Losangelesblade.com, Volume 05, Issue 04, January 22, 2021

Page 1

(POOL PHOTO courtesy of the United States Senate Press Photographers Gallery)

’The dream of justice for all will be deferred no longer’, longer’, Page 08



A nation grieves for 400,000 deaths as California cases rise No date yet for when vaccine widely available in LA By BRODY LEVESQUE

On the final day of the Trump administration the United States crossed the grim threshold of over 400,000 Americans who have died as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. In a moment punctuated by solemn ceremony tinged with grief, a nation for the first time was brought together to mourn its losses. In brief remarks just prior to the illumination of 400 lamps, each symbolizing 1,000 American lives lost, President-elect Joe Biden told those gathered and those watching online, “It’s hard sometimes to remember, but that’s how we heal. It’s important to do that as a nation,” he said. Delivering her own reflections, Vice president-elect Kamala Harris pointed out that, “for many months, we have grieved by ourselves. Tonight, we grieve and begin healing together. Though we may be physically separated, we, the American people, are united in spirit and my abiding hope, my abiding prayer, is that we emerge from this ordeal with a new wisdom: to cherish simple moments, to imagine new possibilities and to open our hearts just a little bit more to one another,” she said. Bide, his wife Dr. Jill Biden, Harris and her spouse Doug Emhoff, then quietly watched as the lamps were illuminated around the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool while American gospel singer Yolanda Adams sang “Hallelujah.” In California Tuesday the pandemic death toll reached 34,196 as the state grapples with an exploding surge, which tallies at nearly 3.06 million confirmed cases. The grim milestone demonstrates how widely the coronavirus has spread throughout California, which also means that roughly 1 out of 13 residents have been infected. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health confirmed 186 new deaths and 7,902 new cases of confirmed COVID-19. To date, Public Health has identified 1,031,874 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of L.A. County and a total of 14,122 deaths. There are currently 7,322 people hospitalized with COVID-19, and 24% of those are in the ICU. As case numbers surge the vaccine rollout continues as more than 348,000 vaccinations have

(Screenshot CNN via YouTube)

County DPH’s priority guidelines. A spokesperson for the Center in an email noted that, “Right now, we don’t yet have a date when we’ll receive our next supply. People who are not Center clients should look to their own PCPs or to an LA County “mega pod” distribution site such as Dodger Stadium.” “We applaud the intention to administer all doses of existing vaccines to as many people as possible in order to finally turn the tide against this virus which has caused so much loss in our community,” Dr. Carpenter said. More of the County’s large-scale vaccination sites opened up Tuesday as vaccine eligibility expands to include Angelenos aged 65 Years and older. In a statement Public Health noted that the vaccine supply is still extremely limited, and officials urge patience as “we work urgently with our federal and state partners to expand capacity and supply in the weeks ahead.” The five sites, which were chosen for their regional accessibility and their ability to handle large capacities of people, are: • Pomona Fairplex, 1101 W McKinley Ave, Pomona, CA 91768 • The Forum, 3900 W Manchester Blvd, Inglewood, CA 90305 • California State University, Northridge, 18111 Nordhoff St, Northridge, CA 91330 • A. County Office of Education, 12830 Columbia Way, Downey, CA 90242 • Six Flags Magic Mountain, 26101 Magic Mountain Pkwy, Valencia, CA 91355

Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and LA County Fire Department reconfigured The Forum into a COVID-19 Vaccine Site on Jan. 19. (Photo courtesy Los Angeles County)

been administered. More than 271,000 first doses and more than 77,000 second doses have been administered. For the amount of vaccine currently in hand in Los Angeles County, Public Health has used 58 percent of the first doses and about 35 percent of the doses designated for 2nd doses. According to public health officials this is better than the national average. Dr. Ward Carpenter, Health Services Co-Director for the Los Angeles LGBT Center told the Blade Tuesday that the Center is registered to receive vaccines and ready to start vaccinating its existing clients as soon as we receive a supply that’s permitted to be distributed under LA

These large-scale vaccination sites will be able to vaccinate approximately 4,000 people per day at each site, significantly increasing the number of frontline healthcare workers vaccinated. Vaccinations are free, and available to all who are currently eligible, regardless of immigration status or insurance coverage. For those who have insurance, coverage information may be requested as part of the appointment scheduling process. Additionally, Los Angeles County residents who are 65 years old and older are now eligible for COVID-19 vaccination. Residents in this high-priority age group may receive a communication from their health care provider with information about COVID-19 vaccinations and how to receive one. They can also visit VaccinateLACounty.com to schedule an appointment for vaccination. For those without access to a computer or the internet, a call center will be open to help schedule appointments at 833-540-0473, daily from 8:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Individuals are encouraged to use the website whenever possible to sign up for an appointment to avoid long wait times on the phone. “The loss and devastation from COVID-19 is being felt by many of L.A. County residents; we mourn with you and wish you peace during this extremely difficult time,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, Director of Public Health. “After an exhausting, year-long battle with this highly contagious and deadly virus, we now have a vaccine that is safe, effective and will save lives. The vaccines also do more than protect the person getting vaccinated; the more people in a community who are vaccinated and protected from COVID-19, the harder it is for this virus to spread. However, this process will take several months and so we ask for your understanding and patience.” LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • JANUARY 22, 2021 • 03


Wiener introduces bill to stop unnecessary intersex surgeries

Making informed decisions about changing variations in genitalia FROM STAFF REPORTS

