AU GU S T 27, 2021 • VO L U M E 05 • ISSUE 3 5 • AMERICA’ S LGBT Q NEW S SO U R C E • LO SAN G ELESB LAD E. C O M
WeHo Mayor Horvath passes baton to Meister
Newly elected West Hollywood City Mayor LAUREN MEISTER with her rescue dogs, Sammy, Suki, and friend.
The city changed its top leadership Monday evening as the Council unanimously voted for Mayor Pro Tem Lauren Meister to become the new mayor and Council member Sepi Shyne to take over as Mayor Pro Tem. Both women are set to assume their roles on Sept. 20. Both had been nominated by Mayor Lindsey Horvath, who has served since 2019, and is a declared candidate in the race for the seat for the 3rd Los Angeles County Supervisorial District of Los Angeles County, which includes West Hollywood. The current Supervisor Sheila Kuehl is retiring at the end of this term. “It’s the ﬁrst time in history a woman has nominated two women” for the positions, Horvath remarked. “I’m very excited to be handing oﬀ this baton.” This will be the second term Meister has served as the city’s mayor. The terms of both mayor and Mayor Pro Tem will last until January 2023 — a year and four months — in an action taken by council in order to re-align their terms of oﬃce with the beginning of a calendar year. FROM STAFF REPORTS
(Photo courtesy Meister)
Councilmember John Erickson (left) and Councilmember Sepi Shyne (Blade ﬁle photo)
FTC again sues Facebook over anti-trust violations The Federal Trade Commission honest businesses alike.” announced last week that it is suing the In June Judge Boasberg also threw out Menlo Park, Calif.-based social media giant a parallel suit by 48 attorneys general Facebook alleging that after repeated failed representing states and U.S. territories. attempts to develop innovative mobile He found that they had waited too long features for its network, Facebook instead to challenge the 2012 Instagram and 2014 resorted to an illegal buy-or-bury scheme WhatsApp deals. The states are appealing to maintain its dominance. that decision, Politico reported. In June, Judge James Emanuel Boasberg In answer to the lawsuit charging that seated on the U. S. District Court for the the company was engaged in monopolistic District of Columbia, tossed the FTC’s ﬁrst practices, Facebook spokesperson ﬁling ruling that Federal prosecutors failed Christopher Sgro argued: “There was to show that Facebook with its acquisitions no valid claim that Facebook was a of the mobile messaging platform monopolist — and that has not changed. WhatsApp and social media App Instagram Our acquisitions of Instagram and currently controls more than 60 percent of WhatsApp were reviewed and cleared the U.S. marketplace for social networking. many years ago, and our platform policies “Facebook lacked the business acumen were lawful. The FTC’s claims are an eﬀort and technical talent to survive the transition to rewrite antitrust laws and upend settled to mobile. After failing to compete with new expectations of merger review, declaring innovators, Facebook illegally bought or to the business community that no sale is buried them when their popularity became ever ﬁnal.” Statue of ‘man controlling trade’ outside the FTC building in Washington D.C. an existential threat,” said Holly Vedova, The FTC’s allegations of monopoly (Photo courtesy FTC) FTC Bureau of Competition Acting Director. power detailed statistics showing that “This conduct is no less anticompetitive Facebook had dominant market shares in than if Facebook had bribed emerging app competitors not to compete. The antitrust the U.S. personal social networking market. The suit also provides new direct evidence laws were enacted to prevent precisely this type of illegal activity by monopolists. that Facebook has the power to control prices or exclude competition; signiﬁcantly Facebook’s actions have suppressed innovation and product quality improvements. And reduce the quality of its oﬀering to users without losing a signiﬁcant number of users or they have degraded the social network experience, subjecting users to lower levels of a meaningful amount of user engagement; and exclude competition by driving actual or privacy and data protections and more intrusive ads. The FTC’s action today seeks to put potential competitors out of business. an end to this illegal activity and restore competition for the beneﬁt of Americans and FROM STAFF REPORTS 02 • AUGUST 27, 2021 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Anti-maskers gather in Santa Monica to protest COVID mandates Hundreds of Angelenos angered by what they are saying is government overreach gathered for the S.O.S. California No Vaccine Passport rally Saturday. The protest comes as Los Angeles County and the City of Los Angeles are moving to require proof of vaccination or stringent COVID-19 testing for government workers and inside businesses. The rally occurred as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration was poised to fully approve ﬁ er Inc.’s coronavirus vaccine, which it did on Tuesday. ﬁ er’s vaccine has been in use in the . . based on an emergency authori ation. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health conﬁrmed new deaths and , new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday as the Delta Variant cases continue to impact the region. One of those COVID-19 deaths was a teen between the ages of 12 and 17.
(Photo courtesy County of Los Angeles)
There are , people with C VID- currently hospitali ed and of these people are in the ICU. Testing results are available for nearly , , individuals with of people testing positive. Today’s test positivity rate is . . “Everyone who is not yet vaccinated needs to know they do not have the same protection as vaccinated people. While the highest hospitali ation rate is among older unvaccinated adults over , hospitali ations in younger unvaccinated adults between the ages of and have increased since uly ,” said arbara Ferrer, Director of ublic Health. “ elative to unvaccinated adults, hospitali ation rates among vaccinated adults of all ages remain very low. The data continues to show how well protected vaccinated people are from bad outcomes. Our top priority is vaccinating those not yet vaccinated.” BRODY LEVESQUE
Fed’l lawsuit seeks to stop recall or add Newsom to ballot In a federal lawsuit ﬁled in . . District Court for the Central District of California last Friday, two registered voters residing in the state of California are asking the court to either stop the recall of Gov. Gavin Newsom or add his name to the ballot. In the court ﬁling and as reported by olitico, attorneys for the plaintiﬀs, ex ulian eaber and A. . Clark, are challenging the constitutionality of the recall la t a ea the o t to ea to law process writing: “This process prohibiting the recall of Gov. GAVIN NEWSOM. (Blade ﬁle photo) is violative of the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment, because it ies in the face of the federal legal principle of one person, one vote,” and gives to voters who vote to recall the overnor two votes one to remove him and one to select a successor, but limits to only one vote the franchise of those who vote to retain him and that he not be recalled, so that a person who votes for recall has twice as many votes as a person who votes against recall. This is unconstitutional both on its face and as applied.” The plaintiﬀs are asking that the court issue an in unction prohibiting the recall election or add ewsom’s name to the replacement candidate list on part two of the ballot. nder California law, the recall elections specify in the ﬁrst part a yes or no question to recall the governor. If a ma ority of voters e ect ewsom, then the second part with its list of replacement choices comes into play with the candidate who receives the most votes would then become governor. onday was the state’s deadline to mail out the approximately million ballots by elections oﬃcials. According to the California ecretary of tate’s oﬃce Tuesday that has been accomplished. olitico reported that rwin Chemerinsky, the dean of the niversity of California, erkeley chool of aw, in an op-ed published in the ew ork Times pointed out that the structure of the ballot “allows a replacement candidate to be elected with a small plurality and potentially with far fewer votes than the number of votes cast to keep
