Losangelesblade.com, Volume 05, Issue 33, August 13, 2021

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Rainbow Key, Etheridge Awards honor local leaders, PAGE 03



2021 Rainbow Key Awards, Etheridge Award honor local leaders WeHo celebrates those making outstanding contributions to LGBTQ community By ROB WATSON

The City of West Hollywood will host a joint ceremony of its annual Rainbow Key Awards and Etheridge Award to recognize people and groups who have made outstanding contributions to the gay and lesbian community this past year. Because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the city will hold this year’s dual ceremonies virtually via Zoom on Thursday, Aug. 19, at 6 p.m. Each year, the West Hollywood City Council selects award recipients following recommendations made through a nomination process overseen by the City of West Hollywood’s Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board (LGAB). This year’s Rainbow Key Awards honorees are: Dante Alencastre, local documentary filmmaker and LGBT community activist; Grace Baldridge, local musician and composer; Jeff Consoletti, principal of JJLA and producer of LA Pride; Sophie B. Hawkins, Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, writer, actor, and painter; NiK Kacy, a gender-non-binary trans-masculine fashion designer and host of the annual Equality Fashion Week; Troy Masters, publisher, Los Angeles Blade, LA’s LGBTQ newspaper; Paulo Murillo, editor and publisher of WeHo Times; and Dr. Adrian Ravarour, founder of San Francisco-based Vanguard, who is also a priest and spiritual artist. Rainbow Key Awards (Photo courtesy City of West Hollywood)

The City of West Hollywood has, since 1993, presented Rainbow Key Awards to people and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to the LGBTQ community. Previous honorees have included activists, artists, civic leaders, educators, community organizations, and many others. Contributions, whether by an individual or a group, may be in many forms, including the arts, community action, humanitarian action, sports, medicine, armed services, leadership potential, benefit to the global gay and lesbian community, or in other ways. More than 155 Rainbow Key Awards have been presented since the award’s inception. This year’s Etheridge Award will be conferred to legendary LGBTQ+ rights activist and outgoing CEO of the Los Angeles LGBT Center and the former CEO of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Lorri L. Jean, for her relentless advocacy and tireless efforts on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community. The Etheridge Award was established by the City of West Hollywood’s Lesbian Visibility Committee, a committee formed to support and promote activism, creativity, and community for Lesbians. The Etheridge Award honors a woman who has made a significant impact within and for the Lesbian community and was first presented to singer-songwriter and activist Melissa Etheridge in 2007. Later, Ms. Etheridge agreed to

the Committee’s request to create an award in her name because of her commitment to furthering women’s health and fostering visibility and support for the Lesbian community. In conjunction with her award, she was featured in a public service announcement created by the City of West Hollywood. The Etheridge Award has been presented to the following individuals and organizations: Melissa Etheridge; Supervisor Sheila Kuehl; Jinx Beers; Jewel Thais-Williams; Rita Gonzales; Ivy Bottini; Jeanette Bronson; Jeanne Cordova; June Mazer Lesbian Archives; Patrisse Cullors; and Marna Deitch. Since incorporation in 1984, the City of West Hollywood has become one of the most influential cities in the nation for its outspoken advocacy on LGBTQ issues. No other city of its size has had a greater impact on the national public policy discourse on fairness and inclusiveness for LGBTQ people. More than 40 percent of residents in West Hollywood identify as LGBTQ and three of the five members of the West Hollywood City Council are openly gay or lesbian. The City has advocated for more than three decades for measures to support LGBTQ individuals and has been in the vanguard on efforts to gain and protect equality for all people on a state, national, and international level. Details for registering and live viewing of the ceremony via Zoom are available by visiting the City’s website at www.weho.org/rainbowkey. Following the event, the ceremony will made available for replay viewing on the city’s WeHoTV YouTube channel at www.youtube. com/wehotv. Dante Alencastre, local documentary filmmaker and LGBT community activist Dante Alencastre is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and LGBTQ community activist, based in Los Angeles, California. An advocate for equal rights globally and for creating social change through media awareness of Latino and Trans People around the world, he is known for over a decade of work supporting and documenting the Transgender community in Los Angeles and Lima, Peru. He has made several films spotlighting Trans experience and activism around the world, starting with”En El Fuego” (2007), a short exploring transphobia DANTE ALENCASTRE in Lima, and a follow-up, “El Fuego Dentro” (2011). In 2014, he released “Transvisible: Bamby Salcedo’s Story,” a documentary about the Trans Latina Los Angeles woman who founded the TransLatin@ Coalition, and who is now a renowned international leader and Trans community advocate. In 2016, he was a producer on “Nelly Queen: The Life and Times of Jose Sarria”, a feature documentary examining the social, cultural and political legacy of Jose Sarria, the world’s first openly gay man to run for public office and the founder of the Imperial Court System. He next directed “Raising Zoey,” documenting a California teen’s battle against school officials for the freedom to be her authentic self at school. Dante’s latest documentary, “AIDS Diva: The Legend of Connie Norman,” about the influential ACT UP leader who self described as an “ex-drag queen, ex-hooker, exIV drug user, ex-high risk youth and current post-operative transsexual woman who is HIV positive” and simply “a human being seeking my humanity,” premiering in August at LA’s iconic Outfest LGBTQ film festival. It is his second film to be screened at Outfest. In addition to his film work, Dante has worked on the boards of Los Angeles Arts organizations, as well as political and community groups, which are focused on the overlapping Transgender, Latino/a, and gender-non-conforming tribes within the community. In 2018, he was appointed Executive Director of the California LGBT Arts Alliance.


LOCAL CONTINUED FROM PAGE 03 Grace Baldridge, local musician and composer Grace Baldridge identifies as genderqueer and non-binary using their middle name of Semler for music writing and performing, chosen both because of the name’s links to their maternal family history and because they prefer their music to be experienced from a gender-neutral viewpoint. In February 2021 Semler released an EP, Preacher’s Kid, about being a queer Christian, which they recorded at home and GRACE BALDRIDGE promoted themselves. Baldridge has been a regular guest host of The Young Turks, and co-hosted the former TYT Network show Pop Trigger. They created the TYT-associated YouTube series Murder with Friends, which was nominated for Best Non-Fiction Series in the 7th Streamy Awards in 2017. In 2020, Baldridge hosted a documentary series entitled ‘State of Grace’ on being LGBTQ and Christian, produced by Refinery29. The first episode, “The Life Threatening Dangers Of Gay Conversion Therapy”, was nominated at the 31st GLAAD Media Awards for the Outstanding Digital Journalism – Multimedia award.

Jeff Consoletti, principal of JJLA and producer LA Pride As a creative director and executive producer, Jeff Consoletti’s career has spanned nearly two decades leading trendsetting special events, brand activations, concerts and festivals. Jeff is the Founder and CEO of JJLA. Headquartered in Los Angeles, JJLA is a full-service live and digital event production, management, experiential and entertainment firm creating ground up special events that grow audiences, elevate experiences, energize fans and connect JEFF CONSOLETTI communities. For over ten years, he was widely recognized as the executive producer of the LA PRIDE Festival, transforming the event into the largest LGBT ticketed festival in the nation. In 2019, he produced Pride Island at NYC’s WorldPride, headlined by Madonna. During the pandemic, he launched his award-winning digital series, OUTLOUD: Raising Voices, profiling queer artists, for Facebook, and in the summer of 2021 delivered OUTLOUD as a the first post-pandemic live-concert at the iconic Coliseum to over 1500 fans per day and over 5M viewers on Twitch. He is listed among Billboard’s PRIDE List, BizBash’s Most Influential Producers, Business Equality Magazine’s 40 Under 40, Special Event’s Top 50, and an INC5000 Fastest Growing Company. Originally from Boston, he graduated with honors from The George Washington University before relocating to Los Angeles where he resides with his husband, Rob.


Sophie B. Hawkins, Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, writer, actor, and painter Sophie B. Hawkins is an acclaimed music artist who burst onto the international scene with her 1992 platinum-selling debut album, “Tongues and Tails,” which included the Top Five hit single “Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover” and earned her a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist – the first of multiple honors that have come her way in the three decades since. Sophie is not just a singer: she writes her own songs, is a multiinstrumentalist, and has been fully involved in every aspect of the production of her records herself – as an accomplished visual artist, she has even produced artwork and photography for each of her own albums. Born and raised in New York City, she attended Manhattan School of Music before leaving to pursue a career as a percussionist. She cut her musical teeth singing from

her drum set in various bands. Throughout her rich musical career, Sophie has not only proven herself an enduring artist with a fierce commitment to artistic integrity, she has also committed herself to being an advocate and philanthropist. She performed a benefit concert for the Waterkeeper Alliance, an organization of on-the-water advocates who patrol and protect rivers, streams and coastlines around the world. In addition to her work with Waterkeeper, she has supported GLAAD, The Ms. Foundation for Women, The Trevor Project, and Raise a Child Foundation. Even with all these achievements under her belt, Sophie says the crowning achievement of her life, and the accomplishment of which she is most proud, is being the mother of her two children.

