Los Angeles Blade, Volume 06, Issue 10, March 11, 2022

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Spring Arts Preview PAGE 18

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Attorney General Bonta announces investigation into TikTok California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced a nationwide investigation last week into TikTok for promoting its social media platform to children and young adults while its use is associated with physical and mental health harms to youth. Attorneys general nationwide are examining whether the company is violating state consumer protection laws and putting children at risk. “Our children are growing up in the age of social media – and many feel like they need “We know this takes a devastating toll on children’s mental health and well-being. But we don’t know what social media companies knew about these harms and when. Our nationwide investigation will allow us to get much-needed answers and determine if TikTok is

The investigation will look into the harms using TikTok can cause to young users and

ment with the platform. TikTok’s computer algorithms pushing video content to users can promote eating disorders and even self-harm and suicide to young viewers. Texas opened an investigation last month.

“We care deeply about building an experience that helps to protect and support the “We look forward to providparticularly when their actions may cause harm to California’s youngest residents. In Noing its social media platform — Instagram — to children and young adults despite knowing that such use is associated with physical and mental health harms. Bonta also co-led a bipartisan coalition in expressing support for hearings in the U.S. Senate on “

announced in September that it would pause development of the new platform.


Attorney General ROB BONTA visits a classroom

WeHo encouraging donations to support Ukraine a local disaster relief program developed to provide assistance to the Gulf Coast region years. encourage contributions to agencies and organizations that are working to help people in Ukraine as well as those seeking refuge. The City has assembled a list of organizations on its website at www.weho.org/wehoresponds.

thoughts today turn to the people of Ukraine and to our community members of Ukrainian for people and our city has a thriving community of residents with roots in countries that

do to help. There are lots of organizations that are focused on immediate assistance to

ant role that local governments and organizations play in mobilizing assistance for communities when there is need.



Newsom orders state agencies to comply with sanctions on Russia Governor Gavin Newsom last week signed an executive order directing state agencies and departments to ensure their contractors are complying with economic sanctions imposed in response to Russia’s attacks on Ukraine. The action follows the Governor’s letter this week calling for state pension funds to halt the Russia and to ban the purchase of Russian debt. Newsom today met with Consul General of Ukraine in San Francisco Dmytro Kushneruk to express California’s solidarity with the Ukrainian community and discuss the state’s current

(Photo by Tatiana Sandler)

government of Ukraine, as well as California’s long-standing relationship with Ukraine. “California stands with Ukraine and the Ukrainian community in California – one of the largest in the country,” said Newsom. “Our

The executive order requires state agencies and departments within the Governor’s Administration to review their contracts for commodities, services and technology and to terminate any contracts with entities that are subject to economic sanctions imposed by the U.S. government in response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine, as well as any sanctions

imposed under state law. The order further requires state agencies and departments to direct all grantees, and contractors with agreements valued at $5 million or more, to report their compliance with economic sanctions and on the steps they are taking in response to Russia’s aggression in nology to Russian entities, and supporting the Ukrainian government and people. The governor is also urging businesses, non-governmental organizations and public entities in the state to similarly review their investments and contracts to ensure compliance with economic sanctions on Russia and to take actions in support of the Ukrainian government and people. ufacturing and trade hubs. Many companies in California have already taken steps to limit economic transactions with Russian entities, combat Russian misinformation and support Ukraine. Newsom last week sent a letter to the leaders of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, California State Teachers’ Retirement System and the University of California retirement system calling for the funds to immediately restrict Russia’s access to any new capital and investments by the state, among other actions to support the people of Ukraine and protect the interests of Californians. California and Ukraine share close ties and the state is home to one of the largest Ukrainian populations in the country. California has a long history of welcoming Ukrainian and other refugees. As a state of inclusion and a beacon of hope for those seeking refuge, California will continue to be a welcoming place for refugees and stands ready to continue our partnership with the federal government as needed to support the resettlement of s aggression in Ukraine. California’s National Guard and the U.S. government have had a nearly three-decade relationship with Ukraine working to support its Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Interior and Armed Forces by providing military equipment and training as well as humanitarian assistance. ifornia National Guard and the California Emergency Medical Services Authority, has provided training and conducted exercises with the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces on utilizing the Emergency Management and Incident Command System. BRODY LEVESQUE

