Los Angeles Blade, Volume 06, Issue 16, April 22, 2022

Page 1

(Image public domain/courtesy ACT UP)



Man accuses gay couple of molesting kids on Amtrak train A gay married couple accompanied by their two minor children traveling from Los Angeles to Oakland this past Tuesday, on Amtrak’s Coast Starlight for a Spring Break get-a-way, found themselves under attack by a stranger who accused them of being rapists and paedophiles. Twitter user @Robbiepierce (Robbie Pierce) in a thread Tuesday documented the incident: “Well that didn’t take long. We decided to take a trip on Amtrak with the kids for spring break. 9 hours into a pleasant ride, a man was suddenly standing next to me, shouting across me at my 6yo son, “Remember what I told you. They stole you. They’re pedophiles.” According to Pierce, the man had followed the couple’s son into the bathroom: “I asked my son if he’d seen the man before. He said the man had confronted him when we let him go to the bathroom alone, which he’d been so proud to do @ 1st but too afraid to do again after. Yet *we’re* the groomers. I’m livid & ashamed that I didn’t notice something was up.” Pierce described what happened next: “I stood between the stranger and my son, whose life has already been so hard, who carries traumas larger than his whole small, fierce frame. I was immovable. “Get away from my family.” In response the attacking homophobe yelled: “Family!? That’s not a family! You’re rapists. You steal black & Asian kids.” My son and my 5yo daughter were both now openly crying, petrified. He yelled right at them, unmoved: “These guys aren’t natural. Homosexuals are an abomination. They steal and rape kids.” “It was suddenly no longer an absurd, abstract attack in an online comments section or a distant legislative session,” Pierce noted adding; “These horrors were being screamed @ my sweet bewildered son, who’s worked so hard to process his grief & control his feelings, who only wants love & safety.” “I grabbed the kids and moved them to another car

while my ferocious husband went into papa bear mode and shouted the man away from us. Eventually the conductor arrived and the man lost his focus on us,” Pierce wrote. “The kids cried for almost an hour. We got cookies & processed their emotions while the train waited at a stop for the police. They wanted to be away from windows so they wouldn’t see him again. They wanted to practice screaming loud enough for help to come. I want to scream

(Amtrak train via National Railroad Passenger Corporation)

too,” he said. An official with Amtrak speaking on background confirmed the incident in a Wednesday phone call with the Blade. Amtrak employees eventually stepped in and the man was removed from the train in San Jose with the help of local sheriff’s deputies. Authorities said the man was not arrested and he has not been identified. Amtrak sent a statement to that reads: “Amtrak strongly condemns this reprehensible act of hate. To ensure our customers feel valued and respected when riding our trains, we are conducting a full investigation on this incident. This includes potentially banning the customer from

future Amtrak ridership.” Pierce issued this tweet saying: “They’re asleep now. They asked if we’ll see that man again & I said probably not him, but men just like him. But we’ll be stronger each time. And most people aren’t like that guy. I hope this was true. Please help us protect our families, friends. We feel so outnumbered & tired.” Pierce also noted, “We all know where that comes from. So thanks to Fox & Murdoch, JK Rowling & Marjorie Taylor Green, to the senators & priests & everyone else who harms kids & thinks it’s politically expedient to project onto gentle families like mine to stir up their lucrative culture war.” Anti-LGBTQ+ animus in the nation’s culture wars has escalated over the past several months as over 300 plus anti-LGBTQ+ legislative bills have been introduced in over 31 states which has also seen six states that have signed anti-LGBTQ bills into law. The worst rhetoric having been amplified by passage of Florida’s so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill which was signed into law by Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis. His press spokesperson, Christina Pushaw, tweeted her belief that people who oppose the so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ legislation sent to the state Senate are “groomers” or those who would not denounce “groomers” — references to pedophilia and people who help “groom” children for pedophiles. DeSantis himself has also referred to grooming and transgenderism in disparaging anti-LGBTQ public remarks. In a text message to the Blade, Brandon J. Wolf, Press Secretary for Equality Florida said; “Remember, it was Governor Ron DeSantis’ team that injected this “groomer” messaging into the public in a massive way to justify his Don’t Say Gay classroom censorship and book banning legislation. He has stoked hatred, division, and violence.” BRODY LEVESQUE

Anti-Semitic flyers disrupt Passover holiday in LA County Police in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, and the LA County Sheriff’s Dept. are investigating anonymous distribution of anti-Semitic flyers over this past Jewish Passover holiday. The Los Angeles Times reported that on Saturday morning, hundreds of flyers were collected in the northern part of Beverly Hills, according to Lt. Trejo of the Beverly Hills Police Department, and more were found in West Los Angeles and Hollywood. The Mayor of the City of Beverly Hills tweeted, “This was sent to me from a resident who woke up to this antisemitism at their front door along with other streets in our city and Los Angeles. During Passover and Easter weekend. Hate will NEVER Win. We are only stronger” The Los Angeles Police Department Hollywood Division confirmed that flyers were found in that part of the City of Los Angeles as well. There was a previous incident in December that included flyers in Beverly Hills and Pasadena, though it did not align directly with the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. KTLA reported that the anonymous nature of the flyers’ distribution makes it difficult to know for sure, the wording on the flyers and their inclusion of a list of government officials could indicate that the three incidents were perpetrated by the same person or group. The concurrent law enforcement investigations are continuing a source with the LAPD told the Blade on Sunday. BRODY LEVESQUE



QAnon adherents, anti-LGBTQ extremists protest at Disneyland

SEAN FEUCHT with bullhorn leads protest at Disneyland. (Screenshot via Ezra Kaplan/Twitter)

A noisy crowd of approximately 100 protesters gathered outside of the IHOP located at 1560 South Harbor Blvd. opposite Disneyland Wednesday afternoon carrying signs voicing their anger over the Disney media conglomerate’s stance on the rash of anti-LGBTQ legislation, in particular Florida’s recently enacted ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law. Sean Feucht, the former worship/musical artist at the Bethel charismatic megachurch in Redding, Calif., and founder of the Let Us Worship group led Wednesday’s protest. Feucht and his followers have been in Southern California the past two weeks protesting against the Disney Company. Just this past week, Feucht with several dozen supporters protested outside the headquarters of the Walt Disney Company in Burbank. A week prior they had staged a moving protest a week earlier, marching up and down Santa Monica Boulevard and along North Robertson Blvd. in the heart of West Hollywood’s LGBTQ+ Rainbow District in front of its nightclubs, bars, shops, and restaurants that cater to a predominantly LGBTQ+ clientele. They carried drums they beat, so-called ‘Jesus’ flags and chanted. A spokesperson for the Walt Disney Company declined to comment on the protest. Last month the company released a statement regarding the Florida legislation: “Florida’s HB 1557, also known as the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, should never have passed and should never have been signed into law. Our goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts, and we remain committed to supporting the national and state organizations working to achieve that. We are dedicated to standing up for the rights and safety of LGBTQ+ members of the Disney family, as well as the LGBTQ+ community in Florida and across the country.” FROM STAFF REPORTS

