, we can accomplish anything.” In the March 2019 interview, addressing the LGBTQ community in his city, Gloria told the Blade, “We had a recent report where there’s 40,000 San Diego young people in their late teens and early 20s who are completely disconnected from the worlds of education and the world of work. Those are young people who are going un-utilized in our economy and that’s a missed potential towards the vision I have of a great city.” Gloria says he wants to “keep that ladder of opportunity in place. I want to rebuild it where it may have been broken. I believe it because I’ve experienced it and I want others to have that same experience. And right now I think there’s good reason to doubt that that ladder exists. But my goal, my ambition, my vision is to rebuild it – not just for queer kids of color like me but really for every person who is going to work hard in San Diego.” It’s a power of compassion, strength and responsibility that Gloria told the Blade that he hopes to bring home to San Diego. “I often talk on the campaign trail about this being a mayoral campaign and a hopeful administration that is focused on real people and on real problems,” Gloria says, adding that he carries the voices of LGBT history with him. “Hopefully, I can make our community proud.” As one commentator reflected, now that he’s mayor, he has that chance. Additional reporting by Karen Ocamb


Supervisor HILDA L. SOLIS, Los Angeles Mayor ERIC GARCETTI, HELEN CORDOVA, Gov. GAVIN NEWSOM with other Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center healthcare staff. (Photo courtesy Office of the Governor of the State of California)

Healthcare workers first to receive COVID-19 vaccine ‘It’s a day to celebrate’ By BRODY LEVESQUE

Helen Cordova, an ICU nurse at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center, became the first person in California to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. With California Gov. Gavin Newsom, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, and California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly along with the chair of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Supervisor Hilda L. Solis looking on, she was followed by four other healthcare professionals. “I’m feeling great. I’m excited. I’m hopeful,” she said to reporters covering the event. “And I really encourage everyone to consider receiving the vaccine so we can start putting an end to this pandemic.” The U.S. Food and Drug Administration late last Friday afternoon approved emergency use of Pfizer Inc. and its German partner BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine. The emergency use authorization allows the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to be immediately distributed in the U.S. The FDA approval kicked off a massive logistics effort by package delivery companies FedEx and UPS, under the direction of the Pentagon’s ‘Operation Warp Speed’ officials, to initially deliver nearly 3 million doses of the vaccine to more than 600 sites nationwide. The FDA action comes just one day after the FDA’s advisory panel voted 17-4 in favor of recommending emergency approval of distribution of the vaccine. In an emergency meeting Saturday, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted to recommend the first COVID-19 vaccine for use for people 16 or older in the U.S, expressing hope that the vaccine would help curb the spread of the disease that has now killed more than 300,000 people in the U.S. Distribution of the vaccine shipments commenced early Sunday with California’s first batch of the COVID-19 vaccine arriving at the Los Angeles International Airport late Sunday night. Reflecting on the occasion Newsom cautioned, “It’s a day to celebrate. But again, it’s a day to be mindful about the challenge we face.” The initial shipment to California includes 327,600 doses, according to the

governor. The vaccines were set to go to hospitals that can store the vaccine in ultra-low temperature freezers — about 94 degrees below zero. Newsom said in addition to the Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center, one hospital in San Diego and two in Northern California also received doses on Monday. In a video message Monday evening, on his Twitter account, the governor said the state will receive 393,000 more doses of the Pfizer vaccine “early next week.” Monday’’s good news was tempered by news from the Los Angeles County Public Health Department that it had confirmed 48 new deaths and 7,344 new cases of COVID-19. To date, Public Health identified 532,730 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of L.A. County and a total of 8,345 deaths. Since the beginning of the surge on November 1, cases have increased 625% with younger people continuing to drive the increase in community transmission in the county. Mayor Garcetti tweeted that he was “glad to join @CAGovernor and @ HildaSolis to mark this important milestone for public health in our city, county, and state –– as the first vaccine doses arrive in L.A. to be administered to health workers on the frontlines.” As hospitalizations accelerate at disastrous speed, Dr. Barbara Ferrer, the Director of Public Health for Los Angeles County implored Angelenos to follow the guidelines and observe the safety precautions. “Because it is likely to take a few months to have enough vaccines available to immunize the millions of individuals who live and work in L.A. County, in the meantime, we all must continue to remain extremely diligent in reducing transmission of the virus. We continue to see extremely high numbers of new cases, hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 – the surge we are experiencing is alarming. If you are not playing by the rules, to be blunt, you are part of the problem, and at this point, you are contributing to these distressing increases in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths,” she said.



COVID-19 vaccine: What’s the plan for LGBTQ+ Californians? At this point, there doesn’t appear to be one By BRODY LEVESQUE

