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SE PT E MB E R 17, 2021 • VO L UM E 05 • ISSUE 3 8 • AMERICA’ S LGBT Q NEW S SO U R C E • LO SAN G ELESB LAD E. C O M
Evangelical Lutheran Church installs ﬁrst trans prelate The Rev. Dr. Megan Rohrer was installed as the ﬁrst openly transgender bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America on Saturday, in services held at the Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. The presiding bishop of the ELCA, Elizabeth Eaton, led the installation ceremony. “My call is to be up to the same messy, loving things I was up to before,” Rohrer told those gathered in the cathedral. “But mostly, if you’ll let me, and I think you will, my hope is to love you and beyond that, to love what you love.” The bishop will lead one of the church’s 65 synods, overseeing nearly 200 congregations in Northern California and northern Nevada. Rohrer, who uses the pronouns they/them, was elected to serve as bishop after the retirement of their predecessor. The Sioux Falls, South Dakota native had moved to the Golden State to pursue master and doctoral degrees at the Paciﬁc School of Religion in
The Rev. MEGAN ROHRER (Photo by Vince Donovan)
Berkeley. In 2010, they became one of seven openly out LGBTQ pastors accepted by the Evangelical Lutheran church after it allowed ordination of pastors in samesex relationships. The bishop and their spouse are raising two children and prior to installation, Rohrer was pastor of the Grace Lutheran Church and served as a chaplain coordinator for the city of San Francisco’s police department. Rohrer has assisted in ministering to the city’s homeless and LGTBQ community for a number of years. “I step into this role because a diverse community of Lutherans in Northern California and Nevada prayerfully and thoughtfully voted to do a historic thing,” Rohrer said in a statement. “My installation will celebrate all that is possible when we trust God to shepherd us forward.” The synod Rohrer leads is part of the largest Christian denominations in the United States with about 3.3 million members. BRODY LEVESQUE
Connie Norman Transgender Empowerment Center for Los Angeles opens mark Trans Visibility Day. In a location that once housed the AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s Linn House, a hospice “It was the late ‘80s and I was still new to “gay” journalism so I followed standard reporter for people dying from AIDS, the ﬁrst facility of its kind nationwide serving trans and nonpractice of mingling with the crowd, getting a sense of what was going on, then asking to binary individuals and communities of, by and for trans and nonbinary individuals opened speak with the organization’s spokesperson. […] Sept. 10. For a bit I was stuck in my transition from old mainstream to LGBTQ/AIDS thinking. Named for and dedicated in honor of Connie Norman, known as the ‘AIDS Diva,’ a Luckily, Connie decided to educate me anyway. She invited me to her home — which she fearless transgender and AIDS activist who died of the disease in 1996. shared with her gay husband (who I recognized from 12 Step rooms) and LOTS of cats – and The Connie Norman Transgender Empowerment Center, will serve as a home for several sat me in front of a video of her teaching a class of students Trans-led organizations including FLUX, a national division of about what it meant to be transsexual or transgender. […] the Aids Healthcare Foundation and the Unique Woman’s Curiously, after the video ended, Connie’s friend Harry Hay Coalition (UWC). The center will focus on building capacity, and his partner John Burnside (who turned out to be relative advocacy and overall health and wellness of the Transgender neighbors in WeHo) showed up and educated me about gays and Non-Binary communities. being Nature’s third sex. It was an amazing night. Connie was The 20,000 square-foot building has been repurposed to so generous with so many people. Most importantly for me – function as a sort of ‘WeWork’ space for Trans-led organizations aside from being a reliable source of information so I could do to have a place to do their work, grow and be aﬃrmed. my job properly — she smiled when she saw me. She made so “Named after a Diva like Connie Norman, supported by many of us feel warm and loved and supported.” an institution like AHF and led by two respected Trans orgs “When Connie Norman was living her ﬁnal days at AHF’s like the UWC and FLUX—this is historic! An entire building Chris Brownlie Hospice, she bequeathed her childhood teddy where trans people are at the helm, making decisions bear to me, asking that I please help look after her Trans and innovating,” said Queen Victoria Ortega, Founder and sisters and brothers she was leaving behind. I can think of International President of FLUX. “We are committed to making no better way to honor that request than with this Connie sure our community has a voice. Now, we have this incredible Connie Norman Trans Center Ribbon Cutting Ceremony on Sept. 10. (Photo by Ged Kenslea) Norman Transgender Empowerment Center that we dedicate building as a home for those voices. I believe that great things today,” said Michael Weinstein, president of AHF and a good are going to happen here, really great things!” friend of Norman’s. Norman was a force to be reckoned with according to Norman’s teddy bear will also now take up residence at the new facility in a Los Angeles based ﬁlmmaker Dante Alencastre’s 2020 documentary ﬁlm AIDS Diva: The commemorative plexiglass display case. In addition, September 10th 2021 will also be Legend Of Connie Norman, which was released 25 years after Norman’s death. known as Connie Norman Transgender Empowerment Day via proclamation by the City In a short bio published by FLUX the group noted, “Connie Norman (1949 – July 15, 1996) of West Hollywood. was an AIDS and gay and transgender rights activist with ACT UP/LA. Beginning in 1991, The facility will also be home to a food bank opening onsite Monday, September 13th (12 she was the host of the ﬁrst daily commercial talk radio show about gay issues in Los noon- 2:00 pm). A ‘Clothing Closet’ to assist Trans and other individuals will also open onsite Angeles, and also co-hosted a television show. After her death from AIDS, ACT UP scattered in the future and an AHF Healthcare Center serving the needs of Trans and nonbinary her ashes on the White House lawn.’ patients is set to open in 2022. Veteran LGBTQ journalist and the former Editor of the Los Angeles Blade, Karen Ocamb BRODY LEVESQUE membered the formidable Norman in a March 31, 2021 commentary piece published to LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • SEPTEMBER 17, 2021 • 03
In landslide, Gov. Newsom survives recall attempt ‘This turnout means Californians rejected Larry Elder and Trumpism’ By BRODY LEVESQUE