Gas prices continue to drop; first stations under $5 reappear Increased imports and local supplies of gasoline combined with lower demand are helping to rapidly push down Southern California gas prices, according to the Auto Club’s Weekend Gas Watch. The average price for self-serve regular gasoline in California is $5.72, which is nine cents lower than last week. The average national price is $4.07, which is eight cents lower than a week ago. The average price of self-serve regular gasoline in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area is $5.82 per gallon, which is 10 cents lower than last week, one cent lower than last month, and $1.84 higher than last year. In San Diego, the average price is $5.78, which is 10 cents lower than last week, one cent higher than last month, and $1.80 higher than last year. On the Central Coast, the average price is $5.83, which is six cents lower than last week, nine cents higher than last month and $1.88 higher than last year. In Riverside, the average per-gallon price is $5.75, which is nine cents lower than last week, two cents higher than last month and $1.83 higher than last year. In Bakersfield, the $5.80 average price is four cents less than last Thursday, 15 cents higher than last month and $1.96 higher than a year ago today. “Southern California’s sky-high gas prices this year have reduced demand, so they are coming down quickly with more supply available,” said Auto Club spokesman Doug Shupe. “There are even a few stations now charging less than $5 a gallon, and we would expect the number of under-$5 stations to increase in the coming days.” FROM STAFF REPORTS



Gay cyclist dies after collision with car in Griffith Park killed by a vehicle not far from the finA man in his 70s riding in a preparaish line of the SoCal Day on the Ride in tion event for the AIDS/LifeCycle charLos Angeles. ity bike ride in Griffith Park was struck “The driver fled the scene, but a and killed by a late model 4-door BMW suspect has been apprehended and is sedan last Saturday, whose driver fled now in custody. on foot and was later arrested, accord“Andrew was a member of the team ing to Lt. M. McCommas of the Los Different Spokes. He was dedicated Angeles Police Department’s Central to AIDS/LifeCycle, cared deeply about Traffic Division. helping others and had raised more The victim, Andrew Jelmert, a real than $22,000 to support the AIDS and estate agent, was participating in the HIV-related services of the Los Ange2022 training AIDS/Lifecycle Day on the les LGBT Center. We are mourning his Ride, an event that precedes the annupassing and extend our deepest conal AIDS/LifeCycle event. dolences to his husband, family, and McCommas told reporters that the friends. crash occurred at 3:49 p.m. in the “Since the Ride began in 1994, we 4400 block of Crystal Springs Drive (Screenshot via KABC 7 Los Angeles) have never experienced a participant’s as Jelmert, who was riding his bicycle death caused by a moving vehicle—much less a hit-and-run accident. We know northbound, was struck by a vehicle that was also northbound. Jelmert fell onto that there are no words or actions that can remove the pain of loss but we hope the roadway where he suffered blunt force trauma and was pronounced dead at to provide comfort and support during this time of grief by coming together as a the scene. community to share the burden of this tragedy. According to McCommas, the suspect, a man in his 30s, left the vehicle and fled “The Los Angeles LGBT Center has arranged for support services at the Village from the accident scene but he was found in the park and arrested by LA County at Ed Gould Plaza on Monday, April 18th from 5-7pm for members of the AIDS/ Park Rangers. LifeCycle community. Details about these services are being finalized but we welDozens of cyclists converged on Griffith Park Saturday for the AIDS/Lifecycle come anyone who is in-need of support managing their grief to attend. Day on the Ride, a fully supported ride that simulates an actual day of AIDS/ “We are holding the AIDS/LifeCycle community close in our hearts.” LifeCycle. It begins in the park and then runs along a 67-mile route returning to AIDS/LifeCycle is a 7 day, 545-mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles, the park. co-produced by and benefiting San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Los AnThe charity AIDS/LifeCycle event sponsors released a statement Sunday: geles LGBT Center. The event raises awareness about the ongoing HIV/AIDS epi“Dear AIDS/LifeCycle Community, demic and funds services such as HIV testing, prevention, care, and much more. “We are utterly heartbroken to inform you that yesterday afternoon Andrew FROM STAFF REPORTS Jelmert, who since 2014 has ridden in AIDS/LifeCycle five times, was struck and

LGBTQ people of color more likely to experience food insecurity During the pandemic, an estimated 13% of LGBT adults in the U.S. reported not having enough to eat in the past week, compared to 8% of non-LGBT adults, according to a new report by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law. Food insufficiency was more common among some parts of the LGBT community. Food insufficiency was reported by three times as many LGBT people of color as non-LGBT White people (17% vs 6%). In addition, nearly twice as many LGBT people with a high school degree or less experienced food insufficiency than non-LGBT people with the same level of education. Food insufficiency was most common among transgender people, cisgender bisexual people, and cisgender lesbian women. Using data from the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey collected between July and October 2021, researchers examined experiences of food insufficiency among LGBT and non-LGBT adults. Food insufficiency is defined as sometimes or often not having enough to eat in the last seven days. Results show that more than a quarter (27%) of LGBT people who earn less than 130% of the federal poverty level—the amount set by the federal government to qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)—experienced food insufficiency in the

past week. Only 37% of income-eligible LGBT people and 39% of non-LGBT people were enrolled in SNAP. “More than one in five LGBT people experience poverty, and the COVID-19 pandemic had a disproportionate economic impact on LGBT people,” said lead author Kerith J. Conron, Research Director at the Williams Institute. “Elevated levels of food insufficiency among vulnerable subpopulations within the LGBT community may require tailored outreach to improve access to food and financial resources.” FROM STAFF REPORTS

Project Angel Food worker preps food for delivery to clients (Photo courtesy of Project Angel Food)



State expands ‘Save Our Water’ campaign as drought intensifies

Reducing outdoor water use and expanding network of partners and influencers FROM STAFF REPORTS

Over the past few months, the state has ramped up communications efforts around the Save Our Water campaign focused on encouraging Californians to reduce water use as drought conditions worsen. This week, the campaign rolled out new content across various multimedia platforms including social, digital and streaming platforms, out-of-home, and radio. The multilingual ads communicate the urgent need to save water and provide actionable steps Californians can take. The state hosted a briefing with more than a dozen social media influencers and content creators calling on them to support the statewide education efforts. Governor Gavin Newsom joined State Water Resources Control Board Chair Joaquin Esquivel, Department of Water Resources (Screenshot/Twitter California Governor) Director Karla Nemeth and Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Chuck Bonham in highlighting the state’s severe drought conditions and calling on influencers to engage Californians on how to save water. “Make no mistake, California and the entire West are feeling the effects of the intensifying drought – notwithstanding today’s rainfall,” said Governor Newsom. “We’re putting to work the lessons learned during the last drought, but with our climate getting hotter and drier, it’s critical that we work together to protect our water supply. Engaging Californians from all walks of life and connecting peer to peer, we can meet this challenge head-on.” New paid media includes urgency ads in convenience and grocery stores, radio spots in multiple languages including Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, Vietnamese and Hmong, LED billboards across California, and signage at sanitizer stations, among other public awareness efforts. Following three months of record dry conditions and a rapidly declining snowpack, the April snow survey conducted by the Department of Water Resources (DWR) found that the state snowpack was well below average for that date. The snowpack has plummeted in recent weeks as unseasonably warm temperatures have hit the Sierra, with snowpack – which provides about a third of California’s water supply – currently at only 25 percent of average for this date. Dry conditions are impacting every region of the state and many of the state’s reservoirs remain at below average levels following several years of drought. “California just experienced the driest first three months of the year on record, and drought is worsening throughout the West,” said California Secretary for Natural Resources Wade Crowfoot. “Climate-driven water extremes are part of our reality now. The Save Our Water campaign aims to create a broader and long-term culture of water conservation and highlights the urgency for Californians to take important steps to save water. From everyday actions like watering less outdoors to switching to low-water plants, there are simple steps we all can take.” To help encourage more conservation at home, the state has enhanced its Save Our Water campaign following additional state funding allocated in March. The public education campaign aims to highlight the dire drought conditions and the urgency behind the call for immediate action, including making some permanent water smart changes to homes and yards that offer the biggest ways to save water. “While the state has made significant investments in tools and technologies to ensure we make the most out of the snowmelt, water conservation remains our best tool in the face of


