Losangelesblade.com, Volume 05, Issue 40, October 01, 2021

Page 1

(Photo by Carlos Marin)



Friday Nov 5

Saturday Nov 6

Sunday Nov 7




JEANIE TRACY The Power Cha Cha Heels I’m Your Jeanie

A’keria Chanel Davenport Mariah Paris Balenciaga Jasmine Masters Delta Work Jessica Wilde


Palm Springs PRIDE

Parade Two-Day PRIDE

November 7 10am - 12:30pm

Festival November 6 & 7 Downtown Palm Springs

SHANNON Let the Music Play Bella da Ball

Shann Carr

Scott Nevins


Jason Stuart

Barbara Barrett Attorney


George Zander Candlelight Hate Crime

Vigil & March




Esperanza: A celebration of Hispanic heritage and hope A reflection on contributions to culture and society By BRODY LEVESQUE

The theme for this year’s Hispanic Heritage the first person of color in the Mayor’s chair. Month is “Esperanza: A Celebration of Gloria is a third-generation San Diegan of Hispanic Heritage and Hope.” It encourages Filipino, Native American, Puerto Rican, and reflection on all of the contributions Hispanic Dutch descent. people and their community have made in the Rounding up the list of community leaders past and will continue to make in the future. is longtime LGBTQ ally Los Angeles City It is also a reminder that all communities are Councilman Kevin de Le n who announced stronger together. that he was joining the mayor’s race this past For the LGBTQ+ Latinx community this year month. Born in Los Angeles of Guatemalan it is incredibly poignant that the theme is so and Mexican descent, raised by a loving, hardbrilliantly illustrated in the form of progress working single mother, de Le n, 51, got an and elevated presence of dynamic young and education and spent 12 years in Sacramento, incredible older people who are making their rising to become the President Pro Tem of the mark in the truth of the spirit of that theme. California Senate before being elected to the Earlier this year, California Governor Gavin LA City Council. Newsom selected Alex Padilla as the first “Esperanza: A Celebration of Hispanic Latino United States Senator to represent Heritage and Hope,” goes beyond the older California, the nation’s most populous state, generations as the young people take which also has the largest Latino population their places as dynamic members of the in the nation to fill the seat that was held by community. As a part of that comes the the departing Vice-President Kamala Harris. influence of social media and the young Padilla has a strong track record as an people working in those cultural spaces. elected official championing LGBTQ equality. One of those groups of young people East Los Angeles Library presents Mariachi Arcoiris during Hispanic Heritage Month. On at o al o t a the fi t B a a h the o ld pe o a dd e the He publicly campaigned against Proposition are part of the Los Angeles based “The Q sensitive topic that can be very taboo in the Hispanic community. 8 which called for a state constitutional ban Agenda,” a talk show that covers topics such (Photo by Mayra B. Vasquez/Los Angeles County) on same-sex marriage. As a former state as entertainment, lifestyle, politics, fashion senator, he strongly supported the School and music from the LGBTQ perspective and Success and Opportunities Act, which protects is the first show of it’s kind catering to the Latin community. transgender students and allows them to fully participate in school, and he earned a 100% The show which airs weekly on LATV, is hosted by a passionate community of Latinx Equality rating from Equality California in regard to his voting record when he served as a LGBTQ+ personalities and influencers including, actress and trans activist Juliana Joel, state senator. comedian Lianna Carrera, celebrity makeup artist and entrepreneur Victor Ramos and For the past three years, Ricardo Lara, the son of Mexican immigrants has served as the actor, host and reality TV personality Enrique Sapene. 8th Insurance Commissioner and the first LGBT person elected statewide in the state of The cast of the show starts off with Spaene, an award winning actor, host, journalist and California. producer. He has worked as a reporter on Univision News, Livin Large NBC, Jimmy Kimmel An important and critical voice for the Latinx Trans community is the head of Live ABC, The Insider CBS and Telemundo News. Plus, as an actor he was a series regular Trans Latin Coalition (TLC) Bamby Salcedo. “My life has been very complicated and it on Hacienda Heights for ION and recurred on the Amazon Prime series “Borderline” to didn’t really get started until I was 30 years old,” Salcedo said, with a mixture of pride name a few. His telenovelas “Pecadora”, “El Alma Herida”, “Eva la Trailera” and “Tomame o and wonder in her voice in an interview with the Blade. And for the transgender latin Dejame” have been viewed globally. community in the United States, that has resulted in something of a miracle. Or as Bamby Next up is Juliana Joel, a Latinx actress, activist and current co-host on LATV’s The Q puts it, “Yo soy un milagro.” Agenda of the trans experience. Juliana has worked with various organizations as well as The City of Long Beach’s Mayor Robert Garcia, the first openly gay person elected spoken at events and on panels such as; Models of Pride (the world’s largest conference mayor of Long Beach, advocates for more affordable housing, right the wrongs of income for LGBT youth and allies), the Los Angeles LGBT Center, TransLatina Coalition, GLAAD, LA inequality, and protect his most vulnerable citizens – the homeless, immigrants, those who Pride, JQ, TransCanWork, the annual Trans Equality Brunch at the West Hollywood Council are undocumented, and the LGBTQ community. and the National Association of Latino Independent Producers. Tony Thurmond, who was sworn in as the 28th California State Superintendent of An androgynous Afro-Latin male, Victor Ramos hopes to bring awareness and represent Public Instruction on January 7, 2019, found inspiration from his mother, an immigrant the Afro-Latin community and serve as a point of reference in media to which the from Panama who came to San Jose, California, to be a teacher. A former member of the community can relate. He is a Lifestyle Influencer and TV host. He has amassed a cult California State Assembly, representing District 15, the Superintendent is also a former following on social media through his style, creative makeup looks and candid openness educator. to share everything on his mind. The environment and LGBTQ rights have been at the forefront of Rick bur’s career. Finally, hailing from Chicago originally, Lianna Carrera, is a Latinx and queer stand-up Many in the LGBT community may be unaware that the outgoing Equality California comedian, television host, and actor who hails from a deaf family background. She has Executive Director has another not-so-secret passion: he’s a longtime environmentalist. In been a frequent contributor media outlets and has been seen on Buzzfeed, The Advocate, fact, he is the immediate past board chair for the California League of Conservation Voters Huffington Post Comedy and Glamour Magazine. and as an attorney has championed both LGBT equality and the environment. Politics and entertainment have always played a central role in the landscape of Los The 7th Mayor of the City of San Diego, former Democratic State Assemblyman Todd Angeles, but in celebration of “Esperanza: A Celebration of Hispanic Heritage and Hope,” Gloria, made history across a spectrum of significant firsts as in addition to being the first the Blade is proud to highlight just a few of the incredible people who literally make a openly gay person to lead the city. Gloria, “the son of a hotel maid and a gardener” is also difference daily for their own community and the world at large. LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • OCTOBER 01, 2021 • 03


Black AIDS Institute names Newman interim CEO The Board of Directors of the Black AIDS Institute (BAI) announced the appointment that “BAI envisions a world where all Black people are free and flourishing without HIV and of Toni Newman as its Interim Chief Executive Officer and Dr. Kemal M. Atkins as Managing AIDS, free of stigma and shame, where Black health and well-being are paramount. With Director this past week. a foundation in advocacy and policy work, BAI works towards improving the health and Newman is currently the Interim Executive Director at LYRIC – a non-profit in San wellness of Black people through research, community Francisco, California that focuses on advancing the efforts, and clinical work.“ community and creating social change for lesbian, As she steps into her new role at BAI, she will be one gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning of only a few Black Trans women to head a non-profit (LGBTQQ) youth through education, career training in the nation. and health advocacy. Ms. Newman is a distinguished Faculty Member at Dr. Atkins has been engaged to help further build the Transgender Strategy Center in Los Angeles, where infrastructure and management processes at BAI. Dr. she advises non-profit organizations on engagement Atkins, who will serve as a consultant on a temporary with transgender and nonconforming communities. In basis, has an extensive background in higher education addition, she is the Chair of the Board of Directors for and non-profit leadership where his expertise in crisis TransCanWork based in Los Angeles. management, such as leading institutional responses “Ms. Newman has a wealth of knowledge in to the COVID-19 pandemic, and expertise in building non-profit management, budget and finance, and national wellness health models will provide muchhuman resources and operations,” BAI stated in its needed program direction for BAI. statement. “We’re excited that she has agreed to serve Founded in 1999, the mission of BAI is to stop the as our Interim CEO as we continue implementing AIDS epidemic in Black communities by engaging and our transition plan to find a permanent, innovative mobilizing Black institutions and individuals to confront executive staff leader.” TONI NEWMAN (Blade file photo) HIV. In its mission statement, the organization states FROM STAFF REPORTS