NiK Kacy, a gender-non-binary trans-masculine fashion designer NiK Kacy is the Creator and Executive Producer of Equality Fashion Week, the 1st LGBTQ+focused Fashion Week in LA, as well as the Founder and President of NiK Kacy Footwear, a LGBT-certified business, and the first gender-equal / gender-free footwear and accessories for genders and identities in all spectrums. As a gender nonconforming, transmasculine individual who identifies as nonbinary, Kacy’s designs are inspired by both their personal identity, style, cultural background, fashion, and activism. Their mission is to utilize fashion as activism in a way that inspires change so that gender is no longer a force that NIK KACY limits or restricts, and EQUALITY becomes the vernacular that ALL individuals speak. Kacy’s journey began shortly after traveling throughout Europe in search of masculine-styled shoes made to fit smaller, petite feet. For most of their life, Kacy was unable to find a proper pair of shoes that were both comfortable and fitting of their identity. Tired of being under-represented, Kacy set out to discuss with manufacturers why shoes have traditionally been divided between men and women only. After being told repeatedly by the footwear industry that the market for this niche was too small and therefore non-lucrative, Kacy decided to design their own collection of gender-free shoes in a range of gender-equal sizes. Since their successful Kickstarter campaign in March 2015, NiK Kacy has been featured in numerous publications. In their spare time, NiK Kacy is dedicated to the local and global LGBTQ+ community in raising awareness, visibility, education and supporting the community at large. Kacy is part of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce’s Trans-Inclusion Task Force, is on the Board of Directors at TransCanWork and The Queer 26, and is also on the Advisory Board of GendrFwd, a new nonprofit focused on increasing the visibility of non-binary and gender non-conforming community. One of Kacy’s many passions include supporting local LGBTQ+ focused nonprofit organizations like the LA LGBT Center, the TransLatina Coalition, and Trans Chorus of LA. Currently, NiK Kacy is committed to raising funds and increasing visibility for the Equality Fashion Week brand and hopes to bring EFW across the nation to cities where representation for LGBTQ+ communities are most needed.




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LOCAL CONTINUED FROM PAGE 04 Troy Masters, publisher, Los Angeles Blade In 1988, at the height of the AIDS crisis Troy Masters was working in New York City, selling ads and managing accounts for what was then the world’s largest circulation magazine, PC Magazine. Masters was tracking in the right place for corporate success but for an openly gay man it was not the right time and, as it turns out, not the right place. Masters, like many other gay men at the time, ditched his high-paying job to use his talents for his community and took a job selling ads for a new gay and lesbian magazine called OutWeek. TROY MASTERS In his words; “[…]it was a life-changing move because it put me at the center of a vast network of like-minded people who were deeply involved in every aspect of the AIDS crisis and a rapidly escalating fight for LGBTQ+ civil rights.” From that beginning he went

Paulo Murillo, editor and publisher, WeHo Times Paulo Murillo is editor and publisher of WEHO TIMES, an award-winning online news publication covering the City of West Hollywood. Murillo began his professional writing career in 1998 as the author of “Love Ya, Mean It,” an irreverent and sometimes controversial West Hollywood lifestyle column for FAB! Newspaper. He has been documenting LGBTQ history and current events as a columnist, reporter, and photojournalist PAULO MURILLO for more than 20 years. From writing about his personal life as a gay man in Los Angeles, to covering LGBT news and advocating for recovery from drugs and alcohol in the LGBT community, Murillo has been featured in numerous LGBTQ+ print and online publications, including The Los Angeles Blade, The Fight Magazine, Bay Area Reporter, Frontiers Magazine, IN Los Angeles Magazine, and LA Health News, among others. In addition to his position at WEHO TIMES, Murillo continues to pen “The Share” column for The Fight Magazine where he interviews LGBTQ members of the sober community and shares their journey in recovery. The Fight Magazine celebrated their 10th Anniversary this year. “I’m deeply touched and honored to be a co-recipient of this year’s Rainbow Key Award,” Murillo tells The Los Angeles Blade. “I hope it sends a message about the importance of documenting our LGBT history as we continue to lose our community spaces. I also accept this award on behalf of my extended LGBTQ family members who are working to recover from drugs and alcohol addiction. May this recognition inspire you to stay the course. There is always hope.”

on to be the founder of not just one, but ultimately five LGBTQ+ publications on the East and West Coast. Among them was a magazine, QW, which he co-founded with current Los Angeles Magazine Editor-In-Chief Maer Roshan. Later, Masters founded LGNY, a lesbian and gay newspaper that, in 1994, also had the first LGBTQ+ newspaper website, even before nytimes.com was launched. That newspaper changed its name to Gay City News in 2002 and is now NYCs only LGBTQ newspaper. In late 2015, Masters relocated to Los Angeles with the goal of establishing a strong LGBTQ newspaper for the Los Angeles region (none existed), ultimately resulting in the founding of the Los Angeles Blade where he is publisher. Partnering with the venerable Washington Blade, one of the nation’s pioneering LGBTQ newspapers. The Los Angeles Blade quickly built a powerful network of allies in the LA area and nationally that includes LGBTQIA community notables, activists, non-profit, political and business leaders, and philanthropists like Ariadne Getty and her philanthropic foundation, AGF. Masters continues to ensure that the LGBTQ+ community has its own news source and voice in Southern California. Masters lives in LA’s Beverly Grove neighborhood with his partner of 20 years Arturo Jimenez and their beloved Schnauzer Cody.

Dr. Adrian Ravarour, a priest and spiritual artist and founder of Vanguard Adrian Ravarour, Ph.D., is a recipient of the 2021 Rainbow Key Award because he founded and organized Vanguard in 1965, the first gay rights liberation youth organization in the country to demonstrate for equal treatment, acceptance and to end discrimination; and, he has continued to make contributions to the LGBTQ+ communities throughout his life. Adrian Ravarour is a priest, spiritual artist, and social activist who started Vanguard in San Francisco with Joel T Williams in the summer of 1965. Ravarour was the adult founder of Vanguard and civil rights teacher to DR. ADRIAN RAVAROUR the Vanguard members who were mainly Gay young male adults, teenage runaways and Tenderloin street youth. Ravarour felt obligated to enliven their hearts, souls, minds in his personal belief that being gay was a natural human emotion and that discrimination against the youth for being gay was unjustified. Vanguard was a gay rights youth organization active from 1965 to 1967 and a forerunner of the first Gay and Lesbian Center in San Francisco in 1967. Ravarour and other Vanguard leaders were participants in several protests related to discrimination against Vanguard members, including those that led to what has become known as the Compton’s Cafeteria Riot. Adrian is also a prolific artist and writer. His work currently centers around photography and his photography books are in numerous collections. Adrian has also been active in preserving historical records, artifacts and memorabilia that support gay artists. He was the president of the Ruth St.Denis Foundation for 20 years. A professional videographer, Adrian was the Executive Director of the Dance Video Center of Los Angeles recording local and major dance companies in Los Angeles and New York, and at the famous Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in Massachusetts. He also recorded oral histories of LGBT dancers and choreographers. Adrian Ravarour is a gay elder, spiritual leader, activist and prolific artist, who has and continues to make lifelong contributions.



LOCAL CONTINUED FROM PAGE 06 This year’s ETHERIDGE AWARD will be conferred to legendary LGBTQ+ rights activist and outgoing CEO of the Los Angeles LGBT Center and the former CEO of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, LORRI L. JEAN, for her relentless advocacy and tireless efforts on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community.



LOS ANGELES LGBT CENTER CEO LORRI L. JEAN Speaking to the Los Angeles Blade, LA LGBT Center CEO Lorri L. Jean marveled at the journey for the center she has headed for so long and is now preparing to hand off its primary leadership role of- but also at her personal journey. Twenty-eight years ago the Los Angeles LGBT Center moved from a rather dilapidated old motel and into a newly renovated 4400 square foot building in Hollywood. Along with that newly operational space came a new Executive Director and the promise of a new future and direction for the Center which since 1969 had cared for, championed, and celebrated LGBTQ individuals and families in the Southland. Along the way the Center has grown- expanding to a nearly 2 block campus along with an additional 10 sites around the Los Angeles metroplex. Jean initially served as the Center’s executive director from 1993 to 1999. She returned as CEO in 2003. She announced last September that she would be stepping down in July 2022. In addition to her role at the LA Center, Jean played a critical role as a co-founder in 1994 of CenterLink a member-based coalition to support the development of strong, sustainable, LGBTQ community centers across the United States; A role Jean is proud of she told the Blade. Reflecting on the role CenterLink has played, Jean noted that what was once around 65 LGBTQ Community Centers has grown into 270 centers. “If you look at legislative efforts or LGBTQ rights that have been expanded, there is usually a strong and stable LGBTQ Center. They are the engines of the LGBTQ movement,” she said. “They assist fostering change.”


