APRIL 08, 2022 • VOLUME 06 • ISSUE 14 • AMERICA’S LGBTQ NEWS SOURCE • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Equality California Wishes LA Blade a Happy 5th Anniversary! With over 900,000 members, Equality California is the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ+ civil rights organization and California’s only LGBTQ+ civil rights organization working at the local, state and national levels. We strive to create a world that is healthy, just, and fully equal for all LGBTQ+ people. We advance civil rights and social justice by inspiring, advocating, and mobilizing through an inclusive movement that works tirelessly on behalf of those we serve. We’re fighting for full LGBTQ+ equality and YOU can join us! Your membership allows us to: ∂ ∂ ∂ ∂ ∂ ∂
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Los Angeles Blade celebrates 5th anniversary Millions of pageviews, 234 print editions, with much more to come By BRODY LEVESQUE
According to numerology, the number ﬁve symbolizes freedom, curiosity, and change – a desire to have adventures and explore new possibilities. Five years ago this month for transplanted New Yorker Troy Masters his new adventure was to start up another LGBTQ+ publication. Joining him in the quest to explore new possibilities was veteran award-winning West Hollywood-based LGBTQ+ journalist Karen Ocamb. Partnering with America’s oldest LGBTQ+ newspaper, The Washington Blade, adapting ‘Blade’ as part of its masthead, Masters and Ocamb set out to ensure that the voices of greater Los Angeles’ LGBTQ+ community were ampliﬁed with the launch of the Los Angeles Blade. The modern reality is that although new journalistic ventures are launched continuously on the internet yearly, legacy media like newspapers and broadcasters are often struggling to adapt to a new communications environment. Masters and Ocamb believed strongly that media startups with a loyal community have the ability to succeed as long as they work hard, evolve and stay focused on the correct course. The key though was a “loyal community” and the Blade set out to build a solid and mutually beneﬁcial relationship with Los Angeles’ LGBTQ+ community. An ancient proverb reads: The proof of the pudding is in the eating, which has been often been shortened to ‘the proof is in the pudding.’ What that meant was that you had to try out food to know whether it was good. News is not unlike food insofar as it too is ‘consumed’ and the loyalty of readers/viewers/listeners relies on that very principle. Along the way come examples of ‘proof’ as evidenced last fall by now former Los Angeles Blade editor Karen Ocamb being awarded Journalist of the Year for 2020 at the 63rd annual Los Angeles Press Club’s Southern California Journalism Awards gala. The LA Press Club judges noted in their decision bestowing the award, “Karen Ocamb’s passionate reporting of the struggles of the LGBTQ community and journalists covering LGBTQ issues during the pandemic earns her a Print Journalist of Year award.” She was also a runner-up in two other categories securing second place in ‘Pandemic Reporting Digital’ (Online) with awardee Jon Regardie, Los Angeles Magazine, “A Month Inside the COVID-19 War Room with Mayor Eric Garcetti” securing ﬁrst place. (Karen Ocamb, Los Angeles Blade, “Seeking Truth in the War on the Coronavirus”) Ocamb also secured second place in the category of ‘Commentary: on political, social, cultural, investigative, judicial, economic or other serious subjects.’ Making a diﬀerence is the credo of the paper and is the underlying mission mandate by its publisher and editors. In 2022, Masters was honored by the City of West Hollywood with the prestigious Rainbow Key Award for his role in establishing the Los Angeles Blade and for leading “Pride Walk,” an unoﬃcial Pride celebration during June 2021’s COVID shutdown. Dedication to community — a sense of belonging and being part of the more than just the media landscape in Los
AUGUST GETTY (Photo By Daniel J. Sliwa)
Angeles and Southern California as a whole — sometimes led the Blade to cover stories that have had far reaching impact in the United States and abroad. As the government of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani collapsed and he ﬂed the country in August of 2021, chaos had descended on the Afghan capital city. Among the Americans who were trapped in the suburban areas of Kabul under Taliban control was Josie Thomas, 32, a transgender government contractor for the U.S. State Department and former U.S. Air Force Sergeant. Thomas, along with several others, was trapped at the diplomatic support facility known as Camp Alvarado located on the outskirts of the capital city’s airport. Thomas, in a series of text messages provided to the Blade on background by a colleague of hers, relayed that she and others were aware of the immediate presence of the Taliban insurgents, which was communicated at the exact time Afghan security forces abandoned their posts. The texts also expressed frustration at the lack of communication regarding the lack of a presence of U.S. military forces to assist. The Blade in turn reached out to U.S. oﬃcials at both the U.S. State Department and the Pentagon, which ultimately led to one of her colleagues communicating with Thomas receiving a text from her stating that elements of the United States Army’s 82nd Airborne Division had arrived at the Camp Alvarado diplomatic support facility. She was then airlifted out the next day. Ocamb was indefatigable in her pursuit of stories that
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made a diﬀerence and contributed to the well being of the LGBTQ+ community. Her coverage of the battle over former President Trump’s ban on transgender people in military service was comprehensive and nuanced. One of the most read and shared articles was her piece titled ‘Trump’s trans military ban now policy,’ which detailed the harsh reality of the policy and the far-reaching negative impact it would have, especially on the trans community. In July 2020, at the same time the parent company’s White House reporter Chris Johnson won the GLAAD Award for Outstanding Newspaper Article, Ocamb received a special recognition award from GLAAD. “After initially starting her career at CBS News and producing the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, Ocamb joined the LGBTQ press in the 1980s after more than 100 friends died from AIDS,” GLAAD noted, adding, “she has since become a leading force and champion for LGBTQ media. She is known for her smart, fair, and professional writing style as well as her staunch dedication to shining the spotlight on underreported LGBTQ people and issues.” True to that spirit mentioned by GLAAD, Ocamb, in another top-traﬃcked and read piece covered the story of West Hollywood’s Louise Hay, an advocate for unconditional love and forgiveness during the height of the AIDS crisis, who died of natural causes at age 90. “Louise Hay and her Hay Ride gave spiritual support and acceptance to so many in the early days of the AIDS epidemic,” says gay former Entertainment Tonight executive producer Brad Bessey. “She was so important to our movement—preaching love over fear and healing, hope and heart over hopelessness.” Beyond the journalistic eﬀorts of Ocamb and the other writers, including me, the current editor and veteran journalist, the Los Angeles Blade reached out with community events it sponsored and promoted. On June 27 of last year for example, the Los Angeles Blade honored and recognized the achievements of LGBTQ+ students, faculty, staﬀ, and administrators of the Los Angeles Community College District, (LACCD) as about 75 invited guests gathered at West Hollywood’s Le Parc Suite Hotel’s Skydeck rooftop lounge and pool area to celebrate the LGBTQ+ students, and celebrate the creation of a scholarship program between the Los Angeles Blade and LACCD. Previously the Blade had highlighted LACCD as it held its second annual ‘Lavender’ graduation ceremony noting the critical support that the LACCD renders the LGBTQ+ community’s economically disadvantaged students. Sometimes though news can also be a sobering reminder of the challenges that the LGBTQ+ community faces daily. Closer to home, a dynamic young person who had assisted publisher Masters at LA Pride in 2018, Casey Hoke, a transgender artist, activist and national public speaker dedicated to helping others combat marginalization, died in Pomona, according to a family statement on his Facebook page. It was later revealed he had died as the result of suicide.
