Losangelesblade.com, Volume 05, Issue 34, August 20, 2021

Page 1

James Hormel

(Photo by Michael Nguyen)




Jenner says she’d use state funds to finish Trump’s wall ‘We don’t have a state unless we have a secure border’ By BRODY LEVESQUE

Reality television personality Caitlyn Jenner paid a visit Friday to the Otay Mesa and San Ysidro areas of the Southern U.S. border with Mexico accompanied by officials from the United States Customs and Border Protection agency and CAITLYN JENNER visits U.S.a small local press Mexico border. contingent. (Screenshot via KUSI YouTube) Jenner, who is one in a crowded field of 43 gubernatorial candidates running in the state’s Sept. 14 recall election to replace incumbent Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, took aim at Newsom, castigating him for never visiting the border himself. She then told the small pool of reporters that she would “fill in the gaps” at the border wall by providing more resources with state funds. “We don’t have a state, we do not have a country unless we have a secure border,” Jenner said. “Bottom line. That’s it,” Jenner said and then praised the efforts of the Customs and Border Protection agency. “I commend everyone at border control and I would like them to know me as governor,” she said. “I would support

them one hundred percent. I’d come down here all the time to support them and to see what’s going on on this border. There’s a lot a governor can do, but we have to have a governor who’s willing to do this.” In answer to a question posed by San Diego station KUSITV’s Hunter Sowards, Jenner said she made the decision to run in the recall election in part because of the situation at the border and immigration matters generally. “I was laying in bed and I was watching what was happening at the border — people dying, drowning and kids in cages,” Jenner said. “It was bad policies and bad outcomes.” She then added; “I want to do a program where you can legally come into the country to work, that’s extremely important. I want them to pay into the system, not take advantage of the system. That’s extremely important. It just has to be organized and you have to have a governor in place who’s going to do that.” Jenner’s border visit comes on the heels of a campaign kick-off stop in Venice Beach earlier this week where she was questioned over her motives in running. In recent weeks questions have been raised as to Jenner’s motives for attempting to replace Newsom centered around potential lucrative book or TV deals connected to the September recall election. Answering a series of questions from the assembled reporters Wednesday in Venice Beach, Jenner was evasive about any potential money-making deals associated with her

gubernatorial run. “I’ve never worked so hard for nothing in my life,” she said in response. The Associated Press reported earlier this month that the California Republican Party decided against endorsing a candidate in the state’s upcoming recall election, as 24 GOP candidates, including Jenner, seek to challenge Newsom. Her campaign in a statement released Thursday afternoon clarified Jenner’s response saying “she has not pursued any money-making ventures in connection with the campaign.” The campaign defended Jenner’s evasion of the side-deals issue saying, “It’s not a question she was expecting.” Jenner repeatedly stated that finishing the border wall, at whatever means necessary, would be a priority as governor. When KUSI asked how she would appeal to the portion of California voters who do not feel the completion of the southern border wall is necessary, Jenner first tried to define herself as a moderate by mentioning another Republican candidate, right-wing radio-talk show host Larry Elder, an acolyte of former President Trump. Elder has taken hardline views on immigration, Black Lives Matters. LGBTQ+ equality rights and other social issues along with his opposition to the minimum wage. “I have always been a Republican, why? Because I have conservative economic values,” Jenner said. “I also call myself an inclusive Republican, why? Because on social issues I am inclusive on all issues. People understand that’s exactly what we need.”



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Showcase your skills as an instructor at LA County Parks Create your own class for the upcoming winter season SPECIAL TO LOS ANGELES BLADE

The Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation is recruiting for the winter season, which is scheduled to begin Dec. 6, 2021. We are looking for highly talented independent instructors to bring valuable expertise to the community and provide an opportunity for others to learn new skills, stay active and healthy, and have a great time. Recreation and enrichment classes promote personal wellbeing among our communities and improve the lives of LA County residents. Applications opened on Aug. 16 for our Contract Class Program to teach classes during the Winter Season. Classes can be taught virtually or in-person at a local park. We’re looking for a ariety of classes for all ages, like fine arts, dance and music, girls’ sports, mental wellness, fitness, crafts, self impro ement, and more. As an independent instructor, you set the fees, dates, and times of your class – teaching on a weekly basis or as a 1 or 2-day workshop. You’ll have access to teaching at one of our fantastic recreation facilities at locations throughout Los Angeles County. Plus, we’ll help with marketing and promoting your class or workshop! Visit our website for more information and apply online starting Aug. 16. Deadline for applications is August 24, 2021 at 5 p.m. Attend a free virtual information session to learn more about the Contract Class Program. We’re hosting an information session on Wednesday, August 11 at 10:30am. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us at ContractClasses@parks. lacounty.gov.

(Photo courtesy County of Los Angeles)

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First out ambassador James Hormel dies at 88 barrier-breaking public ser ant, champion for GB e uality’ By BRODY LEVESQUE