WeHo approves hotel worker protection ordinance 25 percent of city’s labor force works in hospitality, food

FROM STAFF REPORTS a room attendant to clean rooms amounting to a total of more than 4,000 square feet The City Council of the City of West Hollywood, at its regular meeting on Monday, of floor space in any eight-hour workday, unless the hotel employer pays the room August 2, 2021, approved on second reading a Hotel Worker Protection Ordinance, which attendant twice the room attendant’s regular rate of pay for each and every hour worked establishes certain additional protections for hotel workers in the City of West Hollywood. during the workday. For hotels with 40 or more guest rooms, a hotel employer shall not According to the West Hollywood Travel + Tourism Board, 25 percent of the City’s labor require a room attendant to clean rooms amounting to a total of more than 3,500 square force works in hospitality and food services. Currently, there are 18 hotels open in West feet of floor space in any eight-hour workday, unless the hotel employer pays the room Hollywood, ranging from 14 rooms to 285 rooms, totaling 2,566 rooms in the City. attendant twice the room attendant’s regular rate of pay for each and every hour worked The cities of Santa Monica, Long Beach, Emeryville, Oakland, and Seattle have also during the workday. If a room attendant is assigned to clean seven or more checkout adopted Ordinances that include some or all of the provisions of West Hollywood’s Hotel rooms or additional bed rooms during any eight-hour workday, each such checkout room Worker Protection Ordinance. or additional bed room shall for purposes of this subsection count as 500 square feet, The approved Hotel Worker Protection Ordinance will add Chapter 5.128 to the West regardless of the actual square footage of each room. The limitations contained herein Hollywood Municipal Code regarding hotel worker protection. apply to any combination of spaces, including guest rooms, meeting rooms, and other The Hotel Worker Protection Ordinance includes four key elements: rooms within the hotel, and apply regardless of the furniture, equipment, or amenities A requirement, beginning September 1, 2021, that hotels provide the “right to recall” in such rooms.”; and to employees laid-off due to catastrophic events (such as COVID-19) and offer those laidA requirement, beginning July 1, 2022, that hotels provide public housekeeping off employees all positions that become available for which the laid-off employees are training by contracting with a certified third-party entity to provide annual six-hour qualified, and also provide worker retention protections to employees, requiring that a training to staff on a variety of topics included in the Ordinance including workers’ rights hotel retains its workforce for 90 days if the hotel is sold or a change in control occurs; and responsibilities under the proposed ordinance, best practices for identifying and A requirement, beginning January 1, 2022, that hotels provide personal security responding to suspected instances of human trafficking, domestic violence, or violent/ devices (sometimes known as panic buttons) to employees that are required to work in threatening conduct, best practices for effective cleaning techniques, best practices for guest rooms or restrooms by themselves; identifying and avoiding insect/vermin infestation, and best practices for identifying and A provision, beginning January 1, 2022, regarding workload and compensation, as responding to other potential criminal activity. follows: “For hotels with fewer than 40 guest rooms, a hotel employer shall not require

LA moves to require vax proof for indoor dining, bars, gyms

Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez and Councilman Mitch O’Farrell (D-13) on Wednesday introduced a motion to the council that will require vaccine proof indoors at restaurants, bars, gyms, stores, spas, movie theaters, concert venues and sporting events. “Enough is enough already,” Martinez said in a statement. “Hospital workers are exhausted, moms who have put aside their careers are tired, and our kids cannot afford the loss of another school year. We have three vaccines that work and are readily available, so what’s it going to take?” There has already been over a dozen LA eateries that have enacted

Vax-Proof required for entry including several in West Hollywood, Santa Monica, Downtown, and across the city. The motion calls for the L.A. City Attorney to prepare and present an ordinance and to report back on how businesses can comply with the measure. City Attorney Mike Feuer, a mayoral candidate, on Tuesday also sent a letter urging the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to require proof of vaccination for certain indoor activities, including those listed by the LA City Council members in Wednesday’s motion. FROM STAFF REPORTS

Anti-LGBTQ radio host leads Newsom’s opponents

A recent Inside California Politics/Emerson College poll found that support for the recall effort against Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom is increasing. This is occurring as California Secretary of State Shirley Weber’s office will commence mailing ballots later this month for the Sept. 14 recall election of Newsom to the state’s approximately 22 million registered voters. Voters will receive a ballot with two questions: Should Newsom be recalled and who should replace him? Answers to the second question will only be counted if more than half vote yes on the first. The new statewide poll of 1,000 registered voters poll shows an increase from a similar poll taken at the end of last month that showed the percentage of voters that support recall was 43% versus those who would vote to keep Newsom at 48%. The poll had also recorded that undecided voters comprised 9% of the total with the poll having a margin of error of of +/- 3%. The poll results of 1,000 voters released this week showed results that nearly are tied with voters to recall was 46% while those surveyed who said that they would vote to keep Newsom had remained the same at 48% although those who are undecided dropped to 6%. (The error margin remained the same.) Polling showed that Newsom has lost support from a majority of Hispanic voters, as 54% of Hispanic respondents said they would vote to recall. It’s the only racial group responding in favor of the recall – the majority of Black respondents and Asian respondents wish to 10 • AUGUST 13, 2021 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM

keep Newsom. On the question of “Which candidate would you vote for to replace Gov. Newsom if he is recalled?” The results showed that anti-LGBTQ right wing conservative radio host Larry Elder has taken the lead:

Larry Elder: 23% John Cox: 7% Caitlyn Jenner: 7% Kevin Kiley: 5%

Kevin Faulconer: 4% Kevin Paffrath: 1% Someone Else: 14% Undecided: 40%

The Sac Bee profiled Larry Elder noting his positions on issues including the state’s minimum wage for large employers, which will rise to $15 an hour in January. Elder has publicly stated his opposition to both California and federal minimum wage laws. Elder, an acolyte of former President Trump, has castigated U.S. officials and the media for failing to embrace Trump’s theory that the coronavirus was manufactured by the government of China. He has also garnered criticism over his public stance attacking the Black Lives Matter movement, the Rev. Al Sharpton, and his position denying that there is systemic racism in American society especially when pertaining to law enforcement. He also has a history of anti-LGBTQ posts on social media.

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Biden nominates two more LGBTQ officials for posts Many vacancies remain as ambassadorships go unfilled

FROM STAFF REPORTS his career as a management consultant for Accenture, followed by work The White House Friday released a list of another 10 nominees to serve as an event planner for global clientele. in key roles it is forwarding to the U.S. Senate. Included in the list were “There is enormous power in LGBTQ people representing the United two more LGBTQ officials as nominees including Scott Miller, nominee States abroad as ambassadors and Scott will ensure the advancement of for Ambassador to the Swiss Confederation and to the Principality of equality is always on the diplomatic agenda. Much of his career has been Liechtenstein and Todd Harper, nominee for chairman of the National dedicated to furthering LGBTQ rights and ending discrimination against Credit Union Administration. the most vulnerable in America and we are fortunate he will soon have Despite the pace having picked up on nominations, the president went a global platform to push for these human rights issues. He will make a more than two months into his presidency without naming a single fantastic representative for our country,” Mayor Annise Parker, President ambassador to send overseas, there are still key vacancies among US & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Institute said in an emailed statement. ambassadorships. And while Biden has made nominations, the US does PRESIDENT BIDEN named two out officials Todd Harper has specialized in financial services policy during his not have any confirmed ambassadors installed in key countries such as to his administration last week. more than 25 years of government service and has led the NCUA Board China, Canada, India, France or Israel, CNN reported. as Chairman since January 2021. He also chairs the interagency Federal Scott Miller, Nominee for Ambassador Extraordinary and Financial Institutions Examination Council. Plenipotentiary to the Swiss Confederation and to the Principality of Liechtenstein Mr. Harper joined the NCUA Board in April 2019 and is the first NCUA staffer to become a Scott Miller is an LGBTQ rights activist and philanthropist. As co-chair of the Gill Foundation’s Board Member and Chairman. From 2011 to 2017, he led the agency’s Office of Public and board of directors, Miller directs the foundation’s national giving strategy to advance LGBTQ Congressional Affairs and served as the chief policy advisor to two NCUA Chairmen. equality, including public education campaigns to ban conversion therapy and end discrimination Previously, as staff director for the Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance and against LGBTQ Americans. Government Sponsored Enterprises in the U.S. House of Representatives, Mr. Harper contributed Photo Credit: The Gill Foundation, Denver, Colorado to the efforts after the financial crisis to enact the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer At the foundation, Miller also oversees local efforts to ensure equal opportunity for all Protection Act. Coloradans, including generous support for K-12 STEM education at numerous Colorado public As legislative director to former Congressman Paul E. Kanjorski of Pennsylvania, he also worked schools. During the pandemic, Miller led efforts to provide over 5.6 million meals to tens of on bipartisan legislation concerning credit union capital rules, terrorism risk insurance, auditing thousands of his fellow Coloradans to alleviate food insecurity. standards and subprime mortgage lending. Together Miller and his husband, Tim Gill, are among the top contributors to LGBTQ equality A member of the LGBTQ community, Mr. Harper earned an M.P.P. from Harvard University’s issues in the United States. Previously, Miller served as an account vice president at UBS Wealth Kennedy School of Government and a B.S. with high distinction in business analysis from Indiana Management in Denver, Colorado. Miller earned a Bachelor of Science degree with honors in University’s Kelley School of Business. business administration from the University of Colorado Boulder. Upon graduation, he started



HRC president faces internal review after links to Cuomo scandal Chicago law firm to undertake 30-day investigation By CHRIS JOHNSON | cjohnson@washblade.com

The nation’s leading LGBTQ advocacy group has announced an independent review of Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, after he was ensnared in the damning report from the New York attorney general finding Gov. Andrew Cuomo violated the law by sexually harassing 11 women employees. Cuomo resigned on Tuesday. A pair of emails — one from the Human Rights Campaign board, the other from David — went out Monday morning and announced the independent review would be conducted by the Chicago-based Sidney Austin LLP that will take no longer than 30 days to complete. The emails were shared with the Washington Blade and a representative for the Human Rights Campaign confirmed the emails were accurate. David, in his email, says he “fully endorse[s]” the review, reiterating he has joined calls for Cuomo to resign and denies any wrongdoing. “One thing this horrible situation reminds us of is that discrimination, misconduct and abuse often thrive in darkness, and it makes me more determined than ever to continue fighting injustice and speaking up for those who need our voice,” David writes.