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Los Angeles Blade marks 5 years Masters reported the death himself writing: “My younger brother Casey Hoke passed away yesterday in the Los Angeles, CA area,” Hoke’s brother Ryan Benjamin Hoke said in a statement. “My family is heartbroken. We ask for privacy, but at the same time want to make sure Casey’s friends and connections know.” Ryan Benjamin Hoke later told the Los Angeles Blade: “Casey lost his battle with mental illness.” Hoke, 21, was well known in the national trans community, particularly among the younger generation for his dedication to the LGBTQ community, especially in his art and in art history. He was also a Point Foundation scholar and worked closely on trans rights with GLSEN. Hoke came out as a transgender male in high school and worked as an organizer and peer educator at his high school’s Gay/ Straight/ Transgender Alliance. Reaching and building a core audience/readership in today’s digital age is diﬃcult at best and a virtual nightmare at worst. Yet, since 2017, the Blade has built an increasingly loyal and interactive base. In the era of a two-year long coronavirus pandemic, which nearly caused the Blade to cease publication as advertising revenue dried up, that loyalty brought forth a unique partnership with the Ariadne Getty Foundation. The focus of Ariadne Getty Foundation has been shoring up LGBTQ organizations, such as the Los Angeles LGBT Center and GLAAD. Getty joined the board of directors of the latter in 2016 and last year at the World Economic Forum in Davos she pledged $15 million to the organization, which focuses on media and how Americans as a culture can rewrite the script for LGBTQ acceptance. The Blade kept publishing and in fact was the only LGBTQ+ publication in the United States to publish daily stories about the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to Ocamb’s reporting, I worked to establish a de facto ‘virtual’ Blade Sacramento Capital Bureau, attending every press conference held by Gov. Gavin Newsom and Dr. Mark Ghaly the Secretary of the California Health & Human Services Agency and then writing daily articles to inform readers as to the latest and often critical updates on the battle with COVID-19. Standing out in the reporting was the fact the COVID-19 pandemic revealed deep-seated inequities in health care for communities of color and ampliﬁed social and economic factors that have contributed to those communities being hit hardest. Additionally, there was virtually no collection of data for the LGBTQ+ community. That lack of data collection frustrated and angered State Sen. Scott Wiener, (D-SF) who authored a bill last year that passed through the legislature and was signed by Newsom last fall that mandates gathering sexual orientation and gender identity data related to COVID testing in California. The Blade with its reporting and presence at the aforementioned press conferences along with Wiener’s staﬀ kept the pressure up to get that law passed. “We’re one year into the pandemic, and LGBTQ people continue to be erased in our public health response to COVID-19 — similar to our invisibility throughout history. No government is successfully tracking COVID-19 cases in the LGBTQ community, despite a law I wrote mandating that California do so,” Weiner told the Blade. “And, we now know that LGBTQ people are more vulnerable to COVID-19. We’ve also just learned that vaccination demographic data doesn’t include LGBTQ data. It simply shocking that in 2021, progressive health agencies continue to forget about our community,” he added. The Blade has also combined forces with other publications in unique media partnerships in much smaller markets that have resulted in critical stories receiving notice that is well deserved. One such story was titled ‘Gay university student critically injured while passenger on Amtrak’ written by Bob Conrad, editor and publisher of ThisIsRenoMedia LLC. Aaron Salazar was on an Amtrak train traveling from Denver to Portland, but mysteriously ended up in a coma at a Nevada trauma hospital instead. According to the Truckee California Police Department’s Detective-Sergeant Danny Renfrow, sometime shortly be-
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KAREN OCAMB, journalist of the year awardee 2020 at the Los Angeles Press Club gala. (Photo by Troy Masters)
fore noon on May 15, following Salazar’s text message, the 22-year-old gay Portland State University junior was found in critical condition by railroad workers lying beside the Union Paciﬁc Railroad’s right-of-way property within the town’s corporate limits. Along the U.S.-Mexico border, Richard Montenegro Brown, editor of the Calexico Chronicle and Holtville Tribune, longtime community newspapers, wrote of the still unsolved murder of Oliver or Poe Black, a “two-spirit” transgender male of Wyandot Native American descent, in the Slab City area of the Imperial Valley. The two-part series in the Blade was a comprehensive look at a troubling case detailing that months after the body of a 21-year-old transgender man, Poe Delwyn Black, was pulled from a canal north of Slab City riddled with stab wounds, investigators have shifted the theater of the murder probe in two directions: Black’s home state of Tennessee and the Paciﬁc Northwest. Probably though the best indicator of the worth of the Blade as an integral part of the community over the past 5 years is borne out by the statistics:
234 ISSUES 8,448 ARTICLES PUBLISHED MILLIONS OF COPIES DISTRIBUTED IN PRINT 14 IN-PERSON LIVE EVENTS 2,350 ADVERTISING PAGES 300+ EDITORIAL CONTRIBUTORS 6,000,000 PAGEVIEWS ONLINE 100s OF PHOTOGRAPHERS 3,000 PERCENT INCREASE IN WEB TRAFFIC OVER PAST YEAR As the Blade marks its ﬁfth year and looks to the future, there is a solid base of its accomplishment, as according to respected professional journalism data, information, publicity, and portfolio site for the media, Muck Rack, the Los Angeles Blade ranks 26th in the Top 50 of all LGBTQ+ Media organizations globally in traﬃc online and in the Top 30 LGBTQ publications in the U.S., the Blade is number 17. The future is good, in fact if the Blade was celebrating a ﬁfth wedding anniversary the appropriate gift would be something crafted from wood. Instead, the Blade will simply ‘knock on wood,’ celebrate and then move forward.
LA court: Law requiring diverse company boards unconstitutional Critics claim a violation of equal protection clause
FROM STAFF REPORTS member who self-identiﬁes as Black, African American, Hispanic, Latino, Asian, Paciﬁc IsA Superior Court judge in Los Angeles County ruled last Friday that the 2020 law that relander, Native American, Native Hawaiian, or Alaska Native, or who self-identiﬁes as LGBTQ+. quires California-based or headquartered corporations to have a minimum of one director The bill would require, no later than the close from an underrepresented community, is unconof the 2022 calendar year, that a corporation with stitutional. more than 4 but fewer than 9 directors to have a Judge Terry Green granted summary judgminimum of 2 directors from underrepresented ment to Judicial Watch, a Washington D.C. based communities, and such a corporation with 9 or conservative legal nonproﬁt founded by attormore directors to have a minimum of 3 directors ney Larry Klayman, and has been led by Tom Fitfrom underrepresented communities. ton since 2003. Andres Picon, a reporter with the San FrancisJudicial Watch had sued the state on behalf of co Chronicle noted that before the law passed, three residents, alleging that the state’s expenmore than one-third of California boardrooms diture of taxpayer funds to enforce the law was were all white, according to the Latino Corporate unconstitutional. Directors Association. “This historic California court decision deProponents of the bill, AB979, hoped that it clared unconstitutional one of the most blatant would push companies to hire more diverse diand signiﬁcant the Control modern era2009 on ISOattacks 12647-7in Digital Strip 100 60 100 prohibitions 70 30 100 60 100 70 30 100 60 100 70 30 100 40 40 100 40 100 40 70 40 70 40 40 40 70 40 40 70 40 70 40 40 3 10 25 50 100 A rectors, increasing equity in75hiring90and making it constitutional against discriminamore likely for companies to consider the needs tion,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in and wants of underrepresented communities in a statement. “In its ruling today, the court upheld their decision making. the core American value of equal protection unBut critics have argued that the law is discrimder the law. Judicial Watch’s taxpayer clients are B 100 100 60 100 100 70 70 30 30 100 100 60 100 100 70 30 30 100 100 60 100 100 70 70 30 30 100 40 100 40 40 100 10 40 40 20 70 70 70 70 40 70 40 40 0000 3.1 2.2 2.2 10.2 7.4 7.4 25 19 19 50 40 40 75 66 66 100 100 100 80 70 70 100 inatory and a violation of the equal protection heroes for standing up for civil rights against70 the clause in the California Constitution. Some oppoLeft’s pernicious eﬀorts to undo anti-discriminanents argued that forcing diversity quotas would tion protections.” not necessarily lead to changes in how boards The law known as Assembly Bill No. 979, manSuperior Court of LA County Stanley Mosk Courthouse (Photo courtesy T:10" County of Los Angeles) run their businesses. dates corporations to have at least one board 3%
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Man charged with hate crime for vandalizing OC mosque A Westminster police A 40-year-old man oﬃcer stopped Martinez has been charged with as he walked near the a hate crime and felomosque. Martinez had ny vandalism of a place paint on his clothes and of worship for using a hand and told the oﬃcer gallon-sized paint can that the mosque’s God and paint to vandalize a had disrespected his mosque in Westminster. God. Ernesto Martinez, 40, (Photo courtesy of the Al-Noor Foundation Masjid al-Noor/Facebook) Martinez is currently of Santa Ana, has been being held without bail charged with one felony at the Theo Lacy Facility in Orange. count of vandalism of $400 or more, one “Houses of worship are sacred places felony count of vandalism of a place of that should be safe havens from hate worship with the purpose of intimidation, and violence,” said Orange County District one felony hate crime enhancement, and Attorney Todd Spitzer. “Today, Muslims one misdemeanor count of violation of across the world begin celebrating Racivil rights – property damage. madan, a month of fasting, prayer, and He faces a maximum sentence of six reﬂection. Those celebrations must be years in prison if convicted on all counts. able to go on uninterrupted and without On March 30, 2022, an employee at the the fear of someone trying to deface a Al Noor Foundation Mosque in the 14500 house of worship. No one has the right block of Goldenwest Street in Westminto take that serenity from another person ster saw a man, later identiﬁed as Marand the Orange County District Attorney’s tinez, try to break one of the mosque’s Oﬃce will do everything we can to hold windows. Martinez is also accused of haters accountable and protect the rights hitting the mosque’s front door with a of everyone to worship in peace.” gallon-sized paint can and then throwing FROM STAFF REPORTS paint onto one of the windows.