the current governor.” “The court could declare the recall election procedure unconstitutional and leave it to California to devise a constitutional alternative,” Chemerinsky wrote. r it could simply add r. ewsom’s name on the ballot to the list of those running to replace him. That simple change would treat his supporters equally to others and ensure that if he gets more votes than any other candidate, he will stay in oﬃce.” In an interview onday with olitico’s eremy hite and colleague Debra ahn, California’s Attorney eneral ob onta acknowledged the lawsuit and ongoing underlying legal debate. e’re aware of that argument and some of the other concerns and we’ll be making sure we stay abreast of this issue and monitoring it,” onta said, adding of the lawsuit, e’ll be coordinating with the secretary of state’s oﬃce to determine next steps. ewsom has been traveling the state battling eﬀorts to replace him in the ept. recall election. During several campaign stops he warned of dire consequences should one of the top six epublicans or other candidates on the second part of ballot be selected. peaking to campaign workers, at tables full of phone-banking volunteers at Hecho en exico restaurant during a stop in the an abriel neighborhood of ast os Angeles this past weekend, ewsom told them, Though we defeated Trump, we didn’t defeat Trumpism. Trumpism is still alive and well, even here in the state of California. If you don’t believe me, ust consider the likely person to enter an oath of oﬃce, to enter in the governor’s oﬃce in ust a matter of weeks if we don’t re ect this recall.” Democrats across the state are making a full court press to thwart any Republican candidate from obtaining the governor’s chair. Equality California and the California Democratic Party will host an LGBTQ+ Californians Against the epublican ecall Day of Action on Thursday, featuring a virtual rally with LGBTQ+ leaders and a volunteer phone bank to help get out the vote. peakers will include California Insurance Commissioner icardo ara, quality California xecutive Director ick Chave bur, an Francisco Democratic arty Chair Honey ahogany and os Angeles County Democratic arty Chair ark on ale . A new statewide poll of , registered voters taken one week ago shows an increase from a similar poll taken at the end of last month which showed that the percentage of voters to recall was versus those who would vote to keep ewsom at . The poll had also recorded that undecided voters comprised of the total with the poll having a margin of error of of . BRODY LEVESQUE LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • AUGUST 27, 2021 • 05
Elder investigated for failure to declare income On the question of who they would Larry Elder, the anti-LGBTQ right vote for if Newsom was recalled, wing radio host who is running as a majority (53%) of voters are a conservative Republican in the undecided on a candidate. Within recall election to replace Gov. Gavin the ﬁeld of candidates that currently Newsom, is under investigation for have support, Elder leads at 16%, failure to properly disclose all of his followed by businessman ohn Cox, income sources a spokesman with at 6%, and former San Diego mayor the California Fair Political Practices Kevin Faulconer, at 6%. California Commission, CF C conﬁrmed to State Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, and media outlets Sunday. former Olympian and reality television The California Democratic Party personality Caitlyn Jenner are at 4% ﬁled a complaint with the Commission each. ocial media in uencer evin alleging that Elder failed to properly aﬀrath is at , with the remaining disclose one of his businesses and 8% of voters opting to vote for its sources of income after a story someone else. regarding those facts was ﬁrst Earlier this week, adding to the published by the Los Angeles Times on controversies surrounding Elder, in August 13. an interview published by Politico California’s campaign ﬁnance law with lder’s former ﬁancee Alexandra states that candidates for public oﬃce Datig and producer of his radio are required to ﬁle a public statement broadcasts, Datig alleged she broke of economic interests that discloses LARRY ELDER is drawing national attention to his bid for California governor. oﬀ an -month engagement with him some aspects of their personal (Screenshot via YouTube) in after he waved a gun at her ﬁnances, including stocks, gifts, real while high on marijuana. estate and sources of income. Politico reported that the alleged gun incident occurred in the midst of a heated According to the A Times, lder’s initial ﬁling was only two pages long and only conversation as their relationship was unraveling, according to Datig. “He was in the showed income from Laurence A. Elder and Associates Inc. but did not fully disclose bedroom, and I was standing by the door,” she said. “We talked to each other.’’ He the ﬁrm’s total ﬁnancial data, which as sole owner he was required to disclose. became silent, she said, and then slowly “walked over to the nightstand, opened the After the complaint by the California Democratic arty, lder ﬁled an amended door, took out the gun,’’ a .45 pistol. statement showing he owned 100% of the company and that it is worth between “And he checked if it was loaded — while I was talking,’’ she said. “He wanted to make , and million. The Times noted that it is diﬃcult to ascertain an exact sure I saw that he had it.” number as the CFPPC requires only broad dollar amounts to be disclosed. “It was an act of silent scorn — and anger,’’ she said. The latest merson College exstar edia poll shows voters are split on whether Elder took to Twitter and denounced the allegations. Governor Gavin Newsom should be recalled in September: 43% say they would vote to arlier this month the acramento ee proﬁled lder reporting that the radio host is recall ewsom at this time, and say they would vote to keep him in oﬃce. well known for opposing an increase in the minimum wage, lack ives atter and for ine percent of voters are undecided. These results were similar to the arch frequently making anti-LGBTQ remarks. CA merson exstar poll, where wanted to keep the overnor and favored BRODY LEVESQUE the recall.
Politico falsely labels Rep. Young Kim LGBTQ ‘ally’ California Congresswoman Young Kim (R-Fullerton) has a long record of opposing LGBTQ+ civil rights, spreading homophobic and transphobic misinformation and voting against legislation to protect LGBTQ+ students from discrimination and harassment in schools. Yet, despite this well-documented anti-LGBTQ+ record, Politico referred to the Congresswoman and two of her Republican colleagues — all of whom voted against the Equality Act earlier this year — as “allies” of “the gay rights movement” in an article published onday. Equality California, the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ+ civil rights organization, responded with a thread of tweets detailing the Congresswoman’s anti-LGBTQ+ record and imploring the reporter to correct the story. The organization released the following statement Tuesday from xecutive Director-designate Tony Hoang
06 • AUGUST 27, 2021 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
“Opposition to LGBTQ+ civil rights is perhaps the most consistent position that Young Kim has held throughout her career. From opposing marriage equality to calling protections for LGBTQ+ students a ‘stupid, crazy bill’ to voting against the Equality Act earlier this year, Young Kim has seemingly made it her mission to block full, lived equality for T people. It’s ba ing that anyone would suggest otherwise, and we’re conﬁdent that range County voters know better.” im, who has been running for oﬃce for nearly a decade, has established a long history of opposing the LGBTQ+ community. She voted against the Equality Act, opposes marriage equality, and doesn’t believe people are born with their sexual orientation or gender identity, according to reports. FROM STAFF REPORTS
‘Ring for the Vaccine’ — HUMC announces free clinic The Hollywood United Methodist Church has found a unique way to encourage free vaccinations at the iconic Hollywood Church with its famous bell tower at the corner of Franklin and Highland in Hollywood by hosting a free vaccine clinic on Sunday, Aug. 29. For every vaccine administered, the historic tower’s church bell will chime. The clinic will be held between 12-5 p.m. in the church’s parking lot at 6817 Franklin Ave., at the corner of Highland and Franklin in Hollywood. The goal is to vaccinate at least Angelinos free of charge. The event will kick oﬀ with a dedication at noon with L.A. Council member Nithya Raman and HUMC Associate Pastor Birdie Roberts. Actress Pauley Perrette provided a video message to encourage participation after losing her father on Jan. 20 to COVID-19. Rev. Kathy Cooper Ledesma, senior pastor of Hollywood United Methodist Church, says, “Being of service to our community is key to our values. Because of the COVID-19 Delta Variant surge, we want to help our community by vaccinating as many people in Los Angeles County as possible. Everyone is welcome. We are happy to partner with Los Angeles County and we’ll ring out the good news as we do.” Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl adds, “Every shot counts when you are battling a deadly and evolving virus. The absolute best step we can take to protect our own health and the health of everyone around us is to vaccinate as many people as we can. I’m very pleased that Hollywood United Methodist Church is hosting a vaccine clinic to make sure everyone in their community has the opportunity to receive a vaccine. Thank you to everyone for doing their part to get vaccinated and make this event happen!” In a brieﬁng on Aug. , .A. County ublic Health Director arbara Ferrer reported there are 3,672 new cases of COVID-19 in L.A. County per day, an increase of about 550% over last month’s infection rate. The thresholds set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still place L.A. County at a high rate of transmission. n aturday, the os Angeles County Department of ublic Health conﬁrmed new deaths and 3,891 new cases of COVID-19.