this ongoing drought,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “All Californians must focus on conserving water now. The Save Our Water campaign will help engage Californians with the information and resources they need. Saving water today means more water for tomorrow.” Working to drive conservation at the local level, Governor Newsom last month called on the State Water Board to consider requiring urban water suppliers to activate, at a minimum, Level 2 of their customized Water Shortage Contingency Plans, which require locally-appropriate actions that will conserve water across all sectors. The Governor also directed the State Water Resources Control Board to consider a ban on the watering of decorative grass at businesses and institutions. Today’s influencer briefing is part of a larger comprehensive push by the Save Our Water campaign. The campaign is undertaking a highly targeted statewide education effort to inform Californians about the state’s severe drought and to raise awareness of how they can save water, including updating yards with water-smart plants and drip irrigation, as well as adjusting sprinklers, to water only where needed. The multilingual campaign includes: • A refreshed website highlighting key ways Californians can save the most water as well as other water-saving actions to make both immediate and lasting changes • Increased statewide advertising presence with an emphasis on areas with high residential water usage, including digital, radio, print, billboards and retail presence • • In-language advertising, media engagement and educational materials in Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Hmong and Tagalog to spread awareness across California’s diverse communities through trusted communications channels • Collaboration with local water agencies and municipalities to increase urgency behind conservation at the regional and state levels through earned media and other communications • Partnerships with celebrity and social media influencers and content creators, including celebrated cartoonist Lalo Alcarez, Isabella Ferregur, Jesus Zapien, Monica Villa, Leo Gonzalez, and Mario Lopez, to share easy and practical ways to incorporate saving water into Californians’ daily routines • Partnerships with California sports teams, businesses, retailers, and other organizations to expand the reach and visibility of Save Our Water • The California WATER WATCH website informing Californians about the hydrological conditions in their own communities and connecting residents with local water suppliers for available incentives and rebates to support water-saving upgrades in the home and yard • Coordination with college campuses to amplify the call to save water across generations • Water-savings resources at community events statewide, including farmers markets, home and garden shows and county fairs More information on the state’s response to the drought and informational resources available to the public are available at https://drought.ca.gov/. For water-smart tips and information, visit SaveOurWater.com.


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Overview of 2022 anti-LGBTQ bills as count now tops 300 Advocates vow to fight on; GOP continues push to restrict rights

In May 2021, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) officially announced the worst year for anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in recent history. At the time, state lawmakers introduced over 250 bills – from anti-Trans sports legislation to religious refusal measures – in statehouses across the country, 17 of which were enacted into law. Now, LGBTQ+ rights in states seem to be taking even more of a hit. According to HRC, over 300 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have surfaced in 36 Legislatures. As the legislation increases – 41 such measures were introduced in 2018 – so does the number of bills passed and enshrined into state law, though LGBTQ+ advocates often challenge the laws in court. The legislation overwhelmingly targets Trans youth, according to the organization, from blocking participation in sports to baring access to gender-affirming care. Lawmakers have also attempted, and in some cases passed, legislation limiting how LGBTQ+ issues can be taught in schools and keeping Trans kids from using restrooms that correspond with their gender identity. “2022 is on track to surpass last year’s record number of anti-transgender bills,” Cathryn Oakley, state legislative director and senior counsel at the HRC, told the Blade, calling the “legislative attacks” on Trans youth “craven, baseless, and an effort to create more division, fearmonger, and rile up radical right-wing voters at the expense of innocent kids.” Proponents of the bills say they are to “protect” parental rights, children and religious freedom. However, LGBTQ+ advocates and people continue to denounce the legislation as discriminatory and harmful. This year, one of the most talked-about anti-LGBTQ+ measures was Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law last month. The legislation will ban classroom instruction about sexual orientation and gender identity in grades K-3 if it survives legal challenges. Days after DeSantis signed the bill, the first lawsuit against the measure emerged, arguing the statute “would deny to an entire generation that LGBTQ people exist and have equal dignity.” “This effort to control young minds through state censorship —and to demean LGBTQ lives by denying their reality — is a grave abuse of power,” the lawsuit says. Since Republican sponsors successfully pushed the bill through, other states have followed in Florida’s footsteps. Ohio, for example, introduced its version of the legislation roughly a week after DeSantis’ signature. In Alabama, Republican Gov. Kay Ivey signed an anti-Trans bathroom bill with a last-minute amendment to keep educators from discussing gender identity and sexual orientation in grades K-5. Ivey didn’t stop there, also signing a bill that would ban gender-affirming care for minors. Like Florida, LGBTQ+ advocates were quick to announce legal challenges to the legislation. Some of the most prominent LGBTQ+ and civil rights organizations – including the HRC, GLAD and Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) – announced a legal challenge in federal court against Alabama’s gender-affirming care ban. In terms of legislation introduced, Tennessee has far


(Graphic via The Human Rights Campaign)

outpaced other states, according to LGBTQ+ rights organization Freedom for All Americans. The group’s legislative tracker found over 30 bills limiting LGBTQ+ rights in the state – including a “Don’t Say Gay” bill and a ban on LGBTQ-themed literature in schools. But, unlike other Republican-controlled states, none have made it out of the statehouse. Arizona has also been a hotspot for anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, with at least 17 bills, according to Freedom for All Americans. In March, Republican Gov. Doug Ducey signed two bills limiting the rights of Trans people in the state – one banning some types of medical care for Trans youth, and the other preventing Trans students from participating in school sports consistent with their gender identity. “Across the country, moderate Republicans are struggling—and too often failing—to stop the takeover of their party by dangerous extremists,” Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), told the Blade at the time, adding: “We are in danger of watching large segments of our nation give way to authoritarian extremism.” In other states, anti-LGBTQ+ legislation became law without support from its governor – Democratic or Republican. In fact, two Republican governors vetoed anti-Trans sports bills in late March. Utah Gov. Spencer Cox and Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, both Republicans, vetoed legislation that barred Trans youth from participating in sports. Cox said the bill had “several fundamental flaws and should be reconsidered,” while Holcomb said the measure was in search of a problem. In the end, however, the Utah House overturned Cox’s veto days later. Holcomb’s veto still stands. “This [Utah] bill focuses on a problem of ‘fairness’ in school sports that simply does not exist — but its negative impacts on the mental health and well-being of trans and nonbinary youth are very real,” said Sam Ames, director of advocacy and government affairs at The Trevor Project. “These youth already face disproportionate rates of bullying, depression, and suicide risk, and bills like this one will only make matters worse.” In recent weeks, two Democratic governors vetoed anti-LGBTQ+ legislation from their Republican-controlled legislatures. Kentucky Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear vetoed legislation that would ban Trans girls from playing on sports


