Losangelesblade.com, Volume 05, Issue 11, March 12, 2021

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Hopeful signs as city begins to shake off pandemic slumber, PAGES 18-24



Grim LA Metro Bus accessibility — that’s if the bus will even stop, says gay rider Living in the bustling city of Los Angeles, it’s very common to see people using a variety of different modes of transportation. Some have cars while others prefer to use popular apps like Uber and Lyft, but for some, the only option they might have is the L.A. Metro – the bus. Mark Chaney, an openly gay man with cerebral palsy, spoke with the Los Angeles Blade about what it’s like using L.A. Metro bus during the time of COVID-19. Chaney just recently moved to Los Angeles, but was initially using modes of public transportation in the San Francisco Bay Area. “I started using public transportation when I was in the Bay Area,” Chaney said, “I was taking BART which was a lot easier.” He described his utilization of BART, a subway in the Bay Area, as being simple and easy in comparison to the bus system in Los Angeles. When talking about the bus system, Chaney said, “I didn’t really think [the bus] was going to be a challenge.” Initially, Chaney attempted to use technology apps to get to and from places, but popular transportation apps like Uber and Lyft can be incredibly expensive when using them daily, so the bus seemed to be the best option. “When I moved to LA about two years ago, I started taking the bus,” he said, “It was the most cost effective option.” Prior to realizing that there were no rearward bus disabled accommodations, Chaney would try and get on the bus through the back entrance which has no ramp or rail. Because of COVID-19 restrictions and safety precautions to protect the drivers to unnecessary exposure LA Metro had adapted its fleet to rear entrances with the exceptions of wheelchair riders. LA Metro’s buses usually have two entrances – one towards the back and one in the front close to the bus driver. The issue with the back entrance is that it doesn’t have the types of accommodations for people with disabilities. The two types of accommodations that are offered in the front are lowering the bus closer to the ground, a process known as ‘kneeling,’ to make it easier for people to step onto and also allowing for a ramp to be flipped out onto the ground to accommodate wheelchair users. Chaney talked about one of his experiences with the back entrance and how it led him to be injured. “I fell off the bus, hit my head on the sidewalk, knocked myself unconscious, and had a severe concussion,” Chaney indicated, “That occurred when I wasn’t using the ramp accommodation. It was one of the worst injuries I’ve ever had.” Chaney told the Blade that his disability fluctuates – some days he does better while other days he might potentially fall or lose his stability and balance and be severely injured. He notes that “there’s not always a straight line progression.” So, to get to and from places, Chaney needs to use the bus – specifically, the front entrance. Everything seemed to be going great in the era of pre-Covid, but once new COVID-19 guidelines came into play, it made it much more difficult for Chaney to get on the bus. “In order to use the front of the bus, you have to use the ramp rather than lowering the steps. During this time of COVID, I was seeing resistance to lowering the ramp that I have never seen before.” When Chaney talked about “resistance” he said that it first looked like the “attitudes” of the drivers having to lower the ramp- ” [they] were rolling their eyes, getting angry at me, and gave me comments,” Chaney said.” Chaney recalls a specific incident where he told a bus driver “thank you” in response to them lowering the ramp and they responded with “I don’t need your comments” in a hostile manner. These types of incidents aren’t isolated and in fact, they occur fairly frequently. Because of incidents like this, Chaney has had to file six complaints to the LA Metro. In another incident, a bus driver wouldn’t give Chaney priority seating. “I had an operator give me the ramp, but she said that I wasn’t allowed to sit in the disabled seating because I don’t have a wheelchair,” he said, “It was just another example of a barrier.” This issue becomes highlighted when Chaney explains the fact that there are

By NOAH CHRISTIANSEN plastic chains that block one’s ability to get to seating on the bus. “When I get on the bus, there is a plastic chain that blocks you from getting to the seats. Basically, it blocks off the front of the bus to get to the disabled seating as well as seating in the back for people without disabilities.” This means that Chaney getting denied priority seating makes it nearly impossible to sit down in a safe manner. Another barrier that Chaney points out isolates him is that the seats might be pushed up which requires physical strength to push them back down, Although Chaney says that on good days he has the physical strength necessary to push the seats back down, he still thinks it’s important to address because not everyone has the ability to. Whether the seats are blocked off MARK CHANEY (Photo courtesy of Chaney) through plastic chains that the drivers need to remove or whether the seats are pushed up it is clear that there are issues with accessibility he points out. In some extreme instances, Chaney has been driven by once and then refused ramp service all on the same day this past Valentine’s Day. Chaney was sitting on the bench and the bus drove right past him while the next bus refused to open the front door and let the ramp down. These ramps for Chaney and others who need them are important because they have rails on both sides and can prevent people from getting extreme physical injuries. Just recently, Chaney comments on an event that happened at the end of February. “I was waiting for the bus with a homeless passenger. The first bus slowed down and then drove off,” Chaney said, “The second bus stopped and when I requested the ramp, he stated he was not letting the other passenger on and then drove off without allowing me on the bus or giving me the ramp.” In terms of getting on the bus, Chaney notes that it’s difficult, but what about getting off the bus? “Getting off is usually fine because once I get on it’s okay. I had one driver that when I got off- he didn’t put the ramp down,” Chaney said. In this one instance, the bus pulled up too close to the curb which made it impossible to lower the ramp. This doesn’t occur all the time, but it too can be an issue. Chaney told the Blade in a final reflection; “There are good Metro operators that I’ve had that have been helpful to me and others, but the system has not been working for everyone. For people that hear this story – if you see something like this, be an ally, be an advocate, stand up and say something, let the disabled person know that you see them. Also, let the person doing whatever is wrong know that you see them too and it’s not okay, he says. LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • MARCH 12, 2021 • 03







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LGBTQ Californians still missing from COVID data collection efforts By BRODY LEVESQUE

“We need sexual orientation and gender identity data for the same reasons we The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reported Friday that in need racial and ethnic data — to understand how vulnerable communities are partnership with state and federal health officials, the County has administered being impacted by the pandemic. We already know that our community faces health over 456,913 doses of COVID-19 vaccines over this past week, which averages to disparities including higher rates of HIV, some forms of cancer, tobacco use and 65,273 doses administered per day. homelessness. All of these disparities make LGBTQ+ people — especially LGBTQ+ The problem though is that while the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has people of color — more vulnerable to COVID-19, as confirmed by the Williams revealed deep-seated inequities in health care for communities of color and Institute and the CDC,” Equality amplifies social and economic California Communications factors that have contributed Manager & Press Secretary Beatriz to those communities being hit E. Valenzuela said. hardest, and Mega-vaccination “And we have some early centers set up by both the County, indications of vaccine hesitancy City of Los Angeles, and the Federal among LGBTQ+ people in Emergency Management Agency Boulder, Colorado. Whether it’s have been addressing and tracking lack of access to the vaccine, the issue- the LGBTQ communities misinformation or something else are still not being tracked. entirely — if LGBTQ+ Californians This lack of data collection aren’t getting vaccinated, then we has frustrated and angered need to know that in order to fix it. State Senator Scott Wiener who It’s impossible to overstate authored a bill last year that how crucial this data is for health passed through the legislature officials to better support LGBTQ+ and signed by Governor Gavin people and the marginalized Newsom last Fall that mandates communities to which we belong gathering sexual orientation and — including making sure there are gender identity data related to the enough vaccination sites where we COVID testing in California. live and that LGBTQ+ people have “We’re one year into the access to accurate information pandemic, and LGBTQ people about the vaccine.” continue to be erased in our In late July, prior to Governor public health response to Newsom’s signing Wiener’s Senate COVID-19 — similar to our Bill 932 into law, Dr. Mark Ghaly, invisibility throughout history. Mobile COVID-19 vaccination van (Photo courtesy Los Angeles County) the state’s Health and Human No government is successfully Services Secretary announced that tracking COVID-19 cases in the under new emergency regulations LGBTQ community, despite a law I the state would immediately begin collecting sexual orientation & gender identity wrote mandating that California do so,” Weiner told the Blade. “And, we now know (SOGI) data on COVID-19 as well as “all other reportable diseases.” that LGBTQ people are more vulnerable to COVID-19. We’ve also just learned that Dr. Ghaly noted that by requiring healthcare providers and local health vaccination demographic data doesn’t include LGBTQ data. It simply shocking that departments to collect and report voluntary data on the gender identity and in 2021, progressive health agencies continue to forget about our community,” he sexual orientation of patients, it will allow the state’s public health officials to gain added. a better understanding on how the LGBTQI+ community is being impacted by The California Department of Public Health said it is absolutely committed to the COVID-19 as well as other potential future outbreaks. vital data collection a spokesperson told the Blade. In a statement to the Bay Area The Blade has reached out to Dr. Mark Ghaly for comment but has yet to receive Reporter’s Matthew S. Bajko on Wednesday, the CDPH said “CDPH is working with a response. local health departments to understand obstacles to collecting these data and Earlier this week Newsom announced 40% of all COVID vaccines received by the improve the completeness of sexual orientation and gender identity data reported state will be now be allocated to vulnerable communities, except that the direct to CDPH. CDPH has provided training on collection of complete demographic impact and data on LGBTQ communities across the state will remain uncollected information, including information on sexual orientation and gender identity.” and unknown according to Wiener. Equality California, which had helped sponsor Weiner’s Senate Bill 932, which Senator Wiener and a group of lawmakers have sent a letter asking for a formal specifically requires the state to collect data on the impact of COVID-19 and audit of the California Department of Health’s methods and results in collection of approximately 90 other reported communicable diseases told the Blade Friday the sexual orientation and gender identity data. afternoon in response the ongoing lack of data collection;