Ohio added to ‘restricted’ travel list for Calif. employees California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced last week that California will now restrict state-funded travel to Ohio as a result of new anti-LGBTQ+ legislation recently enacted in the state. Specifically, provisions of the new legislation, Ohio House Bill 110 (HB 110), will allow medical providers in the state to deny care to LGBTQ+ Americans, including Californians traveling in Ohio. The new restrictions on state-funded travel to Ohio announced today are required by California Assembly Bill 1887 (AB 1887), which passed in 2016. “Blocking access to life-saving care is wrong. Period,” said Bonta. “Whether it’s denying a prescription for medication that prevents the spread of HIV, refusing to provide genderaffirming care, or undermining a woman’s right to choose, HB 110 unnecessarily puts the health of Americans at risk. Critically, the law runs afoul of Assembly Bill 1887. When states discriminate against LGBTQ+ Americans, the California Department of Justice must act. That’s why — in line with the law — we’re adding Ohio to California’s state-funded travel restrictions list.” Assemblymember Evan Low, the Chair of the California Legislative LGBTQ issued a statement in support of Bonta’s action; “Ohio’s decision to condone attacks on the health of its nearly 400,000 LGBTQ+ residents was widely opposed by the state’s medical community. It’s plain that this law only serves to discriminate,” said Low, “We will never put Californians at risk of falling victim to the same toxic standard by supporting the use of taxpayer dollars for travel in places where anti-LGBTQ discrimination is the law of the land.” In a statement released Friday by his office, Bonta noted; “Despite increasing awareness of and respect for the inherent dignity of LGBTQ+ people, there has been a recent, dangerous wave of discriminatory new legislation signed into law in states across the country that directly works to roll back hard-won anti-discrimination protections. Many states pushing these new 04 • OCTOBER 01, 2021 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM

discriminatory laws are already on California’s travel restrictions list, which with the addition of Ohio will now grow to a total of 18 states. Ohio’s HB 110 is particularly troublesome in that it allows medical providers to deny important healthcare services to any patient over the entire course of the patient’s treatment. The law is applicable to a wide range of important services, including nursing and physician services, counseling and social work, psychological and psychiatric services, surgery, and the provision of pharmaceuticals. The law further takes steps to protect any medical practitioner or healthcare institution from suffering any consequences — whether civil, criminal, or administrative — for declining to participate in or pay for critical healthcare. Although HB 110 does contain a provision that suggests medical practitioners should try to transfer a patient where appropriate, the law offers no real protection because the language is discretionary and does not require action to help the patient. In enacting AB 1887, the California Legislature determined that California must take action to avoid supporting or financing discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans. To that end, the law restricts state agencies, departments, boards, or commissions from authorizing statefunded travel to a state that — after June 26, 2015 — has enacted a law authorizing, or repealing existing protections against, discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. Each applicable California agency is responsible for consulting the AB 1887 list created by the California Department of Justice to comply with the travel and funding restrictions imposed by the law.“ There is a ban against travel to 17 other states, including Texas which had attempted to sue California at the U.S. Supreme Court, which in a 7-2 decision, the high court rejected the case and declined to hear oral arguments. FROM STAFF REPORTS



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Meister, Shyne lay out vision for future of the city FROM STAFF REPORTS

In a ceremony conducted virtually due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic in the greater Southland, just prior to the nitty gritty of the city’s business being conducted, the city council installed its new mayor and mayor pro tempore this past Monday. Swearing in WeHo’s new Mayor Lauren Meister, was former West Hollywood City Councilmember John Heilman, and administering the oath of office to newly designated Mayor pro tempore Sepi Shyne, was Melahat Rafiei the principal and founder of Progressive Solutions Consulting, a premier political consulting and fundraising firm based in Long Beach, California and also the Secretary of the California Democratic Party. Meister, was first elected to the City Council on March , 2015 and re-elected for her second term on March 5, 2019. Shyne, elected to her first term on the City Council November 2020, also managed to set a mark in history as the first openly lesbian Iranian woman to serve and with her election giving the city Council a female-led majority. In their speeches after they took their oaths, both women laid out their visions looking towards the future of the City. Mayor Meister in her remarks noted: “Today is kind of bittersweet. It is the second anniversary of Spike’s passing but it is also the beginning of the Jewish holiday, Sukkot, the season of rejoicing. According to Chabad, “it’s a festival — laden with unique mitzvahs, quality time with our community and family, all with an extra-large serving of joy.” I’m hopeful that my swearing in on this festive day is a good omen! “I want to thank everyone for their well wishes and support. I want to thank my family for their love, encouragement, and unlimited patience. Thank you to my colleagues for your vote of confidence as I take on the role of Mayor for the second time. “I also want to thank my former Council colleague, John Heilman, for swearing me in as your mayor tonight. It means a lot to me. “When I was installed as Mayor back in April 2016, I spoke about renewing the community spirit that helped form this great city nearly 7 years ago, which John and others were a big part of. “As a community, we gathered as one after 9/11, we mourned the tragedy of the Pulse Nightclub mass murder, we celebrated marriage equality, and we marched, stood up to, and survived a challenging national political climate. “I have lived in this city over 0 years, and over the years, I have witnessed many stages in our city’s maturity – I have seen issues divide our city. I have seen the east side pitted against the west side, businesses pitted against residents, tenants pitted against landlords. “But I have to say, that after being elected to Council, the drama that seemed to plague every Council meeting with a controversial topic… the theatre – and a lot of it was theatre – seemed to dissipate. “Now, however, we’re seeing a divisiveness that I haven’t seen in a while, and it’s disturbing. It’s disturbing because we are still one small city and one community – a community comprised of people from all walks of life, a community

with young people and older people; a community with businesses and workers. All must be valued; none should be discounted. A rainbow flag is not just six colors or 10 colors – if it truly represents our community, then it is an infinite number of colors. Putting people into categories, labeling them, disparaging them, does not serve this community. “I’d like to say, today, that my goal as Mayor is to solve our three biggest issues: homelessness, housing affordability, and making our city safer. “As Mayor, I’d like to strengthen our neighborhoods, encourage economic diversity, and further initiatives to protect our renters and our small businesses. I’d like to make West Hollywood a premier green city by increasing our urban forest and embracing biodiversity. I’d like to find a companion care center close to home for our lost, found, and abandoned animals. “And, importantly, I’d like for West Hollywood to be the most prepared and resilient city in the country – for whatever emergency or disaster strikes – whether it be earthquake, drought, pandemic, or recession. “But none of this can happen if we don’t work together and focus on the city’s recovery from this pandemic. None of this can happen, if we don’t focus on keeping people healthy and getting people vaccinated. And none of this can happen if we, as a council, don’t make recovery our number one priority. “So, in the coming weeks, I will be bringing forward a proposal requesting that the city manager arrange several team-building workshops for council, designed to help foster communications among council members, to clarify council’s role, and to identify priorities and common goals. The objective of the workshops will be to transform our new council and our new city manager into an effective, problemsolving team. “Now, I come full circle to why I asked my former colleague, John Heilman, to swear me in today as Mayor. As many of you know, John and I did not agree on every issue, and in fact, before I was on Council, I was probably one of Council’s most vocal critics. But, once we were colleagues, we learned to work together, respect each other, and most importantly, acknowledge that we both cared about the best interests of the city, even when we didn’t agree. “So, I appreciate that John was a part of my swearing in today because, to me, it symbolizes hope… that there’s hope that people with different perspectives can work together effectively for the city they love. And, as your mayor, I’m confident this is something that we – Council, residents, businesses, and other community members – can achieve in the months to come.” Then mayor pro tempore Shyne spoke: “Thank you to my colleagues for electing me to serve as Mayor Pro Tem. Thank you to all of our residents, community


City of West Hollywood

(Blade file photo)

members, colleagues and staff and my wife, family and friends who have been so supportive over the past 9 months that I have served in office. Thank you to my dear friend Melahat Rafiei for swearing me in and for your support. Thank you to outgoing Mayor Horvath for your leadership and taking up the reigns when we asked you to serve a much longer term during the pandemic as Mayor and thank you to our new Mayor Meister for your leadership. I am honored to serve in this new leadership position with you. “Serving on this Council these past 9 months has been the honor of my life and serving as your Mayor Pro Tem is a responsibility I take very seriously. West Hollywood has always been on the forefront of making history and we did it once again this evening. “When my parents and I fled Iran when I was 5 to escape the oppressive Islamic regime and the war between Iran and Iraq, I never imagined that one day I would be sworn in as the first Iranian, first woman of color and first Lesbian to serve as Mayor Pro Tem of West Hollywood. “When kids in kindergarten bullied me throwing things and using anti-middle eastern slurs, I never ever imagined that one day, I would be sworn in as Mayor Pro tem of West Hollywood. “When fellow high school students verbally gay bashed and stalked me for being a lesbian, I never imagined that one day, I would be sworn in as Mayor Pro Tem of West Hollywood. “In college, when my girlfriend and I were thrown out of a coffee shop by a police officer and the coffee shop manager for holding hands, I made up my mind to go to law school, learn the law and stop that from ever happening to others and that is what I did. But, even then, I never imagined that one day, I would be sworn in as Mayor Pro Tem of West Hollywood. “The reason I never imagined serving in elected office is because growing up, I truly did not see anyone that looked like me, grew up like me and loved like me in elected office. But since November 2020 and especially now, I know that another little Middle Eastern, Brown, immigrant girl who may be queer can now imagine herself in elected office because now she does see herself. And that is one of the most powerful reasons why representation truly matters. “I wanted to serve on the City Council to represent the people of our amazing city and to bring your voices and more equity to City Hall. The people wanted progressive change.”