Senator Scott Wiener had introduced legislation earlier this year to address this As the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine begins to make its entry into the supply chain, inequity in data collection, Senate Bill 932, which Governor Newsom signed into law optimism by public health officials regarding making significant progress in two months ago. Last week in a letter to Dr. Erica Pan, the Acting Director, California combating the pandemic’s impact was boosted by the news Wednesday that the Department of Public Health, Wiener wrote about his concern about the “the lack FDA has already telegraphed quick emergency use authorization of the second of implementation of the law which mandates collection of sexual orientation and coronavirus vaccine made by biotechnology company Moderna. gender identity (SOGI) data around COVID-19 and other communicable diseases.” The question on the minds of most Californians is how a vaccination program The Blade has repeatedly asked both Gov. Newsom and Secretary of the will work once the initial vaccines have been used to inoculate the state’s front-line California Health and Human Services Dr. Mark Ghaly questions regarding this healthcare workers and residents at the highest risk of contracting and dying from critical data collection and has not received adequate answers. the coronavirus. In a phone call last week, Sen. Wiener told the Blade that he has received two On Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom launched the state’s “Vaccinate All 58” plan — recent COVID-19 tests since the law took effect yet the 58 referring to the number of counties that make was not asked about his sexual orientation rather up the Golden State. just his gender. Two groups are working to ensure the vaccines In his letter Wiener tells Dr. Pan, “SB 932 requires are distributed equitably: a Drafting Guidelines that all healthcare providers testing for COVID-19 Workgroup is developing California-specific guidance collect this data. […] As you know, data collection for the prioritization and allocation of vaccine when isn’t an academic exercise. Rather, it has life or death supplies are limited, and the Community Advisory consequences. It is only because of data that we Vaccine Committee is providing input and feedback know, for example, that COVID is killing Black people on the planning efforts and resolving barriers to at outrageous rates and that our Latinx communities equitable vaccine implementation and decisionhave very high infection rates. And, it is only because making. of data collection that we understand COVID’s The Community Vaccine Advisory Committee is impacts on different age groups. Yet, COVID’s impacts also working to determine which industries and on LGBTQ people are largely invisible due to the lack communities should be prioritized. of data collection. We introduced and passed SB 932 It is within these parameters that the needs of to stop the erasure of the LGBTQ community.” the hardest hit communities in California, the Black The Blade reached out to Los Angeles based and Latino communities especially in the service healthcare systems that provide healthcare for industry and agricultural sectors must be addressed LGBTQ+ Angelenos on their plans to coordinate with a source knowledgeable of the ongoing discussions Screenshot NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt state and local officials on distribution of the COVID-19 with both work groups told the Blade Tuesday. The (via YouTube) vaccines and thus far has received no response. The problem though the source said was a lack of clarity Blade repeatedly by phone and email sought answers and uncertainty in how the planning should proceed from both Dr. Pan and Dr. Ghaly asking for information on the state’s plan to in part due to the lack of certainty of actual quantities of vaccines being made coordinate with healthcare providers for LGBTQI+ Californians and received no available by the pharmaceutical companies manufacturing them. response. CapRadio reporter Scott Rodd spoke with Orville Thomas, who is with the Preparations are being made however, according to an emailed statement from California Immigrant Policy Center, and serves on the vaccine advisory committee. Lorri L. Jean, CEO of the Los Angeles LGBT Center. Rodd asked Thomas that after health care workers and folks in long-term care “The Los Angeles LGBT Center was approved by the federal government last week facilities, who’s next on the list? to serve as a vaccine distribution center. We also are one of the few community We’re having that conversation right now. Everything is pretty dynamic, but clinics in Los Angeles that already has secured the deep-freeze refrigeration units we’re talking about food and ag workers,” […] Thomas replied. “Plus, the Latino that are required to store the vaccine,” Jean said. “We have the capacity to store population has a disproportionate amount of the illness and deaths compared to 100,000 doses. But, we have no idea how many doses we will receive. And once we their population in the state. All of these things play a part in us formulating a receive them, we will be required to follow government guidelines regarding who tiered system for the phases of distribution.” gets priority. So far no guidance has been provided, including what the definition “We’ve got to figure who we’re going to prioritize,” said Dr. Oliver Brooks, cois of healthcare workers who are prioritized for vaccines. So we don’t yet know chairman of the 16-member Drafting Guidelines Work-group panel of medical whether our own staff qualify. We have secured approval for our residents of experts told the Associated Press Wednesday. Triangle Square (the nation’s first affordable housing facility for LGBT seniors) to “These include 3.4 million food and agriculture workers, from farm to table be among the first to get vaccinated. We hope to secure similar approval for our including those working in food and drinking establishments, grocers, bakers and youth residents. We’re doing everything we can to get prepared to vaccinate our butchers. Also the 1.1 million emergency services providers, including police and community, which we want to be sure isn’t left behind in this effort.” firefighters- those who provide child and youth services, shelters, social services for This uncertainty was echoed in a phone call Wednesday with Michael Weinstein, the elderly and those with disabilities, the criminal justice system. Plus 1.4 million the president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, who told the Blade that his education and child care providers, a category that includes preschools, K-12, and organization was well-prepared and had met with Los Angeles County’s approval as higher education including trade schools.” a provider. But like the LGBT Center, specifics had not yet been made forthcoming. But what of the LGBTQ+ population in the state? Especially the elderly, at-high The answer to when every person requesting vaccination can expect to roll-up risk HIV patients and the homeless LGBTQ+ youth at risk? Throughout the entirety their sleeves is still unknown. The plan for LGBTQ+ Californians? At this point there of the pandemic there has been virtually no data accounting of LGBTQ+ people doesn’t appear to be one. starting with the number of those impacted by the virus. 06 • DECEMBER 18, 2020 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM


Trans Youth Acting Challenge brings awareness Nickelodeon star spreads understanding after his own transition By NOAH CHRISTIANSEN

They think this has to do with pushing an agenda on kids and When examining queer people in the media, it’s easy to see it doesn’t. What it does is send a message to kids that whoever a lack of representation, especially for trans and non-binary they are, however they identify, that’s celebrated and valued people. Although actor Michael D. Cohen does not necessarily and OK.” call himself “trans,” last year he came out in a story in Time But what about his current gig on Nickelodeon? Their magazine about his personal journey — his gender transition. response to one of their employees coming out should not be “I was misgendered at birth,” Cohen says. “I identify as male, one that bashes a person’s identity. When Cohen was asked and I am proud that I have had a transgender experience by the Blade how Nickelodeon responded, he replied, “They — a transgender journey. … I have worked so hard to get to handled it the way they should’ve. They stood behind their the truth and I’ve taken on labels in the past that didn’t feel values and backed me up.” Now, one of the television shows true for the sake of convenience at that moment,” he told the that Cohen appears as a cast member on Nickelodeon has magazine. more than 750,000 children watching each week. For many, they probably cannot name many actors and He understands the issues that trans and non-binary youth actresses who have transitioned, so Cohen is making waves. face in today’s entertainment industry, which is why he launched Yet, even though this is fantastic for accurate representation, the “Trans Youth Acting Challenge.” According to Cohen, “It’s a some ask who he is. Cohen’s a Canadian actor who has casting call for Nickelodeon to see trans and non-binary youth appeared in a litany of shows and movies with some of the in consideration for roles for show.” His background of being most memorable roles being Schwoz Schwartz in “Henry an actor in a field which greatly underrepresents trans and Danger” and all of its spin offs such as “Danger Force.” He has Actor MICHAEL D. COHEN launched a new initiative for trans non-binary people, especially youth- shows that he has a clear also appeared in shows that aren’t strictly Nickelodeon such and non-binary youth who are aspiring actors. goal to trying to transform the industry writ large. as Disney’s “Wizards of Waverly Place” and ABC’s “Modern “The reason I did it is because I wanted to create more opportunities for trans and non-binary Family.” Although he’s making a name for himself, it does not mean that his journey was easy. Cohen youth,” Cohen said adding, “It’s already changed the landscape just by having this initiative.” Posted on the website is a video of Cohen calling upon trans and non-binary youth to submit talks about the process of coming out in an industry surrounded by children. It is not hard to understand that those parents who hold extreme values regarding the nature of gender video audition submissions to have an opportunity to be potentially cast in one of Nickelodeon’s identity are usually upset when confronting the fact that there is a person who transitioned on shows. Cohen has made the process incredibly simple; Upload a video of yourself acting with lines provided. On the website, there is a list of different scenes that an actor is able to choose a children’s show. from. Cohen has faced this backlash. “People don’t understand,” he said. “They think this has to do with sexuality and it doesn’t. CONTINUES ON PAGE 08

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LA DJ named 2021 HRC youth ambassador Ever since middle school, Nico Craig, an 18-year-old trans Black man, has been involved with LGBTQ+ issues. He created an LGBTQ+ student-led organization at his middle school, which led him to win the American Citizenship Award given out by the Culver City Unified School District. This year he was named as a Youth Ambassador for the Human Rights Campaign The ambassadors serve two-year terms, and the Blade interviewed Craig last week; he is currently in the process of commencing his term in 2021 as a youth ambassador. “Being a youth ambassador really helped me find my purpose and what message I want to get across,” he said. Craig

also spoke about his activism saying, “I have known about my trans identity for as long as I can remember.” When asked if Craig would define himself as an activist, he said, “People consider me to be an activist. I just consider myself to be a voice for the trans community.” Craig has had many opportunities to work within his community and HRC as well. Craig is an established Los Angeles area DJ and music producer who has performed at HRC galas all across the country for six years. “I started DJ-ing for HRC when I was about 11 or 12,” he told the Blade. Craig discussed the importance of being a trans Black man in the music industry. “There is so much stigma in the black community with transphobia,” Craig indicated. He went on to say, “There are so many things that we need to unlearn.” NOAH CHRISTIANSEN

NICO CRAIG (Photo Credit: HRC)


Trans Nickelodeon star spreads awareness

Is there accurate representation for trans and non-binary youth? According to Cohen, currently, no. “Representation in the media is a breach in familiarity. The more that we are represented and represented accurately in the media, the more people who can gain awareness that’s based in truth, love, connection, and community.” This opportunity for trans and non-binary youth is based off of the experience of an actor who has successfully transitioned and is now paying it forward by reaching out to youth who aren’t afforded many opportunities to express their true selves in this industry. “There’s nothing more important than providing support to young people. That’s what we’re here for. Regardless of anybody’s identity, that’s what adults are here to do,” Cohen says. “We have to support young people coming up and letting them shine – letting them be their

authentic self.” In this regard, Cohen understands the necessity of reaching out to trans and non-binary youth in particular. Cohen ended his interview with the Blade with a note of positivity telling children to come out when they are ready because even though he felt comfortable coming out – not everyone has that comfortability. “We’re keeping the finalists confidential and anonymous… It’s up to them and their family to decide if they will be public about [coming out].” Approaching the auditions in this way will allow the youth to feel comfortable in their own skin. Cohen tells people to be themselves; “We have to bring awareness to the areas in which we have these false beliefs about who we are,”… and maybe a way in which we can bring awareness would be through the Trans Youth Acting Challenge.