Bill to repeal ‘loitering for purpose of prostitution’ law introduced Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) has introduced Senate Bill 357, repealing provisions of California law that criminalize loitering for the intent to engage in sex work. This law — arrests for which are based on an officer’s subjective perception of whether a person is “acting like” they intend to engage in sex work — results in the disproportionate criminalization of trans, Black and Brown people, and perpetuates violence toward sex workers. SB 357 does not decriminalize soliciting or engaging in sex work. Rather, it simply eliminates an anti-loitering offense that leads to harmful treatment of people for simply “appearing” to be a sex worker. “Criminalizing sex work does not make sex workers or our communities safer,” a spokesperson for Wiener pointed out. “Most criminal penalties for sex workers, loitering laws included, do nothing to stop sex crimes against sex workers and human trafficking. People engaged in sex work deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.” In February, a similar piece of legislation to end this type of loitering ban became law in New York. SB 357 is part of the movement to end discrimination against and violence toward sex workers, especially the most targeted communities — trans, Black, and Brown people. SB 357 is cosponsored by Positive Women’s Network – USA, St. James Infirmary, SWOP LA, Trans Latin@ Coalition, Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach, and the ACLU of California. Under current law, it is a crime to loiter in a public place with the “intent” to commit a sex work-related offense. But this law can be broadly interpreted, and thus allows for discriminatory application against the LGBTQ community and people of color. Law enforcement can use a non-exhaustive list of circumstances to “determine” if someone intends to engage in sex work, including factors such as speaking with other pedestrians, being in an area where sex work has occurred before, wearing revealing clothing, or moving in a certain way. Because current law regarding loitering is highly subjective and vague, law enforcement officers disproportionately profile and target Black and Brown transgender women by stopping and arresting people for discriminatory and inappropriate reasons. This is how Black and Brown transgender women get arrested and cited for quite simply walking on the street. It also gives law enforcement the ability to more easily target and arrest sex workers. “We’re experiencing a terrifying epidemic of violence against trans women of color, and we need to be proactive in improving their safety,” said Wiener. “Our laws should protect the LGBTQ community and communities of color, and not criminalize sex workers, trans people and Brown and Black people for quite literally walking around or dressing in a certain way. New York has led the way, and shown that it’s far past time we end this discriminatory targeting of suspected sex workers. We must stop enabling law enforcement to harass trans women of color on our streets. We need to stand with trans women of

color and sex workers, and stand with all people fighting for autonomy and safety and against racist and transphobic discrimination.” People within the LGBTQ, Black, and Brown communities report high rates of police misconduct throughout the United States and are disproportionately affected by police violence. Transgender people who have done street-based State Sen. SCOTT WIENER (D-San Francisco) (Photo Credit: Office of Sen. Wiener) sex work are more than twice as likely to report physical assault by police officers and four times as likely to report sexual assault by police. A Black person is 3.5 times more likely to be shot by police than a white person. These statistics are a daily reality that transgender, Black and Brown people face and lead to mistrust of law enforcement. SB 357 will repeal a discriminatory law that makes it a crime to loiter with the intent to engage in sex work, given that it fails to prevent street-based sex work and disproportionately results in the criminalization of transgender people and communities of color. “California’s loitering law gives law enforcement a weapon to discriminate against and harass Black and trans sex workers simply for existing in public,” said Arneta Rogers of ACLU of Northern California. “We are proud to partner with the strong coalition of current and former sex workers to repeal this harmful law.” “Sex workers are necessity-based entrepreneurs that should be protected and not dehumanized by laws criminalizing the entire industry,” Cesar, a current sex worker and a co-lead of the Mutual Aid & Fundraising team of the Decrim Sex Work CA Coalition. “Some Clients weaponize the criminalization of sex work by using threats of calling the police to exploit or harm sex workers by agreeing to a verbal contract for service and getting this service without paying for service. Why is it illegal to sell something that is legal to give away?” FROM STAFF REPORTS

Nearly one-quarter of lesbian, bi, and queer women are parents New research released Monday from the Williams Institute at University of California Los Angeles School of Law examines the demographic and mental health differences among cisgender lesbian, bisexual, and queer (LBQ) women with and without children. Findings show that nearly one-quarter of LBQ women ages 18 to 59 and an estimated 24% of female same-sex couples have had children. Parents were more likely to be bisexual, in a relationship with a man, and non-urban. In addition, bisexual parents reported greater psychological distress, less life satisfaction and happiness, and less connection to the LGBT community than lesbian parents. Parents with other identities perceived more social support from friends and reported lower levels of internalized homophobia than bisexual parents. “There is a unique form of bias against people who have both same-sex and different-sex attractions and sexual relationships, and this may be why we see poorer mental health outcomes for bisexual parents,” said co-author Esther D. Rothblum, Visiting Distinguished Scholar at the Williams Institute. This is the first study to use a U.S. population-based sample to compare the


mental health of sexual minority women with children to those without children. In the study, researchers also examined LBQ women in three age groups: young (18-25), middle (34-41), and older (52-59). Researchers found that among lesbian women, the oldest non-parents reported more happiness and less psychological distress than the youngest non-parents. The youngest group of bisexual women reported more community connectedness than bisexual women of other age groups. There was no difference in happiness and psychological distress among parents of different age groups. “It was important to take different age cohorts into account, because attitudes, policies, and laws concerning sexual minority people and parenting have evolved over time,” said lead author Mark Assink, Ph.D., Researcher at the Research Institute of Child Development and Education at the University of Amsterdam. “More research that examines the impact of parenting on emerging identities is needed, as more LBQ women opt for parenthood.” FROM STAFF REPORTS


Remembering Bill LaVallee, 12 Step stalwart and raconteur “I have always been as authentic as I can be, even when it didn’t go over well with others,” reads a quote posted at the top of Bill LaValle’s Facebook page. That authenticity was always casually dressed in humor and humility with a flare of insight when needed. His funny and sometimes meandering stories about his beloved family, his treatment of rhinestone Hollywood gossip like secret uncut diamonds — he’d been an 1960s actor who kissed Elizabeth Taylor — and his deep gratitude for loving friendships with Carrie Fisher and so many others made Bill LaVallee immanently lovable, huggable and a favorite raconteur wherever two or more gathered. LaVallee was born on June 13, 1943 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, died March 7 in Los Angeles, and spread joy, love and sometimes snarky grace in between. He saved countless lives as an almost five-decades-long Eskimo for those seeking recovery from alcohol and substance abuse. LaVallee also helped people die during the desolate days of AIDS. After spiritual guru Rev. Sandy Scott established late night visitation rights at local hospitals, LaVallee brought a few sponsees and an AA meeting to dying gay men in need of solace and love from their family of choice. Sometimes the well-meaning troupe would forget the

Big Book and through inappropriate giggles, scour their memories for the words most professed to know by rote. Sometimes the meeting turned into a death watch with tears, laughter, stories and punching the bolus if such an end-of-life request was well-known. LaVallee’s generosity of spirit extended to Project Angel Food, for which he had volunteered at its inception in 1989. He later became a beneficiary while living at the L.A. LGBT Center-run Triangle Square Apartment complex. On July 18, 2019, LaVallee received the 12,000,000 meal made and delivered by Project Angel Food, delivered by Reality TV star Lisa Vanderpump with PAF executive director Richard Ayoub. According to a Facebook post from his granddaughter Cassidy Em: “Bill LaVallee began suffering strokes last year which ended him up in the hospital and over the last few months he had to get a stint in his heart and last week he fell and when he went into the hospital they had to do emergency brain surgery to remove pressure and drain fluids. I went to see him on Friday and everything was just a big questions mark. And now he’s gone.” Gone, but never, ever forgotten. KAREN OCAMB

BILL LAVALLEE received the 12,000,000th meal made and delivered by Project Angel Food, delivered by reality TV star LISA VANDERPUMP with PAF executive director RICHARD AYOUB. (Photo via Facebook)

Ocamb leaves LGBTQ media for Public Justice advocacy After three decades of reporting about the LGBTQ community, veteran journalist Karen Ocamb announced March 9 that she is joining Public Justice, a national nonprofit progressive legal advocacy organization that has been fighting for civil rights, environmental protection and consumer and workers’ rights for more than 35 years. Public Justice is now expanding the depth and breath of its impact litigation to specifically include fighting injustices hindering full LGBTQ equality. “I’m very excited to explicitly serve the cause of justice in this next stage of my life,” Ocamb, who starts her new job at the end of March, tells the Los Angeles Blade. “My favorite quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is: ‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.’ It’s promise of hope for progress has always buoyed me when I have feared for this country. I never thought it could apply to me personally, as an individual, as well.” After spending the 1960s as a student against the war in Vietnam, fighting for civil rights and exploring the counter-culture movement, Ocamb joined CBS News in New York and learned to be a journalist under the mentorship of such icons as Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather. Her final job for the network was producing the 1984 Olympics coverage for CBS News affiliates at TV City in Los Angeles. Free to pursue her social justice passions and discuss her opinions, Ocamb volunteered on the ballot campaign for West Hollywood cityhood. It was during this time that her friends started dying of AIDS. By the late 1980s, serving as a quasi-healthcare worker was not enough and Ocamb returned to journalism, this time freelancing for Frontiers News Magazine and other gay press publications. The AIDS crisis was her entry into the movement for LGBTQ liberation and equality. She has worked in LGBTQ and independent media since then, culminating in her position as news editor and reporter for the Los Angeles Blade. Ocamb says she was recruited to the Media Relations position by Steve Ralls, with whom she worked when he served as communications director for the Servicemembers Legal 10 • MARCH 12, 2021 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM

Defense Network (SLDN) and Immigration Equality. “I was shocked when Steve reached out to me. Usually, reporters are remembered for the stories or products they produce, not the relationships with their counterparts. I think it’s so cool that Steve not only remembered me but suggested that I could assist these progressive attorneys in highlighting intersectionality and helping too-often forgotten people and communities better understand how Public Justice cases will help them,” says Ocamb. “Public Justice’s litigation and advocacy impacts a diverse array of communities, and we increasingly see our work as being at the intersection with other movements for justice,” Steve Ralls, Director of External Affairs for Public Justice, tells the LA Blade. “Our Title IX litigation and advocacy, for example, also helps to advance LGBTQ equality, especially for transgender students. The Public Justice Food Project, which advocates for a more sustainable and just food system, partners with rural community advocates to battle the scourge of industrial agriculture. And our advocacy on behalf of workers, including and especially essential frontline workers, helps to build and maximize the political and organizing power of Black, Indigenous, people of color and immigrant communities. And of course, there is significant overlap and meaningful engagement within and across each of those constituencies, too.” As Public Justice’s case docket expands, the organization recognizes that their engagement with allied communities must also deepen and expand in meaningful ways, as well. “Karen’s incredible career and her connections at the intersection of so many vibrant movements made her the perfect choice for helping Public Justice introduce our work within the communities we are serving, and hope to serve, and to use the media to help advance our shared goals,” Ralls says. “When I began working on the campaign to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ Gallup reported that 48% of Americans favored lifting the ban. By the time the law was gone, that number had grown to 89%. That change in public opinion and subsequent change in the law was, in part, due to the power of storytelling. Few people in our community know how to shape and tell the stories of those battling injustice more eloquently or powerfully than Karen. We’re extraordinarily excited to add her talents to the Public Justice team.” BRODY LEVESQUE

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Biden admin signals anti-LGBTQ discrimination in credit is illegal

cisgender counterparts, which makes access to credit “all the more The Biden administration signaled on Tuesday anti-LGBTQ critical.” Under the new regulation, a loan officer at a bank or an discrimination among lenders of credit is illegal, marking the latest agent taking a credit card application over the phone is prohibited policy move to bring the U.S. government into compliance with the from denying people credit for being LGBTQ as opposed to their U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County. financial qualifications. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced the In 2016, the CFPB previously signaled during the Obama prohibition on sex discrimination under the Equal Protection administration in response to an inquiry from SAGE the Equal Credit Opportunity Act and Regulation B prohibits lenders from Protection Credit Opportunity Act affords protections to LGBTQ discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity people. The new proposed regulation, however, offers more with a proposed regulation, which will become final after publication formality to that interpretation of the law. in the Federal Register and a comment period. Karen Loewy, senior counsel and seniors strategist at Lambda “In issuing this interpretive rule, we’re making it clear that lenders Legal, also hailed the regulation as a follow up to the initial cannot discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity,” announcement, saying “this explicit interpretive rule renews and CFPB Acting Director David Uejio said in a statement. “The CFPB will formalizes that commitment.” ensure that consumers are protected against such discrimination “We know that credit discrimination is a huge barrier to financial and provided equal opportunities in credit.” President JOE BIDEN’s administration has signaled anti-LGBTQ discrimination in credit is illegal. security for LGBTQ people, depriving people of financing for homes, CFPB’s proposed rule is consistent with the reasoning behind (Screen capture via CSPAN) cars, school, or small businesses,” Loewy said in a statement. the Supreme Court’s decision last year in Bostock v. Clayton, which “Studies show that same-sex couples routinely have been denied found anti-LGBTQ discrimination is a form of sex discrimination, opportunities and faced less favorable terms than different-sex couples in seeking mortgages. thus illegal under the ban on sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. LGBTQ people regularly report being denied lines of credit because of their sexual orientation The ruling has broad applications to all laws against discrimination on the basis of sex, including or gender identity or expression.” federal bans on discrimination in housing, credit, education, and jury service. According to the proposed rule, at least 20 states and D.C. have prohibited discrimination on Michael Adams, CEO of the LGBTQ elder group SAGE, said in a statement the announcement the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in certain or all credit transactions. As such, from CFPB “lifts a burden for LGBT older people who, for much of their lives, have felt compelled financial institutions subject to such laws were required to comply with those requirements to hide their sexual orientation and/or gender identity when seeking access to credit.” prior to the issuance of the Bostock opinion. “SAGE applauds the announcement by Acting Director Uejio and the Biden administration, CFPB’s announcement is consistent with the executive order President Biden signed on his confirming the vital legal protections LGBT elders – and all LGBT people – deserve regarding first day in office ordering U.S. agencies across the board to implement the Bostock decision. something as essential as access to credit,” Adams said. Last month, the Department of Housing & Urban Development announced it would begin According to SAGE, LGBTQ older people – particularly transgender and LGBTQ elders who accepting complaints of anti-LGBTQ discrimination under the Fair Housing Act. are people of color – face disproportionately higher poverty rates than their straight and CHRIS JOHNSON

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White House open to third-gender option on federal IDs

White House officials were open Monday to include a third-gender option on federal government IDs, but stopped short of embracing a request to make that happen via executive order. Jennifer Klein, executive director of the newly created White House Gender Policy Council, said during a White House news briefing she was willing to look at a third-gender option for non-binary people when asked about a potential executive order. White House Press Secretary JEN PSAKI “I haven’t looked yet to see whether that (Screen capture via CSPAN) requires an executive order,” Klein said. “I would note that we are very inclusive in our definition of gender, and we intend to address all sorts of discrimination and fight for equal rights for people, whether that’s LGBTQ+ people, women, girls, men, so that’s certainly something that we’ll look, but I honestly don’t know whether that requires an executive order.” President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris campaigned on providing a third-gender option on government IDs, such as U.S. passports. Both included the proposed change in the comprehensive plans for LGBTQ rights as 2020 presidential candidates. The American Civil Liberties Union has since launched a public campaign to encourage the Biden administration to implement the change with an executive order that would direct U.S. agencies to make the change across the board. As reported by The 19th, the White House has engaged in talks with the ACLU about the proposed executive order. When the Washington Blade pointed out during the briefing the ACLU had started the campaign, Klein turned to White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, who said, “Sounds like we’ll just have to look into it a little more to see what’s required, but it’s a good question.” Arli Christian, campaign strategist for the ACLU, said via email to the Washington Blade she takes the White House openness to the executive order as a good sign.

“A warm welcome and thank you to the Gender Policy Council for upholding the White House’s commitment to fighting gender-based discrimination, including discrimination against transgender, intersex and non-binary people,” Christian said. “Reforming the use of gender markers on IDs and records across the federal government is key to that work, and an executive order is the best way to ensure consistency across all the federal agencies. So far, over 70,000 people have signed onto the ACLU’s petition calling for the White House to issue this order. We look forward to continuing our conversations with the White House on this issue.” At least 19 states, including Arkansas, California, Colorado and Washington State, as well as D.C. allow individuals to select a third-gender option on state-issued IDs, such as driver’s licenses. A White House official told the Blade after the briefing Biden will work in a general sense to help non-binary people obtain a third-gender option on their IDs, but stopped short of saying an executive order would happen. “President Biden will champion full equality and civil rights protections for LGBTQ+ people to ensure that every American is treated with respect and dignity regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” the official said. “President Biden remains committed to advancing state and federal efforts that allow transgender and non-binary Americans to update their identification documents to accurately reflect their gender identity, especially as transgender and non-binary people continue to face harassment or are denied access to services because their identification documents don’t affirm their identity.” Klein also addressed during the White House briefing a question from another reporter, who asked whether the Gender Policy Council would work to address anti-transgender bills in state legislatures, including the measure barring transgender kids from sports Gov. Tate Reeves is expected to sign in Mississippi. “We have the tools that we have, which are federal laws, and the bully pulpit and fighting for our policy and values, and we will be working really closely across the White House, and the Domestic Policy Council in particular on — and the National Security Council, by the way on a series of equity issues,” Klein said. CHRIS JOHNSON



Atlanta billboard demands end to violence against Black trans people ATLANTA — An Atlanta advocacy group has created a billboard campaign that demands an end to violence against Black transgender people. The I Am Human Foundation campaign debuted in January, and features billboards with the slogan “Black trans lives matter” against the backdrop of the trans Pride flag. The billboards also contain the hashtag “stop the violence.” Alex Santiago, executive director of the I Am Human An I Am Human Foundation billboard along Atlanta’s Downtown Connector expressway on Feb. 22. Foundation, on Feb. 21 told (Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers) the Blade the idea behind the campaign emerged last summer after he attended marches in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. “There was a lot of conversation back in the summer with the Black Lives Matter (protests) and there was even a divide in the LGBTQ community where they were saying, okay, well are we included in that because, you know, when it comes to cisgender Black people, they don’t include us,” said Santiago, who is also the co-chair of FLUX Atlanta, an AIDS Healthcare Foundation project that serves trans and gender non-conforming people. “A lot of them don’t feel like we even fit with them, so with the Black Lives Matter campaign there were huge debates about that.” Santiago said he brought posters in support of Black trans people to the Black Lives Matter protests he attended. Santiago said participants’ reaction to them “was amazing,” but he added some LGBTQ people did question why he decided to participate. “At first I was like, well I don’t understand why you aren’t supporting it because before

anybody knows that you’re gay, before they know you’re trans, they know you’re Black because they can see you, but then I had to think about it,” said Santiago. “But you know what? Maybe we’re not included in that.” Santiago told the Blade there is “very little trans support” in Atlanta, so he thought about ways to make the city’s trans community more visible. “I was like, okay, I got to bring awareness to Atlanta that we’re here and that we matter,” said Santiago. He met with the owner of a local PR agency who is a cisgender woman to discuss the campaign. Santiago said she “was like, oh my God, I think this amazing” and agreed to offer the I Am Human Foundation four billboards for the price of one. One of the billboards is located adjacent to the University Avenue exit of the Downtown Connector, which is one of Atlanta’s main expressways. The other three are located on Ponce de Leon Avenue near the Ponce City Market and on Moreland Avenue near the Starlight Drive-In Theatre. The campaign was only scheduled to run for four weeks, but Santiago said the PR agency has allowed the billboards to remain in place as long as nobody else wants to buy the space. “I’ve gotten great, great, great response,” he said. The Human Rights Campaign notes at least nine trans or gender non-conforming people have been reported killed so far this year. Bianca “Muffin” Bankz, a Black trans woman, was shot to death in Atlanta on Jan. 17. Other trans or gender non-conforming people have been murdered in Illinois, Puerto Rico, Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida and Pennsylvania. Santiago said he didn’t know about Bankz’ murder until he read about it on HRC’s website. “I didn’t know anything about it,” he said. “It’s like, how do I not know in my own city that this happened.” Santiago told the Blade his organization is working on a second billboard campaign that will demand an end to the murders of Black trans women. Santiago said he plans to place a billboard near Atlanta City Hall “because I just feel like … nobody cares.” MICHAEL K. LAVERS