re ected on the results. The early results of the “I think that this shows two special recall election to remove things- a resounding victory Democratic California Gov. but also a clear rebuke of the Gavin Newsom revealed that a general strategy of the GOP, ” majority of the Golden State’s Low said. “This is an aﬃrmationvoters were not inclined to oust a yes on vaccines, a yes to him. With 62.17 % precincts addressing climate change, a yes reporting, the ‘No’ vote was on women’s rights and a yes to 65.66% versus the ‘Yes’ vote at inclusiveness for LGBTQ people 34.34%. from the highest oﬃceholder in Speaking to Californians in the state,” he added. a broadcast in the hours after “This shows that voters think polls had closed Newsom the state is headed in the right thanked his supporters but also direction and that they are cautioned that while the victory behind having Newsom as the retains him in oﬃce, “Trumpism ‘CEO’ of the 5th largest economy is still a threat,” the governor in the world,” Low said. said. “There is a mandate- really “‘No’ is not the only thing there’s a wide range of reasons that was expressed tonight,” but importantly having a proNewsom said. “I want to focus LGBTQ governor is critical, on what we said ‘yes’ to as a especially when you look at state: We said yes to science, the divisiveness of the GOP we said yes to vaccines, we said and their policies,” Low told the yes to ending this pandemic, we Gov. Gavin Newsom speaking to supporters Tuesday evening. Blade. said yes to people’s right to vote (Screenshot via KTLA) Rick Zbur, the outgoing without fear of fake fraud or Executive Director of Equality voter suppression.” California, said in an emailed statement: “Tonight, we have defeated the anti-LGBTQ , antiThe driving force to the recall had been the underlying conditions brought about by the abortion, anti-immigrant, anti-science and anti-worker Republican Recall. We have aﬃrmed coronavirus pandemic and anger over crushing job losses from business closures, shuttered our California values and our support for Gavin Newsom, the most pro-equality governor in schools and restrictions that kept most children out of classrooms. Rising homicides, a California history, and his tireless e orts to build a California for all. LGBTQ Californians — homelessness crisis and an unemployment fraud scandal further angered some voters 12 of registered voters in the Golden State — and our pro-equality allies played a decisive particularly in Republican circles. role in this resounding victory. A UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll cosponsored by the Los Angeles “To be clear, California has big challenges ahead of us. We need to beat this pandemic, Times released last Friday, showed that 60.1% of likely voters surveyed oppose recalling rebuild our economy, safeguard reprodutive freedom, solve our homelessness crisis, save Newsom compared with 38.5% in favor of ousting the governor. our planet from climate change and create a world that is healthy, just and fully equal for all The rise of the highly contagious delta variant had also led the governor to frame the race LGBTQ people. Governor Newsom is up for the task, and so are we. Let’s get back to work.” as one of “life or death” consequences. Newsom would point out that measures he had A Democratic party insider source told the Blade, “Look- this recall turnout means taken versus actions by Governor Greg Abbott in Texas and his fellow Republican Governor Californians rejected Larry Elder and Trumpism. This was also a referendum on LGBTQ Ron DeSantis Florida, which experienced worsening surges as Abbott and DeSantis both equality- Gavin is the most pro-LGBTQ politician- hell he ran and continues to run on LGBTQ rejected mask and vaccine mandates. issues, tonight voters agreed that those matter, that people matter, and that Newsom is their Newsom warned that if conservative talk show host Larry Elder were to take the governor’s choice to continue to lead the state.” chair, California could become as bad o as Texas and Florida as Elder has expressed his Although Newsom was handed as victory of sorts, the Los Angeles Times pointed out that opposition to mandatory mask orders and vaccination mandates for state workers. the conservative right-wing radio host who emerged as the front runner will very much have a say as the Republican party looks to 2022. Polling from the Public Policy Institute of California showed Newsom’s approval rating “Although the e ort to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom failed, the lightning two-month remaining above 50% throughout the pandemic. With weeks to go, the institute’s poll campaign appears to have had at least one clear beneﬁciary – Larry Elder. showed 60% of Californians approved of Newsom’s handling of the pandemic. The outspoken conservative talk show host is now the leader of the California Republican In a phone interview Tuesday evening after the polls had closed and it was apparent party, and a growing national ﬁgure. So what is next for Elder He now has opportunities but Newsom would remain Governor, Assemblymember Evan Low, (D) who represents the also big challenges to broaden his appeal in a very blue state.” 28th California Assembly District and is the Chair of the California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus
04 • SEPTEMBER 17, 2021 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
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‘Stealthing’ condom removal bill heads to Newsom The article also encourages new Torts against the An onerous practice of nonconsensual and practice to allow victims to establish a cause of action. intentional removal or tampering with the condom Stealthing has also been labeled ‘rape-adjacent.’ during sexual intercourse known as ‘stealthing’ will “It’s disgusting that there are online communities now have consequences and civil liabilities. that defend and encourage stealthing and give advice Assembly Bill 453 authored by Assemblymember on how to get away with removing the condom Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) passed both the without the consent of their partner, but there is Senate and the Assembly with wide bi-partisan nothing in law that makes it clear that this is a crime. support and no opposition. The bill now awaits This would be a ﬁrst of its kind in the Nation, and I Governor Gavin Newsom’s signature. that urge Governor Newsom to sign AB 453 to make “I have been working on the issue of ‘stealthing’ it clear that stealthing is not just immoral but illegal,” since 2017. And I won’t stop until there is some Garcia urged. accountability for those who perpetrate the act. On Friday, Buzzfeed reported that the inspiration Sexual assaults, especially those on wome behind Garcia’s legislation is 31-year-old civil rights “So much stigma is attached to this issue, that attorney, Alexandra Brodsky, who wrote the paper even after every critic lauded Micheala Coel’s, I May cited by the Assemblymember as basis for the law Destroy for its compelling depiction of the horrors when she was a Yale law student. of sexual abuse including of ‘stealthing,’ it got zero ISO 12647-7 Digital Control Strip 2009 “I wrote paper third40 100 year40of school Globe nominations. That doesn’t seem 30 like an 100 60 100 70 30 100 60 100 70 100 60 100 70 the 30 100in 40 my 40 100 70 40law 70 40 40 40 70 40 A Golden and never dreamed it would actually in uence law in accident or coincidence to me,” she added. any kind of way,” Brodsky told BuzzFeed News. ‘Stealthing’ is the nonconsensual and intentional Buzzfeed also noted that Brodsky’s paper garnered removal or tampering with the condom during sexual national attention and is often cited in anti-stealthing intercourse. A study by ale University (Columbia B 100 100 60 100 100 70 70 30 30 Law, 100 100 60Vol. 100 100 100 100 70 70 70e orts. 30 30 Her 100paper contended that 40 100 40 40 100 10 40 40 stealthing 20 70 70 70 70 40 Journal of Gender and 32, 70No. 2,30 30201100 )100 60 legislative transformed consensual sex into nonconsensual sex calls “stealthing” “a grave violation of dignity and and was a “grave violation of dignity and autonomy.” autonomy” and reports that cases of “stealthing” are FROM STAFF REPORTS on the rise among women and gay men. 3%
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LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • SEPTEMBER 17, 2021 • 07
Melania Trump to speak at Log Cabin dinner