Sen. Scott Wiener (D-11, San Francisco) has been named chair of the California Senate Mental Health Caucus, which focuses on improving the state’s resources and care for Californians experiencing mental health and substance use disorders. “I’m deeply honored to take on the role of chair for the Senate Mental Health Caucus,” Wiener said in an emailed statement. “Mental health and substance use disorder are two of the biggest crises of our times, and we must do everything in our power to de-stigmatize and increase treatment options for mental illness and addiction. “COVID-19 has been a challenging time for everyone’s mental health, and we are sadly seeing increases in depression, anxiety, suicide, substance use, and overdoses. We need to act now, which is why I’ll continue fighting to pass badlyneeded legislation that addresses these crises.” As caucus chair, Wiener will continue focusing on de-stigmatizing and increasing treatment options for mental health issues and substance use disorder, and on implementing harm reduction measures – like overdose prevention programs – to help those who are struggling with addiction be safer and access treatment and services. He has introduced three bills in this legislative session focused on mental health and substance use disorder. SB 57, Overdose Prevention Programs: would implement an overdose prevention program (safe consumption sites) pilot in San Francisco, Oakland and Los Angeles County where intravenous drug users could safely inject drugs with supervision, clean supplies, and overdose prevention medications like Narcan available. SB 210, Recovery Incentives Act: would legalize and authorize Medi-Cal to reimburse contingency management programs, in which those struggling with addiction are giving small financial incentives for staying sober. Contingency management is one of the only effective treatments for methamphetamine addiction. SB 221, Timely Mental Health Care: would require health plans and insurers to provide patients with timely follow-up care for mental health issues and substance use disorders. Last week, Wiener introduced SB 225: the Bodily Autonomy, Dignity and Choice Act, to provide children and their families a chance to make informed decisions about major surgeries to change variations in the appearance of genitalia and other sex characteristics. Under SB 225, these surgeries will be prohibited when a child is under the age of six (except in the cases where it is medically necessary), allowing for parents to continue to learn with their child and child’s physician regarding the potential need for medical interventions. SB 225 will provide a way for families and children to have autonomy over decisions about their children’s bodies and their identities by delaying these surgeries until a child has reached six years old. Six is around the time when research shows that for many, gender identity has begun to form and take shape. The only way to know what an individual will want is to safely delay these non-emergency surgeries. The bill will delay procedures to reduce the clitoris, create vaginas, and remove hormone-producing tissues often performed on infants – such as clitoroplasty, clitoral reduction, clitoral recession, gonadectomy, procedures to lengthen or reroute a urethra from its native orifice, vaginoplasty, urogenital sinus mobilization, and vaginal exteriorization “People should have the chance to make informed decisions about their own


Sen. SCOTT WIENER (D-11, San Francisco) (Photo courtesy Wiener’s Facebook page)

bodies instead of having those decisions made for them and without their input,” said Wiener. “This legislation gives children and their families more time to research and opt in or out of non-emergency surgeries to irreversibly change a child’s sex characteristics. We must provide people the ability to make important healthcare decisions for themselves.” SB 225 is cosponsored by Equality California, interACT: Advocates for Intersex Youth, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and the ACLU of California. “Building on 15 years of advocacy work by interACT, we saw two premier children’s hospitals finally commit to stopping infant clitoral and vaginal surgeries in 2020. Now it’s California’s time to shine,” said Kimberly Zieselman, Executive Director of interACT: Advocates for Intersex Youth, herself an intersex woman. “SB 225 builds on SCR 110, California’s 2018 resolution that established the state’s commitments to equality and autonomy for people born with variations in their sex anatomy.”


Judge blocks attempt to circumvent order protecting asylum seekers Trump administration sought to evade earlier court ruling FROM STAFF REPORTS

U. S. District Court Judge Cynthia Ann Bashant issued a temporary restraining order Monday in San Diego blocking the Trump administration’s latest attempt to prevent asylum seekers from accessing the U.S. asylum process. The order blocks a rule, issued in December and set to take effect on Jan. 19, that sought to circumvent an earlier court order prohibiting the government from applying an asylum ban to certain people forced to wait in Mexico because U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) artificially limited the number of asylum seekers who could enter the United States at ports of entry along the U.S.-Mexico border. Oral arguments concerning further court actions have been scheduled for Feb. 3. In her ruling, Bashant wrote: “It is at least questionable, if not altogether doubtful, that Defendants can redefine statutory terms in a regulation in direct contradiction to the Court’s plain language interpretation, especially when their intention in doing so is to evade the import of the Court’s previous rulings.” Immigrant rights groups have challenged as unlawful the Trump administration’s practice of “metering”—artificially limiting the processing capacity at ports of entry and illegally making asylum seekers wait in Mexico before they are permitted to access the U.S. asylum process. While thousands of asylum seekers waited in Mexico, the Trump administration issued additional rules limiting access to asylum, including the first iteration of the rule blocked by the court today. “The Trump administration has made numerous efforts to destroy the U.S. asylum system, including the asylum ban addressed by this order. Many refugees suffered egregious harm in Mexico after CBP officers turned them away from U.S. ports of entry; application of the asylum ban to these individuals would only have caused further harm by limiting their access to protection,” said Erika Pinheiro, Litigation and Policy Director of Los Angeles-based Al Otro Lado, which provides legal and humanitarian support to indigent refugees, deportees, and other migrants in the U.S. and Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico. “We are hopeful that the Biden administration will roll back all of Trump’s anti-asylum policies, but the damage to the asylum system has been so profound that it will take time. We are grateful to the court for preserving the class members’ rights in the meantime,” Pinheiro added. Advocates applauded the issuance of the TRO, praising it as protecting the rule of law, democratic institutions, and vulnerable migrants. They emphasize that President-elect Joe Biden must prioritize ending all of Trump’s relentless assaults on asylum seekers, including ending the process of metering. “Today’s decision upholds the protections for asylum seekers that the court granted over a year ago in response to the government’s attempt to deny asylum eligibility to those subjected to the government’s metering policy. The Trump administration tried to override the court’s well-reasoned decision through agency rule making, but, as the court showed today—that’s not how the law works,” said Karolina Walters, staff attorney at

James M. Carter & Judith N. Keep United States Courthouse, San Diego (Photo courtesy U.S. Government)

American Immigration Council. Asylum seekers have been seriously harmed after CBP officials turned them back at ports of entry. Advocates say the policy has created a humanitarian crisis for those marooned on the Mexican side of the border and that migrants there are in serious danger of disappearances, kidnappings, rape, and sexual and labor exploitation.