Hollywood United Methodist Church
(Blade ﬁle photo)
“While the vaccines are not perfect, and many of us may know someone who is fully vaccinated and ended up getting COVID, all three vaccines continue to do what we most need them to do: they protect from the worst outcomes of COVID-19 and allow our hospitals and clinics to continue providing the full range of services to everyone who needs health care,” said said Ferrer. “Because the vaccines by themselves are not completely preventing transmission of the virus, masking and distancing provide layers of additional protection that is needed. To avoid requiring even more safety measures to blunt the spread of the virus, many more people must get vaccinated. This is how we can keep our schools, workplaces, and retail establishments open at full capacity. With almost 3 million L.A. County residents 12 and older still not vaccinated, our recovery journey can become compromised,” she added. BRODY LEVESQUE
Take a class at LA County Parks this fall Have you ever wanted to learn a new language or play a new instrument? Pick up a hobby like crocheting or cooking? Interested in learning how to code on your computer, work on your ﬁtness goals or brush up on your painting techniques There’s no time like the present to learn a new skill or practice your existing ones at a park near you (or virtually). A County arks oﬀers hundreds of classes each season for a wide range of interests, age groups and budgets. Classes start Sept. 7. Virtual and in-person class options available. Check out the fall oﬀerings and sign up for a class to take with your loved ones, on your own to meet new friends. Meet online or at a park near you. Choose from a wide variety of topics, ranging from arts and language classes to sports and special interest topics for all ages. Follow LA County Parks on social media: Facebook @parks.lacounty.gov and Twitter/Instagram/ TikTok @lacountyparks. Share your experience using #LearnSomethingNew at #LACountyParks. FROM STAFF REPORTS
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • AUGUST 27, 2021 • 07
From surviving ‘Don’t Ask’ to Space Force: An epic journey for Gen. Lauderback esbian ag oﬃcer manages intel for newly minted service By CHRIS JOHNSON | firstname.lastname@example.org
You might not know it, but there’s a role for the U.S. Space Force in Afghanistan. It could well be one of the many topics Maj. Gen. Leah Lauderback, director of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance for Space Force, is briefed on each morning when she comes into her oﬃce at the entagon. Lauderback, speaking last week with the Blade, said that speaks to the role of the newly minted service as primarily a “space-enabling capability.” ou can’t do anything with your i hone as an example, with your computer, with the in your car without those space-enabling capabilities,” Lauderback said. “And so that truly is our role in Afghanistan, to support the United States contingent that is there today, and that’s through our capabilities or communications capabilities.” auderback assumed the role as head of the oﬃce overseeing intelligence for pace Force last year shortly after the previous administration created it. With a record of intelligencegathering roles in her three decades of serving in the Air Force, the sister service to Space Force, auderback is a natural ﬁt for the crucial position in the new service. till technically serving in the Air Force, auderback said she intends to leave the role next summer for a Guardian (the term bestowed to service members in the Space Force), and was chosen for the current role because she was a senior intelligence oﬃcer at the . . pace Command. Lauderback, nonetheless, said she was eager to take on those duties for a new service because she found the work “fascinating.” “There is a lot of activity that is happening on orbit, and it’s not all good activity, right?” she said. “There are threats that present themselves almost on a daily basis. And so we were very busy, one, standing up to command at that time but then doing operational missions on a daily basis to compete with other near-peer competitors out there as well as to mitigate areas where we were in trouble from a threat perspective.” ne example auderback identiﬁed as a recent achievement came last year when a ussian satellite got very close to a . . satellite, and en. ohn aymond, now commanding oﬃcer of U.S. Space Force, was able to push out into the media that the United States was concerned it was a ussian weapons system. The incident, auderback said, demonstrated . . capability to call out the bad behavior and unprofessional behavior we thought of ussia.” For an openly gay woman like Lauderback, the role as head of intelligence for a U.S. service holds special signiﬁcance. uch a position would have been out of reach for an openly gay person in years past, when more LGBTQ people were closeted and the pervasive view was employing them in intelligence roles would be a national security threat if they were blackmailed. Lauderback, who served when the military asked applicants whether or not they were homosexual and barred those who responded yes,” recogni es the importance of an openly gay woman now heading up an entire oﬃce of intelligence for a . . military service. It’s really very signiﬁcant that the fact that I can be out means that nobody can hold this over my head and I can serve openly and be the best intelligence oﬃcer that I could possibly be,” she said. But it took a while to get there. Lauderback graduated from college in 1993, when “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” became the law of the land, and has had assignments in the military since that time as she continued to pursue advanced degrees. Under that law, Lauderback had to keep quiet about being a lesbian or risk being discharged. Certainly, when I ﬁrst came out and I was really en oying my ob, and I wanted to make the Air Force a career but every day it was a concern, and absolutely made me untruthful at times, which is so embarrassing to say and humiliating at this point,” Lauderback said. “I had to lie at times. I was still hidden as a gay member in the service, but I trudged through that.” Lauderback said during the years under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” she became “less and less paranoid” and was able to ﬁnd a friend at every base where she was stationed that she could trust with the truth about her sexual orientation. Those friends, she said, supported her on base and when she went on deployment. Things changed in eptember . After former resident bama signed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal, the . . military certiﬁed it was ready to allow openly gay people in its ranks. The long ban was over and Lauderback was no longer forced to keep being gay a secret. 08 • AUGUST 27, 2021 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Maj. Gen. LEAH LAUDERBACK is director of intelligence for the Space Force. (Photo courtesy of the USAF)
“I, like many others I’m sure, wept a little bit,” she said. “We had the conversations with friends about how diﬀerent this was going to be, and it was very diﬀerent. Immediately I felt the weight oﬀ my shoulders, immediately I knew that I had recourse if I felt that I was going to be discriminated against at any point in time, I felt that I knew I could go and make a complaint about things.” Since that time, Lauderback married her spouse, Brenda Hall. The two have been happily married for years, Lauderback said. But nearly 10 years since “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was lifted, and shortly after transgender service members were allowed to begin service after resident iden reversed the previous administration’s ban, Lauderback said issues for LGBTQ service members remain and many gay service members are still afraid to come out. For that reason, Lauderback in March helped set up the LGBTQ Initiatives Team for the Air Force and Space Force, one of the barrier-analysis working groups ordered by senior leadership. Five months later, Lauderback said the task force continues to have conversations with leadership about policies, such as wording and terminology, that make people feel unwelcome in service. “This barrier-analysis working group is really kind of grassroots,” Lauderback said. “While there are a few of us that are of higher rank on the team, it is mostly made up of folks that are much younger, have very diﬀerent experiences than we do. And so, they are uncovering what are those barriers, those unconscious biases that folks have … and identifying those areas that we can start knocking out.” ne example of a change auderback said the team would love to see” is the use of pronouns in some of the signature blocks in communications from service members. “It is well known and well practiced outside of the military in the public sphere, but within the government, I don’t think anybody’s actually brought it up to the senior leadership,” Lauderback