ALPHONSO DAVID was named in the New York AG report on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s alleged sexual misconduct. (Blade file photo Michael Key)

A spokesperson from Sidney Austin LLP didn’t immediately respond in time for this posting to comment on the nature of the review, who will conduct it or the timeline to reach benchmarks within that 30-day window. The announcement comes nearly a week after New York Attorney General Letitia James issued the explosive report, which sent shockwaves through the LGBTQ community as many called on David to resign. David has denied any wrongdoing from the start, and the Human Rights Campaign board stood by him by announcing on the day the report was issued the organization had renewed his contract for another five years. Internally, things are tense for David as the organization suffers from high turnover and the movement is under strain as anti-transgender bills advance through state legislatures and the Equality Act is held up in Congress. According to a report in the Huffington Post, a recording of a one-hour staff meeting between David and staff on Wednesday revealed a tense question as they asked him about his role in the Cuomo affair. One staffer asked, “When are you resigning?” Another LGBTQ advocate included in the report is already making moves. Roberta Kaplan, who successfully argued in 2013 against the Defense of Marriage Act and has taken cases of women accusing former President Trump of sexual assault, has stepped down from her 14 • AUGUST 13, 2021 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM

role as a board member for “Time’s Up,” according to reports in the Associated Press and New York Times. (Kaplan was described in the report as having reviewed and read a potential op-ed seeking to discredit one of the survivors of sexual harassment to see if it was OK to make public. The op-ed went unpublished.) The emails on Monday from the HRC board recognize the distress David’s inclusion in the report has caused the LGBTQ community. As noted in the email from the board and David, many people in the the LGBTQ community are survivors of sexual misconduct. Both emails, nonetheless, express a desire to continue forward. “One thing we want to make clear, this investigation will in no way hinder the organization’s continued pursuit of the critical work necessary to being equity and liberation to the LGBTQ+ community,” the board writes in the email. David in his email goes into detail about the findings in the report, maintaining he had no knowledge about any incident of sexual misconduct as described in the report and his inclusion in the report indicates no wrongdoing. Although the report says David kept material from a personnel file on one of the accusers after he left Cuomo’s office and, after being asked by Cuomo for a copy, assisted in returning it to them in efforts to distribute it to the media and discredit the alleged victim, David says he was “legally obligated” to provide the report and “was not involved” in its public dissemination. Why he had the material in the first place is not addressed in his email. David is quoted in the report as saying that was because he was involved in counseling the employee. Another component of report indicates David said he’d help seek out names for the op-ed that would have sought to discredit the accuser, although he allegedly said he wouldn’t sign the document. David, in his email, acknowledges he refused to sign it and says he “never agreed to circulate it.” David, however, doesn’t in the email address a third component of the report finding he took part in discussions among Cuomo’s staffers about calling another accuser and secretly obtaining a recording in an attempt to discredit her. David told the Blade that was because his role in the conversation was in his capacity as legal counsel. Although voices have emerged calling on David to resign, other LGBTQ leaders have come to David’s defense and others say they’re awaiting further information before rending a judgment. Elizabeth Birch, a former executive director of the Human Rights Campaign, said in an email to the Washington Blade she stands behind David. “I have enormous respect for Alphonso David,” Birch said. “No person who has endured sexual harassment should ever be silenced. I believe Alphonso when he states he did not participate in attempts to silence any of Governor Cuomo’s accusers.” Meanwhile, the report is already hampering efforts to advance the legislative agenda for the LGBTQ movement and passage of the Equality Act, which was already all but dead in the U.S. Senate. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) last week sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee asking for inclusion of the AG report in the record, drawing on the ties between David and Cuomo’s sexual misconduct to build the narrative from opponents of the Equality Act asserting it would be a threat to women’s safety. Kierra Johnson, executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force, said in an email to the Washington Blade she is withholding judgment and her organization is “still processing the media related to the NY AG Cuomo investigation and report.” “It is imperative, albeit at times difficult, that we remain vigilant in finding and accepting the truth and implementing interventions that facilitate our ability to rebuild trust and keep the work moving forward,” Johnson said. “These times require that we slow down, challenge ourselves to articulate and understand complexity and nuance, resist being reactive and lean into our values. We condemn sexual harassment and abuse, and we are in solidarity with the survivors’ quests for justice.” Johnson, however added, the report makes clear Cuomo “should resign” because that would be “the right thing to do for NY and for survivors everywhere.”


LGBTQ shelters overwhelmed at U.S.-Mexico border Nearly 50 asylum seekers living at Jardín de las Mariposas in Tijuana

(Editor’s note: International News Editor Michael K. Lavers was on assignment for the Blade in Mexico, Honduras, and El Salvador from July 11-25.) TIJUANA, Mexico — Marvin is a 23-year-old gay man from Dulce Nombre, a municipality in Honduras’ Copán department. He left Honduras with a migrant caravan on Jan. 13, 2020, to escape the discrimination he said he would have suffered if his family and neighbors found out he’s gay. Marvin spent eight months in the custody of Mexican immigration officials until they released him last November. He was in the Mexican border city of Tijuana in April when a cousin told him his younger brother had been murdered. Marvin, who is currently living at Jardín de las Mariposas, a shelter for LGBTQ asylum seekers in Tijuana, began to sob when the Blade saw a picture of his brother’s body in the morgue in San Pedro Sula, Honduras’ second-largest city. “He didn’t mess with anyone,” said Marvin. Marvin is one of 47 people who were living at Jardín de las Mariposas when the Blade visited it on July 12. The shelter’s maximum capacity is 40. A lesbian who asked the Blade not to publish her name said she fled El Salvador in January after MS-13 gang members threatened to kill her because she could not pay them the money they demanded from her. She said members of 18th Street, another gang, attacked her son after he refused to sell drugs.

By MICHAEL K. LAVERS | mlavers@washblade.com

Two women and a child who lived in a COBINA-run migrant shelter in Mexicali, Mexico, that burned to the ground on July 9, 2021, were living in COBINA’s offices when the Blade visited them three days later. (Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

“They hit him very hard; very, very hard,” the lesbian told the Blade at Jardín de las Mariposas, speaking through tears. Olvin, a 22-year-old gay man from El Progreso, a city in Honduras’ Yoro department, left the country in January. He said he and his partner of three years lived together in Tapachula, a city in Mexico’s Chiapas state that is close to the country’s border with Guatemala, for several months. Olvin said gang members threatened them and they suffered discrimination because of their sexual orientation.

Olvin told the Blade he rescued his partner from an apartment building one night after he refused to sell drugs, and they ran to a nearby park. Olvin, who was crying when he spoke with the Blade at Jardín de las Mariposas, said he left Tapachula a few days later without his partner. Olvin arrived at the shelter a few hours before the Blade visited. He said he wants to ask for asylum in the U.S. “I want to live in a safe place,” said Olvin. Kelly West is a transgender woman who fled discrimination and persecution she said she suffered in Jamaica. She flew to Panama City and then to the Mexican city of Guadalajara before she arrived in Tijuana on June 16. West said she and a group of eight other LGBTQ asylum seekers tried to “run over the line at the border” between Mexico and the U.S., but Mexican police stopped them. “We had to run for our lives,” West told the Blade at Jardín de las Mariposas. “I even ran without my shoes. I jumped over a bridge.” She said she and three of the other asylum seekers with whom she tried to enter the U.S. went to another shelter for LGBTQ asylum seekers in Tijuana, but it was full. West said the shelter referred them to Jardín de las Mariposas. “I really like it here,” she told the Blade. “Here I can be who I want, I can dress how I want to. I can wear my heels, I can wear my hair. I can just be feminine everyday.” CONTINUES AT LOSANGELESBLADE.COM



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The LGBTQ generational wealth gap

Family rejection, inheritance exclusion contribute to problems By FINBARR TOESLAND