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Biden taps Buttigieg for Transportation secretary

Would be first out gay confirmed by Senate to Cabinet post By CHRIS JOHNSON | cjohnson@washblade.com

Pete Buttigieg, who made history in the 2020 primary before dropping out and endorsing Joe Biden, has won the nod to become the first openly gay person to take a Cabinet post that requires Senate confirmation, the Washington Blade has confirmed. Buttigieg, who previously served as mayor of South Bend, Ind., is set to be nominated for transportation secretary. CNN was first to report the news. Amid media reports in Axios, CNN and the Daily Beast that Buttigieg was in contention for the job, a Democratic insider told the Blade Buttigieg was heavily lobbying the transition team for the role. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris also “leaned in heavily” to promote Buttigieg to become transportation secretary, a Democratic insider told the Blade. The two bonded during preparations for the vice presidential debate in Salt Lake City when Buttigieg stood in for Mike Pence, the Democratic insider said. The news comes after the Blade reported last week some in the LGBTQ community were unhappy with LGBTQ movement leaders for not being more vocal in calling for the nomination of an openly LGBTQ Cabinet secretary. After all, other minority groups, including Black and Latino leaders, were more openly pushing for Cabinet appointments and getting key appointments as a result, unlike the LGBTQ community as of last week. At the same time, Buttigieg had been turning down roles in Biden’s Cabinet. Buttigieg told Annise Parker, CEO of the LGBTQ Victory Institute, he wouldn’t pursue the role of secretary of veterans affairs despite media speculation he was in contention for the job, according to two Democratic sources. One Democratic insider said Buttigieg rejected the role of director of Office of Management & Budget, and said he wanted a position in the “real Cabinet” and not a “staff-level” job. Buttigieg had previously sought the position of U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, but the nomination ended up going to Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a Foreign Service officer with years of experience. Annise Parker, CEO of LGBTQ Victory Institute, hailed the news Buttigieg would be nominated as transportation secretary as “a new milestone in a decades-long effort to ensure LGBTQ people are represented throughout our government.” “It distances our nation from a troubled legacy of barring out LGBTQ people from government positions and moves us closer to the president-elect’s vision of a government that reflects America,” Parker said. “As an out LGBTQ person, Pete will bring a unique perspective that will inform and influence policy throughout the federal government. Most important, however, is that Pete will bring his intellect and energy to the Department of Transportation and our nation will be better off because of it.” The Biden transition team didn’t respond to a request to comment for this article. Despite the historic first Buttigieg is set to achieve, he won’t be the first openly gay person to serve as a Cabinet official. That distinction belongs to Richard Grenell, who was acting director of national intelligence during the Trump administration before he resigned and became the face LGBTQ outreach for the Trump campaign. Grenell, however, never won Senate confirmation for the acting DNI job, even though the chamber approved him for his concurrent role as U.S. ambassador to Germany. Buttigieg, therefore, will have the distinction of being the first openly gay person confirmed by the Senate for a Cabinet-level position, provided he win Senate confirmation. Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), who supported Buttigieg during the Democratic primary, hailed news the former candidate was selected to become transportation secretary as “a brilliant and historic appointment.” “President-elect Joe Biden has again shown his commitment to diversity and made history with the first-ever nomination of an openly gay American to lead a Cabinet department,” Beyer said. “As Secretary Foxx and others have demonstrated previously, local elected leaders understand transportation from the most important perspective: That last mile to your home or business. Pete Buttigieg’s leadership and

PETE BUTTIGIEG has been tapped to become transportation secretary. (Blade photo by Michael Key)

work to spark investment helped bring about a renaissance in South Bend.” On the campaign trail, Buttigieg had expressed a desire for overhauling the nation’s infrastructure. In November 2019 during the Abby Finkenauer Fish Fry in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Buttigieg said he was genuinely surprised President Trump didn’t fulfill his campaign promise to take on infrastructure reform. “Worse, they put out this infrastructure plan they were talking about, and the plan was for us — local and state governments — to do most of the work, which is how it works right now,” Buttigieg said. “We cannot go on like this.” Buttigieg said as South Bend mayor he’d get a call when there’s a hole in the road, but would only get enough funding to redo every road “every 25 years or so.” “So, we need federal leadership to build first-rate infrastructure in the United States of America,” Buttigieg said, “including $100 billion to help build out local transit and transportation systems, because that helps our economies locally, including leadership on roads, bridges, and rail, which is a big part of our future, including those unsexy pieces of infrastructure like wastewater and I could spend a whole hour on wastewater but I promise not to.” Buttigieg also said digital infrastructure was a big part of the plan and called for $80 billion “to make sure that every household in America, either by wireless or by fiber, can get high quality internet access.” Former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, a Republican who served in Obama’s Cabinet, said Biden’s choice of Buttigieg to lead the department is “a good pick,” according to Axios. “It sends a loud message to mayors and to cities that they count,” LaHood is quoted as saying. “It’s where the action is on putting people to work.” Buttigieg will face during his confirmation process a Senate that will be at best a 50-50 split or under Republican control, depending on the outcome of the upcoming run-off election in Georgia for two U.S. Senate seats. The Blade has placed a request in with both Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation seeking comment on news Buttigieg would be nominated as transportation secretary. LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • DECEMBER 18, 2020 • 09