NATIONAL faster pace than we can in the government, so we want to be able to take advantage of that said. “If you could use a pronoun, and especially and then secondly, they truly drive the price point down for us.” if it’s for transgender members, it could be for Launching astronauts into space remains an exciting event, including the prospect women, it could be for somebody who doesn’t of sending the next human space ight to the oon, and the ﬁrst-ever landing on ars. have a Westernized name, it was really nice to Lauderback, however, said she couldn’t comment directly because those projects are part of be able to say, you know, in my signature block NASA’s domain. ‘she, her, hers.’” I would say, from my perspective as an intelligence oﬃcer,” auderback said, when there Lauderback said her team is working through is more exploration in space, as there has been on every other domain — the air domain or that change and thinks “we’ll be successful at land domain or the maritime domain — the Department of Defense needs to be prepared some point.” to protect and defend our capabilities so as an intelligence oﬃcer that’s really part of my Meanwhile, Lauderback continues to wear BRENDA HALL and LEAH LAUDERBACK job is to watch what it is that other countries might be doing or what their desires and their her main hat as head of intelligence for Space (Photo courtesy Air Force) intentions are.” Force, for which she manages the delivery of While transporting human beings to other worlds continues to be an aspiration, questions intelligence to the secretary of the Air Force and have arisen recently about whether other worlds are sending living beings to Earth amid new the chief of space operations and ensures analysts are adhering to the framework for rules in interest in government reports on UFOs. U.S. intelligence over the summer revealed 140 gathering intelligence. sightings by American military pilots between 2004 and 2021 — and the Pentagon has no idea “There’s just a lot of two steps forward, one step back type of potential, where you need to what they’re seeing. have facility space or you need to have — if it’s IT equipment and things like that,” she said. auderback, asked what she makes of the ﬁndings given her position as head of space “And you have to hire people. So, we’re still making all of that happen in our directorate and intelligence, declined to comment directly on what she makes of the phenomena, citing an across the entire enterprise, but I think we’re in a really good position, and certainly for the ongoing study in other military services, although she quibbled with the use of the term “UFOs” Space Force as it continues to mature, continues to grow.” to describe them. Space is made up of, well, mostly empty space, as any scientist will tell you. However, that ISO 12647-7 Digital Control Strip 2009 would say s, but auderback adage incrementally true such100 as Elon70 Musk,30continue 100is 60 100 as entrepreneurs, 70 30 100 60 40 100 40I 100 40 it’s 70 40not 40 40F 40 70 it’s 40 unidentiﬁ 70 40 40 3ed aerial 60becoming 100 70 30 100less 10 phenomena,” 25 50 75 90 said. 100 o I key 100 40 to 40 70 70 40 A in on the term aerial in that case. I’ll leave it to the folks that are operating in the air domain and launch private satellites into orbit in numbers that could surpass the nearly 2,000 belonging to we’re working in the space domain, so I think that’s about all that I would be able to tell you.” the United States. Starlink, the SpaceX program that manages its satellites, has 300 satellites in uke chleusener, president of ut of ational ecurity, an aﬃnity group for T staﬀers orbit — and has signaled plans for an eventual goal to deploy a total of 30,000 or more. in national security, said the absence of any backlash to an out lesbian in Lauderback’s position Lauderback, asked if that was a threat or should be welcomed, downplayed any concern of B 100 100 60 100 100 70 30 30 U.S. 100 100government 60 100 100 10.2the 7.4 7.4decade 25 19 19 since 50 40 40 the 66 100 100 80 70 70 100 70 70 30 30 in 100space, 100 60 100 100 70the 70 entrepreneurial 30 30 100 40 100 40 “tells 40 100 10 40 40far 20much 70 70 70 70 the 40 70 40 40 0 0has 0 0 come 3.1 2.2 2.2 in 75 66 us how of country repeal of100DADT.” private companies 70 surpassing presence saying “She’ll bring her whole self to work,” Schleusener said. “At a time of ‘resurgent great power endeavors would lower overall costs for launching satellites. competition,’ having diverse teams and diverse leaders will make the Space Force more “It’s very much something to be welcomed, and we see it as a positive,” Lauderback said. eﬀective. It’s also a matter of our government and our military best serving the nation when “And I know Gen. Raymond as the CSO has remarked on this a number of times. What happens when you have commercial entities like this one, they’re able to operate sometimes at a muchT:10"our public servants and service members re ect those they’re sworn to serve, at all levels.”
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When we use energy matters. We have the power to harness California’s abundance of wind and solar resources. But during peak hours, electricity is generated mostly by fossil fuels to meet demand. Use less energy from 4-9PM, for a cleaner California. L E A R N M O R E AT E N E R G Y U P G R A D E C A . O R G / N E W S PA P E R
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LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • AUGUST 27, 2021 • 09
64 members of Congress urge U.S. to evacuate LGBTQ Afghans
“ ith the Taliban’s takeover of the country, T Afghans face the More than 60 members of Congress on Tuesday urged the U.S. to evacuate prospect of violent death. haria law, cemented in Afghanistan’s constitution, LGBTQ Afghans from their country after the Taliban regained control of it. prohibits all forms of same-sex activity, and makes same-sex activity punishable The letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken that U.S. Rep. Chris Pappas by death,” reads the letter to linken. “ ust as it was for I I in Iraq, haria law (D-N.H.) spearheaded notes LGBTQ+ Afghans face an “existential threat” under is the Taliban’s guiding compass as it establishes its rule over Afghanistan’s Taliban rule. Pappas and the 63 other members of Congress who signed the government and society. During its campaign in Iraq and yria, I I frequently letter asked the State Department to allow LGBTQ+ Afghans to access the U.S. executed T individuals by stoning them to death, castrating and hanging Refugee Admissions Program. them in public squares, and throwing them oﬀ buildings.” The letter notes the State Department on Aug. 2 announced a “Priority 2 (P-2 U.S. Rep. CHRIS PAPPAS “ nder Taliban rule, T Afghans will suﬀer a similar fate,” it adds. designation” that grants “eligible Afghan nationals and their family members (D-N.H.) is among The letter notes President Biden in February signed a memorandum that access to the A for Afghans looking to ee Taliban rule but who aren’t lawmakers urging the committed the U.S. to promote LGBTQ rights abroad. eligible for a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV).” government to evacuate LGBTQ Afghans. The lawmakers acknowledge “the situation in Afghanistan is uid,” but stress “The P-2 designation is made at the discretion of the Department of State and (Photo courtesy of Collin Gately) Blinken has “the power to protect the lives of countless LGBTQ+ Afghans from is typically used for groups of special concern’ the department determines as the horrors they face living under a regime that threatens their very existence.” having access to the program by virtue of their circumstances’,” it reads. The Human ights Campaign, the Council for lobal quality, the ational Center for “We have a moral obligation to uphold our values and utilize every tool at our disposal to Transgender quality, the Trevor ro ect, ambda egal, F A , Athlete Ally and the ational protect the T Afghan community,” adds the letter. “In the spirit of upholding our values quality Action Team support the lawmakers’ call for the . . to oﬀer refuge to T Afghans. and leading by example, we urge you to expand the Department of tate’s - designation “The Human ights Campaign recogni es that those T individuals eeing Taliban rule granting USRAP access for Afghan nationals to explicitly include LGBTQ+ Afghans.” deserve unique attention as they are particularly vulnerable and fear imminent violence and “ e further implore you to work with the Department of Defense to ensure that charter ights death following the rapid takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban, and this particular vulnerability receive uninterrupted access to the abul airport, as charter ights will likely provide the best requires expedited redress by the Department of tate,” said H C enior Vice resident for opportunity for priority refugees to escape,” stressed the members of Congress. olicy and olitical Aﬀairs oDee interhof in a press release that appas’ oﬃce sent exclusively The Taliban on Aug. entered abul, the Afghan capital, and toppled the country’s government. to the Washington Blade. The . . has subsequently evacuated more than , people from abul’s airport. Council for lobal quality Chair ark romley stressed “time is running out and the lives of President Biden on Tuesday reiterated the Aug. 31 deadline for U.S. military operations in LGBTQI Afghans are at extreme risk.” Afghanistan to end. The Trump administration in 2020 brokered a deal with the Taliban that set “As a country, we can do more to evacuate the T I community and to provide T Ithe stage for the withdrawal. aﬃrming support for their successful resettlement here in the nited tates,” he said in the press A Taliban judge last month said the group would execute gay people if it were to once again release. return to power in Afghanistan. Canada thus far is the only country that has speciﬁcally said it MICHAEL K. LAVERS would oﬀer refuge to T Afghans.