Former ﬁrst lady Melania Trump is set to be a special guest at the annual “Spirit of Lincoln” dinner hosted by Log Cabin Republicans, the organization announced on Tuesday. The event — which will take place Nov. 6 at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., marking a change of tradition in holding the dinner in D.C. — will likely mark ormer ﬁrst lady MELANIA TRUMP is slated to attend the ‘Spirit an attempt for Melania of Lincoln’ dinner in November. Trump to develop her image as an LGBTQ ally and tamp down the reputation of the Trump administration as hostile to LGBTQ people. Charles Moran, managing director of Log Cabin Republicans, hailed Melania Trump in a statement for her work as ﬁrst lady and breaking barriers for the Republican Party. “Melania Trump’s work as ﬁrst lady, from helping children reach their full potential to championing a more inclusive Republican Party, has been historic,” Moran said. “Her vocal support of Log Cabin Republicans has been a signal to Republicans everywhere that it is possible to simultaneously be conservative and support equality under the law for all Americans.” According to the Log Cabin Republicans, Melania Trump at the dinner will be awarded the 2021 Spirit of Lincoln Award. Other high-proﬁle Republicans in the past who have appeared at the annual event are Carly Fiorina, Newt Gingrich, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and Mary Cheney. Moran, in response to an email inquiry from the Blade, said Melania Trump will not only
be an award recipient, but is set to deliver remarks at the event. It won’t be the ﬁrst time Melania Trump has collaborated with Log Cabin. During the 2020 election, she appeared in a video for Outspoken, the media arm for Log Cabin Republicans, saying “nothing could be further from the truth” that her husband, former President Trump, is against LGBTQ people. Among the anti-LGBTQ policies under Trump were a transgender military ban, religious freedom carve-outs to enable anti-LGBTQ discrimination, and the U.S. Justice Department arguing against LGBTQ inclusion under civil rights law when the issue was before the U.S. Supreme Court. Nonetheless, Trump connected with a certain faction of LGBTQ people and his administration included high-proﬁle LGBTQ appointees, such as Richard Grenell as the ﬁrst openly gay person to serve in a Cabinet role, though he was never conﬁrmed by the Senate. As ﬁrst reported by the Blade, Melania Trump said in 2020 she wanted to light up the White House in rainbow colors similar to the display during the Obama years after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled for same-sex marriage nationwide. However, the vision never came to pass at a time when White House Chief of Sta Mark Meadows had a role in quashing any symbolic support for LGBTQ people during Pride month. The Log Cabin announcement comes at a time when Melania Trump is facing new scrutiny over her response to the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and whether she erroneously believes, like her husband, he was the winner of the 2020 election. According to a preview in Politico, former White House press secretary and Melania Trump aide Stephanie Grisham says in her upcoming book she texted the former ﬁrst lady on Jan. 6 to ask: “Do you want to tweet that peaceful protests are the right of every American, but there is no place for lawlessness and violence ” A minute later, Melania replied with a one-word answer: “No,” Grisham reportedly writes of her account. At that moment, Grisham writes she was at the White House preparing for a photo shoot of a rug she had selected, according to Politico. The Blade has placed a request with the oﬃce of former President Donald Trump to conﬁrm her appearance at the dinner and comment on what went into Melania Trump’s decision to appear at the event. CHRIS JOHNSON
Poll: 57% of Americans back deal on LGBTQ rights, religious liberty Fifty-seven percent of Americans support a bipartisan deal to reach a compromise on religious freedom and LGBTQ rights, according to new polling shared with the Washington Blade in advance of publication. With no hope in sight for the Equality Act — legislation to expand the prohibition on anti-LGBTQ discrimination under federal law — the poll suggests a compromise alternative, such as the Fairness for All Act, might be the way to go. The poll was sponsored by Alliance for Lasting Liberty, an organization that advocates for a solution along those lines. The poll ﬁnds supermajorities of Americans expressed strong support for LGBTQ rights across the board, including in health care, homeless shelters and employment. Around three-fourths of Americans polled aﬃrmatively for each on whether they were against anti-LGBTQ discrimination in all areas protected by civil rights laws. At the same time, the poll found a majority of the public supports religious freedom. For example, 55 percent of respondents said religious schools should be able to have religious codes of conduct, while 54 percent said they shouldn’t be denied tax-exempt status over views on marriage and sexuality. The poll also found a majority of Americans — 5 percent — support a bipartisan solution to resolve the issue of religious freedom and LGBTQ rights. Meanwhile, 63 percent say they’d vote for a lawmaker who supports religious freedom, compared to 5 percent who say
08 • SEPTEMBER 17, 2021 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
they’d vote for a politician who supports LGBTQ rights legislation. Another point of interest is a question on whether Congress and the courts should be the ones to resolve where the line should be drawn on LGBTQ rights and religious freedom. A plurality of 4 percent said they support having lawmakers address the issue as opposed to the courts, compared to the 15 percent who say they oppose it. The polling comes out on the day a virtual panel was scheduled to take place with religious leaders making the case for a compromise on religious freedom and LGBTQ rights. Notable among the speakers is Walter Kim, a theologian who last year became president of the National Association of Evangelicals — a group of denominations and institutions not known for their support for LGBTQ rights. Other speakers are Rev. Marian Edmonds-Allen, an executive director of Parity, a N C-based national non-proﬁt that works at the intersection of faith and LGBTQ concerns Shirley Hoogstra, president of the Council for Christian Colleges Universities and Justin Giboney, president of the AND Campaign, a Christian civic organization made up of in uential Black clergy. The poll was conducted by APCO Insight in the form of nationally representative survey of 1,000 Americans about their opinions on LGBTQ civil rights and religious freedom. The online survey was conducted from July 22-23 and has a conﬁdence interval of plus-orminus 3.1 percentage points. CHRIS JOHNSON
Blinken expresses concern over LGBTQ Afghans
Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday expressed concern over the fate of LGBTQ Afghans who remain in the country after the Taliban regained control of it. Rhode Island Congressman David Cicilline asked Blinken during a House Foreign A airs Committee hearing that focused on the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan about a 10-point plan to protect LGBTQ Afghans for which the Council for Global Equality and ﬁve other advocacy Secretary of State ANTONY BLINKEN groups have called the Biden administration to (Photo public domain) implement. Blinken told Cicilline, a Democrat, that he had “not personally seen the report that you referred to …, but I’m going to take a look at that myself.” “Thank you for rightfully putting the spotlight on concerns about the LGBTQI+ community in Afghanistan and the particular threat that they ﬁnd themselves under,” said Blinken.