White House warns state legislatures that passing anti-trans bills is illegal White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, reiterating “trans rights are human rights,” warned state legislatures last week that passing bills targeting transgender youth is against the law. “The president believes that trans rights are human rights, and that no one should be discriminated on the basis of sex, not only is this the law of the land, it’s his own deeply held view,” Psaki said. Psaki, responding to a question from the Blade, addressed the issue as many state legislatures are advancing bills that would restrict transgender youth’s access to sports and transition-related care. One such bill against transgender kids in sports in Mississippi has headed to the desk of Gov. Tate Reeves, who’s expected to sign it. The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last year in Bostock v. Clayton County determined anti-transgender discrimination is a form of sex discrimination, thus illegal in the workforce under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Although the ruling didn’t purport to address sports, the logic behind the decision has broad applications to all laws against sex discrimination, including Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Laws seeking to target transgender youth would seem to flout the Bostock decision as well as the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. 14 • MARCH 12, 2021 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM

Psaki also invoked the executive order Biden signed on his first day in office seeking to implement the Bostock decision, making it clear it applies to students in the context of bathrooms, locker rooms, and sports. Also during the briefing, Psaki addressed the Equality Act, legislation to expand the ban on discrimination against LGBTQ people under federal law. The House passed the legislation but it faces an uncertain future in the Senate. Asked by the Blade whether Biden will reach out to lawmakers on the Equality Act, Psaki predicted that would be the case. “It certainly is a piece of legislation, the president supports as you all know, and he discusses a range of his priorities with members of Congress — the House and the Senate — and I’m certain when given the opportunity he will advocate for the passing of it,” Psaki said. Washington Blade: The House has sent the LGBTQ Equality Act to the Senate, where it will be one of several bills that faces an uncertain future. Will the president reach out to lawmakers on the Equality Act? Jen Psaki: It certainly is a piece of legislation the president supports, as you all know, and he discusses a range of his priorities with members of Congress — the House and the Senate — and I’m certain when given the opportunity he will advocate for the passing of it. Blade: And I know you’ve been asked about the legislative filibuster this briefing already but I would like you to address it as it pertains to this specific bill. Isn’t there a reasonable expectation that the president strongly supports this bill that he would want to welcome — the end of filibuster to see it get to his desk? Psaki: The president’s position hasn’t changed. He looks forward to advocating for the passage of legislation that he supports and working with Democrats and Republicans together. CHRIS JOHNSON

BRYNN TANNEHILL is the author of “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Trans” and “American Fascism: How the GOP is Subverting Democracy”. She works as a senior defense analyst at a think tank in Washington, D.C.

Trump GOP, religious right make trans-youth collateral damage

A strategy to abandon real policy and wage pointless culture wars By BRYNN TANNEHILL

I have something to tell you that you might not believe. You’re being lied to; manipulated by the worst forces in American culture today. Almost everything you think you know about transgender athletes is wrong. Here are the facts that actually matter. The trans athlete argument has been pushed to the front by conservatives in Congress, anti-LGBT hate groups, right-wing media, and even a few women athletes, as an “urgent” issue. However, this is part of the GOP strategy to abandon real policy, and instead wage pointless culture war over trivial or imaginary things, while keeping with the long-term goal of attacking LGBTQ rights as a whole. In the past few weeks the GOP have railed on conservative media and even in Congress, about Mr. Potato Head, The Muppet Show from the 1970’s, Dr. Seuss, and transgender athletes. None of these have any meaningful impact, but instead serve as agitprop to rile up their base and distract Americans from the fact that the GOP is in opposition to every popular, important issue in Congress right now. The GOP almost universally opposes a COVID stimulus, the Voting Rights Act, raising the minimum wage, the Equality Act, and election reform. Pointless culture wars let them avoid answering why they oppose this necessary and overwhelmingly popular legislation. In 2015, the religious right saw that the fight against marriage equality was over and shifted to attacking trans people. Powerful religious-right organizations close to the Trump administration such as the Alliance Defending Freedom, Heritage Foundation, and Family Research Council decided that co-opting feminism, feminist-sounding language, and secular arguments was their best way to divide and conquer the LGBT community. Their goal was cutting off trans people from support, crushing them, and then continuing on to destroy the LGB community. First they tried bathrooms, failed, and now have moved on to trans athletes. Religious conservatives have been claiming trans people will be the end of women’s sports since the Obama administration, and been utterly wrong at every step of the way. Transgender athletes remain vanishingly rare, and even fewer have achieved even a modicum of success. The International Olympic Committee first allowed transgender athletes in 2004. Out of the tens of thousands of women who have competed, there have been no transgender Olympians. The NCAA put rules in place for trans athletes to compete in 2011, and there have been zero trans athletes of any note at the Division I level, and only one at the Division II level (and that was several years ago now). The first transgender swimmer at the Division I level was a transgender man (i.e. transitioned to male). There’s no rule against trans athletes in the WNBA, but then again, there has never been a trans athlete, though at least one has tried out. To put the rarity in perspective: there have been more men in Florida shot by their own dog since 2010 than successful transgender girls in high school athletics. In the two school years since the lawsuit over two transgender high-school athletes in Connecticut, there have been no trans athletes of any note at the high school level. These girls represent the only two of note this decade. Mack Beggs, another trans man, was forced to compete in

the girls’ division in Texas, rather than being allowed to wrestle with the boys. Nor can the right wing demonstrate tangible harms. There’s no evidence of their claims that trans athletes are taking away scholarship opportunities from cisgender girls. Two of the cisgender girls in the Conneticut lawsuit mentioned above (represented the Alliance Defending Freedom) have graduated, and gone to University on athletic scholarships. The third, daughter of a former Major League Baseball star, is still in high school but is turning in times that virtually guarantee she will get one. Of the two transgender girls (both of whom are Black), one did not go to college, and the other is at a HBCU but not participating in athletics (meaning she’s not on athletic scholarship). While trans athletes are rare to begin with, the vast majority of the few that do play do so in obscurity, because their performance is utterly unremarkable. Ohio has had total of nine transgender athletes in the past five years (out of the approximately 1.2 million total Ohio high school athletes in that same time period). We have heard nothing about them because they haven’t been dominant, or even good enough to notice their presence. Even though being shot by your dog is both more common and more dangerous than allowing transgender athletes to compete, Republicans have made the latter a legislative priority. They have introduced bills in more than 20 states to ban them (but none involving firearms and pets, that I can tell). The Associated Press reached out to two dozen sponsors of such legislation, and none could name a single instance of a transgender athlete in their state. They admitted that this wasn’t about solving an actual problem, but an attempt to prevent any transgender athletes from competing. For Republican politicians, trans athletes are just another culture war issue to be outraged over, like claiming Starbucks’ holiday cups promote the “gay agenda”, saying Merry Christmas, or disclaimers on 45 year-old episodes of The Muppets. For the religious right, whom most GOP politicians must obey, this is how they get their foot in the door to turn the public against the trans community and roll back LGBT rights in general. The groups running point on banning trans athletes (ADF, Heritage, and Family Policy Alliance) accidentally leaked a document making it clear that this was part of their long term antiLGB agenda, based on their religious beliefs, and not out of some sincerely held love of women’s sports. They have used this as their primary talking point against the Equality Act, which covers job discrimination, and not sports. This doesn’t matter to them, of course. The entire point is to get people angry, not to spur rational thought. When it comes to trans athletes, the facts are that they have been allowed to compete for years, are rare to begin with, and even more rarely succeed. There is no crisis in women’s sports happening now: no high level trans athletes at either the HS or NCAA level today, and no cisgender female athletes have lost scholarships to trans girls. This, like every other conservative culture war issue, is a cynical attempt to generate outrage over trivial things and divert attention from the fact that the GOP is a party bankrupt of popular ideas on how to govern on issues that matter. The party of Trump and the religious right are trying to wag the dog, and make innocent trans youth collateral damage in this manufactured conflict.


MICHAEL K. LAVERS is international news editor of the Washington Blade. Reach him at mlavers@washblade.com.