It’s no secret that LGBTQ+ people face a range of financial challenges that heterosexual people simply don’t need to contend with. Less discussed are the effects of financial discrimination on building LGBTQ+ generational wealth. The stereotypical view of a wealthy gay couple with no children and a sizable disposable income is just that — a stereotype. In reality, the “American Dream”— buying a home, getting married, having kids, finding a good job and investing in a 401(k) — is out of reach for many LGBTQ+ people, according to a survey by TD Ameritrade. Almost two thirds (35 percent) of LGBTQ+ millennials say they are unlikely to achieve these goals by age 40, compared to fewer than half of straight millennials. The same survey found that while the average annual income for a straight household is $79,400, the average LGBTQ+ household earns just $66,200 a year. LGBTQ+ people are being left out of generational wealth for many reasons including family rejection, systematic barriers and a lack of financial education. With almost half of LGBTQ+ adults saying they have been excluded by a family member or close friend as a result of their sexual orientation or gender identity, according to a study by the Pew Research Center, a lack of familial financial support is a common problem for many in the community. This combination of unique financial barriers that LGBTQ+ people face is what has led to generational wealth gap. It’s a problem that will only affect more queer people if we don’t address it now. Legacy financial exclusion At every stage of life, it’s not uncommon for LGBTQ+ people to encounter financial challenges that their heterosexual counterparts won’t face. Being kicked out of their homes as teens due to unaccepting parents, not receiving financial support from family for college, being removed from an inheritance — the financial cost of being LGBTQ+ can be substantial. With the average inheritance reaching close to $177,000 according to a HSBC survey and Cerulli Associates forecasting that up to $68 trillion will trickle down to younger generations within 25 years, LGBTQ+ heirs could collectively lose trillions through inheritance exclusion. “Even much smaller amounts could help folks pay off debt, pay off a home, send their own kids to college and help them with their own retirement. Many LGBTQ+ kids aren’t getting these benefits,” explains John Auten-Schneider. Auten-Schneider is the co-owner of The Debt Free Guys blog and host of the Queer Money podcast, a leading gay money blog and podcast for the LGBTQ+ community run by him and his husband, David. Raising a deposit for a house or apartment can be a difficult task for all people, but without financial support from family, many would not be able to fund a deposit. When David’s parents pass away, David’s sister will likely be inheriting upwards of $1,000,000. Yet, David says, he won’t receive any of this money, solely because he’s gay. “His parents have every right to do with their money what they want, but it’s a particular disappointment that they’ll do this only because he’s gay. This, of course, means we need to plan differently for our retirement than his sister does,” explains John. Just because David and John are LGBTQ+ financial experts doesn’t mean they don’t deal with many of the same systematic challenges that impact other members of the community. Younger LGBTQ+ people also face challenges directly related to their sexuality or gender identity. A disproportionately high number of young people experiencing homelessness identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community. According to research from the Williams Institute, between 20 percent and 45 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ+. Lacking access to basic housing or financial support from family can set up a young person up for 16 • AUGUST 13, 2021 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM

economic disadvantage before they even graduate from high school. LGBTQ+ students also shoulder a larger student debt burden than their straight peers to the tune of an extra $16,000. “This has been attributed, in part, to LGBTQ+ college students assuming more debt simply to leave hostile home lives. In some cases, parents may forgo helping their queer children in favor of helping their straight children,” explains John. Knowledge is power At the start of 2020, Michigan-based Lexa VanDamme was at her financial rock bottom. Stuck at work after a 70-plus hour work week with no money in her bank account, bills due the next day and a broken down car, she decided to make a change. “I realized that I needed to face my financial situation,” says VanDamme. “I dove deep into the online world of personal finance to learn about budgeting, debt payoff methods, saving and investing.” After her crash course in finance, VanDamme refinanced her credit card debt into a lower-rate personal loan, created a workable budget and started a side hustle to make extra income. There were a few bumps on her journey: “I actually cycled back into credit card debt three different times. I would pay it off, then eventually max it out a few months later,” says VanDamme. Still, she managed to pay off her debt by following the financial rules she had set for herself. While trying to learn about personal finance on her own, VanDamme realized there was a need for accessible and relatable content that appealed to a wide range of people. She decided to create The Avocado Toast Budget (The ATB). Starting out as a blog just over a year ago, The ATB now counts more than 400,000 followers on Tiktok. “For the longest time, the loudest voices in the personal finance community were cis, straight white males and, as a queer woman, I wanted to share information and tips that were often overlooked by those creators,” says VanDamme. For many LGBTQ+ people like VanDamme, after spending so long hiding who she really was, she wanted to live as true to herself and be as free as possible. “This led to me ignoring my spending habits and being stuck in the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle. Airing my financial dirty laundry brought up similar feelings of anxiety and concern I felt when first coming out. How would people react? What would they think?” says VanDamme. There is already a heavy stigma around talking about personal finances, especially when you may be struggling financially. “Since queer people often spend our lives fighting for the world to accept us and our queerness, we may be less apt to talk about our financial insecurities and struggles,” says VanDamme. Genuine representation goes beyond just diversifying the financial content creators who receive media platforms, with the advice given by these experts also needing to be fully inclusive. “Advice tended to ignore how systems of oppression affect people of color, women, the LGBTQ+ community and more. We know statistically that it’s easier for some to build wealth than others,” she adds. VanDamme has an ongoing series on Instagram focused on the intersectional nature of many financial issues. The series helps shed some light on the economic realities that often contributes to minority community challenges. From financial inequality that disproportionately impacts disabled people to wealth inequity and racism and the cycle of poverty, VanDamme works to educate her audience on pressing topics that matter to them. “It’s especially important to talk about the financial challenges that trans people in our community face. This includes increased reports of lower wages, limited and more

FINANCE expensive housing options, and twice the rate of unemployment. This heavily impacts their ability to build wealth,” she explains. Intersectional challenges While being LGBTQ+ can underpin unique money issues, queer people of color and queer women often experience additional difficulties around financial matters. In addition to the financial barriers faced by LGBTQ+ people, queer people of color also face a racial wealth gap. Employment discrimination, systematic inequalities and disparities in financial education all contribute to this unequal financial playing field. According to research from the Federal Reserve, the average white family’s wealth is eight times higher than the wealth of an average Black family. The gender pay gap also contributes to excluding women from building generational wealth, according to the latest statistics compiled by Pew Research, which show that women earned 84 percent of what men earned in 2020. Carmen Perez, creator of Make Real Cents, a personal finance blog dedicated to helping people achieve financial independence, believes it’s important to have experts who are more representative of the people they’re speaking to. “I heard a quote a while ago: ‘You can’t be what you can’t see.’ I think that’s really important because eventually, if you don’t have a model to follow, either you have to be the first, or it’s never going to happen,” she says. As a woman of color and a lesbian, Perez knows firsthand how important it is to address the absence of representation in financial education. “It’s definitely one of the things we have to step back and look at in the LGBT community,” says Perez. “There’s a compounding effect because not only am I part of the LGBT community as a lesbian, but I’m also a minority, and I’m also a woman, and there’s a lot of hurdles up against a lot of folks in this space,” she adds. With more than 60,000 people following her Make Real Cents account, Perez is playing a part in democratizing access to finance. There, she does everything from break down the cost of credit to explain 401(k) company matches with easy-to-read graphics and Insta stories. Her methods are a world away from the complexity of some traditional financial

advisors and tools. “Millennials are starting to change the money game because we’re delivering advice in a way that isn’t super technical. It can be so overwhelming to watch CNBC with all these screens and tickers that don’t mean anything to you personally,” says Perez. Increased representation in the finance space means a light can be shone on vital issues, resulting in deeper conversations that make money less taboo. “We’re finding instances where historically people who have been locked out of the finance industry, by design, are speaking up. Unlike some traditional financial advisors that give out all this jargon and talk in all these terms that many may not understand,” says Perez. Future generations Despite the long-standing barriers facing LGBTQ+ people in gaining access to financial education and financial services, LGBTQ+ personal finance content creators now offer a way for many to improve their financial literacy in more convenient ways than ever before. While investing early and regularly is one of the most effective ways to secure a financially comfortable retirement, it’s never too late to build wealth and support for the next generation of LGBTQ+ people. “[You can] create legacy wealth within the LGBTQ+ community by setting up your estate plan to donate to LGBTQ+ causes that will help homeless youth and [by] giving to local, younger LGBTQ+ folks you know personally,” adds John. Negotiating the LGBTQ+ generational wealth gap is no small feat. But continuing the discussion around both financial literacy and taking steps to combat systematic financial issues can go a long way to address the financial challenges impacting the LGBTQ+ community. “The stronger we are as LGBTQ+ individuals and allies, including our financial strength, the stronger we are as a community,” concludes John. (Finbarr Toesland is an award-winning journalist committed to illuminating vital LGBTQ+ stories and underreported issues. His journalism has been published by NBC News, BBC, Reuters, VICE, HuffPost, and The Telegraph.)



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is deputy director and general counsel for the LGBT Technology Partnership & Institute, which works to improve access, increase inclusion, ensure safety and empower entrepreneurship for LGBTQ+ communities around technology.

Outing of a priest and data privacy in the LGBTQ community

We are uniquely susceptible to online security breaches, abuse The story was impossible to miss. A top official in the Catholic Church resigned after a Catholic newsletter obtained mobile location data from his cellphone without his knowledge to track his activity on gay dating app Grindr and determined that he was visiting gay bars and other locations, including a Las Vegas “gay bathhouse.” According to the newsletter, this information was gathered through “commercially available app signal data,” which is “aggregated and sold by vendors.” The data itself did not contain the priest’s real name or phone number but the newsletter was able to identify him and track his mobile location precisely as the priest traveled between his residence, headquarters, meetings he attended as well as his lake house and an apartment he rented. While gay twitter lit up with the schadenfreude and hypocrisy of the story, data security experts expressed grave concern about the data privacy implications of this incident. The newsletter managed to easily unmask and identify a specific person and their movements from an anonymous dataset. This is precisely the type of scenario data privacy experts have been warning against for a long time. Putting aside what we may think of the particular individual being outed, this gross privacy violation where private data is being used to out someone should be of concern to every single LGBTQ+ individual. The LGBTQ+ community is particularly susceptible to online data security breaches, abuse, or misuse. According to our research, more than 80 percent of LGBTQ+ respondents say they utilize social media, compared to 58 percent of the general population. We rely on the security of our devices to protect our community and allow vulnerable populations to more openly and freely share their personal stories and struggles online, as well as to access information on health and other critically important and sensitive topics securely. These devices also collect vast amounts of particularly sensitive data that, in the wrong hands, can endanger or harm LGBTQ+ individuals. Social apps, dating apps, health apps and location tracking services all collect very personalized data and though most of these apps claim to anonymize and protect your data, in fact, it has been shown over and over again that, in fact, with just a few data points (such as your work location