LOCAL The Trans Chorus of Los Angeles (Photo courtesy TCLA)

Trans Chorus of LA performs at Biden inaugural ‘This gives me hope for the kids out there’ By NOAH CHRISTIANSEN

Except for the swearing in of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, and the limited socially distanced events such as the traditional presidential escort, the Presidential Inaugural Committee decided that under the twin considerations of the coronavirus pandemic and security concerns, a virtual inauguration would be best. They are calling it the “Parade Across America.” Although it won’t be in front of a live audience, the virtual inauguration still will showcase speeches and live performances from people across the nation. According to bideninaugural.org, “[The inauguration] will feature diverse, dynamic performances in communities in all 56 states and territories, celebrate America’s heroes, and highlight the diversity, heritage, and resilience of the country.” The inauguration will feature performers such as Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, Kerry Washington Jon Stewart, Andra Day, and in among the headliners will be the Trans Chorus of Los Angeles. In terms of representation, this is the first time that a trans chorus has performed at an inauguration. The Blade interviewed Abdullah Hall, the Artistic Director of the Trans Chorus of Los Angeles, and asked them about the event. “When president-elect Biden spoke on Transgender Day of Remembrance, he said something that resonated with me… He quoted that trans rights are human rights,” Hall said. Hall pitched their idea of having the trans chorus perform at the inauguration to some of their connections they developed while working for the Human Rights Campaign. “I was really honored that [Presidential Inauguration Committee]


responded to us and really wanted us to participate.” Because the inauguration is entirely online, Hall indicated that there is some difficulty in having members of the chorus work from home – but that doesn’t stop them from practicing and preparing for the inauguration. For Hall, “It was really based on president-elect Biden’s quote to the trans community,” that inspired them to pitch the idea of having the chorus perform at the inauguration. “It’s all about the visibility,” Hall said. The diversity of the chorus should also be highlighted according to Hall. “Our chorus is the most diverse out of all the other trans chorus’ – we do represent the whole BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) experience,” Hall said. For the people who aren’t in an accepting space, it’s also important for them to see a performance like this. Hall says, “At the inauguration, some kid in the Midwest is going to see trans people on the TV not hiding who they are. This gives me hope for the kids out there.” Hall believes this will be a wonderful experience and although they received the information that the chorus would be performing a while ago, Hall says, “I’m still grinning from ear to ear.” On the Trans Chorus of Los Angeles website, it states; “America’s first Trans Chorus, embracing all members of the trans, non-binary and intersex communities. Sharing our LGBTQIA+ spirit through awareness and song.” For this group, representing Trans people at Biden’s inaugural not only embraces but also shares that sense of spirit with a global audience in a historic way.


FBI arrests anti-LGBTQ Beverly Hills salon owner for Capitol attack Bisignano spotted in social media posts By BRODY LEVESQUE

A Beverly Hills salon owner was arrested at her apartment in the city by FBI agents in connection with her alleged involvement in the attack on the U.S. Capitol building, on Jan. 6. Gina Bisignano, 52, was taken into custody by FBI agents at around 7 a.m. Tuesday at her apartment in the 300 block of North Palm Drive in Beverly Hills, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller confirmed to KCBS LA. Bisignano had been identified via several dozen social media (Twitter) video clips, posts, and she confirmed to a reporter from the Beverly Hills Courier newspaper that she was present when the mob of pro-Trump militia groups, white supremacist’s, and other extremists overran the U.S, Capitol Police and illegally entered theISO building. 12647-7 Digital Control Strip 2009 100with 60 100 70 30 100 60 40 100 40 100 3 60 100 help 70 of Beverly 30 100 100 10 70 30 100 40 40 70 40 70 40 40 40 70 40 40 70 40 70 40 40 A The FBI, the Hills police, also arrested 37-year-old John Strand and 55-year-old Simone Gold on Monday, KCBS reported. Bisignano was caught in a homophobic rant on a FBI agents examine a vehicle in connection with the arrest of Gina Bisignano Tuesday. now viral video last month during a demonstration in B 100 100 60 100 100 KCBS 70 30 30 100 100 60 100 100 70 70 30 30 100 40 (Screenshot 100 40 via40 100 LA)10 40 40 20 70 70 70 70 40 70 40 40 0000 3.1 2.2 2.2 10.2 7.4 7.4 front of the home of Dr.70Barbara Ferrer, the Director of 30 30 100 100 60 100 100 70 70 the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. custody are expected to make their first There were approximately 50 people protesting the coronavirus restricts imposed by appearances in U. S. District Court in downtown Governor Gain Newsom and Ferrer. Los Angeles Tuesday afternoon for the federal Bisignano, however, erupted at a counter-protestor filming her using an anti-LGBTQ slur and then launched into a lengthy tirade that included other bizarre and false accusations. T:10"charges stemming from the incident at the Capitol. The owner of Gina’s Eyelashes And Skincare, she and the other two taken into federal 3%

We’re making health insurance more affordable and more accessible. Get free, expert help signing up for a health insurance plan that covers everything from preventive care to mental health to emergency surgery. B24418_10a_CCA6807-OE21-Print-10x4_625-Monique-R2.indd 10.20.20 Epson


25 19 19

50 40 40




75 66 66 100 100 100 80 70 70 100

(Screenshot Gina Bisignano via Twitter)


in sickness and in health.


This way to health insurance. Enrollment ends January 31. CoveredCA.com | 800.375.8355 LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • JANUARY 22, 2021 • 07



President JOE BIDEN takes the oath of office on Wednesday. (Photo via screen capture)

Biden, Harris inaugurated amid unprecedented security

LGBTQ issues not specifically mentioned in speech By MICHAEL K. LAVERS | mlavers@washblade.com

The inauguration of President Biden and Vice President Harris took place at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday amid unprecedented security and the coronavirus pandemic. Chief Justice John Roberts swore in Biden on the west front of the Capitol shortly before noon. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor administered the oath of office to Harris. Lady Gaga sang the National Anthem, while Amanda Gorman was this year’s inaugural poet. Jennifer Lopez, Garth Brooks, Rev. Silvester Beaman of the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Wilmington, Del., and former Georgetown University President Rev. Leo O’Donovan also took part. Former President Trump and former first lady Melania Trump left D.C. before the scaleddown inauguration took place. Former Vice President Pence attended alongside former Presidents Obama, Bush and Clinton. Biden in his inaugural speech said he spoke with former President Carter on Tuesday. Biden did not specifically reference LGBTQ rights, but he was set to sign an executive order on Wednesday that will direct federal government agencies to implement the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in the Bostock case that bans discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the workplace. Biden in the coming days is also expected to reverse the Trump administration’s ban on openly transgender service members. Biden noted “a cry for racial justice, some 400 years in the making moves.” “The dream of justice for all will be deferred no longer,” he said. Biden also highlighted Harris as the first woman elected vice president. Harris is also the first Black and South Asian person to hold the office. “Don’t tell me things can’t change,” said Biden. The inauguration took place two weeks after Trump supporters stormed the Capitol. Biden in his speech noted “a rise of political extremism, white supremacy, domestic terrorism that we must confront and we will defeat.” “With unity, we can do great things, important things,” he said. “We can right wrongs. We can put people to work in good jobs. We can teach our children in safe schools. We can overcome the deadly virus. We can reward, reward work and rebuild the middle class and make health care secure for all. We can deliver racial justice and we can make America once again the leading force for good in the world.” Biden also held a moment of silence for the more than 400,000 Americans who have died from the coronavirus. “Few people in our nation’s history have been more challenged or found a time more challenging or difficult than the time we’re in now,” he said. “A once-in-a-century virus that silently stalks the country. It’s taken as many lives in one year as America lost in all of World War II. Millions of jobs have been lost. Hundreds of thousands of businesses closed.” LGBTQ groups on Wednesday welcomed the new administration into office. “A new day has begun in our nation,” said Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David in a statement. “The pro-equality future so many of us fought for for decades is closer than ever before.” Biden, Harris House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer 08 • JANUARY 22, 2021 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM

(D-N.Y.) and Secretary of Transportation-designate Pete Buttigieg are among those who were expected to participate in HRC’s virtual inauguration celebration on Wednesday. GLAAD President Sarah Kate Ellis in her statement said Wednesday “is a new page in history for our country and the LGBTQ community as a place where all belong, all can be safe and all can succeed.” “Governor John Carney said it yesterday — Joe Biden was born for this moment,” tweeted Delaware state Sen. Sarah McBride, who is the first openly transgender person elected to a state Senate in the U.S. “I can’t wait to call him my president.” “Today, the United States of America swore in the most pro-equality president and vice president in the 244-year history of our republic,” said Equality California Executive Director Rick Chavez Zbur. “President Joe Biden took the first step on our nation’s long overdue path toward healing, invoking our shared history of overcoming struggle and citing the words of President Lincoln in an emphatic appeal for unity.” Zbur in his statement also applauded Harris. “From Fannie Lou Hamer to Shirley Chisholm, Geraldine Ferraro to Hillary Clinton to today, the inauguration of Vice President Kamala Harris is an historic feat in the long struggle to break through the hardest, highest glass ceiling in our American democracy,” said Zur. “A Black, South Asian daughter of immigrants ascending to the nation’s second highest office — the first woman to do so — will forever inspire children across the country and around the world.” Virginia state Del. Danica Roem, the first openly trans woman elected to any state legislature in the U.S., also celebrated Harris and Biden. “Our new day,” tweeted Roem. The inauguration took place two weeks after the Capitol insurrection. Authorities in the days leading up to the inauguration limited vehicular access to large swaths of downtown D.C. Upwards of 25,000 National Guard troops were also deployed to the nation’s capital. Troops marched up 14th Street near Franklin Square less than three hours before the inauguration. Security checkpoints, fencing and barricades remain in place throughout downtown D.C. “Democracy is fragile; and at this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed,” said Biden in his inaugural speech. “So now, on this hallowed ground where just days ago violence sought to shake this Capitol’s very foundation, we come together as one nation, under God, indivisible, to carry out the peaceful transfer of power as we have for more than two centuries.” The lockdown did not deter some from gathering downtown for the inauguration. A group of D.C. residents, reporters and other passersby gathered in front of the Penn Quarter Sports Tavern on Indiana Avenue, N.W., to watch the inauguration. Terry Kelly, a registered nurse from Durham, N.C., told the Washington Blade he came to the nation’s capital because he “wanted to see Trump fly out of here.” “I’m looking forward to return to normalcy and some peace and quiet,” said Kelly. Kaela Roeder contributed to this article.



Biden to implement Supreme Court ruling for LGBTQ rights

Trump sought to undermine historic decision By CHRIS JOHNSON | cjohnson@washblade.com

President-elect Joe Biden, on his first day in office Wednesday after taking the Oath of Office, is set to sign an executive order directing federal agencies across the board to implement the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic ruling against anti-LGBTQ discrimination under federal law. The Biden transition team listed the executive order in a fact sheet Wednesday detailing each of the 17 administrative actions Biden was set to take on Inauguration Day. Among them are orders that end the travel ban on Muslim countries, launch the “100-day mask challenge” and re-engage with the World Health Organization after the U.S. withdrew during the Trump administration. The executive order implementing the decision in Bostock v. Clayton County comes nearly six months after the Supreme Court issued the ruling, which found anti-LGBTQ discrimination is a form of sex discrimination, thus illegal in the workplace under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The ruling has wide-ranging implications and affects all laws against sex discrimination, including those in education, housing, credit and jury service. “All persons should receive equal treatment under the law, no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation,” the fact sheet says. “The Biden-Harris Administration will prevent and combat discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation.” The fact sheet says the Biden executive order “will also direct agencies to take all lawful steps to make sure that federal anti-discrimination statutes that cover sex discrimination prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, protecting the rights of LGBTQ+ persons.” Neither the text of the executive order, nor the text of the other administrative actions listed in the Biden transition team fact sheet, were immediately available. After Biden’s election, LGBTQ rights advocates had begun calling for the executive order to implement the Bostock decision, which had gone by the wayside under the Trump administration. Instead of implementing the ruling, the Trump administration ignored it and sought to engage in legal maneuverings to limit its scope. But the Biden executive order will have its limitations because certain civil rights laws, including those against discrimination in federal programs and public accommodations, don’t name sex as a protected category. It would take a change in law to expand the prohibition on anti-LGBTQ discrimination in those areas. LGBTQ advocates have also been calling for passage of the Equality Act to expand the prohibition on anti-LGBTQ discrimination in federal law and round out LGBTQ protections the Bostock ruling won’t reach. Biden had pledged during his campaign to sign the law within 100 days. It remains to be seen whether he’ll be able to make that commitment with a shrunken

President JOE BIDEN will sign on Day One an executive order implementing the Supreme Court decision for LGBTQ rights.

Democratic majority in the House and a 50-50 party split in the U.S. Senate. A Biden campaign spokesperson indicated Biden would unveil his legislative priorities in the coming days in response to a Blade inquiry about the Equality Act. Sources had told the Washington Blade the transition team told LGBTQ leaders Biden would direct the Defense Department on Day One to reverse the transgender military ban, which was implemented by President Trump. A directive that would reverse the policy wasn’t listed on the fact sheet of administrative actions. Jen Psaki, the incoming White House press secretary, said in a statement to reporters after the call the administrative actions that are listed in the fact sheet aren’t the entirety of the forthcoming orders. “In the coming days and weeks we will be announcing additional executive actions that confront these challenges and deliver on the president-elect’s promises to the American people, including revoking the ban on military service by transgender Americans, and reversing the Mexico City policy,” Psaki said. A transition official, who spoke to the Washington Blade on condition on anonymity, went into more detail specifically about the delay in the order reversing the transgender military ban, saying the wait would be mere days. “The President-elect remains committed to immediately lifting the ban on transgender service in the military,” the official said. “And as Secretary-designate Austin said today, he fully supports that reversal. Because the effective implementation of such a reversal requires proper coordination across the armed services, the President-elect believes it would be prudent to ensure more of his leadership team is in place at the Pentagon before moving forward, a matter of only a few days.”