Navajo roots never far from gay Ariz. lawmaker

their rights,” said Teller. “So, it is very important Arizona state Rep. Arlando Teller says he was Arizona state Rep. ARLANDO TELLER (Photo courtesy of Arlando Teller) for my family to share with other members ecstatic when the Biden campaign asked him to of the community the importance of what my introduce Cher at an Oct. 25 campaign fundraiser grandfather had to do using our language.” in Phoenix. Teller attended public schools in the Navajo “I was actually trying to be calm,” Teller told Nation before he enrolled at Embry-Riddle the Washington Blade a few weeks later during a Aeronautical University in Prescott, Ariz. Teller Zoom interview. “Inside I was a screaming queen, worked at two airports before he accepted a job just giddy as all get about.” at the California Department of Transportation Teller said the campaign did not tell him the (Caltrans). fundraiser’s location until an hour before it He lived in San Francisco for a decade before took place. Teller nevertheless described his he returned to the Navajo Nation 11 years ago. experience with Cher as “amazing.” Teller said he was “in a sincere, committed “I opened for Cher,” Teller joked. relationship and that happened to dissolve.” Teller is one of six openly gay members of the “My grandmother, who was my foundation, Arizona Legislature. my everything, had passed on,” he told the Blade. He was born and raised in Chinle, a town “So, a lot of stuff just seemed to crescendo into in northeastern Arizona that is in the Navajo a situation at that time and I loved living there. I Nation. Teller began the interview by formally loved my friends. We’re still friends to this day introducing himself in Navajo. and I had a yearning to come home, but I never “I am 100 percent Navajo and I have four really expressed that.” clans,” said Teller. “What that clan system does is Teller said he only came out to his mother establishes who I am, where I come from and the when he was breaking up with his partner. family lineage that I come from as well.” “Mom’s a social worker, very clinical, and so the conversation was for the first eight He also noted in his introduction the places from which his parents come. “That also further allows other Navajos who have never met me to know where I come minutes, literally eight minutes, it was all about her, how dare you do this to me! How could from and then establishes a kinship,” said Teller. “I could then be someone’s son, or you hide this from me? And rightfully so,” he told the Blade. “So, I let her vent and then I grandson or father or grandfather, so that establishes the way we communicate with each said, ‘Hi Mom, this situation is about me, your son. Not about you, and I need your help.’” Teller said he heard his mother gasp and after a few seconds she said, “I’m sorry you’re other in Navajo.” Teller’s mother and grandparents raised him after his father died from a heart attack going through this. I’m really sorry you’re dealing with this way up there. This is what you when he was five years old. Teller’s paternal grandfather was a Code Talker who used their need to do and she went into clinical mode right away: Boom, boom, boom, boom … you need to write this down right now.” Continues at washingtonblade.com. language to help the Allies secretly communicate during World War II. MICHAEL K. LAVERS “His legacy is definitely part of my continued effort to ensure that family vote, they express

Supreme Court rejects birth certificate challenge The U.S. Supreme Court, which many predicted would roll back LGBTQ rights with its new 6-3 conservative majority, has turned down a request to hear a case that would have undercut the guarantee of full marriage equality for same-sex couples nationwide. In its orders list Monday, the court without explanation signaled it had denied certiorari in the case, known as Box v. Henderson, which seeks to undermine the Obergefell v. Hodges decision in terms of birth certificates for children born to lesbian parents. Despite the widely held perception marriage equality for LGBTQ families is settled law and beyond any challenge, the question before the the court was squarely framed as a challenge to same-sex marriage and asked the court to “take this case to address whether Indiana’s paternity-presumption law is consonant with Obergefell.” The petition, which had been pending since June, was an early test for newly confirmed U.S. Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett, whom many feared would undermine LGBTQ rights from the bench given her publicly stated religious views against same-sex marriage. Barrett’s views on the petition, however, aren’t known. It takes a vote of least four justices to agree to take up a case, but the recorded tally for any petition isn’t publicly recorded. The petition was filed by the state of Indiana, which sought in cases of children born to same-sex parents who are women to refuse to place the name of a nonbirth mother on the child’s birth certificate, even if the two same-sex parents in the relationship are married to each other. In a filing before the Supreme Court on Nov. 23, Indiana Attorney General Curtis 10 • DECEMBER 18, 2020 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM

Hill contended “common sense” should allow states to presume the child born to lesbian parents had a biological father. “In the vast majority of cases, a birth mother’s husband will, in fact, be the biological father of the child, with all the rights and obligations attendant thereto,” Hill writes. “But a birth mother’s wife will never be the biological father of the child, meaning that, whenever a birth-mother’s wife gains presumptive ‘parentage’ status, a biological father’s rights and obligations to the child have necessarily been undermined without proper adjudication.” The state of Indiana has continuously failed in convincing courts to agree to its demands. State courts had ruled the state must place the names of both lesbian parents on their children’s birth certificates consistent with Obergefell. When the case reached the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, the appellate court affirmed those decisions and concluded the law must be applied the same for different-sex and same-sex parents. In an opposition brief to the Supreme Court on Nov. 10, lawyers with the National Center for Lesbian Rights and other attorneys maintained the Seventh Circuit “correctly construed state law.” “Based on its analysis of Indiana statutes and case law, the court of appeals found that Indiana law affords a birth mother’s husband the right to be listed on the birth certificate of a child born during the marriage, including when a child is born through donor insemination and it is known that the husband is not the child’s biological parent,” the brief says. “Having made that determination, the court of appeals held that…the same rule must be applied to married same-sex couples.” CHRIS JOHNSON

ROSALYNNE (ROSE) MONTOYA is a social media content creator.

TikTok deleted my account because I’m a trans Latina

App’s community guidelines need to be improved By ROSALYNNE MONTOYA

(Special to the Los Angeles Blade) My name is Rosalynne (Rose) Montoya, I am a Latina, bisexual, transgender woman. I am a social media content creator and before Dec. 14, I had grown my audience to 300K+ followers on my TikTok account. (@RosalynneMontoya). One of my videos about injecting my estrogen was reported. Shortly after I posted it, I received a notification that my account was permanently deleted and banned for violating the community guidelines. This was wrong. I’m always sure to follow the community guidelines of the platform I’m posting on. Myself, alongside many other creators, especially BIPOC, LGBTQPIA+, and those living with disabilities, are being targeted by trolls who are intentionally falsely reporting our content with the goal to delete our videos from the app. TikTok’s algorithm allows these discriminatory actions to censor our content. I have appealed the decision to delete my account, but received the notification that they have reviewed my appeal and “it was determined that my account violates community guidelines and cannot be restored.” I am eagerly waiting TikTok’s email for a full explanation. I use my social media accounts to educate people. I share my story, my transition, my surgeries, etc. I also invite my sister who is deaf to help me teach people ASL. I recently started a series on TikTok about trans history after receiving a hate comment stating that being trans is just a new trendy thing, when in fact we have always existed. I often respond to hate comments with humor and education. I strive to live by the words: kill them with kindness. Working as an educator can be difficult, but it’s important and fulfilling as well. I receive thousands of messages from people thanking me for the work I do, for inspiring them, and even for changing their minds. Last month, as my following has exponentially grown, I’ve noticed more and more hate comments and trolls. Having been a content creator for a long time, I’m used to blocking hate comments and even death threats. However, the community guidelines violations on TikTok work differently from the other platforms I use. The guidelines in place are general and vague. There is little transparency on why TikTok removes or does not remove content. They also do not give reasons on why an appeal was denied. The community guidelines should be in place to protect the community. Creators shouldn’t have to put up with discrimination, hateful comments, or death threats. The algorithm should work to protect marginalized people, not discriminate against us. From what I’ve gathered, if enough people report a video on TikTok (even if it’s a false report) the video is removed automatically, regardless of whether the video actually violated the guidelines or not. This can be appealed and if approved by a computer program, the content will be available again. The problem, though, is that this leaves a flag on the account reported. After enough violations (even if appealed and deemed to be appropriate) an account can be deleted. The current algorithm is flawed and is allowing many people who are breaking the community guidelines to slip through the cracks, and many of us who follow them are being deleted and censored due to hateful trolls with an agenda to have our content removed from the app. In the last month I have had many videos reported and removed due to false claims of 12 • DECEMBER 18, 2020 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM

violating TikTok’s community guidelines. The majority of my appeals were approved and most of my content was allowed back on TikTok. At the same time, I was also warned multiple times while live-streaming that my content was ‘vulgar,’ even though I wasn’t breaking any of the community guidelines. After being continuously reported, my appeals to go live were declined. I was banned from live more than four times for being a trans Latina woman while speaking about beauty tips, music, and my transition while wearing tank tops or bralettes. Each time I was reported the timespan of the ban was increased. In the few weeks before my account was deleted, I had to consistently block the same person over and over. His goal was to use my content for his own gain while spreading discrimination against my community. He would screen record my content (including a video with my 17-yearold deaf sister) then use it to spread hate on his page. He has reposted at least seven of my videos (without tagging me) followed by his crude commentary. These were brought to my attention thanks to my followers who sent them to me. I reported these videos, but TikTok’s algorithm concluded that they do not violate their community guidelines. After blocking him, he made another account and spammed my videos. Every time I blocked him, he came back again and eventually his friends joined in as well. From having so many wrongful reports of violating community guidelines, I was notified that my bio had been deleted. I appealed this and it was immediately restored. I had no idea these trolls held the power to have my entire account deleted from the app. These creators laughed when my account was deleted and are already spamming my new account. After my appeal was denied, I went live on my new TikTok account, one of the trolls entered the live and reported me. I was banned from livestreaming for 24 hours for “serious pornography.” I was wearing a tanktop. Many fellow creators have noticed that they are also being targeted for being BIPOC, LGBTQPIA+, living with a disability, etc. Our content is being wrongfully reported by discriminatory haters. As a result, TikTok’s algorithm allows our content to be censored, banned, and deleted. We are just as deserving to use the app as these other people. Internet trolls should not hold more power than content creators. I would like to ask TikTok to sit down with myself and other creators to discuss their community guidelines, and how they can improve the app to be more inclusive. I want my account back and the funds I accrued through the TikTok Creator Fund, but I also want to see real change to the algorithm and transparency with how their community guidelines function. Real people—not just computer programs— should be involved before accounts are deleted. The community guidelines should not be able to be used as a tool to discriminate and target marginalized people. I applaud other social media platforms that have created advisory boards where content creators can hold the platform accountable. I want to create content on platforms that protect the community, but I don’t wish to create content on platforms that censor my content simply for being trans and Latina. Sign my petition here: https://www.change.org/tiktokcommunityguidelines

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BRODY LEVESQUE is editor-at-large of the Los Angeles Blade.

COVID surge blamed on defying the rules ‘Explosive’ crisis as 53,000 diagnosed statewide in single day By BRODY LEVESQUE The news all week from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has been grim. COVID-19 deaths, cases and hospitalizations have surged to immense proportions creating a sense of dread among healthcare workers already on the verge of collapse from exhaustion. On Wednesday, Public Health confirmed 138 new deaths and 22,422 new cases of COVID-19. Granted that the number of new cases reported are, in part, due to a backlog of over 7,000 test results received from one large lab, still that’s 15,422 cases in a single day. Across the state health officials reported more than 53,000 new cases and 293 deaths on Wednesday, setting new daily records as hospitals are losing the battle to keep up with the surge. It has gotten so bad in California that Gov. Newsom ordered distribution of 5,000 body bags mostly to the hard-hit Southern California mainly LA and San Diego areas and he also sent 60 refrigerated trailers as makeshift morgues in anticipation of a surge of coronavirus deaths. The reason for this overwhelming surge? Residents who refuse to play by rules. It really is that simple. Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said the transmission of the virus is rampant and noted two people are dying every hour in the county. “We’re experiencing an explosive and very deadly surge,” Ferrer said. “The most important way we get through these hard times is for everyone to stay home as much as possible and only go out for work, exercise or for essential services. When you must leave your home, always wear a face covering and stay at least 6 feet away from people you do not live with,” she pleaded. “Please cancel holiday plans that involve travel or gathering with friends and family that are not part of your household. Unless we remain more diligent through the holidays – and beyond – we will not be able to stop the surge and provide essential relief to our hospitals and healthcare workers.” The massive rise in infections began in October and is being blamed largely on people ignoring safety measures and socializing with others. Ferrer and other public health officials point out that cases stemming from gatherings during the Thanksgiving holiday now are begging residents to avoid getting together with people from other households over Christmas and New Year’s. What’s more disturbing is that more and more people are just simply ignoring those protocols. Because there’s no real enforcement mechanisms, people continue to gather or in many cases refuse to wear a mask or social distance. The landscape of the web, YouTube especially, is littered with video after video after video of mostly females but males as well refusing to wear masks. A disproportionate amount of these are being filmed in Southern California. How hard is it to understand that if you don’t play by the rules inevitably you’re likely going to be indirectly or possibly directly responsible for the death of another human being? Nearly every argument centers on business and the economy which while true doesn’t seem to take in to account that if people keep dying or stay out sick there’s not going to be a recovered economy. Dr. Alok Patel, a San Francisco area doctor noted, “Any situation in which people are closely interacting increases the chances of person-to-person transmission, plain and simple. If people aren’t wearing masks, are indoors, and/or spending a long period of time together, the risk only increases.” Wear masks, stay home and don’t associate with others outside of your household. It’s really that simple. There’s no mystery here, this is an indiscriminate disease that kills. It is past time to quit being islands of states of selfish and start acting responsibly. It is not the end of the world if a family holiday gets missed this year. Better that than having someone you love end up in one of those portable morgues the governor ordered.


Kipenzi Chidinma built a luxury brand, found fortitude amid pandemic Black fashion entrepreneur shows how creativity can save us By SUSAN HORNIK

As much as grief can tear up our soul, it can also create pure magic, something we are all hoping to witness this holiday season as the COVID-19 vaccine arrives and a new administration will take the world toward a brighter spiritual place. We need hope. Meet American born, Bahamian and Turks and Caicos islander accessory designer Kipenzi Chidinma, a brilliant ally of the LGBTQ community and one of LA’s most important up-and-coming Black entrepreneurs. She has taken a transformational approach to her work. Her handbag line, LINĒIJ, became a great source of comfort for her, soon after the passing of her mama, Hurumia in December of 2019. “My mama was always such a support in my life,” she said wistfully. I truly feel blessed–mom was so nurturing toward me.” Kipenzi had been working hard on her range of luxury, sustainably sourced attaché/laptop cases, portfolios, backpacks, weekender bags, and unisex branded items, often asking her mama for guidance. Facing the loss of her mother and creative muse – Kipenzi had to dig deep to continue the work she started despite her loss. “My creativity is so much a part of my connection with my mama,” she acknowledged. “For weeks after her passing last year, I couldn’t do anything but cry. I felt very lost, like a huge piece of me is missing. It’s like having your universe turned upside down, ripped out and then bleached.” She continued: “But I knew that I had to keep working and creating.” When she is not building her business, Kipenzi works tirelessly to raise awareness about Huntington’s Disease (HD), a degenerative genetic disorder, described as having ALS, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s diseases all at once. Kipenzi volunteers with the Huntington’s Disease Society of America, Los Angeles www.hdsa.org, where she serves on the board, and has designed a collection for HDSA to raise funds to find a cure and support the various needs of the HD community. How did you decide on the name “LINĒIJ” and to start your business? LINĒIJ was born when my lifelong dream and necessity met opportunity. I studied abroad in Turkey for my M.B.A. program and crossed paths with countless amazing people. I began a friendship with a local business owner [Rezal Koç] who offered his assistance once I was ready to start my business. When I returned home, my