Bass enters race to become next mayor of LA Congresswoman Karen Bass officially announced her entrance Monday as a candidate to replace her fellow Democrat outgoing Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “Our city is facing a public health, safety and economic crisis in homelessness that has evolved into a humanitarian emergency,” she said in a statement announcing her candidacy. “Los Angeles is my home. With my whole heart, I’m ready. Let’s do this — together.” If Bass were to win election she would be the first Black woman mayor and the second Black mayor after Rep. KAREN BASS Thomas Bradley, the legendary politician and former ( hoto o te Ba a pa ) police officer who served as the 8th Mayor of Los Angeles from 197 to 199 . KABC 7 noted that she would be the first sitting House member to be elected mayor of Los Angeles since 195 , when Rep. Norris Poulson was elected. Then-Reps. James Roosevelt, Alphonzo Bell and avier Becerra lost campaigns for mayor in 1965, 1969 and 2001. The 67-year-old member of Congress currently represents the 7th Congressional District, which encompasses Los Angeles neighborhoods west and southwest of downtown including

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Crenshaw, Baldwin Hills, Miracle Mile, Pico-Robertson, Century City, Cheviot Hills, West Los Angeles, Mar Vista and parts of Westwood, as well as Culver City and Inglewood. Bass was a member of the California Assembly from 2004-10, serving as that body’s speaker from 2008 to 2010. Bass is entering an already crowded field of candidates including Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer and two members of the City Council – Kevin de Le n and Joe Buscaino – who have already announced their campaigns for mayor. When speculation as to her running surfaced last week, Bass spokesman ach Seidl told the Los Angeles Times that her running was due to the fact that “Los Angeles is facing a humanitarian crisis in homelessness and a public health crisis in the disproportionate impact this pandemic has had on Angelenos,” Seidl said in a statement. “She does not want to see these two issues tear the city apart. Los Angeles has to come together. That’s why the Congresswoman is considering a run for mayor,” he added. That seems to be the focal point and whoever is elected will face the city’s massive homelessness crisis. Bass acknowledged this in her candidacy announcement statement this morning, writing “I’ve spent my entire life bringing groups of people together in coalitions to solve complex problems and produce concrete change — especially in times of crisis.” BRODY LEVESQUE

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The City of West Hollywood has ratified an Emergency Executive Order and approved a Resolution to implement COVID-19 vaccine verification requirements, which will apply to Covered Businesses, City Facilities, City Contractors, City Employees, and City Officials. The Emergency Executive Order was first issued by the City of West Hollywood’s City Manager on September 10, 2021, following the direction of the West Hollywood City Council. After issuance of the City’s Order, the LA County Health Officer issued, on September 17, 2021, similar requirements for bars and nightclubs countywide and strongly recommended vaccine verification requirements for indoor restaurants. The City’s Order was then ratified by the West Hollywood City Council on September 20, 2021 with modifications that account for the LA County requirements to aim to provide consistency throughout the region; the clarified and amended Order was approved in Resolution No. 21-5444. Resolution No. 21-5444 establishes the following updated vaccination verification requirements in the City of West Hollywood with an updated timeline that was modified to align with LA County requirements, as follows Vaccination Verification Requirements for Patrons at Covered Businesses Between October 7, 2021 and November , 2021 all patrons age 18 and older at Covered Businesses must provide proof that they have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccination before entering any indoor portion of a facility, subject only to certain exceptions. No later than November 4, 2021, all patrons age 18 and older at Covered Businesses must show proof that they are Fully Vaccinated before entering any indoor portion of a facility, subject only to certain exceptions. Individuals who do not provide proof of vaccination may use outdoor portions of Covered Business facilities. Persons under the age of 18 are not required to show proof of full vaccination. The “Covered Businesses” definition of the City’s Order was revised to exclude bars and nightclubs that are included in the LA County Health Officer Order. Generally, the City’s Order applies to restaurants, theaters, cannabis consumption lounges, entertainment venues, fitness facilities, and personal care establishments. Bars and nightclubs are covered by the LA County requirement and to the extent local bars and nightclubs are not covered, they would be covered by the City’s Order. Covered Businesses will be required to post patron notification signage effective October 7, 2021 at entrances informing individuals that proof of vaccination is required to enter. Sample signage is available on the City website at www.weho.org coronavirus in the Vaccine Verification Requirements section. Updates in the Order provide additional clarification that if someone requires a reasonable accommodation due to medical reason or disability and the facility does not have space for an outdoor accommodation (or remote virtual accommodations), a reasonable accommodation may be made including Providing access to the building to unvaccinated individuals if the individual provides proof of a Negative COVID-19 test;



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Use of a face mask or social distancing to the extent feasible; and Written documentation that the person is excused from receiving any COVID-19 vaccine due to a medical condition or disability. Vaccination Verification Requirements for Staff at Covered Business As soon as possible, but no later than October 7, 2021, Covered Businesses (as listed above) must use their best efforts to ascertain the vaccination status of all staff who routinely work onsite and no later than November 4, 2021, must ensure that all staff who routinely work onsite provide proof of full vaccination before entering or working in any indoor portion of the facility. This does not include staff who enter or work in Covered Business facilities on an intermittent or occasional basis or for short periods of time (e.g., individuals who deliver goods or packages). Persons under the age of 18 are not required to show proof of full vaccination. Covered Businesses will be required to post staff notification signage effective October 7, 2021 in areas such as break rooms informing individuals that proof of full vaccination is required with details about how to get vaccinated. Sample signage is available on the City website at www.weho. org coronavirus in the Vaccine Verification Requirements section. Vaccination Verification Requirements for City Facilities and City Contractors Between October 7, 2021 and November , 2021 all people age 18 and older entering any indoor area within a City Facility must provide proof that they have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccination, subject only to certain exceptions. No later than November 4, 2021, all people age 18 and older entering any indoor area within a City Facility must show proof that they are Fully Vaccinated before entering, subject only to certain exceptions. The requirements also apply to team sports, athletic activities, and privately organized clubs and leagues held outdoors or indoors on the premises of a City Facility. Youth sports and programming are not covered by the Order and are subject to applicable LA County Public Health requirements for youth activities. In addition, the requirements do apply to City Contractors. Vaccination Verification Requirements for City Employees and City Officials All City employees, temporary employees, interns, contract personnel, volunteers, and elected or appointed officials who work at all City facilities shall be subject to a separate vaccination policy that will require vaccination no later than November 1, 2021. The following are acceptable forms of Proof of Vaccination A CDC vaccination card, which includes name of person vaccinated, type of vaccine provided, and date last dose administered, or similar documentation issued by another foreign governmental jurisdiction; a photo or copy of a vaccination card as a separate document; a photo of a vaccination card stored on a phone or electronic device; documentation of vaccination from a healthcare provider; and or a personal digital COVID-19 vaccine record issued by the State of California and available by going to myvaccinerecord.cdph.ca.gov or similar documentation issued by another state, local, or foreign governmental jurisdiction, or by an approved private company. BRODY LEVESQUE LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • OCTOBER 01, 2021 • 07


Biden rounds out team to tackle HIV/AIDS But can he meet goal of ending epidemic by 2025 By CHRIS JOHNSON | cjohnson@washblade.com