10 • AUGUST 27, 2021 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Nicaragua seeks to close country’s oldest LGBTQ group The government of Nicaragua has sought to shut down the members who the tate Department says are believed to country’s oldest LGBTQ rights group. be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining democracy, Conﬁdencial, an online newspaper that is critical of the including those with responsibility for, or complicity in, human government, reported the Interior inistry has asked the rights abuses such as suppression of peaceful protests.” ational Assembly to annul the legal non-proﬁt status” of For the past three months, resident Daniel rtega and his Fundación Xochiquetzal and 14 other non-governmental wife, Vice resident osario urillo, have intimidated anyone organizations. Assemblyman Filiberto Rodriguez on Aug. 18 opposed to their eﬀorts to entrench their power in icaragua, introduced a bill that would dissolve the 15 NGOs for “holding including through the arrest of do ens of political candidates, activities outside the law and acting expressly against the law.” ournalists, student and business leaders, workers, and aul Canning, a ondon-based writer and activist, in a human rights advocates, and through the disqualiﬁcation tweet notes Fundación Xochiquetzal formed in 1990 and has of any candidate seeking to run against them in the ov. worked to ﬁght HIV AID in icaragua. Canning also said the elections,” said the tate Department in an Aug. press group has been oﬀering C VID- tests to T people release that announced sanctions against election oﬃcials who live in anagua, the country’s capital. and members of the ruling andinista ational iberation The Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice is among the Front party. groups that have funded Fundación Xochiquetzal. A Nicaraguan LGBTQ activist who now lives in Costa A billboard in Managua, Nicaragua, on Feb. 27, 2018, promotes The government of resident Daniel rtega and his Rica told the Washington Blade on Tuesday described the Nicaraguan President DANIEL ORTEGA and his wife, Vice President ROSARIO MURILLO. (Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers) wife, Vice resident osario urillo, in recent months have government’s decision to shut down Fundación Xochiquetzal targeted opposition leaders and other groups — journalists and other s as shameful.” and human rights activists — and NGOs ahead of national It doesn’t want organi ed groups and above all feminist elections that are scheduled to take place on ov. . and TI groups that have been in long-term struggles,” said the activist. Conﬁdencial reported the government this month has sought to close s. The Blade has decided not to publish the activist’s name in order to protect their identity. The . . since uly has sanctioned more than oﬃcials and their immediate family MICHAEL K. LAVERS
Israel lifts ban on MSM blood donors Israel last week announced it will allow men who have sex with men to donate blood without restrictions. The Associated ress reported Health inister it an Horowit , who is gay, made the announcement. “Today we removed the degrading and irrelevant questions in the blood donation questionnaire,” wrote Horowit in his Facebook post. very blood donor who comes with
the goal of saving a life will receive equal treatment, no matter what his gender or sexual orientation is , whether he is T or straight.” The . . Food and Drug Administration currently allows to donate blood if they have not had sex with another man for three months. The FDA deferral period for before April was a year. MICHAEL K. LAVERS
Report: Brothers returned to Chechnya have been tortured The lawyer who represents two brothers from Chechnya who Russia returned to their homeland from which they had ed says they have been tortured. The ussian T etwork in a press release it sent to the lade said Alexander emov on Thursday met with alekh agamadov and Ismail Isaev in the ail in ro ny, the Chechen capital, where they are currently incarcerated. “Previously the lawyer was being denied access to the facility under the pretense that the brothers had fallen ill with C VID- despite the fact that they were being held in solitary cells,” said the ussian T etwork. The employees of the detention facility did not provide r. emov with any ustiﬁcation or legal basis for such non-admission.” The ussian T etwork in its press release said emov managed to talk to the detainees and they shared what had been happening to them, in other words how they had been subjected to violence — and gave insight into possible reasons for the nonadmission.” agamadov and Isaev said they were scheduled to appear in court on uly . They were being brought there in the enclosed back compartment of a truck-like vehicle with no ventilation,” said the ussian T etwork. Due to the heat agamadov and Isaev felt sick, however, in response to their pleas to open the windows the employees of the detention facility escorting them started laughing and insulting the brothers because of their sexual orientation. Ismail then asked one of them to stop and that resulted in violent actions on the part of the escorting personnel.” The ussian T etwork notes the brothers’ court appearance was postponed with no
explanation, although the defendants were brought to the court building and the lawyers were awaiting inside in the courtroom.” agamadov and Isaev were never let out of the car and simply driven back to the detention facility,” says the ussian T etwork. The ussian T etwork says Isaev was put into a room with no cameras and rudely told how wrong he was, that he had no right to talk back to people who had authority over him” once he and his brother returned to the ail. “After an hour of ‘conversations’ one of those who had been escorting us came into the room and started beating me ﬁsts bumping into my face and body, and then, later, he tried to strangle me,” said Isaev in the ussian T etwork press release. The deputy head of the detention facility who had been present during the entire ordeal only stopped him from strangling me he dragged him away from me and I was brought back to my cell.” The ussian T etwork says ail personnel earlier this month beat both brothers after they refused to shave their heads. agamadov claims ail personnel beat him on Aug. after he refused to say he cut himself because of a nervous breakdown, not because of violence he had experienced” when he refused to shave his head. “They made me spread my legs as wide as possible and then were beating me for a long time,” agamadov told the ussian T etwork. I could not take it and told them that I would sign anything they wanted. After that they put me back in my cell.” MICHAEL K. LAVERS
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • AUGUST 27, 2021 • 11
This open letter was signed by: THOMAS BLOMQVIST, minister for Nordic Cooperation and Equality, Finland; ANNIKA HAMBRUDD, minister of Education and Culture, Åland; ABID RAJA, minister of Culture and Equality, Norway; KATRÍN JAKOBSDÓTTIR, prime minister, Iceland; MÄRTA STENEVI, minister for Gender Equality and Housing, Sweden; NAAJA H. NATHANIELSEN, minister for Housing, Infrastructure, Minerals and Gender Equality, Greenland; and PETER HUMMELGAARD, minister for Equal Opportunities, Denmark.
We call on governments to stand up for LGBTI human rights ordic equality ministers speak out during
orld ride has kicked oﬀ and we the ministers for equality from the ordic countries are there to show our support for equal rights. e will continue working to improve our legislation and counteract hate, ignorance, and pre udice so that TI persons can live free, open, and good lives in the ordic egion. e want it to be completely clear For as long as there is resistance to TI equality in our region and around the world, we will unapologetically stand up for the full and equal en oyment of TI persons’ human rights. e represent seven small nations among the most progressive in the world when it comes to equality. ur countries stand out in international comparisons thanks to measures for TI people to start a family and for our nondiscrimination eﬀorts. ut whoever ies the ag high must also be open to scrutiny. e are committed to collaborating with ordic TI organi ations to work on and speak openly about our shortcomings. To this end Finland will be training social and health care professionals to give full consideration to TI children and teenagers and improve knowledge on their speciﬁc needs. In reenland, the government is working on interactive tools for young people in school to improve equality and raise awareness of TI rights. The government of land has, together with the organi ation egnb gsfyren, developed an TI certiﬁcation system for workplaces and institutions, with the aim of making them more inclusive and free from bias and discrimination. Denmark is improving its legislation to explicitly outlaw discrimination, hate speech and hate crime based on sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics. In Iceland, individuals older than and children with parental consent now have the right to change their gender registration and register as gender neutral. nnecessary medical interventions on minors born with atypical sex characteristics are prohibited until the child themselves can give informed consent. weden is working to further moderni e its family law to better re ect diﬀerent family constellations and to make the law more inclusive and gender neutral.