WeHo celebrates National Poetry Month The City of West Hollywood will celebrate National Poetry Month in April with a variety of events and exhibitions honoring poets and the art of poetry. Throughout the month of April, the City of West Hollywood will honor living poets by featuring selections of their poetry on street pole banners along Santa Monica Boulevard. Currently there are 46 poets honored, and each year the West Hollywood City Poet Laureate selects two additional poets to honor. This year’s honorees are Presidential Inauguration Poet Amanda Gorman and Da Poetry Lounge’s Shihan Van Clief. Amanda Gorman is the youngest Presidential inaugural poet in United States history. She is a committed advocate for the environment, racial equality, and gender justice. After graduating cum laude from Harvard University, she now lives in her hometown of Los Angeles. Amanda was one of the Variety Power of Women honorees, one of the cover stars for Glamour’s Women of the Year, and one of TIME magazine’s Women of the Year. The special edition of her inaugural poem, The Hill We Climb, was published in March 2021. Her debut picture book, Change Sings, was released in September 2021 and her poetry collection Call Us What We Carry in December 2021. Shihan Van Clief is the co-founder of Da Poetry Lounge, the largest weekly poetry slam in the United States, and the Festival Director of the L.A. Get Down Festival of hip-hop and spo-
ken word, which takes place at the Greenway Court Theatre at Fairfax High School and is funded through a City of West Hollywood Arts Grant. Shihan was raised in the Lower East Side of New York City by his father who took his son to Puerto Rico every summer so he could understand the importance of where he came from. He is wellknown for his debut performance on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, and is a National Poetry Slam champion. On Monday, April 4, 2022 at 6 p.m., the City Council of the City of West Hollywood will, at its regular meeting, issue a commemorative National Poetry Month proclamation, which will be received by West Hollywood City Poet Laureate Brian Sonia-Wallace. The presentation will be viewable on the City’s WeHoTV YouTube Channel. The West Hollywood City Poet Laureate will also debut a new poem he has created titled WeHowl (inspired by the poem Howl by Allen Ginsberg). For additional information about the City of West Hollywood’s National Poetry Month activities or West Hollywood City Poet Laureate program, please contact Mike Che, the City of West Hollywood’s Arts Coordinator, at (323) 848-6377 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.weho.org/ community/arts-and-culture/literary-arts/poetry-month. For people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, please call TTY (323) 848-6496. FROM STAFF REPORTS
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • APRIL 08, 2022 • 09
WeHo in brief: City government in action this week Action in areas of homelessness, rental assistance, nightlife safety FROM STAFF REPORTS
In anticipation of the sunset of the state’s preemption of local laws protecting tenants from eviction for non-payment of rent due to COVID-19-related reasons, the County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors enacted enhanced protections at its January 25, 2022 meeting that would cover West Hollywood tenants. Among these protections was a provision that any tenant, regardless of income, could avoid eviction for non-payment of rent due to COVID-19 related reasons from April 1, 2022 City of West Hollywood (Photo by Jon Viscott) through May 31, 2022. As of June 1, 2022, the protection would have applied to any tenant claiming a COVID-19 related hardship whose income fell at or below 80% of the area median income. The state legislature’s last-minute passage of AB 2179 on Thursday, March 31, 2022 has stripped local jurisdictions, including West Hollywood and the County, of the ability to oﬀer any COVID-19 protections related to non-payment of rent until July 1, 2022. Despite this limitation on local government authority, County protections applicable to West Hollywood residents remain in eﬀect as follows:
CONTINUATION OF PHASE I (APRIL 1 – MAY 31, 2022):
The following protections are available to residential tenants in West Hollywood through May 31, 2022 by continuing the residential eviction moratorium for: No-fault evictions (with limited exceptions for owner/relative move-ins); Evictions based on nuisances or for unauthorized occupants or pets whose presence is necessitated by or related to the COVID-19 emergency; and Evictions based on denials of entry except to remedy a dangerous condition or prevent substantial damage to the unit. In addition to the limited allowance for owner/relatives to move into a unit, an eviction may be authorized when a tenant’s occupancy is a threat to public health and safety.
PHASE II (JUNE 1 – DECEMBER 31, 2022):
All protections of Phase I will remain in place during Phase II except that, starting June 1, 2022: 1. With respect to owner move-in eviction criteria, there will no longer be a purchase date requirement, and the requirement that residential tenants can only be evicted if the tenant has not been impacted by COVID-19 will be lifted. 2. The protections for denial of entry expire, except where a landlord’s attempts to enter the unit constitute harassment. Any protections related to non-payment of rent for COVID-19 related reasons are on hold to no sooner than July 1, 2022, unless the legislature takes additional action before that date.
EVICTION PROTECTIONS EXTENDED TO JUNE 30, 2022 FOR TENANTS WITH PENDING STATE RENT RELIEF PROGRAM APPLICATIONS
AB 2179 oﬀers continuing protection for tenants who have a pending application with the state rent relief program, Housing is Key. The last day to ﬁle an application was March 31, 2022, and the urgency legislation provided no extension. Under the state rent relief program, a landlord is eligible for 100 percent of unpaid rental debt of eligible households accumulated after April 1, 2020 and through March 31, 2022. To receive payment, the landlord must give up the right to evict an eligible tenant based on COVID-19 rental debt. Through June 30, 2022, courts will only allow an eviction case based on non-payment of rent for COVID-19 related reasons to proceed if the landlord has attempted to obtain rental assistance to cover the unpaid amount and the application has been denied or more than 20 days has passed without any indication that the tenant will cooperate in the application process. Information regarding the Housing is Key rent relief program for landlords and tenants may be found at housing.ca.gov. 12 • APRIL 08, 2022 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Additionally, information about the City of West Hollywood’s COVID-19-related rental assistance programs can be found on the City’s website by visiting www.weho.org/services/ social-services/ﬁnancial-assistance.