and home or school location) individuals can be identified from anonymized data rather easily. Data regarding an individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or details about their sex life can be important to the provision of social and healthcare services, public health, and medical research. However, the same data can be incredibly sensitive — and the collection, use, and sharing of this data raises unique privacy risks and challenges. As the outing of the Catholic priest has shown, for LGBTQ+ people, the sensitivity of where they travel, and for what purpose, carries much higher stakes, especially if they have not come out publicly. The existence of technologies that track movements in real-time, whether it’s a ride to a medical appointment, a place of worship, or your own home, opens too many doors for abuse. Beyond potential embarrassment, individuals can still lose their jobs and face rejection by their families and communities if data tying them to LGBTQ+ apps or locations is exposed. Even more problematic, in too many countries around the world where LGBTQ+ acts or identities are still criminalized, the consequences can be far more severe. In addition to mobile app tracking, a range of new technological innovations has the potential to put the safety and civil liberties of LGBTQ+ individuals at risk. Rapidly advancing facial recognition technology, for example, is being embraced and employed by several local, state, and federal government entities without much, if any, oversight or safeguard. These technologies have a discriminatory track record against minorities and are especially vulnerable to error for non-binary and transgender individuals and are ill equipped to identify individuals that do not fit neatly into gender boxes. Lawmakers need to act now to make sure that sensitive data is not being used in harmful ways. Legislators need to make it a point to develop strong, common sense federal privacy laws. We ask this administration and Congress to prioritize bipartisan data privacy legislation that ensures all people’s location, biometric, and other data remains private, and reflects the unique needs of minority communities by explicitly including heightened protection for SOGI (sexual orientation and gender identity) data.


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Not a traditional election — go vote! Imagine a Trump type sitting in the governor’s chair

Imagine a Donald Trump type of politician sitting in the Governor’s Chair in Sacramento spewing forth a torrent of abuse aimed at anyone who displeased him and also coupled with non-stop combat with the lawmakers in the Senate and the Assembly. Worse how about a politician who embraced Trump’s theory that the coronavirus was manufactured by the government of the People’s Republic of China. But wait, he didn’t stop there he attacked the Black Lives Matter movement, the Reverend Al Sharpton, and took a position denying that there is systemic racism in American society especially when pertaining to law enforcement. Are you creeped out and concerned yet? The phrase, “Be afraid. Be very afraid,” uttered by Geena Davis in David Cronenberg’s 1986 film The Fly applies because that politician is a right-wing extremist and radio chat show hate monger named Larry Elder, and should Gavin Newsom lose the September 14 recall election, the current Inside California Politics/Emerson College poll shows Elder is positioned ahead of virtually every other candidate on the second part of the ballot to replace Newsom. For LGBTQ+ Californians it gets worse as the SACBEE also found numerous anti-LGBTQ+ tweets in Elder’s Twitter feed including; ““Any roles for men not gay/transsexual/transgender/transvestite/cross dressers/bi-sexual or unsure? #GoldenGlobes,” he tweeted in 2016. Then in the same year, after the PULSE Nightclub massacre, Elder tweeted, “If the #Orlando terrorist was gay, does that disqualify the massacre from being a hate crime?” Elder’s rhetoric and vitriolic nonsense channels the late Rush Limbaugh and mirrors Fox host Sean Hannity. This week on his daily broadcast Elder launched attacks on progressives with topics such as “How Dems are using torture tactics to get Americans to comply to their anti-freedom Covid demands.” Do Californian’s really need a governor who claims things like, “Dr. Fauci Calls Sturgis Motorcycle Rally a Super Spreader – But Says Nothing About Open Borders or Obama’s Maskless Bday Party Bash,” or this choice claim of “Georgia ballots rejected by machines were later altered by election workers.” Imagine, a governor who once tweeted at the CEO of Twitter, Jack Dorsey saying; ““Dear @jack, There’s no evidence, let alone ‘widespread’ evidence, of police ‘systemic racism.’ Decades of research find cops MORE HESITANT to use deadly force against blacks than whites. Yet @Blklivesmatter routinely posts the ‘systemic racism’ lie. When will you ban BLM?” In the case of ultimate irony? Larry Elder who calls himself ‘the Sage of SouthCentral’ is a Black man but continues to deny that systemic racism is a reality. In a letter to Congresswoman Maxine Waters, (D-CA) he wrote; “Black leaders refuse to acknowledge the good news: Racism no longer remains a potent threat in American life. Most blacks remain solidly middle class, with blacks forming businesses at a faster rate than whites. The black domestic product, were it a separate country,

makes it one of the fifteen wealthiest nations in the world.” He ended the letter with; “In America, we see two black Americas. The majority black world reflects increased prosperity, growing homeownership, and steady asset accumulation. The other, the so-called black underclass, remains disturbing. Quite simply, we see too many children having children. It stands, far and away, as America’s No. 1 problem. Whatever role racism played, the complete abolition of white racism would leave these problems unresolved.” According to Elder, the Congresswoman never responded. The remaining field to replace Newsom includes 24 Republicans and nine Democrats, but as KABC 7’s Josh Haskell pointed out Tuesday, there are no big name Democrats. The governor’s campaign says voting no and skipping question two regarding a potential replacement for Newsom is the only way to block what they call a Republican power grab. Which brings us to the subject of the ballots for the September 14 California recall election which are in the mail starting this week and some Los Angeles County residents have already received them. The first question asks voters to choose “Yes” or “No” on whether Newsom should be recalled. If you think Newsom should remain in office, vote “No.” If you think Gavin Newsom should be removed from office, vote “Yes.” Question Two asks which of 46 candidates should replace Newsom should more than 50 percent of voters say “Yes” to Question One. The Newsom campaign is urging voters to skip that second one. But should you? “If 50% or more of the voters do vote yes on that first question, someone will be elected governor, so it’s your choice on whether you want to weigh in on who that’s going to be,” said L.A. County Registrar Dean Logan to KABC’s Haskell. The brutal truth is that you need to vote. Don’t leave this to chance. But, make sure that you realise that question two is winner take all, so the replacement candidate could receive as low as 20% of the vote and still be elected. Such as Larry Elder. “Voters are going to be a little bit confused by those requests by the Newsom campaign to vote no on question one and leave question two blank. The reality I think is a lot of voters think voting is a civic duty and most people are probably going to fill out both questions on the ballot,” said Mike Gatto, a retired Democratic California state assemblyman. “For Democrats, staying home is in fact voting yes on the recall in a weird way because the Republican party is really excited. You have an electorate very excited to vote yes on question one,” said Gatto. This is an election that could hand the governor’s chair to a Trump like person who has little interest in representing the values of most of the state’s residents and who relishes divisiveness and apparent ignorance. Your vote matters more than ever.


Outfest 2021 takes a step toward normalcy ‘We’re thrilled to be coming back in-person carefully’ By DAN ALLEN

With a return to its longtime home base at the DGA this year for the first time since 2018 — and its first real line-up of in-person screenings since 2019 — Outfest is thankfully returning to normal for 2021. Sort of. In this pre-post-pandemic world, numerous safety precautions will make this Outfest unlike any before — and with any luck, ever again. Proof of COVID-19 vaccination will be required for all attendees. Masks will be required at all indoor screenings. Ticketing will be digital or online only. And the much-beloved congregating to schmooze in the DGA lobby before and after screenings will be discouraged. But these days, we’ve all learned to focus on the positive — which in this case, means actual big-screen L.A. showings of some of the best and brightest in recent LGBTQ+ cinema from around the world, something that was sorely missed with last year’s almost entirely virtual Outfest. “We’re thrilled to be coming back in-person carefully and with intention to celebrate this amazing community, its stories and its resiliency and spirit with so many incredible films and special events,” says Outfest Executive Director Damien S. Navarro. For those still wary of IRL festing (especially as the Delta variant surges), nearly all of this year’s Outfest films will also be viewable via streaming, either with individual tickets or a very affordable Virtual All-Access Pass — just $125, or free to Outfest members above the Cinephile level. Outfest kicks off on Friday, August 13 with Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, the film adaptation of the smash London West End musical, which follows young Jamie as he lets his true drag self shine. Drag legend Bianca del Rio and the film’s stars Max Harwood, Lauren Patel and Jonathan Butterell are scheduled to appear at the Opening Night Gala, which this year takes place at the famed Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Two big winners from the Tribeca Film Festival help headline this year’s Outfest lineup. The Novice, winner of the Best U.S. Narrative Feature and Best Actress prizes at Tribeca 2021, tells the story of college freshman Dall, whose grip on reality starts to unravel as she climbs the ranks of her varsity rowing team. Socks On Fire, which took the Best Documentary Feature prize at last year’s postponed-then-virtual-only Tribeca fest, is a hybrid doc that playfully examines how queer encouragement turned to banishment in a conservative Southern family. Socks on Fire is Outfest’s Platinum Centerpiece with an August 14 screening at REDCAT, while The Novice serves as U.S. Centerpiece on August 18 at DGA Theater 1. Other popular Tribeca selections appearing at this year’s Outfest include the teen lesbian horror flick We Need To Do Something; the deeply personal trans man family documentary North By Current; and Being BeBe, a portrait of first-ever RuPaul’s Drag Race winner BeBe Zahara Benet, which serves as the Documentary Centerpiece here with an August 21 screening at the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center, featuring a performance by BeBe herself. From this year’s Sundance Film Festival come several other great Outfest selections: NEXT: Audience Award winner Ma Belle, My Beauty, which traces the tricky South of France reunion of two women who were once polyamorous lovers; My Name Is Pauli Murray, an enthralling portrait of unsung civil rights icon Pauli Murray, from the same directing team (Betsy West and Julie Cohen) behind the wildly popular RBG (who was in fact a protege of Murray’s); and the gripping Swedish thriller Knocking, in which Molly tries to maintain her sanity in a noisy new single apartment following a very difficult breakup. 20 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • AUGUST 13, 2021