LA gas prices skyrocket past $5 a gallon

Jittery oil markets caused a one-day gas price spike across the country today that pushed the average Los Angeles gas price up eight cents to over $5 a gallon, and many other local areas are close to that level, according to the Auto Club’s Weekend Gas Watch. The average price for self-serve regular gasoline in California is $4.94, which is a new record for the state and 17 cents higher than last week. The average national price is $3.73, which is 21 cents higher than a week ago. The average price of self-serve regular gasoline in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area is $5.01 per gallon, which is 19 cents higher than last week, 29 cents higher than last month, and $1.25 higher than last year. In San Diego, the average price is $4.98, which is 20 cents higher than last week, 32 cents higher than last month, and $1.24 higher than last year. On the Central Coast, the average price is $4.94, which is 20 cents higher than last week, 30 cents higher than last month and $1.23 higher than last year. In Riverside, the average per-gallon price is $4.91, which is 18 cents higher than last week, 28 cents higher than last

The Auto Club reminds drivers of the following tips to save money on gas:

more than last Thursday, 24 cents higher than last month and $1.23 higher than a year ago today. “In addition to oil prices spiking due to concerns about Russian oil supply being removed from Western markets, Southern California is experiencing some supply issues that tend Club spokesman Doug Shupe. “The California Energy Commission reported that the state’s gasoline stocks are down by about six percent from last week, which also puts upward pressure on gas prices.” 04 • MARCH 11, 2022 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM




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WeHo opens nominations for 2022 Rainbow Key Awards The City of West Hollywood is gathering nominations for its 2022 Rainbow Key Awards. The City’s Rainbow Key Awards recognize people who have made outstanding contributions to the lesbian and gay community. Nominations may be submitted electronically through the City’s website at weho.org/rainbowkey. Nomination forms are due by Monday, March 28, 2022. The awards presentations are scheduled to take place virtually in June 2022, which is Pride Month. Since 1993, the City of West Hollywood has presented Rainbow Key Awards to individuals and groups that have gone above and beyond in their service to the LGBTQ community. Contributions have come in many forms, including the arts, community service,

humanitarian action, sports, medicine, armed services, leaderty, and more. Past honorees have included activists, artists, civic leaders, educators, community organizations, and many others. Nominations will be reviewed by the City of West Hollywood’s Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board and recommendations for honapproval. For more information, please contact Moya Márquez, City of West Hollywood Community Programs Coordinator, at (323) 8486574 or at mmarquez@weho.org. For people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, please call TTY (323) 848-6496. FROM STAFF REPORTS

New policy framework for mental health, substance challenges At a mental health treatment center in San Jose, Governor Gavin Newsom on Thursday unveiled CARE Court, a new framework to provide individuals with mental health and substance use disorders the care and services they need to get healthy. The proposal, which must be approved by the Legislature, would require counties to provide comprehensive treatment to the most severely impaired and untreated Californians and hold patients accountable to their treatment plan. “CARE Court is about meeting people where they are and acting with compassion to support the thousands of Californians living on our streets with severe mental health and substance use disorders,” said Governor Newsom. “We are taking action to break the pattern that leaves people without hope and cycling repeatedly through homelessness and incarceration. This is a new approach to stabilize people with the hardestto-treat behavioral health conditions.” CARE Court does not wait until someone is hospitalized or arrested before providing treatment. CARE Court will provide an opportunity tervention teams, and mental health service providers, among others, them unhoused, and get them into community-based services. “It’s time we face the painful, but obvious truth: our behavioral health system in California is broken. All of us see it every day on Todd Gloria. “Governor Newsom’s CARE Court proposal is a major step forward. It will provide individuals who are struggling with behavioral health issues a pathway to the housing and health services they need and give those who encounter these individuals a real way to get them the help they need. I look forward to working with the Governor and my municipal colleagues to implement a working program at the local level.” “Governor Newsom’s groundbreaking CARE Court proposal breaks through on a key missing piece of the homeless challenge,” said Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg. “For people who are the sickest and most vulnerable on our streets, the governments responsible for helping them must be legally obligated to act.” medication, advanced mental health directives, and housing assistance – all while remaining community-based. Plans can be up to 12-24 months. In addition to their full clinical team, the client-centered approach also includes a public defender and a supporter to help individuals make self-directed care decisions. Judge Stephen V. Manley. “We are rapidly moving back to where we were 100 years ago in using incarceration as the only alternative for those persons who are severely mentally “NAMI-Santa Clara County appreciates Governor Newsom’s initiative through the CARE