ONGOING EFFORTS TO PRIORITIZE NIGHTLIFE SAFETY IN WEST HOLLYWOOD
The City of West Hollywood became the ﬁrst city in California to pass an Ordinance, in late 2021, to require Bystander Intervention training for personnel in business establishments that serve alcohol for onsite consumption. The training is provided by the Rape Treatment Center (RTC) at UCLA Santa Monica Medical Center and is an educational course that addresses the issue of drug-facilitated sexual assaults and date rape drugs. The training also promotes the proactive role that onsite alcoholic beverage sales establishments can take in the prevention of sexual assaults. The Bystander Intervention training program launched in March 2022 and, to date, more than 800 employees have taken part in this training. It is anticipated that more than 1,500 individuals will be trained through the program by summer 2022. The City of West Hollywood has a range of ongoing eﬀorts in place to assist in creating and maintaining a safe environment in nightlife business establishments that serve alcohol. This includes a manual titled Best Safety Practices for Nightlife Establishments which is used as a training tool for nightlife business establishment owners and managers to maintain their restaurants, lounges, bars, and nightclubs in a safe manner free from illegal activity including drug sales, underage drinking, overconsumption of alcohol, violence, prostitution, human traﬃcking, sex oﬀenses, terrorism, and more. The City’s Only Yes Means Yes campaign was launched in 2016 and refreshed in 2021 to raise awareness about sexual assault and consent. The eﬀort includes focused outreach, graphics, and messaging in and around nightlife establishments. The campaign uses visuals inspired by roadway directional signage to deliver serious messages about the importance of consent and aims to foster greater awareness and engagement, and to empower community members to play an active role in sexual assault prevention by educating themselves and sharing the vitally important message of consent. The West Hollywood Sheriﬀ’s Station’s Entertainment Policing Team (EPT) is a team of Sheriﬀ’s Deputies who are primarily focused on entertainment- and alcohol-related law enforcement issues in the City. On a nightly basis, the EPT actively patrols approximately 60 bars, nightclubs, and hotels and liaises with management of nightlife establishments to build and maintain cooperative working relationships and to stay informed and address concerns. The EPT has been engaging with venues about reports ﬁled regarding allegations of drugging and provided patrols and “plain-clothes” operations at bars, lounges, and clubs throughout the City of West Hollywood. The City’s Public Safety website area provides personal safety tips for nightlife safety and sexual assault prevention and resources. While the City’s Public Safety Department provides oversight of law enforcement and community programs to reduce crime and increase public safety, the City’s Code Compliance Division works to maintain the City’s unique urban balance with an emphasis on neighborhood livability and quality of life. The Code Enforcement team is responsible for enforcing all provisions of the City’s laws and ordinances, as governed by the West Hollywood Municipal Code, and it works to respond to issues and concerns from the community. Bystander Intervention training is part of expanded alcohol-server training for personnel in the City’s bars, lounges, and clubs and a related education campaign to promote customer awareness, safety, and security in bars, lounges, and clubs will follow soon. The City regularly works to raise awareness about personal responsibility and alcohol with an eﬀort called Imbibe Intelligently, which promotes safety tips and messages regarding alcohol consumption within the community and for visitors enjoying nightlife. Tips to Imbibe Intelligently are provided on the City’s website at www.weho.org/socialresponsibility as well as on a rotating schedule in outdoor media in the community and on the City’s social media platforms @wehocity. The City and the West Hollywood Sheriﬀ’s Station urge anyone who believes they are a victim of any crime – or anyone in the community with any public safety concerns – to reach out to the West Hollywood Sheriﬀ’s Station 24/7 at (310) 855-8850.
C ONG R AT U L AT IONS ON YOU R UPCOMING R ETIR EMENTS!
Lorri L. Jean & Darrel Cummings T H E LO S A N G E L E S LG B T C E N T E R T H A N K S YO U FO R YO U R 2 5 Y E A R S O F L E A D E R S H I P A N D A DVO C AC Y O N B E H A L F O F O U R C O M M U N I T Y.
In ﬁrst, Biden meets with LGBTQ Equality Caucus lawmakers
In a ﬁrst for a U.S. president, President Biden met with lawmakers with the congressional LGBTQ Equality Caucus, which includes each of the openly gay and lesbian members in the U.S. House and serves as the face of the LGBTQ movement in Congress. Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), chair of the LGBTQ Equality Caucus, announced the meeting had taken place in a statement after it happened on Friday amid the passage of anti-trans legislation in state legislatures, including measures restricting access by In a ﬁrst for a U.S. president, PRESIDENT BIDEN has met with lawmakers in the LGBTQ Equality Caucus. transgender youth to transition-related care and school sports. “I am grateful to President Biden for inviting Equality Caucus leadership to meet with him at the White House today. President Biden has been the most vocal ally to the LGBTQ+ community we have ever had in the White House, and I thanked him for his unwavering support,” Ciccilline said in a statement. “We had a productive conversation about the pressing need for the Equality Act and other legislative and administrative actions to protect vulnerable members of the LGBTQ+ community in the face of the onslaught of anti-LGBTQ+ attacks happening in state legislatures across the country.”
A White House oﬃcial conﬁrmed the meeting took place and was part of eﬀorts by Biden to reach out to diversity caucuses in Congress. Among the lawmakers present at the meeting were Cicilline as well as Reps. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.), Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.) and Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.), each of whom is openly gay, according to the LGBTQ Equality Caucus statement. The meeting, the statement says, consisted of discussion on a variety of topics with Biden and senior administration oﬃcials, including possible U.S. Senate action on the Equality Act, which would expand the prohibition on anti-LGBTQ discrimination under federal law. Despite the inclusion of the Equality Act, the bill is all but dead in the Senate and lacks even unanimous support within the Democratic caucus thanks to Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) refusing to support the bill. A spokesperson for Torres, who along with Jones is one of the two openly gay Black members of Congress, said he brought up the Food & Drug Administration’s ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men. Although the policy was relaxed in 2020, regulations still prohibited men from donating blood if they’ve had sex with another man in the past three months. Although the LGBTQ Equality Caucus was formed in 2008, it had until this time never met with a U.S. president. Former President Obama never met with the caucus. In a surprise ﬁrst, the LGBTQ Equality Caucus was granted a meeting with former House Speaker John Boehner in 2013, when he essentially told members eﬀorts to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to advance LGBTQ workplace protections would be unsuccessful. CHRIS JOHNSON
Boebert: Coming out before 21 should be illegal U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, (R-Colo.), who has garnered a reputation for embracing radical right-wing ideology and Q-Anon conspiracy theories in addition to her unabashed support of former President Donald Trump, postulated on Twitter that Americans should be required until they reach age 21 to remain ‘undeclared’ about their sexual orientation or gender identity. “We require people to be 21 to purchase alcohol beverages, and 21 to purchase tobacco products. Why is it so unreasonable to require U.S. Rep. LAUREN BOEBERT (R-Colorado) people to reach a certain level of maturity be(Screenshot/C-SPAN2) fore making life-altering decisions about their sexuality and identity?” Boebert posited on Friday. The congresswoman, who dropped out of high school and only received her diploma well
into her 30s, was eviscerated by the Twitterverse — some pointing out the hypocrisy of her position given her publicly held views on unfettered access to ﬁrearms including those who are only 18 or indeed younger. Boebert has long been critical of the LGBTQ community, most recently drafting a resolution that would strip away a recent win from transgender swimmer Lia Thomas who earned a medal for the 2022 NCAA Division I Women’s 500 Yard Freestyle event in Atlanta last month. Boebert was demanding that cisgender NCAA swimmer Emma Weyant be awarded the medal instead. “[Emma Weyant’s] ﬁrst-place medal was stolen from her by a man competing in women’s swimming,” the resolution states. Boebert has attracted a Democratic challenger for the mid-term elections, openly gay candidate Alex Walker who dismisses the congresswoman’s antics as spewing feces. Other critics have labeled the congresswoman’s hyper-right partisan attacks as ignorant. A frequent guest on Fox News and Newsmax, Boebert derides eﬀorts by the Biden administration to contain the coronavirus pandemic declaring vaccinations as government overreach. BRODY LEVESQUE