teams in Kentucky schools that match their gender identities from sixth grade through college. GOP lawmakers quickly overturned the decision. “Shame on the Kentucky General Assembly for attacking trans kids today,” said Chris Hartman, executive director for the Fairness Campaign. Shame on our commonwealth’s lawmakers for passing the first explicitly anti-LGBTQ law in Kentucky in almost a decade.” Kansas Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly vetoed last weekend two anti-LGBTQ+ measures, the “Parents’ Bill of Rights” and the “Fairness in Women’s Sports” Acts. GOP lawmakers in Idaho decided last month to effectively kill a bill criminalizing gender-affirming care, one of the most extreme proposals in the country. It would have made it a felony — punishable by up to life in prison — to provide minors with hormones, puberty blockers or gender-affirming surgery. In a statement, Idaho Senate Republicans said they “stongly” oppose “any and all gender reassignment and surgical manipulation of the natural sex” on minors. But they also wrote that the controversial legislation “undermines” a parent’s right to make medical decisions for their children. “We believe in parents’ rights and that the best decisions regarding medical treatment options for children are made by parents, with the benefit of their physician’s advice and expertise,” the senators wrote. Texas is one of the 14 states with no anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, as the state only holds legislative sessions in odd years. However, the Lone Star State has made headlines for anti-Trans orders from Republican Gov. Greg Abbott. Abbott, in February, directed the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) to investigate reports of gender-affirming care on minors as “child abuse.” The order followed an official opinion from state Attorney General Ken Paxton that called the treatment a form of “child abuse” under Texas law. Since, two Texas judges have ruled against the policy – one in district court and the other after an appeal. Still, Paxton vows to keep fighting for the order in court. But even as Republican politicians continue to push for limits to LGBTQ+ rights, many LGBTQ+ advocates, people and allies promise to continue fighting against the discriminatory efforts – whether in court or on the streets. “The Human Rights Campaign strongly condemns these harmful, potentially life-threatening bills and will continue to use every tool at our disposal to fight for the rights of transgender youth and all LGBTQ+ people,” Oakley said. In a January 2022 poll by The Trevor Project, an organization that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ youth under 25, and Morning Consult, over two-thirds of LGBTQ youth said recent debates over state laws that target transgender people have negatively impacted their mental health. “These results underscore how recent politics and ongoing crises facing the globe can have a real, negative impact on LGBTQ young people, a group consistently found to be at significantly increased risk for depression, anxiety and attempting suicide because of how they are mistreated and stigmatized in society,” Amit Paley, CEO of The Trevor Project, said in a statement.

Retired NFL gay player says 2 others may soon come out as gay


Former lineman shares story at Philadelphia event

By DAWN ENNIS son coming out said he knew of other retired football players who are living Ryan O’Callaghan, who has been retired from the Nationwould have more their truth, or taking steps toward that goal-line. al Football League due to injuries for more than a decade, of an impact than “There are a lot of guys who have come out that haven’t abandoned his original plan for his post-retirement years: to I think a lot of that come out publicly, so they’re living their life as an openly gay end his life. stuff combined,” man. They just didn’t write a book or whatever,” said O’CalInstead, the former tackle for the New England Patriots he told the more laghan, whose own memoir, My Life on the Line: How the and Kansas City Chiefs finally tackled the secret he’d kept than 60 students NFL Damn Near Killed Me and Ended Up Saving My Life, was from almost everyone. Five years ago, he revealed that he assembled, so published in 2019. All the profits from his book go directly to was gay, and that he’d become addicted to painkillers. many that the fund the charity he started, The Ryan O’Callaghan Founda“Not to oversimplify it, but I think you need to fix the reauniversity’s grand tion, dedicated to creating more opportunities for LGBTQ+ son why you’re abusing the drugs first, which I was abusing meeting room ran athletes as well as fostering a sense of community among because I hated myself and was paranoid about being gay,” Drexel senior ZEKE GOLDSMITH and out of seats and players. O’Callaghan told the Los Angeles Blade. “I fixed that, which former NFL tackle RYAN O’CALLAGHAN (Photo by Dawn Ennis) it was standing “There has been more progress made than I think people then made it easier to quit. I was on painkillers, so there is room just to hear truly know,” he said. “I talk to a lot of these people and tell a chemical dependency, and you need to be responsible on O’Callaghan. them, ‘You don’t have to do it publicly, just live your life.’ And getting off of them. But not relapsing is what fixing the probHis recommendation to those in authority: Invite gay NFL a lot of people have been doing that.” lem helps to not do.” ISO Redding, 12647-7 Digital Striphis 2009 players back into the locker room to share their experiences, When Nassib announced he is gay in a 2021 Instagram The 38-year-old Calif. Control native told story Thurs100 60 100 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 75 90 100 A something that he said hasn’t happened since Esera Tuaolo post, O’Callaghan noted it was a far different experience than day in the keynote portion of Drexel University’s conference, visited in his rookie year. when Michael Sam came out before the NFL Draft in 2014. A Catalyst for the Cause: Fostering Greater Equity in Sport. During the Q&A, O’Callaghan was asked if the NFL should “They’ve taken a lot of honest steps to do it better. You O’Callaghan not only looked back at his own coming out but do more to counter anti-LGBTQ legislation, such as anti-trans know, in the beginning, their support for The Trevor Project also had some thoughts about LGBTQ players in the NFL inclusion laws and “Don’t Say Gay” parental rights laws. and GLAAD felt30a30little100 lazy. You know, they just wrote a check now. Recently released defensive end Carl Nassib and free B 100 100 60 100 100 70 70 30 30 100 100 60 100 100 70 70 30 30 100 100 60 100 100 70 70 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 “It would be great for the Miami Dolphins to take a stand and that was it,” he said. But O’Callaghan said even this past agent R.K. Russell are not the only ones, he said. like Disney did, but I honestly just don’t see that happening,” February’s Night of Pride and last year’s “NFL is Queer” com“Two more players are about to come out, probably in this he said. “The influence of the NFL could change some things, mercial, the league is still not doing enough. off-season,” O’Callaghan revealed in his conversation with but I also think a lot of these bills are just trying to fix a prob“I still think they need to do more to actually reach the playDrexel senior Zeke Goldsmith, a fellow California native fresh T:10" a high-profile, no-name perlem that doesn’t even exist in the first place.” ers in the locker room because off his own interview with Oakland’s own D.Gil. O’Callaghan 3%



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Psaki gets emotional over state anti-LGBTQ bills