O er dinner, armer suggested to ormel that he seek a presidential appointment as an he first openly gay diplomat appointed as the nited States mbassador to u embourg ambassador. in 1 by President Bill Clinton, has died at . James C. ormel, heir to the ormel was uite surprised when he brought up the idea, said ormel, noting that o er meatpacking fortune, was a longtime philanthropist who parlayed his financial interests of such positions are held by career employees who ha e come up through the ranks in and contributions as a longtime emocratic Party acti ist and donor, into acti ely pursuing the oreign Ser ice. GB e uality and ci il rights. he appointment did not happen easily, ormel recalled. e are deeply saddened by the passing of mbassador Jim ormel. Jim de oted his n fact, it wasn’t until fi e years after that dinner that Clinton nominated ormel for the life to ad ancing the rights and dignity of all people, and in his trailbla ing ser ice in the ob. uring that period, recalled ormel, he made do ens of isits and hundreds of phone diplomatic corps, he represented the nited States with honor and brought us closer to calls to keep his name in consideration. li ing out the meaning of a more perfect union, former President Bill Clinton and his wife, ormel said he was persistent because, if appointed, former .S. Secretary of State illary Clinton said in would break a ceiling and make it easier for gay a oint statement. e will always be grateful for his people to ser e at the highest le els of go ernment. courageous and principled e ample, as well as the nitially, ormel was considered for an kindness and support he ga e us o er so many years. ambassadorship to i i by the Clinton hite ouse, but Our thoughts are with his family and all who lo ed according to published accounts in the ashington him. Blade and the ashington Post in ecember of 1 4, ormel’s work as an openly gay supporter for his name was withdrawn from consideration in part e uality led to his being one of the founders of the due to ob ections from conser ati es in both parties uman ights Campaign und along with fellow nati e on Capitol ill and the go ernment of i i itself. innesotan Ste e ndean. n 1 the organi ation he ashington Blade’s ou Chibbaro reported he was renamed the uman ights Campaign. action on ormel also comes after members of the longtime San ranciscan, ormel ser ed as a moderate and conser ati e wings of the emocratic member of the board of directors of the San rancisco Party ha e said the stunning defeat last month of Chamber of Commerce and the merican oundation emocratic members of Congress was due, in part, for S esearch. e also founded and funded the to Clinton’s support for Gay ci il rights in general and James C. ormel GB Center located at the San Gays in the military in particular. rancisco Public ibrary. i ian officials had protested in part because samewo notable national emocratic Party political se intimate se ual relations were a crime punishable figures and fellow San ranciscans, .S. Sen. iane Former U.S. Ambassador JAMES HORMEL with U.S. House Speaker NANCY PELOSI, KAUSHIK ROY, and Calif. State Sen. MARK LENO in 2015. by long prison sentences and ormel’s status as an einstein and .S. ouse Speaker ancy Pelosi (Photo courtesy of Pelosi Flickr) openly gay man ran counter to the principles of i ian re ected on ormel’s long ser ice. culture they claimed. Sen. einstein’s statement read in part, San rancisco ormel’s nomination as ambassador to i i would be dead in the water, said one lost a great friend today. philanthropist, ci il rights pioneer and lo ing spouse and father, source familiar with the contro ersy, who spoke on condition of anonymity, the Blade James ormel li ed an e traordinary life and will be deeply missed by many, einstein reported. he source said Sen. Jesse elms made it clear through intermediaries that he said. had the pleasure of working closely with him on se eral issues, most notably on would bottle up ormel’s nomination in committee. the 1 4 emocratic ational Con ention in San rancisco. apped to be the ambassador he Blade also reported that he only reason Jim ormel did not get the ob was to u embourg by President Clinton in 1 , he was the first openly gay person to ser e because he is Gay, said one Gay acti ist leader, who spoke on condition that he not be as an ambassador. hile his nomination was contro ersial at the time, his ser ice was identified. distinguished and helped ad ance GB rights both at home and abroad. he Clinton administration, according to the ashington Post, then e plored another Pelosi released a statement praising mbassador ormel’s commitment to ad ancing appointment for ormel that would not re uire Senate confirmation. One option under GB uality rights. consideration, the Post reported, was a position in a delegation to an international Jim ormel was a barrier-breaking public ser ant, champion for GB e uality, and conference on social ustice issues in Copenhagen. nother possibility, the Post said, was cherished friend who will be dearly missed in San rancisco, in our nation and around participation by ormel in the nited ations commission on human rights in Gene a. the world. Jim ormel made history as the first openly gay .S. ambassador, showing President Clinton ultimately named ormel as a member of the nited States delegation the world how the oices of GB mericans are integral to foreign policy, and pa ing to the nited ations uman ights Commission in 1 , and in 1 ormel was named the way for a new generation of leaders, said Pelosi. ith his gentle yet powerful oice an alternate .S. representati e at the nited ations General ssembly. and undaunted determination, Jim made it his mission to fight for dignity and e uality he following October of 1 , the president nominated ormel as his choice to be the for all. Paul and are heartbroken at this tremendous loss, and hope it is a comfort to his .S. mbassador to the principality of the Grand uchy of u embourg. hile the Senate husband, ichael, and his children lison, nne, li abeth, James Jr. and Sarah, that Jim’s oreign elations Committee appro ed his nomination with the e ceptions of epublican e traordinary life continues to ser e as a beacon of hope and promise for GB children conser ati e Senators Jesse elms and John shcroft opposed, the battle in the Senate got across our country and around the world. progressi ely uglier as contentious portions of ormel’s philanthropic and acti ist work Born at the height of the Great epression in January of 1 33, ormel, the grandson of were derided by more conser ati e epublicans and the powerful political foes of GB ormel oods founder George . ormel, earned his bachelor’s degree from Swarthmore e uality rights. College in suburban Philadelphia and later a law degree from ni ersity of Chicago aw hose groups included the Southern Po erty aw Center’s designated e tremist antiSchool. e later ser ed as the school’s ean of Students and irector of dmissions. GB hate groups, the ashington .C.-based amily esearch Council and the Orange ormel’s emocratic Party acti ism coupled with his dedicated efforts to ad ance the County, Calif.-based raditional Values Coalition Christian organi ation founded by e . cause of GB e uality led to a chance dinner con ersation in 1 2 with then-candidate ouis P. Sheldon to oppose GB rights. Bill Clinton’s campaign treasurer, Bob armer. Cynthia aird, editor of the Bay rea eporter, San rancisco’s GB newspaper, noted ormel’s recounting that con ersation, which was originally published in B. . . in 2 1 . CONTINUES ON PAGE 08 LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • AUGUST 20, 2021 • 05

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Remembering remarkable life of James Hormel In a Wikimedia entry on Hormel it notes that FRC and TVC both: “Labelled Hormel as being pro-pornography, asserting that Hormel would be rejected in the largely Roman Catholic Luxembourg. It was later observed that much of the same material could also be found in the Library of Congress. “The FRC distributed video tapes of a television interview with Hormel at the 1996 San Francisco Pride parade in which Hormel laughed at a joke about the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a group of men who dress in drag as nuns to mock religious conventions, as they passed by. The Catholic League took this as an indication of approval of what they characterized as an anti-Catholic group. In a meeting with Tim Hutchinson, Hormel declined to repudiate the Sisters. In an interview years later, Hormel objected to the idea that the video clip showed that he approved of the group and that he was anti-Catholic. “It was revealed that Hormel had contributed $12,000 to fund the production of the It’s Elementary: Talking About Gay Issues in School, a video aimed at teaching tolerance of homose uality to grade-school students. his especially in amed Senator Bob Smith of ew ampshire, who was portrayed un atteringly in the film. Smith contended that he opposed Hormel not because he was gay but because of his “advocacy of the gay lifestyle”. “Ultimately after Republicans were successful in stalling Hormel’s nomination, preventing a vote which was orchestrated by then Senate Majority Leader, Mississippi Republican U.S. Senator Trent Lott, President Clinton in May of 1999 in a recess appointment made Hormel the U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg.” he ashington Post reported, Bypassing Senate confirmation, President Clinton moved yesterday to directly install gay San Francisco businessman James C. Hormel as ambassador to Luxembourg. “The president invoked a provision of the Constitution allowing him to make such appointments during a congressional recess. ormel, who will become the first openly gay U.S. ambassador, can serve in the post through the end of 2000.” The “recess appointment” drew criticism from a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and conservative groups but was praised by gay rights activists. he denial of a confirmation ote by the Senate leadership, a ote he would ha e easily won, was nothing more than anti-gay discrimination, said li abeth Birch of the uman Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest gay and lesbian political group to the Washington Post. The Post also reported that Clinton’s recess appointment of Hormel was criticized by Lott spokesman John Czwartacki who said it was “a slap in the face,” particularly to Catholics. Czwartacki cited what he said were Hormel’s links with the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence — drag queens who dress as nuns. hite ouse spokesman Barry oi said ormel does not support any such group. he idea . . . is outrageous and is false.” The Family Research Council claimed that Hormel’s appointment was strictly to “advance the gay agenda. on what the anti- GB hate group deemed a a go ernment-sanctioned platform.” Hormel went on to serve as ambassador until the inauguration of President George W. Bush on Jan. 2 , 2 1. After his service as ambassador Hormel returned to his philanthropic work moving back to the City by the Bay where he was honored in 2 1 , with a lifetime achie ement grand marshal for the San Francisco Pride parade. Hormel also continued his lifelong advocacy work and as an elder statesmen in the emocratic Party. hen then President-elect Joe Biden announced his choice of nominating openly gay Pete Buttigieg as .S. Secretary of ransportation, the ashington Blade’s hite ouse reporter Chris Johnson reported, Buttigieg, who made history as a gay Democratic candidate in the 2020 primary said at the time his career aspiration was to become an airline pilot and “was a long way from coming out, even to myself,” but gained knowledge from Hormel’s story.” he Blade also reported learned about some of the limits that e ist in this country when it comes to who is allowed to belong, and just as important, I saw how those limits could be challenged, Buttigieg said. So, two decades later, can’t help but think of a 17-year-old who might be watching right now, someone who wonders whether and where they belong in the world, or even in their own family, and I’m thinking about the message 08 • AUGUST 20, 2021 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM

PRESIDENT BIDEN said James Hormel’s ‘bravery paved the way’ for LGBTQ appointees now working for the U.S. government.

today’s announcement is sending to them.” ormel, in an email to the Blade the day after Buttigieg praised him, was able to return the fa or by offering support. enthusiastically support the nomination of Pete Buttigieg as secretary of transportation and will acknowledge him as the first openly GB member of the presidential Cabinet, Hormel said. oday we mourn the loss of a true titan in our GB mo ement a trailbla er, a mentor and a friend to all those who sought his counsel during his decades of leadership and ad ocacy. mbassador James ormel defined our community’s resilience representing our nation with honor and distinction in the face of vile hate and discrimination,” Executive Director of Equality California’s Rick Chavez Zbur said in a statement. “In the years since his diplomatic service, Jim has been unyieldingly generous with his time and his resources, working tirelessly to create a world that is healthy, ust and fully e ual for all GB people. “It is true that we stand on the shoulders of the giants who came before us. I am forever grateful for the wisdom and guidance that Jim shared with me and Equality California over the past 2 years, and am confident that generations of GB diplomats, ad ocates and community leaders will benefit from his life’s work. know that we will continue to see the immeasurable impact of his contributions on the faces of children who dream of walking the world’s greatest halls of power without worry that who they are or whom they love could ever limit their potential.” The White House Friday afternoon released a statement by Vice President Kamala Harris on the death of Ambassador Hormel: “During his remarkable life, Ambassador James Hormel made history – and he made the world a better place. Jim’s kindness and commitment to human rights, including his efforts to help found the uman ights Campaign and ad ocate for those li ing with V S, changed li es and inspired generations of leaders. s our country’s first openly gay ambassador, Jim’s distinguished service represented the very best of America and paved the way for others. I will always be grateful for Jim’s friendship and counsel over many years. He will be missed. Doug and I send our condolences to Jim’s husband Michael, children Alison, Anne, Elizabeth, Jimmy, and Sarah, and grandchildren and great-grandchildren.” President Biden, re ecting on the passing of ormel, said his bra ery pa ed the way for GB appointees now working for the .S. go ernment. am proud that my administration is staffed by incredible GB public ser ants at all le els, including in my Cabinet and nominees for mbassador-le el appointments, Biden said. “Ambassador Hormel’s bravery paved the way for all of them to serve, just as he hoped it would.”


LA Council votes 13-0 to require vax for indoor spaces t’s our responsibility to protect the public’

The Los Angeles City Council voted 13-0 Wednesday to direct os ngeles City ttorney ike euer and his office to draft a new ordinance that would require patrons wishing to enter indoor spaces in the city provide proof of a COVID-19 vaccination. he legislati e effort was introduced last week by City Council President Nury Martinez and Councilman Mitch O’ arrell and targets the city’s restaurants, bars, retail establishments, fitness centers, spas, and entertainment centers like stadiums, concert venues and movie theaters. “ t’s our responsibility to protect the public, that includes protecting them from the unvaccinated,” Martinez said after the vote. “The decision to not get vaccinated doesn’t just affect you. e ha e kids under the age of 12 who are not eligible for the accine yet, and someone’s decision to not get accinated affects them as well. artine reiterated her message Wednesday afternoon on Twitter. The Council is directing City Attorney Feuer to draft an ordinance requiring patrons to have at least one dose of the accine to be able to enter the indoor public spaces. KTLA reported that City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell explained that the motion is “not a vaccine mandate.” “We’re not going to tell someone, anyone that they have to get accinated. e’re also not going to deny anyone the ability to access essential food, medicine… regardless of vaccination. hat wouldn’t be legal, that wouldn’t be moral, O’ arrell said. “But what is immoral is choosing not to get vaccinated.”


Los Angeles City Hall

(Photo courtesy City of Los Angeles)

“ e need to stop fighting the science and start fighting the virus,” O’Farrell said. The L.A. County Board of Supervisors also voted Tuesday to look into options for requiring residents to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination to enter certain indoor spaces in unincorporated county areas. Some restaurants and bars throughout . . County ha e already started requiring customers to show proof that they are vaccinated against COVID-19, or present a negative coronavirus test if they’re unvaccinated. he os ngeles County epartment of Public ealth noted that as COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to increase, data is showing that vaccinated people remain exceptionally well

protected from severe COVID-19 illness. Although as the elta ariant poses greater challenges, r. Barbara errer, irector of Public ealth had already ordered masks be worn in indoor settings. Among the more than 5.1 million fully vaccinated people in . . County, Public ealth identified less than 1 or 1 , 2 people fully vaccinated who tested positive for COVID-19 as of ugust 3. Of those who tested positi e, 44 were hospitali ed. his translates to . of all fully accinated people ending up hospitalized. Deaths in this group are also ery low at . , representing 41 people fully accinated that tragically passed away. This compelling evidence shows that fully accinated people remain at low risk for becoming infected and e en lower risk for ha ing a bad outcome if they are infected. In Sacramento Wednesday, the California Department of Public ealth C P issued a new public health order re uiring all school staff to either show proof of full accination or be tested at least once per week. “ o gi e parents confidence that their children are safe as schools return to full, in-person learning, we are urging all school staff to get accinated. Vaccinations are how we will end this pandemic,” said Governor Newsom. “As a father, I look forward to the start of the school year and seeing all California kids back in the classroom. he new policy for school staff took effect ug. 12, and schools must be in full compliance by Oct. 1 , 2 21.



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San Francisco becomes 1st city to require proof of vaccination ew order no longer allows a negati e COV By BRODY LEVESQUE

he City by the Bay became the first ma or .S. municipality to re uire proof of accination for the corona irus to enter indoor bars, restaurants, clubs, theaters, and entertainment enues, as well as indoor gyms and other fitness establishments. he order does not include indi iduals ordering or picking up food or drinks to go. Businesses will be re uired to check a person’s and accination card match before allowing anyone indoors. Customers will ha e the option of showing their actual accination card or a photo of it. n a press conference announcement, San rancisco ayor ondon Breed said, “ e are not out of the woods as it relates to COV , we are still going through it. Of course, we’re sick and tired of it, but it’s not sick and tired of us. he new health order no longer allows a negati e COV test to be considered an e emption to being fully accinated. he mayor went on to note that “ e don’t want people to think, a family of four with two kids se en years old that you can’t go to a restaurant you can, said Breed. “ e know

test as an e emption

San Francisco Mayor LONDON BREED said, ‘We are not out of the woods as it relates to COVID, we are still going through it.’ (Screenshot via YouTube)

that your children cannot be accinated, but the parents will need to be. he ealth order additionally creates a new proof of accination re uirement for large e ents at indoor enues, re uiring attendees who are age 12 or older at e ents with 1, people or more to pro ide proof of accination. he health order will e tend accination re uirements to certain health care pro iders including workers at adult day centers, residential care facilities, dental offices, home health aides, and pharmacists, who are not included in the state health order on accinations. San rancisco’s mask mandate remains in place. he irector of ealth for the City and County of San rancisco r. Grant Colfa put the mask mandate in place to deal with the rapid spread of the delta ariant. he os ngeles City Council oted 13ednesday to direct os ngeles City ttorney ike euer and his office to draft a new ordinance that would re uire patrons wishing to enter indoor spaces in the city pro ide proof of a COV -1 accination.