Gen’l Austin supports overturning military trans ban Gen. LLOYD AUSTIN (Photo public domain)

Gen. Lloyd Austin, Joe Biden’s pick to lead the Defense Department, said this week for the first time publicly he supports efforts to overturn the transgender military ban. Austin made the comments during his confirmation hearing for the role of secretary of defense under questioning from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), who has taken the lead on the issue in the Senate Armed Services Committee. “I support the plan to overturn the ban,” Austin said. “I truly believe that if you’re fit and you’re qualified to serve and you can maintain the standards, you should be allowed to serve.” Aaron Belkin, director of the San Francisco-based Palm Center, said in a statement Austin’s comments in favor of ending the transgender military ban are welcome news.


“It’s heartening that defense secretary-designate Lloyd Austin fully understands the urgency of ending the military’s harmful transgender ban,” Belkin said. “Very little needs to be done administratively to finally end discrimination against transgender troops, and we look forward to the arrival of fully inclusive policy very soon.” Sources told the Washington Blade the Biden team in conference call with LGBTQ leaders Biden on his first day in office would direct the Defense Department to dismantle the transgender military ban, individuals familiar with the call told the Washington Blade. It may take an entire year before the Pentagon is completely able to undo the ban, which President Trump initiated by tweet in July 2017. The Palm Center, however, has issued a memo asserting the policy could be reversed in as few as 30 days. By CHRIS JOHNSON


is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Missouri Columbia. His research focuses on LGBT+ issues, culture, and criminology. He is also editor of “The Gayborhood: From Sexual Liberation to Cosmopolitan Spectacle.”

The gay white colonizers: NYE circuit parties in Mexico Revelry continued despite COVID-19 travel concerns By CHRISTOPHER T. CONNER, Ph.D.

This New Year’s Eve, thousands of gay men flocked to Mexico to attend a “White Party” hosted by long time party promoter Jeffrey Sanker — the host of the annual white party in Palm Springs. While some of us have been working diligently by taking precautions to avoid large gatherings, forgoing holiday traditions and celebrations at the behest of public health officials, weekend or weeklong circuit parties have been an ongoing occurrence from New York to LA and most recently Puerto Vallarta. These include celebrities like Toddrick Hall, Ian Frost, and as social media activists have pointed out, several health care workers who just recently received the vaccine. If that wasn’t bad enough those attending these events have used social media as a way to display themselves and garner attention from others. Mexican news reports went so far as to accuse Americans of taking advantage of their economic privilege, which allowed them to subvert authorities, and of acting with severe disregard for the communities that must deal with the impact of these events long after they have left. It is hard to not make analogies to white colonialists given the concerns over the diseases they may bring with them, and the occupation of space and resources giving the name “White Party” a double meaning. While in the early days of the pandemic there was a degree of innovation in creating a virtual world of social gatherings and parties, other party promoters sought to circumvent rules by traveling to places without rules to restrict them. The beginnings of circuit parties, like gay bars, were born out of necessity to provide gay men with connection against an oppressive world. Contemporary circuit parties, raves, dating apps, and pride parades have become culture industries in which profit becomes a driving motive. However, rather than solve the problems of old they have merely inserted themselves as a means to profit. Recent studies by PEW and other research groups consistently find that gay men are more reliant on these alternative mechanisms for making connections, but we remain just as isolated as before — perhaps more so. The result, some argue, is an emphasis on the hedonistic carnivalesque elements. Circuit party revelers like the ones I’ve interviewed since 2014 equate success with individualism and a “winner take all attitude,” which are characteristic of the cultural logic that dominates much of contemporary gay and American culture. The coronavirus has shown us where the cracks in our culture lay, and where we need to put our attention if we are to build back our society better. While the original circuit parties of the ‘70s and ‘80s adhered to the values of P.L.U.R. (Peace, Love, Unity, and Respect), today’s circuit parties have emphasized hierarchies and divisions within gay culture. These differences seek to undermine attempts at political solidarity and fulfillment of the political promise of the 1969 Stonewall Riots 50 years ago. However, it would also be irresponsible if I didn’t simultaneously point out that such parties are engaged in by “straights.” While I don’t defend either group, I can at least understand and sympathize with the need for human companionship in a world where you are not part of the dominant group. LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • JANUARY 22, 2021 • 11

V O L UM E 05 IS S U E 04 ADDRESS 5455 Wilshire Blvd, 21st Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90036 PHONE 310-230-5266 E-MAIL tmasters@losangelesblade.com INTERNET losangelesblade.com PUBLISHED BY Los Angeles Blade, LLC PUBLISHER TROY MASTERS tmasters@losangelesblade.com 310-230-5266 x8080 (o), 917-406-1619 (c) SALES & MARKETING SALES EXECUTIVE ROMAN NAVARRETTE roman@losangelesblade.com 310-435-3022 PALM SPRINGS ACCOUNT EXEC BRAD FUHR, 760-813-2020. brad@gaydesertguide.com NATIONAL ADVERTISING RIVENDELL MEDIA sales@rivendellmedia.com, 212-242-6863 MARKETING DIRECTOR STEPHEN RUTGERS srutgers@washblade.com, 202-747-2077 x8077 EDITORIAL CONTRIBUTING WRITER KAREN OCAMB karenocamb@losangelesblade.com NATIONAL EDITOR KEVIN NAFF knaff@washblade.com, 202-747-2077 x8088 INTERNATIONAL EDITOR MICHAEL K. LAVERS mlavers@washblade.com EDITOR AT LARGE BRODY LEVESQUE California CONTRIBUTORS