When they talked about the impact of the measures on LGBTQ famWhite House Press Secretary Jen Psaki became emotional in an inilies and children, Psaki grew emotional. terview released Tuesday over legislation targeting the LGBTQ com“They’re doing that in a way that is harsh and cruel to a community munity, maintaining the measures were purely for the purpose of of kids, especially,” Psaki said, through tears. “I’m going to get emoscoring political points. tional about this issue because it’s horrible! But it’s kids who are bulPsaki made the comments in an interview with the News Not Noise lied, and all these leaders are taking steps to hurt them, and hurt their podcast when host Jessica Yellin asked her about the motivations belives and hurt their families! And you look at some of these laws in hind the bills. these states and who’s going after parents who are in loving relation“How do you make sense of what’s happening?” Yellin asked. “Is this ships, who have kids. It’s completely outrageous! Sorry, this is an issue sort of a predictable backlash to change? Or is this an organized politithat makes me completely crazy.” cal attempt to create a wedge issue ahead of the midterms in the 2024 The flurry of anti-LGBTQ bills includes measures aimed at restrictcampaign? Sort of like the way gay marriage was weaponized in 2004?” White House Press Secretary JEN PSAKI got emotional when asked about aning access by transgender youth to transition-related care, in some The initial response from Psaki: “Ding, Ding, Ding.” Psaki added she ti-LGBTQ bills in state legislatures. cases penalizing medical providers for providing such services to mihad to be careful about what to say because of the Hatch Act, which nors with time in prison; legislation against transgender kids competlimits the political speech of U.S. government officials. ing in girls’ sports consistent with their gender identity and measures known as “Don’t Say Psaki went on to condemn the bills by saying, “the political games and harsh and cruel Gay” bills — one prominently signed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in Florida — essentially attempts at laws, or laws that we’re seeing in some states like Florida, that is not a reflecplacing a gag order on teachers in grade schools from even acknowledging LGBTQ people tion of the country moving to oppose LGBTQ+ communities. exist. “That is not what we see in data, that is not factual, and that is not where things stand,” CHRIS JOHNSON Psaki added. “This is a political wedge issue, and an attempt to win a culture war.”

Harris addresses LGBTQ donors at fundraiser

Vice President Kamala Harris headlined a D.C-based fundraiser for high-dollar LGBTQ Democratic donors last week, promoting the confirmation of Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court as a key victory. “I was proud for a number of reasons,” Harris said. “Probably the obvious reason, in terms of what this means in terms of the history that continues to be made — one could say, parenthetically, ‘Sadly, we’re still making firsts,’ but we are doing it. And I was proud to be there for that reason.” As Harris pointed out at the event, she presided last week over the vote on Jackson in the Senate, making the first Black woman to serve as vice president a key player in the confirmation of the first Black woman justice to the Supreme Court.

Among the prominent LGBTQ donors present at the private home for the fundraiser was Claire Lucas, a lesbian and deputy finance chair for the Democratic National Committee. The DNC counted 86 people present at the event and Lucas told the crowd the DNC “blew past” its fundraising goal by 50 percent, according to a White House pool report. Harris didn’t explicitly mention any LGBTQ issues in her remarks, despite concerns over the advancement in state legislatures over measures targeting the LGBTQ community, including bills prohibiting transgender girls from participating in sports and the Florida “Don’t Say Gay” law. Topics Harris touched on included her lead role in the Cabinet meeting at the White House earlier that day as well as climate change, infrastructure, and workers’ rights. CHRIS JOHNSON

Buck gets 30 years for overdose deaths of Black gay men

U.S. District Judge Christina A. Snyder last week sentenced former West Hollywood resident and LGBTQ activist Ed Buck, 67, to 30 years in a federal prison for supplying the methamphetamine that killed two gay Black men at his Laurel Avenue flat. “Buck used his money and privilege to exploit the wealth and power imbalances between himself and his victims, who were unhoused, destitute, and/or struggling with addiction,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Chelsea Norell said in court documents filed in the case. “He spent thousands of dollars on drugs and party and play sessions that destroyed lives and bred insidious addictions.” Buck — who had donated more than $500,000 to mostly Democratic causes and served in 2016 as one of California’s Electoral College members, along with activism on LGBTQ+ issues, had seemingly escaped justice until local activists including journalist Jasmyne Cannick, a longtime community activist, were able to get the federal case initiated, which was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

and the FBI. The investigation was also conducted with the support of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force. Then L.A. County District Attorney Jackie Lacey had declined to prosecute Buck at first citing a lack of evidence. Barely four and a half hours after being handed his case for deliberations, a federal grand jury last July convicted Buck on the nine-count indictment of charges he supplied the methamphetamine that killed Gemmel Moore in 2017 and Timothy Dean in 2019 during ‘partyand-play’ encounters at his flat. The verdict concluded a two-week trial that featured harrowing testimony of Buck’s accusers and victims which was shocking. Prosecutor’s use of Buck’s seized videos offered jurors a disturbingly graphic look at the chilling indifference displayed by Buck as he victimized those unfortunate to enter his apartment. BRODY LEVESQUE

DeSantis moves to eliminate Disney’s special status

Florida Gov. RON DESANTIS is taking on Disney.

Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis announced this week that he has expanded the special session of the state legislature, which was meeting next week to rework and approve congressional re-districting maps, to include eliminating the 1967 law that allows the Walt Disney World Resort property to operate as a self-governing body. “I am announcing today that we are expanding the call of what they are going to be considering this week,’’ DeSantis said at a news conference.


The Reedy Creek Improvement District is the governing jurisdiction and special taxing district for the land of the Walt Disney World Resort. It includes 39.06 square miles within the outer limits of Orange and Osceola counties and acts with the same authority and responsibility as a county government. DeSantis and the media conglomerate locked horns over the Disney Company’s public denouncement of H.B. 1557, titled “Parental Rights in Education,” colloquially known as the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, that DeSantis signed into law last month. A spokesperson for the Disney Company had issued a statement condemning the legislation angering DeSantis and prompting protests led by QAnon conspiracy theorists in Florida and California. BRODY LEVESQUE


Murder of two men rattles Irish LGBTQ community tron Heights at around 8:30 p.m. on Monday. The LGBTQ community in the city of Sligo, He had also sustained “significant physical inin the north of Ireland, is reeling from the brujuries,” Glacken added. tal murders of two gay men and the vicious According to the Examiner police stated that assault of another man, crimes that were so use of a mobile phone dating app was a crithorrific that Irish Taoiseach Micheál Martin deical component in the investigation. Glacken nounced the crime on Twitter. told reporters that the Gardaí “will endeavor Thousands of people have attended vigto seek out all the available evidence, and ulils across Ireland in memory of the two men timately it will be for a court to decide on the killed, both were found dead in their own motivation behind these appalling crimes.” homes in the city by the Sligo Gardaí (Police) “I am appealing to any person who may this past week. have been subject of any unwanted approachAccording to the Irish Examiner, the Gardaí es or who was assaulted or otherwise attacked in Sligo are examining whether there is a hoto contact the incident room at Sligo Garda mophobic motive for the grisly killings of two Station. men in the town over the past two days. “I have a dedicated diversity team here, we Michael Snee, 58, was found dead in his need to hear from you, we are here to listen to home in Sligo Town Wednesday night, while you and we are here to support you. Aidan Moffitt, 42, was found dead in his home MICHAEL SNEE and AIDAN MOFFITT (Family photos/BBC) “I continue to appeal to anyone with any in the town on Monday night. information on these crimes to contact us at Yousef Palani, 22, has been charged over Sligo Garda station,” he said adding, “No matter how insignificant you think it may be, we the murders of the two men — police are investigating if the murders were hate crimes. need to hear from you.” He will also be questioned about an attack on a man at the start of the weekend in which the victim lost an eye. Sligo Pride, which organized one of the nationwide vigils for the two victims wrote on Sligo Gardaí superintendent Aidan Glacken told reporters in a press conference that Twitter, “If you are meeting someone online in person for the first time, give a trusted Palani was arrested on Wednesday afternoon after the discovery of Snee’s body in his friend as much information on this other person as you can and let your friend know apartment at around 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday. where you are. We understand the worries and concerns at this time.” Snee had been subjected to “serious physical assault and had suffered significant injuBRODY LEVESQUE ries,” superintendent Aidan Glacken said. Moffitt’s body was discovered in his house in Car-