With the goal of beating HIV by 2025 domestically and a pledge for a renewed effort to fight the disease globally, President Biden has put in place officials charged with making that happen. The White House kicked off the week with the announcement that John Nkengasong, who has served as a top official on global health at the Centers for Disease Control, would be nominated as ambassador-at-large and coordinator of U.S. government activities to combat HIV AIDS globally at the State Department. Meanwhile, leadership within the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV AIDS, otherwise known as PACHA, was restructured in August as the Biden administration has continued the Ending the HIV Epidemic plan health officials started in the Trump administration. Carl Schmid, who served as co-chair of PACHA during the Trump years, no longer holds that position, and has been replaced by Marlene McNeese, a woman of color and deputy assistant director of the Houston Health Department. John Wiesman, former secretary of health for Washington State, will continue to serve as co-chair. McNeese is among eight new members of PACHA. The others are Guillermo Chac n, president of the Latino Commission on AIDS; Tori Cooper, director of community engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative at the Human Rights Campaign; Raniyah Copeland, CEO of the Black AIDS Institute; Leo Moore, medical director for clinic services at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health; Kayla Quimbley, national youth HIV and AIDS Awareness Day ambassador for Advocates for Youth; Adrian Shanker, founder and executive director of Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center; and Darrell Wheeler, senior vice president for academic affairs at Iona College in New Rochelle, N.Y. The changes underscore the new approach to HIV AIDS Biden promised during his presidential campaign. Among them is beating HIV AIDS domestically by 2025, which is five years earlier than the plan under the Ending the HIV Epidemic initiative that began in the Trump administration. Whether or not Biden will meet that ambitious goal remains to be seen. Winnie Byanyima, executive director of UNAIDS, hailed the nomination of Nkengasong to the global AIDS position upon news of the announcement. “John Nkengasong’s vast experience in combatting HIV, combined with his position as Africa’s leading disease expert fighting Ebola, COVID-19 and more, position him extremely well to guide the United States’ global contribution towards ending the AIDS pandemic,” Byanyima said. “Today, the HIV and COVID-19 pandemics are colliding in communities throughout the world, and the threat of a resurgent AIDS pandemic is very real. We need the kind of bold thinking and commitment he has brought throughout his career.” While the global AIDS appointment will have a role in international programs, such as PEPFAR and U.S. participation in the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis Malaria, the PACHA appointments will focus on both domestic and global perspectives. Schmid, executive director of the HIV+Hepatitis Policy Institute, said despite the change in leadership he will maintain his role as head of the subcommittee on the Ending the HIV Epidemic initiative. “It’s good,” Schmid said.”They appointed a lot of African-American community, Latino community members and they said they’ll rotate co-chairs,” Schmid said. “I think it’s good that they put on new blood, and new leadership.” Schmid has been a vocal skeptic about Biden being able to meet his goal to beat HIV by 2025 — as opposed to the 20 0 target set by the previous administration — but said the realignment in PACHA was “not at all” related to that. “I think I was replaced because the Biden administration wanted the leadership of PACHA to be more representative of the current epidemic in the United States,” Schmid said. Schmid, however, refused to back down from his prediction that Biden won’t be able to make his 2025 goal a reality. 08 • OCTOBER 01, 2021 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM

“I think you will find wide agreement within the HIV community that it is not feasible to end HIV by 2025,” Schmid said. “There is just too much work to do and change to happen.” The new appointments will add to the cadre of Biden appointees engaged on HIV AIDS, including Harold Phillips, who was appointed in June to lead the White House Office of National AIDS Policy after that position remained vacant for the entirety of the Trump administration. The focus of the appointees on the domestic front will be the Ending the HIV Epidemic initiative, a plan heavily focused on PrEP as a means of preventing HIV in an effort to reduce new incidents of infections by 90 percent within 10 years. The program was launched in 2019.

PRESIDENT BIDEN has pledged to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic by 2025.

Although Congress has appropriated money for the initiative, and just last week, the Department of Health Human Services distributed 48 million to HRSA centers as part of the effort, experts say not enough data is available to tell to whether or not the program has been effective. Jennifer Kates, senior vice president and director of global health HIV policy at Kaiser Family Foundation, said data isn’t yet available on whether new incidents of HIV are reduced because the latest data is from fiscal year 2019. “From the perspective of the timeline of the goals of the initiative, it’s too early, we wouldn’t know that anyway, but just even given the context and what’s happened since it started, I just don’t know how you’d evaluate it,” Kates said. “What I do believe is important though, is the idea of dedicated new funding. It was the first new funding provided to HIV for years that’s been channeled to local jurisdictions and has the potential to catalyze new and better responses, but we don’t know yet that’s happened.” The coronavirus pandemic, which has been the top priority for health officials around the world, is also obfuscating any potential assessment of the Ending the HIV Epidemic initiative. Daniel Bruner, senior director of policy at the D.C.-based Whitman-Walker Institute, said the coronavirus has “dramatically impacted medical care,” including HIV AIDS efforts. “The pandemic has also necessitated substantial shifts in federal, state, and local resources into COVID prevention, diagnosis and treatment,” Bruner said. “Therefore, it is premature to draw any conclusions about the EHE initiative’s effectiveness. The federal government has emphasized its continuing commitment to the EHE initiative, and Whitman-Walker also remains committed to that work.”


Liz Cheney: ‘I was wrong’ to oppose same-sex marriage Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming), one of a handful of Republicans who Republicans, 55 percent, are in support of marriage rights for gay have criticized President Trump in his actions to attempt to overturn couples and a record high of 70 percent of Americans are behind it, his defeat in the 2020 election, has now said she “was wrong” to have according to a Gallup poll released in June. opposed same-sex marriage. Blade readers remember the public spat Liz and Mary Cheney had Liz Cheney, whose sister Mary Cheney is a lesbian and married to over same-sex marriage in 201 , which reflected the division over the a woman, made the comments during an interview on “60 Minutes” issue at the time among conservatives. that aired Sunday night after Lesley Stahl asked the Republican about Former Vice President Richard Cheney, the father of the two and her one-time opposition to marriage rights for gay couples. considered an early supporter of same-sex marriage, with his spouse “I was wrong. I was wrong,” Liz Cheney said, whose opposition to Lynne Cheney acknowledged in a statement at the time family conflict same-sex marriage led to estrangement from her sister. The two over same-sex marriage “is an issue we have dealt with privately for have since reconciled. many years, and we are pained to see it become public.” ep LIZ CHENEY (R-Wyo.) “I love my sister very much. I love her family very much, and I was “Liz has always believed in the traditional definition of marriage,” ( hoto a a e oo ) wrong,” added Liz Cheney, who appeared emotional. “It’s a very Richard and Lynne said at the time. “She has also always treated her personal issue and very personal for my family. I believe my dad was right, and my sister sister and her sister’s family with love and respect.” and I have had that conversation.” Since that time, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in favor of same-sex marriage Cheney made the comments after being ostracized by the Republican Party over her nationwide. Liz Cheney as a member of Congress never had an option to weigh in on the vote to impeach former President Trump and her participation in the congressional panel issue of same-sex marriage, having been seated well after the 1996 Defense of Marriage on the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Act and the Federal Marriage Amendment were debated in Congress. Cheney, however, Cheney has publicly come to regret her former opposition to same-sex marriage after voted against the Equality Act in February. a sea change in public opinion on the issue. For the first time this year, a majority of CHRIS JOHNSON

Trans, intersex activists join White House listening session Sixteen transgender and intersex activists from around the world on Tuesday participated in a White House listening session. A State Department spokesperson told the Washington Blade the meeting was one of “a series of listening sessions that State is organizing on the human rights of transgender individuals” through the Interagency Working Group on Safety, Inclusion and Opportunity for Transgender Americans, which the White House Domestic Policy and Gender Policy Councils created in June. The Departments of Justice, Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Education, Homeland Security, Labor, Interior and Veterans Affairs ALEXUS D’MARCO participate in the working group. The State Department ( hoto o te a o a e oo pa e) and the U.S. Agency for International Development are, according to the State Department spokesperson, “also participating to strengthen efforts to protect transgender individuals from violence and discrimination around the world.” “These listening sessions will inform the working group’s review of policies that drive