Celebrating a year of freedom ¡Viva la libertad! By MICHAEL K. LAVERS

WILTON MANORS, Fla. — Yariel Valdés González began his new life in freedom in this country a year ago last week. Yariel, who asked for asylum in the U.S. because of the persecution he suffered in Cuba as a journalist, spent nearly a year in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody until his release from the River Correctional Center, a privatelyrun detention center in Louisiana’s rural Concordia Parish, on March 4, 2020. The details of that day remain vivid: The torrential downpour that drenched us as we ran to my car in the detention center’s parking lot, the Lady Gaga songs I played on my iPhone as we drove away, my left arm that I fractured a few hours earlier and dancing at Oz on Bourbon Street once we arrived in New Orleans. Yariel over the last year has proven that immigrants really make our country great. He lives here in Wilton Manors and works at a local restaurant. Yariel contributes to the Washington and Los Angeles Blades, and is becoming an active member of the Wilton Manors community. Our country is far better off when people like Yariel have the opportunity to live their best lives in freedom and commit themselves to making it better for us all. One of the ways Yariel has chosen to make a positive contribution to his new country is to document his experiences in ICE custody. The Blades in the coming weeks will begin to publish what I have dubbed his “detention diaries” that detail the inhumane treatment he suffered at the hands of an agency in serious need of oversight and reform. One of them details how he spent upwards of 12 hours shackled and handcuffed as ICE transported him from the privately run Imperial Regional Detention Facility in California’s Imperial Valley to another privately run facility, the Tallahatchie County Correctional Center in Tutwiler, Miss., as though he

was a dangerous criminal. Yariel in another diary entry details the desperation he felt during the five months he needlessly spent in ICE custody after the ruling that granted him asylum was appealed. He also discusses the xenophobia and racism that he and other detainees experienced from guards at the Bossier Parish Medium Security Facility in Plain Dealing, La. I arrived in South Florida on Tuesday, three days after I was on assignment in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, where asylum seekers who had been forced to pursue their cases in Mexico under the previous White House’s odious Migrant Protection Protocols program were finally able to enter the U.S. It will undoubtedly take time for the Biden administration to undue the policies that subjected Yariel and countless other asylum seekers to needless harm and abuse, but thank goodness this process has begun. Elections really do matter. It is also crucially important to hold the previous administration — and especially those within it who crafted and implemented these harmful policies that have done irrevocable damage to our country’s reputation around the world — accountable. ICE, the agency that mistreated Yariel and countless others while in their custody, must also be held to account. We remain committed to doing our part to support immigrants and asylum seekers through our work as journalists. It is also my fervent hope that Yariel’s decision to write about his experiences in ICE custody will spur some much-needed change. In the meantime, this is a time to celebrate my dear friend and everything he has accomplished since his release a year ago. Yariel continues to prove that immigrants make our country great, and I am proud to stand by his side.


¡Viva la libertad!

V O L U ME 05 I S S U E 11

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TINITUS– a new fashion world led by inclusivity, diversity, solidarity August Getty offers a look at the future of fashion By ROSE MONTOYA A year ago the coronavirus was unleashed on the globe with terrifying results. Commerce, government, industry — in fact, life as we knew it, ground to a halt. And the silence left only a ringing in the ears. The impact was colossal and keenly felt as health officials and governments urged their citizens to isolate and retreat to safer spaces. Perhaps not shockingly one of those industries affected greatly was the fashion industry. Last December, Elle magazine, which chronicles the industry, noted that “though it has been dismissed as frivolous — if compared directly with the front line service industries fighting to keep people alive and fed — the fashion industry is both a creative mecca and one of the world’s most significant fiscal heavyweights. “The fashion industry’s deterioration would see a serious impact on the global economy, not to mention the furloughing or unemployment status of millions of artists, designers, seamstresses and more.” Yet in the oddity of a world enclosed by stay-at-home orders and utter lack of human interaction driven by fears of infection, hospitalizations or even death, there emerged a vibrant creative force in the virtual world led by young visionary artists and designers unwilling to bow in defeat. In this virtual world, the creative force of the 26-year-old Los Angeles-based haute couture designer August Getty exploded in an explorative, probing quest to define a safe space for a new vision. Getty created a safe space to talk about what is often taboo in society—mental health, identity, politics, etc. Throughout 2020 Getty continued to transform and that can be seen on Instagram wearing wigs, makeup, and gowns. But there was more as Getty broke away from a rigid model of conformity and moved toward a vision, partly inspired by a personal affliction and transforming that affliction into a memorable fashion statement. Getty, known for intricate and bold couture designs including creations for singer Katy Perry, and his sister-in-law social media influencer Gigi Gorgeous among others, has launched TINITUS, the latest couture collection embracing a world created from pain in order to heal and celebrate one’s self. The virtual world and wardrobe took over six months to complete, utilizing advanced CGI software and unconventional design methods to intricately render the handmade elements of Getty’s designs with precision and elegance. Each sequin, stitch, and precious stone is individually positioned on the virtual silhouette with a meticulous attention to detail that parallels couture-level workmanship. TINITUS is a play on words referencing tinnitus, a hearing disorder, which afflicts Getty and includes a constant ringing sensation. Hence in a world surrounding oneself the quieter external forces are, the louder ringing is—much like after listening to loud music at a party or concert. Last week in an online presentation narrated by Getty, the launch video began in a barren desert until a background manifesto was spoken aloud and the world became a colorful explosion. Getty describes TINITUS as being created with colors so loud, you can hear them. It’s a world accessed by vibrations and painted with the pain of his own struggles turned into an empowering artistic conquest. TINITUS’s purpose is one of solidarity. The launch videos represent people from all walks of life, especially marginalized voices. The models range from a pregnant trans man to plus size people, to Black people, indigenous people, and people of color. The message is clear: we are all one. TINITUS is for everyone, because the future of fashion is inclusive and diverse. Vibration I is a segue from Getty’s last collection “The White Hart.” The dress is a symbol of strength and overcoming the darkness of one’s past. The bright pink color is like a flower blossoming in the spring after a cold dark winter. The sound playing is an energetic entrance to the portal of TINITUS. Vibration IV is the heart and soul of the collection inspired by being reborn. Through our struggles we learn lessons and evolve into stronger, more powerful selves. This dress is an exoskeleton to symbolize strength. The dress is presented with operatic

singing from a comforting voice almost like an angel or mother watching over the rebirth being presented. TINITUS is a reminder that though many of us have had a difficult year, there is hope ahead. We are entering a new world led by inclusivity, diversity, and solidarity. This year has taught us how to be better people, how to be better connected to each other, and how to be patient. TINITUS empowers those who exist in it to be their true selves and to be resilient. The roaring 20s of the 21st century are at hand, and while many of us have been stuck at home in our sweatpants, fashion is here to help us overcome our pain and hurt from the past. We can utilize our pain to paint a brighter and more peaceful future. AUGUST GETTY (Photo By Luke Fontana)

This release is just the first experience of TINITUS. More will follow in July. For this initial launch, Getty released four original couture pieces from the collection, as well as their corresponding short films. The full collection and immersive digital experience will be unveiled both digitally and in-person in July 2021 during Paris Haute Couture Week, which will include an e-commerce platform and an interactive social element. This first experience of TINITUS will be housed on the AUGUST GETTY Atelier temporary website, eventually transitioning to an immersive web experience in anticipation of the Paris Haute Couture show in July 2021. LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • MARCH 12, 2021 • 17

Leslie Jordan: America’s new country music star ‘Company’s Comin’’ is his latest star turn By TYLER T. FISCHER

You’ve probably heard of 2020’s renaissance man by now. He has an Emmy for “Will & Grace,” more Instagram followers than Norway has people and at 65 he’s about to release his debut album, “Company’s Comin’” on April 2. Leslie Jordan became the Johnny Carson of Instagram over the last year, rapidly gaining millions of followers in mere weeks for his quarantine video diaries. In the early days of lockdown, he had the catchphrase that launched a million clicks (“well sh*t, what y’all doin?”). His quippy stories, laugh-out-loud one-liners and endearing southern drawl captured the internet’s heart. Jordan’s videos have covered all manner of topics including baton-twirling in his front yard, his celebrity crush on Dylan McDermott, and his Fonda-esque workout videos. His unique new fame began a domino effect of projects, and it seems that almost weekly Jordan has announced a new collaboration. He even had Ryan Murphy promise him a new show, with Dylan McDermott playing his former masseuse. Ask and you shall receive. He’s done so much you could write a book about it. Cue Jordan’s next book, “How Y’all Doing? Misadventures and Mischief from a Life Well Lived,” to be released late April. “How Y’all Doing?” is an essay collection infused with saucy humor and entertaining stories, including an unexpected phone call from Hollywood legend Debbie Reynolds. The book is next up in Jordan’s ever-growing series of pandemic projects. We haven’t even talked about his featured role in Oscar-contender “The United States vs. Billie Holiday.” Jordan’s become the expert of turning Instagram dreams into career realties. Chronicling the path of his upcoming album “Company’s Comin’” reveals the work ethic and discipline behind the beguiling smile and effortless charm. It was on Jordan’s Instagram that he began a weekly music series with his friend, hit Nashville songwriter, Travis Howard. “My dear friend Travis Howard and I would get together on Sundays to sing these old hymns just because we loved them,” Jordan said. “The songs held something brilliant about the human condition and were a deep comfort to anyone who heard them, religious or not. He started posting our performances online, and the response was LESLIE JORDAN (Photo by Miller Mobley)

just incredible.” The duo turned the series into a one-hour country music radio show, Hunker Down Radio with Leslie Jordan on Apple Music. Audiences can tune in every Sunday at 1 p.m. CT/2 p.m. ET. So what do you do when you’ve got millions of fans asking for more? Make an album. “Company’s Comin’” is promised to bless listeners with both traditional hymns and original tunes, with a slew of special guests including country music heavy weights Tanya Tucker, TJ Osborne from Brothers Osborne, Travis Howard, Katie Pruitt and more. In February, Jordan premiered the lead single “Angel Band” with Grammywinner Brandi Carlile. Think of it as “Sweet Home Alabama’s” gay cousin, complete with a feisty mandolin and playful ad-libs from Jordan. Like the rest of Jordan’s portfolio, it’s guaranteed to put a smile on your face. But life hasn’t always been easy for gay icon Leslie Jordan. Raised Baptist in 1960s Tennessee, Jordan explains. “It’s liberating now to come back to these hymns, completely at peace with myself, and sing without any hint of the guilt or shame I felt in my youth.” Born in Chattanooga, Tenn., Jordan said, “Singing these songs, it felt like I was recapturing the joy of what this music meant to me as a kid, but without all the baggage.” A 4′ 11″ gay man might not sound like the new poster-boy for Southern Gospel, but Jordan’s winsome joy transcends all.