In orway, the government is taking legislative steps to protect against conversion therapy, a discredited practice often referred to as actions to make a person change or suppress their sexual orientation or gender identity. Despite this progress, the ordic countries still have work to do. e know that young TI people face harassment and discrimination at school, online and within their own families. A ordic study shows that TI pupils, to a greater degree than their peers, lack a supportive school environment, which can then lead to bullying and higher absence, school fatigue, and insecurity. e share a common obligation to make sure that health, education and care professionals are trained on TI issues. Authorities need to help ensure that young TI people feel free being out at school and that elderly TI people are not forced back into the closet in old age. e still do not know enough about the extent of multiple discrimination in the ordic egion. Consequently, we want to uncover how inequality and discrimination of TI people vary and are compounded by age, disability, ethnicity, indigenous status, religion or belief, urban rural location or socioeconomic status. The ordic countries have recently made TI policy part of the oﬃcial regional governmental co-operation. For us, leaving no one behind is one of the keys to a prosperous and cohesive society. In the new strategy of the ordic Council of inisters, we have endorsed three goals e will work to promote greater freedom and openness for TI people; promote a better quality of life and living conditions and ensure healthcare is accessible equally; and strengthen networks and civil society in the TI area. Against the backdrop of orld ride , we reaﬃrm our commitment to further action on these goals. e call upon other governments to speak up for equality, for the full and equal en oyment of human rights and to denounce all forms of discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics. ur support for civil society and our shared political commitment to give everyone the means to fully en oy all their human rights come at a critical time and will change the world for the better.
12 • AUGUST 27, 2021 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
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HRC must conduct fair investigation of its president David accused of playing role in Cuomo cover up
I’ve been digesting news reports of Andrew Cuomo, sexual harassment, and the reverberations in the LGBTQ community. Sexual harassment is despicable. No matter what form it takes. Charlotte Bennett, a Cuomo accuser, told investigators that Cuomo had asked her if she was monogamous. Cuomo has denied all allegations of sexual harassment. If you’re queer, either you or one of your friends, have likely been sexually harassed. Maybe you’ve been sexually assaulted. Perhaps, you have a friend who’s afraid to come out because their boss makes anti-queer “jokes.” In the s, I was ridiculed and reprimanded at a work staﬀ meeting for talking about the “gay sex life” of my (then) partner and myself. (The only thing I’d mentioned about my girlfriend and myself was that we both liked pizza with no anchovies.) Unfortunately, despite #MeToo and marriage equality, things haven’t changed that much regarding sexual harassment. In 2017, NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health conducted a poll of LGBTQ people. More than half of those surveyed, NPR reported, said that “they or an LGBTQ friend or family member have been sexually harassed.” Given the queer community’s experience with, and struggle against, sexual harassment, the allegations that, as the Blade reported, Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David potentially played a role in the coverup of Cuomo’s behavior, are profoundly disturbing. David, who before taking the helm at HRC in 2019, was counselor to Cuomo, denies that he’s done anything wrong. David is H C’s ﬁrst lack president in the organi ation’s year history. He’s worked to make HRC more diverse – more welcoming and inclusive for people of color and transgender people. He was instrumental in writing and getting marriage equality legislation passed in New York state. David may be innocent of any wrongdoing. But, the allegations of David’s potential complicity in Cuomo’s eﬀort to discredit his accusers are serious. He is named, as the Blade reports, nearly a dozen times in New York
Attorney General Letitia James’s report. The report found that Cuomo had sexually harassed at least 11 women employees. I’m not a lawyer. But James’s report doesn’t appear to be a hatchet job. The report seems to be well documented. In its aftermath, Cuomo would likely have been impeached if he hadn’t resigned. You’d think that HRC would have acted immediately — that it would have taken steps to investigate whether the allegations against David are true. After all, some H C staﬀ members have called for David’s resignation. Some of its donors, including Michigan’s attorney general, have called for David to step down. Instead, HRC issued a statement supporting David. Though the timing was coincidental, the group renewed David’s contract for ﬁve more years. After intense pressure, HRC, as the Blade reported, hired the law ﬁrm idley Austin to conduct a -day investigation of the allegations against David. This would be welcome, but the law ﬁrm has worked extensively with HRC. It says that it has had “a long standing relationship” with HRC. egally, this may not be a con ict of interest, but that doesn’t make it seem any less ﬁshy. ou can’t help but wonder how can a law ﬁrm that has a relationship with HRC conduct a fair, independent investigation of the allegations against David? uch an investigation’s ﬁndings would carry little weight in our perception of David and HRC. If the allegations against David were found to be untrue, what meaning would this ﬁnding have If HRC sincerely wants to conduct an independent investigation, the investigation shouldn’t be time-limited to days. For due diligence to be done, no time limit should be set on the inquiry. Lastly, David should be placed on unpaid, administrative leave while the investigation is taking place. I hope David will be found to be innocent of wrongdoing. But, to maintain its credibility, HRC must conduct a fair, transparent, independent investigation.
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • AUGUST 27, 2021 • 13
‘Firebird’ is an instantly classic LGBTQ love story A moving ﬁlm set in repressive oviet-occupied stonia By ROB WATSON
A common denominator for many LGBTQ people throughout the world in diﬀering cultures and under divergent political systems has been the oppression of hiding our secret love. To quote eauty and the east,” “it is a tale as old as time.” It is a tale we have seen on screen before. It is a tale some of us have lived, and for others, it is a life they are currently living beneath. ne such true story made its debut on the screens of utfest A last weekend. And while its theme may be familiar, the raw passion, the glorious romance and its layered nuances are unique. The ﬁlm is called Firebird.” Directed and co-scripted by eeter ebane it is based on the memoir by ergey Fetisov. In my conversation on ated T adio with eeter and his co-writer, and star of the ﬁlm, Tom rior, ebane said the ﬁlm has been described as a “Call Me By Your ame” set not against a sweet pastoral Tuscany backdrop, but against a repressive oviet-occupied stonia Cold ar one.” In the ﬁlm, ergey Tom rior , is a young private about to exit his time in the oviet Air Force. His closest friend is the secretary to the base commander uisa Diana o harskaya . ergey and uisa’s quasi romantic friendship is redirected when an incredibly dynamic maverick ﬁghter pilot arrives on the base, and both ergey and uisa are overwhelmed by his magnetism. That ﬁghter pilot is oman, played by leg agorodnii. agorodnii is a revelation. His performance is intense, sensitive and deep. He literally beat out , other actors for the role. And as impeccable as his nglish is in the ﬁlm, he only speaks ussian in real life. TOM PRIOR as Sergey with OLEG ZAGORODNII as Roman in ‘Firebird.’ (Photo courtesy of director Peeter Rebane) The performances by all three of the lead actors are nuanced, ebane from the beginning. As they were working on the script, ebane and rior beautiful, and completely authentic. They produce a magniﬁcent actually got to spend time with ergey to esh out their screenplay ideas. ebane said, chemistry that not only gives the audience full understanding of the love they exude “It was very humbling, he was such a loving person, considering what he has gone for each other, but also a cathartic desire to be one of them. through in life, to remain so positive and so compassionate and really so full of life and The true lovers of the piece are oman and ergey. Through a brilliant weaving of love towards other people. His main message to us was please make this ﬁlm about discussions about photography and theater, the passion between the two builds until love, not politics, even though it has a highly important social impact mission.” they share an impromptu and spontaneous kiss. As the unspoken feelings between rior, who played ergey in the ﬁlm, was also deeply moved. “I saw that his love them become evident, the most important relationship in the ﬁlm emerges. for oman opened the world for him. He proceeded to live in hope, and stay true to The oppressions of the and the society they live in creates a “virtual character” himself, and that’s really what I took from meeting the real man and it was the honor that stands up as a nemesis against the love the men have discovered and want to to get to know him.” nurture. hile that oppression is brilliantly portrayed in a three-dimensional way In the ﬁlm, “Firebird” is a glorious ballet that oman takes ergey to before the by argus rangel as the intrusive a or verev, the true villain is Fear’ itself. rior passions erupt between them. It is a colorful, exciting, and fabulous display of a red described that element of the ﬁlm, “Fear was its own character in the ﬁlm. ou see enchanted bird with a magical feather. The bird represents rebirth and defeats a it in small moments the characters walk past a corridor at one point and see people horrible nightmarish demon. secretly recording their neighbors. ou ust see the image of a recording equipment adly, the real ergey did not get to see his life brought to the screen by ebane and and people listening. The oviet nion wasn’t free, you’re kind of being policed and rior. He died before they had even ﬁnished the ﬁnal script. They felt compelled to literally its in the walls, they have ears and you’ve got to be very mindful about how travel to ussia to mourn him They went to his wake, his funeral and fully absorbed you speak. The level of fear becomes not something you can necessarily see but more his essence. something you can feel.” hat has emerged is a ﬁlm that transcends all of its elements. It is a ﬁlm with a hen the relationship is almost exposed, oman ﬁnds himself driven to marry uisa gorgeous and talented cast. It is a ﬁlm with tension and intrigue of the deepest of love and denies ergey. ver the next years, the relationships overlap, collide and ultimately stories. It is a ﬁlm of poetic subtexts and literary allusions. It is a ﬁlm with an important lead to an ill-fated end. glimpse into a unique window of history. The magic of Firebird” is not in its passionate and sadly beautiful plot, however. It is et it is more than all of that. It is a ﬁlm of rebirth, ﬁnding hope and truth as we in the intense performance of its three principal actors. ach character pro ects their emerge from life’s cruel ironies. story, their con ict and their love in subtle but profound ways the looks in their eyes, ergey Fetisov did not live to see his love story delivered to the hearts of a soon to the touch of their hands and the intensity of their kisses. be adoring public. ut like the Firebird, eeter ebane and Tom rior have brought his Firebird” has the makings of a screen classic. Its stars have presence and their soul and his love back to life. It is aming forth on the screens of T ﬁlm festivals characters walk with you after the ﬁlm is done. They are easily comparable to starand on its way to move the whole world. crossed lovers of Casablanca,” rokeback ountain,” A tar is orn.” athe in it. oak it up. ergey would have wanted it that way. The fact that this is a true story, and that ergey Fetisov lived it, was what impacted
14 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • AUGUST 27, 2021
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a Bo le a d o e h to
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Two outstanding LGBTQ documentaries arrive
By JOHN PAUL KING a powerful journalistic call to action, a reminder that the It’s a great time to be alive for queer documentary fans. struggles of our past are connected in an unbroken line It seems as if every month brings a whole new crop of to those of the present. ust as importantly, as a ﬁlmic titles, covering a broad array of sub ects and oﬀering new portrait of a one-of-a-kind icon, it introduces Norman, in insights about the LGBTQ history you thought you knew – all her deﬁantly eccentric charm and glory, to a world that as well as introducing you to pieces of it that you’ve never will likely always need to hear what she had to say. even heard of. Tackling what might at ﬁrst seem a lighter topic is That’s a good thing. It reassures us that our queer “Boulevard! A Hollywood Story,” which also screened at cultural history, once in danger of being buried in the Outfest for its world premiere presentation. The latest homophobic haze of a past that wanted to pretend we documentary from mmy winner eﬀrey chwar I didn’t exist, is ﬁnally being recorded for posterity, and that Am Divine,” Tab Hunter Conﬁdential,” The Fabulous the stories of our unsung heroes will be preserved. Alan Carr”) takes viewers on a forensic deep-dive into One such hero is the subject of “AIDS Diva: The Legend the archives and ﬁling cabinets of Hollywood history to of Connie Norman,” which screened at Los Angeles’ unearth the little-known story of a musical that never venerable Outfest LGBTQ Film Festival last week. Directed was – an ambitious adaptation of “Sunset Boulevard” by award-winning ﬁlmmaker Dante Alencastre aising commissioned by none other than that classic ﬁlm’s star Zoey,” “Transvisible: The Bamby Salcedo Story”) it spotlights Gloria Swanson herself. a remarkable ﬁgure who rose to prominence during the Swanson, of course, was a one-time silent cinema AIDS crisis, but who would seem right at home in today’s goddess whose electrifying performance as faded-andera of “woke” activism. Indeed, she’d be front and center, psychotic movie star Norma Desmond in Billy Wilder’s teaching all of us a few things about how to keep the ‘AIDS Diva’ CONNIE NORMAN dark, noir-ish satire of the Hollywood dream machine had movement advancing ever forward. ( hoto o te t e t) given her a brief return to the limelight 20 years For those who don’t know – and unless you after her own silver screen heyday had ended. were in Los Angeles during the early ‘90s, chances When further roles failed to materialize despite are good that you don’t – Connie Norman was a the movie’s success and the rave reviews it had masterful spokesperson for ACT UP/LA in the late earned her, she hit upon the notion of turning ‘80s and early ’90s Los Angeles, a self-appointed the ﬁlm into a roadway musical as a sure-ﬁre “AIDS Diva” who described herself as “an ex-drag vehicle for herself. In pursuit of this goal, she hired queen, ex-hooker, ex-IV drug user, ex-high-risk Dickson Hughes and ichard tapley, two young youth and current post-operative transsexual songwriters and romantic partners, and the three woman who is HIV positive.” Above all, however, of them began a three-way collaboration that she called herself simply “a human being seeking soon began to have unsettling parallels with the my humanity.” story of “Sunset Boulevard” itself. The aging star tanding proudly in her multiple, uid, and developed an infatuation with the handsome evolving T identities, she became a ﬁxture Stapley, creating a tense dynamic into the creative in the campaign to raise awareness about the threesome. It drove a wedge between the couple, terrifying epidemic that was decimating the queer and ultimately ensured that the project – a community – and the inadequate, often inhumane tentative proposition to begin with – would never care aﬀorded to its stigmati ed victims. In addition reach fruition. to her work with ACT UP, she shared her soulful DICKSON HUGHES a d RICHARD STAPLEY a GLORIA SWANSON Bo le a d If that were all there was to the story, and salty rantings and intersectional politics oll ood to ( hoto o te he l olla o at e) “Boulevard!” would still be an entertaining nugget through her local LGBTQ newspaper column and of show biz ephemera and worth watching every her pioneering LGBTQ cable television show – the one of its 85 minutes. But there’s much more to be revealed in Schwarz’s detailed excavation ﬁrst daily talk show about gay issues hosted by a gay rights activist on a commercial os of this footnote in Hollywood history; within the remarkable tale he unearths is woven a Angeles-area station. She charmed even the opposition with her piercing and compassionate moving, bittersweet love story between two young men at a time when such things were voice, building bridges in gender issues and politics and evoking a humanitarian, neighborly, hard enough already without a movie diva inserting herself into the mix. In the process, the transcendent vision of life and love not just for her own queer tribe but for all. Herself seasoned documentarian delivers a powerful, observational document of gay love in middiagnosed with AIDS, she continued to work tirelessly until her death