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Terry McAuliffe on Tuesday during his final debate against Republican Glenn Youngkin said “locals” should have input on Virginia’s model policy protecting transgender and nonbinary students from discrimination, but added “the state will always issue guidance.” “I like locals having input on such an important issue,” McAuliffe said. “But the state will always issue guidance, as we do, from the Department of Education.” McAuliffe and Youngkin squared off for a second time in a heated debate at Northern Virginia Community College in Alexandria that “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd moderated. The Virginia Department of Education “model policies” were developed as part of a state law passed last year to protect trans and non-binary students from discrimination. Local school boards during this school year were to adopt policies in accordance with the nondiscrimination statute McAuliffe during the candidates’ first debate on Sept. 16 said school boards “should be making their own decisions” on implementing the policies. 10 • OCTOBER 01, 2021 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM

violence and poverty for transgender individuals at home and around the world, including homelessness, employment discrimination, violence and abuse, and bullying and rejection at school,” said the State Department spokesperson. Jessica Stern, the special U.S. envoy for the promotion of LGBTQ rights abroad who officially began her tenure on Monday, is among those who took part in the meeting, which is one of three that happened on Tuesday. Additional meetings are scheduled to take place later this week. “She looks forward to learning from transgender and intersex human rights defenders what their most pressing priorities are for continued U.S. engagement,” said the State Department spokesperson. Alexus D’Marco, executive director of the D’Marco Organization in the Bahamas, is among those who the White House invited to participate in one of Tuesday’s sessions. “It is timely and important that the Caribbean region is included in this discussion,” D’Marco told the Blade. “As a region, we are often left behind. LGB and trans citizens in the Caribbean are becoming more visible; their access to healthcare, housing, justice, education and a decent quality of life are often impeded and fuel by stigma and discriminations.” “I am grateful to be apart of theses discussion to move the Caribbean region forward,” added D’Marco. MICHAEL K. LAVERS

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Youngkin on Tuesday said he agreed with McAuliffe’s response, adding parents should be included “in this dialogue.” McAuliffe, however, disagreed, saying he didn’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach. “I love our teachers and what they have done through COVID,” he said. “These are real heroes who deserve our respect.” Other contentious topics once again included vaccine mandates, policing and abortion. McAuliffe in his closing statement also emphasized that Youngkin wants to ban abortion in the state and is against marriage equality. The RealClearPolitics survey of state polls showed McAuliffe and Youngkin in a dead heat in August, but it now shows the former governor widening his lead by an average of 2.9 points. Early voting in Virginia began Sept. 17 and continues through Oct. 0. Election Day is Nov. 2. PHILIP VAN SLOOTEN


Columbia Univ. researcher helps evacuate LGBTQ Afghans


(Photo courtesy of Hirschberg)

Some of the 50 human rights activists that a Columbia University researcher has helped evacuate from Afghanistan since the Taliban regained control of the country are LGBTQ. A press release the Blade received notes Taylor Hirschberg — a researcher at the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health who is also a Hearst Foundation scholar — has worked with Belgian Sen. Orry Vandewauwer to help 50 Afghan “activists leave the country.” “The refugees included those who identify as LGBTQI+ or gender non-conforming and

their families,” notes the press release. The Blade has seen the list of names of the more than 100 people that Hirschberg and Vandewauwer are trying to evacuate from Afghanistan. These include the country’s first female police officer, the independent U.N. expert on Afghanistan and a number of LGBTQ activists. “There are many more human rights advocates we are still trying to get out of the country,” said Hirschberg. Hirschberg has previously worked in Afghanistan. He and Vandewauwer were also once affiliated with Skateistan, an NGO that works with children in the Middle East and Africa. The documentary “Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone”

features it. The Taliban entered Kabul, the Afghan capital on Aug. 15 and toppled then-President Ashraf Ghani’s government. A Taliban judge over the summer 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 the U.S. was able to successfully evacuate LGBTQ Afghans from Kabul International Airport, but Immigration Equality earlier this month said it spoke “directly” with 50 LGBTQ Afghans before the U.S. withdrawal ended. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sept. 1 during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing expressed concern over the fate of LGBTQ Afghans who remain in the country. The Human Rights Campaign; Immigration Equality; the Council for Global Equality; Rainbow Railroad; the International Refugee Assistance Project and the Organization for Refuge, Asylum and Migration have called upon the Biden administration to develop a 10-point plan to protect LGBTQ Afghans that includes prioritizing “the evacuation and resettlement of vulnerable refugee populations, including LGBTQI people.” Canada is thus far the only country that has specifically said it would offer refuge to LGBTQ Afghans. Hirschberg on Monday told the Blade that he and Vandewauwer have charted an airplane to evacuate Afghans, but they have not secured a “third country” to which they can bring them. “Currently, we are working towards a multi-country collaboration for resettlement,” he said. “Our work has now expanded to include election officials and women activists, including those from the LGBTQI+ community.” MICHAEL K. LAVERS

Mexicans with HIV/AIDS struggle to access treatment Roberto Navarro has been a dancer since he was 17. Jazz became his passion and he fell in love with classical dancing after he took many classes. And he began to teach four years later. “I’m so happy when I teach dancing to my girls because they bring me so much joy, I feel like I help my girls to become better women, without noticing I’m some kind of a therapist,” Navarro told the Washington Blade. He discovered the discipline of dancing in heels in 2014, which made him connect and explore more with his sexuality. He did, however, suffer a lot of bullying because of it. Navarro — a -year-old gay man who is originally from Sahuayo de Morelos in Michoac n state — owns a dance salon. Navarro said he started to become an entrepreneur, but it hasn’t been easy because of the pandemic. He was diagnosed with HIV in 2016. Navarro suffered from depression for several months after he learned his status. “I woke up very overwhelmed in the morning thinking that I had to go to the hospital to make a long line of patients; to have blood drawn for fast screening tests,” he said. “We arrived at 7 in the morning and left until 1 in the afternoon.” Navarro has been receiving treatment for almost five years, ROBERTO NAVARRO and he is still dancing. “Subsequently, I went to my consultations every three or six months depending on my results,” he stated. “By the third month I was undetectable.” Navarro started with Atripla, an antiretroviral drug he received through Mexico’s Seguro Popular, and he was undetectable a month later. A shortage of Atripla forced a change to Biktarby after President Andrés Manuel López Obrador in 2019 scrapped Seguro Popular and created the Health Institute for Wellbeing (INSABI). The pharmaceutical company Gilead has said there are many counterfeit versions of the drug on the market. Seguro Popular in 2018 had almost 52 million beneficiaries. The National Council for the Evaluation of Social Development Policy (CONEVAL) said INSABI at the end of 2020 had more than 4 million beneficiaries.

Antiretroviral drugs have been available in Mexico since 200 , although the Mexican health system is divided into various subsystems based on where one works: the Institute of Social Security and Services for State Workers (ISSSTE); the Mexican Institute of Social Security (IMS); or the INSABI (Health Institute for Wellbeing) that was previously known as the Seguro Popular. They vary in the time it takes to receive medication and the time for CD4 viral load tests. The availability of appointments with infectious disease specialists varies in each of the three public health systems. People with INSABI will take longer to get tests and have access to doctors. It must also be recognized that everyone, in theory, has the possibility of accessing medicines, but it also depends on the states in which they live. The number of people without access to healthcare in Mexico rose from 20 million to almost 6 million between 2018-2020. INSABI, more than a year after its creation, still does not completely cover the same amount as its predecessor. INSABI is an independent agency through the Ministry of Health that aims to “provide and ensure the free provision of (Photo courtesy of Navarro) health services, medicines and other inputs associated with people without social security.” The General Health Law says it was to replace Seguro Popular, which was in place from 2004-2019. “The situation for treatment right now, it’s quite complex, particularly because there have been many changes in the health department of Mexico, and this has to do with the fact that in 2003 when the Seguro Popular was established; there was an increase to comprehensive care for people living with HIV and resources for prevention strategies which are mainly handled through civil society organizations that obtained money from the government.” stated Ricardo Baruch, who has worked at the International Family Planning Federation for almost 15 years. Continues at washingtonblade.com. MICHAEL K. LAVERS LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • OCTOBER 01, 2021 • 11

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is editor of the Los Angeles Blade.

It’s about visibility, not labels LGBTQ is a state of being and must be acknowledged

Nearly every day there are comments posted to the Facebook page of this publication asking why the terms Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, or Out or openly LGBTQ, et cetera are necessary in reporting a story or used in a headline. The short and most obvious answer of course is that this news publication is about, written by, and published for the LGBTQ+ community, its allies and that’s that. Sadly, in today’s political environment and frankly echo chambers both left and right that message doesn’t seem to resonate. On Saturday this newspaper published a story about the people depicted above, a father and son musical duo who competed on NBC’s ‘The Voice.’ Nothing special? Actually no, there was indeed something extraordinary, the son is Trans, and that fact was noted in the headline. There was a question raised by a commenter- why did the person being Trans matter? In a single precise explanation, it is about visibility and for LGBTQ+ youth in particular that is a critical life altering reality. The youth need to be able to see themselves in other people, they need to be able to contrast and compare, and most assuredly they need that affirmation that their sexual identity or gender identity, or both, is validated. While as editor I’ll delete hate-filled vitriol and just plain internet trolling by those who hide behind their keyboards and pass judgments in a New York minute, but I have left the comments that ask why it is so necessary to “label” up because there is a need for those people to ask that question and then maybe have members of the community answer. LGBTQ+ people, young, middle aged, even seniors need to read documentation that their stories are part of a greater community. There is not a difference for the LGBTQ+ community than there is for other minorities in this regard — Black, LatinX, Asian, First Nation, (Native American) and so forth. That documentation of these stories is validation and is also very much embracing the uniqueness that characterizes any grouping of humanity. Yes, it IS important to say so and so is L,G,B,T, or Q+ and yes while inclusivity and full equality is very much the desired and longed for ultimate outcome, it would be a disservice to simply erase the essence of a person’s being and the complexity of the human factor. Removing the sexual orientation and or gender identity, simply because one wants to see a so-called level playing field when the reality is that the LGBTQ+ community is far from that playing field and certainly no where near any semblance of equal treatment That would be erasure. LGBTQ+ isn’t a “label” it is a state of being that a human is born with and must be acknowledged, especially by an LGBTQ+ publication.