For film fans, slim pickings for spring

Apartheid-era story ‘Moffie’ offers grim look at love and war By JOHN PAUL KING

weight of the AIDS epidemic, and reminding us that “no matter how much success one Spring is always a light season for movies. The big awards contenders from the previous finds, everybody needs help… geniuses included.” Technically, this one isn’t getting an year are still in the spotlight and the big blockbusters are being held back until summer, official spring release, but it’s screening as part of the AmDocs Festival, which is available so it’s a time when we tend to get the smaller, under-the-radar films that might otherwise to stream nationally March 26-April 4. get lost in the shadow of higher profile competitors. Even in the best of circumstances, From the international front comes “Moffie,” a South African war drama from filmmaker it’s typically a mixed bag. Oliver Hermanus, releasing in select theaters and on digital and VOD platforms April 9. In 2021, of course, things are even grimmer than usual. The easing of the pandemic Based on an acclaimed memoir by André-Carl van der Merwe, it’s the Apartheid-era story is tantalizingly within sight, but not close enough to allow for widespread re-opening of of a gay teenage boy who is conscripted into the South African army during the nation’s movie theaters – and that means many of the films originally scheduled for release over 1981 border clash with Angola. Subjected the next few months have been pushed back, to daily abuse and humiliation as part of his some indefinitely. training, he finds an unexpected bright spot in What that means for LGBTQ film fans is an attraction he shares with another recruit; that while we can still look forward to seeing but under the oppressive homophobia of Marvel’s first big screen gay superhero kiss in their military environment, being seen by your “Eternals,” we’ll just have to wait until the fall for mates as a “moffie” (Afrikaans for weak and it; but when it comes to movies like the screen effeminate) can be just as deadly as bullets from adaptation of the British drag queen musical the enemy. Two dreamily attractive leads (Kai “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie,” there’s no Luke Brummer and Ryan de Villiers) are bound way of knowing when they might finally come to be a strong draw for many audiences, and our way. they provide some beautifully tender moments The good news is that there are still some amid the tension in this richly photographed, promising titles in the lineup over the next few deeply cinematic romance; but be warned – months, as we hunker down on our couches for this one is a far cry from the kind of positive, what should be the homestretch of our long uplifting queer representation currently in sojourn through COVID. vogue with American audiences. Hearkening Netflix, as always, has us covered in its films back to a darker era in LGBTQ cinema, it offers a as well as its original series. Debuting March bleak portrait of a time and place that held little 12 is “Yes Day,” an inclusive, good-for-allhope of an open and happy gay life, along with ages comedy based on a beloved children’s a whole slate of other grim observations about picture book from 2009. Expanding on a simple MICHAEL VEY and KAI LUKE BRUMMER in ‘Moffie.’ (Photo courtesy IFC) the madness of war and the toxic effects of premise, the Justin Malen-penned screen living under a cruel and restrictive authoritarian adaptation centers on a family in which two regime. That might hit too close to home for a lot of viewers, but for those with the strict parents (Jennifer Garner and Édgar Ramírez) agree to spend a whole day saying stomach for it there’s a lot to appreciate in this one, which has already accumulated a “yes” to everything their kids ask to do. Directed by Miguel Arteta (“Like a Boss”), it’s a number of honors on the festival circuit, including nominations for Venice’s Queer Lion predictably madcap, free-wheeling romp that promises a lot of laughs and a healthy dose Prize and the Best Picture Award at the London Film Festival. of heart, as well as the presence of out lesbian comedian Fortune Feimster in a featured If the last few choices seemed a little heavy, our final highlight will surely be more to role. taste. Though technically not really a “queer” movie, Disney’s upcoming “Cruella” is sure On what might be close to the opposite end of the spectrum is “Wojnarowicz: F**k to have an undeniable queer appeal. Disney villains always hold a special place in the You F*ggot F**ker,” a documentary from director Chris McKim and World of Wonder community’s heart, especially Cruella de Vil – the ruthlessly fur-obsessed fashionista who Productions. Described by the Hollywood Reporter as “a stirring requiem of rage and became so popular terrorizing the title characters in “101 Dalmatians” that she’s become resistance,” it’s a portrait of David Wojnarowicz, the iconic New York artist, writer, more of an icon than any of the puppies she tried to turn into a coat. Already memorably photographer, and activist who turned his work into a weapon against an indifferent portrayed in the flesh by fan favorite diva Glenn Close (who actually co-produced this establishment during the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s before passing from the disease one), the new Disney crime comedy puts Oscar-winner Emma Stone in that familiar himself in 1992. Exploring his extensive body of work to illuminate the activism at its core, two-tone fright wig and backs her up with heavy-hitters like Emma Thompson and Mark it also uses rediscovered voice recordings and personal recollections from friends like Strong. Directed by Craig Gillespie, it frankly looks like a lot more fun than any of Disney’s Fran Lebowitz, Gracie Mansion, and Peter Hujar to present an emotionally resonant look other recent attempts to mine its animated catalogue for live-action reboots, and it is at a fiercely political and unapologetically queer artist. It’s going into limited theatrical scheduled for release on May 28. release March 19 followed by a VOD drop on Kino Now and home video. In addition to these, there are a few other LGBTQ-relevant titles currently in limbo, Another documentary of interest is “Yes I Am - The Ric Weiland Story,” which recently acquired at festivals like Sundance by distributors but with release dates still TBA. chronicles a queer pioneer and philanthropist who achieved wealth and influence These include the aforementioned “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie,” as well as Danish working with Microsoft during its early success. Out and proud since the 70’s, Weiland filmmaker Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s ambitious animated memoir “Flee,” the sure-to-bewas a champion of gay rights who donated millions to the cause, making an impact that popular documentary “Mayor Pete,” and Marion Hill’s bisexual polyamorous romance is still profound today; GLAAD has a yearly award named in his honor. “Finding Kim” “Ma Belle, My Beauty.” While we shouldn’t necessarily expect these in the next few weeks, director Aaron Bear’s moving film portrait documents the hidden side of this queer hero, they could feasibly drop any time. You can be sure the Blade will keep you posted.. revealing a man whose struggles with self-doubt and depression compounded under the



Gen Z TV characters embrace fluidity, eschew labels

Network, streaming series offer avalanche of queer content from ‘Pose’ to ‘Riverdale’ and beyond By JOEY DiGUGLIELMO | joeyd@washblade.com

Although queer representation is down slightly on scripted TV shows this year with 70 (9.1 percent) of all 773 series regular characters out as some form of LGBTQ+, representation has been so vast in recent years, there’s still more queer TV content than any one person could possibly consume. Last year’s record was 10.2 percent according to January’s GLAAD annual report. Here’s what’s returning and upcoming. This list isn’t exhaustive, but it’s a thorough start. Original dramedy “GENERA+ION” debuted this week From left: CHASE SUI WONDERS, OLLY ALEXANDER in ‘It’s a Sin.’ on HBO Max with three episodes. Look for two more on JUSTICE SMITH and ULY (Photo courtesy WarnerMedia) SCHLESINGER in ‘GENERA+ION.’ March 25 and another on April 1. Eight more will drop (Photo courtesy WarnerMedia) later in the year. It’s being billed as a “dark yet playful NBC’s neverending warhorse “Law & Order: Special Victims half-hour series following a diverse group of high school Unit” continues on Thursday nights at 9 in its 22nd season (it’s students whose exploration of modern sexuality (devices and been renewed for two more). It was revealed that Kat Azar all) tests deeply entrenched beliefs about life, love, and the Tamin (Jamie Gray Hyder) is bi in last season’s finale. It was a big nature of family in their conservative community.” It explores deal for the franchise, which hadn’t featured a gay character in sexuality and gender fluidity. Of its 15 writers, 11 are LGBTQ. its regular cast (FBI psychiatrist George Huang) since season 12. Prisha (Shalini Bathina) came out last year on Apple TV+’s “Elite” continues on Netflix featuring the relationship of dramedy “Little Voice.” Omar (Omar Ayuso) and Ander (Aron Piper). This grisly Spanish The current fourth season of ABC’s “The Good Doctor” has teen drama has been renewed for fourth and fifth seasons. A introduced Dr. Asher Wolke (Noah Galvin), who’s gay. Not much Rolling Stone critic said the show “attempts to go places on the storyline prominence thus far, though. Mondays at 10 p.m. sexuality spectrum where few have dared to tread before.” “Search Party” on HBO Max is in its fourth season (a fifth No date or title yet for season 10 of “American Horror has been announced) and features Elliott Goss (John Early), a Story” but look for it sometime this year on FX. Kathy Bates, gay narcissist. Leslie Grossman, Billie Lourd, Sarah Paulson and more are CBS’s “S.W.A.T.” is in its fourth season and features Chris back. Macaulay Culkin will also be in the cast. The show has Alonso (Lina Esco), who’s bi and has explored polyamory. It’s on been renewed through a 13th season. The gay-helmed series Wednesday nights at 10. (Ryan Murphy) always features LGBTQ characters. Past seasons Josie Totah plays Lexi, a sharp-tongued trans cheerleader on “Murder House,” “Asylum” and “Hotel” are fan favorites. the new “Saved by the Bell” reboot on Peacock. Premiering Netflix’s “Grace and Frankie,” starring Jane Fonda and Lily last November, it’s already been renewed for a second season. Tomlin as friends whose husbands leave them for each other, Netflix’s “Bridgerton,” a period drama, debuted in December was slated to resume shooting its farewell seventh season, and has already been renewed for a second season. Gay postponed by COVID, in June. It’s Netflix’s oldest still-running content has been minor thus far. Fans were expecting more series. No premiere date has been announced. when a brief gay sex scene was teased in a trailer but didn’t HBO’s “Euphoria” season two is in limbo. Cast and crew were show up until the fifth episode and featured a minor character ready to start shooting last spring when COVID hit. It’s slated at that. to start shooting in Los Angeles on April 5. No premiere date The CW’s “Riverdale” (based on the Archie comics) was has been announced. The show has been widely praised for its renewed last month for a sixth season. Season five is airing now. varied, nuanced portrayal of Gen Z queer life with eschewing Despite many LGBTQ characters throughout its run, the show of traditional LGBTQ identities and way more fluidity on the has been accused of queerbaiting by showing same-sex kisses sexual orientation and gender identity spectrums. Jules Vaughn in teasers that turned out to be larks or minor anomalies in the (Hunter Schafer, who’s trans) is a trans girl who becomes friends actual storylines. Fans have also balked at the limited attention with lead character Rue Bennett (Zendaya). same-sex couples on the show, such as Kevin Keller (Casey Look for the eighth season of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” later Cott) and Moose (Cody Kearsley) or Cheryl (Madelaine Peetsch) this year. The police procedural comedy has drawn fans for and Toni (Vanessa Morgan) (aka “Choni”) have received. its queer characters such as Rosa Diaz (Stephanie Beatriz) and Season two of “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” on NBC is in Captain Raymond Holt (Andre Braugher). the midst of its second season. It moves to Sunday nights at 9 Anissa (Nafessa Williams) made history on “Black Lightning” when it returns March 28. Alex Newell (“Glee”) plays Mo, Zoey’s as the first queer superhero of color on TV. Look for its fourth genderfluid neighbor, a DJ. and final season this year. The CW’s “Walker,” a reboot of “Walker, Texas Ranger,” “Dear White People” wraps this year featuring Lionel Higgins debuted in January and has already been renewed for a second (DeRon Horton), a black queer man struggling with his identity. season. Keegan Allen plays Liam, the lead character’s gay It’s adapted from gay director Justin Simien’s film of the same brother. It airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. name. The CW’s “Legacies,” a spin-off of “The Originals” that tells of Filming began last month for season 11 of AMC’s “The the adventures of Hope Mikaelson (Danielle Rose Russell), airs Walking Dead” with 24 episodes slated to air into next year. Thursday nights at 9. It’s in the midst of its third season and has A spin-off featuring Daryl and Carol is slated to air in 2023. The been renewed for a fourth. Character Josie Saltzman (Kaylee show drew fan ire when it axed off two queer characters (Tara Bryant) is a bi witch. 20 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • MARCH 12, 2021