“This is something that we are focused on.” The Taliban entered Kabul, the Afghan capital on Aug. 15 and toppled then-President Ashraf Ghani’s government. A Taliban judge in July said the group would once again execute gay men if it were to return to power in Afghanistan. The U.S. evacuated more than 100,000 people from the country before American troops completed their withdrawal from the country on Aug. 30. It remains unclear whether any LGBTQ Afghans were among those who were able to leave during the evacuations from Kabul International Airport, but Immigration Equality last week said it spoke “directly” with 50 LGBTQ Afghans before the U.S. withdrawal ended. Canada is thus far the only country that has speciﬁcally said it would o er refuge to LGBTQ Afghans. “It’s important, in my view, that we take steps to ensure that those who would be subjected to violence or worse because of their sexual orientation or gender identity are safe,” Cicilline told Blinken during the hearing. MICHAEL K. LAVERS
OAS commission calls for Venezuela to protect LGBTQ rights The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has called for Venezuela to do more to protect LGBTQ people from violence and discrimination. The report the commission released on Sept. 8 speciﬁcally notes six men on May 31, 2020, attacked Jorge Granado in Ciudad Guayana, a city in Bolívar state, because of his sexual orientation. The report also notes Marcy vila, an LGBTQ rights activist, has su ered “harassment.” Violence against transgender Venezuelans remains commonplace in Caracas, the Venezuelan capital, and throughout the country. Yonatan Matheus and Wendell Oviedo, co-founders of Venezuela Diversa, a Venezuelan LGBTQ rights group, received death threats after they publicly urged authorities to investigate the murders of two trans women. Matheus and Oviedo in 2016 ed to New ork, and have asked for asylum in the U.S. Members of Venezuela’s General Directorate of Military Counterintelligence on Jan. 12, 2021, raided the oﬃces of Azul Positivo, an HIV AIDS service organization in Maracaibo, a city in ulia state, and arrested President Johan Le n Reyes and ﬁve other sta members. Venezuelan police on Feb. 15, 2019, raided the oﬃces of Fundaci n Mavid, another HIV AIDS
service organization in Valencia, a city in Carabobo state, and arrested three sta ers after they conﬁscated donated infant formula and medications for people with HIV AIDS. “The IACHR reminds the state of Venezuela of its obligation to guarantee the protection of LGBTI persons; address the underlying causes of violence and discrimination against them; as well as act with due diligence to prevent, investigate, adjudicate, sanction and remedy the human rights violations against LGBTI people,” reads the report. The report also notes the lack of legal protections — including in the country’s hate crimes law — for LGBTQ Venezuelans and adds the country uses Article 565 of the Organic Code of Military Justice and other statutes “to criminalize people based on their real or perceived sexual orientation.” “For the above, the commission reminds the state of Venezuela of its duty to repeal legal provisions that criminalize, directly or indirectly, the conduct of people based on their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression,” reads the report. The report notes trans Venezuelans cannot legally change their gender without medical interventions. Venezuela’s constitution also deﬁnes marriage as between a man and a woman. MICHAEL K. LAVERS
Advocates urge Biden to protect LGBTQ Afghans
A group of six advocacy groups last week urged the Biden administration to develop a 10-point plan to protect LGBTQ Afghans after the Taliban regained control of their country. The Council for Global Equality; the Human Rights Campaign; Immigration Equality; the International Refugee Assistance Project; the Organization for Refuge, Asylum and Migration and Rainbow Railroad in a letter they sent to President Biden called for his administration to “prioritize the evacuation and resettlement of vulnerable refugee populations, including LGBTQI people, and ensure that any transitory stay in a third country is indeed temporary by expediting refugee processing.” The other suggestions are below: Provide and e ectively implement explicit “Priority 2” (P-2) access to the U.S. refugee program for the highly vulnerable population of LGBTQI individuals eeing Afghanistan. Waive the application fee for any LGBTQI Afghan applying to relocate to the United States on an expedited basis via humanitarian parole and look favorably upon those emergency requests. Initiate a new program of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Afghans in the United States, including those paroled into the United States on an emergency basis.” Ensure that existing lists that have been collected by various governments of at-risk Afghans, including those who wish to ee because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, are carefully safeguarded so that they do not fall into Taliban or third-country hands and are not used to target individuals or family members. Use the lists as a basis for expedited P1 or P2 refugee processing or humanitarian parole for those who seek protection abroad.” Lift or expand the F (ﬁscal year) 2022 refugee cap of 125,000 refugees accepted into 10 • SEPTEMBER 17, 2021 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
the United States. • Provide funding to support the temporary housing, livelihoods and security of LGBTQI refugees in third countries while they are being processed for refugee resettlement in the United States or elsewhere. Recognize NGOs that have been reliable partners in identifying and recommending LGBTQI Afghans to the State Department for protection and instruct U.S. embassies to process LGBTQI refugee applications on site when referred by these designated partners. • Recognize for the purposes of refugee relocation, humanitarian parole or any other entry into the United States any same-sex Afghan partner as a spouse. Take an equally expansive view of the deﬁnition of family for LGBTQI relocation given the lack of legal recognition for LGBTQI partnerships in the region. Expand LGBTQI-sensitive resettlement programs in the United States and engage with NGOs and local communities to expand the U.S. capacity to absorb larger numbers of LGBTQI Afghan refugees in supportive and inclusive environments, including through new refugee sponsorship programs. Speak out forcefully against human rights abuses by the new Taliban regime and any increased targeting of vulnerable communities, including LGBTQI people, and use existing mechanisms to sanction and hold accountable perpetrators of human rights abuse. Negotiate explicit human rights monitoring access, with a particular focus on vulnerable communities including LGBTQI Afghans, when the mandate of the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan is renewed by the Security Council later this month. MICHAEL K. LAVERS
TROY MASTERS is publisher of the Los Angeles Blade.
Lesson of 9/11 ignored?
Events triggered profound changes for many “Let’s go watch history be made!” I shouted to my then 58-year-old mother when on NY1, the local NYC cable news station reported that a “small plane” had struck one of the World Trade Center towers. I took her hand and we dashed outside. 20 years ago, in New York, mom and I watched with our own eyes as the spectacle of 9-11, from shortly after the ﬁrst plane struck, unfolded. We watched helplessly and stunned as the tower burned. Crowds, thousands of people, gathered and stood on the sidewalk and in the streets gazing upward in silence, some sobbing. When the second plane struck the other Tower everyone screamed noises I’d never heard from humans. Some people just ran, not knowing what to expect next. Most, like my mom, Josie, and me, were just too stunned to leave. I couldn’t allow myself to grasp the horror of what was happening; I saw architecture ruined and thought of the city’s psyche having to deal with a lingering, ugly blight atop its tallest buildings. My mom was terrorized knowing people were trapped and dying — “people are jumping,” she cried. Then came the ﬁrst collapse. We both became dizzy with disbelief and horror. And soon after, the smoke of the second collapse momentarily left a ghost trail of the building that had been there. The ghost trail, like the buildings, collapsed and a tsunami of grey, dusty ash engulfed Lower Manhattan all the way past at least 14th street. The world changed and we were lost but felt we needed to protect ourselves. Terriﬁed, we ran to the ATM to get as much cash as we could get and went shopping for staples and food and water, presuming that if war was breaking out we’d not be able to get anything at all. We rushed. Everywhere we went there were lines and rumors were ying that other planes had crashed and more were headed to New York. One had crashed, we heard, on the mall in Washington. There was no phone or cell service for hours and the cable and internet had failed from so much demand: the entire world was desperately
trying to connect with their loved ones. We couldn’t get in touch with my sister or friends and other family. My sister, Tammy, a ight attendant, was in the air and I was so grateful my mom was with me. We both cried not knowing if she was on one of the ights. Finally, a breakthrough: my sister got through on mom’s cell and told us she was on the ground and ok. Another bright spot of that day was ﬁnding Arturo, who I was then only dating in the crowd and knowing he was ok. We had met only a few months before and it was then and there I realized my feelings of love for him. I remember the incongruity of smiling when I saw him. We’ve been together for the entire past 20 years and have built a life together that has brought us both blessings. That night there was absolute silence and the smell of electrical ﬁres burning ﬁlled the air. On the half hour, the comforting, shaking rumble of super ﬁghter jets patrolling the night skies slowly over the city helped lull us into a deep, exhausted sleep. So much unfolded the next day. My newspaper needed to publish and the logistics of that and the money to do it were challenging, but “Angels” have always been on my shoulders and have always helped me ﬁnd a way. I realize today, 20 years later, that those events triggered profound changes for many people in so many personal ways and it marked both a break and a new beginning. It was a pivotal moment. Yet here we are, 20 years later and many of the same conservative politicians and leaders who evangelized nationalism then are defending terrorism today by resisting every e ort to examine and prosecute domestic terrorists who assaulted the US Capitol building on January 6, 2021. Many of these same ‘patriots’ also seem intent on ignoring and in aming Covid, a disease that is resulting in a 09 11 2001 sized tragedy striking the nation every day for the past eighteen months.