Gabbard says ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law should go further Tulsi Gabbard, a former Democratic presidential candidate who has turned into an ally of the conservative movement, has come out in defense of the “Don’t Say Gay” law recently signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis in Florida, essentially ﬂip-ﬂopping after having apologized for her anti-LGBTQ past. Gabbard, who recently invoked the ire of both the right and the left by downplaying the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, said she supports the “Don’t Say Gay” measure in a video posted to Twitter on Monday. “When I ﬁrst heard about Florida’s Parental Rights bill, I was shocked it only protects children K-3,” Gabbard said. “Third grade? How about 12th grade — or not at all. Meanwhile, schools are failing: 1 in 4 graduates are functionally illiterate. Parents should raise their kids, not the government.” Under the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, schools for children in kindergarten through grade 3 may not engage in “instruction” about sexual orientation and gender identity, or generally throughout the education system “in a manner that is not age-appropriate or develop14 • APRIL 08, 2022 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
mentally appropriate for students.” Although the new law allows for internal review and resolution if a parent brings a complaint against the school for violating the measure, the “Don’t Say Gay” bill also empowers a parent of a student who feels the law was violated to “bring an action against a school district” in court to seek damages. Gabbard as a 2020 presidential candidate apologized for her anti-LGBTQ past before she became a member of Congress. Among other things, Gabbard vehemently opposed civil unions when they were before the legislature in Hawaii, calling supporters of samesex marriage “homosexual extremists.” Although as a Democratic lawmaker in the U.S. House she was a reliable supporter of LGBTQ rights, then changed toward the end of her tenure, when she declined to sign a legal brief before the Supreme Court in favor of LGBTQ rights and introduced legislation that would have banned transgender youth from participating in schools sports consistent with their gender identity. CHRIS JOHNSON
LGBTQ Ukrainians rally at White House
A group of LGBTQ Ukrainians and their supporters held a rally in front of the White House on Sunday. Helen Globa, co-founder of Tergo, a support group for parents and friends of LGBTQ Ukrainians, and Human Rights Campaign Global Partnerships Director Jean Freedberg are among those who spoke at the rally that QUA – LGBTQ Ukrainians in America organized. Rally organizers called for the Biden administration to extend Temporary Protected Status for LGBTQ Ukrainians who are able to travel to the U.S. and more military support for Ukraine, among other things. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas last month announced Ukrainians who “have continuously resided in the United States since” March 1 are eligible for TPS.
QUA — LGBTQ Ukrainians in America organized a rally for LGBTQ Ukrainians that took place in front of the White House on April 3, 2022. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)
“Individuals who attempt to travel to the United States after March 1, 2022 will not be eligible for TPS,” he noted. The rally took place less than six weeks after Russia invaded Ukraine. Globa on March 2 ﬂed her apartment in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha with the help of her son, Bogdan Globa. They, along with Bogdan Globa’s husband, Harmilee Cousin, reunited in Paris two days later and then ﬂew to New York. Ukrainian authorities on Sunday accused Russian soldiers of killing civilians as they withdrew from Bucha. Videos and photographs that have emerged from the Kyiv suburb show dead bodies with their hands tied behind their back and other signs of torture. MICHAEL K. LAVERS
HRC removes Fox News from LGBT preferred employer status The Human Rights Campaign has removed Fox News from its Corporate Equality Index as an LGBT preferred employer after nearly a week of relentless attacks on transgender Americans. “Fox News has a history of sharing misinformation and disinformation about the LGBTQ+ community. We know from our own research, which we put out earlier this week, what their disinformation and misinformation means for the LGBTQ+ community: perpetuating stigma and marginalization of transgender and non-binary people,” Aryn Fields, senior press secretary at HRC, said in a statement. “At a time when transgender people – especially transgender children – are under attack in statehouses across the country, rhetoric has real consequences,” Fields added. Fields told The Hill that the network’s coverage of the LGBTQ community within the last 72 hours had contributed to a drop in its Corporate Equality Index score, which dropped from 100 to 75. “We can no longer allow Fox Corporation to maintain its score if Fox News personalities and contributors continue to deny the existence of transgender people, minimize the violence transgender individuals face, refer to parents of LGBTQ+ youth as perverts, or equate leaders of LGBTQ+ diversity and inclusions eﬀorts with sex oﬀenders,” Fields said. “Each of these actions happened in the last 72 hours. Enough is enough.” Following Disney’s response to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” legislation and the company’s eﬀort to be gender inclusive, right-wing and extremist media watchdog group Media Matters for America reviewed Fox News’ obsessive coverage and found that the network spent more than three hours last week — mentioning the company more than 350 times – alleging Disney is grooming, indoctrinating, and sexualizing children. “This wall-to-wall coverage has overshadowed potentially damaging news about right-wing ﬁgures, such as the revelation that former President Donald Trump asked Russian dictator
Vladimir Putin to release more dirt on presidential son Hunter Biden, which received just 2 minutes of coverage on the network,” Media Matters Deputy Director of Media Intelligence Tyler Monroe noted. Fox in defending itself pointed out that the network hired Caitlyn Jenner to an on-air contributor role with her ﬁrst appearance this past Thursday on Hannity. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott said in announcing Jenner’s hire, “Caitlyn’s story is an inspiration to us all,” Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott said in announcing the hire. “She is a trailblazer in the LGBTQ+ community and her illustrious career spans a variety of ﬁelds that will be a tremendous asset for our audience.” Jenner’s appearances on the Fox News Network over the past two months however, have been unrelenting attacks on Trans athletes, especially University of Pennsylvania Women’s Team swimmer Lia Thomas. Jenner also appeared on the network to defend her attacks on Trans athletes. “We must protect women’s sports. We cannot bow down to the radical left wing woke world and the radical politically charged agenda of identity politics,” Jenner tweeted. In another tweet she said; “Thank you @seanhannity and @HeyTammyBruce for having a conversation grounded in common sense. All we want to do is protect women’s and girls sports! It’s that simple. And calling out the libelous, defamatory lies of @PinkNews and @emilychudy@benjamincohen“ Jenner has been asked about her position on the multiple pieces of anti-Trans youth sports legislation across the United States. She responded that she saw it as a question of fairness saying that she opposed biological boys who are Trans- competing in girls’ sports in school. “It just isn’t fair,” Jenner said adding, “and we have to protect girls’ sports in our school.” BRODY LEVESQUE
Fla. student deﬁes DeSantis, teaches class in LGBTQ history
Student organizer and activist WILL LARKINS (Photo Credit: Larkins/Twitter)
Student organizer and activist Will Larkins decided that since LGBTQ American history is not taught in Florida’s public schools, he would take it upon himself to explain the events of the Stonewall Uprising to his 4th period U.S. history class at Winter Park High School. Although Larkins’s lesson was only, in his words, a ﬁve-minute PowerPoint presentation for the history class of which he posted an excerpt on Twitter, there was a resulting torrent of hateful comments some of which took aim at the fact that Larkins gave his presentation in a rath16 • APRIL 08, 2022 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
er fetching red dress. The actions that the 17-year-old junior and president of the WPHS Queer Student Union took to educate his fellow students was lauded by several notable LGBTQ activists and allies including Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting survivor and co-founder of the “March For Our Lives” movement David Hogg; Brandon J. Wolf, Press Secretary for Equality Florida; Janessa Goldbeck, the CEO of the Vet Voice Foundation; and hundreds of others. BRODY LEVESQUE
British gov’t cancels global LGBTQ rights conference
The Blade has conﬁrmed the British government cancelled a global LGBTQ rights conference it was to have hosted this summer. The Safe to Be Me Conference was to have taken place in London from June 29-July 1. Toby Usnik, the head of communications for the British Consulate General in New York, on Tuesday conﬁrmed the conference has been cancelled. The conference’s cancellation comes a day after Stonewall and dozens of other British LGBTQ rights groups announced they would not attend in response to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to exclude transgender people from a conversion therapy ban. LGBT Business Champion Iain Anderson, whose appointment Women and Equalities Minister Liz Truss announced last September, on Tuesday resigned. Johnson’s move was ﬁrst reported by ITV News U.K. editor Paul Brand, who tweeted last week that legislation would cover “only gay conversion therapy, not trans.” That was a reversal from a previous ITV report of a Downing Street brieﬁng that said Johnson agreed to not move forward with legislation banning conversion practices, despite years of promises from the government. The ﬁerce backlash to the move caused Johnson to change course. However, the U-turn was not enough for LGBTQ campaigners, who announced Monday they would pull out of the U.K.’s ﬁrst “Safe To Be Me” conference “due to the prime minister’s broken promise on protecting trans people from the harms of conversion therapy,” Stonewall said in a statement.