Mama was diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease, which is like having Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, and ALS all together – I knew that I would need to work independently to care for her. I quit my job, borrowed from my savings, and reached out to my Turkish contacts to start my company. During this whole crazy process my Mama was by my side. How has COVID-19 impacted your business? We really took a hard hit in the beginning, of the pandemic because it was right at the beginning of trade show season. COVID-19 caused me to not be able to attend trade shows in person, and be separated from my amazing team in Istanbul. But it’s also been good in some respects. I always planned on expanding my business, but the pandemic made me do it sooner than planned. Of course, as an AfricanAmerican woman and emerging designer being seen is important. We launched our luxury executive and branded unisex division. While this wasn’t a division I planned on launching right now. It allowed me to not lay anyone off. Over the past few months there have been several protests here and abroad. How have you addressed this? It was very stressful to see our country and the world in so much pain. When you lead a diverse team like mine – some of whom identify as being people of color, and or part of the LGBTQ+ communities. Being vulnerable and empathetic is imperative. I provided a safe place for the team to vent, and recharge away from work when they needed. This time also allowed me to see who companies and people are. Unfortunately, I have had to part ways with a few suppliers and clients, because their views didn’t align with ours especially when it came to topics on systemic racism, gender, equality and but I am OK with that. It wasn’t easy, but I firmly believe that not all money is good money – so not all money is good for me. Why support Huntington’s Disease research? HD is close to me because it affects my family. My Mama, Auntie, and Grandpa have passed from complications related to HD. I’m on a mission to be the last generation affected by this disease. The only way to do so is to raise funds for research, offer IVF grants to those who may be affected, and still want a family. My hope is that throughout my journey – I inspire all I encounter to love deeply. Travel often. Dream. And let’s get the world back on track together.

A few of West Hollywood’s favorite things WeHo Chamber’s local guide to giving

ART Art Angels 9020 Beverly Blvd (310) 693-5500 https://www.artangels.net/ Art Services Melrose 626 North Almont Drive (310) 247-1452 http://artservicesmelrose.com/ index.html Church Boutique 8462 Melrose Ave, (310) 876-8887 https://churchboutique.com/ Classic Artforms 9003 North Almont Drive (310) 273-6306 http://classicartforms.com/ Denenberg Fine Arts 417 North San Vicente Boulevard (310) 360-9360 https://www.denenbergfinearts. com/ Framing Gallery 8527 Santa Monica Boulevard (310) 657-6904 https://framing-gallery-picture-frameshop.business.site/ George Stern Fine Arts 8920 Melrose Avenue (310) 276-2600 https://store.sternfinearts.com/ Hamilton-Selway Fine Art 8678 Melrose Avenue (310) 657-1711 https://hamiltonselway.com/ La Galerie Montaigne 8619 Melrose Avenue (323) 794-8883 http://lagaleriemontaigne.com/ Leclaireur 450 North Robertson Boulevard (310) 360-0262 https://www.leclaireurla.com/ Leica 8783 Beverly Boulevard (424) 777-0341 http://leicagalleryla.com/ Louis Stern Fine Arts 9002 Melrose Avenue (310) 276-0147 https://www.louissternfinearts.com/ Maxfield Gallery 8818 Melrose Ave (310) 275-8818 https://www.maxfieldla.com/

M+B 612 North Almont Drive Los Angeles, CA 90069 (310) 550-0050 https://www.mbart.com/ Maddox Gallery 8811 Beverly Boulevard (424) 303-7664 https://maddoxgallery.com/ Revolver Gallery 8641 W Sunset Blvd (310) 786-7417 https://revolverwarholgallery.com/ Sherman McNulty Custom Picture Framing 320 N. La Cienega Blvd (310) 652-6960 http://www.shermanmcnulty.com/ westhollywood Trigg Ison Fine Art 9003 North Almont Drive (310) 274-8047 https://www.triggison.com/

BEAUTY & WELLNESS Anthony Markeith Hairstudio 875 Westbourne Dr # 2 (323) 451-962 https://www.instagram.com/ anthonymarkeithb.hair/ B2V Salon 646 N Doheny Dr (310) 777-0345 https://b2vsalon.com/ The Barber Den LA in Public Service 755 N Fairfax Ave Suite B (310) 436-5187 https://thebarberdenla.com/ Barcode Barbershop 8860 #A W Sunset Blvd 323-999-5549 https://www.barcodebarbershop.com/

The Chroma Studio 8229 Santa Monica Blvd #101 (323) 466-6353 https://thechromastudio.com/ Dr. Beard Barbers 8462 Santa Monica Blvd (323) 848-9993 https://drbeard.com/ Entourage Barbershop 8601 Sunset Blvd (310) 855-8044 https://www.instagram.com/ Entouragebarbershop/ Facile Dermatology + Boutique 638 1/2 N Robertson Blvd (310) 929-2220 https://www.facileskin.com/ Fantastic Sams Hair Salons 466 N Doheny Dr (310) 275-0077 https://www.fantasticsams.com/ Flatliinez 1250 N La Brea Ave (562) 999-4019 https://www.flatliinez.com/ Hair Barber Shop 7604 Santa Monica Blvd (323) 848-9162 Hammer & Nails Grooming Shop for Guys 7141 Santa Monica Blvd (323) 651-1458 https://hammerandnailsgrooming. com/ Health House 605C N. West Knoll Drive (424) 355-0039 https://health-house.com/ The Hive Barber Studio 1250 N La Brea Ave #135 (323) 459-9397

Baxter Finley Barber & Shop 515 N La Cienega Blvd (310) 657-4726 https://www.baxterofcalifornia. com/ shop/holiday/

Hot Pilates 8604A Sunset Blvd (310) 360-8889 https://premium.hotpilates.com/ register/ get-hot-on-the-go/4

Beverly Hills Lashes 872 Huntley Drive (310) 500-0551 https://beverlyhillslashes.com/

Iconic Barbershop 8855 Sunset Blvd (424) 284-3255 https://www.iconicbarberweho.com/

Bluemercury—Sunset 8604 Sunset Blvd (310) 289-5220 https://bluemercury.com/

Izzyʼs Barbershop 7910 Santa Monica Blvd (323) 848-4442

Union Roberton 120 N. Robertson Blvd (424) 477-2698 https://www.boxunion.com/location/

Joanna Vargas 8358 Sunset Blvd (310) 424-5141 https://joannavargas.com/

Laseraway 8953 Sunset Blvd (310) 385-8329 https://www.laseraway.com/ locations/ca/ west-hollywood/

Unbreakable Performance Center 8225 W Sunset Blvd (310) 483-4682 http://www.unbreakableperformance.com/

Like a Gentleman 8919 Sunset Blvd (424) 335-0553 www.likeagentlemanbarbershop. com/

Vie Healing 8500 Melrose Avenue (310) 927-3097 https://www.viehealing.com/

Lululemon 8532 Melrose Ave (310) 659-9590 https://shop.lululemon.com/stores/ us/los -angeles/melrose Lulur Day Spa 642 1/2 N Robertson Blvd (310) 659-4100 https://lulurspa.com/ Loft 647 647 N Robertson Blvd (424) 335-0322 http://loft647.com/ Mare Salon 152 North Wetherly Drive (424) 274 3479 http://maresalon.com/

Block Party WeHo 8853 Santa Monica Blvd (424) 245-4014 https://blockpartyweho.com/ Boot Star 8493 Sunset Blvd (323) 650-0475 https://bootstarusa.com/