ess than redi le’ n esti ation of

pre dismissed as on i t of interest

Sidley Austin LLP has pre-existing relationship with LGBTQ group

By CHRIS JOHNSON | cjohnson@washblade.com he imbroglio with the uman ights Campaign president began when ew ork ttorney After a damning report on sexual misconduct allegations that forced Andrew Cuomo to General etitia James issued her report finding Cuomo iolated the law by se ually harassing resign as governor of New York and that ensnared the Human Rights Campaign president for as many as 11 women on the ob. a id, who before taking o er as uman ights Campaign having a potential role in the cover-up, the nation’s leading LGBTQ group has arranged for a president was counselor to the governor of New York, was named nearly a dozen times in the law firm to conduct an independent re iew of its president’s role in the scandal but legal report. e perts see a con ict of interest looming o er the process. a id has continued to deny wrongdoing. owe er, the findings indicate after his tenure Sidley ustin P, the law firm chosen to conduct the re iew, has a self-described long as counselor to Cuomo, he kept the personnel file of an employee accusing the go ernor of standing pro-bono relationship with the uman ights Campaign and was chief among its se ual misconduct, then assisted in returning that file to Cuomo staffers seeking to leak it to legal partners announced in October 2 1 for a new direction to litigation in GB ad ocacy, the media in an attempt to discredit her. representati e has disputed the characteri ation of which was an engagement a id undertook when he took the helm as president. material a id kept as a personnel file, saying it was memorandum on an internal employment In fact, Sidley issued a news statement hailing its participation in the agreement with the matter a id kept because he, in part, worked on it. uman ights Campaign and si other law firms, which Sidley described as an alliance urther, the report finds a id allegedly said he would help find indi iduals to sign their designed to help shape state and federal laws, regulations and policies and the application of names to a draft op-ed that sought to discredit the sur i or but went unpublished, although constitutional principles. he wouldn’t sign the document himself. lso, the report indicates a id was in ol ed in the e’re looking forward to working with the uman ights Campaign on strategic litigation discussions about secretly calling and recording a call between a former staffer and another that will take on discriminatory measures targeting GB people, Carter Phillips, partner at sur i or in a separate effort to smear her. Sidley, is uoted as saying in the statement. C is a long-standing pro bono client and this In response, David said he agreed to help with only one version of the letter that was more ne t stage of collaboration reinforces Sidley’s deep commitment to ad ocating for di ersity positi e in nature and his part of the discussion about recording a sur i or was limited to his and e uality. role as counselor. s a result of the 2 1 announcement, which was brokered soon after a id took the helm lthough the uman ights Campaign board has stood by a id and announced on the of the uman ights Campaign, some legal e perts see a con ict of interest that undermines day after the report came out it has renewed his contract for another fi e years, last week it the perception of impartiality in Sidley’s ongoing re iew and could color any finding of no announced an independent in estigation to resol e the matter. he in estigation would be wrongdoing, which would arguably be in the interests of all parties in ol ed in the re iew. conducted by Sidley and last no longer than 3 days. a id has publicly endorsed the re iew. Brenner Fissell, a law professor who teaches legal ethics at Hofstra University in Long Island, But the pre-e isting close relationship between Sidley and the uman ights Campaign has . ., told the Blade the independent re iew Sidley is undertaking appears less than credible. left some legal obser ers uestioning the merits of the in estigation. his is not e en a relationship where they engaged them once, issell said. Sidley in the Fissell said no ethical rules are in place for conducting independent investigations per se, press release calls C a long-standing pro bono client, and they’re also doing P for them. especially because Sidley has ne er represented a id before as a client. s a result, issell mean, they’re really ine tricably connected, right


NATIONAL Michael Frisch, an ethics counsel and adjunct said there is likely no technical iolation of ethics rules o er con ict professor at Georgetown Law School, told the Blade a of interest in this scenario. law firm being charged with conducting an in estigation The only real framework for independent investigations that for an entity after having a previous relationship with it is could be a model of the review for this situation, Fissell said, is found “always potentially a problem.” in the handbook for the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission. “When any outside entity is retained to conduct an Among the factors considered in such investigations, Fissell said, independent review, it has to be truly independent,” Frisch is whether outside counsel conducting the review had previously said. “To me, if you’re going to conduct an independent done work for a company or if management previously engaged in uiry. our bonafides to gi e independent ad ice in a such counsel. report is always subject of concern, and one should be “If you had previously engaged such counsel, that makes it less above reproach in those situations.” independent,” Fissell said. “So the answer to your question is, this is risch, asked if the potential for a con ict is present not good if you want to do a truly independent investigation.” in Sidley’s investigation of the Human Rights Campaign Fissell also questioned why 30 days was selected as the time limit HRC President ALPHONSO DAVID is linked to the Andrew Cuomo scandal. lade file photo president, said he couldn’t directly opine on that without for the in estigation, which he said seems artificial and could limit knowing all the details about the situation. findings. ou analy e any con ict of interest from the point of iew of is there a substantial risk that Sidley didn’t respond to repeated email requests from the Blade for answers to a series of the lawyers’ advice will be colored by some interest, other than the client who’s getting the written questions on the independent investigation and its pre-existing relationship with the advice,” Frisch said. “The magic language in the rule is substantial risk of material limitation, Human Rights Campaign, including whether or not Phillips, the attorney quoted in the news that’s essentially the test. Every client is entitled to independent advice.” statement would participate in the ongoing review. sked if a law firm like Sidley could take any internal steps to mitigate the appearance of A Human Rights Campaign representative, however, responded to similar inquiries from the con ict of interest while continuing to conduct an independent in estigation, risch said those Blade with a series of bullet points essentially denying any con ict of interest and standing by options, such as walls or ethical screens, aren’t in play here. the decision to charge Sidley with the investigation. hose kinds of mechanisms to defeat con icts don’t sound like they’re applicable in this The representative in the bullet points said the Human Rights Campaign chose Sidley kind of situation because it doesn’t really sound like client-client con icts, risch said. report “because of its vast experience in internal investigations and reviews” and is “grateful that is not like litigation in that there are parties and opposing counsel and things of that nature Sidley has always represented us on a pro bono basis, including in this matter.” that you would have obligations to.” “Sidley has not represented HRC on any matter related to any of the issues in the current Frisch concluded: “So that’s where I kind of get back to the key is is it a truly independent internal investigation that Sidley is conducting,” the representative said. report, and if the drafters of the report are compromised by other interests, that always leaves he uman ights Campaign representati e said Sidley is one of many firms that has worked the report open to criticism on that basis.” for the LGBTQ organization, but has “never represented Alphonso David on any matter.” In conducting the investigation, the representative said Sidley reports to an independent Board of Directors for the Human Rights Campaign. CONTINUES AT LOSANGELESBLADE.COM