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Where ALL GUYS come together Visit www.squirt.org today to join the action LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • APRIL 22, 2022 • 11

V O L U M E 06 I S S U E 16

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

Wanted: Democrats with a new idea on how to win

White House messaging isn’t working as Biden sinks in polls When I read Presidential polls I often wonder if the people who respond to them actually understand how government works. Do they understand what actual power a president has on his/ her own to make change? Do they understand when Joe Biden ran, committing to work for climate change, voting rights, and equal rights for the LGBTQ+ community, in nearly every instance to turn his commitment into reality he needs Congress to pass legislation? So while I understand some being unhappy with these things not happening, and laying some blame on the president, I wonder what their next actions will be. According to an average of recent polling by Five Thirty-Eight Joe Biden now has an approval rating of only 41.6%. By way of comparison, former President Trump’s polling average shows as of April 13 his favorable rating is 43.7%. Clearly this is a problem not only for the president but for the Democratic Party. Those answering the pollster’s questions are blaming the president for all the ills they are facing. He is being viewed negatively on how he is dealing with the war in Ukraine, handling COVID and for inflation. More people blame him for rising gas prices than they do Putin. I think inflation overrides all their other considerations. They blame Biden for prices at the gas pump, grocery store, their rent going up, and nothing else matters. I know my view is skewed. As a single retired man with a decent nest-egg, I am not overly impacted by inflation. Yet a quick trip to the grocery store shows why a family would be. Three weeks ago, at my Safeway, a dozen jumbo eggs were $2.49, yesterday they were $3.99; a container of sliced strawberries and blueberries was $7.99 two months ago and is now $9.99. Everything has gone up and quite drastically. Gas and rent are up dramatically as well. So it is difficult to convince a mom/dad who is shopping they should really be looking at the unemployment rate, the lowest it’s been in years, the creation of millions of jobs, and bringing the national debt down by $1.5 trillion, is what they should be judging the president on. In one recent CBS News/YouGov poll “just 42% of Americans approve of Biden’s performance while 58 percent disapprove.” This poll looked at his numbers across different demographic and age groups.

Some of my younger friends complain about what Biden has not done. They talk about not getting free college, not eliminating all student debt, not keeping his commitment on voting rights and climate change. According to the poll people under age 30 gave Biden a resounding thumbs-down, with 57 percent saying they disapprove and just 43 percent saying they approve of the president’s performance. So once again my question to them would be: “What will you do in the upcoming elections?” Will you stay home, or will you vote against Democrats to indicate your disappointment with the president? If either of those scenarios happens they will be as the saying goes, ‘cutting off their nose to spite their face.’ To win, Democrats must convince their voters to vote in larger numbers. Democratic candidates must explain if additional Democrats are elected to the Senate, the president will no longer be held hostage by one or two who don’t like his programs. The power of those like Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) who have held up some of the president’s major initiatives will be diluted. Unfortunately, history doesn’t bode well for Democrats. The same poll shows “A 54 percent majority of Hispanics and 33 percent of African Americans said they disapprove of Biden — and 22 percent of people who voted for Biden in 2020 also disapprove.” Those numbers alone are really scary for Democrats heading into the mid-term elections. It is clear the messaging Democrats are using isn’t working. So one must question who is doing the messaging at the White House these days? What changes are they looking to make and will it make a difference? The results of these early April polls reflect a sour national mood. Republicans who have zero answers to any problem are making inflation, illegal immigration and parental control of schools the issues, and are winning. So with higher inflation forecast, COVID restrictions dragging on, and high crime rates, can Democrats turn this around? I don’t know. Clearly the media and 24-hour news cycles don’t help. Good things get reported once while the bad things seem to be on a continuous loop. So please, if you are a Democrat and have a good answer or idea, speak up. Our country needs you.


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is the pseudonym of a leading longtime LGBTQ activist.

Trans psychologist says trans identity is a social contagion

Collaborator with religious right provides ammunition for Fox News I once heard someone describe his philosophy on building the next generation of leaders: “Just because your old man beat the shit out of me, doesn’t mean I should beat the shit out of my kids. Likewise, just because the system beat the shit out of people in the past doesn’t mean we should do it that way now.” Which brings me to one Dr. Erica Anderson, a 71-year-old trans woman psychologist who apparently believes that because the world was shitty to her, and wouldn’t give her the medical care she needed 45 years ago when she came out, it is her duty to make sure that the next generation of trans people suffers the same way. Her latest interview at the LA Times describes how she believes that transgender identity is a social contagion, and talks about how she is delaying and withholding necessary medical care from her trans teen patients. She has become the go-to collaborator with the religious right, providing ammunition for Fox News, The Daily Signal, and The Federalist to push for bans on trans health care across the US. While she claims that she’s merely concerned about trans youth, she lacks the wit to understand that she is merely a useful idiot for the forces that wish there were no transgender people at all and are largely succeeding. When she pals around with right-wing conversion therapy promoters like Abigail Shrier, she lacks the intelligence and self-awareness to understand that Shrier is no friend of hers either. In her efforts to see herself as a moderating force protecting trans people, in reality she’s little more than a kapo: a willing tool of the oppressors to control the people she came from. Dr. Anderson seems to have learned nothing from her own experiences as a transgender person within a hostile medical system, nor does she seem familiar with the state of research. Her belief in the “social contagion” theory of trans identity seems to spring from a partially retracted journal article with severe methodological flaws. Yet, she also seems unaware of the latest, best research which examined the social contagion theory, and did not find it under clinical controls. Nor does she seem aware that transition regret is rare and usually caused by stigma and familial rejection. Nor that Keira Bell took no irreversible steps prior to the age of 18 and received her medical care from adult services. Indeed, she takes the transphobic approach that only cisgender lives matter: to Anderson it is better for 98 trans people to be harmed by withholding treatment than 1 or 2 cisgender teens start transition, and


decide it wasn’t for them. In most of medicine a treatment regret rate of 1-2% is amazingly good, a gold standard even. Anderson’s self-loathing and desire for approval from people who despise trans people as a class blinds her to this. She’s desperately seeking approval from the people who rejected her in the past, to prove to them that she’s “one of the good ones”. The games she plays with her patients is little better than conversion therapy meant to prevent trans youth from getting the care they need. She’s setting the Catch-22 that if you’re not suffering enough from dysphoria, you can’t have treatment because it’s not severe enough, but if you’re in too much distress then obviously you’re not ready to begin treatment. The LA Times article describes her patient as feeling interrogated, which is how the trans survivors of trans conversion therapy described their “treatments” in an article I wrote for Pink News. There is an overwhelming body of evidence for the efficacy of providing medical care for trans youth. The same cannot be said for withholding it until they’ve suffered enough. Studies clearly demonstrate that most teen who identify as trans continue to do so. The Endocrine Society considers blockers to be “fully reversible”. What isn’t reversible is going through the wrong puberty. For trans youth undergoing the wrong puberty, every day that goes by furthers the betrayal by their body leading to life long stigma and psychological damage. The price of Anderson’s dithering even in clear cut cases of dysphoria, and making patients wait for over a year for treatment, is permanent psychological damage and social impairment. The research into this shows that teens who medically transition earlier have better long-term mental health outcomes. Not only is there no evidence for Anderson’s approach, what studies we do have suggest that it will be actively harmful to the vast majority of her patients. Going back to my military example, it’s one thing to beat the shit out of your own kids. It’s next level evil to take money from strangers to do it to theirs for them, just because the kid reminds you of yourself 60 years ago, and you are willing to do anything for people who will never love you anyways. Dr. Erica Anderson is a deeply damaged person bent on inflicting the same cruelties on the next generation of trans people as a warped rite of passage.