CANNABIS Aeon Botanika 8448 Santa Monica Blvd Opening Jan 2021 https://aeonbotanikawellness.com/ preopening-giveaway/ Alternative Herbal Health Services 7828 Santa Monica Blvd (323) 654-8792

Boundary 400 N Robertson Blvd (310) 776-9212 http://boundary-line.com/ Calleen Cordero 8659 Sunset Blvd (310) 360-0527 https://calleencordero.com/ Christian Louboutin 650 N Robertson Blvd (310) 247-9300 http://us.christianlouboutin.com/ us_en/

The Artist Tree 8625 Santa Monica Blvd (310) 461-4134 https://www.theartisttree.com/ orderonline/

Chrome Hearts 600 N Robertson Blvd (310) 854-9800 https://www. chromehearts.com/

Calma 1155 N La Brea Ave (323) 498-0035 https://calmawesthollywood.com/

Couture Kids on Robertson 464 N Robertson Blvd (310) 855-9272 https://www.couturekids.net/

Marco Pelusi Hair Studio 636 N Robertson Blvd (310) 967-0999 https://marcopelusi.com/

Exhale Med Center 980 N La Cienega Blvd #102 (424) 279-9497

Refine Menʼs Salon of West Hollywood 8615 Santa Monica Blvd (310) 598-2228 https://linktr.ee/refineweho

MedMed West Hollywood 8208 Santa Monica Blvd (323) 579-1449 https://www.medmen.com/stores/ losangeles-west-hollywood

Skin Laundry 8789 Beverly Blvd (310) 360-0791 https://book.skinlaundry.com/

Zen Healing 8464 Santa Monica Blvd (323) 656-6666 https://zenweho.com/

Skin Thesis 8969 Santa Monica Blvd Suite J (310) 598-1580 https://www.skinthesisinc.com/


Fred Segal 8500 Sunset Blvd (310) 432-0560 https://www.fredsegal.com/ collections/ holiday-2020

A Bathing Ape 8810 Melrose Avenue (424) 343-0282 https://us.bape.com/pages/store-list

Ganni 9004 Melrose Avenue (323) 807-0965 https://www.ganni.com/us/home

Alice + Olivia 8501 Melrose Ave (310) 775-8376 https://www.aliceandolivia.com/

Gina Amir Atelier 509 N Robertson Blvd (310) 858-8377 https://www.ginaamiratelier.com/

AllSaints 8585 Melrose Ave (310) 499-0021 https://www.us.allsaints.com/ storelocator/all-stores/usa/los-angeles/8585- Melrose-Ave/

H. Lorenzo 8660 and 8700 Sunset Blvd (310) 659-1432 https://www.hlorenzo.com/

Soulcycle 8570 Sunset Blvd (310) 657-7685 https://m.variis.com/e/SCFBTVHoli Tatiana Karelina 8804 Rosewood Ave (310) 734-7110 https://tatianakarelina.com/ Trendsetters Barbershop 1261 N La Brea Ave (323) 378-5005 https://booksy.com/enus/188676_ trendsetters_barbershop_134655_ los-angeles

Curve 154 N Robertson Blvd (310) 360-8008 https://shopcurve.com/ Eskandar 8816 Melrose Ave (310) 246-9800 https://www.eskandar.com/

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GMCLA joins other returning favorites for LA Holiday Celebration


Virtual event features choirs, music ensembles, and dance companies By JOHN PAUL KING There are a lot of favorite traditions we have to forego for holiday season 2020 – but thanks to PBS SoCal, we can still enjoy one of them, from the safety of our living room couches. For 60 years, the annual L.A. County Holiday Celebration has brought together local artists to showcase their talents in a special seasonal performance at the L.A. Music Center, giving families an opportunity to enjoy the sights, sounds, and spirit of the Holidays alongside with the rest of the L.A. community. This year, COVID restrictions prevent the show from taking place in front of a live audience, but even a pandemic can’t stop some traditions, and we can still sit down (virtually) together on Christmas Eve to enjoy this one after all, courtesy of KCET. The 61st Annual L.A. County Holiday Celebration was filmed on location, at both The Music Center’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and Jerry Moss Plaza, as well as other sites around Los Angeles County, including the Korean Bell of Friendship in San Pedro and Angel’s Point in Elysian Park. A production of The Music Center and PBS SoCal, in association with CDK Productions, the Emmy Award-winning holiday show features choirs, music ensembles and dance companies that represent the many cultures of Los Angeles. To further highlight the county’s rich creative diversity, the broadcast also includes five mini-documentaries, profiling artists from different neighborhoods, and special performances on location at key local landmarks. Hosted by acclaimed American mezzo-soprano Suzanna Guzmán and actor/producer Brian White, the broadcast features a number of returning favorites within its stellar lineup. Among those annual stalwarts is one local group whose performances are always a highlight – the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles. Returning for its 26th consecutive Holiday Celebration appearance, this beloved community institution will be focusing on the joy and diversity in Los Angeles with a performance the Hebrew traditional/Hanukkah favorite, “Ma’oz Tsur,” along with a pop medley of Christmas favorites and a traditional carol. Some of the other highlights include: Cuñao, an alternative Latin folk band, will perform a villancico, a Latin American and Spanish


Pacifico Dance Company is dedicated to the preservation and reconstruction of classical and contemporary Mexican dance forms. (Photo courtesy LA Music Center)

Christmas carol called “Los Peces en el Rio,” and debut their new original single “Noche Buena,” an homage to how families celebrate Christmas Eve. Daniel Ho Trio and Hālau Keali’i o Nālani, featuring Tia Carrere and Friends, will perform “Colors in Harmony,” a piece written and arranged to illuminate the diverse cultures of Los Angeles and unity through the arts. With bandleader Daniel Ho and actress/singer Tia Carrere singing in English, Hālau Keali’i o Nālani will sing and chant in Hawaiian, supported by the music of the Trio, Zendeko Taiko, and other musical guests. Infinite Flow:An Inclusive Dance Company will perform “Dear Santa,” a letter by nine-year old twins Scarlett and Henry, featuring holiday-themed choreography and original music composed by Jay Manuel and Joey Noble, two Black disabled artists. Including Scarlett in her wheelchair, the sixminute routine mixes dance and acting as the performance balances the sadness of the pandemic and social inequities with the twins’ Christmas wish list, recognizing the importance of diversity and inclusion. Jung Im Korean Lee Dance Academy, the official Korean cultural ambassador to Southern California, returns to the L.A. County Holiday Celebration in the company’s traditional red and white folk dress, with a Korean janggu drum dance highlighting movement and rhythm. Lorenzo Johnson and Praizum, returning to the L.A. County Holiday Celebration to harness the heart and soul of these times through music. Under the direction of Johnson with chorists from churches across Southern California, the inspiring group performs the hymn, “Only Believe” followed by the holiday classic, “Silver Bells.” Pacifico Dance Company, dedicated to the preservation and reconstruction of classical and contemporary Mexican dance forms, will debut an excerpt of the company’s newest work, which highlights the southern coastal Mexican state of Veracruz and its Spanish, Afro-Caribbean and Indigenous cultural influences. In addition, this year’s show features some performers who are making their Holiday Celebration debut, including an ensemble from the American Youth Symphony, a dance and music collaboration from Ballet Folklorico de Los Angeles with Mariachi Garibaldi de Jaime Cuéllar, French-Chinese chanteuse Jessica Fichot, barbershop quartet Noteable, and the country-music trio Sean Oliu and the Coastline Cowboys. You can find out more about the whole lineup of performing talent online at holidaycelebration.org. Wrapping the whole thing up in a bow will be a virtual collaborative performance of “Silent Night,” the show’s traditional finale, featuring Southern California Brass Consortium with a community choir comprised of many singers from this year’s roster of performers. Rachel S. Moore, president and CEO of The Music Center, says, “The holiday season is about spreading joy and goodwill to all, which is so important this year, and we’ll do that with a special broadcast of beautiful and uplifting performances that showcase the talents and diversity of Los Angeles. While many other celebrations and gatherings have been postponed or altered for this season, The Music Center is thrilled […] to be able to continue to bring Angelenos, family and friends the time-honored tradition of the L.A. County Holiday Celebration. Working with the same Emmy Award-winning team led by the program’s 25-year producer and director Kenneth Shapiro, we have created a vibrant new format for 2020…” The show will premiere on Thursday, Dec. 24, from 3-6 p.m. PST with a broadcast on PBS SoCal and a live stream available on pbssocal.org, kcet.org and holidaycelebration.org. And if that conflicts with your Christmas Eve plans, don’t worry. There will be encore broadcasts on PBS SoCal on Thursday, Dec. 24, from 7–10 p.m., and on KCET on Friday, Dec. 25, from noon–3 p.m. PST. It might not be quite the same experience as taking the whole household downtown to share some holiday joy with a whole auditorium full of fellow Angelenos, but it’s sure to be a welcome reminder that, even in a pandemic, our city knows how to come together in a way that lifts us all up. After all, as Moore adds, the 61st Annual L.A. County Holiday Celebration “truly is a ‘celebration’ of Los Angeles – of resiliency and of community – that we all can take pride in from the comforts of our homes.”