“With CARE Court in place, we’ll have a better opportunity to help struggling individuals The CARE Court framework was created using the evidence that many people can statings. The plan focuses on people with schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders, who may also have substance use challenges, and who lack medical decision-making capacity, and advances an upstream diversion from more restrictive conservatorships or incarceration. The framework provides individuals with a clinically appropriate, community-based and court-ordered Care Plan consisting of culturally and linguistically competent county mental health and substance use disorder treatment services. These include short-term stabilization medications, wellness and recovery supports, and connection to social services, including a housing plan. Services are provided to the individual through an outpatient model while they live in the community. “Governor Newsom’s CARE Court Plan is a welcomed program for LA County,” said Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair Holly J. Mitchell. “The City of Redondo Beach within my district has successfully implemented a similar program with their Homelessness Court. Under centered model of prevention and support for our most vulnerable unhoused neighbors. This is a community approach to preventing justice involvement by connecting people to services over up to a 24-month period.”

In the event that a participant cannot successfully complete a Care Plan, the individual may be referred for a conservatorship, consistent with current law, with a presumption that no suitable alternatives to conservatorship are available. All counties across the state will participate in CARE Court under the proposal. If local services are provided. CARE Court builds on Governor Newsom’s $14 billion multi-year investment to provide 55,000 new housing units and treatment slots and nearly $10 billion annually in community behavioral health services. The Governor’s approach focuses on quickly rehousing unsheltered individuals with behavioral health issues, all while new units come online, while also transforming Medi-Cal to provide more behavioral health services to people struggling the most. FROM STAFF REPORTS


Liaisons: Re-Imagining Sondheim from the Piano Sun, Apr 10 at 7 PM | Royce Hall

Celebrated pianist and genre-busting new music champion Anthony de Mare pays tribute to the musical genius of Stephen Sondheim with 14 new commissions of Sondheim songs re-imagined by the likes of Steve Reich, Timo Andres, Jon Batiste, Ted Hearne, Meredith Monk, Nico Muhly and many more.


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FROM STAFF REPORTS U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) announced Friday comprehensive legislation to address the housing shortages and provide a surge of funding for strategic, existing programs to reduce homelessness as well as for innovative, locally-developed solutions to help those experiencing homelessness. legislation in the House of Representatives. Padilla announced the legislation today with local leaders and advocates at La Mancha Way ship with the Sacramento Housing Redevelopment Agency to purchase hotels and motels that cities and states in California have successfully developed. The National Low-Incoming Housing Coalition estimates that the United States has a short161,000 people experience homelessness in the state each night – including families with young children, veterans, and victims of domestic violence. Prior to the pandemic, one in four renters spent half of their monthly income on rent, and nearly one million tenants were evicted each year. “Every person has a right to the dignity and security of housing,” said Senator Padilla. “As we

toward our goal of ensuring every American has a roof over their head.” “ est and most populated cities, we are all grappling with the housing and homelessness crisis and are excited to see such strong leadership on this issue from our Senator. The “Housing for All Act of 2022” would invest in proven solutions to housing shortages, fund programs that strengthen innovative, locally-developed programs to appropriately engage with those experiencing homelessness.” “The California State Association of Counties (CSAC) applauds Senator Padilla for introducing

U.S. Sen. ALEX PADILLA (D-Calif.)

“ address these challenges.” “ “

Housing for All Act of 2022 to ensure that every person has a place to call home.” “ ties around the country,” said Congressman Lieu. “The pandemic only worsened the econom-

solutions to homelessness.” “

ness response services needed to end homelessness and housing poverty once and for all.” “Senator Padilla

lessness. “ “California has stepped

existential crisis.”

homelessness.” “ including health and educational disparities,” said Professor Matthew Desmond of Princeton “

“ Rental Assistance, the emergency solutions grant program (which helps with street outreach, rapid re-housing assistance, emergency shelter, and homelessness prevention), and Continuums of Care. and motel conversions to permanent supportive housing with supportive services; investing

“ “


of the California Housing Partnership. Association.



CONDUCTED BY JAMES CONLON A lavish new production of Verdi’s Aida comes to the L A Opera stage, featuring gorgeous hieroglyphics by the iconic graffiti artist RETNA. Latonia Moore stars as Aida, an Ethiopian princess torn between her people and her love for the enemy general. Jealousy, betrayal, and two warring kingdoms clash in one of the world’s most beloved operas. Photos: Cory Weaver/SFO


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Parole denied for man who murdered gay sailor in 1992 By LOU CHIBBARO JR. | lchibbaro@washblade.com Terry M. Helvey pleaded guilty to the 1992 murder of gay Navy sailor ALLEN SCHINDLER.