All material in the Los Angeles Blade is protected by federal copyright law and may not be reproduced without the written consent of the Los Angeles Blade. The sexual orientation of advertisers, photographers, writers and cartoonists published herein is neither inferred nor implied. The appearance of names or pictorial representation does not necessarily indicate the sexual orientation of that person or persons. Although the Los Angeles Blade is supported by many fine advertisers, we cannot accept responsibility for claims made by advertisers. Unsolicited editorial material is accepted by the Los Angeles Blade, but the paper cannot take responsibility for its return. The editors reserve the right to accept, reject or edit any submission. A single copy of the Los Angeles Blade is available from authorized distribution points, to any individual within a 50-mile radius of Los Angeles, CA. Multiple copies are available from the Los Angeles Blade office only. Call for rates. If you are unable to get to a convenient free distribution point, you may receive a 26-week mailed subscription for $195 per year or $5.00 per single issue. Checks or credit card orders can be sent to Phil Rockstroh at prockstroh@washblade.com. Postmaster: Send address changes to the Los Angeles Blade, PO BOX 53352 Washington, DC 20009. The Los Angeles Blade is published bi-weekly, on Friday, by Los Angeles Blade, LLC. Rates for businesses/institutions are $450 per year. Periodical postage paid at Los Angeles, CA., and additional mailing offices. Editorial positions of the Los Angeles Blade are expressed in editorials and in editors’ notes as determined by the paper’s editors. Other opinions are those of the writers and do not necessarily represent the opinion of the Los Angeles Blade or its staff. To submit a letter or commentary: Letters should be fewer than 400 words; commentaries should be fewer than 750 words. Submissions may be edited for content and length, and must include a name, address and phone number for verification. Send submissions by e-mail to tmasters@losangelesblade.com.


PETER ROSENSTEIN is a longtime LGBTQ rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.

You can exhale — Biden and Harris are sworn in It will take time to undo Trump’s damage, but we’ve taken the first step By PETER ROSENSTEIN

For the past four years we held our breath. We never knew what simple idiocy or really scary thing we would wake up to in the morning. Well as of noon on Wednesday we could all exhale. Joe Biden is in the White House and Kamala Harris is vice president. That doesn’t mean all the havoc Trump caused will disappear. We are keenly aware that because of the 25,000 National Guard troops stationed in D.C. and others in every state capital. We see the gates with barbed wire around the Capitol and the National Mall is closed to the public. It will take years for what Trump has inflicted on the United States and the world to be overcome. His legacy of hatred and destruction is wide and deep. But with Biden and Harris we come together and begin to build back our society and rejoin the world of nations. These are both very difficult and very exciting times. We are facing a ruined economy and the coronavirus pandemic. We see domestic terrorists and militias threaten our leaders in D.C. and state capitals. We have breadlines and homelessness as we have not seen since the Great Depression. Washington, D.C. was divided into red and green zones for the inauguration as if it were Baghdad. But there are also positive signs for some exciting things to come. We have inaugurated the first woman, a woman of color, as vice president of the United States. We have seen Joe Biden name a Cabinet of incredible people who represent both the very best and the diversity of our nation. Biden, who at the stroke of noon on Jan. 20, 2021, became President Biden has announced a $1.9 trillion stimulus package to assist Americans who are suffering because of the pandemic. President Biden is committed to signing a series of Executive Orders on his first day in office to turn around some of the vilest policies of the Trump administration, which impacted the LGBTQ+ community, women, African Americans and other minorities and the fight to protect our environment. He has committed to strong management of the federal effort to fight the coronavirus pandemic promising to oversee a


revitalized and larger vaccine distribution program. He committed to a federal public education program to encourage more people to take the vaccine in Black and brown communities, which have less trust in the vaccine. President Biden will once again ensure federal policy makers rely on science to make decisions. He announced the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy will be elevated to Cabinet level. To highlight his commitment to see the United States lead in the fight on climate change for the first time his National Climate Advisor will have an office in the West Wing. We know these steps are only the beginning as we once again rejoin the world of nations. Trump with his disastrous ‘America First’ policies set the United States back decades in how we are viewed around the world. Biden and Harris know it will take more than window dressing, rather actual policy and action, to regain our reputation around the world. It won’t be easy but I have confidence in them and all Americans. Biden has promised to rejoin the Paris Climate Accords and to rejoin the coalition to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear bomb. He promised to rejoin and actively participate in the World Health Organization and other international organizations, which the Trump administration has either left or stopped participating in. He has named a Secretary of State who understands how to coordinate with and support our allies not work against them. Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package addresses a number of issues, including raising the minimum wage to $15, providing stimulus checks to additional students and families with undocumented members. Each part of the package addresses a specific need such as reopening schools and helping states and cities meet their budgets. Everyone in our diverse country can see themselves helped by this legislation. For the past four years each morning we would wake up afraid to see what Trump had tweeted during the night. He made policy by tweet, including banning transgender people from serving in the military and doing away with the Affordable Care Act. So as of noon on Jan. 20 we are finally able to stop holding our breath and exhale, knowing things will be better.

My landlord is threatening to evict me after I refused to have sex with him. Can he do this?

Call HRC's Housing Rights Hotline at 1-800-477-5977 today to speak to a housing counselor about your options.

Victims have one year to file a complaint with a fair housing agency, like the Housing Rights Center, which can investigate the complaint at no cost to the tenant.

No. This is sexual harassment, and it's a form of illegal discrimination prohibited by the Fair Housing Act.

www.housingrightscenter.org This material is based on work supported by the Department of Housing and Urban Development ( HUD) ) under FHIP Grant FEOI #20041. Any y op p inion, finding g s, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of HUD.


GLAAD TV report reminds us that representation still matters Decline in LGBTQ characters blamed partly on pandemic By JOHN PAUL KING