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ountries ur ed to o er refu e to


aliban has said it will e ecute gay men

f hans

By MICHAEL K. LAVERS | mlavers@washblade.com

d ocacy groups ha e urged the .S. and other countries to offer refuge to GB fghans after the aliban regained control of the country. s fghanistan falls to the aliban, members of the GB community are among those at greatest risk of suffering under aliban rule, tweeted the Organi ation for igration, efuge and sylum on uesday. he international community must act uickly and decisi ely to aid all those eeing persecution. Stonewall, a British GB rights group, echoed O ’s call. GB fghans ha e endured routine discrimination, abuse and persecution, including by the state, said Stonewall C O ancy elley on uesday. ith the aliban in power we e pect this situation to deteriorate further, including the potential for a return to acti e enforcement of the laws that prohibit same se relationships. President Biden last month announced .S. military operations in fghanistan would end on ug. 31. he rump administration in 2 2 brokered a deal with the aliban that set the stage for the withdrawal. he aliban on Sunday entered abul, the fghan capital, and toppled President shraf Ghani’s go ernment. acuation ights resumed at the city’s amid ar ai nternational irport on uesday, a day after thousands of fghans who were desperate to lea e the country swarmed it. edia reports indicate a aliban udge last month said the group would e ecute gay people if it once again go erned fghanistan. fghanistan already is not a safe place for GB people, said imahli Powell, e ecuti e director of ainbow ailroad, a oronto-based organi ation that assists GB refugees around the world. ccording to the .S. State epartment, public attitudes across the di ersity of fghan society toward GB people are e tremely negati e, which leads members of the GB community to keep their gender identity and se ual orientation a secret in fear of harassment, intimidation, persecution and death. ow, with the return of the aliban, there is understandable fear that the situation will worsen. ainbow ailroad is concerned that the return to power of the aliban will lead to instances of e treme iolence directed at members of the GB community in fghanistan, added Powell. nd although it remains to be seen how the aliban will respond to international pressure to uphold human rights, early signs are not encouraging. Just last month, a aliban udge threatened that gay men will be crushed to death by toppling walls onto them should the group regain control of fghanistan. Powell said ainbow ailroad has recei ed re uests for help originating in fghanistan so far this year, and we anticipate an uptick in re uests due to the deteriorating security situation that threatens the safety of GB people. oreo er there is ery limited human rights defenders and ci il society engagement to support GB persons at risk, said Powell. owe er, we are currently relying on our deep international network and contacts within the country in order to reach people at risk. “

‘We don’t know what’s happening’

Charbel aydaa is the founder and general director of OS C, a ebanon-based ad ocacy group that works throughout the iddle ast and orth frica. aydaa is also the first alternate co-chair of G sia. aydaa on uesday noted to the Blade that the aliban use Sharia law to target GB people. aydaa noted the aliban wants to look good in front of the international community, but added GB fghans who remain in the country are terrified. e lost contact with many people there, said aydaa. e don’t know what’s 14 • AUGUST 20, 2021 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM

happening. hey’re not online or they are really afraid to talk on acebook. aydaa said three female academics with whom he has worked disappeared fi e days ago. aydaa told the Blade an GB person in abul with whom he spoke on onday didn’t mention anything. e was really afraid to communicate, so he was ust like ’m ali e. ’m fine, said aydaa. aydaa said G sia is currently working to find shelters for GB people in fghanistan before they are able to lea e the country. aydaa added G sia is also trying to ad ocate for some go ernments to literally rescue them. he Canadian go ernment on riday announced it will allow up to 2 , fghans including members of the GB community to resettle in the country. Canada will continue to implement the special immigration program for fghans who contributed to Canada’s efforts in fghanistan, a Canadian go ernment spokesperson told the Blade on onday. n addition, we will introduce a special program to focus on particularly ulnerable groups that are already welcomed to Canada through e isting resettlement streams, including women leaders, human rights defenders, ournalists, persecuted religious minorities, GB indi iduals and family members of pre iously resettled interpreters. he program will welcome go ernmentsupported and pri ately sponsored refugees, along with those sponsored by family already in Canada, added the spokesperson. n the coming weeks and months, we will be engaging with our international and domestic partners to de elop a plan for mo ing forward. President Biden on onday said the .S. will e pand refuge access to co er other ulnerable fghans who worked for our embassy .S. non-go ernment agencies or the .S. nongo ernmental organi ations and fghans who otherwise are at great risk and .S. news agencies. State epartment spokesperson ed Price on onday also said the State epartment will continue to pursue all options to relocate interested and ualified fghan S V Special mmigration Visas applicants and their immediate families, as well as other ulnerable fghans. Price and Biden in their remarks did not specifically mention GB fghans. upert Col ille, a spokesperson for . . igh Commissioner for uman ights ichelle Bachelet did not either on uesday. e call on the international community to e tend all possible support to those who may be at imminent risk, and we call on the aliban to demonstrate through their actions, not ust their words, that the fears for the safety of so many people from so many different walks of life are addressed, said Col ille. og Cabin epublicans anaging irector Charles oran on onday sharply critici ed the Biden administration. ake no mistake, the reinstatement of the aliban is a literal death sentence for GB fghans, said oran. uman rights abuses will absolutely increase under this radical regime. he Biden administration talks a tough game about supporting the GB community, but that support e idently doesn’t e tend to our allies in abul. e hope the administration will be held accountable by both parties for this unprecedented disaster, but right now the priority must be to e acuate as many pro en .S. partners and allies from abul as possible, including GB fghans, added oran. Powell stressed now is time for go ernments to step up and support GB fghan refugees. e specifically noted the Canadian go ernment’s announcement. ainbow ailroad is looking forward to engaging with the Canadian go ernment to identify and refer GB fghans in need of emergency assistance, said Powell. e strongly encourage other go ernments to do the same.


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Barbara Barrett Attorney


Karen Ocamb is a longtime award-winning LGBTQ+ journalist who has chronicled the lives of the LGBTQ community in Southern California.

Jim Hormel died a second-class citizen irst out ambassador spent decades fighting for e uality

For the past several JIM HORMEL lade file photo y ar eller days, ’ e been shu ing off to the Superior Court near to see if get picked for ury duty. Coming home to read about Jim ormel’s death made me very sad. ’ e been thinking about him a lot o er the past few months as Congress ine plicably argues o er such big issues as the Voting ights ct of 1 lea ing the uality ct lying fallow near the dustbin of history. inter iewed the remarkable and kind Jim ormel se eral times o er the course of my decades reporting for the GB community. But one moment is seared into my soul. fter we finished a brief inter iew at a uman ights Campaign gala, looked back and he was hanging his head. e was ne t to his partner ichael guyen and was treated like a rock star at the e ent so he couldn’t ha e been lonely. aybe he wasn’t feeling well asked him if anything was wrong he looked so sad. Jim ormel looked up at me and said with a gra e simplicity will ne er forget do not want to die a second-class citi en. But he did. or all his wealth, philanthropy, groundbreaking GB political acti ism, and especially kindness in treating others as e uals former .S. mbassador Jim ormel died as a pri ileged white gay man who represented merica to the world but was officially denied the full freedom conferred through the uality ct as part of the Ci il ights ct of 1 4. Straight people don’t seem to get how much that hurts. hey do not grasp that we are not automatically granted the same e ual ci il rights conferred upon straight merican citi ens. en now, sitting in that courthouse, wonder if there are others like me there. ccess to all aspects of ustice is supposed to be a fundamental democratic principle.