Fla. Senate approves ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, sends to DeSantis The Florida Senate, re-

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Chaos, daily bombings: Gay man on plight of family trapped in Kyiv By MICHAEL K. LAVERS | mlavers@washblade.com A gay man from Ukraine who lives in D.C. with his husband says his mother-in-law remains hunkered down in her apartment in the country’s capital.

invasion of Ukraine.

law with whom he and his husband speak every day remains in her Kyiv apartment.

is chaotic. SERGE DUKA’s mother-in-law is trapped in her Kyiv apartment.

Duka lived in Kyiv for seven years before he and his husband moved to the U.S. at the

(Photo courtesy of Serge Duka)

east side (of Ukraine) and not the west side. They go there at least three to four times a day

The invasion continues to spark worldwide condemnation and sweeping sanctions

outside of Kyiv.

Duka said he and his husband continue to watch the news for updates on the war. Duka said he and his husband also feel helpless.

indicate invasion of Ukraine as a struggle to protect two separatist regions in the eastern part of the Airport after she allegedly had hashish oil in her luggage.


advocacy groups in neighboring countries and around the world have also backed these ment that would have brought his country closer to the European Union sparked a protest


remains stalled amid reports of problems with fuel and mechanical breakdowns. For the


150 singers. One legendary band. Special Guest Stars

Brian Justin Crum and

Alaysha Fox


Gay men’s chorus of los angeles

Beautiful Music. Powerful community.

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is director of Media Relations for Public Justice and former news editor of the Los Angeles Blade.

Biden checks the trans box but hidden allies do the work Three decades ago, on July 16, 1992, David Mixner sat anxiously as pulsating enthusiasm waited to explode in Madison Square Garden when Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton accepted the Democratic nomination for President of the United States. Mixner had worked hard for his friend, raising gobs of money and organizing what could

someone who will stand up to the bullies, be they individuals, politicians, corporate leaders,

the Democratic Party was on board, presenting two HIV-positive speakers and including support for a federal civil rights bill in the platform.

in states where politicians — showing all of the strength and bravery that they have — take

acceptance speech, Mixner quietly prepared a Plan B: 100 lesbian and gay delegates and LGBT allies would abruptly leave, disrupting the convention. Mixner and the tribe waited

Earlier Middleton chatted with Public Justice President Dan Bryson and Amy Heins,

in the country to extend to members of the LGBTQ community full equal protection and in

denying equal protection for LGBTQ+ Americans. The Equality Act is stalled in a Congress late civil rights icon. Three decades later, President Joe Biden checked the LGBTQ box during his State transgender Americans and their families is wrong. As I said last year, especially to our younger transgender Americans, I will always have your back as your president, so you can

those of us who are members of the transgender community are facing discriminatory need and what any other individual who is attempting to access healthcare would receive. But it is not simply just the transgender community. Throughout the LGBTQ community, to hope in the attorneys who are standing up for individuals are one of those good reasons

youth are brave and claimed to have their backs, and your administration has not done Like four decades ago when willful neglect and political stalemate resulted in thousands of unnecessary AIDS deaths, everyday local people are today turning into grassroots organizers and protesters. On March 3, students across the state of Florida staged walk

do with fundraising, but we need people who are not of our community helping us defend Bill 2 against the transgender community, Bryson leads a progressive Public Justice team of the world in the public interest. That team includes Title IX experts who take on trans and

hallways, at their jobs and in the courts. Such are the attorneys at Public Justice, which recently held a board meeting in Palm Springs as their partner organization, the American Minority Caucus also held a reception with Public Justice where they were welcomed by trans Palm Springs Mayor Lisa Middleton. every day, defending those who need an attorney — someone who will represent them, 16 • MARCH 11, 2022 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM

ADDRESS 8237 Blackburn Avenue Ste. 201, Los Angeles, CA 90048 PHONE 310-230-5266 E-MAIL tmasters@losangelesblade.com INTERNET losangelesblade.com PUBLISHED BY Los Angeles Blade, LLC PUBLISHER TROY MASTERS tmasters@losangelesblade.com 310-230-5266 x8080 (o), 917-406-1619 (c) SALES & MARKETING SALES EXECUTIVE CHRIS WILMORE cmwilmore@losangelesblade.com 310-230-5266 x9461 NATIONAL ADVERTISING RIVENDELL MEDIA sales@rivendellmedia.com, 212-242-6863 MARKETING DIRECTOR STEPHEN RUTGERS srutgers@washblade.com, 202-747-2077 x8077 EDITORIAL CONTRIBUTING WRITER KAREN OCAMB karenocamb@losangelesblade.com NATIONAL EDITOR KEVIN NAFF knaff@washblade.com, 202-747-2077 x8088 EDITOR AT LARGE BRODY LEVESQUE California CONTRIBUTORS MICHAEL K. LAVERS, TINASHE CHINGARANDE, ERNESTO VALLE, YARIEL VALDÉS GONZALEZ, PARKER PURIFOY, CHRISTOPHER KANE, AUSTIN MENDOZA, JOHN PAUL KING, JOEY DIGUGLIELMO, CHRIS

MICHAEL ADAMS (he/him) is CEO of SAGE.

Time is ticking on Equality Act for LGBTQ elders Biden addresses importance of measure in State of the Union

In 1974, the original version of the Equality Act was introduced in Congress. At the same time, I was struggling with my own sexuality. As a man raised in a working-class family in a blue-collar mill town, I didn’t know any out LGBTQ+ people. There were no gay-straight alliances in the Catholic schools I attended. There were no legal protections for LGBTQ+ people in my home state of Massachusetts. And I would soon learn what the lack of protections would mean for someone like me who desired to live openly as my authentic self. shared that I was gay with an adviser. She suggested that I consider keeping it to myself to not hurt my career. Knowing that I could not live a life free from discrimination


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.

to come out as my authentic self after a trip to Peru during When I returned from Peru, living openly brought the potential of being negatively impacted by discrimination wisdom and experience of local older LGBTQ+ people who showed me how to navigate the frequent dangers of being an out gay man in a society where discrimination was visibly tolerated. This struggle for LGBTQ+ elders has happened so long that many are surprised to learn there is no federal law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. As a result, we can be discriminated against regarding employment, housing, places of public accommodation, and other critical areas of life. Time is ticking on the Equality Act. Today, I share my personal story shortly after the oneyear anniversary since the House passed the Equality Act, culminating decades of work from numerous LGBTQ+ activists. I am one of the millions of LGBTQ+ people who have spent years pushing for federal protection from discrimination. beginning–decades before I came onto the scene–are now


elders. And they can’t wait any longer. President Biden expressed the importance of passing the Equality Act in his State of the Union address, which comes at a critical time as numerous states work to pass anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ+ laws that invalidate our community’s existence. Without the Equality Act, LGBTQ+ communities must rely on a spotty patchwork of local and state protections, Twenty-eight states in the U.S. have no statewide antidiscrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people. This is particularly problematic for people of color, immigrants, more frequently and on multiple fronts. The lack of legal protection from discrimination is a particular problem for nearly one-quarter of the nation’s older LGBTQ+ population. This demographic is likely to age single and alone because of historical stigma and discrimination. Many struggle and resort to institutional eldercare–all experiences that place them at higher risk for discrimination. Among LGBTQ+ elders, the need to move out of our we need is among our top fears. Nearly half of LGBTQ+ discrimination. Similarly, nearly half of LGBTQ+ people who enter longterm residential care either experience mistreatment themselves or have a loved one treated poorly because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. It’s simple. As LGBTQ+ elders, we want to be treated with the same dignity and respect as everyone else. And after facing lifetimes of discrimination and the long-term lack of legal and social recognition, we have waited long enough for comprehensive protection under federal law. It’s time to pass the Equality Act to ensure LGBTQ+ individuals can live openly without fear, and to ensure our community’s elders can age with the health, dignity, and respect everyone deserves. LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • MARCH 11, 2022 • 17


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Brian Justin Crum brings Freddie Mercury roaring back to life

‘America’s Got Talent’ star joins Gay Men’s Chorus for ultimate rock show By ROB WATSON