More top narrative feature picks at this year’s Outfest include the sexy Estonian historical romance Firebird, based on a true Cold War love triangle involving a young Soviet Air Force private and a handsome fighter pilot; Jump, Darling, wherein down-and-out drag queen Russell flees to the countryside to live alongside his sharp-tongued grandmother, played by Cloris Leachman in her last major film performance (the August 15 screening at DGA Theater 1 will include a celebrity memorial tribute to Leachman introduced by Cybill Shepherd, plus a pre-recorded intro by Leachman herself); the magical Turkish romance Love, Spells, and All That, in which childhood girlfriends Eren and Reyhan try to unentangle their present-day feelings from long-cast love spells; Boy Meets Boy, which follows Brit Harry and German Johannes as they meet on a Berlin dance floor and spend the next 15 hours wandering the city and falling in love; the Colombian drama Leading Ladies, which explores the various perspectives of five female friends and former lovers as they reunite for a dinner party; the film adaptation of James Andrew Walsh’s play The Extinction of Fireflies, starring gay stage and screen darlings Drew Droege and Michael Urie; and the world premiere of The Sixth Reel, in which the iconic Charles Busch plays Jimmy, who vies with a gaggle of other classic movie freaks to capitalize on a newly uncovered lost reel from a Golden Era film. Old Hollywood also makes an appearance in the fantastic selection of documentaries at Outfest 2021, in the guise of Jeffrey Schwartz’s Boulevard! A Hollywood Story, which tells the little-known tale of how Gloria Swanson worked with a gay couple in the 1950s to bring Sunset Boulevard to the stage in musical form, until their love triangle unraveled the project. On a far more serious and timely note, a pair of documentaries, Crystal Diaries and Gemmel & Tim, examine the tragic deaths of Gemmel Moore and Timothy Michael Dean at the West Hollywood home of just-convicted businessman Ed Buck. The potent Wojnarowicz: F**k You F*ggot F**ker (which screens for free on August 15) is a fiery look at New York City artist and activist David Wojnarowicz, who weaponized his work to wage war against the establishment’s indifference to the HIV/AIDS plague. AIDS Diva: The Legend of Connie Norman is a loving portrait of trailblazing Los Angeles trans activist Connie Norman. And in yet another powerful doc about freedom fighters, The Legend of the Underground (screening for free on August 14) follows several bold and charismatic non-conformist youth in Nigeria as they fight against local anti-LGBTQ laws. Closing out the festival will be Fanny: The Right to Rock, a celebration of groundbreaking rock band Fanny, the first all-female rock band to release an album with a major label, who’ll reunite for a very special performance after the screening at the Orpheum Theatre on Sunday, August 22. Three excellent classic LGBTQ+ films will also be part of Outfest this year: Richard Glatzer and Wash West’s Quinceañera — the first queer film to take home both the Grand Jury and Audience Awards at Sundance — will have a 15th anniversary screening; the restoration print of 1995’s The Incredibly True Adventures of Two Girls in Love will have its world premiere; and the little-seen but landmark 1983 Spanish documentary Vestida de Azul will screen, tracking the daily lives of several trans sex workers in Madrid, as featured in the hit HBO Max series Veneno. And lest we forget, of course Outfest’s always-popular shorts programs will be back in force too, with 14 collections of short films including an especially timely new category: Postcards from 2020, nine LGBTQ+ shorts involving the pandemic and its fallout. Outfest 2021 runs August 13–22.

Meet Rev. Bos, first out lesbian Evangelical Lutheran bishop ‘My spirituality and sexuality are intertwined’ By KATHI WOLFE

When the Rev. Brenda Bos was growing up as a good Christian girl in Chino in San Bernardino County, Calif., no one talked about being gay. When after college Bos realized she is a lesbian, she was closeted about it with her family. “After I began to see that I was lesbian, I decided my first partner would be this woman,” Bos said in a telephone interview with the Blade. “But I figured I couldn’t talk to God about it. It didn’t feel so much as a sin as that God wouldn’t want to hear about it.” On June 5, Bos, 56, was elected to serve a six-year term as bishop of the Southwest California Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). The ELCA is a mainstream, mainline, Protestant denomination. Bos will take office as bishop on Sept. 1. Her installation will take place on Sept. 12. She will be the first openly lesbian bishop in the ELCA. Some people know early on – as a college student or even as a teenager – that they want to go into the ministry. This wasn’t so with Bos. “My family were Dutch immigrants,” Bos said, “they bought a dairy farm.” When she was a teen, Bos was a theater geek. She did a lot of community theater and thought about going into acting. “But people told me that acting was too frivolous,” Bos said, “they thought I’d never be successful if I tried to have a career as an actor.” So Bos pursued what she calls an “adjacent profession” – broadcasting. She received a bachelor’s degree in broadcasting from Pepperdine University in 1986. Bos started out in broadcasting as an intern at MTM. She was there after the glory days of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “Rhoda.” But the studio was still producing “Hill Street Blues” and other respected shows. Bos went on to work for 18 years in production on some of the most beloved shows on TV, including “The George Lopez Show,” “Mad About You” and “The Golden Girls.” Bos knows that Blanche, Rose, Sophia and Dorothy (and the actors who played them) on “The Golden Girls” are gods to many queer folk. Bos was a writer’s assistant on the sixth season of the “The Golden Girls.” “Every actor was at the height of their power,” she said. “They knew who their characters were and how to emphasize the fabulous in each of them.” The studio audience would go nuts, Bos said, “there was so much joy. It was magnificent to see what comedy could be at its height.” While Bos engaged in her TV career, she was exploring her sexuality. Her relationship with her first partner, a woman, lasted a year. “The pressure of being a closeted lesbian was too much,” Bos said. She met a man and became attracted to him. “I thought I wasn’t gay,” Bos said.

Seven years later, the woman who’d been her first partner came back into her life. She and Bos were together for 12 years. It was difficult for her family when Bos came out to them. “They worried that if they accepted me, God would judge them,” Bos said, “it took them a decade to accept that if God loves me, God loves them.” Bos is grateful that her family did the hard work that needed to be done so that they could come to terms with her sexuality. Though Bos was back with her first partner, she couldn’t imagine being a lesbian and being connected to the church. “I let church life lie,” she said. But Bos had always enjoyed thinking about God. She liked to talk about God in a way that made God accessible. Bos thought she might have a gift for not being judgmental or dogmatic. Bos volunteered at a church and the people there liked her. But it went badly when she came out to the pastor. “They said ‘you’re gifted, but we can’t use you in leadership, there’s no place for you,’” Bos said. It was devastating to her. Though the people at that church didn’t see that Bos had a gift for talking about God, others did. One day, Brenda was at work on a TV show when a woman on the crew named Jenna collapsed and died. She’d been training for a marathon and had an unexpected heart defect. Many people asked Bos — though she wasn’t a minister — to conduct the memorial service for Jenna. Somehow, she knew she was the right person for that job at that moment. “I talked about how much God loved Jenna, and how she was in heaven,” Bos said, “people talked about their own faith as well as Jenna’s.” People told Bos that she was in the wrong line of work and that she should be a pastor. “I’m an atheist,” someone at the service said to Bos, “but this was such a sacred thing.” Bos started to feel that being in TV production was too much of a rat race – that she wanted to try to enter the ministry. In 2007, she was rejected by a seminary because she came out in her application. After that rejection, “in a drunken stupor – my partner was out of town,” Bos said, “I Googled churches that were LGBTQ-welcoming.” She saw that the ELCA was listed as a welcoming denomination. Bos was accepted by the Claremont School of Theology in 2009. In that same year, the ELCA began ordaining openly LGBTQ pastors. She earned a master’s of divinity degree from Claremont in 2011. In 2013, Bos received a Certificate of Advanced Theological Studies from Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary.


Rev. BRENDA BOS was elected to serve a six-year term as bishop of the Southwest California Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. (Photo by Amber Marten Bergeson)

While in seminary, Bos was a bridge pastor to a congregation at Faith Lutheran Church in Canoga Park, Calif., and a student pastor at a church in Danville, Calif. She was the first of eight vicars (interns) at St. Paul’s in Santa Monica, Calif. From 2014-2019, Bos was pastor of Christ Lutheran Church in San Clemente, Calif. She was ordained in 2014 at her home congregation, St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church in North Hollywood, a LGBTQ welcoming church. Since 2019, Bos has served as the assistant to the bishop for rostered leadership in the Southwest California Synod. In this position, she’s been providing support to clergy who are on leave, become disabled or in spiritual crisis. Bos lives with her wife Janis, a licensed clinical social worker. They have an adult son and two dogs named Santos and Knight. “My spirituality and sexuality are intertwined,” Bos said, “it’s what makes me the whole person that I am.” She doesn’t believe that God has any gender. “I can understand how back in the day, we assigned God the pronoun ‘he’,” Bos said. But, as our understanding of what it means to be non-binary grows, Bos said, our imagination about God expands. “It might make some uncomfortable,” she said, “but to me it makes sense to think of God as ‘they.’” God has a sense of humor, Bos said. After all, “God’s best ideas are laughter, sex, and food,” she added.