But California is currently one of only 11 states that prohibit discrimination on the basis of se ual orientation and one of eight states that prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity in ury selection. nd yes, President Biden issued an e ecuti e order to interpret last year’s SCO S Bostock . Clayton County ruling to include nondiscrimination in ury selection as well as employment, housing, education, and health care. But an e ecuti e order is not a law and can be withdrawn with a change in administrations. his morning thought of e . r. artin uther ing Jr.’s ow ong, ot ong speech in 1 . et us march on ballot bo es until brotherhood’ becomes more than a meaningless word in an opening prayer, but the order of the day on e ery legislati e agenda .. know you are asking today, ow long will it take ’ Somebody’s asking, ow long will pre udice blind the isions of men, darken their understanding, and dri e bright-eyed wisdom from her sacred throne ’ . ow long ot long, because the arc of the moral uni erse is long, but it bends toward ustice. Please read the appreciation in the Blade to glimpse some of what Jim ormel endured and contributed though would underscore that his contributions were especially impactful during the second wa e of S. t least he died knowing he was lo ed, respected, much appreciated, and honored. But how long will it take until we are all officially free and e ual in merica ow many more of us GB folk from all stations in life will die knowing that we are still second-class merican citi ens like brother Jim ormel





CREATIVE DESIGN/PRODUCTION AZERCREATIVE.COM DISTRIBUTION CHRISTOPHER JACKSON, 562-826-6602 All material in the Los Angeles Blade is protected by federal copyright law and may not be reproduced without the written consent of the Los Angeles Blade. The sexual orientation of advertisers, photographers, writers and cartoonists published herein is neither inferred nor implied. The appearance of names or pictorial representation does not necessarily indicate the sexual orientation of that person or persons. Although the Los Angeles Blade is supported by many fine advertisers, we cannot accept responsibility for claims made by advertisers. Unsolicited editorial material is accepted by the Los Angeles Blade, but the paper cannot take responsibility for its return. The editors reserve the right to accept, reject or edit any submission. A single copy of the Los Angeles Blade is available from authorized distribution points, to any individual within a 50-mile radius of Los Angeles, CA. Multiple copies are available from the Los Angeles Blade office only. Call for rates. If you are unable to get to a convenient free distribution point, you may receive a 26-week mailed subscription for $195 per year or $5.00 per single issue. Checks or credit card orders can be sent to Phil Rockstroh at prockstroh@washblade.com. Postmaster: Send address changes to the Los Angeles Blade, PO BOX 53352 Washington, DC 20009. The Los Angeles Blade is published bi-weekly, on Friday, by Los Angeles Blade, LLC. Rates for businesses/institutions are $450 per year. Periodical postage paid at Los Angeles, CA., and additional mailing offices. Editorial positions of the Los Angeles Blade are expressed in editorials and in editors’ notes as determined by the paper’s editors. Other opinions are those of the writers and do not necessarily represent the opinion of the Los Angeles Blade or its staff. To submit a letter or commentary: Letters should be fewer than 400 words; commentaries should be fewer than 750 words. Submissions may be edited for content and length, and must include a name, address and phone number for verification. Send submissions by e-mail to tmasters@losangelesblade.com.


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


Why fire Chris Cuomo?

star is better at his ob than most anchors on cable

ha e seen the calls for Chris Cuomo to be fired from C for talking with his brother ndrew. or actually gi ing ndrew some ad ice, good or bad we don’t know. he reasoning is ournalists shouldn’t be gi ing ad ice to politicians. ell it may be unfortunate but reality is if we fired e ery ournalist who e er ga e their opinions to the politicians they know and co er there wouldn’t be many left. n the spirit of openness, knew ario Cuomo, ha ing worked for him in his losing campaign for mayor against d och. hat was the first time met ndrew Cuomo he was 1 and an arrogant kid. ha e ne er met Chris. argaret Sulli an in her ashington Post column lbany’s newspaper has co ered Go . Cuomo’s se ual misconduct admirably. Chris Cuomo and C ha e blown it’ suggests C should fire Cuomo. don’t think they blew it think she is the one who blew it. Suggesting real ournalists in a newspaper reporting on a story are in any way analogous to C , whose anchors pundits aren’t really ournalists or reporters, rather they are mostly entertainers, is disingenuous. Sulli an should know better than to compare the two. Chris Cuomo is an incredibly intelligent and talented guy who trained as a lawyer. e may ha e practiced ournalism before but today he is much more entertainer than ournalist. e got famous for wearing tight -shirts o er a buff body when co ering a hurricane. e is witty and acerbic. his isn’t an ad-homonym attack on Cuomo since rarely watch cable channels for the news. nyone who thinks o reports the news should stop reading now. Cuomo is ust better at what he does than many of the other anchors on cable news networks all of whom are entertainers. o one could successfully produce 24 hours of news’ and e pect people to watch if they weren’t entertaining their audience. eal ournalists are supposed to gi e us the news facts without inserting their

own opinion or slanting the story. here isn’t an anchor personality on o , S BC, C or other cable news networks whose personal iews aren’t known and those iews are infused in e ery show and story they do. hen to make matters worse they in ite a tro e of panelists to gi e us their personal iews of a story, often ha ing no relationship to the facts. So would uestion why C would fire Cuomo or ask him to resign because he happens to be the brother of a go ernor who has done something ery wrong. C might want to ask Chris to stop talking about his brother and not in ite him back on the show. But then would bet most of Chris Cuomo’s iewers want to see them together and ha e Chris uestion his brother on how he could claim he didn’t know what the line was that shouldn’t be crossed when it came to harassment of women in his office. C , of course, is looking at the fact that Cuomo Prime ime’ is the most watched program on their network. he only time you can trust what you are hearing or seeing as news or fact on a cable channel is when they co er something li e. hey then add spice by ha ing a few panelists to interpret it in a myriad of different ways. ou know in ad ance how each panelist will see it as they are brought on with the goal of ha ing them argue with each other to entertain the iewer and keep you watching. Sort of like watching he View but at least that show is clearly labeled entertainment. ou know when hoopi Goldberg and eghan cCain argue it’s for your en oyment. hankfully they are getting rid of cCain as she wasn’t bright enough to keep up her side of the argument. he point being that cable news can be better compared to he View’ than to the ashington Post or e en the lbany imes nion. don’t watch cable news on a regular basis and ha en’t for years e cept for li e e ents. owe er, did occasionally watch Cuomo and his brother spar during the pandemic it was kind of entertaining during really difficult times.