They will be nights to remember. The regal Royce Hall of UCLA will be transformed as the extravaganza venue spotlighting QUEEN of the Night. QUEEN will literally “rock you” on April 2 and 3 by weaving together an incredible meld of talent. The production features the bright new talents of Brian Justin Crum, the breakout star from “America’s Got Talent” and LA Opera’s rising star, the stunning Alaysha Fox. They will be entwined with the classic magic of the iconic powerhouse, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, and united in spectacle, they will channel forth the spirit of Freddie Mercury and Queen with a dozen sense erupting anthems. Brian Justin Crum ascends into the production he seems destined to embody. He has reincarnated Freddie before. He is a Broadway veteran of the theatrical production “We Will Rock You,” and in it, sang alongside Queen members Brian May and Roger Taylor. With piercing aqua eyes against a beastly furry that with a powerhouse voice that rivals Whitney Houston and Celine Dion, it is easy to see how he achieved a viral sensation with his cover of Radiohead’s “Creep.” That performance resulted in 100 million views while his versions of “Somebody to Love” and “Never Enough” soared on iTunes. Crum exercises his singer-songwriter talents currently in Los Angeles. With soaring vocals and Love” reached #2 on the Billboard Dance charts. His career did not start by working its way to Broadway and the show “We Will Rock You.” By the time that show came around, he was already stage at the age of 17. His theatrical successes have led to sold out worldwide concert tours and to his ongoing studio work. It is small wonder that the Gay Men’s Chorus has been pleading with him for years to come do

Crum was one of those voices. Crum came out in elementary school and was bullied for it. He shared the experience from the “America’s Got Talent” stage, which further endeared him to audiences, but also furthered the awareness of pain that LGBTQ youth face. “His speaking his truth on one of the biggest shows on television seen around the world was huge for the LGBTQ+ community, and that makes his appearance with GMCLA even more Crum is not stuck in his past however. “I don’t live in a place of victimhood,” he has said. Of his animal magnetism and how he has expressed it in his music, he has stated “Something that was super important to me was for people to see me take my power. A lot of my power comes from sex. I’m very sexual. Why wouldn’t I be proud of that?” Crum is not alone on the QUEEN stage as one of the great Los Angeles talent breakouts. Lending her own brand of artistry to the extravaganza is award-winning soprano Alaysha Fox. Fox is a stand-out member of LA Opera’s Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program where she performed recently as Dorothee in The Anonymous Lover. Having also recently been featured with the LA Philharmonic, this fall she makes her LA Opera mainstage debut in Verdi’s Aida as the Priestess. She has fond memories of the Santa Fe Opera’s Apprentice Program for Singers, where she sang the role of Bridesmaid in Le Nozze di Figaro. Fox has been honored with several awards including: Winner of the Palm Springs Opera Guild Vocal Competition, Loren L. Zachary Finalist, the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, winner of the Joan Taub Ades Vocal com-

dramatic soprano competition, and the Lotte Lenya emerging artist award. Her contribution to QUEEN of the Night will be encircling the mash-up productions with gorgeous arias. pened!” declared GMCLA executive director and QUEEN of the Night will be presented Saturproducer Lou Spisto. “He has a monster voice ‘Queen of the Night’ is set for April 2 and 3. day, April 2 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, April 3 at 2 and in the Queen canon, he has few equals.” p.m. at UCLA’s Royce Hall, 340 Royce Drive, Los Besides his stunning talent, Crum’s life expeAngeles. Tickets are available at GMCLA.org starting at $30. Intermission refreshments will rience as a gay man made him an inspiring extension to the Gay Men’s Chorus activist be on sale at Royce Hall’s beautiful West Terrace. For detailed venue information go to artistry. RoyceHall.org/visit. The GMCLA is renowned for artistic excellence while remaining deeply rooted in service It will be a night where Freddie Mercury rises through the voices and energies of Los to the Los Angeles community and beyond by promoting civil rights, tolerance, and accepAngeles’s newest and brightest. It is a night where an artistic and activist choral institution tance through music. Founded in 1979 during the emergence of the gay rights movement, explodes into jaw dropping fabulousness. It is not a night for mere mortals, it is a night for GMCLA has spread its message of love and acceptance with concerts across the globe and queens. Be a queen.