“We will only be able to participate if the prime minister reverts to his promise for a trans-inclusive ban on conversion therapy,” it added. Stonewall said it made the decision with a “heavy heart,” explaining the conference “should be a moment for redoubling eﬀorts globally to improve LGBTQ+ people’s rights and experiences.” However, last week’s plan to scrap the conversion therapy ban and Johnson’s subsequent reversal — which “protects lesbian, gay and bi cis people, but leaves trans people, including trans children, at continued risk of abuse” — left it “with no choice but to withdraw our support,” the organization said. “It is apparent that trans people have once again been sacriﬁced for political gain,” the statement added. “Commissioning a separate body of work to unpick something that has already been resolved many times the world over, can only be read as an attempt to kick the issue of protecting trans people into the long grass. This is cal-
lous and unacceptable.” Over 80 LGBTQ rights groups in the U.K. supported Stonewall’s statement, including LGBT Foundation, Mermaids and the Scottish Trans Alliance, according to the Guardian. “[The government’s] subsequent U-turn was an insulting attempt at compromise that excluded our trans, non-binary and gender-diverse community,” the LGBT Foundation tweeted. “To be clear, our rights cannot be conditional on political convenience or expediency.” MICHAEL K. LAVERS & ZACHARY JARRELL
Six gay men killed in Medellin so far this year The murders of at least six gay men in Colombia’s second largest city since the beginning of the year have sparked concern among advocacy groups. Hernán Macías López, 30, was found dead in the bathtub of a hotel room in downtown Medellín on March 30. El Espectador, a Colombian newspaper, reported authorities found Macías tied up with signs of strangulation. Juan Danilo Bedoya Román’s mother on March 15 found him dead in his bedroom in their home in Las Estancias, a neighborhood in Medellín’s
Medellín, Colombia, in September 2021 18 • APRIL 08, 2022 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
(Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)
Comuna 8. Media reports indicate Bedoya, 30, was partially undressed and his feet and hands were tied up when his mother discovered his body. Sahmir Javier González Sarmiento’s friend on Feb. 15 found him dead in an apartment in Las Acacias, a neighborhood in Medellín’s Comuna 11. Authorities said the 28-year-old’s legs and hands were tied with a belt and a sheet. EgoCity, an LGBTQ magazine, reported relatives on Jan. 27 found Juan David López Álzate’s body inside an apartment in Antonio Nariño, a neighborhood in Medellín’s Comuna 13. Other media reports indicate the 31-year-old was strangled with a belt and was found tied up. A 36-year-old man who was attacked in downtown Medellín on Feb. 15 survived. “The victim was stabbed,” reported EgoCity. “He recovered from his injuries after he was brought to a clinic.” A source in Medellín on Monday told the Blade authorities have described the murders as “isolated events.” “They have the same pattern,” said the source. “One has to think that they are serial killings and in diﬀerent neighborhoods in the city.” Caribe Aﬁrmativo, a Colombian LGBTQ rights group, on April 1 in a series of tweets noted it has conﬁrmed six gay men have been killed in Medellín since the beginning of the year, and each of them “have similar circumstances.” “It is important that authorities during the investigation do not revictimize the aﬀected LGBTQ community and stigmatize the use of social media to meet and have encounters with other people,” said Caribe Aﬁrmativo. Medellín Mayor Daniel Quintero Calle on Monday urged the ofﬁce of Colombia’s attorney general and other oﬃcials to thoroughly investigate the murders that he described as “very concerning.” MICHAEL K. LAVERS
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‘Don’t Say Gay’ a suppressive ideology from a repressed generation
Oppressed politicians making classrooms more dangerous Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on March 28 signed into law the “Parental Rights in Education” bill, legislation that has accurately been tagged the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. In the wake of continued political attacks against queer communities across the country, this new law will rescind decades of progress for sexual and social education. A generation of sexually oppressed and depressed politicians has made it their mission to create a more dangerous and less informed space for sexual identity in our classrooms and on our streets. This generation of leadership was raised in a time when queer people, specifically gay men, were treated as nothing more than a public health risk. The 1980s was the height of the AIDS epidemic, more commonly marketed as the “Gay Plague.” As a result of homophobia and general ignorance, queer people were treated as contagious and as a danger to society. This rhetoric is engrained in the ideology of the far right and 40 years later, we see the profound impact of this ignorance on our systems of governance. Imagery of the HIV/AIDS pandemic was filled with homophobic messaging and anti-sex discourse. Ads aimed at informing the public of the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases at the time almost exclusively focused on same-sex intercourse and having sex with multiple partners. These ads were followed by massive public disapproval of same-sex relationships, 33% of Americans reported that the AIDS epidemic changed their opinion of homosexuality in a negative way. This is the era in which DeSantis was raised, along with much of our elected leadership. Our officials are stuck in a time period that created some of the most damaging and threatening social standards for the LGBTQ community. The “Don’t Say Gay” bill and other similar legislation will continue to find priority in statehouses across our country unless we lean into a new generation of leaders committed to diversity and inclusion at a higher rate than ever before. As of 2021, a record-high number of Americans approve of same-sex relationships, reaching about 70%. Consistent with this record approval is the rise of the queerest generation the U.S. has ever seen. About 1 in 6 members of Generation Z identify as queer, compared to 1 in 10 Millennials. These are the leaders of tomorrow. These are our future elected officials that have been brought up in the age of gay marriage, queer inclusion, and LGBTQ representation. Clearly, there is much progress to be made, but regardless 2022 is a very different world than 1985 for young sexual minorities. The “Don’t Say Gay” bill is a casting call for conservative legislators across the country to be more aggressive with their repressive political ambitions. As we approach one of the most consequential midterms in recent history, we must lean into a new, informed, and representative generation of leaders. Vote young, vote queer, vote for women, vote with the conviction that your choices have a profound impact on the quality of life for all Americans.