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Brock Thompson is a D.C.-based writer. He contributes regularly to the Blade.
Congrats to ar land survivor Cameron as y on coming out
An advocate for LGBTQ equality and reform of gun laws Oh to come out again. The excitement. The nervousness. The sheer terror? Announcing it over and over to that friend or to that coworker. When people ask when I came out I generally say freshman year. But more accurately it’s more of a question of when and to whom? Thinking about it all again, there’s really no scenario in which I want to relive that. After all that was 1995, not 2021. The experience has to be a bit di erent now, right There are myriad di erences between then and now — greater social acceptance, gay marriage, what have you — but one of the greatest di erences is that one can sort of do it now in one fell swoop thanks to social media and sites like Twitter. That’s where gun control activist and Parkland massacre survivor Cameron Kasky chose to make his coming out announcement on Monday. You remember Cameron; he was a principal organizer of the 2018 March for Our Lives rally and somewhat a Twitter personality since then. I like him because he constantly picks on Trump loyalist and bobblehead model, Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz. In his coming out, Cameron noted that his “ability to proudly share who I am today only exists due to queer activists, speciﬁcally queer activists of color, giving their lives for our right to exist.” Yes, of course, and he’s right to pay homage to those who have come before and to mention queer people of color who have and continue in many ways to bear the brunt of social activism. A kid like Cameron, or let’s say a man like Cameron now, coming from a comfortable Florida upbringing, could have easily dismissed or ignored any of that and just coasted into a comfortable gay existence. But he recognized his privilege. And there’s a head nod to what might be coming, that is the obvious intersectionality of gun violence and anti-LGBTQ violence, not to
mention really the scores of intersections of violence in America and the plight of minority groups. And it should be said that Cameron isn’t the only Parkland survivor to come out. X González came out as bisexual closer to the March for Our Lives rally. I’m sure you remember her and her powerful speech there, pausing for several minutes in honor of each of the 17 dead and 17 injured at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Leave it to the queer kids to lead the charge. I actually spent a morning with Cameron and a few of his fellow students leading up to the rally. I was essentially a media escort, driving them around to di erent interviews with local media outlets around Washington. We didn’t bond or anything and I doubt he remembers. What I remember are teenagers dealing with fame, trauma, and suddenly, but deftly, crafting a coherent and national message. Leave it to a theater kid like Cameron to see it through. I do remember being impressed, perhaps a bit perplexed, that listening to the radio in the van between interviews a 17-year-old knew that Prince actually wrote the Bangles head-bopper 80’s hit “Manic Monday.” I guess that should have been a giveaway. But we had other things on our mind that day. Cameron closed his announcement saying that “to those of you who are also struggling to ﬁnd an identity that you ﬁnd authentic, take your time. Look inwards and indulge in your beauty and light. You’ll ﬁnd so much to love, so much to be proud of.” So what’s next for Cameron? Well, I guess that’s up to Cameron really. And if he just wants to spend his gay 20s trading in fame here and there, he’s earned the right. But I doubt that would satisfy him. So what’s next? I guess there’s time, and the space, for all that. Congrats on coming out, Cameron.
12 • SEPTEMBER 17, 2021 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
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Hey gurl, it’s Randy Rainbow!
Parody star on Trump, Barbra, Biden, and more as he preps concert tour By GREGG SHAPIRO
album RAINBOW: I am actually working on that right now. I deﬁnitely want to include some of the new songs, but there will be plenty of my “greatest hits” in there, too.
For many like-minded people, gay and straight, there was a ray of light and joy during the four years of Trump’s reign of terror. Shining brightly through the seemingly impenetrable dark storm clouds, Randy Rainbow burst forth with colorful parody songs and videos that provided endless sources of laughs. His multitude of devoted fans and followers looked forward to Rainbow’s brilliantly executed audio/visual treats, as catchy as they were thought provoking. Hard at work on the follow-up to his 2019 debut album “Hey Gurl, It’s Christmas,” as well as working on the plans for his multi-city concert tour, Randy was gracious enough to answer a few questions. He performs at the Orpheum Theatre on Nov. 13 and 14. Tickets start at $57 and are still available at ticketsonsale.com.
BLADE: ou are an incredibly proliﬁc artist. Did being isolated during the COVID-19 pandemic cause you to be more productive or did your productivity remain the same RAINBOW: Believe it or not, 2020 was a very busy year for me artistically. In addition to the videos, I began writing my ﬁrst memoir, recording the new album, launching a new podcast - it goes on. I am so grateful. BLADE: Many folks baked sourdough bread during the shutdown. Are you one of them RAINBOW: Hell, no! I did what everyone else in New York City does, order take-out [laughs]!
BLADE: Randy, I’d like to begin by asking you to say a few words about the process of selecting a song for your parody lyrics, and if there’s ever been a song that you really wanted to use but had to abandon because it wasn’t a good ﬁt RANDY RAINBOW: I’m a show queen! I naturally think in show tunes. I’ve just sort of been conditioned through the years, starting at home with my mom who’s always loved the genre, to naturally ﬁnd the musical theater parallel to any situation, be it in my personal life or on the world stage. That’s the easy part. A few times I have written songs and didn’t release them because the news had shifted to focus on something else. It’s rare, but it has happened.
BLADE: Because “45” was such an endless source of inspiration, do you ﬁnd yourself missing him RAINBOW: Long pause Are you for real right now
RANDY RAINBOW performs in LA on Nov. 13 and 14.
BLADE: Do you know if “45,” or anyone in his circle, was aware of your songs and videos RAINBOW: I’ve been told by some reliable sources that there were, and continue to be, a few fans of mine on Team Trump. I have to assume Melania.