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Best books for your summer beach read By TERRI SCHLICHENMEYER Imagine yourself on the beach. The sun’s at a just-right angle, so you’re not frying. The water, when you want to wade in it, is warm and refreshing. There’s a Cold One nestled in the sand by your side, and a great book next to it. Why not make it one of these books? If it’s a novel you want for your summer reading, “Jobs for Girls With Artistic Flair: A Novel” by June Gervais (Pamela Dorman Books, June 21) might work. It’s the story of a young woman who passionately hopes to become a tattoo artist but it’s not going to be easy. That’s especially true when she falls in love with the assistant of a psychic who’s just moved into town. When you fall in love with the person you’re destined to spend your life with, you want the whole world to celebrate with you. In “This Way Out” by Tufayel Ahmed (Lake Union Publishing, July 1), Amar is overjoyed to announce the news. Problem is, his beloved is a man. A white man, and his Muslim-Bangladeshi family isn’t going to be happy. Neither are the people in his neighborhood, and it shakes Amar to his core. Will true love prevail? If you’re in the mood for something deep, try “Hawk Mountain” by Connor Habib (W.W. Norton, July 5), the a tight tale of bullying and deception. For something lighter, you won’t believe the array of manga being released this summer, and there are tons of Young Adult “Gender Pioneers: A Celebration of Transgender, Non-Ninary and Intersex Icons” by Philippa Punchard (Jessica Kingsley, Aug. 18) could be a great people who forged trails and followed their own hearts. You’ll be pleased and surprised at who’s inside this book. Lovers of intrigue, biographies, and history will devour “Agent Josephine: American Beauty, French Hero, British Spy” ry of the life of Josephine Baker and her actions against the Nazis during World War II.


In her lifetime, her beauty was renowned, but she was controversial. Her bisexuality was scandalous then, as was her supposed promiscuity. Few, however, knew of her incredible bravery. Science-minded readers will want to dive into “Bi: The Hidden Culture, History, and Science of Bisexuality” by Julia Shaw (Abrams Press, June 28). Find out what science knows about bisexuality, how bisexuals made and changed history, what the law has said about it through the years, and what else is being studied. This is a wide take on a little-explored subject, and is perfect for curious readers. If you’re taking the kids to the beach for toddlers, grade-schoolers, and Young Adults – some of which you’ll enjoy, too. Ask your local librarian for great recommendations (and ways to keep sand out of your books). Throw yourself at the mercy of your favorite bookseller; seriously, they you need for that beach. Seasons readings!

(Image courtesy WW Norton)



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‘As One’ breaks new ground with Opera Santa Barbara Finding strength while discovering trans identity

By BEKAH WRIGHT Two voices come together in the opera “As One.” Their purpose: to portray the strength of its main character, Hannah, as she discovers her transgender identity. This contemporary opera celebrates its 50th production at Opera Santa Barbara’s Lobero Theatre on March 25 and 27. “Opera Santa Barbara is excited to bring this uniquely American piece to Santa Barbara for – subject matters that are extremely important and timely.” As One follows Hannah, a transgender woman, as she embraces her gender identity and, in a

nouncement of the True Voice Award, a new initiative from As One’s creators and the Washington National Opera to create opportunities and training for trans opera singers. Enyart, the transgender opera conductor of As One says. To Enyart, it’s a powerful coming of age in a world,” she says. “So often, society puts people in boxes and creates expectations that aren’t based in reality. For Hannah, it’s everyone telling her she’s a boy when she knows that’s wrong.” Hannah’s journey from “the perfect boy” to discovering the power of being her true self is told

chamber opera is accompanied by string quartet. world premiere in 2014 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Since then, it’s traveled the globe and Enyart, who’s conducted six As One performances, including one in Australia, As One provides sus serving as a talking point on transgender. Being presented in this way makes it very powerful.” To open up dialogues, Opera Santa Barbara has scheduled a series of special events to raise these programs. Leading up to As One’s debut will be a March 24 panel discussion featuring tentially in the works is a special choral piece that would feature all those who’ve portrayed Hannah in As One productions during who are transgender are the same as everyone else – we’re more adds, “I hope this piece encourages everyone to experience the joys of saying yes to yourself.”

grant from the Holly and Walter Thompson Foundation, Bank of

In accordance with the latest State and County guidance, patrons cols can be found on the Lobero website.


Opera Santa Barbara’s Lobero Theatre features ‘As One’ on March 25 and 27.

Written by and Starring


Tough as nails. Funny as hell.