20 • APRIL 08, 2022 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
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Will Smith and the Oscars — not really important Let’s refocus on what matters and try to do something about it
We are spending inordinate amounts of time focused on Will Smith and his outrageous behavior at the Oscars. I guess we do it because it’s easy and takes our minds off really important things like Ukraine, attacks on the LGBTQ community, and the violence occurring in our neighborhoods. It is easier to focus on Smith than the problems around educating our children, homelessness, or the uptick in mental health issues in our society; maybe that is also Smith’s problem. I am as guilty of this as anyone else. Since the incident occurred it has generated endless conversation in my morning coffee group. We all agree Smith was wrong but that hasn’t stopped the conversation. After all, aren’t we all just sitting on pins and needles wondering what the Academy will do about Smith at their board meeting on April 18? I joke, but in fact we often escape the real issues facing the world by focusing on the easy ones. How many have had a recent conversation about the children of Ukraine who are suffering from cancer and had their medical care cut short? We have seen St. Jude’s bring some to the United States, but that is just a drop in the bucket considering the need. How many discussions have occurred about the elderly in Ukraine who suffered through the Nazis when they were children and now, when their lives should be easy and safe, are suffering again? Then there’s the politics in our own country and what the mid-term elections could mean for our democracy. I am amazed every time I read a poll on President Biden and see people blame him for the cost of gas more than they do Putin and the war. There’s a disconnect given how our economy is doing with unemployment at an all-time low at 3.6% and new jobs are being created by the millions. Inflation is, of course, the focus and people are blaming it all on Joe Biden. They easily forget much of it can be blamed on the pandemic and how Trump handled that, but that is too long ago to remember. In our 24-hour news cycles everything is about today with little memory of what happened
22 • APRIL 08, 2022 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
over 24 hours ago — except for Will Smith. When things like the congressional investigation into the Jan. 6 insurrection go on for months, they tend to lose any impact on people’s thinking. Those who do think about it wonder if Donald Trump will ever be held to account for any of the illegal things he has done. Republicans have Fox News, which brainwashes so much of the population and left-leaning Democrats have MSNBC. I have given up watching all cable news, which has become entertainment. I have gone back to getting my news from ABC World News with David Muir, NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, and the PBS NewsHour. Then I read the Washington Post and New York Times to round out my news gathering. I feel comfortable I am getting a mostly honest report of what is happening in the world each day. Contrary to many Europeans, most Americans feel confident the war will never reach us. We watch the war in Ukraine on TV, iPad, or cell phone. The United States is more energy self-sufficient than most European countries that still rely on Russia for their oil and gas. Our gas prices, while high, are nowhere near what Europeans are paying. When President Biden talks about protecting every inch of NATO soil, he is really talking about European soil, knowing another world war will likely be fought ‘over there’ and not here in the United States. Knowing this, Americans can still be comfortable talking about Will Smith and Chris Rock over our coffee in the morning. When I write this we are wondering if there will be an incident at Sunday’s Grammy Awards that will move us away from Smith and the Oscars. By the time you read this we will know if Kanye jumped back on stage, like he did when he interrupted Taylor Swift, or if someone else created a scene and took over the headlines. There is a saying in the public relations community: “It doesn’t matter what they write about you as long as they spell your name right.” Maybe soon we can all refocus on what is really important and try to do something about it; the world would be better for it.
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Grindr’s ﬁrst series is as shallow as you’d expect Instantly forgettable, just like a typical hook-up By JOHN PAUL KING
embrace their exaggerated characters When Grindr announced it was drop– most of whom are vapid, narcissistic, ping its ﬁrst-ever original series on April aggressively pretentious, or some toxFools’ Day, many people assumed it ic combination of the three – with glee was a joke. and abandon, committing completely That’s perfectly forgivable; even withto the absurdities the story necessiout the seasonal timing, most people tates them to enact. It’s infectious, and would never expect the notorious “datit almost allows “Bridesman” to live up ing” app to jump into the streaming to its aspirations of satire. entertainment market. It just seems, As to that, the show sets its sights well, absurd. But whether or not Grinnot just on “modern wedding culture,” dr chose the release date as a bit of as it declares in its synopsis, but on self-deprecating fun, “Bridesman” – a the broader target of modern culture limited comedy series consisting of six in general, with its emphasis on the 7-10 minute webisodes and focusing on shallow and ephemeral and its obsesthe misadventures of a gay scenester sion with self. It aims for a similar tone, as his female BFF prepares for her wedperhaps, as “The Other Half” (the runding – is not a joke. It really exists. away comedic hit that began life as a Unfortunately. web series before being picked up by The series, created by John Onieal HBO for its second season), a show and co-written by Onieal and Frank that deftly skewers the self-serving, Spiro, debuted on Grindr for its ﬁrst attention-seeking mentality that drives weekend, but is now available to stream our pop culture as it barrels through on the app’s YouTube channel. It stars its never-ending cycle of “new, now, Jimmy Fowlie as Terry, described in the next” distractions. Its two lead characoﬃcial synopsis as an “awful gay,” who ters – the older sister and gay brother is asked by his best friend Judith (SydJIMMY FOWLIE and CALVIN SEABROOKS connect in ‘Bridesman.’ (Photo courtesy Grindr) of a teen YouTube star who are trying nee Washington) to fulﬁll bridesmaid to levy their proximity to him into fame duties at her upcoming nuptials. Terry, and fortune for themselves – are ﬂat out horrible people, or at least behave like them, as aside from his disdain for marriage as a heteronormative construct, feels betrayed that are most of the characters that surround them, and watching them fail repeatedly in their the person who once claimed to be his “forever partner” has chosen to commit herself eﬀorts to manipulate their way into the ﬁckle spotlight of “the moment” is just part of the to another man, and to make matters worse, he feels an “electric” sexual connection with fun provided by the series’ merciless send-up of the trends, tropes, and twaddle that surWyatt (David Mudge), her literally myopic groom-to-be. Rather than see his BFF lost to the round so much of what we see on our plethora of screens today. horrors of a traditional marriage, he resolves to save her from that fate by doing his best to The characters in “Bridesman,” for the most part, are horrible people, too, though in tank the wedding – especially since it also means sticking it to the control-obsessed Muriel some cases they might just be regular people caught up in a horrible mindset. Most hor(Shannon DeVido), chosen over him to be Judith’s Maid-of-Honor and therefore an object rible of all, of course, is Terry, who essentially embodies everything that gay youth culture of his particular disdain. loves to hate about itself; vain, judgmental, driven by libido, and completely unconcerned What follows is (again, according to the oﬃcial synopsis) “an irreverent, fast-paced satire with anyone’s feelings but his own, he lives to create drama yet seems to love nothing of modern wedding culture and the ‘old fashioned trend’ of monogamy,” in which Terry better than to stand aside from it and roll his eyes in withering disapproval. Portrayed goes on a slash-and-burn campaign to ruin his best friend’s big day, doing his best to with dead-on accuracy by Fowlie (who is, coincidentally, probably best known to viewers sabotage everything from the sexy bridal boudoir photo shoot to the bachelorette party, for a recurring role as a super-gay inﬂuencer on “The Other Half”), he embodies the kind and steamrolling his way through a tangled web that involves detectives, a secret agent, a of jaded queer socialite whose posturing and self-promotion only prove just how “basic” relationship counselor moonlighting as a stripper, and a demon from hell. Along the way, he really is. though, he still ﬁnds time to hook up with a sexy Uber driver (Calvin Seabrooks) whenever Yet the reason we are really amused by “The Other Half” and other shows that successhe feels like going for a ride. fully lampoon the foibles and pretensions of our own society is not just because they put It seems like a lot to pack into a story that, in total, runs just shy of an hour, but the them on display. We laugh because we recognize something of ourselves in the people we show’s self-description of “fast-paced” is