BLADE: Are you bombarded by suggestions of songs to (Photo courtesy Rainbow) BLADE: Is it diﬃcult to parody Joe Biden because he’s such a parody from friends and fans, and if so, have you ever used likable and seemingly e ective POTUS any of them RAINBOW: I don’t set out to parody (the) POTUS, speciﬁcally. Trump was just an endless RAINBOW: Yes, and it’s led to a few repeats. I had already done a parody of the song source of comedy. Believe me, there are still many in Washington that o er those OMG “Tradition” from “Fiddler on the Roof,” but then when the word “sedition” came into the moments. zeitgeist, thanks to you-know-who, everyone was clamoring for a reprise. Same happened with my “Kamala” parody to the tune of “Camelot,” which I’d used a few years back for BLADE: You have an upcoming concert date in Fort Lauderdale. What does it mean to Kavanaugh. you when you perform for the hometown crowd in Broward County RAINBOW: It’s incredibly special, as you can imagine. And, of course, my mom will be in BLADE: The last time we spoke was in 2019 around the time you released your debut the audience. album, “Hey Gurl, It’s Christmas.” Looking back on the experience of making that record, how would you rate it BLADE: What did it mean to you when Barbra Streisand tweeted about your “Marjorie RAINBOW: I loved it so much I’m doing it again! Taylor Greene” video RAINBOW: Barbra has now tweeted me twice, I’ll have you know! I was even asked by BLADE: I was told that you are now busy in the recording studio working on your new her team to create a video celebrating the release of her new album. I mean. I can’t believe album. What can you tell the readers about it it! It’s BARBRA! She’s my only religion. RAINBOW: There are some amazing collaborations on this one. I’m dueting with guest stars like Bernadette Peters, Josh Gad, Sean Hayes, and Tituss Burgess. I’ve also written two BLADE: Have you recently heard from any other celebrities, either those who have been new original songs with Marc Shaiman and Alan Menken. Can you believe ! It’s called “A the subject of your videos or just as fans Little Brains, A Little Talent” and will be released later this year through Broadway Records. RAINBOW: I get lots of support from my fancy, famous friends every time I release Stand by! a video and I love them for it. I also always get a note from another of my idols, Carol Burnett. She and my mom have become pen pals! BLADE: How much of your upcoming tour will revolve around the songs on the new
14 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • SEPTEMBER 17, 2021
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Six books not to miss this fall Memoirs, love stories, and ballroom await By TERRI SCHLICHENMEYER
Staying inside and curling up always seems like a great idea but in the fall, it almost feels urgent, doesn’t it? The great news is that there are a lot of good reads slated this fall for the LGBTQ reader. Not your normal coming-of-age tale, “A Tale of Two Omars” by Omar Sharif, Jr. is the story of the author’s youth during the Arab Spring in 2010. But that’s only the launching point for the rest of the story: Sharif, the grandson of the great actor Omar Sharif, writes of his grandfather and the rest of his scattered family, and visiting them on various continents. He also writes of danger: a job he took that wasn’t the kind of work he thought it was, and the threats he received for speaking out about his homosexuality in homophobic Egypt. It’s a thrilling book, salted with memoir and you’ll love it. (October) If you’re obsessed with the most recent incarnation of “Cinderella,” then you’ll likewise want to have “Unprotected: A Memoir” by Billy Porter on your shelf. This is a story in the author’s own words, about growing up Black and gay, raised by parents who hope to change the latter, and seizing the strength to stay use your talents and stay the course. (October) Who doesn’t want it all? In the memoir “Greedy: Notes from a Bi-Sexual Who Wants Too Much” by Jen Winston, the author humorously examines what it means to be bisexual, why coming out as bi is fraught with landmines; dating, pronouns, sex, and more. Yes, you can have it (almost) all. (October) Nightlife in Seoul is the backdrop for “Love in the Big City” by Sang Young Park, translated by Anton Hur. It’s the story of a young gay man and his best female friend, and the fun they have exploring the clubs and bars in Seoul. As with many friendships, they both change and he is left to look for the love of his life alone. Fun, sassy, and poignant, this was a big best-selling debut novel in Korea. (November)
If something on the light side appeals to you, look for “The Coldest Touch” by Isabel Sterling. It’s a novel about a young woman who knows how someone will die, just by touching them. Understandably, she’d love to lose that power, until a young vampire is sent to help her, and they fall in love. Can the two thwart the danger in their town that’s coming from another, more sinister, paranormal ﬁgure This is a book for young adults, but grown-up readers who love vampire stories will love biting into it. (December) And ﬁnally, for the reader with creativity and movement in their bones, “And the Category Is...: Inside New York’s Vogue, House, and Ballroom Community” by Ricky Tucker is what you’ll want this fall. Go into an “underground subculture” for Black and Latinx trans and queer people, where marginalized LGBTQ individuals ﬁnd acceptance, family, and help. With its roots in Harlem more than a century ago, you might not think you know much about ballroom, but you’ll be surprised... (December). Season’s readings!
‘Unprotected: A Memoir’ by Billy Porter is out next month.
Out soccer player, teammates promote inclusivity in San Diego all the attention and what came from it,” Donovan said. “But On the last day of the 2020 season gathered around their I think he was smart enough to realize the platform that coach, American soccer great Landon Donovan, the visibly had been created. That this was a unique opportunity to angered players of the San Diego Loyals Major League Soccer really — I don’t say this lightly — move our society and the team were ready to walk o the ﬁeld that Autumn day. The world forward in a positive way. I give him a lot of credit reason was the homophobic slur that had been directed at for taking all the uncomfortable attention that he didn’t their openly Out midﬁelder Collin Martin by a player on the want and dealing with it so that he could help a lot of other opposing team. people.” ESPN reported what happened next “The team was in At the end of this past month of August, Martin agreement: Something needed to be done. They decided that joined Common Goal. The non-proﬁt in partnership with if the o ending player, Phoenix Rising‘s Junior Flemmings, athletic apparel giant Adidas and other football (soccer) wasn’t removed from the game — by the ref, his coach or of players around the globe, is dedicated to creating a more his own volition — they would walk o the ﬁeld.” thorough link between football players, managers, fans, The Loyals needed this game as a win to assure a slot in organisations, brands, to join the global football community the second-tier of the upcoming championship playo s and together on a team big enough and strong enough to at the half-time mark San Diego was leading Phoenix 3-1. COLLIN MARTIN, (Center) with teammates AUGUSTINE WILLIAMS, take on the world’s toughest opponents from HIV/AIDS to Martin had serious reservations about taking a hike over CHARLIE ADAMS, TUMI MOSHOBANE, MIGUEL IBARRA gender inequality to youth unemployment. the homophobia telling ESPN in a later interview; “I just was (Photo courtesy of the San Diego Loyals) The Loyal midﬁelder will pledge 1 of his annual salary like, ‘No, we really should play this game,’ because this is my towards Play Proud — a project creating inclusive environments within football for LGBTQ+ nightmare. My sexuality having an impact on a soccer game? This is actually my nightmare.” communities. After approaching the Phoenix team’s head coach Rick Schantz who blew it o and allowed And for the incident that started it all? ESPN reported that “Flemmings was later suspended the o ending player to play the second half of the game the Loyals followed through and for six games by the league, and he denied using an anti-gay slur toward Martin. But in a walked o forfeiting the match and the coveted spot in the playo s. November (2020) interview with the Advocate, Martin talked about the conversations the Since that game which propelled Martin into the harsh glare of publicity and garnered two shared in the aftermath of that incident: “We had a long talk, and he apologized. At ﬁrst more fans, especially from the LGBTQ community for the team, Martin has staked out a new during the game and shortly after, he didn’t admit he said the slur, which was upsetting to mission for himself to promote greater inclusion in his sport for LGBTQ people. me, but during our call, he admitted that the weeks following the incident were tough for him Loyals head coach Donovan, in an interview with ESPN, re ected on the moment last Fall as well, and he said he was sorry.” that became a game changer for the normally taciturn midﬁelder. BRODY LEVESQUE “In the moment, [Martin hated the decision] and in probably the 24 hours after, he hated 16 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • SEPTEMBER 17, 2021