In a world ravaged by global warming, pandemics, and natural disaster, King Lear is a man who has brought his country through turmoil, but at what cost?







TheWallis.org/Lear This production was made possible by generous support from Michael and Meeghan Nemeroff / Vedder Price.

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4/6/22 1:15 PM

James Dean, Rock Hudson, Lily Tomlin make film festival a must

Brush up on your cinema history with dozens of films being shown this week By JEREMY KINSER

Welch at her most ridiculously voluptuous, Dyan Cannon as a catty talent agent, and one of the characters is revealed to have had a homosexual relationship with another. We’re not spoiling the fun. A League of Their Own (1992) Queer appeal: The sisters were doing it for themselves in the Penny Marshall-directed comedy about an all-female baseball team during World War II that’s become gay rite-of-passage viewing. Madonna famously became besties with Rosie O’Donnell during filming. The Letter (1940) Queer appeal: Any film that opens with Bette Davis shooting her lover dead can only go down from there, right? Not here. Davis’s married character gets tormented by sinister Gale Sondergaard who lurks in the shadows, so the drama continues to escalate in this high-pitched melodrama. Lover Come Back (1961) Queer appeal: Rock Hudson re-teams with close friend, frequent costar, and gay ally Doris Day at the peak of their gorgeousness and box office appeal in a colorful Mad Men-era comedy about mistaken identity in the advertising world. There’s also a fun supporting turn by Tony Randall, whose fussy characters always read gay. All of Me (1984) Polyester (1981) Queer appeal: Out Queer appeal: John entertainer Lily TomWaters directs his lin delivers one of her muse Divine and gay funniest performancheartthrob Tab Huntes as a dying rich lady er in a hilariously bonwhose soul accidenkers satire of women’s tally pops into Steve pictures of the 1950s. Martin’s attorney The comedy takes character. Watching potent shots at the Martin process the fereligious right and feamale-controlled half of tures themes such as his brain and body reabortion, alcoholism, mains one of the great and, of course, foot fecomedic moments of tishism. the 1980s. Queen Bee (1955) Giant (1956) Queer Queer appeal: You appeal: The cast alone think you’ve seen Joan in this sweeping saga Crawford at her bitch(screening in a reiest? Think again. Here stored 4K print), which (Graphic via Turner Classic Movies Film Festival) she stars as a vicious, aimed to change racial vengeful Southern relations in the counmatriarch that obviously inspired Faye Dunaway’s unhinged portrayal of the legend in the try, is the stuff of gay fever dreams. James Dean and Rock Hudson both vie for the atbiopic Mommie Dearest. tention of Elizabeth Taylor. But the queer imagery here is next level, especially Dean in a Spartacus (1960) Queer appeal: Besides the oiled-up torso of Kirk Douglas, this gladiaChrist-like pose with a shotgun behind his shoulder and his pelvis thrust forward, while the tor epic is most renowned for one of the most sexually suggestive scenes in 1960s cinema. visual of his rebellious character coaxing oil out of a well is unimaginably phallic. Laurence Olivier’s wealthy Roman character gets a sensual bath time scrub from his sexy The Harvey Girls (1946) Queer appeal: Eternal gay icon Judy Garland headlines as an inservant Tony Curtis and asks if he prefers snails or oysters. Get it? nocent heroine who heads to the wild west to work as a waitress and sings the Oscar-winTootsie (1982) Queer appeal: Perhaps problematic for overly sensitive contemporary ning tune “On the Atchison, Topeka, and the Santa Fe” in this beloved musical. Plus, Angela viewers, this all-time great comedy finds Dustin Hoffman as an obnoxious unemployed Lansbury nearly steals the show as a naughty saloon girl. actor who cross-dresses as a feminist to land a lucrative job on a soap opera. Along the The Last of Sheila (1973) Queer appeal: This script for this jigsaw puzzle of a movie way, he falls for lovely Jessica Lange (in an Oscar-winning turn) and learns to be a better was cowritten by Stephen Sondheim and Anthony Perkins (thus it’s filled with gay underman after living as a woman and being mistaken for a lesbian. tones) and directed by allegedly closeted Herbert Ross. It offers a cast that includes Raquel If you’re feeling exhausted by the latest Marvel universe blockbuster and just happen to be in Los Angeles, take a moment to brush up on your cinema history with dozens of mustsee films being shown on the big screen this week. The 2022 TCM (Turner Classic Movies) film festival will present big screen presentations of such landmark queer-interest films as a girl power comedy “A League of Their Own,” cult staple “Polyester,” and the Stephen Sondheim-Anthony Perkins collaboration “The Last of Sheila” this week in the movie capital. You’ll have an opportunity to see out icon Lily Tomlin dip her hands and feet in cement in front of the famed Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. Film buffs will have a chance to watch for silver screen icons portraying coded LGBTQ movie characters that spoke to audiences at a time when swinging the closet doors open was still taboo. As the late Vito Russo wrote in his seminal cinema book “The Celluloid Closet,” we were everywhere, you just had to find us. The festival will take place in Hollywood April 21-24 and follow local health and safety guidelines. For more information including the full lineup, go here. Scroll down to see some of our picks for films you shouldn’t miss.



Netflix scores queer triumph with ‘Heartstopper’

Series adapted from popular YA webcomic about teen boys who fall in love By JOHN PAUL KING