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


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

350 political requests for money this week

Target donations so they contribute to winning a Democratic Congress in 2022 It’s been a slow week — only 350 emails requesting money from political organizations, the DNC, and candidates around the country. Add 30 text messages and one would think someone out there believes I actually have money to give. I really appreciate the follow-up emails thanking me for what I gave even though I didn’t make a donation. Being an activist and involved in politics for more than 60 years I know how it works. Give to one candidate and they sell or trade their list and all of a sudden you become popular. Become a bundler by raising money from other people and they think you are golden. I have gotten good at unsubscribing, blocking, and typing STOP but the requests keep coming. Clearly this has become the way to raise money. Thanks to the pandemic, ‘virtual’ is in. Ten emails this week for a virtual fundraiser with Dr. Jill Biden that would only cost me $10,000; a big percentage of my annual Social Security income. The emails come in with messages including ‘emergency’, ‘I’m being outspent’, ‘last chance to donate’ (that one is funny when you get it three more times from the same person the next week), or ‘we could lose’. If they didn’t make money they would stop sending them so, yeah, it works and people open their wallets. I guess for some a message from James Carville is the key as I have gotten loads of emails from him. His are usually pithy and want to embarrass you into giving. Being involved in politics for many years I actually know some of the people asking me for money. In many cases there is no chance in hell they can win. It gets me mad when they take money that could go to those who have a real shot at winning. We saw one candidate raise more than $50 million for a race in 2020 we all knew he wouldn’t win. We are facing a critical mid-term election in 2022 to keep Democratic control of the Congress. It would behoove Democrats to be targeted in their giving. Liking someone isn’t enough even if they happen to be LGBTQ, a woman, or a minority, if you know they can’t win. The reason being there are a number of House and Senate races we

must win and need to fund because if we lose them we lose the Congress. Fourteen Democratic Senators are up in 2022; some need our help while others will win on their own with support from their own state voters. Some I am focused on are Masto (Nevada), Hassan (New Hampshire), Kelly (Arizona), and Warnock (Georgia). Then there are a number of open seats with Republicans announcing their retirement including in Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Alabama, and Pennsylvania. Johnson (R-Wisc.) hasn’t yet announced what he will do. It is possible with the right candidates and funding we could pick up a few of those. That’s just the Senate. The GOP newsfeed.com has listed 57 Democrats in the House they consider vulnerable. So clearly many of those members will need money to help fund their campaigns. We can only hope the left wing of the party will realize this is not the year to wage unnecessary primaries against sitting Democrats. History shows us how rare it is for the party of a sitting president to gain any seats in the Congress in a midterm election and they usually lose seats. To buck that trend in 2022 we will need to be very targeted and intentional in our actions. My intent is to get people to think carefully about where to spend their money. It is encouraging to know the DNC, DCCC, and DSCC are meeting regularly to exchange information and plan their targeted campaigns. This has not always been the case. Recently the DNC donated $5 million to the Virginia Democratic Party to help Terry McAuliffe win the governorship and keep the House of Delegates Democratic in 2021. What happens in Virginia could be a harbinger for what will happen around the country in 2022. Virginia is still a purple state even though Biden won it by 10 points. Polling shows a toss-up election and we will know the impact of running against ‘Trumpism’ in that state’s results. We will know if the suburbs come out to vote in big numbers and if they continue to vote Democratic. So spend your money carefully, target it, and ensure it contributes to winning a Democratic Congress in 2022 so we have at least a chance to make progress.


Schock treatment: an interview with Gina Schock of the Go-Go’s

Drummer on her new book and upcoming Hall of Fame induction By GREGG SHAPIRO

Too much of the Go-Go’s is never enough. In the 40 years since the all-female punk band burst on the scene with its unforgettable debut album “Beauty and the Beat” to some of the band members’ solo careers that followed its break-up to its ongoing reunion and the eye-opening 2020 documentary about the band, we just can’t get our fill. But wait, there’s more! Gina Schock, the Go-Go’s legendary drummer (she’s got the beat!), has just published a sensational coffee-table book, “Made In Hollywood All Access with the Go-Go’s” (Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, 2021) that features photos from Schock’s own stock, as well as her own personal recollections of her life in music. She made time for an interview before the publication of the book as well as the Go-Go’s long-awaited induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame later this month. GREGG SHAPIRO/WASHINGTON BLADE: I’d like to begin by congratulating you, as well as the rest of the Go-Go’s, on your upcoming induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. How do you feel about it GINA SCHOCK: It took so long for this to happen, and at first we were sort of like, “Hell’s bells We don’t even care anymore.” Every year, we’d think “Maybe it’s gonna happen next year,” and it just wasn’t happening. Then it happens! We were all dumbfounded. We couldn’t really believe that we were nominated and then we got inducted! Everybody was pleasantly surprised. This is kind of great, kind of neat. I’m really happy about this now [laugh]. BLADE At the same time, your memoir “Made in Hollywood All Access with the GoGo’s,” is being released. What did the experience of writing such a book mean to you SCHOCK Actually, Gregg, it’s not a memoir. Kathy (Valentine) wrote a memoir. Mine is actually a book of photography. BLADE Right, but you also tell your story in the book. SCHOCK There’s a lot of writing in it, too. But I basically put this together because I had tons and tons of photographs. I’ve been moving them all over. Putting them in the closet here, under the bed there. I was like, “I have to do something with this. All these years of taking photos of the band.” Of course, everybody in the band was like. “Gina, you really need to put a photo book together ” I finally found the right guy to do it with and he helped me get it together, organize it, and help me work on the book. I couldn’t believe that along with the list of my credits will be photographer and author. It’s kind of mind-blowing. Things that you don’t think you’re capable of, and then when you have an opportunity to do something and maybe make a difference certainly for The Go-Go’s. This needed to be out there. This is way long overdue; a book of photos with all of us. Photos that I’ve had that people have never seen. Also, you’re getting these photos from a band member’s perspective. With writing from one of the band members about what was going on during that period of time. BLADE I’m sure that looking at the pictures brought back lots of memories, but were you also a journal or diary keeper SCHOCK Check this out I don’t have a journal, but since 1978, Gregg, I have been keeping daily planners every single year. I’ve written down things that were going on during that time period. Not big, long stories, but this happened today, that happened yesterday, next week we’re going to be doing this. I used that as my reference. It was invaluable in the process. I now need to make room for them in the closet. I’ve got them all in drawers in cabinets in my office. It’s like, “OK, there’s no more room here laughs ” They were invaluable, like I said, in putting this together. What exact date did this happen What was going on in November of ’8 It was important to have.


Gina Schock’s new book is out this month titled, ‘Made In Hollywood: All Access with the Go-Go’s.’ (Photo credit Gina Schock)

BLADE Do you see the book as an extension of Alison Ellwood’s 2020 Go-Go’s documentary SCHOCK No, but I’ll tell you that 99 of the photos in Alison’s documentary are mine. It’s not an extension of that. This book has been in the works for decades. I just needed to find the right person to help me get it together. But when Alison was interviewing, I’d show her a photo and she would say, “Gina, can we come back and get some of these photos for the documentary ” I was like, “Of course, you can ” The majority of what you saw are my photos. BLADE The book is full of marvelous personal history details, such as performing with the late Edith Massey, known to many from her performances in some of John Waters’ movies. What do you think Edie would think of the book SCHOCK She would be, imitating Massey “Oh, Gina, I’m so happy about your book Finally, it’s about time ” Bless her heart and soul. I was doing an interview yesterday and I said, “If it wasn’t for Edie, I don’t know if The Go-Go’s would exist. Certainly not in the way that they have for the last more than 40 years. Things happen in a magical way, how it all comes together. No one really knows why somebody meets someone on that particular day at that particular time, and then something comes out of that that you can’t believe. Edie gave me the opportunity to come out to LA and San Francisco and New York and actually play in clubs. We got to play at Max’s Kansas City and CBGB’s; what a thrill that was. Then to come to LA and do three nights of the Nuart Theater and then play The Warfield up in San Francisco. That was the first time I’d ever been on a plane After doing that with Edie, the minute I got back to Baltimore I realized it was time to make a move. It gave me the courage to believe that I could go back to any one of these places and I’m going to do something By the way, Edie was such a lovely person. A sweetheart.