Lesbian Bar Project to the rescue

ounders complete second year fundraising campaign to sa e businesses he esbian Bar Pro ect, a ew ork-based group founded by lesbian filmmakers rica ose and lina Street, raised 11 , last year to help the nation’s lesbian bars stay in business during the height of the COV pandemic. mong the bars recei ing financial assistance from the pro ect was San iego’s Gossip Grill and .C.’s eague of er Own. Owner a e Perru a said he and his staff were grateful to recei e a , check from the esbian Bar Pro ect early this year when the bar was closed under the city’s COV shutdown order. here are no identified lesbian bars in os ngeles that are part of the pro ect. he two women say their 2 21 fundraising campaign for the pro ect will raise well o er 1 , as part of their continuing effort to support the nation’s remaining 21 lesbian bars. ike a lot of things during COV , we took a lot for granted, Street told the Blade in describing how she and ose reacted when their city’s three remaining lesbian bars two in anhattan and one in Brooklyn shut down like most other bars and restaurants during the peak of the COV public health restrictions in 2 2 . rica and felt ery connected to the bars there, Street said. nd we started these discussions of, we miss our cherished spaces. nd now they’re closed. here do we go ith their filmmaking skills as a backdrop, and with the knowledge that the already diminishing number of lesbian bars across the country were struggling to sur i e under COV , the two started a fundraising campaign for those bars called the esbian Bar Pro ect. mong other things, they produced a ideo Public Ser ice nnouncement with archi al scenes of lesbian bars and the women who patroni ed them. ith financial support from the Jagermeister li uor company’s Sa e the ight campaign, which was launched to pro ide financial support for nightlife businesses such as bars and restaurants, ose and Street arranged for the production of a separate 2 -minute documentary film about the role lesbian bars play in the li es of those who patroni e them. ose and Street are listed as the film’s directors. mong those ser ing as e ecuti e producer and appearing in the documentary is ea e aria, the lesbian comedian, actress and internationally acclaimed star of the et i series Orange is the ew Black. lso appearing in the documentary is Jo c aniel, longtime .C. lesbian acti ist and bartender and manager at se eral .C. gay bars who helped Perru a open that bar as the city’s first fulltime lesbian bar since the closing of the famed .C. lesbian bar Phase One nearly a decade ago. c aniel says she left her ob as eague of er Own’s manager last year to undertake, along with her life partner achel Pike, the start of a new .C. GB welcoming bar called s ou re, which began operating online. c aniel says she and Pike are acti ely looking for a storefront building in which to open s ou re as an in-person caf and bar with a dance oor that will be welcoming to lesbians and the GB community in general. he documentary, which helped generate support for the pro ect’s fundraising efforts, can be iewed on the group’s website free of charge at lesbianbarpro ect.com. arlier this month, the national dating app called inge announced it was entering into a partnership with the esbian Bar Pro ect and would make an initial donation in ugust of , to help the pro ect support lesbian bars in need of financial aid. he announcement said inge would educate all its .S. users about the importance of GB establishments and encourage its GB members to isit one of the bars for a date. he bars that comprise the esbian Bar Pro ect are not only a safe space but an essential part of GB culture, said Justin c eod, founder and C O of inge. Our hope is that this support will help these sacred spaces to stay open through this summer and beyond, he said in the company’s statement. he esbian Bar Pro ect website pro ides a list of the 21 lesbian bars that the pro ect has supported. n a notice on the website, ose and Street note that their initial fundraising campaign for 2 21 has been completed, and a financial statement with information on how much has been raised will be released around the time of abor ay weekend. ose told the Blade that until she and Street decide the pro ect’s ne t plan of action, they are calling on people to donate directly to one or more of the 21 lesbian bars listed on the website. owe er, a notice on the website says three of the bars Cubbyhole of ew ork City Sue llen’s of allas and ildside est of San rancisco, ha e graciously decided to opt out of the 2 21 pool of funds raised to allow for more contributions to the other bars in greater need. n the late 1 s, there were an estimated 2 esbian Bars across the country, a statement posted on the esbian Bar Pro ect website says. hese bars are disappearing at a staggering rate, and we cannot afford to lose more of these ital establishments to the fallout of COV -1 , the statement says. 18



By LOU CHIBBARO JR. | lchibbaro@washblade.com ose and Street said the decline in the number of lesbian bars, which began long before the onset of the COVID pandemic, is due to a number of factors, including the o erall success of the GB rights mo ement. he two said nondiscrimination protections in state and local laws and the landmark 2 1 .S. Supreme Court decision legali ing samese marriage nationwide, opened the way for lesbians and GB people in general to feel comfortable patroni ing bars that were not specifically catering to lesbians. hey said that like its impact on gay bars in general, the rise of the Internet and online meet-up sites has also had the effect of enabling lesbians to meet each other outside of bars and other “brick and mortar establishments. So, it’s like all of these factors combined with the pandemic are why many of these places are disappearing, ose said. nd that’s why lina and umped into action. Our goal is always to raise awareness. he money raised is definitely a bonus, she said. e wanted to raise awareness and tell the stories of these bars. hat’s going to make sure we remain indelible in our culture and ensuring our sur i al. ose was referring to one of the themes of her and Street’s 2 -minute documentary that the in-person interaction offered by lesbian bars and GB bars in general pro ides, among other things, an important part of GB culture and the di ersity of GB people that online and irtual enues cannot pro ide. Directors ERICA ROSE (top) and ELINA STREET (bottom) created a documentary about the e belie e what makes a bar uni uely history and si nifi an e of les ian ars esbian is its prioriti ation of creating (Photos courtesy Lesbian Bar Project) space for people of marginali ed genders including women, non-binary folks, and trans men, according to the statement posted on the esbian Bar Pro ect website. s these spaces aim to be inclusi e of all indi iduals across the di erse GB community, the label esbian belongs to all people who feel that it empowers them, the statement says. ithout space, we lose power, alidity, communal safety and access to intergenerational dialogue, the statement adds. ith the support of our community, we can make sure these bars recei e not only the financial assistance they need but the reference they deser e. hen our history isn’t protected, we must protect it oursel es. Following is a list of the 21 remaining lesbian bars in the United States released by the Lesbian Bar Project: A League of Her Own — Washington, D.C. Alibi’s — Oklahoma City, Okla. Babes of Carytown — Richmond, Va. Blush & Blu — Denver Boycott Bar — Phoenix Cubbyhole — New York City Frankie’s — Oklahoma City, Okla. Ginger’s — Brooklyn, N.Y. Gossip Grill — San Diego, Calif. Henrietta Hudson — New York City Herz — Mobile, Ala.

My Sister’s Room MSR — Atlanta Pearl Bar — Houston Slammers — Columbus, Ohio Sue Ellen’s — Dallas The Backdoor — Bloomington, Ind. The Lipstick Lounge — Nashville, Tenn. Walker’s Pint — Milwaukee, Wisc. Wildrose — Seattle Wildside West — San Francisco Yellow Brick Road Pub — Tulsa, Okla.

MTV ‘True Life Crime’ host reinvents genre ometi Pongo puts focus on ictims of anti- GB By JOHN PAUL KING

he last place most of us would e pect to find a true crime show is on V. et that’s e actly where you’ll find rue ife Crime and its host ometi Pongo, who on ug. 24 will take a ournalistic deep di e into the ississippi murder of trans teen ercedes illiamson ust one of the brutal, tragic stories co ered by the show since its debut in 2 2 . hey are the kinds of stories, of course, that make fans of the genre eagerly stay up late to binge watch old episodes of Cold Case iles or the latest et i serial murderer doc. But while those shows content themsel es with being a guilty pleasure for their iewers, this one aims a little higher. o begin with, it primarily co ers iolence against people from marginali ed communities and though it e amines facts and e idence, those take a back seat to discussion of the social issues around the crimes. nstead of placing all the emphasis on the how and who, the show puts it on the why, taking the spotlight from the killer and shining it on the ictim instead a far cry from the kind of truncated treatment usually bestowed by mainstream news sources when co ering crimes against marginali ed people. Pongo a charismatic host whose passion for amplifying the stories of marginali ed communities is tied to his roots in Chicago’s south side spoke to the Blade about the intentions behind the show, and the need to include the stories of GB ictims.