In today’s upgraded entertainment culture, it’s almost possible to forget there was once a eyebrow-raising statistic revealed by this year’s report. Of all LGBTQ characters on television, 17% of them are in shows from just four creatives: Greg Berlanti, Lena Waithe, Ryan Murphy, and time, not long ago, when the queer presence on television was essentially non-existent. Not only Shonda Rhimes. That’s nearly one in every five, a severely disproportionate tally that becomes do LGBTQ characters now appear regularly across a wide variety of viewing platforms, they are even more glaring with the knowledge that they account for only 16 of the series included in this a far cry from the “coded” stereotypes that occasionally flitted across our screens in the old days. year’s study. It’s such a comparative embarrassment of riches that it’s easy to see why there are many, Additional findings include: even within the queer community itself, that assume we’ve “arrived” and there’s no need to be Streaming was the only platform where white LGBTQ characters outnumber non-white concerned about representation at all. LGBTQ characters, though racial diversity of LGBTQ characters on streaming did improve by six One look at GLAAD’s latest “Where We Are On TV” report, which was released on Jan. 14, is percentage points (46 percent of LGBTQ characters also being people of color). enough to shake that illusion. For the fourth year in a row, lesbian representation decreased on streaming (28 percent of In 2020’s edition, the findings reached a record point in the survey’s 25-year history, with 10.2 LGBTQ characters). percent of characters appearing on primetime scripted broadcast TV being LGBTQ. That figure Across streaming television, Netflix’s “Special” was the only show featuring an LGBTQ character doesn’t tell the whole story, of course; it can be broken down into more specific data, like how confirmed with a disability. The percentage of series regular characters with a disability on all TV many characters were gay, lesbian, bi, trans, etc., or how many of them were people of color. went up to 3.5 percent from last year’s 3.1 – still a severe underrepresentation. Still, it doesn’t take much analysis to recognize enormous progress from the days when the 29 regular and recurring transgender characters (15 trans women, 12 trans men, 2 nononly queer representation you could be sure of getting on TV was from Paul Lynde on “The binary trans characters occur across all Hollywood Squares.” platforms. At the same time, it’s also not hard There was only one asexual to see that, despite making big strides, character on television (in the show the LGBTQ presence on television still “BoJack Horseman,” which has since has room to grow before the industry been cancelled). One lesbian asexual can afford to stop and pat itself on the character is expected in the upcoming back – especially in a culture still reeling season (in a scripted primetime show from four years of Trump-ism. That’s on the Freeform cable network). why many shrewd observers have In the 2020-21 season, bisexual+ looked to this year’s report to provide characters account for 28 percent a particularly important gauge. of all LGBTQ characters on all three On the face of it, the news is more platforms, up 2 percent from last year. good than bad. 65 of them are women, 33 men, and This year’s study found that of one is non-binary. the 773 series regular characters on Of the 773 series regulars counted broadcast television this season, 70 of on broadcast television, 46 percent them are LGBTQ. That’s 9.1 percent, (354) of characters are people of color, but though it’s a smaller number than a one percentage-point decrease from last year (and the first decrease since the previous year’s record high of 47 2014), it’s a drop that was expected percent. The racial diversity of LGBTQ due to the impact of COVID-19; with characters on all platforms increased. many shows halting production and There are obviously a lot of moving development delayed on new ones, parts included in all this data, but the the smaller percentage reflects a simple takeaway seems to be that even decrease in the total number of if we haven’t really rolled backward, we scripted shows overall. haven’t really rolled forward, either When we look at the nuances – and in the context of an ongoing revealed by further data, however, the The stars of ‘Pose’ (Photo courtesy FX) pandemic, even that conclusion is a picture is a little less rosy. little unclear. On primetime scripted cable, What isn’t unclear is the need to keep the pressure on as we push toward the path ahead. GLAAD reports that representation has consistently decreased year after year. This season, the As GLAAD Director of Entertainment Research & Analysis Megan Townsend sums up, “With total number of LGBTQ characters appearing on that platform has decreased from 215 to 118. LGBTQ inclusion in the industry still being led by a concentrated number of creatives and Streaming networks have also fallen short of last year’s total, dropping to 141 queer characters several inclusive series ending in this year’s study, networks and streaming services need to be from 153. Again, these numbers are impacted by the pandemic; among the shows out of the taking note of the value of this dedicated audience. It must be a priority to introduce nuanced running this season due to shutdowns were “The L Word: Generation Q,” “Euphoria,” “Killing and diverse LGBTQ characters in 2021 and beyond, ensuring that this year’s decreases do not Eve,” and many more of the titles that feature LGBTQ characters and storylines. become reverse progress as the industry continues to evolve and adjust to this unique era’s A more concerning trend can be found around the representation of LGBTQ people living challenges.” with HIV. In another 2020 report, “The State of HIV Stigma” survey, GLAAD found that nearly As for Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD’s seemingly tireless president and CEO, her statement about 9 in 10 Americans believe “stigma around HIV’’ is keeping progress back. With only three HIVthe report reminds us why keeping tabs on the way LGBTQ people are portrayed is possibly positive characters on TV (all of them on the same show, “Pose”), down from only nine last year, more important than ever. it’s clear there’s a need for television creatives to fill the gap. In response, GLAAD has issued “In the midst of a destructive pandemic, a long overdue cultural reckoning with racial injustice, a new challenge to the industry, setting a goal to introduce no fewer than three new regular and a transition into a new political era for this country, representation matters more than ever or recurring LGBTQ characters living with HIV each year in the scripted shows tracked for the as people turn to entertainment storytelling for connection and escape.” survey. You can read the full report on GLAAD’s website, at glaad.org/whereweareontv. The full burden of HIV representation falling on the shoulders of “Pose” underscores another 14 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • JANUARY 22, 2021

10”x10” Ad


Blade’s ‘Best Of‘ awards: The show must go on Annual party goes virtual with the Quarantine Queen