CONTINUED FROM PAGE 14 BLADE: Another scoop for the readers that I loved was the part about the Go-Go’s performing with ska in the early 1980s, leading to the collaboration with Terry Hall on the song “Our Lips are Sealed,” which was a much bigger hit for the Go-Go’s than for Terry’s band Fun Boy Three. Do you know how he felt about that? SCHOCK: I have no idea how he felt, but I’m sure he was happy because all Terry Hall was hearing was “ka-ching, ka-ching, ka-ching [laughs].” I think Terry was quite happy about that. I would be. When Jane brought in the song, she was scared to death to play it for us because it was basically like a love letter that she readjusted a little bit lyrically and put some chords and a melody to. She played it for us, and we were like, “Jane, this song’s great!” BLADE: We are all saddened by the recent passing of Charlie Watts, drummer for the Rolling Stones. In your book, you wrote about the Go-Go’s opening for The Rolling Stones. Can you please say a few words about what Charlie meant to you as a fellow drummer? SCHOCK: There were two drummers that were my heroes growing up. That was Charlie Watts and John Bonham (of Led Zeppelin). Those two guys are part of the reason I started and kept playing drums. To think that many years later I actually got to meet my hero and talk to him. I got to sit on his drum kit! I talked to his drum tech! That was one of the biggest thrills of my life. Then to be able to just open for the Stones, I mean, God! Wow, what a thrill! He was, of course, a gentleman. Very quiet kind of guy; soft-spoken. A lovely guy; very personable, very sweet. I didn’t have a lot of time to talk to him, but when I did my heart was pounding. I couldn’t believe it. Meeting David Bowie was the same sort of thing. You have such adoration for these people. The impact they have on your life in many ways, not just musically. BLADE: You put some personal thoughts and experiences in the book, including your open-heart surgery to correct an atrial septal defect, yours and the band’s encounters with drugs and recovery, the break-up of the band and issues with songwriting revenue. Was it painful or freeing to revisit these subjects? SCHOCK: It was a little bit of both. It brought up some really heavy things that went down. But all those things have been ironed out and taken care of. Everything is good now and it has been for many years. The songwriting splits were a big part of why the band broke up. It seemed very unfair to me. I have to tell the truth [laughs]. I have to be honest with the people that I’m working with. They are my family, and nobody can hurt you worse than somebody in your family. I think I explained it all in the book the best that I can. BLADE: Following the original break-up of the Go-Go’s, you formed the band House of Schock with Vance DeGeneres, brother of Ellen DeGeneres. What are the chances that, aside from the Smothers Brothers, two funny people would come from the same womb? SCHOCK: Yeah, right [laughs]? It’s crazy, right? Vance was fresh out of New Orleans and


I don’t know how I met him; (through) a friend of a friend or something. We hit it off right away. I don’t like to do anything by myself, Gregg. I always want a partner in crime. I like a team! That’s why I always want to be in a band. I never want to be a solo anything. I like being in a band. I like having other people to bounce ideas off of. I’m not the greatest at anything, but I’m pretty good when you put me with somebody else who’s talented as well. Vance and I worked great together. Ellen had just come to town and she was just starting out in the comedy clubs. We’d meet and have dinner. She’d ask me lots of questions about who I thought was a good agent to see. It was very sweet to watch everything happen for her. One of the funniest things, I told this to somebody the other day, I’ll never forget this. Ellen said to me, “Gina, do you think if I make a lot of money one day, would you sell me your house [laughs]?” I don’t remember what I said, but I’ll never forget her asking me that. Because Ellen could buy a city block! BLADE: In 2018, the Go-Go’s went to Broadway with the musical Head Over Heels, featuring the band’s music. What was that experience like for you? SCHOCK: That was another unbelievable moment being in the Go-Go’s. To think that this punk band, so many years later, has a musical on Broadway is absurd. But it happened! It’s another crazy thing that just happened! There’s a lot of work involved, don’t get me wrong, and years and years of being in this band and working our butts off to achieve the status that we have in the industry. But it was still an incredible thrill. To meet all the Broadway actors and all, my God, those people can really sing and act! I was never a big fan of Broadway, but I am now. I was knocked out! They’re so fucking talented. It’s such a thrill to watch them interpreting our songs woven into this 17th-century short story. BLADE: Recently, Belinda’s son (James) Duke (Mason), posted a happy birthday message to you on social media in which he referred to you as his “Auntie.” SCHOCK: Yes! I love Dukie! I watched that little boy grow up. I just adore him. I will always be in his life. He’s very precious to me. BLADE: When Duke came out, Belinda became a very outspoken advocate for the community. Would you mind saying a few words about your connection to the LGBTQ+ community? SCHOCK: I don’t know what my relationship really is. All I know is that I’m who I am. I’m a musician and I will fight for anything or anybody that has had a difficult time in society. Just live your life. Society creates its own do’s and don’ts and rights and wrongs for people, which is just a load of crap to me. Everyone should be allowed to be who they are, and love who they want to love, and marry who they want to marry. Love is love; it has no gender. It’s the most important thing we can give to one another. It’s what this world needs now more than ever. Never think for a second you haven’t got the right to love whomever you fall for because love is always right. It is a human right!


‘Evan Hansen’ is better than you think – and that’s too bad Platt’s artificiality, film’s tokenism hard to get past By JOHN PAUL KING

It’s always a let down when a movie doesn’t live up to your expectations. Take, for example, “Dear Evan Hansen,” Steven Chbosky’s new film version of the Tony-winning Broadway musical that made stars of its lead actor (Ben Platt) and songwriters (Benj Pasek and Justin Paul). Based on the lessthan-favorable buzz – especially around the choice to let Platt reprise a role for which he was now a decade older – that dominated online conversation around it in the weeks before its release, I walked into the theater fully expecting to see an appallingly terrible movie. To my deep disappointment, it was not. Don’t get me wrong – it wasn’t a great one, either. It just wasn’t the sobad-it’s-good disaster I was looking forward to hating. If you’re unfamiliar, “Evan Hansen” is the tale of a teenager (Platt) returning to school for his senior year after a traumatic summer experience. Struggling with severe social anxiety, he lives with a divorced mother (Julianne Moore) who works extra shifts to make ends meet. Assigned by his therapist to write himself encouraging letters every day, his life turns upside down when a classmate named Connor (Colton Ryan) intercepts one such letter and takes it from him. When Connor takes his own life a few days later, his parents (Amy Adams, Danny Pino) find the letter in his pocket and mistakenly think it was written by their son to a secret friend; they reach out to Evan, hoping to hear stories about a happier Connor than the angry loner they knew at home. Though he tries at first to correct their misunderstanding, his desire to ease their grief soon has him inventing a friendship that never existed. It’s a wellintentioned lie that soon snowballs on the internet, making Evan a viral sensation and putting him at the center of an online awareness-raising movement called The Connor Project – not to mention gaining him the attention of Connor’s sister oe (Kaitlyn Dever), who has been his longtime crush from afar. When things inevitably begin to spiral out of his control, he is forced to recognize that building a new life for himself on a falsehood might have consequences he never had in mind – but can he muster the courage to come clean and expose himself to the world as a fraud before it’s too late to reverse the damage he’s already done? The stage original was a hit on Broadway in 2015, but despite its popularity and accolades, it was not without its detractors. Critics and audiences alike found numerous reasons to be uncomfortable with its premise – not the least of which involved the questionable ethics at its core. The movie, which was adapted by Steven Levenson from his original book for the show, corrects for some of those criticisms, boosting the story’s diversity with a few minor character revisions and expanding the ending to allow a more complete redemption arc for its leading character. It also doubles down on the show’s youth appeal by building up some of the original content around the show’s younger characters – including a substantially expanded role for Evan’s overachieving schoolmate Alana (Amandla

BEN PLATT and KAITLYN DEVER in ‘Dear Evan Hansen.’