Plenty of queer storylines headed to the small screen New TV season o ers comedy, drama, horror, and more By JOHN PAUL KING
Even though the Age of Streaming has reshaped the television landscape in a way that makes the “New Fall TV Season” more or less a thing of the past, it still feels only natural to take a look at the new shows headed for our home screens each September. And since LGBTQ+ stories and characters are ever more abundant in the mix, that means there are plenty of upcoming o erings worth highlighting. In that spirit, here’s the Blade’s list of LGBTQ content included among the fresh programming making its debut over the next few months. The Premise (Sept. 16): This anthology series from FX, created and hosted by B.J. Novak, is a half-hour anthology series of character-driven episodes “about the times we live in.” Promising to “challenge our shared morality” as it “engages with the most relevant and meaningful issues of the modern era,” it blends comedy and drama as it tackles subjects like guns, identity, social justice, sex, capitalism, revenge, love, fame, social media, and butt plugs. It makes our list because one episode, written by Jia Tolentino and Novak, features a lesbian couple (Lola Kirke and Soko) whose relationship is threatened when one of them becomes obsessed with a negative online comment about her appearance. Still, the impressive list of actors appearing in the various episodes – including Lucas Hedges, Kaitlyn Dever, Jon Bernthal, Ben Platt, Tracee Ellis Ross, Daniel Dae Kim, Lola Kirke, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Soko, George Wallace, Jermaine Fowler, Ayo Edebiri, Boyd Holbrook, Eric Lange, Beau Bridges, and the late Ed Asner – makes it worth tuning in for the whole thing. Sex Education (Sept. 17): Returning to Net ix for its third season is this queer fan favorite from writer/creator Laurie Nunn about the misadventures of a backward English teen and his bad-girl secret crush as they run a covert sex counseling service at their strictand-stu y school. This season sees Otis (Asa Butterﬁeld), while his REAL sex therapist mother (the delicious A scene from the third season of ‘Sex Education.’ hoto courtesy Net i Gillian Anderson) prepares for the arrival of an unexpected mid-life baby, his gay best friend Eric (Ncuti Gatwa) oﬃcially becomes a couple with former bully Adam (Conner Swindells), and a new head teacher (Jemima Kirke) tries to return the school to a pillar of excellence. Meanwhile, his lost voicemail to Maeve (Emma Mackey) still looms over their relationship. Other new cast members include Jason Isaacs, Indra Ov , and recording artist songwriter Dua Saleh in their acting debut as a new nonbinary classmate. The Big Leap (Sept. 20): From Fox comes this Liz Heldens-created musical dramedy series based on a British reality show. A modern tale about “second chances, chasing your dreams and taking back what’s yours,” it revolves around a group of diverse, down-on-their-luck characters attempting to change their lives by participating in a potentially life-ruining reality dance show featuring a modern reimagining of “Swan Lake.” Several LGBTQ characters are in the mix. The cast includes Scott Foley (“Scandal”), Teri Polo (“Meet the Parents” franchise), Piper Perabo (“Covert A airs,” “Coyote Ugly”), newcomer Simone Recasner, Ser’Darius Blain (“Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle”), Jon Rudnitsky (“Catch-22”), Raymond
Cham Jr. (“Five Points”), Mallory Jansen (“Galavant”), Kevin Daniels (“Twelfth Night,” “Modern Family”) and Anna Grace Barlow (“The Goldbergs”). Our Kind of People (Sept. 21) Also from Fox is this large-looming new series from writer and executive producer Karin Gist (“Star,” “Grey’s Anatomy”) and executive producer Lee Daniels (“Empire,” “The United States Vs. Billie Holiday”), inspired by Lawrence Otis Graham’s provocative, critically acclaimed book, “Our Kind of People: Inside America’s Black Upper Class.” Set in the aspirational world of Oak Blu s on Martha’s Vineyard, where the rich and powerful Black elite come to play, it follows a single mom determined to reclaim her family’s name with her revolutionary new haircare line for Black women. When a dark secret about her own mother’s past comes to light, her world is turned upside-down and the prestigious community is shaken forever. A soapy exploration of race and class in America that celebrates Black resilience and achievement, this one gives o serious “Dynasty” vibes, which would be more than enough to give it queer appeal even without the inclusion of several LGBTQ characters and storylines. Starring Yaya DaCosta (“Chicago Med,” “Whitney”), Morris Chestnut (THE RESIDENT), Joe Morton (“Scandal”), Nadine Ellis (“Let’s Stay Together”), Lance Gross (“Hawaii 5-0”), Rhyon Nicole Brown (“Empire”), Kyle Bary (“Ginny & Georgia”) and newcomer Alana Bright. Dear White People (Sept. 22) The fourth and ﬁnal season of this popular queer-inclusive Net ix series, created by writer producer director Justin Simien and based on his own 2014 indie ﬁlm of the same name, threw its fans a surprise by revealing the show’s last volume would be “an Afrofuturistic and ’90s-inspired musical event.” According to the oﬃcial description, it is set “against the backdrop of senior year at Winchester as well as a not-so-distant, postpandemic future,” and “ﬁnds our characters looking back at the most formative (and theatrical) year of their lives.” The series stars Logan Browning, Brandon P. Bell, Antoinette Robertson, DeRon Horton, John Patrick Amedori, Ashley Blaine Featherson, and Marque Richardson. Nuclear Family (Sept. 26) HBO Max brings us this three-part docuseries, which follows ﬁlmmaker Ry Russo- oung as she turns the camera on her own past to explore “the extraordinary story of a ﬁrstgeneration lesbian family.” Born to two lesbian mothers through sperm donors in an era when the concept of a gay family was inconceivable to most, Russo-Young and her sister Cade had their childhood disrupted by an unexpected lawsuit attacking their family’s very right to exist. The resulting court battle ended in a landmark legal decision that would change the way gay families were perceived forever. The series not only explores the judicial con ict, but investigates the ambitions and desires of the two moms, the sperm donor, and all their allies and enemies, as it “proposes a way of understanding con ict that resonates with anyone who struggles with issues unresolved within their own families, their own lives, and in our broader world.” Finally, in honor of LGBTQ History Month, the queer streaming network Revry is o ering a slate of must-see LGBTQ-oriented documentaries throughout October. Highlights include: “Happy Birthday, Marsha,” about trans icon and activist Marsha P. Johnson; “Vintage: Families of Value,” a groundbreaking look at queer siblings in families of color; “49 Pulses,” an examination of the tragic mass shooting at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub in 2016; “Light in the Water,” documenting the origins and life of West Hollywood Aquatics, the ﬁrst openly gay masters swim team “Call Me Troy,” about Metropolitan Community Church founder Reverend Troy Perry and “Dykes, Camera, Action,” proﬁling the work of several pioneering lesbian ﬁlmmakers. In addition, they’re o ering a fun collection of queer Halloween treats, including the short ﬁlm “Magic H8 Ball,” in which a heartbroken nice guy burned by a cheating boyfriend risks his soul when he turns to a Magic 8 Ball for answers, and “Sinful,” a horror movie about a newlywed gay couple who commit a horriﬁc crime and ﬁnd themselves trapped in a mysterious house. Given the woeful shortage of queer Halloween programming, these titles alone make it worth signing up for the service. LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • SEPTEMBER 17, 2021 • 17