CHADWICK BOSEMAN and VIOLA DAVIS give powerful performances in ‘Ma Rainey.’


(Photo courtesy Netflix)

Netflix delivers bold, bisexual ‘Ma Rainey’ Boseman, Davis shine in one of year’s best films By JOHN PAUL KING

There are a lot of reasons why “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” should be on the top of your viewing list in the last weeks of 2020. For a large percentage of viewers, the biggest one might well be that the Netflix adaptation of August Wilson’s Tony-nominated play, which debuts on Dec. 18, turned out to be the final film appearance of Chadwick Boseman. For others, it might be the appeal of seeing fan-favorite diva Viola Davis sink her acting chops into another meaty role, while music aficionados may be drawn by the role itself – a real-life blues legend whose known bisexuality could, in turn, draw LGBTQ viewers curious to see how that aspect of her life is handled by the film. Whether or not any of those things are a hook for you, there is one inescapable reason for watching. At the end of a year in which Black experience in America has been thrust to the forefront of our cultural attention, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” might well be considered a must-see for any American concerned for the state of their nation by virtue of its “blackness” alone. It’s true that the streaming universe has no shortage of such content. But what the new Netflix film brings to the table is something rare in an entertainment landscape that favors the new, now, and next over the echoing memories of a time gone by – a work of weight and import, crafted with meticulous artistry by one of the most significant Black theater artists of the 20th century at the peak of his skills, and carrying with it all the insight of a lifetime spent negotiating the racial divide during some of the greatest cultural upheaval in recent memory. “Ma Rainey” covers a short window in the life of its titular blues icon – just a few hours, really – but it uses that brief snapshot to explore a vast landscape of topics, as the singer and her band convene for a recording session on a hot Chicago day in 1927. The singer, well-known for her tempestuous lifestyle and “difficult” behavior, is late to arrive, leaving her musicians to kill time in reminiscence and debate, while her white album producers stew and fret over the delays to their schedule. When she arrives, she comes with an entourage; a pretty dancer from her tour, now her latest arm candy, and a stuttering nephew she insists must record a spoken introduction to a song. With all the players in place, the afternoon’s work can finally begin, but interruptions ensue and tensions are running high, inevitably sparking heated conflicts and festering confrontations – not the least of which center around Levee, the band’s hot-headed young trumpeter, who has musical ambitions of his own and an ego to rival Ma Rainey herself. That synopsis is the blueprint for everything we see in the film – but it would be disingenuous to imply that “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” is uneventful. A lot of momentous things happen; revelations are made, rivalries are stoked, motivations are unmasked, and actions are taken that can never be taken back. Nor is it all heavy going; within the drama and the passion is woven a fair share of tempering humor and even moments of unblemished joy. And underneath it all, like an ancient spring buried just below the surface, bubbles the steady and unbroken effect exerted by the subtext of race. Playwright Wilson wrote “Ma Rainey” as part of what would be a 10-play cycle documenting black life in America throughout the 20th century, informed by a childhood in which he experienced first-hand the grip of poverty exacerbated by 18 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • DECEMBER 18, 2020

inequality and inspired by the blues music he had loved from an early age. It’s not a biography of its title character; rather, it’s a fictional exploration of themes that spread, like fractals, from the exploitation of black artists – of black voices – by white culture, to reveal the subtle but insidious effects of racial oppression. When I write about film, I usually try to remove myself from the discussion; but as a white writer, it’s not possible for me to comment on how “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” conveys Black experience. I can say that, to me, it felt powerfully authentic, that it moved me, and that I believed I held a deeper empathy at the end of it. I might also be able, as a gay man, to recognize and relate to the familiar patterns, charted so clearly by Wilson throughout his play, that frequently mark the internal politics of the oppressed – the jockeying for positions of favor, the bitterness of the rejected, the misdirection of frustration and anger toward self and each other – and the further conflicts that arise between generations as that frustration and anger grow in the face of a system built on keeping you down. I can certainly say that those brought in for Boseman or Davis will have no reason to be disappointed. Davis has nothing to prove, and nothing to lose, which makes her perfect to capture the beautiful monster that Wilson created in his vision of Ma Rainey. She is every inch the sullen, confrontational diva, exacting, petty, and sometimes cruel; yet her every moment onscreen conveys the absolving truth that the only way to claim power from an oppressor is to make him fear you – along with the terrible thrill that comes of living on that dangerous edge. As for Boseman, his performance here can only serve to cement his status as a legendary talent, taken too soon. As the complex, conflicted, driven, and dangerous Levee, he is electrifying; he instills a deliberately polarizing figure with total humanity, while never losing the edge that makes him an antagonist for almost every character around him. His work is made all the more extraordinary by the fact that he was dying of colorectal cancer when he filmed it – something perhaps evidenced by a gaunt appearance, but in no way by the intensity and passion of his performance. The rest of the cast is made up of less familiar faces, but they form a solid ensemble that’s every bit as capable as the stars they support. Behind the camera, director George C. Wolfe does an outstanding job of keeping the film grounded in its theatrical origins while giving it an expanded feel for the screen – mostly accomplished through stylistic choices rather than expanding scenes or settings – and screenwriter Ruben Santiago-Hudson provides an adaptation that is right in tune with that approach. When you add the musical contributions of Branford Marsalis and a handful of stellar renditions of some of Rainey’s classic blues songs, you have more than enough ingredients to make a damn good movie. Considering that, perhaps what I can say about “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” might prove to be the best reason of all to watch it - it’s one of the most thoroughly well-rounded, excellently made films of the year. And if it helps you get a little closer to understanding what it’s like to be Black in America, then so much the better.

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