By SCOTT STIFFLER format to redefine the notion of two people Resilient, resourceful, and ready to deploy at a podium reading canned copy and the same long-term resolve that made mispronouncing winners’ names. That’s marriage equality the law of the land and been replaced by the best drag you can’t led to a daily pill that keeps HIV viral load at see in bars or clubs, courtesy of an all-star undetectable levels, the LGBTQ+ community’s lineup handpicked by Litre, whose album, hard-won survival skills were suddenly a hot “Buchbonkey,” will be released Jan. 22. commodity, when the world realized their “I am so thrilled to be hosting The Best Of plague was as deadly and indiscriminate as LGBTQ LA Reader’s Choice Awards 2021,” said ours. Litre. “We are doing this live on Instagram— “What we brought to the conversation,” my forte. We have giveaways, performances said Los Angeles Blade publisher Troy and special guests! Oh, yeah—it’s free!” Masters, of LGBTQ media in the early days of As in years past, the Hero Award is given at the pandemic, “was a lot of useful experience, the discretion of Los Angeles Blade publisher that was sought out by the mainstream Masters, who said that choosing a recipient in media. Because of the AIDS crisis, we have this exceptionally challenging year was one of a history of accepting and applying the the easiest decisions he’s made in years. behavioral changes required to survive an “I believe Ariadne Getty is most deserving epidemic.” (COVID-19’s face masks are HIV’s of the award because of her constant concern condoms, right down to the learning curve for every aspect of our community,” said about which end is up and how far down it Masters. “Because of her mindful generosity, should go.) many agencies have been able to provide As face masks and markers spaced six feet services and support the LGBTQ people—not apart became more common sights, so too just throughout Los Angeles, but around the did the businesses, organizations, and people world.” begin to pair back their hours, then simply Without Getty’s timely intervention, “Many withdraw their presence altogether. By the agencies might have, and some certainly time Los Angeles canceled its Pride event, would have, failed,” said Masters, whose own Masters had already decided that the paper’s publication had, at the height of economic marquee event, seven months away, would upheaval, seen its advertising revenue shrink take place online. dramatically, and many of its distribution “This year’s Best Of awards are unique sites closed. As with many publications, the because so much of life as we are used to Blade was forced to pivot, but it never ceased experiencing it, our favorite places, even publication. For some service-based, inour favorite people, have been painfully house or in-person agencies or communityinaccessible,” said Masters, adding, “It’s based organizations, noted Masters, still the ‘Best Of Los Angeles,’ but in some the struggle to accommodate all of the instances, it’s the ‘What We Miss The Most restrictions necessitated by social distancing Awards.’ ” and limits on public gatherings “created an Many of the classic categories remain unforeseen situation that would have taken intact (Best Restaurant) while others have focus away from their mission. The storm had a little nip and tuck work that plays to of the pandemic raged around all of us, the strength of their pandemic pivots (Best battering us, but Ari did not retreat. Instead, Outdoor Drink). And while some were able she stepped up: With a financial donation, to continue doing business remotely (The yes. But that’s never where it ends when Ari Los Angeles LGBT Center), others simply shut associates herself and her family name with a their doors and are waiting it out with the rest cause. She rolls up her sleeves and works the of us (The Abbey). phones, and those calls don’t stop until we get “So many bars are closed. So many the result we need.” retail outlets have closed,” said Masters, of There are literally thousands of people destinations we once took for granted. “Those When COVID-19 closed WeHo clubs and bars, ‘Quarantine Queen’ RHEA LITRE made her move—and hit the jackpot in Vegas. (Photo by Bird Lambro) in the Los Angeles area “who will see the brief, spontaneous, random interactions we benefits of her work this year for years to enjoyed by popping into a social scene seem come,” noted Masters, providing his final, and to have vanished for now. Little things, like most personal reason for honoring Ari with the Hero Award: “As the mother of two children hugs with acquaintances, quick chats at a bar, table hopping in a restaurant, bumping into who are LGBTQ, she does this because she wants the whole world to welcome us, as it would friends on a sidewalk and catching up without fear, just the randomness of life, turned out to welcome them. But until that day, she’s determined that our community will have the resources be the basis of our emotional health. They were all such validating things.” to greet those in need with open arms—even when circumstances beyond our control force But the show must go on, and it shall — on Jan. 28, via Instagram Live, hosted by digital us to close our doors.” drag performing pioneer Rhea Litre, who will adapt her standard-setting “Quarantine Queen” 16 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • JANUARY 22, 2021







‘Mrs. Dalloway’ offers hope for our modern, COVID world One day we’ll attend parties again By KATHI WOLFE

When I was 16, I fell in love for the first time. Like so many readers, I was spellbound by “Mrs. Dalloway,” the groundbreaking novel by the queer, gender-bending, British author Virginia Woolf. Today, during the pandemic, along with many other aficionados, I’m turning to “Mrs. Dalloway” for beauty, consolation, and hope. Clarissa Dalloway, the book’s main character, is a Twitter star, complete with memes and followers. “Mrs. Dalloway,” which went into public domain this year, was first published in 1925 – nearly a century ago. You might well wonder: why, after all these years, are so many so taken with “Mrs. Dalloway?” “Mrs. Dalloway,” with its breathtaking sentences and astounding, inventive style has always had its fervent admirers (mostly women) and detractors (mostly men). Today, many of its devotees are turning to it with fresh eyes. Set in London, five years after World War I ended and in the aftermath of the 1918 flu pandemic, the novel offers insights and parallels to our time. The novel has a thrilling same-sex kiss, post-traumatic stress, taxi cabs, airplanes and a sighting of the king and queen. It’s the bagel with everything! But, at first glance, you wouldn’t think this at all. Not only Mrs. Dalloway herself, but the plot of the novel, would seem to spark no connection with readers in our time. What happens in “Mrs. Dalloway?” If you read a plot summary, you easily could think “not much.” The novel takes place in London on a June day in 1923. Clarissa Dalloway, a society woman, wife of a member of parliament and mother is giving a party that evening. During the day, she walks in London, doing errands. She buys flowers and runs into her old friend Hugh. She stands on a street corner next to Septimus, a shell-shocked World War I vet and his wife. Clarissa and Septimus don’t know each other. Septimus suffers from what we’d now call post-traumatic stress. But his pompous, bumbling psychiatrist turns up as a guest at her party. At the gathering, Clarissa learns that Septimus has killed himself. After she returns home from her errands, Clarissa chats with her husband Richard, mends a tear in her party dress, is surprised when Peter, an old flame, comes to visit and, with her maid Lucy, makes sure that everything’s ready for the gathering. She remembers how much, as a girl, she loved her friend Sally, and how exciting it was when they kissed. This synopsis might seem dull as dishwater. Yet, “Mrs. Dalloway” isn’t a conventional or superficial novel and neither Clarissa nor the other characters are shallow or insignificant. Woolf, influenced by Marcel Proust, another queer writer, pioneered what has been called stream of consciousness in fiction. In “Mrs. Dalloway,” the reader learns what Clarissa, Peter and the other characters think as they shop, visit, dine, work, ride buses and drink and talk at Clarissa’s party. Their thoughts shift from the present to the past and back again. While taking a nap or fiddling with a pocketknife, they’re musing about love, death, marriage, their youth, getting old – about time itself. Yet now, when more than 400,000 in the United States have died from the coronavirus, life and death mean more to us than ever before. Since the Capitol siege, it feels as if we’re living in a war. “Mrs. Dalloway,” set when many were wounded by war or damaged by influenza (the flu had weakened Clarissa’s heart) offers hope that life will return. “She always had the feeling that it was very, very dangerous to live even one day,” Woolf writes of Clarissa. Yet, Clarissa loves life! “What a lark!” she says as she buys flowers. “Mrs. Dalloway” “makes us feel what it is to be one vivid consciousness in the world but for only a relative short time,” Sheila Black, author of the poetry collection “All the Sleep in the World,” emailed me. Check out “Mrs. Dalloway.” It gives us hope that one day we, too, will be out and about in our city – buying flowers, meeting old lovers, musing about death, yet loving life.


‘Mrs. Dalloway’ by Virginia Woolf is widely available in paperback, e-book and audio book format.