New ﬁlms feature gay superhero Tammy aye and feel good drag
Cumberbatch takes on another gay role in ‘Power of the Dog’ By JOHN PAUL KING
It’s fall again, and that means it’s time to look forward to the things we love about this time of the year – and no, I’m not talking about pumpkin spice. I’m referring, of course, to the new movies headed our way, and there are quite a few this year that should be of interest to LGBTQ+ viewers. Fortunately, as usual, the Blade is here to help you plan your own must-see list for the season with the help of our handy guide below. Giddy Stratospheres (Sept.14): If you’re a movie fan who also has a taste for musical nostalgia, this gritty love letter to the indie music scene of the 2000s from writer/director Laura Jean Marsh is deﬁnitely for you. Shot entirely during lockdown in the UK, it follows a pair of indie kids and best friends (Jamal Franklin and Marsh herself) as they party their nights away on a quest for the ultimate in hedonistic euphoria and excitement. If memories of donning boots, ripped tights, and eyeliner for a night at the club aren’t enough, there’s also a fabulously queer leading character and soundtrack featuring a smorgasbord of retro hits from the likes of Franz Ferdinand, The Futureheads, The Walkmen, Le Tigre, The Rapture, Art Brut, The Cribs, Black Wire, The Rocks, Theoretical Girl, Pink Grease and more. Available via VOD now. Everybody’s Talking About Jamie (Sept. 1 ): Delayed due to COVID but ﬁnally here is this bubbling and buzzy ﬁlm version of the hit West End musical by Tom MacRae, inspired by a 2011 television documentary, in which a gay 16-year-old named Jamie New (Max Harwood) overcomes teasing, bullying, and a complicated home life to realize his dream of becoming a drag queen – with help from a loyal best friend (Lauren Patel), a supportive mom (Sarah Lancashire), and an aging drag mentor named Loco Chanel (Richard E. Grant). Translated to the screen by original stage director Jonathan Butterell and adapted into a screenplay by MacRae himself, it’s won early praise by critics for its “infectious” spirit and is probably the odds-on favorite to be the feel-good queer movie of the season. With Shobna Gulati, Ralph Ineson, Samuel Bottomley, Sharon Horgan, and Charlotte Salt, it also features a cameo from Roy Haylock (better known as Bianca Del Rio, of course), who played the role of Loco Chanel onstage. VOD and streaming on Amazon Prime. The Eyes of Tammy Faye (Sept. 17): Like the now-classic documentary of the same name, this much-anticipated biopic is an intimate look at the extraordinary rise, fall and redemption of televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker, who with her husband Jim Bakker created the world’s largest religious broadcasting network before ﬁnancial improprieties, scheming rivals, and scandal toppled their carefully constructed empire. Legendary for her indelible eyelashes, her idiosyncratic singing, and her eagerness to embrace people from all walks of life, she went on to become an unlikely but beloved LGBTQ icon, vocally supporting the community and helping to reduce stigma around AIDS through the platform a orded by her celebrity. Directed by Michael Showalter, it stars Jessica Chastain as Tammy Faye, with Andrew Garﬁeld as Jim and a supporting cast including Cherry Jones, Fredric Lehne, Louis Cancelmi, Sam Jaeger, Gabriel Olds, Mark Wystrach, and Vincent D’Onofrio. In Theaters. On the Fringe of Wild (Oct. 13) In this Canadian import set in the early 2000s, a sensitive and shy small town teen named Peter runs away from his homophobic father during a hunting trip designed to “make him a man.” Lost in the cold Ontario wilderness, he meets Jack – another teen on the run from his toxic family – and a romance buds between them as they hide away in a secluded cabin; when they are inevitably pulled back into the real world, they’re forced to confront their sexuality, their mental health, and the oppressive home life that threatens to drive them apart. Directed by Emma Caralfamo from a bleak but hopeful screenplay by Sorelle Doucet, it features trans actor Harrison Browne as Peter and Cameron Stewart as Jack, with Mikael Melo, Andrew Bee, Audrey Nesbitt, Bernadette Medhurst, Andrea Pavlovic, and Adam Jenner in support. VOD. Eternals (Nov. 5) Marvel Studios gets a jump on the holiday blockbuster rush with the long-awaited (and long-delayed) release of this new addition to their comics-to-screen franchise, an epic and ensemble-centered action fantasy that introduces, among other characters, Brian 18
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Tyree Henry’s Phastos – the ﬁrst openly gay superhero to be depicted in a Marvel ﬁlm. It even promises an onscreen kiss between Tyree and Haaz Sleiman, who portrays Phastos’ husband. We’ll take a wait-and-see attitude on whether or not it’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment. Directed by Oscar winner Chloé Zhao, it has an all-star cast that includes Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Kit Harrington, Salma Hayak, Kumail Nanjiani, Lauren Ridlo , Barry Keoghan, Don Lee, and Angelina Jolie. Isaac (Nov. 16): Coming from Spain is this debut feature from writer/directors Angeles Hernández and David Matamoros, adapted from a stage play by Antonio Hernández Centeno and centered on two friends named Nacho and Isaac, who had an intense relationship as teens and meet again by chance after 20 years. Nacho, now ﬁnancially successful and trying to have a baby with his wife Marta, proposes an arrangement with struggling entrepreneur Denis and his partner Carmen: If they will provide the “surrogate belly” for Marta’s pregnancy, he will give them the money they need to open their gourmet restaurant. The deal, of course, opens the door for a lot of resurfaced feelings that forces the two men to discover themselves at the risk of losing the apparent stability they now have. Starring Pepe Ocio and Iván Sánchez (who won the Best Actor prize for his performance as Nacho at the 2020 Malaga Film Festival), it also features Maria Ribera, Erika Bleda, and Nacho San Jos . VOD. The Power of the Dog (Nov. 17): Squeaking in just before the holiday season is this adaptation of the 1967 Thomas Savage novel by the same name, directed by renowned ﬁlmmaker Jane Campion and starring screen heavyweights Benedict Cumberbatch and Kirsten Dunst. Set in 1925 Montana, it’s a character-driven drama in which a brutal but charismatic rancher (Cumberbatch) ﬁnds his life disrupted when his brother (Jesse Plemons) brings a new wife (Dunst) and son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) home to the ranch. At ﬁrst cold and cruel, he begins to take his new stepnephew under his wing, and a relationship begins to form that opens up memories of a buried past and awakens him to the possibilities of love. On the one hand, it’s garnered predictable controversy over the casting of the straight-identifying Cumberbatch in a highproﬁle queer role (his second after playing Alan Turing in “The Imitation Game”) – but on the other, it’s one of the best-reviewed upcoming ﬁlms on the slate so far. In addition, Campion is a cinematic master whose work here won her the Silver Lion for directing at this year’s Venice Film Festival, so it’s worth taking that into consideration before you decide to give this one a pass. In theaters.