“Holland Taylor is frank and funny, earthy and warm - a fiery dynamo.” —THE NEW YORK TIMES



From lesbian superheroes to Downton Abbey, something for everyone By JOHN PAUL KING

Spring is always a welcome season when it comes to the weather, but for movie lovers it can be a very mixed bag. With the big releases waiting for summer and the “prestige movies” being held until the end of the year to ensure their freshness in the minds of awards voters, the months between February and June are often loaded with what some might no guarantees, here’s the Blade’s list of promising spring releases that might be of interest to LGBTQ audiences. GREAT FREEDOM International Feature didn’t snag a nomination, but that doesn’t mean it’s not essential viewing for fans of LGBTQ cinema. Franz Rogowski (touted as the German Joaquin Phoenix) stars as Hans, a West German gay man who, after being liberated by the Allies from a Nazi concentration camp, is repeatedly imprisoned for homosexuality under Paragraph ed relationship with his cellmate, a convicted murderer named Viktor (Georg Friedrich). Described by director Sebastian Meise as “a prison drama and a love story,” it’s already in limited theatrical release but becomes available to stream (via MUBI) on May 6. EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE (March 25) The lead character here has a rocky relationship with her queer daughter, but that’s not the main attraction in this wild chelle Yeoh stars as Evelyn, a middle-aged Chinese woman with a life full of problems who is suddenly thrown into the multiverse, jumping through alternate versions of her own life to do battle with an evil power that only she may be able to defeat – even though she can’t

ary martial arts skills, share the screen with Jamie Lee Curtis, and generally be the bad-ass heroine we all not-so-secretly wish to be. Also starring Stephanie Hsu, Jenny Slate, James “Short Round” in “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.” In theaters March 25. JUMP, DARLING to your shortlist for spring viewing, but perhaps the biggest one has nothing to do with the screen icon who passed away in January 2021. An audience favorite from 2021’s LGBTQ festival circuit (where it won multiple awards, including a Jury Special Mention Award for Leachman’s performance), it tells the story of an aspiring young actor and drag performer (Thomas Duplessie) who leaves his boyfriend after a disastrous non-debut at a Toronto coming to terms with her own mortality. Written and directed by Phil Connell, who calls his late star “an icon and an ally,” and says, “To work with her, to know her, and now to share and Miss Fiercalicious – includes six on-screen drag performances against a soundtrack March 18, and drops DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS (May 6) We’re including this Marvel blockbuster, the sequel to 2016’s “Doctor Strange” (in case you didn’t know), because it features the introduction of Xochitl Gomez as lesbian superhero America Chavez. Marvel already made the move toward a more inclusive queer presence in its Cinematic Universe by including the gay-and-married Phastos in last year’s “Eternals” (even featuring an onscreen kiss between the two husbands, as played by Brian Tyree Henry and Haaz Sleiman), but we’re still interested in seeing how they handle this one. We’re also excited for director Sam Raimi’s return to the genre; his deliciously madcap style seems a perfect match for what will likely be one of the more surreal entries in the juggernaut franchise’s ever-ex26

, 2022

in between. Also starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Rachel McAdams, with former “X-Men” star Patrick Stewart coming onboard for an “undisclosed role” that has Marvel fans salivating for a long-hoped-for crossover. BENEDICTION (May 13) Siegfried Sassoon may not be a household name nowadays, but the queer English wordsmith-turned-soldier became one of the leading poets of the World Terence Davies, follows the young poet (Jack Lowden) through this period of his life, covering his controversial open criticism of the war, his “marriage-of-convenience” to a woman

festivals like TIFF and San Sebastián, this one has racked up some impressive reviews from international critics so far – but be warned, it’s not a happy story. Details of the upcoming U.S. release are unclear, but it’s apparently slated for May 13, so keep your eyes open. DOWNTON ABBEY: A NEW ERA (May 20) No explanation is needed here. Julian Fellowes’ addictively popular highbrow soap opera returns for a second big-screen follow-up with most of its beloved cast intact – and, yes that includes the indomitable Dame Maggie Smith as sharp-tongued-mistress-of-shade and Dowager Countess Violet Crawley, who in this installment has inherited a French villa. There’s a mystery involved, however, so naturally the whole Downton household (from both upstairs and down) picks up and goes on a grand journey to get to the bottom of things. Sure to be a shameless crowd-pleaser, it’s once again helmed by director Simon Curtis (from Fellowe’s screenplay), and also stars returning cast members Hugh Bonneville, Laura Carmichael, Jim Carter, Brendan Coyle, lier, Allen Leech, Phyllis Logan, Elizabeth McGovern, Sophie McShera, Tuppence Middleton, Lesley Nicol, Imelda Staunton, and Penelope Wilton, with new additions Hugh Dancy, Laura fun. It’s in theaters on May 20.

New TV season promises abundant queer content By JOHN PAUL KING As with the movies, spring television can be a hit-or-miss KATE MCKINNON as Carole Baskin in ‘Joe vs Carole.’ (Photo courtesy Peacock)





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