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In ‘Swan Song,’ Todd Stephens gives a fabulous queer elder his due Cult film icon Udo Kier delivers stellar performance in new film By JOHN PAUL KING

Not many of us would have expected 2021 to be the year that Udo Kier made a comeback – but thanks to Todd Stephens, that’s the world we live in. And we are all the better for it. The German actor, now 76, became part of the art house cinema scene when he starred in “Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein” (1973). A prolific career in campy horror movies made him a cult film icon, and his fame and stature rose through associations with directors like Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Gus Van Sant, and Lars Von Trier. He’s even established himself in the mainstream with roles in movies like “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective” and “Armageddon.” A career to be proud of to be sure – and even if he never really became a household name, Stephens’ latest film “Swan Song” might just be the movie that changes that. Now in limited theatrical release and launching on VOD platforms Aug. 13, it stars Kier as Mr. Pat, an elderly man who once owned the most fabulous hair salon in his small Midwestern town. Now in a nursing home with his glory days long behind him, his routine consists of sullenly defying his caretakers and sneaking smokes in the stairwell – until he receives word that one of his former clients has died with a stipulation in her will that only he can do her hair and makeup for her funeral. Boldly escaping from the rest home, he sets out on an odyssey across the town where he was once a legend, revisiting the geography of his life as he makes his way to keep one final appointment. The film is an unexpected delight, and Kier gives a jaw-dropping performance. His Mr. Pat feels instantly iconic, a master class in the art of subtlety and shade, and his journey – in which he confronts a personal history of love and loss that will be all too familiar for many older queer viewers – feels like the kind of authentic representation an entire generation is hungry for. Yet while Kier may be the shining star, his work is all in support of the film itself, which strikes just the right blend of irony, compassion, and laugh-out-loud humor to keep us watching with an irresistible smile on our face – even as it confronts the uncomfortable topics that give it weight. Anyone familiar with Todd Stephens should not be surprised. He’s the director behind 2006’s “Another Gay Movie” and its sequel, which hilariously claimed queer space in the teen sex movie genre – but before that, he wrote (with director David Moreton) the screenplay for 1998’s “Edge of Seventeen.” Part of a fresh wave of queer cinema empowered by the indie film movement, it was a nostalgic coming-of-age tale that became a touchstone for audiences who, like Stephens, came of age in the ‘80s. Now, with “Swan Song,” he returns to the small-town world of “Seventeen” (which, like the current film, is set in Stephens’ own hometown of Sandusky, Ohio) to create another touchstone for his generation – one inspired by an unsung hero from his childhood. Stephens spoke with the Blade ahead of the film’s premiere, and before talking about anything else, he wanted to talk about the REAL Mr. Pat. TODD STEPHENS: The real Pat was this fabulous creature, and he was this guy that I would see walking around downtown. I was a little gay boy, I didn’t know it then, but I would be fascinated when I would spot Pat, because he looked so proud and glamorous and fabulous. And then years later when I got up the nerve to go to our small-town gay bar, I walked in and there, glittering on the dance floor, was this man that I had seen all my life growing up, and I just felt like I was home. I always had a fascination with him because he was so different from everyone – not just gay, but queer, and that was how I felt. I never really knew him very well, but I always wanted to make a movie about him. BLADE: How much is he mythologized for the film? STEPHENS: A lot of things are straight from his life. I used a lot of the stories I heard from his family and all his friends – the ones who didn’t die of AIDS and are still around, which isn’t many. Things like the folding of the napkins – that was real. When Pat died there were boxes and suitcases full of neatly folded napkins. He smoked that exact cigarette, he wore a ring on every finger, he dressed in brightly colored pantsuits – so a lot of it is him. But the part where he breaks out of the nursing home and goes on this journey to style a dead woman’s hair – I made that up. 24 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • AUGUST 13, 2021

UDO KIER is reborn in ‘Swan Song.’

(Photo courtesy Magnolia)

BLADE: The film is different from a lot of contemporary queer stories because of the setting. You don’t see many movies about small-town gay men, especially older ones. STEPHENS: Part of what inspired the plot is that Sandusky is this rust-belt factory town in the Midwest, where all the Ford and GM plants are now gone and was kind of like this forgotten town. But it’s having a rebirth now, and a lot of people that grew up there have come back home and rebuilt the town. So, seeing my hometown come back to life helped inspire my story about this man who is basically dead inside at the beginning of the movie, and then gets his groove back. And I wanted to make my hometown into a real character in the film, so as Pat comes back to life so does the town, and the color palette and all that. BLADE: It’s not just the town that’s changed. The whole world is different since Mr. Pat was participating in it, and that’s part of the story, too. STEPHENS: For Pat’s generation coming out back then – and this is true with myself to a certain extent –you were used to being different, to being “other,” and that was part of your identity. Now it’s become more mainstream to be gay, it’s like you almost don’t know how to wrap your head around it. So, seeing an apple pie moment like the one in the film of two guys teaching their child to play catch – something like that is so foreign to our upbringing that it’s almost strange. It’s beautiful, but it’s bittersweet, because the elders like Pat will never have that. Yet they were the ones that blazed the trail for that – but also, who even knows that, or remembers? BLADE: There’s another moment where Mr. Pat finds out the local gay bar is closing and he asks, “But where will we dance?” That really resonates for a lot of us today. STEPHENS: I tried to really pose that question, to invite a dialogue. Is it OK that queer spaces are vanishing? Do we need a place to dance? What does it mean to not have one? I’ll leave that to future generations to figure out, to some extent. But it is an interesting question. You know?



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‘Afterparties’ is the book of the summer Anthony Veasna So died at 28 but leaves a brilliant legacy By KATHI WOLFE

“What knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it,” Holden Caulfield says in “The Catcher in the Rye,” “you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone.” Having met a variety of writers and being a scribe myself, I wouldn’t want to call or text an author whose work I love because I’d likely be disappointed. Except for the writer Anthony Veasna So. I would have loved to have had coffee with him or been a fly on the wall, as he wowed the room with his brilliance and humor. So, a queer Cambodian-American writer, whose work dazzled everyone from acclaimed queer writer Bryan Washington to poet and memoirist Mary Karr, died at 28 of an accidental drug overdose in December 2020. So’s death has been a stunning blow not only to his family and his partner Alex Torres but to writers and readers. Queer and Asian-American writers especially feel his loss. Thankfully, “Afterparties,” So’s collection of, by turns, gritty, funny, almost unbelievably sad and loving short stories, is just out. The volume of nine stories is the book of this summer. “Afterparties” is a selection of writer Roxane Gay’s book club. The journal “n+1” has honored him by creating the $5,000 Anthony Veasna So Fiction prize. You might think that the praise for So’s work springs from grief over his dying so young. But you’d be wrong. “Afterparties” deserves the hype — and then some. So’s parents escaped from the genocide of the Khmer Rouge in the Killing Fields of Cambodia. They immigrated to Stockton, Calif., where So was born and raised. Stockton has the largest number of Cambodian Americans in the U.S. So, who studied art and literature at Stanford, earned a M.F.A. degree in creative writing from Syracuse University. “He streaked into the room like a comet,” Karr, one of his Syracuse professors, told the Times. The characters in “Afterparties” are fictional. So’s style and voice are distinctly his own. Yet, these stories are imbued with the reality of So’s

personal life and the lives of other Cambodian Americans. People go to college, gossip, come out, get married, have babies, play sports and roll their eyes at the religious beliefs of their elders while the trauma of the genocide is always in the foreground. You’d expect that people who’ve endured the tragedy of the Khmer Rouge would be somber. That short stories about a community that’s endured such suffering would be unremittingly bleak. But the stories in “Afterparties” are often filled with humor. You may well find yourself doing a spit take while wondering if you should be laughing. “There were no ice cubes in the genocide!” a dad tells his teenage daughter when she drinks a glass of water with ice. In the story “Three Women of Chuck’s Donuts,” a single mom, with the help of her 12- and 16-year-old daughters, runs a donut shop. “She’s never met a Chuck in her life,” So writes, “she simply thought the name was American enough to draw customers.” In the story “Maly, Maly, Maly,” Ves and Maly, teenagers and cousins, get stoned. They’re getting ready to go to a celebration with their relatives. Maly’s mother has died, and the adults in her family believe that her mom has been reincarnated in the birth of their cousin’s baby. Many of the characters in “Afterparties” are openly queer. Though this isn’t always easy. “All very cliche, in that gay sob story kind of way,” one character says of coming out to his family. In “The Shop,” a doctor’s busybody wife is the character you love to hate. She’s not upset that the story’s narrator is gay; she’s annoyed that he’s working in his Dad’s auto repair shop. “Why did you not become a doctor?” she demands. Reading “Afterparties” is like being at a gathering of family, friends and lovers; it’s infused with sex, food, wit, and love. It’s this summer’s afterparty.

‘Afterparties: Stories’ By Anthony Veasna So c.2021, Ecco $27.99 | 260 pages

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