and Jesus) in season nine in 2019. Character Felix Carlucci (Nico Tortorella), head of security at the Campus Colony, was kicked out of his house for coming out. “Pose” returns May 2 with the first two episodes of its abbreviated third season. There will be just seven total. This will be the final season for the groundbreaking show that follows the ballroom scene/queer nightlife in the early 1980s. It’s another fan hit from the Ryan Murphy omniverse. The finale is June 6. “Star Trek: Discovery’s” fourth season is slated for release on Paramount+ sometime this year. Filming started last November and is set to end in June. Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp) and Hugh Culber (Wilson Cruz) became the first openly gay characters in a “Star Trek” franchise series in 2017. Adira (Blu del Barrio) and Gray (Ian Alexander, who is trans in “real life”) were introduced as the first trans and nonbinary characters in the show’s third season. It’s set a decade before the action of the original series. Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” returns with its fourth season on April 28. It’s also been renewed for a fifth season. Lesbian actress (and D.C. native) Samira Wiley is in the cast again as is Alexis Bledel, who plays lesbian character Emily Malek, an Emmy winner for her work on the show. Season five of Showtime’s “Billions” was suspended midseason last year with five episodes left to air (production — you guessed it — was halted by COVID). Although a sixth season has been ordered, no air dates for the rest of season five has been announced. Asia Kate Dillon, non-binary in “real life” and on the show, stars as Taylor Mason. “The Conners” is airing its third season now on ABC Wednesday nights at 9. Darlene’s (out actress Sara Gilbert) 13-year-old son Mark (Ames McNamara) is non-binary and likes boys. It evolved out of the “Roseanne” reboot. Fox’s “Call Me Kat” debuted in January and features out actor Leslie Jordan as Phil, a newly single gay man and head baker at Kat’s cafe, and out singer/actor Cheyenne Jackson playing straight as Max, Kat’s friend and former college love interest. The season wraps March 18. No word yet on a second season. It airs Thursday nights at 9. Reviews and ratings have been mixed. The five-part Brit miniseries “It’s a Sin” finished its run in February on the U.K.’s Channel 4. Olly Alexander (Years & Years) stars as Ritchie Tozer, one of a group of gay men who move to London in 1981. The series follows them through a decade. Creator Russell T. Davies is the auteur behind the original British “Queer as Folk.” It’s streaming in the U.S. on HBO Max. Reviews have been stellar. Sarah Paulson plays the titular role on Netflix’s “Ratched” and Cynthia Nixon co-stars as Gwendolyn, her love interest. It’s a prequel to “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” the classic 1975 film. No date yet on when season two will be released. Amir Bageria plays “Sid” Pakam, a closeted gay IndianAmerican and high school senior on last fall’s teen Netflix drama “Grand Army.” It hasn’t been officially cancelled but no word yet on a second season either. Also from last fall is the HBO drama “We Are Who We Are,” co-created and directed by Luca Guadagnino (“Call Me By Your Name”), a coming-of-age story set on a U.S. army base. Several of the teen characters are figuring out their sexuality and gender identity as the show unfolds. Chloe