from complications of th century America, bringing a cumulative emotional power to his ﬁlm that is sure to bring the disease in 1996. A few months later, her ashes were scattered on the White House lawn tears to many viewers’ eyes before the ﬁnal credits role. as part of ACT UP’s “ashes action” in protest of government inaction against AIDS. hat’s particularly striking in chwar ’ ﬁlm is the kindness it bestows upon its sub ects. In Alencastre’s brisk but engrossing documentary, Norman emerges through extensive Swanson, despite her role as a would-be femme fatale coming between two committed archival footage as a larger-than-life personality that nevertheless exudes authenticity and lovers, is never treated with anything but dignity and respect, and her two erstwhile the kind of “real talk” attitude that somehow acknowledges the value in everyone, whether collaborators whose post- wanson stories each took unexpected turns come oﬀ as a pair on her side or against it. The footage, much of it little seen if at all in the quarter century of imperfect “everymen” who achieve a kind of grace even as success eludes their grasp. The since her death, is largely rough by today’s standards – after all, most of it is culled from local result is a ﬁlm that far transcends the trivial pursuit at its center to provide an empathetic news and cable broadcasts of the time – but that technology gap does nothing to mute her contemplation of life, love, growing old, and rising above our failures. passionate voice nor dim the brightness of her light. Indeed, there’s an immediacy about her It’s Schwarz’s best movie to date, and that’s saying a lot. in every appearance that transcends time and seems directed entirely at our contemporary No release date has yet been announced for “AIDS Diva” or “Boulevard!” – but keep your world, urging modern viewers to once more wake up, take action, and fully engage with eyes open, because each of them is a history lesson you won’t want to miss. our collective lives and our world. From an activist standpoint, it makes Alencastre’s ﬁlm 16
A worthy sequel to ‘Maurice’ revisits classic love story After going to war, couple reunite in intriguing Alec’
By KATHI WOLFE A happy ending was imperative,” Forster writes in a Terminal ote” on aurice,” I A sequel that’s nearly as good as the original! An intriguing queer love story! What more shouldn’t have bothered to write otherwise.” could you ask for as summer ends? I was determined that in ﬁction anyway,” he adds, two men should fall in love and remain Today, on and oﬀ the page, queers fall in love, have sex, couple up, marry embrace in it for the ever and ever that ﬁction allows, and in this sense aurice and Alec still roam the polyamory as frequently and openly as politicos trade insults. greenwood.” ut, until recently, you rarely found T characters in books. ith few exceptions, when Forster’s legacy has had a reemergence in this century. n eauty,” the novel by adie you encountered queer people in ﬁction, they were sick, dying, or in ail. mith is an homage to Howards nd.” It’s hard to overstate how revolutionary it was for queers when aurice” by the queer, atthew ope ’s play The Inheritance,” which ran on roadway, is, also, in part, an homage ritish writer . . Forster was posthumously published in . to Howards nd.” For many of us, it was the ﬁrst time we read a love story in which queer lovers ended up any sequels, no matter how well-intended, aren’t good. alive unrepentant and unpunished. This is even more true when classic novels like aurice” are Forster, who died at in , began writing aurice” in and ﬁnished it in . et, involved. he felt it couldn’t be published during his lifetime. et, in Alec,” distinguished, gay playwright di Can io has Forster’s novels especially, A assage to India” and Howards nd” were critically acclaimed. pulled oﬀ an engrossing, lively, moving feat of the imagination. Forster lectured in ngland and the nited tates. isteners heard him on the radio as he In aurice,” we see things from aurice’s perspective. read his acclaimed essay hat I elieve.” n a visit to his friend Clive, a country squire, he meets Alec, In this essay, Forster spoke of his belief in personal relations, endorsed the humanistic Clive’s game keeper. values of tolerance, good temper and sympathy” and decried authoritarianism. e know that Alec and aurice, after both trying to His assertion in hat I elieve, that if I had to choose between betraying my country and blackmail each other, fall in love. ut we learn little about Alec betraying my friend I hope I should have the guts to betray my country,” has been a credo for except that he loves aurice. many. In Alec,” we view things from Alec’s eyes. Alec, in di Can io’s et, because being queer was illegal in the nited ingdom for most of his lifetime, Forster reimagining, is a three-dimensional character with feelings, didn’t want to publish aurice” while he was alive. ambitions and a back story. Homosexuality wasn’t decriminali ed in the nited ingdom until . orn in Dorset, ngland in to working class parents, Though he was out to some of his friends, Forster couldn’t be openly gay because of the Alec loves to read. He knows, because of his class, that he homophobia of his time. won’t be able to go to college. aurice,” which Forster dedicated To a Happier ear,” doesn’t ust have T characters. ‘Alec’ ut he soaks up as much literature as he can at the library. Its two gay male lovers, Cambridge-educated, upper-class aurice, and Alec, a gamekeeper, By William di Canzio end up happily. c. , Farrar, traus iroux e may worry about what obstacles they’ll run into while living in such a repressive time. ut pages $27 | we know that they’ve gone oﬀ together. CONTINUES AT LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • AUGUST 27, 2021 • 17
Maddow reaches multi-year deal with MSBNC expressed openness to exiting when her deal ends, citing a desire to spend more time with her family and the toll of hosting a nightly program since 2008. It was widely reported that Maddow was considering starting her own media ventures but had instead hired super-agent Ari Emanuel to negotiate a new deal after months of considering options from would-be suitors Business Insider reported. She will continue to host “The Rachel Maddow Show” weeknights at least in the short term. The ﬁve-day-aweek show will end next year as Maddow shifts gears to a weekly format, according to a CNN report. FROM STAFF REPORTS
One of the most visible LGBTQ journalists and MSNBC’s most popular primetime anchor, Rachel Maddow, has negotiated a new multi-year contract with parent company NBCUniversal according to Business Insider magazine. Maddow’s decision to stay with the network also included developing new projects. The 48-year-old lesbian anchor had been mulling leaving the coveted primetime nightly broadcast for several months when her contract expires in 2022, according to reports. The Daily Beast reported on Aug. 12, while the star host has occasionally entertained other oﬀers in the past, she has in recent months increasingly RACHEL MADDOW is staying at MSNBC after a contract extension. (Screenshot via MSNBC)
Star of popular YouTube show ‘The Horizon’ dies at 33 The family of Francis ‘Frankie’ Mossman, the native New Zealand star of the hit viral web series ‘The Horizon’ on YouTube acknowledged the actor’s death at age 33 on Aug. 14, but did not specify a cause. Mossman was best known for his recurring role as Stevie Hughes in the acclaimed LGBTQthemed web series ﬁlmed in suburban ydney, Australia, which was made in partnership with the AIDS Council of New South Wales. The show is now in its eighth season. The Horizon is the most successful online series made in Australia and the most watched LGBTQ web series in the world. ossman, in what was his ﬁnal Instagram post, shared a photo of himself as a child, alongside the caption: “Who would have known this boy would endure so much pain.” The actor’s hometown paper in Auckland, The New Zealand Herald and in his adopted hometown in Australia, Sydney’s Morning Herald have reported that Mossman took his own life but that has yet to be conﬁrmed. Australia’s largest LGBTQ publication, the Star-Observer reported Mossman studied at the University of Auckland where he earned his bachelor’s in Drama and Film and his master’s in Film, Television and Media Studies. The Star-Observer went on to note that the actor was a “complex soul, yearning for success with every ﬁbre of his being.” “Wanting to be loved and accepted with every breath. His love of animals said a lot about Francis as did his big heart when speaking to those in need.” Mossman moved from Auckland to Sydney in 2012 with dreams of making it as an actor. Back in New Zealand, he appeared in kids’ series “Amazing Extraordinary Friends” and the soap “Shortland Street.” FROM STAFF REPORTS
18 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • AUGUST 27, 2021
FRANCIS ‘FRANKIE’ MOSSMAN (Photo via Mossman Instagram)