Stenberg) – and cutting some from around the adults. For the most part, these changes strengthen and deepen the narrative; likewise, the very nature of the cinematic medium gives it an obvious advantage in exploring the story’s underlying concern with the power of the internet over our cultural and social lives. Yet despite these improvements, “Evan Hansen” on film still falls short of being excellent. It’s not because of weak direction; Chbosky has a gift for conveying the complex and conflicting emotions of teenage experience with nuance and insight, something that goes a long way toward keeping “Evan Hansen” from becoming trite. Nor is it the cast; the film’s talented ensemble of players is more than up to the challenge of jumping from realistic scene work into the full conceit of a musical number and finding just the right balance to make it work. In particular, the always-luminous Moore is pitch-perfect as Evan’s mom, as is Adams as her grieving counterpart; and Dever is unequivocally superb as oe, quietly providing the heartbreaking honesty necessary to make her character’s journey come clearly and authentically to life – something absolutely needed if we are to believe in her relationship with Evan. And that brings us to the problem Evan himself is a hard sell. On one hand, he is grappling with mental health issues, not to mention an absent father and an overextended mother, and therefore draws our sympathies; yet on the other, he deceives and manipulates people to gain the things he is missing in his life – the attention of his classmates, a girlfriend, a substitute family – and justifies it with the belief that he is benefitting a higher cause. Platt’s performance on Broadway helped make it work through the raw power of his emotion and his prowess as a singer. But the world has changed in the years since “Evan Hansen” landed on Broadway. During a cultural crisis born (among other things) of the ease by which “alternative facts” can disrupt our lives, it’s grown more difficult to

(Photo courtesy Universal Pictures)

find such a character appealing, no matter how soulfully he delivers Pasek and Paul’s heart-tugging pop-flavored showtunes. And while Platt may deliver a faithful rendering of his acclaimed stage performance, next to the elegant self-assurance of the rest of the film’s cast he seems overthe-top, a bundle of performative tics and mannerisms that distract us from the reality of Evan’s struggles and make him come off as disingenuous. As for the controversy around his age, it should be noted that all the movie’s teen characters are played by actors in their 20s, a common practice in Hollywood movies. Still, in spite of the sometimes painfully obvious efforts made to “youthen” him for the camera, Platt is still noticeably older-looking than his co-stars, something that (for obvious reasons) is particularly troubling in his scenes with Dever, who is much more convincing as a 17-year old than he. Still, it’s not the age problem alone that keeps “Evan Hansen” from winning us over. It’s the combination of all the artificiality he brings with him – which includes our knowledge that his father, Marc C. Platt, co-produced the film. It has the counter-productive result of tainting the sincerity of everything we see on the screen, even to the point of giving the movie’s nods to diversity and inclusion an unpleasant odor of tokenism, and it ensures that we are not quite as eager to bestow forgiveness on the title character as the story wants us to be. That’s why it’s a disappointment that “Dear Evan Hansen” isn’t terrible. It might have been one of the great Hollywood debacles, a monumental flop to be revered by generations of audiences who loved to make fun of it. It could have been a camp classic. Instead, it’s just another promising project sunk by Hollywood hubris, a mediocre misfire with a few good moments that never really had the chance at being more than that, but certainly could have been so much less. That, at least, would have made it memorable.



The life of this scribe is a real page-turner

New novel about Thomas Mann brimming with entertaining history By KATHI WOLFE

If you told me that the most exciting book you’d read recently was a novel about the life of a writer, I’d think you were nuts. Especially if the author spent hours, daily, closeted in his study writing, was often remote from his children and, frequently, at least publicly, as stuffy as a pompous university professor. Yet, reading “The Magician,” a new novel by acclaimed gay writer Colm Toibin, has made me eat those words. In “The Magician,” a fictional bio of the renowned 20th century novelist Thomas Mann, Toibin has done what few have been able to do: He’s turned the life of a scribe into a page-turner. In my youth, I carried “The Magic Mountain,” Mann’s voluminous 1924 novel, into cafes. I never made it all the way through the novel’s saga of Hans Castorp’s stay in a sanitarium for patients seeking treatment for tuberculosis. Though different in style, the novel was like James Joyce’s “Ulysses.” You wanted to be seen with it, even if you didn’t get it. Much of Mann’s work from his retelling of the biblical story of Joseph and his brothers to Dr. Faustus, his reshaping of the Faust legend in the life of a fictional composer, seems not only fraught with symbolism – but too long. Yet, “Buddenbrooks,” Mann’s autobiographical novel about reversal of fortune of a German merchant family, published when Mann was just 26, is an engrossing read. When Mann was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1929, the Prize citation called “Buddenbrooks,” “one of the classic works of contemporary literature.” “Death in Venice,” Mann’s 1912 novella has caused generations of queers to prick up their ears. Particularly, back in the day, when few of us were out in life or in fiction. “Death in Venice” is the story of the writer Gustav Von Aschenbach who’s attracted to a beautiful boy named Tadzio. It’s not an out and proud tale. Aschenbach’s lust for the youth gets entangled with illness. Yet, homoeroticism permeates the novella. Toibin’s take on Mann’s life is fictional. But, in writing “The Magician,” he spent years researching Mann’s journals and biographies of Mann. On the surface, Mann who was born in Lubeck, Germany in 1875 and died in Zurich, Switzerland, in 1955, led a heteronormative, conventional life. He and his wife Katia were happily married for decades. Katia, who was bright and charming, was one of the first women of her generation to study at a university. The couple had six children. After writing in the morning, having lunch, taking a walk, eating dinner with his family – Mann would go to an opera or a concert. If you’re queer, you know there’s often more than meets the eye. in “The Magician,” Toibin uses his fab writerly wiles to reveal what’s behind the curtain. Like Aschenbach in “Death in Venice,” Mann, from his youth, was attracted to boys and men. Though closeted in public, he wrote about his same-sex attractions in his diaries. From the get-go, Thomas and Katia Mann appear to have reached a tacit understanding of Thomas’s sexuality. When he first met Katia, Mann was attracted by her boyish qualities. Mann “imagined Katia naked, her white skin, her full lips, her small breasts, her strong legs,” Toibin writes. Katia understood Mann’s sexuality. In some ways, it was helpful to her. It meant, Katia said, that she didn’t have to worry about Mann going after another woman. On his part, Mann made a tacit commitment to Katia. “Thomas would do nothing to put their domestic happiness in jeopardy,” Toibin writes.


‘The Magician’ By Colm Toibin c.2020, Scribner 28 | 512 pages

The Manns fled from Munich to Switzerland when the Nazis came to power. (Katia was Jewish.) When they were in exile, Mann was terrified that the Nazis would find the revelations about his same-sex attractions in his diaries. If the Nazis made his sexuality public, it would be known “who he was and what he dreams about,” Toibin writes. The Manns weather love affairs (some of his children were queer), suicides of family members and exile. The book becomes as suspenseful as a Hitchcock thriller as they struggle to find a new home after the Nazis devastate their native country. “The Magician” is brimming with entertaining soap opera, campy bons mots and riveting history. Though it’s 500-plus pages, you won’t be able to put it down.

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9/29/21 9:40 PM


Father, trans son make history on ‘The Voice’ ‘The only thing that matters is the art and who the person is inside’ By ROB WATSON

JIM and SASHA ALLEN performing on NBC’s The Voice, Sept. 21. (Screenshot via NBC)


The unique folksy blend of the voices in a sweet rendition of the John Denver classic song “Leaving on a Jet Plane” this week on NBC’s The Voice, caused celebrity judges Kelly Clarkson and Ariana Grande to mash their buttons and turn their chairs around and face the performance. Unbeknownst to the entire panel of judges, which also includes John Legend and Blake Shelton, they were witnessing a bit of history for the reality musical talent search television show. On stage was 57-year-old music teacher Jim Allen and his son Sashathe moment was groundbreaking as the 19-year-old teen singer is a Trans male. In the pre-performance video profile, the younger Allen reflected “I do have a special connection to the concept of a Blind Audition, where the only thing that matters is the art and who the person is inside.” Allen went on to detail more of his background; “I was born female, and I never felt comfortable, and it ate away at me the more I grew up.” The pair from Newtown, Connecticut have an obvious deep bond. Referring to his kid, the elder Allen said: ““It’s a parent’s job to listen to your child, even when it’s hard to understand them,” he then added. “And that brought forth extreme sadness at not having understood what he had been going through for years. […] While it is such a big and extraordinary thing to absorb, there are fundamental things that don’t change about a person. And it’s nice to be at that point where, you know, it’s not a big deal.” “I remember at night just laying in bed and thinking, ‘If I could just wake up as a completely different person, I would do it. I would give up everything I have to be able to live in peace and live comfortably without being tormented internally.’ I used to write in notebooks, ‘I feel like a boy. I want this so bad.’ And I’d shred it up into such tiny pieces, because I was so scared for anybody to know,” the younger Allen shared. “The only way to feel like me was to transition to male. I dealt with a lot of hateful comments, whether it was from my classmates or from teachers. I wouldn’t have been able to get through high school without music and without art to express what I was going through,” he said.