If we were only able to choose one word to describe “Heartstopper,” the new Netflix series adapted from Alice Oseman’s wildly popular 2017 YA webcomic about two teenage boys who fall in love, that word would have to be “adorable” — and it would be more than enough justification for an enthusiastic recommendation to start streaming it right now. Fortunately, we don’t have to choose, and just in case there are some curmudgeons among our readers who avoid “adorable” content as a matter of principle, we can add quite a few more words just to make it clear that this is a show to win the heart of even the most cynical viewer and have them ready to binge it straight to the end after watching only the first five minutes. For readers of Oseman’s original comic, no explanation is needed to convey the infectious blend of emotions that makes its simple love story so irresistible; with more than 52 million views to date and the bestselling print publication of four volumes so far, its quick and widespread popularity is proof enough of the story’s universal – and multi-intersectional – appeal. “Heartstoppers” is the story of Charlie and Nick, a pair of students at an English boys’ school with widely differing places in the school’s pecking order; Charlie, gentle and shy, has been bullied after being inadvertently outed as gay the previous year, and spends most of his time with a handful of other social misfits, while Nick, athletic and popular, is a rugby player who hangs out with his equally athletic and popular teammates. Yet when they end up sitting together in a class they share, the two become friends – much to the surprise of Charlie, who finds himself crushing on Nick despite assuming, along with everyone else, that he is straight. It’s not hard to see where things are going to go from there, even without spoilers, but that predictability does nothing to dampen the delight of following these two young and tender hearts as they negotiate the pangs and pressures of first love while navigating their school’s deeply ingrained social hierarchy. With Oseman herself writing the adaptation, the series had an advantage right out of the gate when it came to translating that into a live-action format, and her fans have been eagerly awaiting it ever since Netflix announced it was happening in January of 2021. The resulting series – an all-too-brief season of eight half-hour episodes directed by BAFTA-winning “Doctor Who” and “Sherlock” veteran Euros Lyn – will almost certainly lead millions of others to join their ranks. The most important factor in bringing the story’s appeal to the screen is undoubtedly the casting of its two leading characters, and with newcomer Joe Locke as Charlie joining Kit Connor (“Rocketman,” “His Dark Materials”) as Nick, it’s hard to imagine how the show’s creators could have done better. Locke, with his soulful eyes and curly mop of hair, perfectly captures the look of the character as drawn, as does the cherubic, handsome Connor – but they bring much more than an apt appearance to their roles. In a story that requires them to delicately tread through a potentially fraught emotional landscape, facing scenarios with consequences ranging from the socially awkward to the deeply traumatic, they not only fulfill that duty effortlessly, but do so while meeting every moment with enough intelligence, sensitivity, and authenticity to make the already-relatable nuances of their young relationship resonate even more tangibly. Most essential of all, the tender chemistry they share is strong enough – and believable enough – to ensure that the almost unbearable sweetness of their blossoming romance never once feels sappy or insincere. It’s a fragile and difficult balance to maintain, but these two young actors pull it off with such unforced buoyancy that we are too busy floating on their cloud with them to even notice. As right-on-target as the show’s portrayal of Nick and Charlie’s journey together may be, they are not the only LGBTQ+ characters in the mix. There’s Elle (Yasmin Finney), a member of Charlie’s circle until being transferred to the neighboring girls’ school after coming out as transgender, who is nervous about being accepted in her new environment. Also at the girls’ school is Tara (Corinna Brown), who once shared a kiss with Nick but is now on the verge of coming out and going public about her relationship with girlfriend Darcy (Kizzy Edgell). Finally, there’s Tao (William Gao), a protective friend and ally to them all (though his protective nature leads him to mistrust Nick’s intentions), who is beginning to recognize the stirrings

of more than friendship with Elle. Simply reading that roster might lead one to presume the show is trying to up the ante on inclusion by including as many colors in the rainbow as possible – and it’s worth mentioning that the cast of characters is made up of a diverse blend of ethnicities, too. Neither of these elements feel forced; those of us who know about life from more than just television surely recognize that seeing so many LGBTQ+ people and people of color mixed into one blended community together is not a stretch – it’s an accurate reflection of the real world. Even if that were not the case, the show asserts its sincerity by treating each of these characters and their stories with the same amount of kindness it affords Nick and Charlie; it even leaves room for us to pity characters like Ben (Sebastian Croft), a closeted boy who carries on a secret relationship with Charlie while refusing to acknowledge him in the halls, or Harry (Cormac Hyde-Corrin) a teammate of Nick’s who delights in tormenting any-

KIT CONNER and JOE LOCKE star in ‘Heartstopper.’ (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

one who doesn’t fit in, who are on hand to remind us that – increased acceptance notwithstanding – homophobia still exerts a toxic enough effect to make coming out a difficult path to undertake alone. In answer to that, the show takes ample opportunity to explore the theme of chosen family; the way these friends help each other along the way, even as they themselves are trying not to stumble, serves as both an inspiration and a reminder to the countless viewers, whether LGBTQ or not, who know first-hand the bonds that grow from such experience. As for “real” families, they’re not left out of the picture, either: both Nick and Charlie have supportive (if not always helpful) parents in their lives, and Charlie’s older sister Tori (Jenny Walser) emerges every so often from her room like a denizen of the underworld rising to taunt him – lovingly, of course – with a truth or two. By now, it feels like we’re gushing. After all, haven’t the last few years have seen any number of LGBTQ teen love stories coming to our screens? And hasn’t each of them been hailed as a milestone of representation? Haven’t queer elders remarked, each time, what a difference it would have made if they had seen such a film when they were growing up? The thing is, though, that it’s been true each time — and sometimes, as it does with “Heartstopper” — it feels a little more true than usual. LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • APRIL 22, 2022 • 17


Randy Rainbow’s new book not as funny as his videos But ‘Playing with Myself’ offers insights into comedian’s upbringing

By TERRI SCHLICHENMEYER It takes two to tango. And foxtrot, and waltz, and polka, for that matter. You might dance in a circle with other couples but those are couples, remember, not lines of people boot-scootin’. No, it takes two to tango and spaghetti kiss and to sing a duet but, as in the new book “Playing with Myself” by Randy Rainbow, it just takes one to podcast. People ask Randy Rainbow all the time if his last name is real. Yes, it is, he writes with glee, and it’s one of the best things his father ever gave him. Because, seriously, could there be a more fitting name for a gay “topical comedian?” Being in the limelight has always been in Rainbow’s blood: he recalls staging a Disney play for neighborhood parents when he was very young. He was the lead actor, the director, the stage manager, and the costumer. His playmates were rather less-than-enthusiastic but the parents applauded, and Rainbow was hooked. It probably helped that his mother was a big Broadway fan and so Rainbow grew up with show tunes. As an adolescent, he collected soundtrack CDs and, after he was introduced to “a form of religion that was... Barbra Streisand,” he collected videos of certain performances he grew to love best. Also as an adolescent, he grew awkward. His other religion was crunchy snacks and he spent a lot of time in his room; his parents had moved the family from New York to Florida; their marriage was in shreds, and it took a while for Rainbow to get his confidence back. Still, it wasn’t until he was in high school that he found that old rhythm, his scathing sense of humor, and a cadre of like-minded theater-and-drama friends. After graduation, Rainbow returned to New York, where he ultimately found his community and sharpened his talent. Restaurants and clubs kept the lights on while he was learning to monetize the podcasts he was making, when an agent told him that he was “still a nobody!” “Enter,” says Rainbow, “the 2016 presidential candidates.” You didn’t really think “Playing with Myself” would be as hilarious as author Randy Rainbow’s videos, did you? Yes, this book’s funny but alas, not quite as LOL as his parodies.


You probably won’t mind, though: Rainbow’s biography is still plenty entertaining, nonetheless. From his first pair of Ruby shoes to the shoo-off he jokingly gives readers at the end, we get a peek at how he gained what he admits is “an encyclopedic knowledge of Broadway musicals,” how his sense of humor was honed, and how that all led to a library of YouTube bits that roast those in the news. Politicians seem to be special targets for Rainbow – not surprisingly, as you’ll see here – but anyone’s fair game for the needling. “Playing with Myself” is slightly bruised by an overdose of name-dropping, the presence of which may surprise nobody. Still, if you don’t hate on that and you love a little faux-pearl-clutching, this book is two good to pass up.

‘Playing With Myself’

By Randy Rainbow

c.2022, St. Martin’s Press $28.99 | 256 pages



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