TV since its maiden season released on Feb. 24. Sevigny and Alice Braga play same-sex moms to 14-yearJesse James Keitel plays Jerrie Kennedy, a transfeminine/ old Fraser (Jack Dylan Grazer). “Call Me” alums Timothee nonbinary sex worker on ABC’s crime/thriller “Big Sky.” It’s Chalamet and Armie Hammer make cameos. No word on hiatus but will return. yet on a second season. Brian Michael Smith made history as the first out black No LGBT characters yet on “Emily in Paris,” the Netflix trans man in a regular series role on network TV as Paul dramedy, but it’s from the “Sex and the City” creative team Strickland on Fox’s Ryan Murphy-created procedural and has been renewed for a second season. drama “9-1-1- Lone Star,” a spin-off of “9-1-1.” Its second “The Real Housewives of Orange County” finished its season is airing now on Monday nights at 9. There are 15th season in January. Braunwyn Windham-Burke, who FIVEL STEWART (left) and BRIGETTE ASIA KATE DILLON as Taylor, who’s also gay characters on both shows. joined in the 14th season in 2019, came out as a lesbian in LUNDY-PAINE in ‘Atypical.’ non-binary, on ‘Billions.’ (Photo by Beth Dubber, courtesy Netflix) (Photo courtesy Showtime) Safiya Masry (Indira Varma), a warden on ABC’s legal December. Look for season 16 this fall. drama “For Life” is a lesbian. It’s in its second season now Punky’s (Soleil Moon Frye) BFF Cherie (Cherie Johnson) is airing Wednesday nights at 10. can commune with the dead, is pan, for one. The fantasy show a lesbian on Peacock’s “Punky Brewster” revival. Its 10-episode ABC’s new sitcom “Call Your Mother,” which debuted in is a comic book adaptation about a dysfunctional family who debut season is available now. January, features Lane (Austin Crute), Jackie’s (Racel Sennott) each possess superpowers. A third season is underway. The fourth and final season of Netflix’s “Atypical” will gay best friend and roommate. It’s on Wednesday nights at Canadian sitcom “Letterkenny” just released its ninth premiere sometime this year. It features lesbian duo Casey 9:30. season in December and 10th and 11th seasons are planned. It (Brigette Lundy-Paine) and Izzie (Fivel Stewart). Son Ian (Cameron Monaghan) and daughter Debbie streams on Hulu and tells of residents of a small farming town. Peter (Brendan Scannell) is the gay best friend to Tiff (Zoe (Emma Kenney) are gay on Showtime’s longrunning dramedy Several are LGBT but it’s never treated as a big deal. Levin) on “Bonding.” Its second season dropped in January. “Shameless.” Its 11th season continues through April 11. A second season of Hulu’s “Love, Victor” will premiere in Netflix’s “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” wraps this year “Superstore” ends its sixth and final season on March 25. June. Michael Cimino plays the title role, a hispanic gay teen. and has featured a pan warlock romance and a trans character. Mateo (Nico Santos) is gay on the NBC sitcom. It’s on Thursday It’s a TV adaptation/spinoff of the hit 2018 gay teen dramedy Its fourth season dropped Dec. 31. nights at 8. “Love, Simon.” David Berry plays Lord John Grey who’s secretly gay and Jackson West (Titus Makin Jr.) is a gay officer on ABC’s “The The second season of Netflix’s “Bonding” dropped in January. has been called “one of the most complex and interesting” Rookie,” currently in its third season. It’s on Sunday nights at Brendan Scannell plays Pete, gay bestie to main character Tiff characters in the historical Starz “Outlander” books and show. 10. Chester (Zoe Levin), a dominatrix. A sixth season is expected. Longrunning Brit soap “Hollyoaks” is teeming with LGBT The 2017 “Dynasty” reboot is proving surprisingly resilient. Netflix’s “The Haunting of Bly Manor” introduces Dani characters presented multi-dimensionally. Gay character John It was renewed for a fifth season last month on The CW. (Victoria Pedretti) and her girlfriend Jamie (Amelia Eve) against a Paul McQueen (James Sutton) has been on and off the front Production on the fourth season resumed last October and will gothic/thriller backdrop. No word yet on another season. burner for a decade. Also worth checking out are “Emmerdale” start airing May 7. Steven, the gay son played by James Mackay, “Queer Eye” only had one season six episode in the can last and “EastEnders,” whose current Ben/Callum love story is a fan will be back. He was written out of the third season. year when COVID hit. Production has not resumed but the favorite. Hulu’s “Everything’s Gonna Be Okay,” from Aussie show will eventually return. comedian Josh Thomas, features Matilda, a teen with highOn Netflix’s “The Politician,” Ben Platt stars as Payton Also of note: functioning autism, exploring her fluid sexuality and her gay Hobart, a presidential hopeful who finishes high school (season “Tina,” a documentary on the life of rock icon Tina Turner, brother’s relationship failures. Its second season drops April 8. one) and is now a student at NYU (season two). Rahne Jones debuts on Sunday, March 28 at 8 p.m. on HBO and HBO Max. It The CW’s “Legends of Tomorrow” returns for its sixth plays Skye Leighton, his black, gender-nonconforming former promises “a wealth of never-before-seen footage, audio tapes season on May 2. White Canary (Caity Lotz) is bi. She’s one of running mate now helping with his campaign. Jessica Lange, … photos and new interviews.” the heroines in the Arrow-verse based on characters from DC Gwyneth Paltrow, Judith Light and even Bette Midler are in the Aretha Franklin is the focus of the third season of National Comics. cast. Another Ryan Murphy production. No word yet on a third Geographic’s docudrama series “Genius.” Cynthia Erivo stars The CW’s “Batwoman” season two is airing now (regrouping season. as the late soul legend. Its eight-episode arc debuts March 21. with the absence of Ruby Rose in the title role) and a third season “RuPaul’s Drag Race” season 13 airs its 10th episode (of Other shows with LGBT characters whose networks have has been ordered. Ryan Wilder (Javicia Leslie)/Batwoman is now a likely 14) March 12 at 8 p.m. on VH1. That means the finale said are returning but for which no date has been announced: the central protagonist with Kate Kane/Batwoman presumed is about a month away. “All Stars” season six is expected this “Betty” (HBO); “Feel Good” (Netflix); “Gentleman Jack” (BBC dead. The new Batwoman is also a lesbian. summer at its new home on Paramount+. A second season of One/HBO); “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” renewed in “Wynonna Earp” returned to finish its fourth and final season the U.K. edition is airing now on BBC iPlayer. December for four more seasons, a sitcom record (FX); “Killing this month on Syfy/Netflix. Lesbian side couple WayHaught Netflix British dramedy “Sex Education” will be back for Eve” (BBC America); “The L Word: Generation Q” (Showtime); have become fan favorites. a third season sometime this year. No date yet. Teen Otis “Sex Education” (Netflix); “Twenties” (BET); “Supergirl” “Good Trouble,” with multiple queer characters, is in the Milburn (Asa Butterfield) lives with his sex therapist mom (The CW); “Never Have I Ever” (Netflix); “What We Do in midst of its third season. It’s on Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on (Gillian Anderson) and gay best friend Eric (Ncuti Gatwa). Anwar the Shadows” (FX); “Motherland: Fort Salem” (Freeform); Freeform and is a spin-off of “The Fosters.” (Chaneil Kular) is another out student in the cast. Netflix has “Hightown” (Starz); “The Flight Attendant” (HBO Max); “Dead A “Gossip Girl” reboot on HBO Max promises “lots of queer said it’s one of its most popular shows. to Me,” whose upcoming third season will be its last (Netflix); content.” No date yet. Netflix’s “Special” is also in limbo it appears. In December, and “Insecure” (HBO, for a fifth and final season). “This is Us” is in the middle of its fifth season. It airs Tuesday 2019 it was renewed for a second season but no updates since. Recently ended shows with LGBT characters include: nights at 9 on NBC and features Tess Pearson (Eris Baker), who It follows a gay man named Ryan Hayes (Ryan O’Connell; the “The Queen’s Gambit” (Netflix), “How to Get Away With came out in season three. series creator and star who based it on his memoir) with mild Murder” (ABC), “One Day at a Time” (POP), “The Magicians” “Good Girls” returned for its fourth season this month. It airs cerebral palsy who decides to go after the kind of life he wants. (Syfy), “Schitt’s Creek” (CBC/POP TV), “Vida” (Starz), “Work on NBC Mondays nights at 10 and features Isaiah Stannard as It has strong reviews and ratings on Rotten Tomatoes. in Progress” (Showtime/Hulu), “Council of Dads” (NBC), Ben Marks, a trans son of one of the main characters. “Tiny Pretty Things” debuted in December on Netflix “Someone Has to Die” (Netflix), “Trinkets” (Netflix), “Teenage NBC’s “New Amsterdam” is airing its third season now and and features two primary gay characters. Brennan Clost Bounty Hunters” (Netflix), “Tales of the City” (Netflix), “Kipo two more have been ordered. Dr. Iggy Frome (Tyler Labine) is plays Shane, an openly gay ballet dancer having sex with his and the Age of the Wonderbeasts” (animated, Netflix) and gay. It’s on Tuesday nights at 9. roommate, Oren (Barton). A second season is likely but hasn’t “What/If” (Netflix). Martin Scorsese interviews lesbian Fran Lebowitz on the been confirmed. Want a succinct overview of the history of LGBT people on seven-part Netflix documentary “Pretend It’s a City.” Several characters on the Netflix hit “The Umbrella TV? Check out “Visible: Out on Television,” last year’s fiveMax Baker (Sara Waisglass) is a lesbian teen on Netflix’s Academy” are queer and it’s treated as mostly episode survey on Apple TV+ from Ryan White. dramedy “Ginny & Georgia,” which has been generating buzz tangential. Klaus (Robert Sheehan), an addict who LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • MARCH 12, 2021 • 21


Spring reads, from gothic to poetry Something for everyone’s beach bag By TERRI SCHLICHENMEYER

When you’re cooped up for a while – by weather or whatever – it’s understandably easy to get bored and restless, which is why you need to look forward to having these great books this spring.

MARCH “Raising Tomorrow’s Champions,” tells the stories of more than 100 female sports stars who changed the rules and challenged gender norms for the right to play sports like girls – and what today’s girls and rising stars in all fields can learn from their journeys. Joanna Lohman shares the stories of the women who changed the rules of professional sports, overcame injury and defeat to achieve their goals and paved the way for tomorrow’s champions to emerge, according to a release. Lohman is a D.C. native, a nine-year veteran of the US Women’s National Team, a Sports Envoy for the U.S. Department of State and the only player in the history of the Washington Spirit to have her jersey retired. Her new book, “Raising Tomorrow’s Champions,” features interviews from over 100 current and former female soccer stars, their parents and coaches and shows us what it takes on - and off - the field to raise and be a champion. The book was released in early March.

APRIL Fans of the late Eric Jerome Dickey know that his novels take you on a wild ride and his final one, “The Son of Mr. Suleman” ( April 20, Dutton) is no different. It’s a love story that springs from divergent cultures tainted by racism, and the story of a man who must learn just how much of his father runs in his veins. Coming out at the end of March and just in time for National Poetry Month, “Live Oak, With Moss” by Walt Whitman, art by Brian Selznick (March 23, Abrams), is a re-release of poetry written by Whitman, reflecting on middle age and same-sex love. If you’ve never read Whitman, here’s a great place to start.

MAY Sometimes, you want to dig into something solid, something real, and “Let the Record Show: A Political History of ACT UP New York, 1987-1993” by Sarah Schulman (May 18, Farrar, Straus and Giroux) is it. This is the history of six short years and the activism that doggedly, and with great focus, fought hard to make AIDS treatment available to anyone who needed it. But, of course, the book isn’t just about the activists; it’s also

‘With Teeth’ tells the story of two mothers, one of whom works at home and cares for a wild child, that causes her to have serious questions about motherhood.

about the people who they fought for. Powerful, yes. Also inspirational. If you’re in the mood for a dark, gothic (and scary!) romance, look for “Yes, Daddy” by Jonathan Parks-Ramage (May 18, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). It’s a novel about a man who schemes to meet what he thinks is Mr. Wealthy and Right but he learns when he’s finally invited to Mr. Right’s mansion that something is very, very wrong. You can take a book like this on vacation but don’t take it to bed with you. What would you do if you suddenly had a family? That’s the basis of “The Guncle” by Steven Rowley, (May 25, Putnam) a novel about a former Hollywood star who, of course, loves his young niece and nephew. He loves them even more when he sees them for short periods of time, but when dual family tragedies happen, he has to step up to the plate. It’s a sweet, funny book, perfect for taking along on your trip home.

JUNE If you absolutely love the cover and the title of “With Teeth” by Kristen Arnett (June 1, Riverhead Books), then you’ll adore the fiendish plot: two mothers, one of whom works at home and cares for a wild child, and that causes her to have serious questions about motherhood and all its trappings. When the child goes feral, something’s got to give – but not you. You won’t want to give this book up. For Old Hollywood fans, “Elizabeth and Monty” by Charles Casillo (May 25, Kensington) is the book you’ll want for the beach this year. It’s the true story of the friendship between two of Tinseltown’s most beloved stars and how his death left her with a legacy to keep. And finally, before the spring season escapes you, look for “The Queer Bible,” edited by Jack Guinness (June 15, Dey Street Books). No, it’s not a Bible in the churchy sense; instead, the book is written by gay icons and heroes, paying homage to their heroes. It’s a fascinating book, powerful, and it’s a perfect read for Pride Month.




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