BLADE s a host, you bring a lot to the show. ou’re great on camera and your passion really shines through but you always de ect the attention toward the family and the community around the ictim. PONGO hank you, appreciate you noticing that. ’m the lens through which the sub ect gets to tell their story. f share something about losses and e periences that ha e, it’s because know that human-to-human connection will help the sub ect open up. s ournalists, we’re told ne er to become the story and now we’re in this age where you ha e to ha e a social media presence, you ha e to ha e some charisma about you, you ha e to be a host of sorts. But want to make sure that ’m a human first when ’m talking to these families, and ’m glad if that shines through. BLADE t does, and so does the fact that your show doesn’t sensationali e the way others do. here’s nothing tabloid about it. PONGO e do want to differentiate oursel es. hy would you come to V for a true crime story rather than other networks that ha e been doing them for years e’ e got to put our bent on it. e’re focused on talking to young folks who li e in the pop culture space, and the rue ife franchise is the perfect a enue for that, because it’s all about the true li es of the sub ects, and we wanted to be sure that that was highlighted.

BLADE he focus on social ustice issues certainly gi es the show a youthful perspecti e. BLADE Besides the upcoming episode PONGO hey say the young ha e the about ercedes, this season has already DOMETI PONGO hosts MTV’s ‘True Life Crime.’ energy, and the elders ha e the wisdom, and co ered two other cases in ol ing anti- GB (Photo courtesy MTV) we want to arm the energy of these young iolence the murders of Britney Cosby and people these bright, action-oriented young Crystal Jackson, who were a lesbian couple, people who mobili ed with the racial reckoning of 2 2 , who are leading the charge we and uhlaysia Booker, a trans woman of color. id you come into the show wanting to want to arm them with conte t and information about more stories, and how e erything bring isibility to these kinds of cases in our society kind of folds into what happens. any of our episodes end with a call to DOMETI PONGO: t’s my connection to marginali ed communities that made me want action. ho do you call to change this law ho do you email s effecti e a tool social to do it, to talk about other marginali ed communities that ’m not e en a part of, but media is, so is oting, so is emailing legislators, so is getting in ol ed in ad ocacy groups. which deser e a oice as well. ’ll be honest with you, at a high le el understood the e arm our audience with the information that they need to keep doing the great work dangers of homophobia and transphobia in our communities, but didn’t know the they’re doing. numbers. didn’t know how often ictims were dead-named, how under-reported antitrans iolence goes. didn’t reali e how deep this really got, until was in the thick of it, BLADE t’s really acti ism taking the form of entertainment. reporting on these issues. PONGO hat’s it, 1 percent. started out at a Black-owned radio station on the he first season we did the story of edarie Johnson, who was a gender- uid teen that South Side of Chicago. l Sharpton held the afternoon slot for his show, each host was was killed in owa. hat story really helped to open my eyes, and so for this season we ery community oriented, so cut my teeth at that intersection of information and social wanted to double down. ustice but ’m also a fan of hip-hop, ’m a fan of music, so when ’m not doing rue ife Crime ’m doing V ews inter iews with my fa orite artists. n estigating that BLADE he show differs from other crime shows because it’s more concerned with intersection of social ustice and pop culture is where think a lot of our power lies. e ploring moti es and issues around the cases than it is about the facts. s that a think that’s where the young people are sitting right now. conscious choice PONGO here’s a conscious idea of either answering uestions that the family ne er BLADE hat do you hope they take away from these stories had answered, or looking at elements of the person’s identity, or the world around the PONGO f there’s anything that want people to take away it’s this fter the show, crime, and figure out how we can tell a fuller story. ou know, in some states they can whate er social ustice issue we talk about, research it. ig into it. hat guilty pleasure secure a murder con iction without pro ing moti e, so you can ha e a family go through feels a little bit less guilty if you do the work after that V cuts off. the entire litigation process, all the way up to the killer being con icted, and they’ll ne er know why their lo ed one was killed. he pain that comes from that is gut-wrenching. So, rue ife Crime airs on V at p.m. on uesdays. ll past episodes are a ailable to aside from ust taking you through the crime and how the person is caught, what can we watch on the V website. add to the con ersation that can gi e some solace to the families




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‘Horse Girls’ will love this book

inding freedom in the saddle after marginali ation


You were determined not to get bit. But in a totally different meaning of the word, you were e ually determined that your horse would accept one. ithout a bit in his mouth, he wouldn’t turn, slow down, or stop when you wanted to ride and of course, as in orse Girls, edited by alimah arcus, the ride’s the thing. Or is a sense of freedom the best part of owning a horse any girls think so, while others ust want their ery own licka or Ginger or Pie. hate er it is, arcus says that there’s a difference between horse girls and a horsewoman. he latter, she writes, is tough, no-nonsense... riding e ery day... unsentimental about horses but de oted to them for life unlike many of the women in this book who ga e up riding as young women and reestablished their lo e for it later in life. But what makes a horse girl arginali ation, in the stories here. hese horse girls often felt shame for not fitting the norm, for being ueer, Black, chubby or poor but they still lo ed horses. Some of the writers are lesbians, but they didn’t understand it until their girlhoods were o er. le ar ano- esne ich writes of cross-dressing cowboys in history Sarah nelow-Snyder writes about Black cowboys and of curly fros sho ed into unaccommodating cowboy hats. C. organ Babst writes of cruelty and anore ia, a two-pronged part of her childhood. orse girls worry. lot. hey worry about where their horses went after they were sold or gi en away. On the day she got it, drienne Celt worried about how she was going to bury her horse if it died. hey worry about disappointing horse-lo ing parents, and they fret about the best way to introduce their daughters to riding. hey ride with oy. hey met spouses through horses. hey remember the smell of a bo that once contained a plastic horse because, says ira adden, the thing about a horse is, it’s ne er about the horse. ope, it’s also about stories. ifteen of them, to be e act, all inside orse Girls, but unless you’re the horsey-type, you grew up in a saddle, or your shel es once held plastic 1 -scale horses, you can ust mosey along. n that case, you’ll haaaaate this book and that’s O . t’s not


for you anyhow. f you fit the former, though, pommel, stirrup, and all, then editor alimah arcus offers stories you’ll de our, stories of lo ing horses, e en when especially when doing so made you an anomaly. here’s strength in that but loss also looms large here, particularly loss of childhood, innocence, or imagination. ortunately for many of these storytellers and for the readers in ited along on this ride, though, recollections are resol ed, reasons for them are reconciled, and the endings are mostly satisfying. f you e er trotted around the yard, pretending to be a horse, or if you actually spent your girlhood in a saddle, this book will bring back memories. orse Girls is a book you won’t want to miss, not e en a little bit.

‘Horse Girls’

Edited by Halimah Marcus c.2 21, arper Perennial $17 | 3 4 pages