accurate, and director Julian Buchan never allows see on the screen; because the horribleness is contrasted with the human, or at least temthings to drag. Indeed, the story moves so fast it doesn’t even give all its jokes time to land pered by good intentions because there’s a ﬂicker of something genuine underneath all – an approach that works well with a script that throws them out like a pitching machine the pretense reminding us that, no matter how far we allow ourselves to be carried away on a batting range – and trusts its audience to keep up. by our own ego, there is always a thread we can follow back to reality. Without that factor, That’s probably not a miscalculation, either; the target demographic here has become the comedy can easily become hollow, even cruel, and amounts to ridiculing something well-accustomed to absorbing a lot of information in a short space of time, thanks to the just for the sake of ridiculing it. rise of YouTube, TikTok, and all the other digital sources of entertainment for those with a “Bridesman” has no such tempering inﬂuence. Though its satire is savage and even short attention span. Furthermore, since the characters on the screen belong deﬁnitively smart, there’s little self-awareness to suggest that it has any purpose except to become to that same generation, they have no problem sticking to a rapid pace, and they plow the “next big thing” and enjoy its ﬁve minutes in pop culture’s center ring. Like the people ahead with conﬁdence as if they’re in a race with the cameras to get to the end of the show who inhabit it, it might be fun to hang around with for a while, but in the end its lack of ﬁrst. substance makes it instantly forgettable. In fact, it’s the cast – an admirably diverse and inclusive one, thankfully – that makes it all You know, just like a typical Grindr hook-up. come together, and which provides us with most of the show’s entertainment value. They 24 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • APRIL 08, 2022
Haters should read this new book
‘Conversations with People Who Hate Me’ could help build bridges Sometimes, it just makes you feel gruff. Seriously, the Internet should be the G.O.A.T. invention. It should be a place to connect with friends and share laughs, a safe place to go when you want to be yourself. It should be a place to tell your story, free of danger and full of truth. Nobody should butt heads online, or be victim of a bullygoat. Instead, as in “Conversations with People Who Hate Me” by Dylan Marron, we gotta deal with the trolls. The fact that Marron had a “HATE FOLDER” in his email should speak volumes. As a gay man and a writer-performer, he expected a certain amount of negativity online; that’s the nature of the Internet. But as a creative employee of Seriously.TV, the emailed hate, death threats, and homophobia just got to be too much. Before his job at Seriously.TV, he’d acted, reported, waited tables, and cultivated a “prompt” that served him well. “What am I going to do about it?” is what he asked himself every time he was faced with something that bothered him and this time, the answer was a series of conversations with haters who’d commented. He began to mine the HATE FOLDER for people to talk with. The first was a guy Marron calls “Josh,” a decent guy who was a lot like Marron. Their conversation, done remotely, was a hit with fans and it gained Marron a lot of “points.” In a small way, it gained him a friend, since he and Josh came to an understanding. Marron was happy with that, and with subsequent “Conversations.”
26 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • APRIL 08, 2022
By TERRI SCHLICHENMEYER
‘Conversations with People Who Hate Me’ By Dylan Marron
c.2022, Atria | $27 | 272 pages
But after he quit his job at Seriously.TV to go it alone, he found himself at an impasse. The old way of doing his conversations needed to expand to include a wider angle and different guests. Marron imagined himself bringing together hater and target on bigger subjects. He’d learn more about people – and in the process, he’d learn more about himself. The lesson was underscored a few Sundays ago: something huge happens, something loud, and everybody’s got an opinion. “Conversations with People Who Hate Me” helps show that we can talk civilly about issues without insults. But will haters – the people who presumably need this book – be willing to read it? Surprisingly, on one side of this book, author Dylan Marron shows that that’s entirely possible: once he approached his interviewees, many people who hid behind the ‘net rued their actions and words. Granted, the haters he hosted were highly, carefully curated, but Marron’s approach shows hope. The other side of the book is the one that teaches tolerance and a sort of Zen approach when you’re the target of a troll. Haters gonna hate, as they say, but with enormous grace and thoughtfulness, Marron offers better ways to perceive it. Readers looking for another way to invite open dialogue, and those who are aghast at spewing commenters on social media will love this book. If you want to do better, “Conversations with People Who Hate Me” could help make happy bridges.
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‘Truly, Madly’ full of dish, glam, and eccentricities
Exploring the fiery romance of Olivier and Vivien Leigh By KATHI WOLFE
“Real passion — I’ve only seen it that once,” actress Jill Esmond told her son Tarquin. “If you are ever hit by it, God help you.” Esmond, the first wife of actor Laurence Olivier, was speaking of the fiery romance of Olivier and the actress Vivien Leigh. Decades before paparazzi trailed the tempestuous trysts of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, there was the lovestruck coupling of Hollywood royalty Olivier and Leigh. You might think love and passion are only dramatic in Shakespeare or movies from Hollywood’s Golden Age. But “Truly, Madly: Vivien Leigh, Laurence Olivier, and the Romance of the Century” by Stephen Galloway, former executive editor of The Hollywood Reporter, tells a story as steamy and spellbinding as any of Will’s tales or Tinseltown’s plots. Much has been written about Olivier, who lived from 1907 to 1989, and Leigh, who died in 1967 at age 53, – from Donald Spoto’s superb 1992 biography of Olivier to Alan Strachan’s engaging Leigh bio “Dark Star.” Olivier wrote two memoirs “Confessions of an Actor” and “On Acting.” ‘Truly, Madly’ Yet Galloway, now dean of Chapman University’s Dodge By Stephen Galloway c.2022, Grand Central Publishing College of Film and Media Arts, provides a fresh take on this well-trod ground. $30 | 406 pages It’s tempting to view Olivier and Leigh as Tinseltown mavens who had it all. But Galloway makes it clear that there was much pain in the midst of the glittering surface of their relationship. Olivier, born in Dorking, Surrey, England, was renowned for his work on stage and screen. “Romeo and Juliet” and “The Entertainer” were among his many acclaimed productions in the theater. He received numerous honors, including a Best Actor Oscar for his role in “Hamlet.” In 1947, he was knighted. Leigh was born in India. After studying at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, she married Leigh Holman. She took her stage name “Leigh” from him. Leigh and Holman had a daughter named Suzanne. Leigh is remembered most for her portrayal of Scarlett O’Hara in “Gone with the Wind” and her performance as Blanche DuBois in “A Streetcar Named Desire.” She won the best actress Oscar for both movies. Olivier became transfixed by Leigh when he saw her perform on stage in 1935. For two years, “Day in and day out, they would sneak off the set of their new movie,” Galloway writes, “or sit lost amid a swirl of dreams, real-life versions of the lovers they would later play, Romeo and Juliet.” In 1937, Olivier and Leigh ran away together, though they were both married to other people. The couple carried out their affair at a time when divorce wasn’t common. Then, Hollywood wanted its stars’ extra-marital liaisons to be kept secret. After Esmond and Holman divorced them, Olivier and Leigh got married in 1940. Katharine Hepburn was the maid of honor and writer Garson Kanin was the best man at their wedding. Kanin’s account of the nuptials (Hepburn says she’s a “prude” – the newlyweds talk is too “racy” for her) is laugh-out-loud funny. “Truly, Madly” is full of dish, glam and eccentricities. Celebs from Noel Coward to Marilyn Monroe appear. Along with a lemur named Tony. Olivier gives Tony to Esmond to cheer her up when their marriage is on the rocks. Galloway doesn’t shy from or overly emphasize speculations about sexuality. Friends talk of Esmond having “liaisons” with women. Despite Olivier’s denials, Spoto and others claim that Olivier had affairs with Danny Kaye and Noel Coward. Though they adored each other, Olivier and Leigh’s marriage wasn’t a Coward cocktail party. Leigh had bipolar disorder. At that time, there wasn’t the treatment for this condition that there is today, and there was much stigma around mental illness. It’s easy to romanticize or sensationalize mental illness. By talking with Kay Redford Jamison and other mental health experts, Galloway avoids these pitfalls. A friend visited Olivier shortly before he died, Galloway reports. Olivier was watching Leigh in one of her movies. “This, this was love,” Olivier told his friend. “Truly, Madly” is a fab read. Warning: have a handkerchief in hand.
28 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • APRIL 08, 2022
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Saluting 5 Years!
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